Wednesday, April 13, 2016

It's a One Year Old!

Though she is nearly fifteen months old now, I still want to share some of the photos I took of my little Halle after she turned one, as well as some nursery details, since both are always changing. (Please forgive the many focus fails. Baby on the move!)

Halle is hilarious right now, and I'm doing my best to soak in this kid as she is in this very moment. I know phases at this stage of childhood enter and exit quickly and all could change the minute she wakes up from her nap, but right now the only thing annoying about her (ha, I can say that about my own kid, right?) is that she screams when she is frustrated (it's an art form she is exploring). Otherwise, she smiles and babbles constantly, gives kisses all day (with her mouth closed! huzzah!), says please in sign language whenever she needs something, waves "na-night" when we lay her down to sleep, plays happily by herself while I cook dinner (this was most definitely not our experience last week--phases!), and is teaching herself to walk, which she prefers to do in private while holding a T.V. remote. She brushes her hair, brushes Mama's hair, brushes Sonny Boy's tail, and I honestly get the butterflies regularly she is just so cute.

Besides comments about her big blue eyes, one of the most common phrases we hear about her is, "You've got yourself a serious baby." And we do, and we love it. She is her own authority, she has opinions, (The other day, before she would let me get her out of her crib after a nap, she pointed me around the room, directing clean up of any stray toys and books that had been missed before her nap. Serious.) and she has an inner stability that makes me proud.

She's a good one.

(Note to future, tired, fed-up self: you really did feel all the happy feels you wrote about above, Kels, you'll feel it again! Ha.)

(Note to those who think this sounds too perfect: she also pooped in the bath three times in two weeks.)



Parenthood has been good to us.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tip Me One Way, Internets

Today while the baby napped I

cleaned up breakfast
unloaded the dishwasher
started laundry
let the dog out
did my hair and make-up
painted my toe nails
super glued a broken mirror that had been waiting for days to be fixed
and entertained the thought, "I'm going to start a small business."

I brainstormed product, marketing, creative angles, colors. From task to task around the quiet house I floated on excitement. Then the baby woke up with pink eye and I thought, "Or not the business."

I do this constantly, swaying back and forth between lighting the torch for my own ventures and blanketing myself completely in the demands of being a mother to a toddler. My dreams ignite usually within the comforts of a clean home and a healthy family (and, let's be honest, a sleeping kid). Then one of us--and soon the rest of us--gets sick or injured or sad, and I fall behind on dinner prep and I didn't walk the dog and I feel so tired and I just want to watch Gilmore Girls and suddenly I could care less about my creative business. And I usually end up thinking, "How the heck does Joanna Gaines do it?"

My husband--awesome dude that he is--gives only encouragement. The only thing he asks is that I commit to my dreams and stop with the swaying. (And, to be transparent, to decide on a dream. I have a few.) You don't want to know how many blog post drafts I have sitting around, just waiting for a loving moment of focus to dot those i's, cross those t's, and get that cherry on top. (A real cherry. Maraschino who?)

This post doesn't get a cherry. (Or an edit. This is raw, y'all.) I don't even have a conclusion. I don't have a wise crack or a lesson learned or a sweet story reminding me how it will all work out. Instead, I'm writing this free form, mid sway. So, internets, what say you?

And, since this is a blog, a photo or few:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Aphorisms By Way of a DIY

If you've heard the TED talk by Liz Gilbert on the creative genius, you'll know what I mean when I say I've been hit by the genius--more than once, if you can believe it--regarding this blog post, every time in the most inconvenient of places, as it seems to go; which means I could not capture the genius. It got away. So instead I'm left with whatever I can force out, and you are left with what follows:

My husband and I received his parents' old oak dining table and chairs upon our move to Indiana--a beautiful set that had been in storage. I appreciated the craftsmanship, but in general I have never liked the oak color and so intended to refinish the table.

I never remember to take before pictures. We know this. This is the only picture I could find.
The big project finally happened, and immediately I have to declare that it is a very, very good thing I did not try to take on this project alone. I would have ended up with a half-sanded dismantled oak table and an ulcer. As it was, my parents came to town to help us move in and I'm left with a nearly perfect refinished oak table. (And a personal declaration that I will never again take on a "DIY" this big.)

About the nearly perfect: at the project finish line, I made a major mistake that resulted in my re-learning a few vital life principles. I have thought about these principles daily since the debut of le tableau des horreurs:

Pay attention to your instincts
Break rhythm
Ask questions
Slow down
It'll all work out

#1--The first is pretty obvious. Go with your gut, listen to Jiminy Cricket, and all other cliches about conscience. It's a real thing, y'all.

#2--However, in order to succeed at #1, you must succeed at #2, and this lesson was perhaps the most acute of all: break rhythm.

I am a dancer. I always will be, even if my body can no longer do what my soul wants it to. I am a pianist. Rhythm matters to me. My rhythm is a powerful force, causing my husband to get home from work and say, "You got how much done today?!" But it can also hurt me. Recently, my husband brought to my attention the need to get out of rhythm, to step back and consider. He said this as I was about to dig in to a giant bowl of ice cream that I knew before first bite I would regret. He told me that just because the ice cream was scooped, the spoon in hand, my mouth open, I did not have to eat the ice cream. I could simply put it back in the freezer for later. This is probably obvious to all of you, but I had a major paradigm shift. I am a committed person and a finisher. I plan to eat a bowl of ice cream, I follow through to the bowl being licked clean (okay, not quite, but you know) even as the little voices in my head (you guys have those too, right?) are frantically waving (apparently they also have arms) at me to stop, stop! you will regret this! while I squash them out with the sound of my train engine plowing (like this sentence) through my commitment. Are you exhausted yet? I didn't realize I was until I began to see in my daily routine where that drive and rhythm was not actually helping me.

Rhythm is important. Sometimes it needs breaking.

#3--Slow down. In order to break rhythm, you have to slow your thought processes down enough to acknowledge those little voices and decide if they need heeding. Deliberate and realize that just because you have committed to a thought in your head does not mean it cannot be reversed before it reaches your hands (or your mouth, as in the Case of the Ice Cream).

#4--As a help-meet to slowing down, ask questions. Doubt, wonder, contradict, reconfigure, ask some more. Be a gatherer of information.

#5--It'll all work out. God often sends you little hints to help make your life easier, but these do not determine absolute outcomes. (The heavenly messages that do are a different topic.)

By now you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with a giant solid wood dining table.

I'll spare you the details of the actual table transformation since this is not a how-to post, so let's fast forward--

past the sanding

(gotta keep that hair protected...)

 and staining

to the varnishing.

The evening before my parents' departure, we stood around the table admiring it. We had three coats of varnish applied to the table and it looked beautiful. It was complete. We had been working for six days on this thing. Yet in a moment of over-protective haste, we decided to add a fourth coat that night. Both my dad and I had the gut feeling to stop! put away the ice cream! you'll regret this! But we were in rhythm, our supplies handy. We were eager--my parents flew home the next morning. My dad is quite a handy man, and I didn't question.

So that night I added fourth coat of varnish by the light of the garage and a cell phone flashlight (are you cringing? you should be), unknowingly setting myself up for hours of extra reconstructive work.

The next morning we went out to check our work before my parents left town and discovered a bubbled, streaked, tacky mess.

All of our work over the last few days had been undone in one evening. Standing there filled with regret and disappointment, I recalled each feeling of warning from the night before. We would have to sand down to the earliest layer of varnish and try again.

But wait, wasn't my dad leaving? Yep. He gave me some instructions, a vote of confidence, and flew away with my mom to the other side of the country.

I spent the next two days sanding that baby back down to the second coat of varnish, wearing away all of my fingernails in the process. The perfectly smooth surface was irretrievable and I had to touch up some areas with more stain, but eventually it was prepped once again for the real final coat of varnish.

I think I held my breath with every stroke across that table.

Finally finished, with the flaws hidden enough to the ignorant eye, I was reminded that things work out. Sometimes you just have to change your expectations. It is strange that a table refinish can be so instrumental in my character development, but I'm glad for it. 

God is forgiving.

So is oak.

Thank goodness for sand paper, mineral spirits, and dads.

PS--If I ever break my word and refinish a table this big again, I need to remember:

Use two brushes when varnishing--one for each side. The brush gets too heavy with varnish.
Tape the hardware
Wear that mask when sanding. Gross!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What is the Cost of a Memory?

On Sunday after church, Preston and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to the Long Island Sound and escape our chaotic house that is slowly becoming a home. We already know that "spontaneity" and "baby" are not an easy combo. We mixed it anyway. As we began the hour long drive in the late afternoon, I began to question our decision.  Baby girl had already begun to fuss and it looked like we would hit traffic. We hadn't had dinner yet, and I don't do hungry very well. I shared my concerns with Preston, and he responded with one simple question: "What is the cost of a memory?"

At day's end, this was our price:

  • Two hours squished in a messy truck
  • A tired, inconsolable baby--for two hours, squished in a messy truck
  • Dog poop on my white pants (apparently the dog didn't register "an hour-long drive in the truck")
  • Preston caught wearing dress socks and Chacos (not pictured)
  • Sonny Boy's epic, embarrassing asthma attack at the beach
  • Grumbling tummies until 8:00 p.m.

And this was our purchase:

  • Baby's first trip to the ocean
  • Photos (you take a picture, and suddenly something is an event, right?)
  • Sunset, misted over by a thin layer of clouds
  • A warm, sticky breeze that said, "Welcome to your new home" as we tried to really believe it
  • The ocean smell that wakes up your spirit and says, "Adventure!" (apparently this was a talkative place)
  • Helpful strangers becoming fast friends, eager to meet a beautiful baby
  • Sand on our toes
  • Stained white pants and a vow to clean out the truck
  • Our beach fix, meaning we don't have to go back for awhile

Okay. Now I'm just getting snarky. Enjoy the memories "en photo".