25 September, 2011

Baby Dos: A Boy's Nursery

The day is finally here!!--my blog entry on my baby boy's nursery project.  The nesting bug bit hard and Pinterest exasperated the infection, so that many nights I found myself working on this project long after I should have been, speaking from a physical standpoint of aching hips, aching feet, and a few uninvited contractions.  I just so badly wanted it to be done.  Last week, most of it was finished, but Nick was working second shift and one final piece was missing, much to my dismay.  The heavy shelf needed mounting above the changing table and I was under firm instructions not to attempt it myself.  (Nick muttered something about hellfire so I took him seriously.)  But Nick drafted Wes and Jared (both who must be loyal friends, because they delayed watching their beloved Birds' football game just to soothe the whims of a pregnant woman) and they did it this afternoon.  God bless them.

Honestly, I think I've been so excited to post this because (a) I'm really happy with how the results turned out, (b) I have so many wow-look-what-God-did stories from this project that I'll share as I go below and (c) many parts of this room are things I did myself (with inspiration from Pinterest or other blogs!)

So it's done!  What do you think?

The room we chose as a nursery had several challenges.
1. It's fairly small
2. There was no closet (just a stairwell for the attic
3. The floor was terribly scratched

But it also had several great features.
1. It was a good way to use the smallest room upstairs without sacrificing the remaining full-sized bedroom.
2.  The bedroom stays nice and warm thanks to the radiator.
3.  Plenty of charming, natural light.

Something great about this nursery:  I didn't pay full price for a single thing in this nursery.  I started to think about this several months ago and slowly accumulated things that found me.  You'll see what I mean.

Project One: The Room and Paint
Inspiration: Pinterest
I have painted many many rooms.  A love of color comes with my personality, I think, but this was a project that really stretched both my ability to trust my instincts and my strength to follow through.  I am thankful for my mom's counsel during this project.  Her energy to do the high painting, climb ladders, and forethought to use a chalk line to establish straight lines were key to this even being completed.  Surprisingly, we completed the stripes part of this wall in less than two hours--it didn't take nearly as long as I feared.  The spackling and base colors took much longer.
I used Sherwin Williams paint (SW7556 Creme, SW7685 White Raisin, and SW6214 Underseas) and measured the total height of the wall, dividing by seven (because that's the total number of stripes I wanted.).  This gave me a stripe width of about 13 inches.  I opted to use the light color against the baseboard and ceiling, which created a really great visual trick to make the ceilings seem even higher.  We were concerned that the horizontal stripes would emphasize the smallness of the room, but I read on a Sherwin Williams blog that vertical stripes emphasize height, whereas horizontal stripes make a room seem larger.  
I will tell you, I had a small heart attack when I originally put the colors on the wall.  But when we pulled the tape, I fell in love.  It was exactly the effect I had envisioned.
An extra feature:  this room is versatile.  Should our next baby be a girl, I simply change the slate blue accent wall to a plum and change to our white crib with my bedding from when Aly was born.  presto!

Project Two: The Floor
Inspiration: necessity :)
Frankly, I did not have the energy or desire to invest in refinishing this floor.  That said, it was abysmal.  Mom came up with the suggestion to soak a rag in stain and cover the roughest parts as best I could.  So I did this, wiped up the extra stain, and then coated the whole floor in a Minwax floor touchup solution.  It's not perfect, by far, but it is much much much better.  Maybe next spring we can finish all the floors upstairs.  Maybe.
The rug was a God thing as well.  Mom mentioned looking at Kohl's, because I had just gotten a 30% off coupon.  I had just been planning to go to Ollie's but thought, eh, what can it hurt?  Long story short, this rug was originally $99, on sale for $49.99, less 30% off.  Sold.  And perfect.

Project Three: The Crib
Inspiration: Pinterest (lots of entries on there about distressing furniture)
My sister-in-law, Emily, was generous enough to gift us this crib.  She truly didn't need it and said I could refinish it any way I wanted, which of course I loved. The only thing: I dreaded sanding it down.  I hate sanding.  Hate It.  But a friend, Jessie, mentioned a primer she used that didn't require sanding, so I used that gladly and found it created an excellent surface, ready to paint.  I sanded off some old stickers, primed, painted with two coats of Sherwin Williams' Silver Mist semi-gloss.  I also spray-painted the rusting metal braces and frames.  
Finally, I attacked the beautiful finished surface with sand paper (both rough and smooth) to disturb the finish and make it look old again.  I had actually bought glaze to make the crib look vintage, but found that this color, when tarnished with glaze, actually looked more dirty than old.  I didn't like it.  So I opted against the glazing/aging and just left it scuffed--which I think looks great!
Confession:  it did take Nick and I about an hour to reassemble the crib.  We put Aly to bed and spread all the pieces out on the floor--eventually our smarts outwitted the ancent wisdom of the old crib and we conquered.
I bought the bedding used on Ebay for $35.  The skirt fits perfectly.  I sewed the fitted sheet for about $10 from some fabric I found at Joann's.  The bumper needs to be a little tweaked--it doesn't fit quite to my standards but that's a project I can handle as the belly gets more restrictive.  The crib set also came with a quilt, but I found the fabric to be too worn for my tastes.  So I opted against using it and ripped it apart, sewing an accent cushion for the glider from some of the remnants.


Project Four: Blinds and Roman Shade
Inspiration: Pinterest / Rachel Potteiger  (here's a link)
I love Roman shades.  But I hate the expense ($50+?) and knew that wasn't the route I wanted to go.  When Rachel posted this on her blog several months ago, I stored it in the back of my brain as a possibility.  And then one day, Steph (also preggo and as insane as I am) spent an hour in Joanns and I found this great fabric.  Immediately I knew it would look awesome against the accent wall and would complement the paint.

Mom helped me put this together.  I bought an $11 roll-up blind to mount beneath the shade so my Roman shade could be almost entirely for aesthetics.  This project uses a cheap miniblind (Walmart, $4) and about 2 yards of fabric, which I got on sale at Joann's for about $15 total.  I love the results! 

Project Five: Lamp and Shade
Inspiration: Steph Stahl and Sheila Baldwin
I quite accidently found this lamp at a yard sale for $3.  I gave Sheila a inspiration credit here because I had just finished reading some of her blog about her very fabulous vintage nursery, and while my tastes aren't quite that vintage, I was inspired.  I would totally not have bought this lamp otherwise.  It was rusted and the shade was dingy, at best.
But Steph found a link (I'll get it if you want it) on how to cover a lampshade and even did one in her nursery, which was awesome because then she could walk me through it.  I ended up running out of fabric so I had to get creative about finishing it.  I used a remnant to create a gathered strip, which I adhered for an effect that I ultimately liked better anyways!
I taped the lamp carefully and spray-painted the metal a glossy gray color.  I loved it!  (the spray can shown though is just a prop--I actually used a shade from Valspar).
Thanks for blogging, Sheila!

Project Six: Burlap Monogram Canvas
Inspiration: Pinterest (link)
I found the 8x10 canvas at Michaels for 50% off (about $4) and the burlap on sale at Hobby Lobby (about $2).  I bought acrylic paint in a buttercream color for about $2 and loved the results!

Project Seven: Closet
Inspiration: necessity
We just decided to make the stairwell for the attic function as a closet as well.  We needed it to be functional, but bypassable when we wanted to take things up and down.  We actually had these shelves in the basement from our old house!  So Mom and I spackled, sanded and painted the stairwell, and Nick mounted the shelves.  It turned out perfectly functional!

Project Seven: Name Caption Frames
Inspiration: Pinterest
Believe it or not, I found these frames on an entirely unrelated shopping trip at a thrift store several months ago.  When I was down in the basement working on these other projects, the yellow color caught my eye and I thought, ahh! Perfect!  I didn't touch the finish, other than to clean off a thick layer of dust.  I created the inserts for them (the name has been blanked out with the magic of Photoshop until he arrives) and accidently broke the pane in the other, so this project is being corrected.  But you get the gist.  I opted for the dark red to add an accent color so everything wasn't so matchy-matchy.
I confess though, the more I look at that cracked glass, the more I like it.  Hmmm.

Some other features:

Basket was $16 at Michaels.  It was listed at 40%, which I was prepared for.  But when I got up to the register, she rang it up at $0.01.  One cent.  I asked her and she said it was right.  What a treat!  I also stitched the changing pad cover.

The bouncer we needed.  Originally $120, but scored at a consignment sale for $15.
My precious little distrac--I mean, assistant. :)

05 July, 2011

Today I learned...

Today I found out...

  • that when you dice jalepeno peppers, the oil makes rubbing your eye a bad idea.  I'm posting this just to postpone taking out my contacts.
  • that I'm having a son
  • that I'm more intimidated by the idea of parenting a son than I knew I was
  • that having people over just for a game night with munchies is a great casual evening
  • that my mom kept things from my childhood that I didn't know she treasured, like a box full of cards she received when I was born, and the JCPenney's catalog from 1982.
  • that maternity fashions in 1982 were not extraordinary, but they were cheap--a dress for $15?
  • that I am by FAR more tired in my second trimester than in my first.  that said, I also have trouble falling asleep.  Tonight I'll plug my earphones into a Netflixed episode of Cosby Show until I konk out.
  • that a three-day weekend makes me dread returning to my normal schedule.  which makes me think hard about my current choices.
  • that praying with my husband on a regular basis is the best advent in our marriage.  there was a time when that would have been immensely awkward.  now we both look forward to it and crave it.
  • that procrastinating going to bed is always stupid.
Nite all.

16 June, 2011

Dishes, Flowers & Buddy?

I finally figured out why women dry their dishes.

It has always been an inigma to me.  Why dry your dishes if the air will do that for you?  Do you really have so much time on your hands that you can stand by your sink and dry those dishes?  I never thought I did.

But I figured it out today.

Women dry their dishes so that for at least one singular moment in their day, both sides of their sink are empty.  And then they stand there and enjoy that moment, basking in its glorious warmth, and hurry away--so they don't have to witness the heartbreaking moment when one of the gremlins puts something dirty in the empty sink.

And if they're OCD enough, they'll wash that offending dish quickly, and swipe it dry, and hide it away--just to have one more moment.  One more moment of an empty sink.

Before the gremlins return.


My sister visited the other day and brought me these.

Aren't they glorious?

I love love love fresh flowers and houseplants.  Especially when they're not the result of a quick trip to the florist (though in a pinch I'm not picky.)  Recently quite a few friends have visited, and every once in a while, one of them brings me a bouquet--once it was just some daffodils wrapped in tin foil.

It's not something I've ever once expected Nick to do for me.  He has, a few times, but where are guys supposed to get flowers?  I mean, sure, they can stop along the road and pick some wild ones, and pray they don't get shot, but the idea of swiping a debit card for flowers ruins the affect for me.  The flowers that come from someone's backyard are the ones I like the best.

It has kinda become an unspoken thing between God and me.  When someone comes into my home, and brings me flowers--shoot, even it its just a branch from their maple tree--I always hear God whisper to me.  It's as though they're straight from Him, not to discredit the thoughtful soul who actually performed the delivery.

So when Amanda walked through the door with these bee-yoo-tee-ful blooms, I smiled to myself.  It was just the right moment for my Father to remind me that He saw my heart and was in love with me.  That He didn't take me for granted.

And they'll sit there on my counter until they pass on...and I never get sad when I throw the dead stems away.  I know it won't be long until my dad sends me flowers again.


I'm pretty sure I'm having a boy today.  He kicked me yesterday for the first time.  I was momentarily surprised...and before I could stop to think I muttered "easy there, buddy."  Then I felt badly that I could have called a baby girl "buddy".  This is why I have to find out and why I could never wait until the delivery.  I have an innate need to speak to my children in utero in a gender-specific way.  I called Aly "baby girl" for months, often through gritted teeth while I was digging her heel out of my ribs.  I often talked to Nick about "his daughter" when I had heartburn or had trouble getting up from the couch.

It's never in a derogatory way though.  It's usually in an affectionate way--Nick and I still call Aly "your daughter" or "that girl's mine," depending on whether she's got peanut butter in her hair or she just sweetly hugged one of us.  I'll say "did you grab diapers for your daughter?" on the way out the door.  It's our own little language of intimacy--and I gotta find out what gender this new guy---I mean, kiddo--is so I can introduce him or her to the family lingo.

So today I'm having a boy.  But tomorrow I'm going to think about all the stuff I'll need if it is a son, and I'll begin to think girl.

Because that would be easier. :)

22 May, 2011

Appetite for a Meat Dress

I just caught a few minutes of this year's Billboard awards.  I am an artistic musician at heart, so my core drinks up creativity in almost all forms.  Even dark expressions, sometimes, house great revelation.  As I was walking away from the TV, Snoop Dogg was on stage wearing a very bizarre piece of stage jewelry, his signature braided ponytails, and a dangling earring.  A zombie-like woman accompanied him, a timely homage to the news of the week.

The rapture didn't happen this week, after a nationwide prediction that it would, and that by October 21, there would be a world-ending catastrophe.  I'm not well-versed in the exact prediction because I just don't care.  I'm not going to get into the "rapture gospel" here--I just really hope each of you studies out his beliefs for himself thoroughly, not simple regurgitating the revelations of generations past.  I am still studying--still asking questions--but I am very far from what I first was taught.  As I learn, as I grow, I wonder how I believed the former thing for so long, and so blindly.  Oh well--God's grace to each of us to develop, change, and grow is so thick.  We each at our own rate and to our own level of persistence, I suppose.

But I saw Snoop on the screen, in an empty man's attempt to express what his heart has recognized as void.  I don't like referring to unbelievers as "the world" or "those guys out there" because that's not how Jesus saw them.  He ate with them.  He preferred them, in some ways.  Even Jesus knew that religious people are a drag.

I find myself thinking a lot lately about originality.  About authenticity.

I was reminded of this quote, which to date is still my favorite:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God. 
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We are all meant to shine, as children do. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-Marianne Williamson

The earth is full of people who are copycats, carbon copies, or blank pages.  A root deep within us craves originality.  Case in point: Lady Gaga.  Here is a performer who has worn a meat dress, arrived to an award show carried in an egg-shaped litter, poured artificial blood over herself on stage, and has stated in an interview that she has both male and female genitalia.  Does that shock you?  And yet thus far in her career, she has earned $90 million and recently dethroned Oprah as the most powerful celebrity by Forbes.

How hungry must mankind be for originality, for creativity, if this woman has catapulted to such notoriety?  But here's the thought I can't get out of my mind:  God created.  I mean, really created.  We were designed to represent him on the earth.  And yet Christianity is widely believed to be the most boring, least-fun lifestyle available in modern culture today.

Consider this recent quote from Brad Pitt: ""Many people find religion to be very inspiring. Myself, I found it very stifling. I grew up with Christianity and I remember questioning it greatly. Some things didn't work for me. Some things did... I grew up being told God is going to take care of everything and it doesn't always work out that way. And then you're told 'Well, it's God's will.' I got my issues. Man, you don't want to get me started."

I'm pausing because this makes me really annoyed.

When is the last time you were authentic?  Many of us have gotten so good at reading the script that we aren't even sure when our version of authentic looks like.  I'm certainly not suggesting you buy a tube of lunchmeat and construct a garment (as you read, Lady Gaga has already done that, so it's not creative anymore. Haha.)  I'm asking why you, son of the King of Glory, are doing the same things you did yesterday, the day before that, and the day before that?  Why are you following the same ideas?  Why are you lacking the courage to do something new?  Don't you realize that because you are the son of God, joint heir with Christ, that you carry the full weight of heaven behind you?

You carry the weight of heaven.  You represent God on earth.
Let that hit you.
So could that be why Christianity has become so, to use their words, boring?  It is just as trendy to invalidate the prudish and stodgy ways of Christianity as it is to enjoy a little internet porn.

I am a son of my Papa.  I love him, He is mine.  But I do not refer to myself as a Christian or religious.  I don't join the Facebook groups.  I don't forward the emails.  Frankly, I just don't want to be associated with the whole social stigma (and roadblocks) that precedes them. (I challenge you, say the word Christian to a 20-something unbeliever and watch their eyes glass over).  I made that change several years ago and it's forced me to be creative when people ask me what I am--especially if I deny being a Christian.  I will never deny Jesus--for crying out loud, my eyes shine when I talk about him--no one would believe me anyway.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is fire in my bones--every day He is thicker in me.  But Christianity, the religion, the fences, and the damage it has already inflicted on so many with its poorly-executed holy wars and social hysterias (a rapture prophesy comes to mind)....  It is not who my Father is, and therefore it is not me.

Consider that perhaps too many systems in this world persist beyond their usefulness.

I believe Daddy (that's what He is!) is doing a brand new thing.  You can't put new wine in old wineskins.  Pruning is always painful.  Discipline always smarts.  But to stay in the place of death when you could pursue life...oh my heart just hurts for (1) all that you are missing and (2) all that the Kingdom suffers by the loss of your vitality.  We are a body, and when your part falls asleep, we cannot replace you.  We pour resource on you until you (a) heal, or (b) die.

You are His son (or daughter, if it feels better to you).  Son of God.  (Gal 4:7 NASB)  If you were brought up to believe you were a servant or a slave or a mere worm, perhaps go back and read it all again.  Take notes.  Who does it say that you are?

I feel a renewed responsiblity to live out according to my blueprint.  There has never been another me in the history of the world.  There never will be again.  I am realizing that something about me brings God great delight.  He sees his unique fingerprint in me.  I must have a very unique purpose.  I must matter in a way that no one else does.  I am the one and only me.

So all these thoughts swirl through my head.  You know the scene in Matrix 3 when thousands of machines swarm in a black cloud to form a single face?  That's what I see, and the face is shouting one phrase: WAKE UP, OH SLEEPER! 

People are so darn hungry.  It's time to be bread.  Or they just might have to settle for a meat dress.

14 April, 2011

wow. so i guess i'm preggo.

aly is crying here at my knees.  she's been crying all evening actually.  i guess she didn't nap well or something because every little event tonight has thrown her into a dramatic fit of tears.  i usually don't mind the tears--it's going to be part of raising this little girl, of that i am sure.  but these are dinosaur tears and they keep coming.  i want to keep her up for another half hour or so, so her daddy can see her before she goes to bed.

nick was moved to second shift for a few months to train some new staffers there.  he is great at what he does and we've chosen to view this appointment as evidence of his good work and the foundation for future advancement.  he'll be home a little after eight tonight but usually he arrives home after midnight.  you need to understand that I have an umbilical to my husband.  i am attached to him completely.  there was a time in our marriage that i craved divorce from him, but now this season of being apart so much is very painful.  we don't dwell on it.  we are very strong--we have endured a lot.  but still.  my heart, there is a hole.

so many times a week i pull single-mom duty.  i love being a mama.  i love being aly's mama.  she's a very good girl.

but i'm also roughly eight weeks pregnant.
and i need to say this:
i didn't really want to be.

i feel like i have to whisper those words because i have easily a dozen friends who would cut off their right arm to conceive and carry a child.  while i have never experienced that, i ache for them with a depth that is really hard to express.  i often feel guilty about my successful fertility.  i avoid them sometimes because i feel like i should have a bag of shame over my head for daring to appear in public with a physical example (aly or the swollen belly) of what they are so hungry for.  it's not fair.  it doesn't feel fair.

and i know that God, in His perfection, is on a very specific journey with each of these women, my friends.  i know He's working a complete work in them.  i think of "consider it pure joy when you experience trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance..."  in my opinion, there is no kind of perseverance more developed than a woman who takes her basal every morning before she even moves.  that's a whole new kind of struggle.

so i feel this overwhelming guilt that i should be really excited to be pregnant again
if only because so many of my friends wish to be.

but the truth is that this baby, as healthy and growing as he is (i really think it's a boy), is an enormous stretch for me.  probably the biggest stretch of my life, and that's saying something.  i have a one-year-old child (who, at this moment, is still crying, darn it!...ok, she's soothed for the moment...) and she's walking and busy and hungry and thirsty and dirty and many many times i'm largely responsible for her.  these are duties i relished before.  but now i'm nauseous and tired.  i need to cook for her, but everything in my fridge makes me sick to think about.  there's a beautiful package of spinach in my fridge and it's going to spoil because i can't stand the idea of opening it.  blech, see, I just dry heaved.

i really was thinking of working on a second pregnancy later this year.  but not yet.  not a baby that's due at the exact wrong time of the year.  Nov?  i'll be lucky if a get a day off to give birth.  that's exaggerative but makes my point.  i have actually had whole trains of thought that pray that i don't have an episiotomy so i can be on my feet faster.  in some ways, i'm angry because i'll have this precious new person and i'm scared that i won't even be able to enjoy those first few weeks.  i'll be like the tribal woman who squats in the rice field, gives birth, straps the baby on her back and keeps working.  it's not my boss that would require this--it's my own darned sense of loyalty and responsibility that burdens me. thoughts like these have poisoned what should be a blessing to me.

i know God must be doing a brand new thing because this current set of circumstances is impossible by human standards.  especially for a woman.  i can't IMAGINE that God would put me intentionally into a scenario that regardless of how it plays out, i am submerged in guilt for most of the Christmas season.  I could cry just thinking about the seeming impossibility.

so there it is.  i am pregnant.  but it wasn't my plan.  while I haven't experienced infertility, i imagine that it's not so much the baby that challenges our faith---i think its the emotions of disappointment in timing and our failed plans that create a crisis of faith. 

while these are my feelings, they are not my reality.  i know my Father--I trust Him.  He is GOOD.  He loves me and Nick and Aly and this new baby so so much.  I am safe with him.  Me and my heart are safe with Him.  

so i keep my mind on it.  i repeat it to myself.  over and over and over.  my heart is so shaky still that i haven't spent time in prayer on this yet.  not officially.  perhaps i am in prayer all of the time.  i am in a whole different brand of labor.  i am not sure of myself, but i am SURE of my Father.  He's working something out.

all i gotta do is work on me.  i believe.  i have been positioned (again) in the unknown...a place where faith is not just a suggested tool--but the only hope.

12 April, 2011


i didn't know it would take me three months to recover.

i like to cling to the idea that my blog is my space to write anything that comes to be, a diary of sorts to empty all the hidden places of my heart--sometimes thoughts come that I didn't realize I had or an outlet for frustrations.  moreover, a place to pour things that spontaneously found me.
i feel like i should make a public disclaimer here before i continue:  i write here publicly because i have no problem with exposing my flaws to you.  i am not ashamed of me, how i think, who i am, and the weaknesses in me, just as i am not ashamed of my strengths.
i will not hide from you.
in that transparency though, please do not read what is written here and judge it.  do not send me personal messages and correct me, or ask me for apologies or corrections.
i have none to offer you.
we are all on a journey.  we are all growing, learning, changing, becoming.  we are all flawed, even in our best efforts.  i am chief among them.  so i will, most definitely, write things here that offend, that are wrong, that haven't been perfected yet by my Father or hubby, and that might hurt you.  these are unintentional because i don't know yet what i don't know yet.
but neither do i want to answer to you for them.  i submit myself to my Father transparently. constantly.  i promise you can trust Him, to continually adjust me, correct me, love me, fix me.  He loves me more than you ever could.  there are people in this world who know they can approach me with correction--that i welcome them because i have relationship with them.  i know their hearts.
i don't want to hide any more from the desire to remain transparent.  so perhaps we can come to a truce:  i will be transparent, and you will love me enough to let me be.

*to the person who found my blog and said my perspective on having babies is the reason why our planet is overpopulated, i pray that you find how much Jesus loves you.  that you are handmade.  we might disagree, but i pray that your life becomes one of great peace and effectiveness. - DRH