Weekly Dose of Edison – Weekend Trip to the Mountains!

Recently, we were invited by some of our friends to go to their cabin in the mountains in Big Bear, CA for the weekend. We brought Edison up there once before when he was 10 months old, but it was just a short day trip (photo from that trip here). Now that he is walking, we had so much more fun! He got to go on his first couple of hikes in the forest, and we collected wildflowers. We stumbled upon a whole bunch of really interesting things in that section of the forest, so we brought him out early one morning for a “formal” photo shoot (those photos will be coming soon to the photography blog). In the meantime, here are some of the more “casual” photos from the weekend.

Exploring with Daddy. :)
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I think he was trying to convince me to let him hold my big camera. Not completely sure.
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Edison and his little best buddy, having lots of fun play time. :)
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We all went to the zoo while we were there. Unfortunately, we went during nap time for most of the animals but there was still plenty to see.BY0A4383 BY0A4384 BY0A4387 BY0A4395
He may look grumpy but that is his serious, interested face. :) It was also very hot.
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Poor three-legged bear!
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Adorable little baby smiles!
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Such a gorgeous view! The trip had us itching to pack up and move out to the country. ;)
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Stop Bashing & Censoring Motherhood!

I don’t know if this trend has been going on for years and I never noticed it since I am a new mom, or if it is just a recent thing, but it seems that in our society today, moms are the new group to mock and harass. I really don’t understand why this cultural shift has happened, but it is time to put an end to it.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that recently I went through a pretty traumatic miscarriage (original post here). It took me a bit of time to recover physically, and I am still very tired and run down from losing so much blood. I didn’t run any errands for a while since I just did not have the strength. Then one night last week, I was finally starting to feel a bit better. I finally had the energy to put on something other than my pajamas and get out into the world. I felt pretty good about myself…I put my hair in a cute ponytail (instead of my usual horribly messy bun that I have had on rotation lately), I had finally redone my pedicure, put on some makeup, and even was able to put one a couple of pairs of earrings, all while juggling a wild little toddler (not an easy task, trust me).

I did not quite have the strength yet to drive all around town, so I waited until my husband was home from work so he could drive. My husband and my son napped in the car while I went in and shopped. As I was standing looking at some coloring books for my son, two young men (late teens, early 20′s) passed in front of me. This is how their conversation followed:

Boy 1: Excuse me ma’am.
Boy 2: What’s with all the ma’am business? Are you trying to hit on her or something?
Boy 1: Ew, no! GROSS!! She’s like a mom and stuff. Even if I were straight, I wouldn’t hit on her.
Boy 2: I know, moms are so gross! It’s like they hate themselves or something!
Boy 1: Ya I wonder why they do that…like who would want them. Why can’t they try to make an effort like the rest of the world?

WHAT?!? Seriously? So, I could tell this story without a photo, and you might think…”well, maybe you did look gross that day?” So I took a mirror selfie in the store. I may have looked tired and a bit run down. I may have looked a little pale after all of the blood loss, but gross? Like I made no effort?! I certainly don’t think so. I was still very hormonal and tired, and the whole experience almost had me in tears, in the store, in public. My husband wanted to go back and find them and punch them when I told him what happened (I obviously told him no).

After being a victim of some pretty severe (and at many times violent) bullying in grammar school and middle school, it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. I generally have a pretty thick skin. Those two boys happened to hit below the belt when I was most vulnerable. The fact that they had no care that I could hear every word they were saying was disturbing. If I could go back, I would confront them and give them a piece of my mind. Not for my own sake, but to hopefully stop them from similarly insulting another mother in the future. I would have thought that two people who may have at one time or another had their lifestyle mocked or insulted would be a little more sensitive to the varying lifestyles of others. The whole “walk a mile in another person’s shoes” concept.

I tell this story not to seek reinforcement or compliments for my own appearance. I am happy with and at peace with my external appearance, and have accepted all of the things those awful kids bullied me about back in school: my curly hair, short height, petite build, glasses (many days, I wear my glasses but it was too hot that day so I wore my contacts), etc. I tell this story because it upsets me that our society has the impression that motherhood is somehow gross and repulsive.

Motherhood is a difficult, and often dirty, unglamorous job. Many days mothers are covered in a variety of disgusting substances that other people wouldn’t dare go near. Moms can’t always walk around in 5 inch designer heels and the latest skinny jeans. That does not mean that mothers are in any way gross or not making an effort. Perhaps those boys need to watch this video, about the most difficult job in the world. Mothers are busy molding our future citizens, shaping the little minds of tomorrow. Giving selflessly of oneself is a job requirement of motherhood, and that alone is beautiful. As my grandmother used to say, “beauty is as beauty does.”

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Another sad trend that I have noticed lately that is another form of bashing motherhood is the censorship of motherhood photos on social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook. It has gotten so bad that several moms’ Instagram accounts have been shut down as a result of this censorship. The vague definitions of what is allowed and what is not has created a free-for-all in terms of what people flag, and how users’ accounts are disabled. Facebook and Instagram recently made a public statement that they support breastfeeding photos, which is a step in the right direction, but not enough.

Most of the photos posted on Instagram are impromptu, spur of the moment, slice of life type photos. The carefully staged, posed, and edited photos shot with a professional DSLR are in the minority on Instagram (and don’t really seem to embody the spirit of the app anyway). As a mother, you often see your child(ren) doing something adorable and want to snap and share a quick photo. Kids often run around at home in their undies or their diaper, without any other clothes on. Unfortunately, many Instagram users have started to decide that photos like that are worthy of reporting and are as offensive as pornography. I personally cannot stand seeing women posing in their bikinis or underwear, showing off their weight loss, etc. but those are allowed. Kids in a diaper seem so much less obnoxious.

Here’s the thing…Instagram and Facebook need to get their act together if they want any longevity. A kid in a diaper is not the same as some of the awful stuff you see on social media. Perhaps we need to specify the definition of nudity more clearly…such as exposed genitals or buttocks. There have been many instances where I have been afraid to snap a quick picture of my son and post it to Instagram, for fear of getting flagged. I had one of my photos reported in the past, and Instagram wouldn’t even tell me which photo they had removed (I take too many to be able to keep track or figure out which was missing but I have a feeling it was one where my 5 month old son was in the bath, with just his face and chest shown).

Here are some of the photos that I was recently afraid to post (but posted anyway)….

This soapy bucket was supposed to be for cleaning up in our backyard, but my son decided to jump in and take a bath. Too adorable not to take a picture, even though he was without a shirt.

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A hot summer morning, and all he wanted to wear were the pants I had just made for him. Normally when it is hot, I can’t get him to put on any clothes at home (he often just takes them off if I try), so the way he was proudly wearing his pants made my heart swell. Again, I was so nervous since he was not wearing a shirt.
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My little bookworm, excitedly running around in our tent in our backyard, bringing his books in. If I had tried to put clothes on him, the moment would have been gone.
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I generally don’t take a lot of breastfeeding photos (I still don’t 100% trust that they aren’t going to get flagged), but this one I love. I uploaded it initially but had second thoughts and deleted it from my Instagram account. I just adore the look and expression in my son’s eyes here. The messy sand just adds to it all. We were at the beach and the darn seagulls ate all of our food. He was so appreciative to have some milk. :) I reposted the photo on my Instagram feed today. ;)
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This is another fun beach photo. He had stripped down to just his diaper so I never ended up posting this one. I had just read somewhere that day that the “unofficial rule” for Instagram was that once a kid is walking, diaper only photos are no longer considered acceptable. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it made me too nervous to post this adorable photo.
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This was one of the few instances where we were actually able to throw clothes on him before I took a cute picture of him. Those moments are rare, and I think he only cooperated here since it was cooling down a bit as it got to be evening.
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Why are people so stubborn about flagging photos of innocent mothers and children? It feels like just another way to harass and mock the lifestyle of motherhood. Motherhood is not cool and glamorous, so it is easy to make fun of moms. If you don’t like someone’s photos, just unfollow them! If I see anyone posting pictures of themselves flexing in their underwear in front of a mirror, you can guarantee that they get a very quick unfollow from me. Why can’t the mom-haters just do the same?!? In my opinion, these mom-hating photo flaggers really don’t seem that much different than the junior high bullies.

Building a Tiny Village: the Stay At Home Gypsies Play Group

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When my husband and I got engaged, we started talking about where we would like to put down roots (and buy a house). He initially wanted to consider requesting a transfer back to the Dallas area, so we went out and he introduced me to his group of friends out there. Everyone was so warm, welcoming, and family-oriented. It definitely felt like they had a great idea of the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child”. At the time, we were under the impression that there was no way we would be able to have children of our own. We had to decide if we wanted to spend our savings on adopting a baby or buying a house, and buying a house took priority. Since I did not think we would end up being parents, I did not feel comfortable with the idea of moving there since I felt like we would be totally out of place. Married couples without children seem much more common in Los Angeles, so we found a home here instead.

Initially, we were renting just a house just a few blocks from the beach. He loved that house but I couldn’t stand it. My little container garden was driving me nuts and I wanted some actual soil to plant veggies, herbs and flowers. So we rented a house still in the trendy beach city area of the South Bay, but further inland from the beach so I could have a garden. Then I noticed we were constantly coming over to the other side of the South Bay for hiking, horse riding, photoshoots, and going to the botanic garden. When we started looking to buy a house, that was the area I hoped to find something, and we did.

Once our son was born, I started trying to find moms groups to bring him to meet other little ones his age. I had a really hard time finding a good group since most of the groups in the South Bay are region snobs, and only accept members in the trendy beach towns. They judge you more based on how cool your address is than if you are a good fit for the group. Apparently our area was not cool or coastal enough for some of those mommies. I found a couple of groups that I liked, but they have since disbanded due to high meetup.com fees and organizers who got too busy to keep the group running. Luckily, I have met a few great friends through those groups!

My friends and I started talking about the kind of moms group we wished we would find, and the kind of activities and events we would like for our little ones. We looked around for groups but did not really find anything like what we had in mind. I stumbled upon a funny t-shirt one day that said “Stay at Home Gypsy”. I thought it was so funny. In my single days, I used to love to move so much that I joked that my cat Fluffy and I lived out of a gypsy caravan. Now that we have started our family and planted some trees, I definitely feel happy with the roots we have put down here. My friends and I decided that it would be fun to start our own small group of like-minded moms and call ourselves the Stay At Home Gypsies. If we couldn’t find our village to raise our children, we would build our own little village!

I just created the group on Facebook, and this is the group description:

We are a group of laid-back, free-spirited mamas who love to cultivate a healthy, organic, and creative life for our families. We love things like gardening, crafting, yoga, story time, and spending time outdoors. Motherly arts such as breastfeeding and babywearing are celebrated. We have play time, craft time, learning time for the little ones, mom’s night out, and family-friendly events. We have put down roots and want to create a village to help each other’s families thrive. We are in a sense granola moms, but we are not overly crunchy. We appreciate discussing the benefits of a variety of holistic approaches while appreciating what science today has proven to be safest for our children.

We welcome members from outside of our immediate area. Most of our activities take place in the San Pedro/Rancho Palos Verdes/Palos Verdes/Lomita/Torrance area of the South Bay in Southern California. We are primarily moms with babies and toddlers born from 2013-2014. If your child(ren) are outside of that age range but our activities appeal to you, feel free to message us!

If you are interested in joining, feel free to email me directly or check out our group here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/stayathomegypsies/

sahg

Great American Backyard Campout Photos!

Recently, we pledged to participate in the Great American Backyard Campout organized by the National Wildlife Federation. I set up the tent and our little camping area Friday while my husband was at work. Whenever we have gone “real” camping, I have been limited to what we could fit in our Jeep so I could never get our campsites as pretty as I would like them. At home, that wasn’t an issue so I could make it as fun, glam, and bohemian as I wanted. :)

We actually had so much fun that we ended up camping in the back on two different weekends! We may leave this “campground” set up for the rest of the summer. :) This was Edison’s first experience camping and he loved it! We can’t wait to bring him camping to a real campsite.

We live on a hill and have no privacy from our neighbors above us. To give us a bit of seclusion, I hung curtains around our pergola.

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Hand soap, lotion and lantern.
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Old fashioned hand washing station (Edison loved this!).
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Mason jar water glasses for each of us.
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Drinking water with fresh mint.
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We used Edison’s train table as our picnic table.
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Our dogs joined in on the fun.
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We roasted smores. We came to the decision that I am the smore making master. My husband thought his would win since he has been camping more, but I grew up going to beach bonfires every summer. ;)
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Stella loved sleeping in the tent!
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Edison loves his little books, and stashed lots of them in the pockets inside the tent. As soon as he woke up, he started grabbing books for story time. :)
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Daily Dose of Edison – Free Train Rides!

Edison and I have been to these free train rides in Torrance before, but this time we brought along my husband and some friends. The train rides take place at Wilson Park in Torrance, CA, and are free on the first Sunday and third Saturday of every month! It is such an adorable little area, with lots of little rustic decorations. Great fun for little ones and parents too!
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Mom! Can’t you see I’m getting ready to enjoy my train ride?! This is no time for pictures!
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Afterward, we had a family picnic in the park. Edison recently outgrew his dairy and wheat allergies, so we were quite excited that we would all be able to eat cheese and crackers. :)
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Then some fun play time in the park. :)
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Big sloppy kisses for Daddy!
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Daily Dose of Edison – Summertime Fun

Edison and I have been spending a fair amount of time at the beach in the morning lately. He absolutely loves playing in the sand but so far is absolutely terrified by going near the ocean.

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I brought his bathing suit for him, but he would not cooperate with an outfit change. I had made these pants for him the night before, and he was so excited to get to wear something I made (my husband held him and they watched me as I sewed them). Those pants were pretty much the only thing I could get him to wear for a few days following having made them. I am so touched that my sweet boy treasures the things that I make…it means the world to me. :)
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Yup, sand goatee. Oh, Edison.
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Recently, we went to an Instameetup, which was a group of moms who “met” via Instagram, getting together for a playdate. We had a great time and met some amazing moms and their kids. Unfortunately, Edison got a hold of my phone while I was pulling out my big camera. Then it was all over for us. Not my proudest parenting moment. I knew that if I took the phone away from him, it would end up in a fit to end all tantrums. I hated feeling like “that mom” who lets their young child turn into a screen time addict (he really normally is not allowed to hog my phone like this!). I got him all dressed up in one of my favorite vintage outfits, hoping to get some cute photos of him…didn’t happen without the phone anyway.
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Edison, look at the cute kids you were ignoring!
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Pretty little Luna trying to get his attention.
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Oh, Edison…next time, no cell phone!

Butterflies & Ladybugs in the Garden

After we went to the butterfly exhibit at the Museum of Natural History, I decided I need to up the ante in Edison’s garden to get him even more butterflies coming by. The butterflies already like the current selection of red valerian and red geraniums, but I wanted to attract more with some more options for flowers. When I started creating Edison’s garden, I removed all of the plants in the area that were poisonous (planted by previous owners). Some of the plants that butterflies enjoy are also poisonous, so I wanted to make sure that I only added non-poisonous additions to his garden.

I also recently went through and had our garden certified as a Certified Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation (more info here). Our little changes to Edison’s garden helped improve our score. Soon the NWF is going to have an additional advanced certification as a butterfly habitat, which I am hoping to get as well. I can’t wait until our garden signs arrive!
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The first thing that I tracked down was a butterfly bush, also known as buddleia. I found this one at Sunflower Farms in Torrance, CA. I also put down some sunflower seeds.
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Next, I found a dune buckwheat, native to the Palos Verdes Penninsula. I purchased this from the South Coast Botanic Garden.
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I also added in some nice yellow yarrow, which can be found many places.
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Butterflies love oregano, so I added in some organic oregano.
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At the butterfly exhibit, I noticed that the water trays were filled with pebbles. I started doing some reading and discovered that butterflies like to have a little rock to perch on while drinking their water. I set up this little terracotta saucer of water with some rocks, and put it on a plant stand in the back of Edison’s garden.
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I also read that some butterflies like to drink out of slightly muddy sand, so I made another water dish with sand.
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We added some more flowers that butterflies and caterpillars love, all of which have edible flowers for humans. I love the seeds from Botanical Interests because they will actually tell you on the packet if the flowers are edible (always a great safety precaution if you have young children or pets).
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Edison is always a good helper when planting seeds.
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He had started running after the cats earlier that week and had to get glue stitches on a nasty cut on his forehead. He tripped and fell and cut his forehead open on the floor…he can’t quite keep up with the cats yet.
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After we finished working on his garden, my garden needed some assistance from some additional ladybugs. My neem oil treatment had gotten rid of most of my aphid infestation, but I wanted to bring in some additional ladybugs as a preventative measure. I purchase my ladybugs from Armstrong Garden Center (I mention this since sometimes they can be difficult to find). Ladybugs are best released at dawn or dusk, and Edison is never awake at dawn, so we released them at dusk that night.
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He had a lot of fun with the ladybugs crawling all over him. :)
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Once they started getting all in his hair, he had enough and got a bit upset. Other than that, he had a lot of fun releasing the ladybugs into the garden. :)aliciainwonderlandblog