Satin Crib Sheets for Hair Protection


(Pretty quilt by Lauren)

Many African Americans with longer hair wear satin or silk sleep caps at night to protect their hair from breakage and preserve complicated styles. Ideally, they also use a satin or silk pillowcase for a double layer of protection. With proper maintenance a hairstyle can last for weeks at a time. At 21 months our daughter is not very interested in “proper maintenance”. About 90% of the time we find her sleep cap on the floor in the morning. Her styles only last a few days at best thanks to rubbing on her cotton sheets, and her hair easily dries out and breaks. Like many toddlers, Annie wiggles laps around her crib at night, so there’s little likelihood she’ll keep her head on a pillowcase either. Satin sheets seemed like the next best option. No local stores carried them and online options ran around $30-$40. For a toddler? No, thank you.


I grabbed a few yards of navy satin from the JoAnn’s (on sale for $2.99/yd, not including the two additional coupons I used) along with a pack of quarter inch elastic. Two crib sheets came together quickly following this tutorial. The measurements are perfect. Many fitted sheets only have elastic at the four corners. I like that this pattern calls for one piece of elastic all the way around the hem. It holds the sheets snugly against the forces of thrashing toddlers. Next up, a pack n’ play sheet and some pillowcases. I’m also stitching up a few Christmas gift bags while the machine is out.

Lest you think the kids’ room always looks that pristine, let me show you what happens when I think “Oh, they’ve been doing so well playing alone in their room lately. I’ll give them an extra ten minutes.” This:


Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real – Independence Day

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} entries click over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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(Just the art is pretty. I’m not making any claims about the top of the fridge, which is where all things the toddlers aren’t allowed to touch go to live.)

I am terrible about hanging pictures. After four years in this home, many are still leaning against walls or stacked in closets. Photos are equally bad. It’s not that I don’t like art, I just suffer from crippling indecision when trying to pick what to hang where. It feels so permanent! Enter a length of twine, a $2 pack of mini clothespins, and ten minutes during yesterday’s naptime. We now have an inexpensive and changeable art gallery. We love that we can fill it up or thin it down to a few different pieces, rotate through our large stacks of unframed prints, switch it all out for photos, or take it down for a break if we feel like it. I might move it up another four inches or so, but other than that we’re both loving it.

IMG_4861 Right now it holds:

  • A postcard print of the opening of the Gospel of John from the Tyndale New Testament
  • A watercolor painting of hawks by Lydia (her lovely and affordable bird paintings are available here on Etsy)
  • A print of the bush in Victoria from the Man’s stepmother
  • A handpainted picture of a family I picked up in Kenya years ago


  • A botanical print
  • A print of Eugene Delacroix’s portrait of the Sultan of Morocco (unearthed years ago from a mound of discarded art prints surrounded by mounds of discarded asbestos tiles in a dingy furnace room at my Alma Mater, the University of Chicago)
  • A map of Byzantium from my Mom. She bought it from the map prints collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago where I did much of my B.A. paper research


  • Another watercolor by Lydia (this one of owls)
  • Prints of the Swedish Army given to me years ago
  • A postcard of a painting the Man and I loved at the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, NC.

It will change again soon as we cycle through our stacks of prints and cards. For now, it makes the large blank wall in the kitchen much prettier, and makes me happy while I cook.


We had the nicest Independence Day weekend. The Man got off work early on Thursday and we all walked to the grocery store.


We treated ourselves to Buffalo Wings from a new takeout place for dinner. After packing the toddlers off to bed the grown ups settled in for a couple episodes of Elementary while a batch of our favorite Blueberry Lemon Streusel Muffins baked in the oven.

On Independence Day we packed up early for a day trip to swim at our favorite lake. The beach we usually use was closed off, but the ranger directed us to another. It ended up being a lovely surprise – a strip of sandy beach carved out of the edge of the woods, surrounded by rocky shore and facing forests and wooded hills across the way. The kids moved from tentative about swimming to drenching everybody in a five foot radius with their enthusiastic splashing in about 10 minutes. By the time we needed to pack up and leave our formerly timid son was dragging me back into the water with heartbroken sobs. Afterwards we stopped to visit lovely Lauren and her two youngest kids at their new home – such a treat to see them again! – then headed home for a good 4th of July dinner of steak, corn on the cob, and tomatoes, followed by baths for sandy babies and early bedtimes for all. We didn’t go anywhere to view fireworks this year, but thanks to the neighbors we were still serenaded by them until 11:00 at night. The wonderful thing about raising toddlers in an artillery town is that they sleep right through it all.

On Saturday we mowed the lawn, basked in family time, baked and ate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, played games, let the toddlers get thoroughly dirty, trimmed the front bushes and generally relaxed.




(one has a hair bow and the other has socks – that totally counts as being dressed)


We go to the early service, so after church on Sunday we swung by home for a change of clothes, picked up barbeque and hushpuppies, and headed to the closest State Park for a picnic lunch, relaxation in the sun, and a toddler-length hike along the river. On the way home I handed our son a leftover hushpuppy to keep him awake. It didn’t work. He’s the first human I’ve ever observed who’s capable of eating in his sleep: taking delicate bites of hushpuppy, chewing, swallowing all while fast asleep with a beatific smile on his chubby face. We spent a quiet and restful afternoon at home reading, playing more games, and going for a family walk before wrapping up the weekend. It’s very rare for us to have such a stretch together at home (the Man often works weekends and holidays). It felt like a vacation and we headed into the week refreshed from the family time, change of pace, and break from cooking.


If you’re Facebook friends with me you may already have seen this. Jack loves trying on shoes and hats, in this case Daddy’scombat boots and his sister’s pink sleep cap. A stylish combination.


Annie fell in love with an old pillowcase while I was doing laundry. I clipped it on her as a cape. It made Superbaby’s day – she ran around admiring her fluttering cape for a good hour.




It takes a lot of clips to section hair for styling. Also, a lot of cheerios.


Cooking Notes – July 2014

Pot Roast We both agreed that this is the best pot roast I’ve ever made – I’m not sure what was different. I always use the same basic recipe but this was the first time I used whole tomatoes I canned myself after a big sale at the farm stand last summer (I’d only made jam before, and was nervous to try veggies I’d canned myself). I also used white wine instead of my usual red and was pleasantly surprised – might do that again. Toddlers and adults alike loved the meat and veggies.

Quinoa and Kale Salad Despite the obnoxious trendiness of these two ingredients, the salad is fantastic and filling. Such a nice blend of soft and crunchy, sweet and tangy, fresh and rich. Some of the ingredients listed might be available in NYC but are most definitely not available here in Nowheresville, Podunk, USA. Substituted Feta for Ricotta Salata, and regular kale wilted by sauteeing in olive oil for the black kale. Used red wine vinegar, skipped the dill because I didn’t have any, and skipped the honey because I thought the cherries added plenty of sweetness. The boy loved this stuff and gobbled it up like candy. The girl was more hesitant, though individual elements were immediately approved.

Chinese Beef and Tofu from Save with Jamie. I’d never cooked tofu before – it turned out well and the kids loved it. This is a great cookbook. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ve come out with a US edition yet so plan on a couple minutes to convert all the metric measurements before cooking. A flavorful meal we all liked. My only beef (har har) is that it was a bit too salty even though I skipped the salty beef stock cube and used low-sodium soy sauce. Next time I will also skip sprinkling the meat with a little salt at the beginning, but I don’t think there’s anything else I could reduce. Our local store only sells one kind of black bean sauce, and most of the excess salt came from that.

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

I’m late to the party, but hop over to Like Mother Like Daughter for more {p,h,f,r} entries. Sorry, it’s all blurry cellphone shots this week.



I usually keep thrift store stops to once a month and go with a list. They’re a great place to find items we need for very little. However, every thrift store has some temptation that’s attractive and a good price. It’s not really saving money if I’m spending cash on items we don’t need. In this case, the kids both needed new sneakers and dress shoes, and I swung by four thrift stores over the course of a few weeks while out on other errands. I finally found shoes for each. Annie’s dress shoes were definitely the star of the show: $1.07 for handmade red leather Italian shoes in just the right size and new condition.


Annie adores her new Sunday shoes. I strapped them on her feet during lunch and she spent the rest of the meal with her legs stuck straight out in front of her for admiration.






After I let her down to play she spent a large portion of the afternoon walking like a hunchback so she could stare at her shoes, pausing occasionally to reach down and pet them. I finally had to take them off because she was slipping and bumping into things due to Walking While Shoe Obsessed. She sobbed hysterically.

(Annie believes that clothes are optional for babies with such fabulous shoes.)


Jack loves buckles. Anytime we try to put a child in a chair or change a diaper we usually find that “someone” has been there first. The Masked Buckler can be identified by his adorable looks and the way he mumbles “buh-bul. buh-bul. buh-bul” under his breath while committing his crimes. It’s not all inconvenient, though. On a particularly achy day for my back last week I taught Jack to get a box and use it to climb into his own booster chair. Now at mealtimes he can buckle his sister in, then climb into his own chair and buckle himself in. We are all delighted with the arrangement.


The kids also like to push their own stroller now.  My work here is done!

…or not. At a goodbye dinner last week for a fellow Army spouse who’s PCSing, a friend told a story about her three school-aged kids. She gathered them together and assigned each a set of chores for the summer. Her daughter looked at her blankly and said “But Mom, what will you do now?” We all laughed ourselves silly. I remember having a similar perspective in grade school. With all of us kids vacuuming, dusting, doing dishes, sweeping, weeding, mowing the lawn, and folding laundry each week, what could possibly be left for our parents to do? And I had to do school, too! It was so unfair! A note to my 10 year old self: You Have No Idea How Much Work Adults Do. All The Time. Forever.



Someone figured out how to hog both bikes at once. His sister was not amused.


Kids go through stages of wake-up reactions. When they’re tiny, they just cry to summon the food source, and may not even register that you’ve picked them up until you pop a bottle in their mouth. Finally, you figured it out, minion.

When they’re just a little bit bigger you lean over their crib and are rewarded by the sweetest of sloppy baby grins. It feels so rewarding. Interaction! Appreciation!

A few weeks more and they’re babbling excitedly when you walk into the room, then pulling themselves to a stand and screaming with delight when you appear in the morning. Our daughter is still in this stage.

Back in the fall, our son learned to say “Hi!” We’d open the door in the morning to the sweetest little boy voice saying “Hi! Hi! Hi!” (It was slightly less sweet when he’d wake early and then rouse his still-sleeping sister by leaning over to her crib and bellowing “HIIIIIII!” to her, but still cute).

Then he learned to say “Morning!” when we walked in. Adorable, especially since he says it with a Kenyan accent “Hi! Maahning!”

Last week I was so pleased because, after a year of prompting, he finally learned to tell me when his diaper needs changing. “Die-poh.” How advanced! How civilized! We might house-train the feral child yet! Besides, it’s cute.

….well, cute until the first morning when you walk into the kids’ room, flip on the light, chirp “Good morning, babies! I love you!” and your boy responds, not by smiling, or cooing, or saying “hi” or “mahning” but by patting his bottom and demanding “Die-poh. Die-poh. Die-poh.” And hello to you, too, sunshine.

At least the kid’s stylin’ during diaper changes.







Two Roads Diverged…

The Man spent the weekend in Chicago with his family. I stayed back with the kids to give him distraction-free quality time. Both kids were sick over the weekend. The Man works hard and I’m genuinely glad he got in a visit and some well-deserved rest, but by the end of his trip I was going a bit stir crazy from indoor time and endless nose wiping. He was tired from his flight, but because he is also a rock star he willingly agreed to pack up the kids and head to our friends’ farm for homemade ice cream and a wander past the pastures.

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This picture perfectly captures our children’s very different approaches to livestock. Annie charges for the animals and tries to hurl herself through the fence. On her first visit to the farm this Spring she tried to pick Hamlet the pig’s nose. Meanwhile, Jack hides behind the closest adult and frantically scrambles up their back to safety if animals get too close. When asked, he will poke a head around the adult’s shoulder and mumble the correct animal noise, then retreat behind his fortifications again.

He’s much more open-minded about the ice cream. Jack sporadically used the word “please” by winter’s end, but fresh ice cream at the farm taught him to use it consistently.


“How do you ask nicely?”

“Peez….Peez. Peez! PeezPeezPeezPeeeeeeeze!”

After we got home the Man prepped dinner, helped with baths, spot-cleaned the kitchen floor, tidied the whole downstairs, and did the dishes. I love him and I missed him.


Simplifying Family Breakfast

My parents always gathered us for breakfast together before starting work or school. On weekends, Mom cooked a treat like pancakes, waffles, or french toast. The Man and I eat breakfast long before the kids are awake on workdays, but on Saturdays we also eat a special family breakfast all together. Sitting as a family in our sunny kitchen with nothing on the schedule is one of my favorite parts of the week. The only downside is that waffles or pancakes can only be made so many at a time. It’s hard to immerse in the quality time when you’re popping up and down like a Jack in the Box to pour the next waffle.

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Well, there’s a simple solution and I feel silly for not thinking of this years ago. Odds are you’ve already thought of it yourself, but on the off-chance you’re running back and forth too: Move the waffle maker to the table. Last week I set our waffle maker on a cutting board to prevent heat damage and drips and enjoyed sitting through my meal with the kids and my husband. If you have an electric griddle the same could be done for pancakes.


Makes 5 on our waffle maker, just right for two adults and two toddlers. This batter is for regular thin waffles, not Belgian waffles.

  • 1 cup flour (can substitute up to 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for part of the white flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I almost always use 1 cup milk soured with a tablespoon or two of vinegar)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or melted butter)

1. Preheat waffle iron

2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

3. Stir together beaten eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil with a fork or whisk. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Mix until moistened, but do not overmix.

4. Pour batter into waffle iron, using about 1/2 cup per waffle (this will vary based on your waffle maker). Enjoy hot with butter and maple syrup, honey, or fresh fruit.

Variation: If desired, chop and toast pecans and add them with the dry ingredients for pecan waffles.


Thrift Store Jackpot

Yesterday the kids and I swung by the thrift store because they need new shoes. We didn’t find shoes, but we did find something else on my list: a stack of classic children’s books in mint condition, most for $0.49! When we like a book from the library or I know a classic is one worth owning, I add it to one of my (very disorganized) lists of children’s books, either on my phone or on Pinterest (are you on Pinterest? I’m over at ). That way, when I run across a sale I have a quick reference for books we already own or want to find. Usually the thrift store book bins are only full of Elmo or Dora books or decrepit volumes eaten by age. Instead, we came home with:

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  • Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say (Caldecott Medal book)
  • The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee. The illustrations in this book are delightful!
  • The Umbrella and The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett. We’re always on the lookout for more Jan Brett books, and have had good luck finding them at the used book store and the quarterly library sale, in addition to receiving several as gifts.
  • Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Caldecott Honor book). Another classic from the author of Make Way for Ducklings.
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (Caldecott Honor book).
  • Little Toot by Hardie Gramatky. This is the abridged edition. Usually I’m not happy about that, but the twins just don’t have the patience to sit through the longer text heavy version yet (found at a library sale last year). It’s nice to have a copy we can read together now.
  • We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns. We’ve read a library copy of this book over and over again, and I’ve had it on my African American Kids’ Resources Pinterest page for months hoping to run across a copy. Lively text and great illustrations. Our little ones love this book, and so do I.
  • Bobby’s Zoo by Carolyn Lunn, Tom Dunnington. Who knew the out-of-print book we just got for pennies is going for $50 online, even in so-so condition? I hadn’t seen this book before, but spotted it in the bin because it had an African American main character. Colorful pictures and rhyming alliterative text. Too bad it’s out of print. It would probably sell well reincarnated as a board book.
  • Who Took the Farmer’s Hat? by Joan Nodset and Fritz Siebel. This book is new to me, but looked like fun. The illustrations are reminiscent of Bill Pete’s work.
  • Paul Bunyan by Stephen Kellogg. I loved Kellogg’s detailed, quirky illustrations as a kid.
  • In the Woods by Ermanno Cristini and Luigi Puricelli. A textless “look and find” kind of book. Bright and detailed illustrations of nature. I think the kids will have fun looking through this one and spotting the animals on their own when they’re just a little bit bigger.
  • Baby Farm Animals, a Little Golden Book illustrated by Garth Williams (illustrator of the Little House on the Prairie series). We’re all about animals and animal noises these days. Woof.
  • Loose Tooth by Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Allan Eitzen, based on the characters created by Ezra Jack Keats. Not incredibly high quality, but a reasonable imitation of Keats’ characters and style. For 49 cents I didn’t mind adding it to our stack, especially since we own most of the books in the actual Peter series by Keats.
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren. I grew up with this classic chapter book for early readers, and look forward to reading it out loud to the kids in a few years.
  • Counting Farm, a board book. Board books lead harsh and tragic lives in our household. I stock up on inexpensive replacements when I can.
  • Moo, Baa, La, La, La by Sandra Boynton. Speaking of harsh lives for board books… We already own a copy of this one, but the kids are beating the tar out of it and have chewed off most of the corners. Now there’s a backup waiting in the wings.
  • Holly by Ruth Brown. A simple but sweet story of a stray cat who finds a home. The illustrations are lovely and the style looked familiar. I realized that’s because Brown also illustrated James Herriot’s The Christmas Day Kitten, one of my childhood favorites at Christmastime.

Do you have a favorite source for books in your house?