Archives for February 2011

Bathroom Stand

Bathroom stand
This project has been living in my head ever since we bought our San Diego house. Actually seeing it to fruition has been like getting that superhuman energy boost after you kick a bad cold.

A few years ago my cousin and favorite shopping buddy Karen and I were strolling through a fancy home decor store when I came upon a really simple side table decorated in nailheads. It was gorgeous and inspiring and totally incredibly ridiculously priced. I’ve been looking for a way to do it myself ever since, but it turns out it is really really hard to find a perfect little table.

Powder rooms never have enough space for all of the little luxuries I wanted to put out, so I wanted to put a tiny little table next to the sink. But have you ever priced those cute little tables? They cost nearly as much as a regular sized table. And my cheapskate streak just couldn’t live with that. Logically I understand that things cost what they cost and that expenses don’t get dramatically cheaper just because the table is slightly smaller in scale, but no amount of logic could get past my sticker shock.

I found this little table at HomeGoods for $20. It was the wrong color, the wrong decor, not quite the shape I had in mind, but that price was so very right.

Bathroom Stand tutorial Step 1
This little table started life out painted a distressed white with black underneath and a decoupaged image of a map on the top. Boring. I stripped the paint off, gave it a little sanding, and spray painted it with a primer. For a job this small, spray paint is amazing. No brush strokes, easy application and clean up, and these days you can get a pretty interesting selection of colors.

Bathroom Stand tutorial Step 2
I followed the primer with a few coats of spray paint in this cool peacock blue color, and then a couple more coats with a clear sealer. This was a perfect scale of furniture refinishing for me right now. I didn’t even really need to change my clothes, I could slap on a coat of spray paint in between putting on Sesame Street and changing over the laundry.

Bathroom Stand tutorial Step 3
I gave the paint coat a couple of days to get a good hard cure, and then I started adding the nailheads. Make sure you use some kind of a softer hammer so you don’t mess up the finish of the nails. A rubber mallet or a sock tied around the hammer would be good. Also, they love to bend at the head, so take your time and hammer straight down.

If cost was no object to this project, I would have preferred a table that offered me enough solid space on the sides to do an ornate paisley pattern, but this way I got to get my suggestion of nailheads while also having the whole project cost less than a dinner out.


Hair cut

Haircut grin

You may have noticed from the pictures around here lately that I may have let my little guy’s hair get a little on the shaggy side. Maybe.

I can’t help it, from the time he was a tiny crazy mohawk growing dude, his hair has been one of his most irresistible features. Whenever people meet him, the first thing they do is run their hands through his hair. Nobody can help themselves.

Haircut love

But, he’s going to school every day now and has to look respectable, so no more little ragamuffin boys. I’m still leaving it as long as I can without it hanging in his eyes or looking like a mullet, he is a little rocker after all, and it would just be unfair to deprive the world of the cuteness this crazy messy hair provides.


Even more framing

Before I leave the framing discussion behind for good, I should probably show off these last few additions.

Art in my studio

For some reason my studio ended up having the most artwork of anywhere in my house, so I really wasn’t planning on adding more right now, despite the glorious abundance of wall space in here. But then I was gifted those great letterpress prints, and there was really no more perfect place to put them. I love how this wall is filling up.

Framed family goals
This one is really almost embarrassing. I’ve had this wordle made up for over 2 years, and I am just now getting around to framing it. Boy, when I stick something in a closet, I do it with effectiveness.

I hung this one up in our guest bathroom. Once again, I want the art I put up to be meaningful of our values, but I don’t want to become some gross shrine to the superiority of our family. Having this hang over the toilet is actually a fairly prominent spot, but it’s also humble enough to not make me take myself too seriously.

Plus, nobody wants to go to the bathroom surrounded by watching eyes of photographs. Who knew there was so much overthinking to be done about where to hang pictures.


2011 Year of Pleasures #8

Lucky elephant

An East Indian friend of ours gave us this present to help us through our recent bummer times. Not only is it a sweet little gift, and a thoughtful expression of support, but it means so much to me when someone reaches out with love in a way that shares something significant to them. It seems somehow not only a gesture of love, but also of trust.


Living Room Art Wall, Part 2

First half of artwork wall
Ready for more of the tour? This is the side I’ve had for the longest. I thought I’d just weight the pictures towards one side of the wall, but I didn’t love it. And the nesting impulse was just begging for more to do, so I kept right on going all the way across. But these images are really what started it all.

The lovers
The Lovers by seller Delany LaFae. This photographer is the same one who did the Sunday Afternoon picture from last time. She was having a 2 for 1 sale, so after finding the picture of the books and tea I looked through her shop to find my free one and came upon this picture I loved even more. Talk about mushy love art. She visits these trees several times throughout the year and takes pictures of them in different seasons. This one was my favorite – in the rain.

Home Sweet Home by seller benben. More amazing illustration. This picture has a place of honor right in the middle because it’s such a beautiful symbol of our foremost goal for our home. That it’s a place of sanctuary. I’m nuts about the modern graphic treatment of such an old fashioned ideal.

Hope letterpress
Hope letterpress by seller Sweet Harvey. You all know how I feel about letterpress. This artist is a great one and I fell totally in love with the sentiment behind this work.

owl on dictionary page
Owl from seller Little Rice There are a whole lot of etsy shops printing images on vintage dictionary pages. I love owls as a symbol of wisdom, so this one seemed like a perfect fit.

Atti with wonder
This is one of my favorite pictures of Atti I’ve ever taken and the only family photo to make the wall. I just love his little face looking so full of wonder, gazing out into his future. Plus he looks so handsome with his olive colored eyes.

And lastly,

Gethsemane by artist J. Kirk Richards. This piece is really special to me. I could probably write an entire post just about this one. It’s my lone non-etsy purchase, mainly because most non-etsy artists are out of my price range. Richards offers some of his artwork as open stock prints so I was able to get this one really affordably. Despite being a religious person, I don’t have any religious artwork in my home. Everything I’ve seen just didn’t really move me. So much of it is so ubiquitous that they’re almost like family photos, I couldn’t find anything that felt, well, transcendent.

Then I found this piece and was moved by it. But even better, I saw that angel and it looked markedly feminine to me. I’ve been in love ever since. It made me remember this pivotal experience I had as a kid that may have been the moment I embraced feminism. I was reading about Christ in the garden of Gethsemane and of the angel that attended him in his hour of greatest need. As a young, earnest, emotional, teenager I read that and wished that I could have been that angel. I told someone about that wish and they said, “It couldn’t have been you. It would have had to have been someone who had the Priesthood.” That reaction broke my little teenage heart and led me to challenge those views ever since. And I had forgotten all about that experience until I saw that painting.

I’m so pleased with how this project has turned out. I think you can get a good sense of what is important to our family. Education, home, faith, wonder, knowledge, humor, courage, a lot of love, and some cats.


Living Room Art Wall, Part 1

Completed artwork wall

I’ve been meaning to show this off for ages and ages, but, well, you know.

My hopes for the adoption sent my nesting instinct off, but I was trying so hard to be careful with how I channeled it. No nursery planning, no quilt making, I had to nest over something that would work for us no matter what the outcome was. I’m glad I did because I’m left with no regrets and a house full of artwork that I really treasure.

My biggest challenge was the long wall in our family room above the television. If this were our permanent house than I would have no choice but to do an elaborate built in shelving arrangement. But as a rental I’m not even going to go to the trouble to mount the TV to the wall. Which made decorating tricky since I’m stuck with a really low television and a whole lot of wall.

I attempted to put a few family photos here, but it just felt off. Too prominent, too intimate, it felt somehow like a shrine. Instead I thought about images that would symbolize our family, our goals, the things that are most important to us, and searched through etsy to find artwork that reflected that.

Etsy is just a miracle for this kind of thing. I find it hard to keep up with a lot of the time because it’s just an embarrassment of riches, but if you know what you’re looking for there is just no better place on this earth.

There’s a lot to get through, so I’m going to break this into two posts. For today we’ll start on the right side and make our way towards the middle.

Joan of Arc
A vintage reproduction poster of Joan of Arc from seller Alpine Graphics. This piece was such a score. It is not only a nod to my love of art nouveau graphics, but in honor of a feminist hero. One of my favorites.

Cat watercolor
Cat watercolor by seller Linda Butterfly. This was a last minute addition when I decided I needed a couple more pieces to fill the wall. You all know how we feel about cats around here, but I try not to let my house reflect that too much. I thought this one was subtle enough and artsy enough to stay on this side of the crazy cat lady line while still including the fuzzy members of our family.

Cuddles by seller Gumball Grenade. Atti is such a daddy’s boy, I wanted a little something to reflect their special relationship. Tell me, how perfect is this?

Sunday Afternoon
A Sunday Afternoon by seller DelanyLaFae. My decorating style doesn’t really lend itself to teacups, but this picture is a nice way to bring in an image that brings me a lot of peace and happiness. I might go have a cup of tea as soon as I finish this.

I think I'm in Love
I Think I’m In Love by seller Rosie Music. There is so much fantastic illustration available on etsy. I wanted to have a few pieces of mushy love art that didn’t go overboard. This one is exactly mushy enough for me. Plus, there are books involved in the relationship, and that makes me happy.

We Are Intellectuals by seller Laura George I’m just wild about everything in this lady’s shop. Seriously, I could have done some damage there. I settled on this piece because it so fit with portraying the values I wanted. I want my family to pursue academic excellence and intellectual endeavors, but with a big fat sense of humor.

OK, that’s enough for one day. We’ll get to the other side tomorrow.


Why he’s not intellectually disabled


If there was any doubt left in me that those early tests were right and Atti is mentally disabled, here’s the proof I need that they were wrong.

Atti’s a really picky eater. Despite all those years of beautifully homemade baby food, he has gone full on carb-aholic on me, and if I let him he wouldn’t eat anything but crackers and juice all day long.

He’s so underweight that we are constantly debating if it’s worth letting him go hungry, or just stuffing calories in his face however we can. I am not a mom that shies away from discipline or time outs, but I also don’t want to turn eating into a big negative experience, so we end up doing lengthy negotiations where we beg him to eat three bites of his hot dog or he won’t get any more cheerios. There is frequently a whole lot of fanfare around The Last Bite.

The other day Bear was feeding him pasta with the promise that if he finished the bowl, he could have crackers. Atti was eating really well so Bear didn’t mention that Atti was closing in on his last bite, he just tried to keep pushing food. Finally Atti took the last spoonful of pasta so Bear set the bowl down on the high chair and got up to get the crackers. Atti looked down into the now empty bowl, realized he had *technically* earned his reward, spit his partially chewed pasta back into the bowl it came from and asked, “Crackers?”

Yeah, this kid knows what’s up.


2011 Year of Pleasures #7

Bear came through in a big way for Valentine’s Day this year.

Valentine's Tulips
First, as a gift of love to console me through the tough news, he took advantage of all the pre-Valentine’s flower sales to bring me my favorites. These tulips arrived as little green pods and it’s been a joy to watch them burst.

Cinnamon Lollipop Bouquet
On the day itself Bear came home from work making a huge racket as he struggled through the front door with a great big box and a big plastic bag. Once he unveiled all his treasures I wound up with five boxes of my favorite lollipops and latest obsession, and…

aluminum table
this stunning aluminum table I spotted at Costco a few weeks ago and moped about leaving behind. The stinker made me see reason, that we really couldn’t afford it and we had so many other places to use that money, and then he went back the next day and bought it. It’s been stashed in his office ever since.

It’s easy to see that gift giving is one of Bear’s love languages, and I just get to be the lucky girl who lives with it.


I want a do-over on 2011

I think this year is out to kill me. Not even two months in and so far my cat died, my camera broke, I’ve been sick for two solid weeks with a cold/sinus infection/bronchitis, we went through lengthy testing that threatened to label my child as mentally disabled, and now what I am about to tell you. To say that I am on a bad run is just not even close to accurate.

So along with all of those stresses, as well as big pressure deadlines for the charity I’m working with, there has been something going on behind the scenes over here that I haven’t been able to talk about.

We’ve been trying to adopt.

For the last ten years I haven’t been interested in adopting. People, in their well meaning ignorance, would tell us that we should “just” adopt as if the only barrier to being a parent was pride and a quick run to the orphanage. Having no stinking clue about the tremendous financial and emotional costs, having every fact of your life judged including, depending on the route you choose for adoption, your height and weight, making yourself as vulnerable as possible as you beg people to allow you to love them, and opening up your life and family to an unknown influence – gambling that the birth parents could be a beautiful union of families instead of a chaotic drain of toxicity.

Being a member of the infertility club as long as I have been, I know many many adoptive families and they are miracles. Every one of them. But I think it’s something you have to feel called to do to make it through all of the obstacles and I never felt called to it.

Until I met this one birth mother. She and I were friendly before I discovered she was considering placing her baby, but as we started going down this path, everything felt right and we both knew that we would be very important to each other. We dropped everything to visit her last month and it was beautiful. We clicked completely. Kindred spirits. From our end of things it felt like a miracle.

We just heard on Saturday that she chose another family.

I’ve been thinking and thinking how I would address this publicly. Chances are pretty great that she’ll read this post and I don’t want to say anything that would hurt her. I want to move forward in friendship with her. I don’t think that was a mistake. I do think that we’ll be important friends to each other. But I also can’t deny what I’m feeling.

But what I’m feeling is just a complicated mess of heartbreak and respect and humiliation and understanding and disappointment and support. How can I even begin to make sense of all this in my own head let alone on the page. I don’t know.

The birth mother is a singularly compassionate and sensitive person. I could never have asked her to take the decision more seriously or to have been more honest with us. I trust her to be able to make the right choice for her and her baby. I don’t doubt her.

And I can’t really be mad at God. There’s no reason why we’re more special than the other family hoping to adopt this baby. Why would this sorrow go to them and not us? Why should our dreams come true and not theirs?

No, there’s nobody to be mad at.

It feels a little indulgent to be so upset about a baby that was never pretended to be mine. I feel like I’ve had a miscarriage, but of course I didn’t. There were no promises, not even hints of promises. Just plenty of hope. And nowhere left to put it.

I don’t know what our next step will be. The caseworker promised me that as she has seen this happen over and over again these disappointments always lead you to where you are supposed to be. Right now I really can’t imagine going through this again, but I desperately want Atti to have a sibling before he gets too much older. And I want a larger family. I just wish I could make God want that for me too.


Atti’s First Day of School

First Day of School

After our crazy jam packed weekend, following two crazy jam packed weeks of appointments, we finally reached what we had been working so hard for and Atti had his first day of school on Monday.

In many ways it was a little anti-climactic. Since Atti’s going in as a Special Ed student, there’s a whole different procedure than a typical student. No lists of school supplies to bring, no instructions of school policy, no orientation. Since Atti’s not starting at the beginning of the school year, we’ve just kind of ended up figuring out what we need to know as we need to know it. Including not having the right start time for the first two days.

Bear and I came together his first day to see how things were going to work, and it’s a good thing we did since there was a lot of figuring out we all had to do together. Atti doesn’t have a wheelchair or anything yet, so we had to bring his stroller in from the car so he has a way he can sit up and be transported around. We knew that the class started with breakfast in the morning, but we didn’t think through that we would need to start a tab for him in the cafeteria. There are so many little details that you take for granted when your kid does things the same way as all the others, but when he doesn’t, then every little detail becomes custom. And that’s a lot of planning and negotiations.

After we left breakfast and got back to the classroom, Bear and I didn’t stick around for long. It became obvious that Atti was distracted by having us there so we said goodbye and went home with tears in our eyes.

Atti and Teacher Larry
Atti’s only had two days of school so far. I got a call on Wednesday morning that he had a fever so I raced down to snap him up and he and I have spent the rest of this week drinking gatorade and wiping our noses. But already he’s telling me about the stuff he’s learned. He’ll show you how he washes his hands by rubbing them together, he’s already answering questions easier, and yesterday he named his colors for me.

It’s bittersweet that he’s already saying words I can’t understand because I have no context for them. It won’t be long before I won’t be his best translator anymore. I have so much faith in his teachers and I’m so excited that he’ll open up to more of the world, but it is sad that that means he won’t be exclusively mine anymore.