Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I was complaining to a friend that it seems like all I've heard lately is bad news. I really just want to hear some good news. I was reminded today, as I was cutting roses from my garden, of a poem by my favorite poet.

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

-Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

holding on

Last Friday there was a shark attack. A 66 year-old man was training for a triathlon and was attacked by a 15-17 foot great white shark. Both of his legs were severed and he bled out before his fellow athletes could get him to shore. His wife was waiting for him on the beach.

This horrific incident took place just south of the beach we like to think of as "ours". The beaches were closed down and a small fleet of boats and helicopters set out on a shark hunt. It was all very "Jaws-isque".

Another bit of terrifying news is that the boy has taken to calling me dude and insists upon pouring his own breakfast cereal. He has declared a moratorium on mommy kisses and says he no longer needs me to walk him to class. Now, it is true, that, left up to me, the proverbial apron strings would be tied tautly around his neck. However, must he pull away so abruptly? Must he be so bold as he strikes out on his own?

I worry. I worry that the older children will tell him there is no Santa, that he will fall and gouge an eye out, that someone will make him feel stupid or embarrassed.

And so today he announced his intention to become a "surfer" this summer. Isn't that fabulous considering the recent events? The truth of the matter is, I think I'd rather take our chances with oceanic wildlife than send him out into society. At least the monsters of the ocean are only looking for a meal.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

design sunday

Kirin & Co. is a small independent business run and owned by Lara Cameron out of Melbourne Australia.

Lara started out in graphic design and has progressed into designing her own line of fabric.

I love the colors she uses and the bold graphics. Lara also prints a line of stationary for those of us out there who can't seem to get enough paper.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

and counting. . .

1. A Little Child, 2. Chinese Child 3. Dragon, 4. Chinese Child 5. little chinese girl, 6. I spy with my little eye, 7. Petita Miss Miao, 8. Practice Makes Perfect... (By Dad), 9. Village Near Shambei: Child, 10. Child, 11. Bald Happy Children, 12. Chinese Girl on Bridge, 13. The Boy in Basket, 14. Little Miao girl in traditional costume, 15. 7 trash, 16. Old Haikou I

1,000,000 thoughts of Mei Mei
500,000 kisses
499,999 I love yous
1010 views on my blog
905 hearts on Etsy
500 miles in running shoes
272 items sold on Etsy
209 days since our LID with China
100 dollars on new plants
14 years of marital bliss
2 years in our house
1 happy girl

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

lure of lanterns

For some time now, I have had a "thing" for paper lanterns. Something about them is entirely wistful and romantic. I have been on the hunt for some really great ones to hang over my work bench. I am also thinking they would make a cute stand-in instead of a mobile over Mei Mei's crib.

Here's the latest from the workbench, inspired by my love for lanterns and all things Asian.

Sugar Daddy thinks they look more Middle Eastern than Asian.

Monday, April 21, 2008

friends & enemies

When I was little, my great-grandmother, (her name was Mabel, we called her Grandma-Great) would walk me around her yard and tell me all about her plants. As an eight-year-old, this made me want to gouge my eyes out, I found it so boring. She was very passionate about the flora she had collected over many years. I once saw her smash a slug with her bare hand. She ground it into the cement and let out a humph. I think for her, it was a personal attack for a slug to eat her plants.

She had two huge oak trees with my grandfather's navy hammock slung between them. A natural spring well bubbled up near the base of one tree and the water was ice cold even in August. A lilac bush climbed the rain pipe on the back of the house and smelled so sweet and strong that as you lay in the hammock with dappled light on your face, you felt you might become intoxicated. As I've said before, I grew up in Mayberry. I think my grandmother, with her magical garden, "planted" the proverbial seed in me to love plants.

I can't remember what this plant is called. It's little blooms are super fragrant.

Okay, so on to the friends and enemies. I HATE, really really hate grasshoppers. I'd rather have a cockroach crawl across my foot than one of these nasty, crunchy bugs. We went to the nursery last weekend and Thom was begging for a treat. He choose a bag of ladybugs. Ben and I were more than happy to have them. The aphids are out in full force!

This little SOB was eating my "Voluptuous" rose, but I was too afraid to kill him.

Here is my newly planted garden. Look at the row of radishes. We planted the seeds only a week ago!

My Don Juan rose grows on a trellis on the front of the house.

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back." ~Alice Walker

This Chris Everett rose has been shaped into a tree and is potted on the back patio.

This one's called Henry Fonda.

And last, but not least, my foxgloves and birdhouse.

So now you have had the Mabel Campbell tour of my garden. I hope you don't want to gouge your eyes out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

finally, design sunday

Nina Clough is an illustrator who likes to spend the day drawing, painting and printing. Nina loves the colours, lines and characters in architecture and nature.
She lives in Southsea Hampshire, in England. I have admired her work for a while now. I would love to buy an original some day.

I think it is important to seek out art work that really speaks to you and save up to buy either an original or at least a artist produced print. I am striving to carefully choose each and everything I decorate my home with, so that it doesn't feel "overdecorated", but is simply, beautifully our own creation.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Our very best friends from law school have come to stay with us. We have shared a lot with them over the years. We became fast friends the first few weeks of school. We were both so poor and working like dogs. They were also suffering through infertility and childlessness. It was such a crazy time in all our lives. I was a god send to have close friends. There is a certain bond that you make with people who have been through the same hell as you. We are like war buddies. You just don't quit being friends with a war buddy, they are family.

Anyway, they brought the kids ( two absolutely hilarious, darling kids) out to do Disneyland and the whole shebang. It is so good to see them. I love to be around my friends to whom I never have to explain the back story. I can just start talking about any old thing, out of the blue, and they are up to speed.

So, people that know me, know that I love to make guest gift baskets. I love having people come stay and I have a ton of fun putting together little welcome gifts. For Jill and Kate, I made mother/daughter crazy aprons. I was really happy with how they turned out. I made little Josh an embroidered t-shirt- and well Greg- I couldn't think of anything manly that was embroidered so he got goodies from Trader Joe's.

Thomas and Josh have hit it off. They are both absolutely out of control crazy around each other. There has been a lot of chicken crossing the road jokes and fart sounds made with various body parts. I wish they lived closer....sigh.

If you are interested in ideas for making your own guest welcome baskets- you can see more photo on my flickr photostream.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

special delivery

I have been meaning to mention my "relationship" with the UPS man. Don't get the wrong idea, he's shorter than me and not my type at all. Besides, I find after almost 16 years together, I am still hopelessly in love with Sugar Daddy.

So the UPS man. Well, I think his name is Rick. All I know about him is that he is short, I already said that, laughs when he is nervous and shaves his legs, which leads me to believe that he is a: a road biker, b: a swimmer, c: a cross-dresser. Guessing from is perpetually peeling nose, I'm going to go with either swimmer or biker. That's it. That's all I know.

"Rick", however knows a plethora of things about me. He knows that I work from the studio in my garage making jewelry. He knows that I have a son and a dog. He has seen me in pajamas, work-out clothes, dressed up and in sweats. He has even seen me with a towel on my head. He knows I holler at the dog and drink redbull. On one occasion he watched me trying to shake my bootie like a MTV queen to Gloria Gaynor's "I will survive" before I realized he was trying to get my attention at the garage door.

I wonder, what does "Rick" think of me? Am I just one of the many colorful characters on his route? Does he go back to the station and swap stories with the other carriers? I hope, in the very least, I add a little variety to his day.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


All I really wanted to do today was knit.

Instead, I made these earrings, did the wash, went to the post office, cleaned up several messes made by boy/dog, hooked up a new modem, had a new washer/dryer delivered, cleaned up the yard and started sewing new valances for my kitchen. What can I say? Life forces me to be somewhat productive. Maybe when I become a great-grandmother I can spend my days knitting. For now I must go get a crying boy to go to sleep.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

not to brag but. . .

I live here. Lucky me.

The flower fields are blooming and I can't wait to start buying weekly bouquets of Ranunculus.

Monday, April 07, 2008

holy smokes

We had a bit of a cultural experience last Sunday. My friend Rosa Rameriz invited us to her nephew's baptism. I had only ever been to a Catholic mass once before at Christmas time so I didn't really know what to expect. The sermon was in Spanish and it was standing room only. The chapel was warmed by all the bodies and smelled of incense. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. There were about six babies to be baptized. They all wore extravagant white outfits and the parents carried ornate candles and shells. Afterwards, we went to the party held in the baby's behalf. There were blue and white balloons, mariachi music and a massive cake. We had tacos and orange soda.

All day, we were the only Caucasian people around. Both Ben and I felt a little self conscious. At 6'5", Ben was substantially taller than any other person and I was taller than a lot of the men. Every where I looked, people were staring and I felt like an interloper. But the amazing thing was, we were treated like movie stars. At the party, people were warm and welcoming. They served us first and constantly checked to see if we needed anything. They even insisted we pose in their family photos!

And how does my son repay this kindness?

The party was held on a patio which overlooked a steep wooded embankment. Thom instantly made best friends, as he is so inclined to do where ever we go. The kids were playing cars when Thom spotted a pack of cigarettes. He instantly snatched them up, screamed "AHHHHHHH SMOKES!" and chucked them, grenade style, over the fence and down into the embankment. Like idiots, Ben and I both rushed over to see if we could somehow retrieve the package thirty feet down and semi hidden in shrubbery.

Now, I know we have been teaching him smoking is bad for your body and we don't smoke in our family. I'm not retracting that. But I also know that a pack of cigarettes isn't cheap. I was ready to reimburse whomever need be. No one ever claimed ownership and the incident was glossed over by our super nice hosts.

But here's what's been bothering me: Where in the world did my son learn to call cigarettes "smokes" like some kind of hardened criminal?

Here's the little rodent modeling my latest embroidery project. As you can tell, he is thrilled to have his picture taken.

Sugar Daddy thinks I am crazy for spending so much time on a T-shirt for our grubby son. Now that it's finished, I think he might be right.

retail therapy

Here's the deal. Retail therapy works. For me, it works. This is why, if for no other reason, the internet is a fabulous thing. When you feel like crap and need a little therapy, you don't even have to remove the mascara from under your eyes before you start the healing. I love, LOVE, much to Sugar Daddy's chagrin, to shop on the web. I love to fill my shopping cart with every little thing I fancy even though I seldom actually buy anything. I use the word "seldom" liberally.

So after an entire week of bemoaning the fact that my womb is a barren waste land, I picked myself up by my Ralph Lauren boot straps and shopped. I was under strict orders to buy something fun with the money my parents sent me for my birthday, so what can I say? I obliged.

No, I didn't get everthing here. Just the lantern vase that I had been coveting for a few weeks. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Friday, April 04, 2008

moment of weakness

It's not that I have neglected my blog this week, it's just that I am having a "feel sorry for April" hiatus, which is unattractive and something I try not to air publicly. But some itches must be scratched, even if other people are watching. So if you just aren't in the mood for whining, click over to She is in love and always very cheery.


I'm thirty-four. 34!!!!! And I only have one kid. I know there are infertile people out there with no children who will read this and roll their eyes. That was me for 9 years of my life, so now it is my turn to have one and want more.

Thomas wants a sibling so bad he makes his friends (boys) play like they are his sister. It's pathetic.

This week I am so frustrated with the Chinese government adoption agency that I could just scream. The rate of child abandonment isn't down, yet they are working at a snail's pace. At this rate, we won't have Mei Mei until 2012! AHHHHHHHH.

Here they are. All lined up and ready for someone to snatch them up. I'll take the one with the chubby cheeks in the yellow Hello Kitty blanket please.

Missing Piece Necklace

Okay, now I'm done whining.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Today is my birthday. I really don't feel 34, more like 27 or 26. Thirty years ago and thousands of miles away I posed for this photo in my backyard. My father had just started to dabble in photography and his two daughters, Irish twins at only eleven months apart, were one of his favorite subjects. I'm the one on the right with lighter hair and an impish grin.

I had a magical childhood that I can only hope to recreate for my own children. It's a work in progress.

I have glimpses of magic in the quiet moments with Thomas. Today, as I sat working on a pair of earrings, we had a long discussion/debate on how pill bugs sleep. These are the things that are important to a four-year-old.

I wonder as I look at this photo what was important to me then? Thirty years later, I'm sure the things I value have changed, but it is still the small minutiae of life.

These are a few of my favorite things:
The sound of Thomas laughing
The sun on my bare shoulders and a cold drink in my hand
Getting under fresh clean sheets
M&M's first thing in the morning
Rocking a baby to sleep
Eating Sushi with my husband
Long runs on sunny days
Shopping with my sisters
A streak free kitchen sink
Laying under a Christmas tree
A really good flee market
A secret stash of gummy bears
Picking out plants for our yard
Watching Finn yawn and stretch in the morning
Guffawing with my girlfriends
Fireworks on the beach

Except for a small episode this morning that involved laying on the bed to get my jeans buttoned with the peanut gallery (namely one small boy and his dog) cheering me on, this has been a good birthday. I finished these earrings, which I am rather proud of. I think they are romantic.