Tuesday, July 31, 2012

His Very Own Backyard

We bought a house yesterday.
We are very excited about this house for a number of reasons.  It’s ours…we can do with it as we please.  Granted, we can no longer rely on a landlord to foot the bill for any repairs but no longer relying (and waiting) on a landlord is very attractive to us.
Perhaps the most exciting part of this for me is that Samuel will have his very own back yard to grow up in.  I have very fond memories of the back yards I grew up in.  The earliest two that I remember were houses that my family rented.  The first had a simple A-frame swing-set that sadly we had to leave behind, though I can’t remember why.  The second had a very sloped yard.  We attempted a volleyball net back there but it was a bit difficult to play on a “court” that slopes down 2 feet.  I also recall awesome oak trees in the front and many fall days spent with the family raking up oak leaves.
The third house I remember spending lots of time in was a home my parents bought when I was eleven.  I spent seven beautiful years in that front and back yard.  After we had been there for about a year, my parents gave me a trampoline for my birthday.  Hours upon hours were spent on that trampoline over the next years.  One year, in winter when there was going to be a freeze in San Antonio, we had the brilliant idea to turn the water sprinkler on in the back yard for a little while to make some icicles.  Oops…we forgot to turn it off and woke the next morning to an awesome winter wonderland in our back yard.  The trampoline resembled a Massachusetts pond perfect for ice-skating and the trees had massive icicles that looked more like giant stalactites.  I wish I could show you a picture, but they are currently three hours away from me right now.
The front yard of this house was simple and small but had a beautiful Carolina Ash.  I loved to climb up in this tree and be invisible to the surrounding work but be able to see all that was going on.  I had several perches that I would prop myself up in and read for hours.
Greg never had his own backyard to grow up in but I know he wouldn’t complain for a second about being a bike-ride away from the North and South Jetties in Venice with surf-board in hand.  We can’t wait for the day to share that particular “back-yard” with Samuel.

His backyard will be special too.

He will have a garden to get his hands dirty in, watch the fruits of our labor grow and then enjoy eating them.  He will get to watch his own Japanese Maple Tree grow with him.  He will get to learn with Mama and Daddy how to care for the strawberry patch throughout the year.  He will get to run around with many of the neighborhood friends that’s we already have.  He will get to help me pick pecans in the fall and watch our Crepe Myrtles bloom in the spring.  And beginning next March, he will get to feed our chickens with me and I’m sure he will want to chase them around the yard.  I can’t wait to watch Samuel grow up in his very own backyard.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Samuel’s Room

*Annoyed by the sideways pics, but alas, a baby and an uncooperative computer prevent me from taking the time to correct this in the moment so it will have to do.

As is every room in our home, Samuel’s room is a hodge-podge of furniture and décor pieced together as best as possible.  However, more so in his room than any other room in the house, it actually works.  Perhaps that’s because his room is complete!  Much to my disappointment, decorating is not always high on my priority list when we move into a new place so I basically do a small amount of placing and organizing to make things look settled and then lament over my empty picture frames and unpacked boxes of décor until we move again.

I LOVE the way his room turned out!  I owe sew (misspelling intended) much credit to my mom.  I’ll explain all that she did to help bring it together later.  The sad part is that he won’t be able to enjoy this particular room growing up.  We are moving, this summer and the room that will be his room is much smaller than this one.  The happy part is that we are moving because we are buying a home!  We originally planned on staying put in this one for quite awhile but an offer came up on a nearby neighbor’s home that we couldn’t pass up.  We hope to close at the end of July.

So, back to Samuel’s room…here is how we came up with the décor.  As a girl who has always loved nature, naturally, I wanted to incorporate it into our baby’s room.  I also wanted a gender-neutral option for when #2 (and #3?) come along.  Our color choices were inspired by a sweater I bought online a few years ago that was striped with blue, green, brown, cream and grey.  I have always loved the color combination and I even knitted two baby blankets, one for my niece (using pink instead of blue) and one for my friend’s son based off of the colors.  (A third blanket with these colors is almost complete for Samuel.)  So, armed with my green, brown, cream and blue accents for a boy or pink accents for a girl, my mom and I set off to the fabric store and found this:

This piece became the inspiration for the whole room.  From here we picked out green, brown and cream fabrics to work with.
My mom set to work on the bed skirt, side table cover and window curtains.  The design of the bed-skirt (better seen in the picture at the top though slightly visible below,) came from this Simplicity pattern my sister picked out for her girls’ room.

I loved the simple pleats and use of different fabrics in layers.  The crib and mattress were a joint gift from Samuel’s Granna and Grandma Nonnie, (my mom and Greg’s mom.)  The sheet is an organic cotton sheet from Target and I made the pillow based off of the Simplicity pattern with a few alterations.

Using some quilting strips, pinking sheers, and fabric glue, I created the simple art in the frames.  The frames were some of those that I have, but never filled so I painted them brown and decided to leave the glass out to enjoy the texture of the fabric.

My mom, being the expert seamstress that she is, then came up with her own design for the table cover based off of the bedskirt design.

There are four pleats around the circular table but the front one hides a surprise:

Extra storage!  I had the lamp from my room in college  It was from Pier 1 and it had a red shade.  I ripped the red fabric off of the wire frame (but I kept the beaded fringe for my jewelry projects,) sewed long 5 inch wide strips of the new fabric together and wrapped the lamp frame carefully tucking in the raw edge sides.  It is secured with two little safety pins on the underside because I didn’t feel like hand-stitching something no one would see.  The picture in the frame is actually not Samuel…it’s another one of those “empty” frames I mentioned above.  I swear I’ll get my frames filled when we buy a house.

The glider and ottoman set was given to Greg several years ago when his good friend from seminary, Chris graduated and moved.  I can excuse the bachelor-pad black pleather because this glider reclines.  That’s a great bonus for nursing while mama is sleepy.  My mom and I talked about recovering it, but with the way the padding is attached to the metal is would be very tricky.  Maybe one day…  In the meantime, my neutral blankets and inspiration piece cover it just fine.  The crosses on the wall have all been given to me over the past 10 years.  They were some of my décor that sat in boxes for a couple years but I finally pulled them out again.  I love the way they complete this corner nook.

The valence over the curtain was a fusion of the inspiration piece and this McCalls pattern,  again, thanks to my mom.

The curtain is a simple hemmed length of fabric rolled up on a wooden dowel and held in place with brown ribbons.

The loveseat was one that we used to have in our living room before we bought our “grown-up” sofa, chair and ottoman.  It was given to us by my dad who found it left behind in one of his rental properties.  It had a hideous green fabric that we swiftly covered with this brown stretchy cover from Target.  I sold the 3 giant, floral pillows it had on it in a yard sale and put my proceeds toward two giant red pillows and one brown pillow which are now hidden beneath these wonderful cream and green fluffy covers my mom made with convenient zippers on the side for easy washing or if I ever want the red and brown back.  We have been given several beautiful knitted and crocheted baby blankets that I like to switch out draping on the couch when they are not in use.  Samuel’s great-aunt Cissy crocheted the one in the photo above.

The dresser/changing table was a gift from Samuel’s Grandaddy and Gramma Cyndi, (my dad and step-mom.)  The art above it was given to me by my good friend Hope who was downsizing a bit before her family moved up north.  It is by the famous Dutch artist, Marjolein Bastin and I thought the rustic green frame and nature theme would work perfectly in Samuel’s room.

The painting on the dresser was done by Greg’s grandfather and Samuel’s middle-namesake, Gregor MacGregor Little.  He was a talented artist who used a play on his last name by painting little nature scenes on pieces of driftwood.  He would sell his “Littles” at conventions for just a few dollars.  We are fortunate to have a few of these treasures that were not sold and some now decorate Samuel’s room.

I bought the bookshelf three years ago at a craft store.  It was part of a crafter’s display and I had my eye on it for a year but didn’t like the price tag.  One day I walked in the store and saw a glorious 50% off tag on it and snatched it up.  The sales associate helping me excitedly asked, “Oh! Is this for a little boy’s room?”  Actually, no.  Our bedroom was light blue and dark brown and I thought the bookshelf would compliment it perfectly.  As it turns out, the sales associate was merely having a premonition.

The final bits of art I worked on are a two-sided nameplate.  Obviously my English writing is better than my Hebrew writing.

This little bit of scrapbook paper art was round two after I destroyed the first in a disastrous decoupage attempt.  I found out that decoupage glue has water in it and the pens and markers I used were not waterproof.

This was inspired by something I saw on ETSY that had the perfect verse and reference on it.
Hannah rejoices,
“I prayed for this child and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”
1st Samuel 1:27

The piggy bank, or bear bank as the case may be was mine when I was a baby and the blanket he’s holding has my name on it.  There’s another “Little” on the shelf.
And finally, here’s one more “Little” that resides over the door, whittled by Grandpa Little.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Today, Samuel sported his SuperSam romper again and showed that not even kryptonite could stop him!
His two-month check-up was complete with shots, an unsuccessful catheter (to see if we can rule out an infection for why he cries before he pees), and a tearing back open a little place where his circumcision over-healed.  It was quite a day!  However, he was stellar.  After each painful encounter he either settled down quickly or quietly nursed for comfort.  Mama and Daddy didn’t even do as well as he did.  We also had an awesome growth report.  Weighing in at 12 lbs. even he has more than doubled his birth weight!

With all of that growing and pricking, we now have some resting to do.  Samuel has given us the gift of three nights in a row of six hours of uninterrupted sleep!  Other milestones we’re making are holding his head up for extended periods of time, following a rattle with eyes and ears, and smiling a lot more in response to seeing mom or dad.  We are enjoying and treasuring these fun moments!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


            Many people happily uttered a “Happy First Mother’s Day!” to me today.  It was sweet and made me beam with joy at my still, very new to me, son.  However, it was technically not my first Mother’s Day.  On Mother’s Day last year, Greg and I looked excitedly on our first positive pregnancy test.  If you do the math, you will realize that that was too long ago to be our sweet Samuel.  Five days later, on May 13th, we lost our first baby.
Not many people know about this.  In part because we hadn’t even shared the news of our pregnancy yet and thus didn’t share with many the news of our loss.  It was really hard to know how to grieve.  The miscarriage started on a Friday and I recall Greg and I lounging around the house all day Saturday and trying to comfort each other.  We went to a friend’s birthday party that evening and shared our sadness with some of our closest friends.  We still struggle to know how to honor this life that we didn’t even get to know.
Approximately 1 in 4 births ends in a miscarriage.  I know so many women who have lost a child either in the womb or far too soon outside of the womb.  If you are reading this, know that I am thinking of you and saying a prayer for you on this bittersweet day.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Confessions of a Post-Partum Mama

So, I've been a little MIA.  I’ve had good reason.  It was truly ironic that the last post I wrote was about food.  The next day morning sickness hit me like a train.  That’s right, I was pregnant.  I knew it at the time of writing but at that point I was still doing Zumba and enjoying eating whatever I wanted.
12 weeks pregnant
Then came the aversion to all things poultry.  No more quail for me!  And worst of all, no more chicken.  What?!?!  Chicken is nearly a daily staple for me.  Oh wait, that wasn’t the worst…the worst was no Thanksgiving Day turkey!  Not even the lovely cage-free, hormone-less, beautiful 16 pounder from our local World Hunger Relief Farm!  Turkey is my favorite meat and I typically only get to eat it in the lovely stuffed form once a year.  I was determined to enjoy this turkey that my sweet friend slaved over so I forced some control over my gag-reflexes and ate.  What I really wanted though was some red meat.  Beef is the only actual craving I had throughout my entire pregnancy and chicken was the only aversion.  Strange indeed.

I mentioned Zumba earlier.  Yeah, that didn’t last long.  About week 5 I thought, I’m going rock this pregnancy!  I rocked it for about 3 more days and then one more thing fell to the evil clutches of the poorly named “morning sickness.”  It was certainly worse in the morning until I could choke down some food but it should really be called “All-Day-Any-Time-Of-Day-Suck-the-Life-Out-Of-You Sickness.”  Fortunately, for me, the sickness was almost as short lived as the Zumba.  Well, not that short.  Around week 17 I started to feel a little more on the normal side.
And then at week 20, something beautiful happened!  My husband and some friends and I trekked up to our camping spot in the Ouchita Mountains at Shady Lake for a little weekend camping and I felt completely renewed.
Greg on the mountain top.
A breath of fresh air, literally blew through me and helped me feel like myself again.  Myself that was now growing new life inside of me.  It was exhilarating.  I recommend this to all pregnant women and I will certainly do it again.  Besides, you’re all ready uncomfortable at this point in your pregnancy, so you’re not likely to feel any more or less comfortable while sleeping on the ground!
I continued to feel great until about week 30.  At this point, if someone asked me how I was feeling, I would honestly answer, “I’m feeling great but I’m starting to feel the very early stages of the third trimester discomfort.”  N response, there were three, count them, three women who then proceeded to mock me!  I couldn’t believe it.  They would look me up and down and say something like “Oh honey, you have no idea what you are talking about.”  This comment was apparently made because of my size.  I was continually judged for being “small” or having a “tiny baby”.
35 weeks.  The last pic we got.
Admittedly, I am generally a small person, but perhaps I was proportionally just right in size!  Every woman is completely different and those women had no idea what I was going though or feeling.  Perhaps I was even having a harder time than they did because I am a bit smaller.  Who knows!  Besides, I wasn’t running around groaning about how awful I felt.  In the grand scheme of things, considering I was growing a baby, I felt pretty good.  As for the size of my baby, every time I was measured by our midwife, he was measuring right on track, and indeed, when he came, he was still the average size for his age.  (He came 3 weeks early, but more about that later.)  So women, please give each other a break!  We’re all doing something awesome and don’t need to be comparing notes about who is having the hardest time doing it!
As my pregnancy progressed, I sill felt generally uncomfortable, but all in all, I thought what was going on inside my body was pretty miraculous and I was enjoying nearly every minute of it.  And then week 36 came.  I was on pins and needles that I was going to go into labor before 37 weeks, which would mean I would have to go to the hospital to deliver.  We were really hoping for a homebirth and I wanted to do all that I could to make that happened.  At this point I have been having Braxton Hicks contractions for about 2 months (yes, you read that right) and they had been pretty intense for about a week.  Our little boy had been head down about as long as I’d been having the BH contractions as well.  Besides, I still had a huge list of nesting items to complete, including cleaning the house so I didn’t have time for a baby to show up yet!  Fortunately, I made it all the way to the last day of the 36th week.  Someone asked me that evening, when are you due?  I excitedly replied, “Any day now!”  I also posted this comment on Facebook at 9:30 that evening, “Ready when you are, Baby Payne.”  He took me seriously.  Three hours later, just 30 minutes into the first day of the 37th week, I woke up to what was distinctly not a Braxton Hicks contraction.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  No birth story yet.  This post is already too long.  I’m simply writing to say, I hope I’m back to the blogging world.  I wish I had been able to log the special events of my pregnancy here but I didn’t.  This post will have to suffice.  Stay tuned for a birth story later.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Were the Israelites Complaining About?

 Tonight we ate quail.
Greg has wanted to do this for some time now so he found a good farm and bought some.  I didn’t grow up eating a lot of “different” or non-traditional types of food, much to my dismay.  As a result, eating something like quail is a bit of an uncomfortable adventure for me, especially when you consider how cute they are!  So, we said a little prayer of thanksgiving for their sacrifice and we dug in.

They were delicious.  Greg put them in a simple honey-thyme marinade and grilled them over charcoal.  I moved out of my comfort zone and enjoyed every nugget of meat.  As for my husband?  Well, not much was heard from his end of the table through the entire meal except utterings of delight and joy.  Even the cats got to enjoy tiny morsels of goodness.  I do believe we will eat that again.

A few other notes unrelated to foul, I’ve made no progress toward my previously mentioned goals, however we did make some “settling in” progress since we moved.  We went to Florida for a week and beach-hopped on both coasts with a visit to Hogwarts and Hogsmead in between.  I hope to one day write a day by day little journal on that trip.  It was a good one.  Again, we’ll see if the thoughts in my head ever make it onto virtual paper.  I’ve been reading up a storm lately and have all knitting projects on hold.  I am sensing a shift in the other direction soon.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I’ve come up with the goals and now I’m putting them out there for you all to keep me accountable.  From July 18th - August 19th I will be working part-time hours.  I am setting a goal to have my Etsy shop up and running by the end of that 5-week period.  I am not yet revealing the name or style of the shop yet, but I do hope to have at least 25-30 items up for sale at that time.  I will also be meeting with a lawyer in that time to make sure I have all my legal bases covered.

Encouragement is welcome. J