Thursday, September 30, 2010


Emily, it turns out, has quite the way with numbers.  Funny how well that coincides with her way with words.

"Ben, I love you like the numbers. You know, because the numbers go on forever."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Every dog has his day

Every dog has his day. Except in the Bear household. Here, every dog has her red velour circle skirt. And exactly how does one procure such a luxury? One makes it, of course! Want to see?

Patterns for doll clothes are surprisingly expensive. Actually, patterns in general can carry a pretty hefty price tag - often upwards of $15.00. Yikes! So I fished out an old pattern for one of Emily's past Halloween costumes.
Simplicity pattern 0588 purchased Fall 2005
It turned out okay way back then, if I do say so myself.
Look at cute 15 month old Emily!
My favorite part of this costume (besides the wearer) is the class ring on a chain around her neck. The whole thing is just so cute!
Okay, I'm back from memory lane. Obviously, this skirt pattern was for a 15-month-old child which are, typically, larger than the average stuffed animal.  I appealed to Ben's mad smarts to size down the three-part pattern. He suggested I measure the puppy's mid section and cut a strip of paper to length. Then I made a ring from the strip:

Hard stuff, right? Then, I drew lines to divide the circle into fourths and traced the curve of one section onto another piece of paper.  Emily generously offered up her enormous stack of semi-used construction paper.
I then measured the top and bottom curves of the original pattern piece so I could do some figuring with ratios and lengths and other crazy math stuff to come up with size of the bottom curve for my new pattern piece.  Make sense? I ended up with this:

The original pattern had two of the triangular  pieces, but, since they were identical, I just made one. Place one of the long edges against the fold of the fabric, then cut. Repeat.  I did't take photos of the plaicing and cutting so if you are lost (and I don't blame you) refer to Ahsley's sewing tips. I've talked about Ashley before and really, her blog is just lovely.
Pinning and cutting are the longest part of any sewing project. Once I had my material cut to the appropriate size I could just follow (most) of the sewing directions from the Simplicity pattern. Because we were clothing a stuffed animal I opted to forgo the zipper for a simple hook-and-loop closure instead. Please excuse the bluriness:
Now, for the very best part: Emily wanted to help!  Mother-daughter sewing sessions are one of those things that have fallen to the wayside so I was thrilled she wanted to participate beyond picking out the fabric. I taught her a simple whip stitch so she could hand sew the hem herself. (If interested, you can learn it from Ashley at another of her tutorials).
Here's my busy girl:
Busy at work (the puppy is stuffed under her arm)
Mama, aren't I the cutest sew-er ever?
Whew, this is thirsty work.  Let's take 5
And then it was done:
 Puppy is all ready to have tea with Em when she gets home, but in the meantime somebody else has gotten a hold of her.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Poem by Emily!

The sun is yellow.
The sky is blue.
The trees is are green.
I hope everything is nice for you.
I love you.

"Mom, poem is a funny-lookin' word."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Charm Me

Turn all your t-shirts right-side-out before putting them in the laundry basket. Thank you for that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Exactly what is the purpose of the tongue in a tennis shoe?
My kid won't wear this perfectly adorable, well-fitting, SPARKLY pair of sneaks because the base of the tongue wrinkles and hurts her.

 Surely there is a way to fix this tongue problem.  I mean, how can I let something covered in pink glitter go unworn?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A moment to enjoy Tampa

The renovations are at something of a standstill right now.  Planing and sanding the now (mostly) stripped cedar has proven to be another gargantuan undertaking in the process of making over the fireplace surround.  45 minutes a day is about the maximum anyone can tolerate in our makeshift construction shelter.
Our attempt at containing the cedar dust
Now that Ben and I have both returned to working full time, this project can only progress on the weekends. We'll probably have to live with this less-than-soothing view for a while.

It is admittedly frustrating, so let's take a little break from the Bear Home Renovation/Decoration Project and focus on some very enjoyable aspects of our new home. In no particular order:

1. Our walk-in shower features glass and marble tiles, a bench, and six spray nozzles. Four of those nozzles have adjustable flow.
2. Honey has several new and strange places to sleep. Every time she is MIA for a few hours we can count on a good giggle when we finally find her.
Above the refrigerator
3. Emily's school is literally across the street.  We get to walk there and back every day. As far as I am concerned, this is a priceless amenity. I never in a million years imagined we'd get to to do this.

4. Our house back up to a beautiful golf course offering us some beautiful views from the entire back side of the house.
View from the master bedroom balcony
Alternate view and some lunch
 5. I live with the quirkiest six-year-old in the entire world.

6. Tampa also has this guy.
With all that, really, a little home decor challenge is just not going to bring me down.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Making the house our home - more Emily's room

Because I am almost a month behind, a short time line of the move/settling in as it happened for Emily is in order.
August 7 Emily and I returned to Virginia after her summer in Texas.
August 11 the packers packed.
August 12 the loaders loaded and we hit the road.
August 14 we arrived in Florida.
August 18 Emily for her brand new mattress so she could sleep on it (on the floor) instead of a foam pad on the floor.
August 19 our stuff arrived and the unloaders unloaded. Emily was happily reunited with many of her toys
August 23:
First day of first grade
August 29:
 That's right. My handsome (albeit tired) husband finished building Emily a loft bed! Several weeks prior he completely charmed me by ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR INSTRUCTIONS on how to go about building such a bed.  I want you all to know that jealousy is a perfectly normal emotion.

Emily "helped" move the bed into place:

Then she verified its sturdiness:

Sittin' pretty
We had even found the perfect rug to jazz up the play area underneath the bed:
So how was Em's first night not sleeping on the floor? I'd say she was on cloud nine.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Making the house our home - Emily's room

The family room may have been the one that bothered us the most, but it isn't actually the room we assigned top priority.  That honor was awarded to the room of one Emily Dawn Gatlin. We let her choose which room she would call her own and she settled on the "red one" closest to the stairs.
This is a pretty craptastic photo, but, remember, we had been sleeping on the floor for a few days. I love you, Internet, but sometimes I just cannot give you the very best.

Emily went through any number of color decisions before she found one to stick with.  She wanted pink with purple polka dots. No! Each wall a different color: purple, pink, silver, and bright blue. Pink with big butterflies! Then, while we were waiting to see the doctor for her school physical she came across an add featuring a bedroom with dark plum walls and bright white furniture.  I wish I had saved it because it is a surprising source of inspiration for a six-year-old.

It took no time for her to pick her shades from some paint swatches. What took a lot of time was prepping the walls. As with the fireplace, there must have been five layers of paint on those walls. There was some, um, interesting spackle formations to sand down as well. After what felt like an eternity, Emily had a purple room.
Wall and closet opposite the window
I hung the shelf and rod myself. Em elected to not have closet doors, but we will eventually hang a curtain.  As it is, having the closet open actually makes the room feel bigger.

A few days before the painting was finished all of our stuff arrived. Yea! But, Emily would have to continue sleeping in the other bedroom for a few more days while Ben (with some help from me) finished making a very special something to go into this very purple room.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making the house our home - family room

I know, I know- I've lived in Florida for roughly three weeks and haven't let any of you in on all our decorating plans. That's because decorating is really time consuming. I actually jumped into home-making the day after we arrived. Remember this family room photo from this post?
Family Room
I'm not sure why we never bothered to take more or even a better photo. We actually hated the fireplace surround when we first looked at the house.  The not-sage green paint paired with the yellow shelving takes away from the natural stone and makes the whole wall look sickly.  Plus, the shelves break the wall up making the room look narrower than it actually is.Ben wasn't even out of his pajamas yet when I encouraged some demolition on our first morning in the house.
See how much bigger (and, um, healthier) the fireplace looks by just removing one little shelf?
Next, this number had to come out:
Considering every room in the house (and a few outside spaces too) is wired for sound, I assume this held some kind of receiver or tuner.  I am not fluent in techie-speak, but that's what I'm going with. I also saw no reason to let Ben have all the demo fun.
Next time, I might comb my hair before documenting my prowess over wood and power tools.

It took us maybe a day to take out all the shelves. Did I mention they were cedar?  Yeah. At some point somebody decided to cover beautiful cedar beams with paint. Not yellow paint, mind you.  That came later. Using this:
We have managed to uncover green paint, mauve paint, primer,  and something blue that is neither paint nor identifiable. We've stripped and scraped away paint, spackle, primer, and sadly, some wood. Ben has also removed dozens of nails. Photos have a way of making things seem less horendous than they are but here's a corner shot of one of the uprights:
Do you see how thick that paint is?
So after three weeks this is all we have to show for our efforts:
I feel like we need one of those construction signs that says "Please Excuse Our Mess."  Once we get that wood sanded and oiled, though, I just know the fireplace will look great.  I almost feel like it is breathing a thank you every time we scrape off another layer of paint. My advice: NEVER PAINT BEAUTIFUL WOOD. EVER.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Road to Florida - The Arrival

Our plan had been to find hotels with or near fun, family activities (read: pool) so we could blow off some steam each day after driving five hours and stave off the grumpies. Doesn't every plan look perfect on paper.  In reality, we were so exhausted from our two days of packing and loading that we slept until 9:00 or 10:00 each morning.  A decent stop for lunch and multiple rest room breaks each day meant we didn't arrive at our destination hotel until it was time for dinner. We managed to squeeze in about an hour for swimming (none for me, thank you) before bed.
The grumpies were actually held at bay, but, by the time we stopped for lunch in our new home state the silliness had all but taken over:
That's right, we took a family portrait in Chili's while sporting turquoise finger mustaches.  It was totally Ben's idea. Let's take a closer look:
A few hours later, we drove up to our front door. Emily could not wait to see the inside of our house. She rushed from room to room so excitedly I'm not even sure how she was able to take it all in. I take that back.  There was one feature of the house that can keep her captivated for hours:
When we finally get her to dry off we can start making this house a home.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Road to Florida - part two

August 12 was another bright and early day. By bright I mean drizzly and grody. By early I mean "Oh my god, i don't think I ever shut my eyes, why does this day have to start right now!" But start it did.  The movers arrived around 8:30 and were a cheerful bunch who got right to work.  Emily was once again packed off to enjoy a day with Emma's family while me and Ben geared up to clean the apartment as our stuff was cleared out. For six hours we cleared and cleaned. Some time in the afternoon I trekked to the main office to research possible hotel stops for the night.  It is ridiculously difficult to find a nice hotel with a pool that we can both bring our cat to and afford.
Finally, sometime between 3:00 and 4:00, we were ready to hit the road. Goodbye Virginia! I really enjoyed you. Let's try to stay friends shall we?
A bit later we found ourselves in North Carolina. We commemorated the milestone with a bathroom break and a photo op:
We stopped at a rather nice Hilton in Raleigh, NC. Sadly, we were too tired and hungry to enjoy the nice pool. We did find some tasty food at the neighboring Bahama Breeze. I'm not sure how true it is to real Caribbean eats, but  it had a fun atmosphere and a ridiculously nice staff. After the loooong day we'd had, it was actually the perfect place for some silliness:
That crazy child just stole Ben's hat!
One driving day down, two more to go.