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Monday
Sep292014

Getting Crafty | Cushion covers out of a pillowcase

The other day I walked by my neighbor's patio furniture and saw she was covering her old cushions with pillow cases. Fair enough, but the only problem is that she has a neighbor like me, and when I see a cushion, I just have this deep, intense need to hug it, love it, and cover that baby in a way it deserves.

Lyra shows us one of the cushions that needed a little something more.

I was just going to take the cushions in one evening, fix them, and then put them out as a surprise, but since I had no idea if the pillow cases had any sentimental value, I asked first. 

They didn't.

I also asked if she had any fabric she wanted me to use, but everybody is on a budget these days, so I sat out to recover the cushions in just the very worn fabric she had wrapped them in.

I repurposed almost every inch of each pillow case, joining strips together to create the boxing on the round cushion and lining up the striped fabric so it was centered along the diameter of each circle.

An envelope style opening on the back.

I used the finished fabric strip from the pillow case as the binding for the exposed envelope fold on the outer layer of fabric on the back. 

Perfect.

Don't worry, it all comes together quite nicely.

And voilà!

Much better.

And that is the short but sweet tale of helping a neighbor out.

And I got a bottle of wine as a thank you gift. Win!

Sunday
Sep282014

Getting Fit after Baby Number Two | Well, that was really freaking hard

On left: me in May 2014 | On right: me in September 2014

In three months I only dropped 2.5lbs of weight, but lost 4.5% body fat and halved my stomach fat. Muscles really do weigh more than fat. Yay! 

Lifting weights while Cora watches in the baby seat | Sept 2010Getting fit after Lyra was so much harder than after Cora. By three weeks postpartum after Cora (my first), I was back to wearing my pre-pregnancy pants (see photo at left). I gained twice as much weight with Lyra (my second) than with Cora though, and had far more complications (kidney stones, unexplained pre-term labor). I was more stressed out during Lyra's pregnancy (pre-trip departure, shake-down cruise, cruising to Mexico, temporary family separation, giving birth in a foreign country to name a few...) And postpartum with Lyra I had continuing stresses (family drama, publiclyouting my father for what he is, living in a foreign country, and the isolation of cruising in Mexico during the off-season.) Yes, I breastfed both the girls.

This is all to say, that I wasn't really set up for success when I started trying to lose the baby weight and get strong and healthy after giving birth to Lyra. I tried and I tried to lose the girth specifically around my middle, but postpartum depression, anemia, the soul-sucking Mexican heat, Typhoid, and having two little kids did me no favors. 

Battling the muffin top, 15 weeks postpartum with Lyra | Marina La Paz, June 2013

When we found ourselves back on land after the rescue, I was determined that the one thing I would set my sights on immediately was my health. I did three things as soon as we got our studio and had moved in:

1. Joined I Am Beautiful Boot Camp

2. Joined FitBlender Gym

3. Started tracking my calories and eating clean

Breakfast shake: iced coffee, two tablespoons natural peanut butter, one tablespoon chia gel, one scoop ON Whey chocolate protein powder, one cup almond milk

Healthy beef and cabbage stir fry 

Pumpkin Paleo Pancakes (sans maple syrup, but served with fruit!)

Frozen green grapes for a fruit fix on a hot day | Homemade hummus prepared for lunchtime

Leftovers night in the Kaufman household 

Watermelon cake with coconut frosting (no added sweetener)

This was by far the hardest I have ever had to work to get back in shape.  At 35, my body is no longer a spring chicken and I had to really put my money where my mouth is and follow all the advice I have always given people in the past. I started by cutting out all unnecessary carbs, and I already don't eat white carbs, so gone was brown rice (that I usually combine with beans), and gone was the one slice of whole wheat bread I would eat with peanut butter every morning. I said adios to cheese, to avocados (yes, they are a "healthy" fat, but not when you eat an entire avocado at one sitting), no more alcohol, and I lowered and tracked my calories. I ate low GI food. I ate whole food following Michael Pollan's adage of "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." I already barely eat sugar, but I did reduce the amount of chocolate chips I eat a day (I normally eat a handful of dark chocolate chips with raw almonds in the evenings). 

21 months postpartum from my first baby. This photo was my goal photo and represented my goal weight and goal fitness level.

In the beginning, it really sucked.

Even cutting out the tiny amount of unnecessary carbs I normally ate and then reducing my calories sent me into ketosis, which is exactly what I was expecting, but it's never fun for the first few days until your body adjusts. For three days I was the grouchiest of grumps. I felt like I was starving. I had no energy and was mad, mad, mad. I'm going to think Ella and Eric for helping me through those three days. They did it by letting me complain non-stop about how I could 'never do this' and that I was 'starving.' 

But I wasn't starving and I could do it, and by the third day I woke up feeling much better and on the fourth day my body was reset and ready to start burning fat and utilizing the new amount of fuel I was giving it.

It was time to get serious.

We are already an active family, so I made sure we stayed active daily.

I joined I Am Beautiful Boot Camp and every Saturday sweated my ass off with a bunch of other awesome women.

It means I'm serious if I have a bumper sticker, right?

This photo was memorable to me. The instructor had just yelled out, "Charlotte, suck in that gut!" and I hollered back, laughing, "I AM!" Oh, post-pregnancy baby bellies.

I had to constantly remind myself to trust.the.process. I was doing everything right and the weight around my middle was not going to disappear overnight.

38 weeks pregnant with Lyra | Marina La Cruz, January 2013The last time I had done yoga was when I was a week away from giving birth to Lyra. So I started yoga back up again:

And I also joined a local gym, Fitblender Training Center, that focuses on H.I.I.T. (high-intensity interval training).

My girlfriend, Lizz, joined too, which means I get to see her a lot each week since we work out together.

Eric has been a tremendous support through this process, but when you have a husband who does pull ups at the playground, I doubt it is surprising that he wants me to be fit too.

Many afternoons the girls and I walk to meet him on his way home from work.

And then he continues home with the sweat peas and I head to the gym.

Watch out Eric, I'm catching up!

It only took me 19 months after giving birth again, but I finally did it. Huzzah!

(The sports bra shown above is by BoobyPack. It is incredibly comfortable. I'm not affiliated with them at all, I just love their bras).

Tuesday
Sep232014

A Trip to See Sariah | Quilting Week Madness

I'm kidding with the title above. There is really nothing 'wild or crazy' about quilting. I couldn't make quilting exciting if I tried, but for those of you who quilt, then you'll know how thrilled I was to be able to spend six days at Sariah's learning her techniques.

In return, I showed her a thing or two about upholstery, sewing with home-decor-weight fabric, and how to cut and work with foam. It was a win-win situation.

A trip to see my sister, means a trip to see her three wee kids as well: Phoebe, Warren, and Kimball.

Phoebe, the eldest, is now eleven.

Kimball is 10 and I think he will soon be taller than me. Growing like a weed I tell ya.

And Warren, her "baby" is now eight. Who told these kids they could grow up like this?

Sariah also showed me her mad embroidery skills and gave me pointers on starting my own projects.

Quilting, embroidery, oh and I forgot to bring my sewing glasses on the trip so I squinted the whole time.

I can call myself old now, right? I just said quilting, embroidery, and sewing glasses in the same sentence...

Ugh.

One quilt for Cora. One quilt for Lyra.

The beginning of ships wheels to be appliquéd onto each quilt.

When your children ask you when they'll ever need to use math in the 'real world,' tell them, when you quilt, darling, when you quilt.

Now you can see the ship's wheel a little more clearly.

There was something infinitely satisfying about stacks and stacks of perfectly cut 2.5"x2.5" squares of fabric. 

Hmmmhmmm fabric. I could sleep surrounded by fabric and dream happy, cottony dreams all the night long.

If you have OCD, you may want to take up quilting. I can't tell you what a stress reliever it is to line up tiny fabric squares, sew them all together, and see the beauty they become when you make them all one.

It just needed a kick to show my excitement.

An assortment of beverages and stimulants to keep things productive.

Rawr!

Beautimus. Beautimus! In case you are wondering, the fabric is from Sarah Jane's Out to Sea line.

The quilts are about 75% done. That means that, woe is me, I'll have to fly back to Sariah's another time to finish them. It's a rough life, I tell you.

While we were there, I also worked on a thank you project for Sariah. You know, as a way to say thank you for everything she did for us during and after the rescue.

Late night power tools, foam cutting, and dualing sewing machines was involved.

I'll explain more about her thank you gift in another post; you'll just have to drool over her zig zags for the time being.

And while Sariah and I sewed, Eric played Mister Mom for the entire week, and I'm grateful to him for it. He and the girls got a lot of quality time together, though he did come down with strep throat two days before I got home, and taking care of kids when sick is a nightmare, so Eric, here is to you, man.

Last but not least, do you see yon sparkly fabric betwixt the fingers of that comely maid? Yay, for what you are laying eyes upon is the beginnings of a handmade Elsa costume from the movie Frozen.

Eat your heart out, sold-out-Disney-store.com, Sariah sent me home with an Elsa dress for Cora AND an Anna dress for Lyra. I have a few finishing touches to do to both and then I shall show you them in all their glory.

Thank you Sariah!

PS - Crafty sisters are THE.BEST.

Sunday
Sep212014

Camping in Cuyamaca with Kids | Green Valley Falls 2014

Hurricane Odile hit Baja California over a week ago doing significant damage to Cabo San Lucas and La Paz, both cities that we spent time in while cruising Mexico. Club Cruceros of La Paz has a GoFundMe site set up to help local sailors recover from the devastating loss to the Maritime Community there. To help the people of Mexico directly as they recover, we suggest donating directly to the Red Cross.

Our thoughts are with the sailors who lost their lives in this hurricane, one of whom we knew personally, and to those who lost their boats (and homes) and are rebuilding.

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Last month we loaded the girls up on a fine Friday afternoon and headed east towards the mountain to Green Valley Falls. Three years previously we met our friends Ella, Gray, and their baby, Wes, to camp at the same location. I love comparing then and now to see the kinds of changes that can happen to your life in such a short time period.

Charlotte, Lyra, Wes, and Cora

Lyra, Eric, Cora, Wes, Gray, and Miles

This time around each family had two kids instead of the one. Cora and Wes are four days apart and are currently four years old. Lyra and Miles are six months apart and were 17 months and 11 months, respectively, at the time we went camping in August.

Flashback: Wes and Cora corralled at 11 months in June 2011.

This time it was Lyra, at 17 months, that was occasionally corralled in the Pack-N-Play. Her buddy Miles was either up in the Ergo, up in arms, or causing mischief, as was Lyra...

Beautiful boy. Beautiful mama.

Lyra loved to hang out with the big kids as much as possible:

And when she wasn't hanging out big kid style, she was hanging out with mom, because Lyra and I are like THIS, man.

THIS. 

This time, like last time, we took a walk down to the actual falls the location is named after. In this short video from three years ago you can see there was actually running water in 2011 (bonus: hello Eric's muscles). Three years later, the long-standing drought in Southern California was evidenced by a complete lack of falls and only a couple pools of murky, woodsy water.

Flashback below: Eric and Gray babywearing back in the day, circa 2011 :)

And the whole lot of us in 2014 either babywearing or ushering children underfoot:

Cora and Wes had a ton of fun playing together:

But then again, they always do.

When I saw this photo of them, I had a mom heart-melt moment. Because it was the exact pose they sat in for their first birthdays at the beach three years previously:

Flash back to :heart melt:

All children love Ella. She gets them to take goofy pictures like this:

And this:

And this:

Those cheeks! MUST.SQUEEZE!!

At this point I'm just going to admit that we are all goofy:

Breakfast, anyone?

A special thanks to Sandee, Frankie, and Mele for letting us borrow camping gear. Camping gear that let us eat meals like this:

Sheepherder's Breakfast in a Dutch Oven. Inspired by this post at www.wildinkpress.

Now that we are back in the rat race and the long trek of lots of work to save for another boat, we don't get to see much of Eric like we used to. On camping trips like this I soak up spending time with him and love that the kids get to hang out with their dad too:

Eric snuggling Lyra, 17 months old, August 2014.

Flashback to Eric snuggling Cora, 11 months old, June 2011.

Which of course led me to this:

Flashback to Cora, Eric, and Charlotte ~ June 2011.

And now Lyra, Eric, and Charlotte ~ August 2014.

The only bummer about the camping trip was that we had to cut it short. The weather started out lovely but by the second day the rain started and wouldn't let up. That was good news for thirsty SoCal, but bad news for camping with little kids.

So we packed the kids up a day early and headed home. Cora and Wes now "hate the rain because it ruined camping." And Cora will remind you of this and that she, "USED to love the rain, mom, but not now. Oh no."

All clean and completely tuckered out from their camping adventure, which of course reminded me of:

Flashback to Cora all cleaned up and totally konked out from her first camping adventure too.

Here's to more camping adventures while we are land locked!

Sunday
Sep072014

Every Six Months ~ Cora and Lyra, August 2014

Cora, 4 years old. Lyra, eighteen months old.

Green Valley Falls, Julian, California, August 2014.

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Every Six Months: A Photo Project

The girls are 2.5 years apart and their birthdays fall almost exactly six months apart in a calendar year. My goal is to document the two of them together every six months. You can view all the photos in the series here.

*Special thanks to Ella Sherman for taking and editing this photo.