Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celebrating Outdoor Afro!

It was an honor and a privilege to be in attendance at Oakland's historic African American Museum & Library to celebrate one of the most passionate people I know, my friend and Outdoor Afro founder, Rue Mapp. It was a joy to experience the outpouring of love as we all gathered around to surprise the birthday girl as she ascended the staircase, and a real treat to witness her commendations from members of Congress and the County of Alameda for her groundbreaking work centered around African Americans and the great outdoors. Did I mention that Rue is also one of the Faces of Conservation for the Wilderness Society in Washington, DC? She is truly doing us all proud and creating opportunities to reconnect our community to nature.

The Outdoor Afro team worked to further Rue's vision by putting together an Outdoor Afro fundraiser, which helped raise money devoted to scholarships to send youth to Oakland Feather River Camp next summer! Emma and I will be looking forward to joining in on the fun. You don't have to wait until next summer to get in on the camping action, you can follow Rue and her family on their upcoming RV trip to the California Coast!

Visit for color-filled adventures and valuable information about enjoying all the rewarding possibilities of nature.

Living the Young Mommy Life!

It's truly impossible to say enough wonderful things about the fabulous Tara Pringle Jefferson of The Young Mommy Life, and just as impossible to compile all the reasons why I love her into one blog post. She's just an amazing force of nature. You can't help but walk away fully inspired and ready to take on the world after reading her work, and you definitely feel a sense of pride to be a part of the community that she has built because she is a shining example of all the possibilities that await young motherhood in the world. I was just drawn to Tara from the very beginning! Not only was she a young mommy who welcomed her daughter while she was still a college student, just like myself, but she was living my journalist dream. She was a great example that motherhood isn't a road block to the dreams of young mothers, but rather, a driving force and a site of universal unconditional support. Even as a single mother of one, I could relate fully to this married mother of two because she goes hard. There is no going home for Tara!

I'm pretty sure you can imagine my feelings when Tara told me that "I" inspire her. It was humbling to be reminded that my little piece of experience in the huge pie of the young mommy community is noted, appreciated and most importantly, welcomed. Yesterday I was featured in The Young Mommy Life's 'She Inspires' series. Check me out, and check out all of the other brilliant pieces that Tara and The Young Mommy crew have to offer.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Legal Stuff

I remember the first time I attempted a legal name change for Emma. I loaded her into her stroller, got the bus to our local courthouse, and picked up a thick packet of forms. The legal stuff was all foreign to me at the time, and I didn't have the confidence to fill them out on my own, nor could I seem to find anyone to help me fill them out. I'm pretty sure that was over seven years ago! This Labor Day, I sat on my grandmother's couch and electronically filled out every single form that I need to make this happen, including a fee waiver for filing/court fees, which I'm eligible for. Now comes the fun part - getting Emma's dad to sign off on legally changing the first name that he gave her, at a time when he's already come to the conclusion that I not only think that I'm "better" than everyone how high school is that!, but that I'm in the business of making decisions for him. His ability to make good decisions could definitely be argued, but this decision isn't about him at all, and I hope that he will be willing to hear me out, and not block this from becoming a legal reality. I didn't fight for this name eight years ago, but I'm prepared to do so now.

I'm not quite sure why the forms and/or the process was so intimidating at the start, but it felt good to be able to breeze through all seven forms this time around. We'll see just how painless this process will be.

Rockin' & Rollin'

The first week of school brought a lot of smiles and tales. I enjoyed hearing all about the excitement of Emma's days on our walks home. Well, I walked - she rode her scooter about 15 paces ahead of me while shouting out all the fun activities of the day. I love the way her eyes light up as she sings a song to me that she learned in class, or shares something else that just happened to be her favorite part of the day. Her happiness is priceless. I'm hoping that week two, and every week of this school year brings the same level of joy.

Over the weekend we received Emma's standardized test scores in the mail from her old school. Last year was her first year taking the test, and her class spent a lot of time preparing with practice assignments. I guess it all payed off because she did great! She placed in the Advanced level in Language Arts, and the higher end of the Proficient level in Math, surpassing the California standard in both. With math being one of her favorite subjects, I was a little surprised to see that this wasn't the category where she had an advanced score, but hey, 24 points shy of advanced, in standardized testing terms, ain't half bad.

I finished up my first set of homework problems over the weekend, and might I dare say, I enjoyed sitting in the middle of my bed, surrounded by pascal's triangle, inductive & deductive reasoning, universal/sub/proper & improper sets, integers, cardinal numbers and a notebook of notes. It just all kind of flowed - stress free. Let's all hope that this contentment continues as I move into future homework sets and exams! Just three more months to go and I'm home free!

I hope that everyone had a wonderfully, labor-free, weekend!

Appreciating You!

Because a little appreciation goes a long way. Take 10% off at Baby Squares for the month of September! Just use code APPRECIATE at checkout to apply the discount. Also, if you haven't already, "like" our Facebook page and suggest us to your friends!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Because a Girl Can Never Have Too Many Bows

While I'm anxiously awaiting a yarn shipment from Joann's Fabrics, I couldn't resist dipping into the yarn stash to play with those wee bits that seem to always be left over here and there. Some folks use those bits to create colorful grannies - I usually leave them be and even sometimes toss them. Well, not this time. I decided to make a few Hair Bows. The clip attachment at the back gave me the opportunity to practice my sewing!

This pair is now available in my shop, and I'm looking forward to working these up in more colors.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Day of Firsts

Today marks the two hundred and second post here in this space, and the very first day of 3rd grade, at a brand new school, for Emma. I gotta say, its looking mighty good. Based on the warm welcome alone, I want to strongly believe that this year is going to rock. I got a great vibe from parents and staff this morning as I made my way around the auditorium, looking over PTA information and after-school classes. I even ran into a few mommy friends. Turns out, there will be more familiar faces around campus than we'd both originally thought. 30 more minutes of learning to go, and then I get to hear all about her big first day! I'm anticipating hearing all about her reunion with an old friend who she'll be sharing a class with this year. Looks like I'd better brace myself for all of those future playdate requests!

Back to school means back to the days of having an empty house for a few hours. As I reflected on this earlier today, I realized that its actually been a while. I used my alone time wisely by making a little welcome-home-from-your-day-of-firsts gift for my big girl.

This will be perfect for tomorrow morning's walk to school!

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's the Little Things

Taken at a meet & greet picnic for new and alum student-parents at the University of California, Berkeley

It's in the Air!

Sharing in Beyonce's sheer joy as she rubbed her belly nearly brought me to tears. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a happy pregnancy! She belted out her celebration of beautiful love, and I loved every single moment of it. Yes, love and carriage filled the air today, as I found out that several of my good sister-friends are also expecting.

Huge congrats and happiness to all the parents and their new little ones who will be arriving this year!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mi Barrio

Admittedly, I'm not too crazy about my new digs - even though we've officially been here for 8 months. I've wrestled with a huge lack of comfort, tried to get creative with a huge lack of storage space, and battled anxiety around having to be that neighbor a time or two. Bottom line is that I've been picky. While Emma has settled in nicely with a complex of new friends, I've spent the majority of the time griping because this transition left me without the unrealistic perfection I was seeking. My casa of gold at the end of el arco iris was supposed to include a cute little private patio where I could grow my container garden in peace, and a place to tuck my Christmas decorations away, and a golden silence in the midnight hour. This place: not so much. However, on the heels of a day long fiesta de cumpleanos, it is obvious that this place is definitely not lacking in community.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back to School

It's been two years since my mini-me and I strutted our stuff across the stage. A collective sense of achievement for many years of hard work and sacrifice. I was part of the "one more class" club, while others belonged to the "one more paper/final/requirement/God WHY would you curse me with a 35 page thesis?" club. I had every intention of closing out my undergrad career the following Summer. I enrolled, went through the first week, and painfully came to the conclusion that without the needed resources (ie: textbook, tutor) my success in the class was gonna be virtually non-existent. Fast forward three Fall semesters and here I am, at the end of week one of my one last class. And guess what? Now is the right time.

The week leading up to the first day kept winding down to more anxiety ridden moments. The realization sank in that I would soon be expected to perform in a subject that I haven't explored for nine years! I'd petitioned to bypass any possibility of having to be assessed, because even a simple math assessment test after nine years of lazy computations is simply terrifying. And after day one I started to think that maybe a repeat, a refresher course would have been worth another semester's delay. Boy was day two a game changer! Without any immediate memory of algebra or the $200 latest addition required textbook, I was able to hang onto every notation the professor made and became more confident that being left alone to fend for myself with just a few equations and 20 unanswered problems wasn't a death sentence after all. I even traded a few pages of a good book for two example problems on the bus ride home! And it was then that I remembered why I used to love math.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall Projects

The breeze is turning a little brisk outside, and back to school is right around the corner. We intend to be ready! Now that the clothes shopping is all done, its time to start thinking about cute accessories. We're doing scarves, hats, headbands, and hair bows around here. I finished up another circle scarf, this time in eggplant. Thought this was a beautiful warm color for Fall, and a little something special for all of my purple lovers out there.

I have more fun Fall colors in the works. Now that I'll be heading back to class, I think I might be sure to make one of these for myself!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Newness is in the Air

I decided to try something new. I decided to challenge myself a wee bit further. I haven't advanced to playing with thread or those magnificent seed beads yet, but I'm getting there - one new project at a time. This time around, its all about circles! Earrings and scarves.

I was pretty darn proud of myself once I finished these earrings. Not the most complex design, but crochet circles can go a looong way. I'm grateful to the amazing Renaissance Austin of Raghouse International for her circle and earring making tutorials. They were just what I needed to jump right in.

And, of course, a pair of squares!

Each pair of these earrings are now available in my Etsy shop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Healing in Numbers

"When four or five motherless women sit together in a room, however, the camaraderie is nearly instantaneous. Finally, they say. Others who understand... They can detect the subtlest inflection in each other's behaviors, the tiniest insinuation in a gaze, the inaudible frequency of spirit that reveals: You are one of me." - From Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters

I'll be stepping out next week, to step into a new circle of sisterhood. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to seek out a Motherless Daughter's support group. In the mist of being the only motherless daughter in my immediate circle, I never considered the fact that I might ever be able to reach out to, and come together with, another woman who came of age under the same circumstances of loss. Such a woman reached out to me last week, and next week I will meet her at my very first Motherless Daughters meetup. I'm looking forward to all of the possibilities that this meetup will bring forth.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Those Special Touches

Sometimes, when a project takes a wrong turn, a little rethinking and creativity can save it from becoming a victim of the scrap pile. I was very proud of my very first puff stitch scarf, despite the fact that it felt more to me like a shawl than a scarf because of its width and length on an adult frame. What to do with a scarf that is too short when reworking it is out of the question? Well, just change the style of the scarf! I realized that I didn't get the look that I wanted from the ends of the scarf when I wrapped it around my neck, but a wrap here and a tuck there gave me the look that I had originally envisioned. I took both ends of the scarf and slip stitched them together to create a circle. Problem solved.

When it comes to headbands, fit is very important. The size of a headband can change with the thickness/weight of the yarn used and the size of the crochet hooked. This became apparent to me when I found my one-size-fits most two strand headband a lot larger with a different type of yarn. What to do if you don't want to purchase a pattern in the current headband style for your specific yarn thickness? One option is to work up a more functional style of headband.

A simple double crocheted headband can fit a range of heads, especially with elastic added! This headband can also fit a range of personal styles by attaching bows and flowers.

It can be both challenging and frustrating when one pattern no longer fits all, but the process of learning new ways of creating is the fun part.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making a Statement

Breast is Best Beanie, $10 - available at Baby Squares

When it comes to crochet patterns, I haven't always been eager to jump right in, hook first. I learned to crochet by watching and following along, and I still learn that way, but every now and again, I have to strike out on my own, written instructions in hand. I fell in love with this beanie the moment I saw it in the Etsy shop Sara's Stitches. I thought this beanie was cute and creative, and it represents something that has a special place in my heart, the act of breastfeeding. When I recently revisited my shop's favorites, I noticed that, in addition to this hat, Sara was also offering a pattern. With new babies popping up in many of my friend's households, I thought this would be a great piece to learn to make.

If you're familiar with crochet patterns, then you know that crochet has its own language, full of a multitude of stitches and abbreviations. I have gotten much better at reading and following patterns since I began crocheting, but their are some that still pose a challenge. This hat is one of them. Nonetheless, despite still getting familiar with different weights of yarn, and how it affects the end result, I think I did pretty good one my first and second try!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Getting Ready for Fall

The clouds have been rolling in, and even a light mist has graced us here in the Bay Area, a sure reminder that Fall is right around the corner. My hook has seen a lot of yarn lately, and my project bag has been overflowing with hats. Its been a great way to use up yarn from my stash, and to get my Baby Squares fans thinking about keeping themselves and their kiddos warm in the coming months.

I think I'm starting to really enjoy making these hats with ear flaps. I didn't realize exactly how versatile a beanie could be!

I created this one with the bit of yarn I had left over from Emma's blanket.

And my hat collection wouldn't be complete without a tam or two, right? This is a personal favorite of mine. Whenever I'm having a not-so-good hair day or in a rush to get out the door, I can always throw on my tam, stick a couple of bobbie pins in to secure since I like my hat to sit half way my head, and go! I'm looking forward to adding a few new colors for myself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Sometimes shared experience can be comforting. I keep this in mind as I journey through the lives of others and with others.

I was browsing the isles of my local library a couple of weeks ago when I came across a book that stopped me in my tracks. I think I probably stood and stared at its binding for a good five minutes before picking it up off the shelf. Any other day, I would have probably put it back, but this day, I it must have called to me. A few pages in, and I was glad to have been listening.

Motherless Daughters, written by Hope Edelman has been around ever since 1994. How could I have not known about this book? How could I have not been aware that, across the lands, many motherless daughters support groups have been gathering. Maybe, because in dealing with trauma, there are some forms of trauma that are acknowledged and dealt with on deeper levels. Just a couple of chapters in, and this book, what it has already revealed to me about being a motherless daughter, has gone to work on me. Its almost like my true self is being unmasked and explained to me for the very first time in my life.

Motherless Daughters is written from the viewpoint of having lost a mother in childhood or adolescence. This is the first time, written or otherwise, that I've engaged in or with conversation about mother loss that encompasses my own experience. Lossing a mother at any age is life changing, but to have a mother plucked away before she's been able to teach, to befriend, to comfort and nurture... that, so I've realized, is the straw that can break a daughter's back. As I work my way through this book, a weath of emotions become present - sadness, anger, empathy, relief - hopefully arriving at a the end of this book with a more genuine comprehension of the little girl within.

Stitches and Stitches

Sometimes, there are certain projects that seem to go on and on forever. You set out with a clear goal in mind, an even clearer time frame, and then something happens. You pick it up one day and put it down the next or push it aside for the chance to create something new. For some reason, the blanket that I started for Emma turned out to be one of those kinds of projects. Thankfully, I've stitched the last stitch and she is snuggled under all 55 inches of this beauty as I type. I felt like popping open a bottle of something tasty to celebrate!

She's happy with her new blanket and that makes it all worth it!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Etsy Vacation is Over

Hello approaching sunrise, we meet again...

I broke Her first basic rule for getting a full night's rest, but my project bag is no longer empty, and my Etsy shop is no longer on vacation. It's been a while.

A few new quick things.

Custom Ear Flap Hat w/Ties, done up for a friend who will
be trailing behind a little duck this Halloween.

A little Berrylicious Beanie with a little extra something-something, $10

Another go around with the flaps for a friend who wants to
match her nice blue set of wheels.

Drop by my shop and catch the sales! Layettes and blankets must find a new warm home!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I've Been...


Roasted/baked chicken thighs and lemony brussel sprouts

Peach Pie


Diaper Covers: Newborn to 24mths $15

Playing with hair
Mourning the loss of my internet connection
Mourning the loss of my cell phone service
Mourning the loss of gas in my car's tank
Journal writing
Going for walks
Interior painting
Movie watching
Reading books
Visiting the local library
Visiting the local park
Going to therapy on a weekly basis
Spending time with friends
Job searching
Clearing boxes out of my living room!

What have you been up to?

A Hair Story

Style #1: Beginning Style
A combination of twists and ponytails

Style #2
Untwisted all of the twists and removed the ponytails.
Tucked, rolled and secured the front portion with bobby pins.

Style #3:
Big Hair Don't Care!
Tucked, rolled and secured a smaller front section.

Style #4
Chunky twists all over with half of front section pinned to
the side.

Style #5
BIGGER Hair and still Don't Care!
Chunky twist out with front side portion tucked, rolled
and secured with bobby pins and a cute barrette.

You just can't beat the versatility of beautiful natural hair!