Tuesday, December 21, 2010


One of my favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas is setting up the nativity. Ours is from Willow Tree, and while it's not anything very unique, rare or valuable, I think it's beautiful. I love the simplicity of the figures, and feel like they give you space to think about what they represent rather than what they look like.

Espen is a pretty big fan too, so we've spent some time over by the table talking about Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, as well as sheep, donkeys and camels. Espen likes the goat, and it's so fun to see how interested he is in this new thing . So far he's been very gentle with the figures I've allowed him to touch and hold, but I don't imagine that will last until next year, when I'm sure we'll be looking for a new place to display them! We set them up over by the window this year, so I have a great view of them from my spot on the couch. I love the simple, quiet reminder of what Christmas is really about for me and my family.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Know Your Fork: Festival of Lights

Every Christmas, Spanish Fork puts on a light display, and this year we took Espen to his first Festival of Lights (not to be confused with the other Spanish Fork Festival of Lights, AKA Diwali). We've been before and loved it, but, oh, it doesn't get much more magical than seeing your own little boy's excitement and delight. There were a few times he looked as though he was going to try to jump out of the window, and he just kept smiling and squealing and bobbing up and down to the music on the radio as he tried to reach out and grab the lights as we drove by. I know it sounds a bit silly, but just being in our little car with my boys, listening to cheesy Christmas music on the radio and looking at the lights, made me so happy I felt like my heart might just burst. How lucky am I to marry a man who is everything I'd ever hoped for, and then to have a little boy who is everything I'd ever dreamed of and more?

While I can't promise you exactly the same perfect, glowing let's-save-this-moment-for-ever experience I had, I can promise you that the Festival of Lights is worth a visit.

Go here for more info, and think to yourself that really, Spanish Fork should give me its key for being such a great ambassador.

Images borrowed here, hereand here because I am a dolt who can't remember her camera.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmassy Christmas!

We started our Christmas season on a bit of an untimely note by first being delayed a day going home by a snow storm, and then when we got back, both of my boys caught some kind of stomach bug. Mercifully, I escaped, but perhaps not so mercifully, that left me the grown up in charge for a lot of the time. Oh, it is sad to see your little guy feel so miserable! Fortunately, Espen is a surprisingly resilient little guy who always bounces back quickly. More than once I'd be cleaning him up after the latest "incident", and he'd just look up and me and smile and babble. I adore that little boy!

Probably more than ever before, I keep staring at the calendar in panic and realizing just how much I want to take care of before Christmas, and how little time there is to do it. I've never been this stressed out about Christmas before - does motherhood make you feel like this? Yikes.

Anyway, I am hoping to up the Christmas cheer factor here on the ol' blog, so (barring any more uncooperative weather or disease) expect some spastic updates from me in the week to come.

Until then, enjoy this little playlist that I put together with some of my Christmassy faves. There are a few Norwegian carols in there, but you, my friend, are just the kind of person who doesn't get all bunchy about things like that. No, you enjoy expanding your cultural horizons. And that is why I like you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Going to give thanks.

This afternoon my little family and I will be heading down to Las Vegas to celebrate Thanksgiving with Nick's family. In spite of the hours and hours of driving, I am really looking forward to a little time away with my boys.

I have to say that since Nick and I got married Thanksgiving has become my favourite adopted/American holiday. It wasn't until I became part of an extended family that I love that I really understood what the holiday is all about. It's not as much about eating yourself sick, watching football and getting up at 3 AM to go bargain shopping, as it is about simply being with your family and loved ones. Of course the food is undeniably a big part of it, but the more I see my mother-in-law (and this year my sister-in-law) plan and prepare Thanksgiving dinner for weeks in advance, the more I recognize it as an expression of love for their family. All that work is to create a special and memorable time, and I am so thankful for the people in my life who value that.

Similarly, I see that same love in all the millions of people currently milling around the country through blizzards and TSA scans, trying to get home for the holidays. I admire the sacrifices that families are willing to make to spend a few days with each other. That's a holiday that I can get behind. :)

I've been pretty remiss in my blogging lately (thank you for noticing! You love me! You really love me!), but I will be back December 1st with a whole slew of Christmassy posts up my sleeve. I'll see you then!

*Image, Norman Rockwell, Freedom from Want.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mindy Gledhill

We bought this album last night, and I can't stop listening to it. It's fair to say that while I love the entire album, this song just shatters my heart every time:

It just captures the bittersweetness of motherhood so, so well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Project Service Project, November: Librivox

OK, I think my week of moping has to be officially over now! Of course it's still hard to deal with my dad being so seriously sick, but I think he'd be among the first people to tell you that you can't just sit down and give up on everything. You've just got to keep going, and more importantly, you've got to look for joy anywhere you can find it. So that's what we'll be doing!

One tried-and-true, no-fail source of joy is service. Helping other people not only makes me happy, it also helps me put my own life and worries into perspective, and forget myself for a little while.

This month I am going to be volunteering with Librivox, an organization working to provide free audio recordings of every book in the public domain. It's not a life-or-death project, but it's one that I believe in. I think that everyone should have access to great literature, regardless of health or financial situation. Librivox makes is working to make this possible.

What I think makes Librivox so unique is that the organization relies on volunteers to do the legwork, so all the recording, proof-listening and cataloging is done by volunteers from their homes all over the world. As it turns out, Librivox only has one recording in Norwegian, so I'm going to be helping them with that. Hopefully I can soon post a link so you can hear my reading!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I got nothin'.

Friends, it looks like it's going to be at quiet week for Project Project. For whatever reason, be it my dad's illness, or being conjoined with an inconsolable teething baby, I'm in a bit of slump right now. I'm just not really feeling it. I'll be back once I'm a bit more on top of things again.

Until then, go check out these guys (actually, mostly girls) who are absolutely on top of it:

  • Tana is writing a novel this month for NaNoWriMo.
  • Erin is posting daily at The Insulin Crowd to raise awareness about diabetes.
  • Reagan has a seriously adorable daughter at Regan's Blob. I read about Reagan and Piper every day!
  • Get Crafty with One Pretty Thing. Actually, thousands of pretty things. Your eyes may very well bleed from the cute.
  • Pearl is hilarious and has attachment issues with her cell phone.
  • Josh is in trouble for talking about his "p-ness" in front of a group of church ladies.
  • Party Perfect is filled with all the inspiration you will ever need for your next party. Consider your eyeballs warned.

PS, if you know of a man who blogs about anything other than technology, science, politics or sports, let me know! My blog roll is seriously skewed.

Image borrowed here. No, the kitten doesn't have anything to do with this post, other than that everyone needs more kittens.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Week: The End

Sorry this post is a bit late, my mind has been elsewhere for the last couple of days.

In spite of a rocky start, we had a really great weekend with Nick's mom and dad. Our nephews, Luke and Rylan, were also in town to spend Halloween with Grandma and Grandpa, and we really enjoyed being able to spend some time with them, especially seeing as they are about to move across the country.

Here's how we got our Halloween on this year:

First we carved pumpkins (Luke and Grandpa action-shot),

while Grandma baked cookies. Which I didn't take this photo of because I was too busy shoveling them in my face.

Then the boys got dressed and ready to go trick or treating. Luke is a mail man (not a postal worker!), Rylan is Batman, and Espen is a lion. Nick is essentially a photo prop (but a very handsome one).

Oh, what's that, you wanted a better look at Espen? Well... OK!

Here's where things got a little crazy: My in-laws live in a very popular neighborhood for trick or treating, and so people were quite literally out in the thousands. We probably handed out about 900 pieces of candy, and one neighbor estimated that they had 1300 people come to their door. It was nuts. Nick's mom opened the door to the first trick or treaters at 5:30 PM, and didn't close it until we ran out of candy at 8 PM.

But we braved the crowds anyway, and headed out into the streets. This photo might give you a clue as to why this neighborhood gets hit so hard. Some of the houses just get really into it!

And that was essentially it for us. We went back in, put a very tired and grateful Espen to bed and then watched Luke and Rylan sort through their candy. Sunday was offically Halloween, but we spent that going to church, playing board games with the family, and then driving back.

Halloween was a lot different this year than it has been before, but in a good way. Nick and I got into the whole dressing up thing, because we HAD TO have one for Espen. I essentially decided a year ago that he was going to be a lion, and so we had to find the right costume (with the all-essential loopy mane!) to make my dreams come true. It just occurred to me that Espen had a Halloween costume picked out before we had settled on a name for him! :)

Trick or treating was fun too, because we enjoyed seeing Espen's experiencing something so new and different. It really wasn't about the candy for us, and the closest Espen got to all of that was holding a ring pop that his cousin gave him. This year the holidays had a real family focus for us, and that is something that I would like to keep up in years to come.

Oh, you wanted one more photo of Espen before we go? One of him wearing Norwegian mittens? Well, you're in luck:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Week: TV Specials

Last night we Halloweened it up by watching some of this:

And a little bit of this:

We laughed hard.

You can watch them too (at least you can if you live in the US.) Here!

We are heading out of town for our second annual North family Halloween-a-thon in Southern Utah (Read about the first one here). I'm not sure how computery I'll be while we're gone, but there will indeed be updates on Monday.

Happy Halloween!

Image borrowed here and here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Week: Crafty Crafty

Just a short post today because it's getting late and I'm tired. But first I wanted to show you the fruits of my crafty labors! I'm not a huge crafter, but when I found this tutorial, I decided to give it a try, and this is what I came up with.

Aren't they cute? They're too teeny tiny to really fit much inside, but just looking at them makes me happy. I stuffed as much candy inside them as I could possibly fit, and will be dropping them off for some friends tomorrow.

While I was making them, it occurred to me that I really like working with paper. There's something about the scoring and folding, and then turning something flat into something three-dimensional that really appeals to me. Cheap therapy, perhaps?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Week: Scary movies

For us, a big part of Halloween is watching scary movies. Although, when I say "scary", you should probably take that with a bucket of salt. We don't really do blood, guts and gore at our house, but much prefer something creepy and suspenseful. Or really quirky.

Remember Eerie, Indiana?

We're working our way through the series, and it is turning out to be the perfect lead-up to Halloween; light, funny, yet oddly creepy for something aimed at children. I definitely recommend checking it out!

A few other titles for later in the week:

What movies will you be watching this Halloween?

All images borrowed from Netflix, except Buffy, because Netflix's version was LAME.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Week: Playlist

Well, this is a first for Project Project - I am repeating Halloween week! I had so much fun with it last year that I decided to get in some spooky scariness this week. I'll be posting every day this week about a different Halloween activity. I'm hoping that this will help those of you who celebrate the holiday to get in the spirit (ha!) of things a bit, and that those of you who don't (I'm looking at you, Europeans!) might enjoy learning a bit about what the big deal is. This year should be especially fun with now that we have Espen around.

To get us all started, I am kicking off Halloween Week 2010 with a little playlist. As you might know, I am fond of a good playlist. And this, I think, is a good playlist to get your Halloween juices flowing. In case you happen to come across a purple people eater of your very own.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On the needles: Because what I need is a few more projects.

It's seems I've been riding (perhaps even driving?) the lazy train where blogging is concerned this week. Have no fear, though, because next week I'll be posting daily! Oh, what rapture just filled your bosom.

Before that, though, I wanted to introduce another project series that I am going to cleverly entitle "On the Needles", and it's going to be all about knitting - gasp! Most of you probably already know that I knit, but I've seriously fallen off the wagon since Espen was born, and it wasn't until I made these little guys for the humanitarian newborn kit I made in August that I got back into it again. Of course, knitting ten of these didn't help (or hurt?) either.

Right now I am working on a Christmas present for my brother-in-law, Cody. I am knitting him this hat, and you can see how it's coming along in the photo. And don't you worry, Cody has far better things to do with his life than read my blog, so the secret is safe!

See you on Monday!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Let's get down to business. The winner of the $40 CSN Stores giveaway is:



I'm so happy that Nancy won that I sort of feel like I cheated! But I promise that random.org very solemnly and without prejudice selected the 26th comment on this post. See?

I especially like that Nancy is planning to use her prize to do something nice for her mom. Wouldn't we all like to do something for our mamas? I know I would.

Thanks everyone for taking part in this giveaway! I'm sure there will be more to come :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Project Service Project, October: Blog Action Day 2010

Today I will be joining thousands of bloggers around the world as we write to create awareness and spark a discussion about the need for clean water. Personally, I'm doing this in part as a way to serve others for my Project Service Project, and in part because I believe that with great privilege comes great responsibility. "Because I have been given much, I too must give."*

I've thought a lot about how to address this topic with you. It's a hard topic, and we generally don't like to think about hard topics. I want to talk about the need for people all over the world to have access to clean water, and I want to do so without making you feel uncomfortable to the point that you just skim through this post without absorbing anything.

I could take the blunt, straight-to-the-point approach and tell you that one billon people don't have access to safe, clean water.** I could tell you that 42,000 people die every week from unsafe water.

I could tell you (and this is the one that I keep returning to in my mind) that 90% (or 38,000, if you prefer) of those deaths are children under the age of five. I could ask you to take a minute to think about some of the under-fives in your life.

I could tell you about the thousands of women and children who are raped and assaulted while walking many miles to their nearest water source with a 40 lb. (18 kg.) weight of water on their backs. Water that isn't safe anyway. I could ask you to imagine trying to run to safety with a 40 lb. can of water strapped to you.

I thought about going the guilt route and demonstrating how much water we use in a single day in the Western world by tracking my own water usage. How the average person uses 122 gallons (465 liters) of water every day, or how it takes 24 liters to produce a hamburger. A t-shirt? 1,514. A pair of jeans? 6,813.

But, clearly, that's not what I'll be be doing. :)

Instead, though, I want to tell you about the good that can be done.

For example, if a well is built in a village, like charity:water is doing, some major changes take place in the community. The obvious change is of course that the water is now clean and safe to drink. But other benefits include women and children now spending 15 minutes getting water, rather than 3 hours. The children are now able to go to school full-time, while the women now have more time to spend caring for their families, maybe growing vegetables to supplement their diet and sell at the market.

And guess what? This has happened in almost 3000 places!

What's even cooler is that you can help. I've previously mentioned my friend Nancy, who is fundraising to build a well in the Central African Republic. You can donate*** as little as $1, which I'm sure would still make Nancy's day. Not to mention the people on the receiving end of the well, and the fantastic change it will make in their lives.

But giving money can be hard sometimes. I understand that. But there are always other things you can do! Here are some suggestions for how you can help:
Safe and clean water is so much a part of our every day lives, let's please work together to make it that way for everyone.

For more watery blogs, check out One Pointy Stick's take on the issue here.
*From this hymn, by Grace Noll Crowell.

**Facts and figures primarily found here.

*** If you do make a donation, be sure to enter leave three entries/comments on my current giveaway post for a chance to win a $40 gift card.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Project Service Project: September update

I finally got around to taking some pictures of my finished hats that I knitted for Caps for Good, and thought you might like to know that I'm not just making this all up. :) I ended up with a total of ten hats, all of which took roughly two hours each. They were easy to make, and it was so satisfying to complete something while watching a movie. I tried to keep the colors somewhat gender-neutral, although the beige might be a bit more boyish, and the purple might be a bit more girly. Although I certainly wouldn't die of mortification if Espen wore a hat in that color! :)

Now all that remains for me is to write and attach the little tags that go with them. I really like the idea of being able to include a personal message to whomever receives my hats, I just need to decide what I want to write, and then I can mail them off.

Yesterday was a lovely day, and I so enjoyed that Nick was able to take the day off work for his birthday and spend it with me and Espen. After opening presents and generally lazing around the house all morning, we went up to Maple Lake for a walk. We were the only ones there, so it was quiet, private and beautiful. We all really enjoyed being outside, especially Espen who chattered excitedly the whole way while brandishing a leaf, and then promptly fell asleep in the car on the way home. More days off with my family, please!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Giveaway

The fine fellows at CSN Stores have given me another $40 gift certificate to give away to one of you lovely readers for you to spend on anything from dining sets to air compressors (be still, my beating heart!). CSN Stores is a chain of over 200 online stores, and you can use this gift certificate at any one of them.

Here is how this is going to go down:

  • I am offering you up to six different ways to enter this giveaway, and they are as follows:

    1. Leave a comment on this post.
    2. Become a follower of this blog and leave a second comment telling me that you have done so. Yes, you can leave a second comment if you are already a follower! Clarification: You are officially a follower of when you have clicked on the button that says "follow" in the column on the right, and your little face shows up in the little grid of pictures.
    3. Leave a comment on my mum's blog. She gets discouraged when she thinks that no one is reading (don't we all?), so head over and leave a comment on any post you like on her blog. Then come back to this post and tell me about it.
    4. Finally, my friend and fellow-blogger Nancy is running a half marathon to raise money to build a well in the Central African Republic. If you made a donation to Nancy's campaign, feel free to leave three more comments (that's three more entries!) on this post. Your donation can be as small as $1, but the good news is that it can be as big as you like! :)

  • Please make sure your email address is easy to find on your page or profile, and include it in your comment if not.
  • The giveaway is open to anyone in the US and Canada (sorry, everyone else!).
  • I will be announcing the winner one week from today, on Monday, 18 October.

Now go forth and win, win, win!

Image borrowed here. Naturally.

Some housekeeping

Happy Monday, friends! At least I hope you're having a happy Monday. I seem to have gone from hating them for marking the official end to the weekend, to liking the freshy freshyness of a new week. Let me tell you about this new week is going to bring around here:

The really big event at our house this week is Nick's birthday tomorrow. Espen and I will be spending the day in preparation for tomorrow's festivities, and then Nick is taking the day off work tomorrow to bask in the splendor of our birthday-related adoration. Oh, and I'll be spending the day as far away from the computer as possible, so no blog tomorrow.

By now you have probably asked yourself at least once what the deal is with the young H20-enjoying gentleman in today's picture. Well, that brings us to both Friday and my Project Service Project for October. This month I will be participating in Blog Action Day 2010 in order to raise awareness about the need for clean, drinkable water around the world. I won't get on my soap box about that just yet, except to say "if you can go into your kitchen and pour yourself a glass of clean water without fear of disease or assault, then you are not among the 1 billion people this campaign aims to reach." More about that on Friday, but if you're feeling like a little bit of an aquatic activist today, there is still time to join me and thousands of others in blogging about this. Or you could sign the petition of support up their in the top right corner of my blog.

Also, please check back later today for a new giveaway!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Outside Week: Walky Thursday

I swear I picked the worst possible week to do this, because all of my posts are about dodging the rain! And of course next week is supposed to be sunny and warmer. Oh well, if we can do this under difficult circumstances, then surely we can keep it up when the sun comes out?

The moral of yesterday's story is to seize the moment, make hay while the sun shines. quit being a procrastinating fool and just get outside. The weather in the morning and early afternoon was fairly decent (i.e. not wet), but I just wasn't feeling it for getting the stroller out, bundling us both up and trudging through the neighbourhood. Neither of us had gotten much sleep (as evidenced by the serious bags under my eyes in the photo), and Espen was grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Come to think of it, so was I.

This is a little bleak, isn't it?

Then, when Espen had had his nap (and an extra one!), we were both feeling a lot more cheerful and ready for action. But the weather had other plans, and was still bucketing out of the sky. So we stayed inside. Four o'clock rolled around, which any parent will tell you is the trickiest time of the day, and we were getting desperate. So when I spotted a break in the rain, we bolted out the door. Knowing we didn't have a lot of time on our hands, I put Espen in the Ergo, and headed off. It was actually nice having him snuggled up against me in the baby carrier, because it was a bit on the cold and windy side, and we were probably both glad of some extra warmth. Not that our little arctic monkey minds the cold. At all.

All we had time for was a quick gallop around the pond before the rain started up again, but it did still feel good to get out and clear the cobwebs a bit. It's good to remind myself (again and again) that we don't need to do big and extravagant things together to have a good time.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Outside Week: Parky Wednesday

It relentlessly drizzled and drizzled all day yesterday, to the point that I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever get a chance to leave the house. I had begun negotiations with myself to determine if talking Espen as far as the mailbox would count as going outside. Then, as we were having dinner, I looked out of the window and saw mostly clear, blue skies and some sunshine, and knew it was now or never.

Nick was going to get a hair cut, so we had him drop us off at Spanish Fork's latest triumph, the ever-popular North Park. Which, PS, is worthy of its own Know Your Fork post at some point in the future, especially seeing as I couldn't find a single decent online photo or reference to it.

It was after six by the time we got there, and seeing as the weather really hasn't been all that great, the park was almost empty. So Espen and I walked the trail around the park. It was getting a bit cold and windy (Spanish Fork is almost always windy because we're right at the mouth of a canyon), but we were fine. In fact, Espen was delighted whenever the wind blew straight in his face. Funny kid.

After we'd done all of the walking the park had to offer, we headed over to the swings for Espen's first ever solo-ride. I was pretty sure that he was either going to love it or hate it, and nothing in between. Well, you decide:

I love sharing new experiences with this little man! He is just so happy and interested and excited about the world that introducing him to anything (except strained peas - and who could blame him?) is just a delight. Espen smiled and smiled and laughed and squealed his way through his first swing experience, and then protested loudly when I decided it was too cold to stay out any longer. He soon cheered up when he realized we were off on another walk over to meet his Daddy and his freshly cut hair. Or maybe the freshly cut hair was Mama's favourite?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Outside Week: Ducky Tuesday

One of the things I very first fell in love with with our house is how close it is to a duck pond. Being a transplant to the desert from a much wetter climate, it has meant a lot to me to have some form of water nearby, even if it is a bit green and sludgy. And even after two years of living here, the ducks still remain a bit of a novelty to me!

Yesterday's outdoor adventure came in the form of an expedition to feed the ducks. It has to be said that Espen has led a very sheltered life where animals are concerned: he has met Ellie the Dog and Frances the Cat, and that is pretty much it. So you can imagine that ducks were quite the novelty. As you can see in the photo, I don't think Espen's eyes left the ducks for a second. When he's interested in something, he gets this solemn, focused look on his face that just kills me. And you guys know how willing he is to ham it up for the camera!

The whole endeavor took about twenty minutes, and cost us a couple of heels of bread. In addition to the fun of a new experience for Espen, it also felt really good to get outside and breathe some fresh air in between the rain showers. We did feel a few rain drops when we were walking home, but the clouds were nice enough to hold off until we were inside before they got down to business.

So, tell me: how do you try to get some outside time?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Outside Week: Rainy Monday

This week Espen and I are going to try to spend a little bit of time outside each day. Winter is approaching, and I'd like to get out and about as much as we can before it gets too cold and nasty. Not that cold and nasty weather has ever stopped a Norwegian, but I no longer live in Norway, and am getting a bit soft.

The other reason I want to get us outside a bit more is my eternal, maternal worrying. I worry that Espen is going to be part of a generation that is destined to spend even more time sitting in front of screens than we do. I worry that if we don't teach him early on that there is fun to be had quite literally in your own back yard, that he's going to grow up thinking that entertainment is something that is provided for you, rather than something you make yourself.

So outside we go!

Except yesterday was nothing but wet and rainy. Every time Espen was awake and fed and ready to go, it just rained and rained. At first I felt defeated, and like we were going to have to give up before it even got started. So I went to make myself some tea to aid me in my moping, and while I was in the kitchen it started raining even harder.

I mean really hard.

So I went to get Espen, and brought him to the glass door in the kitchen to show him the rain. He was absolutely fascinated! We sat on the floor by the door for a good 20 minutes and just watched:

It really was quite beautiful to watch. It was coming down so hard and so fast that we were essentially looking at a giant puddle where each falling rain drop made a splash and rings in the gathered water.

In the top picture we have door open, and the rain is splashing in on our faces, which Espen loved. At first he stared intently and blinked his eyes a bit as the rain hit his face, and then he started squealing and trying to head outside. We're not that outdoorsy yet.

Sure, our hair got wet and I had to get out a rag to wipe up the floor a bit from the rain, but it was so worth the teeny tiny inconvenience to see my little boy experience rain for the first time. It was so simple, but also a great reminder that things don't have to be complicated or expensive or especially time consuming in order to do something fun and really special together.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Project Service Project: At long last - the newborn kit!

Happy Monday to you! How was your weekend?

We mostly spent ours watching General Conference, which was interesting with a 7 month-old to keep happy! Fortunately, the talks are available to watch online, so I can try again with the ones I was most interested in, but missed parts of due to little Mister Noisemaker.

I always walk away from General Conference feeling so inspired, with a desire to be better, kinder, more patient, more loving and faithful. The well-used LDS cliché about getting your spiritual batteries recharged at conference time really has a lot of truth to it.

We watched the conference at home on television, so I spent a lot of it knitting. I'm now up to nine caps for Caps for Good, and I also finished my first Christmas present of the year, which is definitely a new record for me! Does turning 30 make you more on top of things?

Speaking of being on top of things (or in this case, not at all), I realized that I never showed you the finished result of my Newborn Kit for August's Project Service Project.

Oh my goodness, friends, was this ever a lot of work! At least it was a lot of work for me and my general lack of finesse and general knowhow around a sewing machine ("me Tamsin, you thing for to make stuff"). But I persevered, and after a long, long time, this is what I ended up with:

There's the blanket, which, if you remember, you have already seen, and then there's the little nightgown thingy, which I sewed with my own little hands, and am so proud of I could burst:

Then I knitted these chunky little newborn socks, which are really more like little baby Uggs. Please excuse me while I toot my own horn and assert that they are adorable.

I'm not crazy enough to sew my own cloth diapers, thank you very much, nor did I handcraft the diaper pins out of drift wood and hand-spun yak's wool. However, The diapers were an investment, and the diaper pins were so hard to find that I think they deserve their own photo. Also, the diaper pins we found are seriously cute:

This kit was by far the hardest to put together. It was expensive (think $12 for a pack of cloth diapers alone, and I didn't even use all of them) seeing as I had to buy cloth diapers, diaper pins, fabric and thread for the nightgown and the blanket, yarn for the socks, and soap. Where the other two kits were put together in basically as long as it took to buy their components and stick them in a bag, this one required time and money, both things I generally hoard for myself and my family. I kept thinking about just making another school or hygiene kit instead, seeing as they are cheaper, easier and just as wanted.

However, I just couldn't stop thinking about the hypothetical (and extremely real) baby out there that will one day receive the kit I made. A baby who might otherwise start out in life with not so much as a blanket to be wrapped in. And then I thought of his (or her, I guess, even though my kit is a bit on the boyish side) mother, struggling to take care of a newborn with so little resources. I knew I had to finish my kit, even when it was hard, even when I felt inadequate, even when I had to sew stretchy cuffs on those tiny little sleeves. Sure, the seams on my blanket may be seems only a mother could love, but if you had to choose between wrapping your baby in an imperfectly seamed blanket, or a newspaper, I'm thinking you might learn to love that little blanket pretty quickly.

We have so much where we live, and our little Espen wants for nothing. So how can I not share the tiniest bit of my blessings with someone who needs them so much more than I do?

I'm ending this post with a quick shot of my junior art director making a few adjustments during our photo shoot for this post. What can I say, he's a hands-on kind of a guy!

Oh, and I have another project going this week, so please check back later to see what we'll be up to!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chore Chart Week: Friday and Summary

It's now Sunday morning, and I have a few minutes (mostly) to myself while Espen plays and Nick gets a rare chance to sleep in, so I thought I'd tell you about how my week went.

On Friday it was time to do the kitchen and living room again. The living room only took about 10 minutes to pick up and dust, which is absolutely an exciting development. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen took a lot longer, and is probably the only room that hasn't gotten faster or easier to clean. Still, I managed to get it presentable in about half an hour, and that was with a grumpy baby in tow. Said grumpy baby is also the reason why I didn't vacuum the living room, because every time I tried to do it, Espen would burst into the world's saddest tears, and after about the third attempt, I decided I would rather snuggle my baby than clean.

Then, when the opportunity arose, we both decided that we would much rather go out to dinner with Nick than mop the kitchen floor, so there.

All in all, I actually really liked assigning different jobs to different days, and felt like it worked quite well for me. I loved how it helped me to not feel so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, that I give up before I start. Similarly, knowing that everything had its own day to be done, helped me to not feel guilty about not having done something yet. Yes, I might see that the bathroom could use cleaning on Monday, but that's OK, because I'm going to clean it on Tuesday.

What didn't seem to work so well for me were the days that were less structured. When I was supposed to be cleaning bedrooms, I felt like I was just meandering around between the rooms without actually accomplishing much of what I set out to do. And on the day I had set aside to take care of something "off the list" that needed doing, I did the same vague dabbling. Still, in all fairness to myself, I wasn't feeling too good on either of those days (all better now, thanks!), so getting anything done at all should be counted as a bit of an accomplishment.

I also have to learn to be OK with not getting everything to an absolutely flawless state the first time around. I didn't get our bedroom to where I wanted this time, but I was able to make some pretty significant improvements. If I spend a similar amount of time on it next week, I should be able to make things even better. Progression, not perfection, right?

I have decided to try to keep this schedule up for a while, and see how it works long term. I love that every room in the house has been somewhat improved in the past week, and that it has happened without any major effort on my part. I've only spent up to an hour a day cleaning (and sometimes much less), and that works really, really well when you have a small child to take care of. Or just a busy schedule. Honestly, I could see this being the way to go when we were both working full-time. Testify!

And now I'm going to make pancakes for our breakfast.

Image borrowed here. I wish my cleaning supplies were that pretty!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chore Chart Week: Thursday

Thursday was meant to be Choose Your Own Adventure day, and I had big plans to get some yard work done. However, the adventure that my body chose for me was to spend the afternoon in a ball on the couch, only pausing to make the occasional dash for the bathroom. Lovely.

My biggest accomplishment for the day, besides keeping Espen clean, clothed and fed, was lugging the pot of petunias from outside the front door and into the back yard. I planted five little pink and purple petunia plants in April, and they grew and grew and grew all summer long. By the end of September they are now a bedraggled mess, but seeing as they are still alive and flowering, I can't quite bring myself to getting rid of them yet. However, that doesn't mean I have to subject the entire neighborhood to my sentimentalities, so said petunias are now declining in dignity in the privacy of the back yard. I also managed to water whatever is still alive in our flower beds, but beyond that brief stint, yesterday was not my most productive day ever.

Oh well.

However, I did manage to complete my seventh knitted cap for Caps for Good last night, which I am quite happy about! September is officially over, but I am debating making a few more while I watch General Conference this weekend. They're so quick and easy to make, and 10 sounds like such a nice, round number, don't you think? You can see a couple of them in the photo. Espen is such a supportive little guy, don't you think? :)

Also, check out Nancy's post about Caps for Good here. I love the little kitty ears on her hat!

And while we're talking about Project Service Project, I would love to hear your ideas for what I could do in the coming months. I'm basically up for anything that's not a long term commitment, and that I can complete in a month or less. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chore Chart Week: Wednesday - and a tour of Espen's room

Yesterday was the day for cleaning the bedrooms, and to be honest, it kind of got the better of me. Besides there just being a lot to do, I couldn't do anything with Espen's room or the guestroom next door while he was napping, without risking waking him up. And with Espen not being one of those babies who naps happily to the sound of the vacuum cleaner, I had to keep that quiet too. It was kind of trickyl!

But, I did what I could: in our room I decluttered the dresser (seriously, we should not be allowed flat surfaces!), I put away clean laundry and did another load, I dusted and generally picked up as much of the room as I could in whatever short bursts I could had.

I was really kind of dragging and feeling unfocused and unmotivated, though. I think having three rooms to do made it so I drifted back and forth between them without really accomplishing much. The guest room should have taken about 20 minutes tops, and I still haven't finished it yet. I did put a few things away and wash the sheets, but they still haven't made it back onto the bed yet. Oh well. At least I managed to vacuum the entire upstairs after Nick came home and could console Espen, who is not a fan of the mighty vacuum cleaner.

I did, however, manage to get Espen's room cleaned, dusted, vacuumed and put away. I can't take all the credit, though, seeing as I had some help with the clean laundry:

Once his room was all nice and tidy, I decided to finally post some photos of Espen's room for you to see. Y'know, like I promised to about 9 months ago. We finally have curtains up now, so it feels a lot more complete and the the room I wanted it to be:

Above is the view from the door. The light isn't all that great because I took these photos in the late afternoon when the sun was streaming in the window. But you get the idea! Nick's mother sewed the curtains, and I am so pleased with how they turned out!

One of my very favourite things in Espen's room is the mural above his crib. We ordered it from Simple Shapes, and I am so happy with how it looks. I'm typically really not a big fan of vinyl decals (sorry!), but we wanted something for the walls above his crib, but needed to make sure it was something Espen couldn't pull into his bed, or that might fall on him. And his tree really is perfect. The blanket was crocheted by a friend. I really love being able to add thoughtful little touches like that to the room.

This is just a detail of the tiny wall between the door and the closet. My mum gave Espen the hooks, and the picture is a print by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson of his son, Esbjörn. Which is incidentally the Swedish form of Espen. You can get a closer look here.

This is the only unfinished space. I want to get a cool print to hang above the small table, but haven't found quite the right thing yet. The blanket hanging over the chair was made by Nick's now-100 year old grandmother. She made it for Nick when he was a baby, but Nick's mom thought it was too nice to use, and so she kept it safe for over 30 years, and now we are lucky enough to have it! I still think it's too nice and too special for Espen to crawl around on, so it's mostly decorative these days.
The giraffe winds up and plays "Twinkle, twinkle, little star" and Espen listens to it whenever it's time to fall asleep. I'm sure you were wondering about the big blue penguin too - it's a humidifier :)

And that's it! That's where our little guy sleeps and lives out his tiny human drama.