Name: Erin Senge
Location: Burbank, CA
Kids: Alice, 1 year old
Online home: Growing Up Senge
The nursery Erin lovingly crafted for her daughter is what first led us to her blog, Growing Up Senge. Once we were there, though, we stayed a while because of her smart, friendly voice.
While we love great design for children and families, we are enriched by seeing the families behind the scenes, too. At Growing Up Senge, Erin invites us in. We get to hear about the thoughts and emotions that go into her mothering experience, much as if we're hearing them from a friend. Pair all of that with nicely-shot photos of the adorable Senge family and we're hooked. Here, we chatted a little with Erin, who is just recovering from her daughter's first birthday party. Here's her take on blogging, crafting, and watching her daughter grow up Senge:
Why did you start Growing Up Senge and blogging about motherhood?
Like many, I originally started blogging to share photos and updates with friends and family. At first, I was using my own website but it was harder to maintain and update than a web-hosted blog site and I found that I wasn’t sharing as much as I was wanting to. I started Growing Up Senge (seng-ghee) to have a place for photos and updates and where I’d be motivated to collect more meaningful thoughts and experiences for myself and Alice to look back on later.
We love your daughter's nursery: it even matches your blog's banner! Which came first? How did you choose the giraffe spot motif? Can you tell us more about the process of decorating the nursery (are you a pro? What is your profession? If you aren't a pro, where did you develop your eye for design?) The nursery came first! I wrote a bit about the process here. The giraffe theme came about pretty randomly, but we ran with it because we’re weirdly fond of giraffes in our family. I designed a birth announcement in Illustrator using the spot template I’d made and a little giraffe family inspired by the curtains. It seemed only fitting that I use those elements in the blog design, too!
I'm definitely not a professional designer of any sort. Currently, I work as an executive assistant in the film industry. I studied film production and have some basic art and photography skills that I’m always trying to improve. If I have any knack for design, it’s the combined result of my own artistic side-projects, a few classes in high school and college, and years spent flipping through magazines and catalogues, watching HGTV, and more recently, perusing design blogs and Pinterest! I worked at Pottery Barn in college and loved playing with all the bedding and table settings and accessories. I'm sure a designer could have done something fantastic with our nursery ideas, but I really love that we did all the planning and execution, and we love the way the room turned out!
You make all of Alice's baby food. What can you share with us about this process? It was a pretty easy decision to make Alice’s food ourselves, we thought we’d see how it went and never stopped. It’s not hard at all, I’m sure it’s more cost-effective (though I haven’t done an exact cost analysis), and I like knowing exactly what’s she’s eating. We cook most of her food for the week after our weekend grocery shopping. We try to buy mostly organic produce, tofu, and meat, and feed her whatever we can from our CSA box. We steam and puree most of the ingredients, and can control the consistency and combination of what she eats. I’ve been a bit overly cautious about making sure that she’s not allergic or sensitive to anything, and she’s a little particular about some things (she will not eat carrots or feed herself anything but Puffs!) but I’m not in a hurry to check off any boxes as long as she’s healthy and happy! Over all, we’ve been really happy with the decision to make our own food and I’d definitely recommend for anyone considering!
You and your sister have put a lot of handiwork into things for Alice's nursery. What projects for Alice are you guys working on next?
My sister crocheted a blanket for a shower gift and my mother cross-stitched and framed a mama and baby giraffe for the nursery. My mom just finished her very first quilt for Alice’s birthday. It’s funny, but neither my sister nor I were ever interested or able to learn to sew despite our mother’s many efforts and offers to teach us. Now that we’re adults, we’re both motivated to learn the “womanly arts.” With a baby around, none of us can stop making things!
I made a flag bunting banner and matching birthday outfit for Alice’s party last weekend. I want to use the leftover fabric and one of the shorter banners to make a birthday quilt for Alice. I have a bunch of ideas in mind for my next project (swim cover-up! boots! more dresses and ruffle pants!), but haven’t decided yet. I’ll definitely blog about all my crafting endeavors as I work on my sewing skills!
How do you manage your time between motherhood, blogging, and work? It’s hard! I work outside the home, and my husband works from home and cares for Alice during the day. As any working parent knows, it’s hard enough to get everything done, let alone maintain any sort of balance in your life but I think we’re starting to get the hang of it. My husband starts his day at 4am and puts in half his office time before I leave for work. I get up an hour later (or so) and try to be totally dressed and ready for the day before Alice gets up so I can give her my full attention before I leave for work. If Alice is still up when I get home, I take over and feed her and put her to bed before we have dinner and pack it in at an embarrassingly early hour. That doesn’t leave a ton of time for extracurricular activities!
I squeeze in time to write whenever I can; after Alice has gone to bed and we’ve eaten dinner, or during my lunch hour at work if I opt to not hit the treadmill. I start a lot of drafts with ideas, quotes, images, or articles that inspire me, jot down thoughts and ideas as they come to me, and flesh them out when I have time. If I’m waiting around somewhere, I’ll write tidbits to myself in emails. I love when I can write a post or two on the weekends and schedule them to publish during the week. I can spend a lot of time agonizing over what I’m trying to say in a post, I ask myself whether it’s better to be perfect or posted. There are a few things I want to be perfect, but overall, I’d rather just hit publish on an imperfect post!
We were moved to interview you not just because of your nursery's design, but because of your touching post, i miss her sweet milk breath.. Your writing is thoughtful yet conversational and rings so true. Are you speaking to yourself, to other moms, both? Thank you so much. I’m really writing for myself, to remember these events and emotions, but I’m honored if my words and experiences resonate with others as well. Blogs have become so important and inspirational to me in my parenthood journey, I would love to contribute even a fraction of what I’ve taken from the collective network of other blogging moms.
What blogs do you look to for inspiration?
Ohdeedoh, of course!
I have a huge blog crush on Sherry & John of Young House Love. If they lived anywhere nearby, I would invite them for a playdate.
I had been reading Under the Sycamore for a while before I realized that her daughter’s room was the inspiration for the paper lantern & tissue pom arrangement I made for my daughter’s nursery – I originally saw her room on Ohdeedoh way back before I started reading her blog!
(Images: Erin Senge)
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