Reading Away the Summer

29 May 2014

I've been working on my Summer Reading List.

I always read more books in the summer. Winter is for classics and tomes and Rochester-type characters, and I spend most of it gearing up to finally start reading Les Miserables, but before I know it the weather heats up, and I'm like: "Beach Reads!!" Then I proceed to spend three months basking in YA Fiction and other candy lit.

On my ten day honeymoon in the Canary Islands, I think I read about five books. Jacob is embarrassed whenever I tell people this, but I'm not embarrassed at all, because seaside lounging with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other is pretty much what I'd always rather be doing.

I'm chewing my way through Lois Lowry's The Giver series. I don't know how I missed it in grade school, but since the movie is coming out in August, I thought I'd get on the ship before it sailed. Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, please don't disappoint.

For more summer recs, I'll send you straight to Modern Mrs. Darcy herself because her Summer Reading Guide is always my springboard into the year's beach lit. 

Now for an unrelated series of photos:

I went to the library yesterday with the kiddos in tow to get some books I'd put on hold. Jake wanted to play with the kids computer, but it was broken so I let him pick out a book to take home. I know letting your children take out books from the library isn't exactly a milestone, but we've never done it before. I grew up in a household where the rented VHS tapes regularly melted in the car, so I haven't been too eager to usher my three year old - who still can't put on his own underpants - into the world of social responsibility. But yesterday I gave in, and we found ourselves driving home with a copy of ¿Donde Esta Waldo? Wish me luck.

Are you on Goodreads??? I opened a profile awhile back, and I'm making a resolution to use it more consistently. I'd love to connect with you!! Right now my Goodreads feed is pretty much Christy and Laura and Christy and Laura. But that's OK because they're pretty awesome.

Two more unrelated:

What's on your summer reading list??

The Lucy Dress

28 May 2014

I made a dress, and I named it Lucy.
If you haven't figured it out yet, this is not a sewing blog.

According to feedly it is a #catholic blog. I didn't realize I was so heavy-handed. I always figured I was a #family blog that would hopefully grow up into a #lifestyle blog. I hoped the #catholic part would be featured like salt in an entree, essential, pervasive but not necessarily featured.

All that to say. This is not a sewing blog. I'm not a seamstress. I know nothing about sewing that the internet and Jacob haven't taught me. I don't follow any sewing blogs, so I have no idea about sewing blog etiquette. But I sew things sometimes, and I have a blog, and the coincidence of those things means that you guys get to see pictures of what I sew.
It's of course a super common style baby dress. It's very similar to Made by Rae's Geranium Dress - she has her 0-3 mo pattern available for free. Lucy had this one:
that Morgan and Opal graciously graciously sent her. She wore it furiously for three weeks before she outgrew it. Since that fateful day I have intended to make her a similar one. I figured it couldn't be that hard, and the other day I found myself with a husband who was home and couldn't work on his projects because of the rain, and I plugged my way through the process as he walked the baby in the Ergo and watched The League.
I used fabric from a many years old skirt and was able to recycle the hems and some of the detailing.
I'm overall pretty pleased with the result, except my buttonholes scream novice. I practiced and practiced and somehow at game time I managed to botch two of the three.

Fashioning the back closure took longer than the whole rest of the project put together including guessing up the pattern.

Anyhow, now Lucy June can put something new into her rotation of Jake's hand me downs.

I will probably be making her another one soon because my sewing energy comes in waves every six months or so, and I'm planning on riding this crest awhile. Maybe I'll convert the pattern - as ridiculously simple as it is - into a PDF and share it with you if I work out some of the kinks.

7QT: Transient Facial Paralysis and Salt Lamps

22 May 2014

Joining Jen for her Quick Takes on this fateful Thursday evening because by some craziness I managed to finish everything I wanted to get done today.

- 1 -
So on two different occasions Lucy June has thrown up everything in her stomach and then some. We think the culprit is avocado. She'd eaten avocado without incident but the first time she had more than a few bites she threw it up a couple hours later. I suspected the avocado, but I willfully ignored it because...well because avocados are the most perfect food. But then low and behold a week later and we found ourselves in barf city after she'd eaten about a quarter of an avocado.

Poor little sweet little poor little thing. Any thoughts from you mothers out there? I just want someone to tell me she's gonna get over it. But it would also be fair to just tell me to take my fat baby with her random food sensitivity and be grateful.

- 2 -
So I wrote a post about my Whirley Pop. Guess who else wrote a post about her Whirley Pop? The Brez Herself. Another reason for her to be both our favorites.

- 3 -
One thing I miss about California is always being only a few miles away from Sprouts.
There are a few of them in Houston but none anywhere close to us. So I used Jacob's afternoon off to drag the whole family there Wednesday afternoon because Wednesdays are Double Ad Wednesdays, and I had to scratch my Sprouts itch. 4 mangos for a dollar? 2 dollar blueberry pints? I know I'm a born and bred Texan and my mother is from Corpus Christi and therefore I'm supposed to defend HEB to the bitter end. But, Sprouts, you have my heart. 

- 4 -
When visiting a friend in Fredericksburg she showed me her Himalayan Salt Lamp. Jacob of course had heard of them before but I hadn't.
It allegedly purifies the air. I really want one because I never met something with "natural ionization" on the label that i didn't like. But it's hard to classify it as a real need, so I'm thinking about calling it a nightlight and counting it as a birthday present for the toddler.

- 5 -
I've been to the dentist five times in the last three weeks. I went first for a cleaning and then back for a couple fillings. Then I went back twice to get one of the fillings filed down because it was causing me pain. She finally put in a new filling today. Not sure whether we're out of the woods painwise, but I did get to take some great selfies of my mild "Transient Facial Paralysis" because the dentist was a little heavyhanded with the lidocaine.

Ah, the joys of motherhood-inspired tooth decay.

- 6 -
I'll finish off with a couple gems from the little man who must be going through a growth spurt or something because it's all food all the time with him.

After seeing him chewing on something in my rearview mirror:
Me: What are you eating?
Jake: Just the breakfus I found in my car seat.

- 7 -
After forfeiting his treat for the day because he didn't stay in his bed during naptime. I overheard him talking to a stuffed animal:

Jake: "It'll be forever that I don't have ice cream."


I'm also linking up with Blythe's Hot Mess Link Up because I think between the vomit, the temporary facial paralysis, and the car seat buffet we more than qualify.

The Whirley Pop

21 May 2014

So I started this post about mothering earlier today. About how it's hard and wonderful and how I'm learning so much about my attitude. Complete with a little anecdote and some neat one liners. You know. The usual fair from the R Log when Kate gets deepish and introspective.

But then my little brother redboxed Ironman 3, and I'm a sucker for a weeknight blockbuster. Of course I whipped out a wedding gift: The old. The faithful. Whirley Pop

Perhaps the same Whirley Pop I used last night when the same brother brought home Saving Mr. Banks. Perhaps the same Whirley Pop that I used the night before that for the run of the mill Shark Tank viewing. 

Perhaps I have a problem called popcorn, but if you still microwave yours then you have a bigger problem than I do. This baby does caramel corn and kettle corn and you never really have to clean it, it also will roast your coffee beans, but I don't know a lick about that because I'm not that hipster. 

This post brought to you courtesy of my iDevice from a crib mattress on the floor of my bedroom as I lie next to a squirmy 7 monther who almost won't sleep without two feet nestled into my stomach and one hand gripping my shirt. I will soon summon my semblance of abdominal muscles to extricate myself from the tete a tete in a vain and at best halfhearted attempt to teach the baby some soporific independence. No judging. Martha climbed into her son's actual crib, if I remember correctly. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. 

See you on the other side.

On Monday After a Trip

19 May 2014

So I didn't post on Friday despite committing to post more regularly. I feel marginally guilty about it. But not really.

I was still at my parents' house and Jacob had gone back to Houston to "work." And I know he was working and not just "working," but when the baby started throwing up on me just as he was leaving us, and when I was walking her fussy self up and down the hallway at 3:30am, and when double diaper duty called in a big way at the crack of dawn, I began to certainly feel like my vacation was really more of a "vacation."

Also on Friday, Jake's "work" of toddlerly discovery involved dumping gravel down the garbage disposal in my parents' sink. So naptime had me fishing rock bits out of the drain while feeling a lot like I was on the fast track to martyrdom when really it was pretty run of the mill parenting. Thirty pieces of granite later, I decided to suppress my natural Martha and rev up my Mary to the tune of a quiet cappuccino and a quiet blogging session in the quiet.

And then the baby woke up.

So no post was mine on Friday.

You care. I know. That's why I told you.

We also shot skeet.

Or we watched with awe in our knickers.

Or Jake did. Not *we* so much.

Now I'm back to the essential work of putting holds on my entire summer reading list. Though with the kinds of queues I'm running into with Houston Public Library, I might be enjoying my beach reads next summer.

Five of My Favorite Blogs

14 May 2014

Hello there! We're at my parents' house, making it through the unseasonably cool weather by bundling up in my sister's 90's hand me downs. 

I'm linking up with Hallie today to throw some of my fave blogs your way. A couple are new to me and a couple are oldies but goodies. Anyhow, click and enjoy.  

- 1 -
"Mum always used to say that whenever we were grumpy and irritable (even just one of us) she would worm the lot."

I can't remember how I originally stumbled on Olivia, but she has the most adorable family blog. She hails from the wilds of Australia. Her posts often feature some exotic creature or plant peeking through the sweet hands of one her beautiful children. And she says the best things like: "I was a slow as a wet week."

Check out one of their little adventures or enjoy some of her artwork or have a laugh.

- 2 -
"Good and plenty is a very brief feeling that I have for 48 hours after my weekly grocery trip, it dissipates at the same rate as the greek yogurt."

I can't believe with the amount of blogtrolling I do that it took me so long to find Rachael.  Erstwhile Dear is SO lovely. Rachael documents their family life in Boston with such grace.

Read about her learning to be a mom of two or enjoy her portrait project. Dreamy, understated, and delightful.

- 3 -
". . . while we ponder the structure of a perfectly just society. Or watch Netflix. One or the other."

I don't know, but having your husband in flight school for the first two months of your baby's life makes you kind of a rockstar. 

She runs. She cloth diapers. She's a riot.

- 4 -
"I have to get ready for a play date in the new hood this afternoon.  Let's be real, it's a mom date.  And she's from Ohio.  So clearly a match made in suburb Heaven.  I'm giving Anna a pep talk to not act like this:
I've linked to Emily before. Emily is hilarious. She's been one of the biggest perks of moving to Houston because now we hang out in real life. She blogs about the myriad mild crises of motherhood and fashion.

And now a break from catholic mom blog fodder to shout out an old graduate school buddy of mine who has the wittiest of blogs

- 5 -

Stop writing in the second person.

And go grocery shopping, for god's sake.

Stop using hash tags ironically.  No one gets it.  #dummies.

Coffee and water are not interchangeable.  Drink more coffee.

She's the kind of blogger who sorts 19th Century American Writers into Hogwarts and weaves tales of postal intrigue and she writes so deliciously well that she's always worth a click and a read.

Alright. I'm back to the grind of watching the gusty winds in the gnarly oak trees and feeding poker chips to the baby.

She's the happiest little baby, but sometimes we all need our proverbial (or literal) poker chip fix.

On the Road with the Rhodes

13 May 2014

Tuning in Tuesday morning to make allowances for missing my Monday post...since all of you were positively sick wondering what could be keeping me from the blog.

Yesterday afternoon found us with a few empty days on Jacob's schedule, so we jumped the Houston ship and had ourselves a genuine Texas road trip.

We drove through the stormy night

 to the land of vermicultures, aquaponics, and battery-operated toys.

Or my parents' house.

Off for a second round with the nespresso machine. Happy Tuesday!

Turn this Day Around

09 May 2014

Today did not start well.

I rolled out of bed, kissed my husband goodbye, and attended to the fury of the morning.

We had a pediatrician's appointment at 9am. I ignored the weight of how messy the house was as I fed and dressed the littles before shooing us out the door at 8:25. As I put the baby in her car seat and bribed the toddler to climb into his, I wondered why I hadn't scheduled it at 10 so I could avoid any morning traffic. As I ran back into the house to grab the diaper bag and drink down the last of Jake's yogurt and call it breakfast, I thought about how the difference between getting somewhere at 10am vs 9am is the difference between eating and not eating, stressing and not stressing, starting the diaper laundry or throwing the wet bag into the garage. The difference between 9am and 10am is just HUGE for me. The momentum for a 10am commitment energizes me to be productive in the mornings, while a 9am has me scrambling. I had scheduled this visit two months in advance, so I'm sure I could've managed to swing a 10am. Why hadn't I been more considerate of my future self? What had I been thinking?!

You see where this is going, don't you?

There I stood in front of the receptionist at a well-earned 9:03.

"I have you down for 10 this morning."




But it was all good. We just hopped back in the car (via the elevator, a treacherous parking lot, one car seat, another car seat) and drove to Trader Joe's so I could score more lemons and ginger beer. I determined to turn the day around.

And I did. Circa happy hour.

Git yer own, chickadee.

Git yer own.

Five Favorites - Summertime

06 May 2014

Welcome to #5faves at the RLog. I'm so so so excited to be hosting for Hallie of Moxie Wife today!

Today I'm favoriting summer. I grew up in Texas, and I speak the language of summer. I won't dump on the other seasons. I'm always ready for sweater weather, and I like a good snuggle in the holidays. But summer has my heart; sprinkle some lemon juice in my hair and point me to the river.

 Here are five of my summer favorites. (Forgive me for ignoring Mother's Day. I'm trying to play it cool.)

 - 1 -

I'll confess that I haven't run the gamut of "non-toxic" sunscreens. Primarily because this is the first one I tried, and I really like it. It goes on easily and doesn't leave much white residue like many barrier sunscreens, and it doesn't stain my clothing.

It's not Coppertone cheap, but the "Body" sunscreen isn't too too expensive, and our's last us awhile because when we hit the beach our toddler pretty much looks like this:

I'm trying to embrace the part of me that will soon be turning thirty and needs to keep her very sun sensitive skin covered by more than just lotion. Enter totally awesome, floppy brimmed sun hats. This is definitely on my short list of summer purchases. 

- 3 -

Little known, marginally interesting fact about my childhood: we raised emus. I don't really know why. It had something to do with an ag exemption and something to do with the fact that my mother liked to start businesses in her free time. So we hatched, raised, and slaughtered these Australian not-ostriches. They came out pretty cute:

Then they grew up big and ugly and smelly and they would get out and we'd find them miles from our house and somehow have to get them back in their pens. Suffice it to say, I don't miss them and I much prefer my parents' current venture involving pecan trees.

But what does emu oil have to do with summer?!? I will tell you. Emu oil is far and away the best sunburn remedy I've ever tried. It would make lobster sunburns all but disappear over night. Don't believe me for all my northern european authority in the area of white white white skin? Try it for yourself.

- 4 -

My little brother bought these for me for my birthday and I've only wanted them for forever - or since last summer - because they're comfy and durable and adorable and because the Patton children are my fashion gurus.

- 5 -
A 1920 
Last week Jacob and I had a little celebrating to do, so we found ourselves splurging on some cocktails at Simone on Sunset. I picked the first one on the menu because I get nervous when people are waiting on me - it was called the 1920 and what a lucky strike it was. Ever since Jacob and I spent our newlywed summer drinking mojitos almost exclusively, herby fizzy alcohol just sings summertime. I did my best to replicate it for you and this is what I came up with. 

I can't wait to read about what you're crushing on this week. Thanks again to Hallie for sharing the fun!

Buzzy New Bees

05 May 2014

Jacob has more bees.

Before we left Los Angeles and moved to Houston, we lost both of our beehives. This has become a bit of a trend: decide to move, lose the bees.

When we moved within Los Angeles, we unceremoniously dropped the bee box in the yard of our new place and before we'd bothered to get new bees they had moved in.

We crossed our fingers for a similar story here in Houston when we noticed some scouts checking out the bee box, but nothing ever came of it and finally Jacob reached out on Craigslist with an offer for free bee removal. He had a couple of leads that seemed promising and one in particular: a man west of us said that a swarm had taken up in a cable box in his backyard. All the other leads involved hacking into walls, so he packed up his hat and his gloves, sealed up the bee box, buckled it into his truck, and off he went.

The transfer went really well, and we even scored a couple pounds of honey. He built the bees a little sanctuary in the back corner of the yard out of some old shelves and doors. It forces the bees to fly upwards when they leave the hive. This ensures that we don't have a flightpath in the middle of the yard. It's also childproof which is perhaps the more important detail.

And my how he loves them. Whenever I can't here him shuffling about the house there's more than a good chance he's out there watching them.
If you like bees and aren't squeamish about the idea of watching close ups of larva and exoskeletons, then I highly recommend the documentary More Than Honey (available on Netflix) which takes a critical look at modern beekeepking practices; it has some stunning videography and lots of cute old swiss people.

7QT: Books and Spring and Such

02 May 2014

Joining Jen for my third link-up in as many days. 

- 1 -
I had to break from my typical only-online reading regimen for book club this week (without the kiddos!!!) Like a good book club comprised almost entirely of Catholic mothers, we read a Flannery O'Connor short story - changing it up from Evelyn Waugh. It was the second time I'd made it to book club since the move to Houston, and I loved getting to use and hear college words like "unreliable narrator" and "opposition of matter and spirit" and "mechanism."

- 2 -
Far cry from my the warblings of my almost three year old which today sounded like this:

Jake (having dropped his spoon): Help me! I want help! HELP!!
Me: How do you ask nicely?

- 3 -
Teaser for next week: We finally have bees again! Huzzzzzzzzzzzzah!

- 4 -
The Houston weather is showing these California transplants some mercy and being just gorgeous. Nothing is so beautiful as spring.

Except for the whole unrequited love part.

- 4.5 -
This spring is also seasoned by a beautiful garden that seems immune to my black thumb. We are two cucumbers into our harvest.

Unfortunately I think cucumbers are about as exciting as iced water. Hopefully some heirloom tomatoes and hefty butternuts will be mine before I run out of my newfound gardening luck.

- 5 -
It's been too long since we talked cloth diapering on the blog, so I'll update you with some pleasantries. Jake's night diaper greeted me with some serious ammonia yesterday morning, so I broke out the stock pot and heated up some water for a good ole fashioned strip fest. (Jake: Why are we cooking diapers?)

We were blessedly ammonia free until Jake was two years old, and since then I've had to strip the diapers every 3-4 months. I'd love to hear some of the washing (and/or stripping) routines of those of you who cloth diaper. How often do you wash your dipes? What detergent do you use? HE or top loader? Prewashes? Rinse cycles? You know, that sort of thing. I don't like to admit how seriously I take the task of diaper washing.

- 6 -
When life gets crazy and all the balls you have in the air start falling to the ground in a heap of dirty dishes, moldy bathtubs, and extra Curious George episodes, what's the last ball you keep in the air?

I just told you mine. When life gets messy, my diapers still get clean. It's mostly because the routine is so ingrained, but it's also about control. I'm environmentally conscious and frugality is a second religion, but it's really just about having that one thing I can control. I certainly have to let that ball drop too sometimes and I think that's probably healthy.

So what's yours? What's your last semblance of hanging in there? Are your nails done? Is your bed made? Is your bookshelf alphabetized? Spill.

- 7 -
Between book club and the super super exciting publication of Jen's memoir over at Conversion Diary, I've decided to call this week: Something Other Than Blogs

I almost had to call this week: Something Other Than Something Other Than God because I still hadn't received my copy and was getting royally antsy over here, but then it came! Like ten minutes ago! So I'm off to go Instagram a picture of me with it!

Now go visit Jen's for more takes and to wish her a hard-earned congratulations!

One Hot Mess: a Link Up

01 May 2014

Blythe is hosting her inaugural link up entitled One Hot Mess, and since Blythe is one of my faves online and off, and since I'm a mother of very little people, I'm pretty much in the Hot Mess Years, so I thought I'd just link up the happenings of this very exact moment.

Here is my baby who will not sleep. She has been temporarily banished from my hip to the yard

to be entertained by her brother's mildly dangerous antics.

I am hiding from both of them so I can please God eat something ANYTHING in peace.

But mothers don't get to eat alone.


We are now and - but for grace - ever and always One Hot Mess.

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