Crib notes

Seren has spent this first year of her life sleeping in a travel crib. We got it when we lived in a teeny tiny NYC apartment. It served well for Karis until we moved into an actual house and inherited a cute Jenny Lind crib from a family friend.

Brecken also spent the first year of his life in the travel crib. We kept it next to our bed in the master bedroom, too nervous to leave him unattended with an exuberant toddler in the next room. When he outgrew it around eleven months he graduated to that trusty old Jenny Lind crib too.

Well, the Jenny Lind crib has long since been repurposed into a toy table and a fabric rack. With Seren able to pull herself up and shake the travel crib like King Kong it was time to get her a proper, stable cage. I mean bed.

I went to Babies R Us and found a not-too-ugly crib for two hundred dollars! Perfect! What are the odds that the ONLY crib I didn’t find completely fug also happened to be the least expensive? Jesse would be thrilled!


That crib had been discontinued, and they couldn’t sell me the floor model for liability reasons. “Why not?” I asked. “Because I put it together.” The butchy team member answered. “But I’m going to take it apart and put it back together myself.” I said, reasonably. She then launched into a long monologue about the strict California liability law systembeuracracyohmygodmakeherstoptalking.

I asked if any other stores had the crib in stock. Two did, but they were far away and it would take two to three months for them to be shipped, because that makes perfect sense?


I went online in search of a crib. I found some. Boy did I find some! Sadly, all of the interesting, non-ugly, vintage-y cribs were a bajillion dollars. Even the super ugly, yet somehow extremely popular sleigh bed cribs were mad expensive. Why would I want to spend ridiculous amounts of money on a piece of furniture I found extremely depressing? Then I found a semi-classic looking crib for a little over three hundred bucks! Is it my dream crib? No. But it was as close as I could find on a budget. Plus, I had plans for this crib. Oh did I have plans!


 photo 13793369_zpse730b125.jpgLolly & Me Ellery @ Target


This crib’s finish was a bit meh in my opinion. I have had it up to my armpits with mass-produced, cookie cutter things. I decided to make this crib a one-of-a-kind piece of furniture. Enter Annie Sloan chalk paint.

I have to give a gold star to my husband for not batting an eye when the first thing I did to this brand new crib when I took it out of the box was take a sander to it and round off its edges in a charming, uneven fashion.


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Then I started to paint it! I got the first coat finished that night, then the next morning I did the second coat. It looked good, but it was missing something. This crib was calling for a fleur de lis! I put the crib on hold and got all dressed up for a mom-date with Mimi! She took me out to sushi for my birthday. It was the first time I had eaten at a restaurant without a kid in years. Years. I’m not even exaggerating. After lunch, Mimi chauffeured me around to various home improvement stores to check out their molding selections. They sucked. Not a fleur de lis to be found. Michaels came through with a flat fleur de lis, and I bought two, but I didn’t love them. I took them home and sanded their crisp edges until they were softly rounded. Once I attached them I realized that not finding a fleur de lis in the molding section was super lucky, because these looked great!


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Finally I applied the wax coats. First clear, then dark. That wax is like magic. Suddenly my crib looked like it came out of a fairy tale. It’s charming, and unique, and one-of-a-kind. Totally worth the sore hands.

I wish I had a cozy little nursery with sunlight filtering through lace curtains to showcase the finished product, but Seren sleeps in my room and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so you’ll have to settle for a shot of the crib in my living room. Pretend it looks like a nursery from a story book cottage.


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Here there be dragons! (infant/toddler costume dragons, that is!)


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Last year was a totally lame year for us in the Halloween costume department. I played the I-just-gave-birth card and didn’t dress up. We let the kids pick out cheap costumes at Target – they were THRILLED. Ingrates! (One day they will appreciate my hours of labor at the sewing machine to make them custom, adorable costumes. One day…)

Anyway, to make up for it, this year I plan to dress up. I’m not buying a ready made costume, or a slutty-fill-in-ANY-profession-or-object. Jesse and I were brainstorming and we decided to go as our favorite binge-watching series characters. Jesse picked his based on how little effort he could get away with putting into it. He’s going as Dexter! (His full costume will consist of a lanyard with Miami Metro forensics ID and a donut box. Perfect.) The kids are undecided, but leaning toward Rocky Balboa, and Princess Leia. I have decided to go as Daenerys – Mother of Dragons! Naturally that means Seren will go as a dragon. No, it’s not the most original idea – if you Google it a million images of women with dragons in Baby Bjorns comes up – but it will be fun nonetheless.

I popped over to  to do a review and found the perfect baby dragon costume in their costumes for babies section.

I made the mistake of ordering a size bigger than I needed. I went with size 12-18 months because Seren would technically be 12 months at Halloween. It’s about 3 inches too big for her arms and legs. I’m too lazy to deal with returns (which are super easy – return unworn items within 10 days for a refund) so I’m going to hope she grows a little more in the next two months and make it work.


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As far as the costume goes, the quality is pretty darn good. There are little wings that Velcro securely to the back, and a hood that will keep little heads warm if you’re trick-or-treating in a cold climate. We wont be. We seem to be forever destined to live in eighty degree weather. There are worse fates.

The designer of this costume gets an extra gold star because the bottom leg area snaps open for easy diaper changes, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

For those of you overachieving parents out there that want to fully embrace the season, check out these Halloween activities for you and your baby. (Can you tell this is a random, obligatory link for an affiliate of some sort? Disney is everywhere.)

I’m getting excited for Halloween, Internet! I don’t know why, considering my neighborhood is a post-apocalyptic wasteland on that special night, but I can’t help but still get excited. You should be excited too – you’ll get to see me as Daenerys with a muffin top! You’re welcome!!

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You’ve got mail

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Brecken loves to draw, but he really has no interest in printing. He regularly takes twice as long to finish work than his fellow classmates. When homework calls for printing practice it’s like pulling teeth to get him to focus. So I stopped fighting him on it. Instead I went to the craft store and bought a little mailbox. It looks like a miniature version of our real mailbox. I set it by their chore charts and told them it was their personal mailbox. Then I put a stack of stationary and little cards in their supply drawer and let them figure out the rest.

They did not disappoint!


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Brecken still tends to do more illustrating than writing, but he is developing a love for written correspondence that will hopefully last a lifetime. Emails and Facebook messages are all fine and dandy, but nothing beats the intimacy of a handwritten missive from a loved one.

Also of note is Karis’ love and adoration of her brother that she happily writes about. It’s hard to imagine these notes were written by the same girl that fights with him over who gets to pick what to watch on t.v..

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MTV Cribs, baby style

Jesse: “What is this charge for three hundred and ninety-eight dollars?!”

Me: “That’s for the new crib.”

Jesse: “We never agreed to buy that crib!”

Me: “Yes we did, remember? You said to get the ugly one, I said ‘gross’, and then your mom said to just get it because we can use it for the next five years. It turns into a toddler bed, you know.”

Jesse shakes his head in exasperation. Then he pulls up a very mod, oval crib on his computer screen.

Jesse: “I still think we should have gone with this one. How much could this possibly be?”

Me: “Expensive. I know four hundred seems like a lot, but I promise you, most cribs are five to eight hundred – and ugly. I was being reasonable. The ones I really liked were a few thousand…”

Jesse finds the price on the mod crib.

Jesse: “NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS? Are you kidding me?”

Me: “See? Four hundred doesn’t seem so bad now does it? It’s a cute crib. Wait til you see what I do with it!”

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Officially aged out of prime marketing demographics

I come to you today older and wiser, Internet. My 36th birthday was on Wednesday! It was a wonderful day full of doing whatever the hell I wanted. (Consequently, the house was a disaster and homework folders almost didn’t get filled out.)

My birthday present to myself was feeling good in my own skin. I woke up and said, “Damn I look good! Time for a birthday selfie!!” Then I took this blurry picture:


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I love it because it shows what a hot-ass 36 year old I am, and the look of intense concentration on my face is what I look like every time I try to do ANYTHING with a cellphone. Anything. Those that know me, know I have BRF. (Bitchy Resting Face)


But add to that me having to do something on a small screen and you’ve got yourself one helluva scowl.

The kids were super excited it was my birthday because CAKE. Jesse ordered my favorite cake, but still complained about how he wishes I had a more sophisticated palate. His bitching about my cake preference has become a birthday tradition, and I’m okay with that. I return the favor every time I have to make him carrot cake. Bleugh.

As a gift he got me 16GB of RAM for my computer. I have spent the last 3 years living with 4GB of RAM and beating my head against my desk as I waited for my machine to do the simplest of tasks. The true gift came when we tried to install the RAM. We couldn’t do it. It wouldn’t go in easily and we feared breaking something, so we called the help number. Our call was answered by a man who must have had a head cold? I hope? He was a very heavy mouth breather. He started out sounding like Nicholas Cage in Peggy Sue Got Married, then he advanced to “The call is coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!”, and by the end of our help session he was full on Darth Vader.

I kept snickering as he talked and Jesse kept putting the phone too close to me. I didn’t want the phone near me because I kept imagining Darth Vader breathing on my face. Ewww.

Anyway, Darth knew his stuff, and we fixed the RAM!

Next up was a sushi dinner at my favorite sushi place. (My annual eating of fish meat, if you will.) Then it was home for cake.


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It was a delightful birthday, and I hope the other members of the 8*20 club had an equally special day. I have all my birthday cards from family sitting atop my counter next to my left-over cake which will be consumed tomorrow as I watch episode three of Outlander. Life doesn’t get much better than this. I am a very lucky woman indeed.

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Good riddance.

We recently had our streets slurried. That’s where a bunch of miserable men come around and put fresh black gunk on the road in the hot, hot sun. (Seriously, I hope these guys make a LOT of money.) The end result is a very pretty, smooth new road. Ta-da!


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I have some very exciting news to share with you, Internet! It all started about two weeks ago. It was the day after our street was slurried. I mention this because of course my ass-hole neighbors couldn’t even let us enjoy ONE day of fresh, new black top on our street. No, they had to go and fuck it up by ordering this:


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That is a POD. (Portable on-demand storage) They ordered at least two of those things and filled them to capacity. Then a POD truck came and scraped up the road even more as it hauled them away. Watching those PODS get filled was very exciting for me. Can this be true? Are the ass-hole neighbors moving?! Their house has been foreclosed on for almost two years now, but I never thought I’d see the day that they actually left.

Then this happened:

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!!! Yes, that’s a MOVING TRUCK!! They filled that sucker up too. I did a little victory dance at every piece they put in there.

According to city records they had to be out of there by August 11th. (An early birthday present for me?) So guess what also happened on August 11th? I threw a party! I spent the morning in the kitchen, happily singing to myself as I baked a shit cake, because what better way to  celebrate shitty neighbors leaving than with cake?!


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I couldn’t help snapping one last stealth shot of the Queen Ass-hole as she loaded the last of her belongings into a car:


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That’s her standing in her usual spot where she liked to watch her dog dump on my lawn. (I was standing behind my space shuttle at the time so you can’t see my lawn.) I didn’t see her stupid little dog, Zeus, so I thought he must be at their new location shitting on their new neighbor’s lawn, but as I came out to get mail I walked right into him pissing by my door one last time. I didn’t even bother to yell at him. Or her.

So that was that. The ass-hole neighbors were gone!

The next part of my story should come as no surprise to anyone.

I came outside the next day to find extremely disreputable looking vehicles in front of my house. One of them was the unpainted, gun metal grey of ugliness, the second was a truck of many colors, and the third had blue fire blazing across the hood. Yes. Blue fire. I thought, is this God’s idea of a joke? Surely these are not my new neighbors.

They weren’t. (BIG SIGH OF RELIEF)

They were glorified garage salers. My ass-hole neighbors were apparently hoarders. (Again, not surprised.) After they loaded up their necessary items they left everything else to be sold. On Wednesday I came home from taking the kids to school to find large signs throughout the neighborhood advertising an “estate sale”. *cough*

Estate sale?  *giggle*

Of course I went to go look. You know you would too, Internet.

Oh Internet, words cannot describe the special aroma of funk and despair that greeted me upon entering that house. That place was filthy. Filthy, and still full of crap despite several PODS and trucks having been loaded up and hauled away. Even more entertaining were the price tags affixed to the dusty dishes and pieces of furniture. They were offering such things as a corroded, disgusting plastic patio set for the bargain price of $200.00. Dude. They should have been paying people to haul that garbage away, not expecting people to pay them for the honor.

I made my way through the whole house because I was curious about the layout. I was careful not to touch anything, and breathed through my mouth as much as possible. Two of the rooms downstairs were taped shut. I shudder at the thought of what must have been behind those doors. One can only imagine.

Before leaving I wandered into the backyard to see what my derelict fence looked like from their side. I couldn’t see it. The entire fence was covered in vines with visible rat nests and spider webs. The entire yard was the outside equivalent of the inside.

After several days of hosting an estate sale, the activity next door finally died down. I can’t help but wonder what they are planing to do with all the crap that has been left behind. Will the bank send a cleaning crew over in hopes of attracting a buyer faster? I dunno. As gross as that place is, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if it sat vacant for several months. I like the idea of having zero neighbors on that side.

If and when that dump sells, I will be sure to befriend the new owners. I will be first in line to offer them a basket of fresh baked cookies and welcome them to the neighborhood. If they have a dog I will tell them about all the great dog-friendly parks in the area. We’re going to be BESTIES Internet! Or, more likely, it will be bought by a reclusive, mysterious Chinese family that cooks strong smelling foods and converts spare rooms into walk-in closets. (The majority of my neighborhood is populated by reclusive Chinese women and their children. Their husbands are wealthy Chinese businessmen that stay in China and send money to their families in the states. It makes for an almost post-apocalyptic looking neighborhood; especially around any holiday.)

Of course, it could go the other way. My new neighbors could be even worse than the ass-holes. They could be loud and unruly. They could be cat enthusiasts. They could have teenagers. Teenagers that play in a garage band. Death metal garage band teenagers. Yeah. That’s probably going to be the case.


Remind me again why I don’t live on a farm in the middle of nowhere?

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Turnabout is fair play

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This child.

She is mobile.

Very, very mobile.

She’ll only crawl on her hands and knees a few steps, but she’s been scooting around like a baby seal for weeks now. And she’s FAST. She does an army crawl like a wounded soldier, refusing to use her left leg, scooting along propelled by arms and her right leg with the occasional toe thrown in for leverage now and then. If she sees me coming toward her she’ll squeal and launch into full on baby seal mode, bobbing and wriggling like a fat, juicy grub trying to escape sunlight.

The other day I found her eating dog food. Seren has been sharing her food with Tesla since the very first time I put her in a highchair and she discovered gravity. Consequently, Tesla is now her best friend. Tesla didn’t begrudge Seren a snack when she managed to scoot all the way into the laundry room and go to town on the dog bowls. Instead, the dog just watched in mildly nervous confusion with a look that seemed to say, “Oh, you’re going to eat that? Oh, another bite? Okay. Wait, more? You’re eating more?” It reminded me of Milton:



Eating dry dog food wasn’t gross enough for Seren, so she dipped each handful into the dog’s water bowl before putting it in her mouth.


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I will save these pictures and bring them out a few years from now when Seren has become a finicky little food tyrant. I’ll be like, “Dude, you ate Scooby snacks! Please tell me my cooking is a step up from that.”

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The shag was a drag, now the rug doesn’t bug.

When we moved in to this house we bought a thick, green shag carpet for the family room. Living room? I never know which room is which. It’s where the FAMILY spends most of its time LIVING. That room. The rug held up decently for the first two years, but eventually it began to show wear and tear. There was a gob of gum smooshed into the corner, long since having turned black, countless Lego men had wandered into the jungles of The Shag, never to be heard from again, and the area in front of the couch was completely destroyed by heavy traffic. Every time I vacuumed that thing I would find delicious chokables the baby would be more than happy to put in her mouth if given half a chance. Basically the rug had become a death trap.

While cleaning up a spill – I can’t remember if it was dog vomit, baby pee or some other delight – I noticed the towel I was using had turned BLACK when I blotted the rug. It was from all the filth hidden within the shag. I decided I was going to wash the rug.

(If I had a time machine this is the time I would go back to and say, “Don’t waste your time or the water!”)

I hauled that gross rug out to the driveway and hosed it down. Murky water oozed out of it, along with a few almonds, several plastic beads, and 8¢. Next I slogged it over to hang on the fence to dry. It took two days of blazing California sun, but eventually I deemed it dry enough to come back inside. It was clean, but it wasn’t pretty. Cleaning it couldn’t restore its threads to their former fluffy glory. This is what it looked like after I cleaned it:


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I was disgusted with it, and wanted to throw it out immediately. Jesse imagined it having been woven from teeny tiny hundred dollar bills, and declared it a perfectly fine rug. We put the furniture back and went about our lives, but I made no secret of my disdain for the grubby rug.

The next day I was running errands and when I came home I walked in the door and was immediately hit by the smell. Good Lord. It smelled as if we had kidnapped every wet dog in the county and forced them to huddle in our living room (family room?) overnight. It was baaaad. Jesse agreed. Off we went on a family adventure to find a new rug!

After checking a local home improvement store and deeming all their rugs “too old lady” we ended up at Target. I fell instantly in love with a mustard yellow rug. Jesse looked at me askance. “Mustard yellow? It will be way too bright.” Much to the amusement of a woman browsing nearby I answered, “Just trust me already. You love our house. You like every design choice I have made so far. Just go with it.” He hemmed and hawed a bit more, then we discovered the rug I loved was more than 50% off because it had been an internet order return. SOLD!


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So now our room-of-family-living has a cheery mustard yellow rug that is fluffy soft to walk on! I’m no dummy. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know that this cheery rug will only look pretty for about seventeen minutes before little feet and dirty shoes make it look like a New York City bus stop, but the fact that it’s not shag means I can hopefully shampoo it occasionally. Hurray for cheerful rugs!

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One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fi- NO FISH SEX ON THE BEACH!

Last weekend Mimi convinced me to go on a grunion hunt. For those of you unfamiliar with grunion, no, they are not small trolls that grant you wishes if you pull their hair as their name would suggest. (At least, that’s what the name grunion conjures up in my brain – friendly trolls.) They are little fish that come up onto the beach during new and full moons to make sweet sweet love in the sand. I don’t know about you, Internet, but I’ve made love on the beach before, and it is *not* as sexy as one would think. You can keep your sunsets and idyllic ocean waves, I’ll have my sex in sand free environs. Sans sand, if you will.

Before last weekend my only experience with grunion consisted of a murky memory of an eighties movie where the guy and the girl are kissing on the beach with a bunch of grunion wriggling around at their feet as the end credits rolled. I have no other memory of that movie, I just know that it exists.

(UPDATE: The movie was Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead from 1991, so I stand corrected, it wasn’t an eighties movie. Gosh that was a good movie though. I may just have to Netflix it. “Dishes are done, man.”)

As of today that movie is still my only experience with grunion, because despite our best efforts, the grunion didn’t run for us that night. What’s up with that, grunion? Why ya gotta be so rude?

I met Mimi, her husband Tim, and their kids around 10:00pm with Karis and Brecken. We forgot flashlights because I’m smooth like that, but the light of the moon was enough to lead us down the path to the beach. Once there, we took pictures to document the event.


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Is it just me, or do we all look waaay too happy to be there? It’s like we’re a bunch of fish perverts breaking our parole and sneaking down to the beach to watch the action.

Tim put on some Barry White, because COME ON, what more do you want from us grunion?! BARRY WHITE! Come make the sexy time on the beach already.

The kids ran around and we did our best to keep them out of the water and close enough to see their little glow lights and head lamps.


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Note the garbage on the beach. We couldn’t see it in the dark, or I would have spent the entire time picking up trash. God I hate people sometimes.

It became a game for Mimi; point camera at different areas, take picture, see what the flash captured. She got a lot of these clowns:


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Just before we left she snapped this pic and we all screamed in surprise because we hadn’t expected to see this guy:


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Doesn’t he look pissed? Maybe he doesn’t like Barry White. Or maybe he was hungry and wanted to eat some grunion. I guess we’ll never know.

Mimi is not one to give up easily, and she went to another beach the next night. No dice. (No grunion either.) Then, finally, the third night she drove over an hour, and waited until the wee small hours of the morning, and SUCCESS! Mimi got to watch live grunion sex! She even has video to prove it. (Technically that’s PORN Mimi. You shot a fish porno.) Next year I will go at the beginning of the season, in hopes that I too will witness live grunion sex. You know, for the bucket list.

I will leave you with a Dr. Seus inspired grunion poem about that night:

 They did not do it on the beach.

They did not do it within my reach.

They did not make love on the sand that night,

Instead they hid themselves out of sight.




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Where is PeterPan when you need him?


Dude. I can empathize with this little girl. I do this all the time.


They don’t stay little, Sadie. If you blink they double in size until they are as big as you and saying adorable things like you say in this video. Then you blink again and they’re moody and yelling at you. Then you blink again and they’re in college. Your little brother will grow up and get big, but he’ll always be your little brother.

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