good morning! so. since getting back from portland in march, any time i've had a spare second to think i've been thinking about this apartment. after spending so much time at my mother's beautiful home, i walked in the door here and our place just kind of felt like a dorm. you know what i mean? i think too that i just needed something tangible i could work on where i could see immediate results. so, nest fluffing. sometimes it just feels so good, you know?

our place isn't perfect and these photos aren't anything fancy. this isn't some grand reveal. ;) more like an update on what will always be a work in progress. a house is an important family member just like any of us, and she's gotta grow with us, is what i always say. 

it's probably impossible in a small space to really nail the airy, space-y feeling, but that's just what i'm after. our place ins't enormous, though it kind of is, by nyc 1-bedroom standards. this corner of the living room was the worst offender it felt all unbalanced, like it was tipping over. so i moved the small dresser that used to be under the window into the bedroom, and replaced it with this bertoia replica. (i've wanted the real thing for just about forever, but i'm glad i went with a replica because it turns out i'm not as crazy about the bertoias as i thought i was?) i put the record player on the floor for lack of a better option. huck's favorite toys of the moment get to hang out in the basket, and the rest live in his bedroom. the sheepskins are both from ikea, the pillow is from fine little day. also, crayon jar! so, this is how this one is going to go. keep going! if you want!

i found the blue crate at the hell's kitchen flea market, isn't it great? it smelled like polyurethane for two solid months. holy lacquer! it used to hold huck's diapes + wipes. oh sob, my baby! (i buy used records almost exclusively, usually from a seller in grants pass, oregon. i found him on amazon, of all weird things. he has a killer disney collection.)

the black ikea bookshelf that used to be under the tv haaaad to go. it held our books (that we never read) in rainbow order, which i  really loved, but it was just too dark for the room. lulu & georgia happened to contact me just as i was wondering what on earth to do with it, and voila! this credenza. it was a life altering move. so much storage! gorgeous color! the legs! plus holes in the back for our dvd player. finally, charlie and lola are back on the rotation. i missed that soren lorenson. (the shelf is living in my closet now, holding onto mah shoes.) lulu & georgia is extending a special discount to hey natalie jean readers, just use the code NATALIEJEAN20 for 20% off your entire order. they literally carry everything, you'll have fun over there!

i switched the rugs again. sometimes i move the black one to the living room, sometimes to the dining room, this usually happens at 2AM. we got it at west elm but it seems like it's sold out. this one is sick though! (the rug in the dining room i found on eBay.) our drapes are from ikea. the "home sweet home" poster i made myself! just a map, some stencils and white paint. 

(click to keep reading!)


first thing you should know, is the lovins are incapable of getting a decent family photo. this was the best of the TWENTY that i had on my camera from the weekend. it's okay.

my grandpa is an old cowboy. he sang cowboy tunes in a cowboy band on a cowboy radio station when he was young, chaps and all. he's your classic western snap button shirt and cowboy hat on the dashboard. he had eleven kids, and all those kids had a lot of kids, so we're this motley crew of gila monsters, basically. there are about 95 of us these days and just over 50 made it home to arizona for the weekend. i grew up in mesa with a hundred million cousins, all living within a mile or two of each other. we mostly shared each others' parents. the elementary school talent show every year was a solid hour of lovin cousins, one after another after another. it was a pretty ridiculous way to grow up. i don't think i fully realized until this weekend how lucky i was to have had that kind of love + support as a kid, and how much i've been missing it since without even realizing it.

i have the neatest uncles. there are eleventy billion of them. a few of them live in utah. they were kind of my surrogate dads when i lived there in college. a few of them are my husband's age, and have become this wonderful sort of friend/older brother mix. somehow my grandpa raised all his boys to be the softest, most loving men. they're all gushy with their kids, none of them seem to feel the need to prove their masculinity in the stupid ways so many of the guys i know seem to, they're all wonderful fathers. even to their brothers' kids. ;) i know in a pinch i could call any single one of them and they would bend the earth and sky to be there for me. it's sort of amazing, the caliber of male influences i have in my life. 

the minute we landed we went for mexican food. and then, since we were in the neighborhood, we drove past our old house my parents designed + built when i was a kid. i remember when the work on the house was just starting and the construction workers laid the concrete backwards, and the look on my mom's face. it was pretty classic.  

seeing my baby there was weird. 

i've spent a lot of time thinking about pockets. not like in your clothes, like pockets you create in places. pockets of yourself. i wrote about it once here, and then wrote about it some more for this book nonsense (though it might get cut--apparently i only needed 35,000 words. i submitted 70,000. sooooo, editing), but being in arizona this time, i started wondering. instead of putting yourself in a pocket in a place, do you think you could put a place in your pocket? and carry it with you? does this sound crazy? i want to figure a way where i can start to bring these places with me, instead of leaving myself behind. 

after we landed but before the mexican food, i had this conversation with brandon about time travel. it felt so weird being back in arizona. it had been 10, maybe 15 years since i'd been there last, and these memories i'd forgotten i had kept coming and coming, every so often i'd see something or smell something, and it really felt like miniature time travel. the airport, even. i remember walking through that airport on my way to the plane that took our family to korea for a year when i was six, i remember walking through that airport on my way to the plane that took our family to connecticut when i was twelve. i didn't have any memories of coming to arizona, just of leaving it. and then walking out into the 93-degree heat, i remember that too. every time i climbed out of a car or walked out of an air conditioned house that weekend, i had that same tactile flashback. being around all of my uncles, and my cousins, driving past the little caesar's where my mom and i used to get pizza for dinner, the bottom of the box burning my bare legs as we drove it home, turning at the corner of taylor junior high where we swam all summer long to get to my grandpa's house, finding the brick by the front door with my old scribbles still on it that say "tiffany, you're funny," it all made me catch my breath. it was like these ghosts were everywhere. it sometimes felt a little like coming face to face with me

i'm fascinated with the idea of who we become and what we leave behind when we come to a new place for a time and then go. and of what happens when we go back. i'm always surprised when i find myself in these places still. it gave me this strange desire to fluff my bangs up six inches high and wear matching shorts and t-shirt sets. you know? it gave me a lot of sudden realizations too, about myself, and my family, as well as other, completely silly, trivial things. and it made me wonder, if i just thought about it hard enough, could i just take all of that with me? instead of the other way around?

yesterday i took my baby to 69th street, a place which feels more like home than our current place does, even though we only lived there for a year. i'm sure once we leave this place, here will start to feel homey to me, too. 

and is this a side effect of moving too much? or of thinking too much? ;)

after mexican food, while poking around our old house, we did a little raiding of our (their) orange tree. 

then we stayed up late chatting in my grandpa's back yard. 

then aaaall the cousins came over and huck took his first ride on grandpa's lawn mower? i guess this is the new rite of passage for the lovin grandkids (the blades were off, still freaked me out). 

this bad photo is the only shot i have of the three lovin generations together. next time i have to remember to do this type of thing on purpose!

and then huck made friends with this snail. arizona really belongs to the bugs, you know. we humans are just passing through. brandon managed to convince one of my uncles to take him scorpion hunting. they found just one, but it only took them about 30 seconds. snails aren't bugs. but yikes, arizona!

and then there was the swap meet of my dreams. turquoise, navajo silver, cowboy hat. check, check, double check. i'm going to look pretty ridiculous wearing that hat around the city this summer. i'm kind of excited.

(photos from our day in sedona next. thrilling!)


we're back in new york after a really, really really quick weekend in arizona for a family reunion. too really quick. looking back at it now, a three and a half day trip involving two full travel days + fifty family members all staying at various places all over the valley, that was maybe never going to be too relaxing. i guess it'd never be possible for me to get as much time with the people i love as i want, i always leave even more homesick than before, and more than a little teary eyed. it was a bit of time travel this weekend, a peek back at the days when we all lived just a few blocks from each other, all five million of us, and i don't think i'd ever appreciated what an amazing way to grow up that was until just now, but more on that later.

first, the pool! my top five list of things to do this weekend included roasting in the sun and gaining at least two pounds of chips and salsa (check and check). we stayed at my aunt jen's in mesa and took serious advantage of her pool. the water was still cold but my mom, my aunt nikki and her kids, and my sister amanda and her family, all came over and we braved it together. 

this is amanda's husband, zach, and my uncle darren's kid, graham. huck was strictly a pool steps dude until watching zach make this dive, and then he looked me square in the eye and said, "mom, i'm gonna jump too." it was just a mild heart attack, watching huck go from the shyest guppy in the pool to full on daredevil flying fish in under thirty seconds. he launched himself off the side of that pool without blinking, no encouragement or prodding needed. as much as a lovin clone as this kid can be most of the time, every now and then this huge brandon streak comes through, and i'm so glad. this move was all dad. i still get timid hopping off the curb onto dry land. ;)

he knew it, too.

and then we graduated to the paddle board... and then we were doing jumps, no floaties needed. pants falling down and everything. this kind of stuff is dad material. by this point i was really working hard on my tan. (nope, skin's still see-through.)

this is my sister amanda and her fat baby silas. spending time with amanda as an adult has been so, so good. i miss her so much! we need to get our act together and just move in next door to each other already.

this is darren's oldest, jaden. how great is this shot? huck was in cousin heaven all weekend. (first cousin once removed heaven, to be precise.) 

my cousins range in age from 35 years to 18 months, it's wild. we counted this weekend, there's like 75 of us. this is darren's youngest, cole, and jen's oldest daughter, sydney. cole slammed his fingers in the pool gate three times, and threw alex's cell phone in the pool once. (he also tossed in a donut and a 32 oz diet coke from the gas station, the pool was all set.)

then the goggles came out and things got really great, really fast. i've been posting about a million shots of huck looking completely ridiculous in these pink goggles on my instagram if you want to check it out. (worth it.) 

attempting to stave off a case of hypothermia. :) huck stayed in that pool like a boss and refused to come out, goose bumps, teeth chattering and blue lips be damned. we finally lured him out of the water with donuts. you know, parents of the year.

p.s. henry holbrook before the pool / henry holbrook after the pool:

i'd say huck won.

i have more photos + thoughts to share later, but for now i'm off in the rain to the visit the post office with our taxes. blerg. happy tax day, kids!

update: my sunglasses! amanda's suit is tbd. i'll have to text her. :)
update update! it looks like this is her swimsuit HERE. she got it during an end of summer sale. good luck!

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