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Tuesday
May262015

There's a race of men who don't fit in, and thank God for that.

To the adventurers and misfits. To those who can't stay in one place for long. 

To my sailing friends who take their children out onto the water, thank you.

To those parents who take their children out in canoes and kayaks, up high in paragliders, or climbing gear. 

To men and women who teach their children to kiteboard or hike out, to paddle, or to surf the waves.

There's a race of men who don't fit in, and thank God for that.

If you ache and yearn to see the brightest starlit night, to live as deep into the wild as you can, than for those people, especially those who take their children to the important places, thank you.

The Important Places, by Forest Woodward and Brendan Leonard

Monday
May252015

Camping in Joshua Tree | May 2015

Early last week Eric, Cora, Frankie, and his son, Auggie (Agustín) headed up for several days of backpacking in Kennedy Meadows.  The plan was for Lyra and I to drive up with Frankie's wife, Sandee, on Thursday and meet them not in Kennedy Meadows, but in Joshua Tree.

Road trip!

We ladies left at 6:30am in hopes of getting to Joshua Tree early enough to secure several adjacent camp sites before the hordes of Memorial Day campers got there and took everything.

We succeeded.

Camping at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park

You may remember Frankie and Sandee from this recent post, or this one, or this one, or, remember when Frankie and Sandee and their two oldest kids went sailing with us and a few hours after returning to the dock I went into labor?

Sandee, pregnant with her third. Me, pregnant with my first, July 2010.

I've known Sandee since I was 17. Sandee is the reason I went to the University of San Diego. I lived and traveled with her in Mexico. I read at her wedding.

Guanajuato, Mexico, 1998.

I like her a lot, can you tell?

Cora and Auggie, both four years old, Kennedy Meadows, 2015.

As we waited for our husbands and kids to join us, we pondered the interweaving of our lives. Seventeen-year-old-Charlotte would never have guessed that her future daughter would one day be backpacking with Sandee's son, or that my husband and her husband would be friends.

I love how life brings you together with wonderful people, again and again, over the years.

Sandee and Frankie had to go back to San Diego for the night. They needed to pick up their older kids and bring up all their supplies. That left just the Kaufman family out under the stars that Thursday.

Only problem? Take a look at Cora, she showed up from backpacking with a head cold. Eric did too.

And then there was this one. She kept asking to lay down and take a nap.

Lyra NEVER asks to lay down and take a nap. Something was up.

Don't be jealous of my mad socks-over-my-pants skiillz.

The kids passed out quickly and Eric and I had some time to catch up on the week's events.

Eric and Charlotte, Joshua Tree, 2015.

We took this selfie, which reminded me of this photo from ten years ago. 

Charlotte and Eric, Cuyamaca, 2005.

Babies.

We were babies.

The next morning there was coffee. And Bailey's. Well, okay, Trader Joe's version of Bailey's but same difference.

Breakfast is served.

Take a look at Cora. She still wasn't doing too hot.

Still, trooper that she is, she got to work playing with items on hand. See the long line of carefully constructed piles with a stick pointing out of each one?

The kids played while we drank more coffee. It was a nice chill morning.

We introduced the girls to the National Park's Junior Ranger Program. Cora was very enthusiastic.

After reviewing the plants, minerals, and animals we would need to keep a look out for in the park, we set off for a morning hike.

Joshua Tree is gorgeous.

The desert is very much alive and after all of the rain we have had lately, it was blooming in the subtle way that deserts do.

The Junior Rangers program emphasizes the motto of 'Leave only footprints, take only pictures & memories.'

Take pictures and memories we did.

Learning how cactus spines work.

We hung out for the rest of the morning at camp and as the hours went by, all three of my family members felt worse and worse.

I love children's indomitable spirits. Even when they don't feel well they want to keep going, going, going.

We packed up and headed home that afternoon. 

A trip cut short, but not one that will be forgotten.

On the way back home, Eric thanked me for all the prep I had put into the weekend. As someone whose primary love language is words of affirmation, this meant the world to me. I was bummed we missed out on a long weekend with friends, and bummed about the work I had put into making it all happen. Eric was a gem in that moment for noticing and appreciating me. 

See? I even made a menu! Next time!

Wednesday
May202015

The Mountains are Calling, and We Must Go

Eric and I keep separate blogs on this site. We have our own verbal autonomy. He doesn't speak for me. I don't speak for him, and we never know when the other may write a post. I was tickled pink when he finally wrote a post about the backpacking he has been doing with Cora and the trips he has planned for the whole family. 

Last month I flew out to Texas for the funeral of my friend's amazing daughter. While I was gone Eric had both girls to himself and time off of work so I could attend. 

He took the girls camping. 

We are most likely stuck on land for 2-3 more years.

That is okay.

While we are here we will go into the woods as much as we can.

Image via The Wheat Field on Etsy

My most vivid memories from childhood, the good memories that is, are from trips to the National Parks, playing and being outdoors, camping, kayaking, fishing, snowcaving, sledding, cross-country skiing, and climbing.

Arizona, 1983 (check out the pants on my brother, Rich!) 

Mount Rushmore, 1985

Old Faithful, 1985

Chena Lake, Alaska 1986

Gold panning, Nome Creek, Alaska 1986 

BBQing at 20 below, Fairbanks, Alaska 1987

Sixth grade camp, somewhere near Eagle River, Alaska, 1991

One of the horrible things about being abused by a parent is that you still love them. They are intrinsically woven into the very fiber of your being. My father taught me about and took me into the wilderness.

We searched for crashed WWII airplanes and we plowed through swarms of mosquitoes so thick you could clench your fist in front of your face and then open your palm to expose a poof of dead insects inside. He fell into devil's club. We cleared trails. I made a trap for rabbit, we skinned it, and we made into stew,in the dead of winter. It was delicious. I've been charged by a moose. My entire 5th grade class chased a black bear up a tree. 

For my first week of my freshman year of high school, I walked to each class, a stranger in a strange land, with one eye swollen shut from mosquito bites acquired from our last camping trip. Looking like that really did great things for my social life, let me tell you...

Once you taste the wilderness, you never can let it go.

Wildcat Canyon, Californa 2003

 

Sierras, Middle Palisades, John Muir Wilderness, California 2004

Tahquitz, California 2005

Taos, New Mexico 2009

Two Harbors, Catalina Island, California 2010

I post these pictures of my outdoor adventures with great hope. Hope that my daughters will experience the freedom of the outdoors. That they'll gain the same confidence and skills to explore the wild as I have.

I am grateful. Grateful to men who are good fathers and who take their children out to sleep under the stars.

Lyra, Eric, Cora, Wes, Gray, Miles, Cuyamaca, California 2014

Frankie, Auggie, Cora, and Eric - headed to Kennedy Meadows, Californa 2015

I can feel the girls' excitement. Its joyful intoxication makes me want to go, go, go OUTSIDE.

I'm lucky. I'm lucky I married a man who values what I value.

I hope that our love for adventure is catching.

Cuyamaca, California 2014

Cora and Lyra, when you read this one day, know that by land or by sea, the world is yours and is waiting for you to go explore.

Muertos Cove, Baja California Sur, Mexico 2013

Monday
May182015

Tiny House Bed | DIY loft frame, mattress, and bedding

Remember the loft bed Eric and Dan built for our tiny studio last year? 

It was an epic bed set up for our tiny home. You can read about it here. This post is about the foam, mattress, and bedding, you know, the stuff I do :)

We ordered a piece of 4" high-density foam and had it cut to the size of a queen bed. I know people spend thousands of dollars on mattresses, but I have never slept better than when sleeping on this type of foam. We had the same high-density foam in our v-berth on Rebel Heart. It is the best.sleep.ever.

I made a cover for the foam out of some awesome home-dec weight fabric.

The only thing I would have changed about making this cover is to have added handles. I forgot and a mattress without handles is a pain to move.

Next up was making a mattress protector. I had a king-sized white fleece blanket that I thought I'd turn into one for us.

While it looks lovely, and it is, this was a project fail. I first cut it to size (of the queen bed top) and then added satin blanket binding.

The reason it failed? When I added the fabric to tuck around the sides and the bottom of the cover (to turn it into a fitted cover), I miscalculated. I made the measurements from the edge of the blanket but realized I didn't want to sew into the beautiful blanket binding. Instead, I sewed the edge/bottom fabric into the seam of where the binding meets the blanket, moving my math by 2".

See? I sewed the fabric to the red line to preserve the satin binding, but my inital measurements were for the blue line.

Of course this meant that I made the cover too small/tight.

Ugh.

Sometimes, however, perfect is the enemy of done. I pulled an "ain't-nobody-got-time-for-that" and just cut the fabric in a few places and stretched it around the corners, quickly putting our fitted top sheet on to hold it into place.

And that is how the project stayed for quite a while. Technically, it worked. But underneath the fitted top sheet, the messed up project sang to me, calling out to be refinished correctly.

I finally got around to it.

The small blanket came off and I set it aside so I could carefully use a seam ripper to detach the side fabric and keep the beautiful binding intact. Now we'd at least have another pretty blanket in the house.

This time I used a much bigger orange fleece blanket for the cover. (Fleece makes an excellent mattress protector.)

All I did was pin the corners to size and then sew those lines. No chopping, no cutting. When I want to turn this back into a blanket, I can rip those seams and it will be back in business.

Ta da!!

Meanwhile, Lyra is doing her thing in the bathroom. Love that kid.

A perfect, tiny, minimalist bed.

I also made a custom pillow case for my memory foam pillow.

From too-large pillow case to...

A pattern drawn to....

A custom, zippered, matching pillow case to our bedding.

Here is the loft bed in our old studio.

And our bed in the San Diego house. 

I love that it is simple. I love that is comfortable. And I love to put a custom, personal touch on where ever we are living, on land or at sea. 

Friday
May152015

A Solar System Chalkboard Wall for Girls AND Boys!

I can't tell you frustrating it was to look for ideas on a solar system wall for our learning corner and be met time and time again with articles linking space and the solar system to boys.

The solar system is not for boys.

It is not for girls.

It is technically not for anybody, but I can tell you this, girls like the solar system too.

Don't believe me on the "boys only" posts? Here are just a few. Here. Here. Here. Here

We've been reading There's No Place Like Space and studying planets and our solar system. Cora pretends she is Neptune and always wants Lyra to be Pluto, but Eric is against Lyra being a non-planet. Lyra is earth instead. Eric gets to be Mars, and I claimed Venus, naturally.

The inner workings of our family shenanigans aside, I've been jonesing to set up a giant model of the solar system for the girls (and, I'll admit it, me and Eric too.) After much combing of the internet, these were the three images I used for my inspiration:

I knew I wanted to use chalkboard paint because our walls are a bit bumpy. Normally this would not be good for a chalkboard wall (you want them as smooth as you can get them.) I wanted the bumps though, because once I had seasoned the board and then erased it, I'd be left with a wall that looked more like the actual solar system than a jet-black wall. I wanted the bumps of remaining white chalk to resemble stars.

I had a plan, and I went for it!

Here's the wall after adding chalkboard paint. Gorgeous. Inky. Black.

But do your homework for creating your own. Read the gazillion tutorials on Pinterest and you'll learn that you need to season the wall before using it for the first time.

And so I seasoned.

I went through a few pieces of large, white sidewalk chalk.

This process is messy. Have your vacuum and broom at hand.

After seasoning, I wiped the wall down with a towel. See the difference? The wall on the bottom looks much more milky-way-ish, right?

I ordered this set of solar system decals from Very Berry Sticker on Etsy.

Voilà!

Pretty rad, right? 

I'm so totally stoked on how this turned out.

Lyra loves it.

Cora loves it.

A solar system chalkboard wall FOR GIRLS. Girls grow up to be scientists, pilots, engineers, and astronauts, just like boys. Give them the inspiration to which they are rightly entitled.

My favorite part of the entire project was when Cora looked at it and happily sighed, "Mom, this is the best home ever in the history of the whole world."

Thanks, lil' buddy <3