Every morning Ralph Robert begins his day by shouting "Mamaaa" over and over until someone comes to get him. Every morning while he shouts this, he has two fists wrapped tightly around the crib rails, with his face wedged between them, and his cheeks pulled back. I don't think he realizes how funny he looks.

Lately he's been waking up around 4:30 or 5am, and the sound of his voice is precious and kind of dreadful. Ryan always brings him into our bed with hopes that he'll fall back asleep. Sometimes he does, most days he squirms and wiggles and pats our faces with as much gentleness as he can muster. (Not very much.)

Ryan is good to me and takes Ralph downstairs to let me sleep just a little longer. I don't know for sure, I think it has something to do with knowing that Ralph is being taken care of and Ryan is in the kitchen starting the coffee, but that half hour when I have the bed to myself is the best bit of sleep I get all night.

When I finally come downstairs, the scene is always this: Ryan is wrapped up in a blanket, half asleep on the couch. Ralph runs to the bottom of the steps and repeats, "Hi Mom. Hi Mom. Hi Mom." Behind him, a spilled bowl of dry cheerios, a sippy that has been tossed and is now tipped on its side, dripping. Books and toys everywhere. I scoop up my baby and walk to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee, opening the curtains and then the windows on my way. Everything is bright. Everything feels new again. This is my favorite time of day.

After that begins the mad rush to get things done before Ryan leaves for work. Breakfast is fixed, a lunchbox is packed, a diaper needs changing. Ryan comes down from the shower smelling like soap, and he asks for hugs goodbye. Ralph watches him pull the car out and shut the garage door through the window, and yells his farewells loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Everyone is awake now.


handmade | flower press

I'm fairly certain my grandma indirectly taught me how to press flowers way back in the day. I spent many a hot summer at her house in Michigan, where the backyard pool and the cool, dark basement covered in electric blue carpet and chock-full of treasures were the two main events. But on a rainy day, and after all the crannies of the basement had been thoroughly explored, my sisters and I spent our time at Grandma's house combing her drawers and closets and bookshelves. That lady had so much interesting stuff, and she never seemed to mind our snooping. It was custom to flip through one of her books or magazines and see a dry, flat, pretty little something flutter out from between the pages. I've taken her lead, and, even though I never really use them for anything, I still love to tuck a tiny flower or leaf into a thick book. Even just for the sake of finding it again later, smooshed and crispy, and still beautiful. A little forgotten fleur surprise.

I realized almost too late while packing for our weekend camping trip that I didn't have a transportable press to take along with me. I wasn't about to bring my Grandma's old hymnal in my backpack, but I certainly didn't want to be unprepared for all the wild flowers I planned on plucking from the hiking trails. Enter the homemade flower press: all supplies were collected from my local fabric store, the bin of crafty stuff I keep in the guest bedroom, and Ryan's scrap wood pile in the basement. It took me one full nap time to make the entire thing, and snap the photos to show you how to make one yourself.

You'll need:
-two pieces of thin scrap wood (I used two pieces of 5x5 ish plywood)
-cardboard, cut the same size as your wooden boards (I used an old cardboard box and cut seven 5x5 squares)
-watercolor paper, cut or torn the same size as your wood and cardboard pieces (I made 12 squares)
-a needle and thread, or a sewing machine
-2 sets of square rings
-2 yards of 1in. cotton webbing

To make:
Cut all your materials to size. I wanted my press to be on the smaller side, a 5x5 square, so my wood pieces, my cardboard pieces, and my watercolor pages are all 5x5 inches. I cut my cotton webbing in half to make two straps, 1 yard long each. For each strap, slide 2 square rings onto one end of a strap, fold over twice, and sew. Fold the ends of the other side of the strap over twice, and sew, to prevent it from unraveling. I used my sewing machine for this, but I think a hand-sewn whip stitch would do just fine. Arrange your press like so: one wooden piece, one cardboard piece, two watercolor pages, one cardboard piece, two watercolor pages, etc., until your press is the desired thickness. Top with the other wooden square, fill with flowers, and secure with the straps as tightly as you can.