Monday, March 31, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Almost Famous

Before we get into today's story, a little background info: As many of you know, my sister Sarah works at National Geographic. Sarah's friend, Sarah A., also works at Nat Geo and is currently involved with a project about Jane Goodall. Sarah A. asked me and some other parents she knows to send in videos of our kids talking about Jane Goodall. Jack, being four, had no idea who Jane Goodall was, but I don't like to disappoint, and besides, I figured it couldn't be that hard to feed Jack a couple of lines about chimpanzees and the illustrious Jane.

As usual, I was wrong.

First we watched a video about Jane for context. Jack enjoyed the chimpanzees. Then we moved onto the lines: "I really like chimpanzees. I want to be like Jane Goodall when I grow up." This took slightly longer to master than I anticipated.

Eventually, though, we got a decent take, which I sent to the Sarahs. Sarah A. said it was great, but my Sarah told me it would never work.  I hadn't filmed it horizontally, and my camera skills sucked. I assured her it was fine with Sarah A., and that was what mattered. But then Sarah A. sent me an email: Could I please film it horizontally? I was more annoyed that my sister was right than that I had to re-film it. Plus, by the time I got the email it was bath time. Oh well. Nothing wrong with a kid talking about Jane Goodall in the bath tub, right? So I shot a couple more takes.

But when I sent that to my Sarah, she told me the bath tub thing wasn't going to cut it. Argh! So I got Jack dressed in his monkey pjs and chose a neutral background with bright lighting, as instructed. Then something weird happened.

Whoops! Didn't even know there was a slo mo option on my iPhone. After I figured THAT out, I got what I thought was a pretty good result.

Done and done! I sent the final product to my sister. She immediately wrote back to tell me it was no good.

Now just for a minute, imagine this scenario: it's 7:30, which is bed time. We've shot at least a dozen takes of the same scene, and Jack is getting pretty fed up. So, as it turns out, am I. I have bribed him with the last of the Cadbury mini eggs, and I'm feeling pretty awesome about giving my kid a bunch of candy right before bed. But, Sarah assures me, all I need to do is set up the shot EXACTLY like she tells me, and it will be fine.

Here are my parameters: hold my phone horizontal, use some kind of background for depth (like a couch), prop my arms on something so the image is steady, use the brightest light I can find (mind you we have one lamp next to our couch and no overhead lights in our temporary lodging), Jack should be looking at someone sitting next to me so his eyes don't wander but he's not staring right at the camera, he should be about a third of the way into the shot, I should talk to him before and after we get the lines to leave room for editing, I need to be at the same level as Jack, and it would be really fabulous if I had a book about chimps I could use in the scene. Because you know, I have tons of those lying around.

It is admittedly a rocky start, but it ends on what I think is a pretty good note.

I send the video in and declare myself well and done. Sarah, sensing my frustration, agrees that it will probably do, and I finally get to put the poor little reality television star to bed.

And then I see Sarah A. on Saturday. "How was it?" I ask, since I hadn't heard back about the final video.

Sarah A. looks at me sympathetically. "He didn't make the cut."

What the what?! How can this be? I followed all the rules (which by the way weren't actually provided). My child was adorable. I spent close to an hour on this utter nonsense! I suddenly understand why all those stage moms get so nuts when their kids don't win the beauty pageant. What could possibly be cuter than MY KID?!?!

I'll tell you what. The producer's kid.

And so began - and ended - Jack's acting career. Some of us just aren't made for this kind of cut-throat competition. It's a chimp-eat-chimp world out there. And no one understands that better than Jane.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Green and Black's Organic Hot Chocolate

I'm keeping it short and sweet today. This hot chocolate mix from Green and Black's (they also make my favorite 85% dark chocolate bar) is delicious. It's just the right amount of sweet, and it dissolved instantly into the milk I heated on the stove. None of the insane whisking I have to do with cocoa powder. I found it at Cost Plus World Market but it's also available on Amazon. If winter is going to insist on sticking around FOREVER, I'm going to keep on drinking hot chocolate!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mommy Mondays: One Month Left (and Why I'm Afraid of an Ugly Baby)

Today I'm one month away from my due date. You'd think, what with this not being my first rodeo and all, I'd be pretty comfortable with the idea of having a second kid. After all, I sort of know what to expect in terms of having the baby, and I have a pretty good idea of what sleep deprivation is all about. I know that beyond diapers, a crib, clothes, and a car seat, I don't really need all that baby gear that's still tucked away in storage, and I know that I can pretty much trust my instincts as a mom.

All that being said, I'm still terrified.

And one of the things I'm legitimately scared of is having an ugly baby. There, I said it. And I know what you're thinking: But Mara, you are such a stunningly attractive human being. How could you possibly think you'll produce an ugly child? (Just kidding.) A valid argument to this fear-of-ugly-offspring thing is that we did manage to produce one pretty cute kid already, so I have no reason to think #2 would be any less adorable. But what if all the cuteness got used up on #1? What if Jack was just a fluke? What if the nightmare I had last week comes true (I dreamt I gave birth to a kid with a full head of hair and a full set of teeth to match)?

See, last time I asked for a baby and I got a pony! You just never know...

In all seriousness, I think the ugly-baby fear is a more deeply rooted fear that I won't bond with this baby or love him as much as I love the one I already have. It's just impossible to imagine. Everyone tells me those fears will vanish the moment I see this baby, and I am inclined to believe them.

Just as long as he doesn't have a full set of teeth.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Moon and Stars for Baby

The truth is, folks, that what I'd REALLY love today is a nap, but between my 4-year-old playing LEGO on top of me and the baby giving me terrible rib pain, sleep is not really part of my repertoire at the mo. So I figure I might as well share my latest obsession: celestial everything.

I don't know where this came from. I guess it started with the Lullaby crib bedding from Land of Nod. I finally bit the bullet and ordered the baby's quilt, which helped inspire the mobile I made a couple of months ago.

Most of you know I'm not into really "boyish" stuff, but I do love gray, so I ordered a much cheaper version of the crib seen above which I'm hoping will go well with the quilt and the few other decorations I've managed to collect. Dwell Studio also has a line of "galaxy" themed bedding that I love (and it's also in gray!). How cute is this nursery?

I am obsessed with that rug (and that chair). This pillow is adorable but too expensive for me right now, so I'm going to make a similar version out of felt.

I also love the idea of a print that features the E. E. Cummings quote, "You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars," or something similar, like this adorable print from UhOhPasghettio on Etsy:

Or, something that says, "I love you to the moon and back," a la this decal from Land of Nod:

And the big ticket item I'm hoping for once the baby is born (hint, hint hubby) is this necklace from Catbird NYC. I'd like a silver moon with a "J" for Jack and a gold star with the baby's initial. It's pricey, but I haven't found anything similar anywhere else, and it's the kind of thing I'd wear every day.

Of course I don't want to go overboard on any one thing in the nursery, so it's not all stars all the time. I've got a few fox items, like this Maileg fox I found in a store in Miami for half-price:

And the fox rattle I made:

And other than the fabrics I talked about last week, which I plan on framing in white IKEA frames, that's about it. I've found some nursery rockers I love but they keep selling out, and until we're in our house, I can't get much else. But I promise to post photos when it's all finished!

For now, I should probably focus on other things, like actually having the baby...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Foreign Service Fridays: Where in the World?

In this week's post on Most Eligible Family, I try to explain geography to a 4-year-old. And fail. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Things I Love Thursdays: Spoonflower

The other day I came across some super-cute fabric for a baby or kid's room (thanks Lauren!) only to find I couldn't come close to affording it. We're talking several hundred dollars for a duvet. The fabric was adorable, but seriously? I'm not spending more on my infant's bedding than my own. Curious to see what it would require to create my own fabric, I came across Spoonflower, which is a website where you can not only design your own fabric, wallpaper, wrapping paper, or wall decal, but also choose from hundreds of cute designs from people who actually know what they're doing.

I spent the better part of my morning perusing the site and came across dozens of designs I loved, but ended up ordering just a few swatches (it's $5 for an 8"x8" piece, which is all I need for my purposes). A couple of my favorites that I ordered:

Animals on bikes! Love!

Boy with kites! Also love!

The colors in both of these fabrics are right up my alley.  I consider them gender neutral (I suppose some people might not like the pink, but to each their own I say!) and plan on framing the swatches as wall art.

And this llama print reminds me of Peru (where we're heading next) and is also the exact colors I used in the baby's mobile and of the blanket I ordered him:

It's called llama-rama! How cute is that?

Not sure what I'll do with it yet - maybe make a little llama-shaped pillow? I have some felt leftover from the mobile that I could use on the back, so we'll see...

If you're looking for ideas, I highly recommend the site. There are so many talented designers on there! And I love the idea of designing my own wall decals. Such a great idea for people who move frequently (a la me). Enjoy!