If the thought of Trump hurts you…

I’m going to get a little political here, but mainly in a mental health way.

Ever since Trump became the Republican nominee, I’ve been operating from a triggered place. Now, don’t stop listening even if you read “trigger” and get a case of the eyerolls. “Trigger” has been adopted by a lot of people who don’t actually apply the clinical definition, just like you’ll hear a lot of people say they’re “totally OCD” just because they like things neat. But if you’ve been reading me for any length of time you know that’s not me. I don’t take mental health lightly.

Being triggered does not mean being offended or unhappy or reading something unpleasant. It has a clinical use. Particularly in PTSD treatment. Being triggered means that something is pushing a button in you that brings you back to an instance of abuse or trauma. Some scent or sound or touch or something you’ve read reminds you of something. It triggers a memory, but more than that. You feel as if you’re still at risk. It’s a memory with consequences. It’s like when you have a nightmare and you try and explain it to someone and it makes no sense and you know the baby wasn’t really in the oven, or you no longer work waiting tables, or you haven’t had to worry about a math test for years, but all you know is that in that dream IT MATTERED and you still feel all those feelings.

Once you’re triggered, then the big horrible memories you are always running from have just been brought to the forefront of your mind. You feel the feelings you felt then. Your body reacts as if it’s still there – heart racing, hyperventaling, jumpy and on high alert. But of course you’re not there. You’re just living your regular life, but all of that horrible stuff is hanging on you and influencing how you act. The patience you have to extend to your family members, the energy you have by the end of the day, the amount of physical pain you feel. Whenever I say I’m triggered, it’s a way of saying to my family, “Hey, my current behavior is not about you, please excuse the mess.”

If you have never experienced clinical PTSD, think about it like this: You’re at work and the boss dumps all over you. You’re feeling angry that something unjust happened and insecure that something the boss said might be right and that you suck. Still feeling angry and insecure, you come home and your spouse or roommate or kid does something that you’ve asked them not to do a million times. Leave their shoes in the living room. Make a mess in the kitchen. And you UNLOAD on them. Say things you’ll later regret, react with a lot of anger, make connections from this event to their character and motivations – You left your shoes in the living room because you are a bad person and you’re trying to hurt me! You’re not wrong for being upset about the shoes in the living room, but your reaction to that event is motivated by all the crappy feelings you’re still feeling from work. It’s like that, only all the crappy feelings we’re reacting to are from some horrible thing that left a mark on us.

Ever since Trump was selected as the nominee, I have been reminded of the times in my life that I have been sexually victimized. These are obviously not things I want to think about so whenever I’m reminded I do my best to shoo them away. Don’t think about that! Think of happy things! Don’t dwell on the negative! Stop obsessing! Everyone has been through hard things!

#yesallwomen tells me I’m not the only one who does this. We all do. It’s a matter of survival.

It’s how women get through this world. We don’t talk about it. We keep our head down and we keep our stories to ourselves until something like a twitter hashtag or a presidential nominee gives us reason to bring it up and think there’s something that might come of it. Something besides the familiar feelings of sorrow and shame. If all we feel when we think about those times are sorrow and shame, of course we’re not going to try and think about it. We’re going to push it way deep down inside of our hearts until we convince ourselves it’s not there. Or that it was our own fault and it can’t happen again because we know better and that’s how we get out of bed each morning because it’s impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other if we acknowledge the existential threat that sexual victimization could get us at any moment. It affects women of every age, race, socio-economic status, clothing choice, whatever. There is literally no way to ensure our safety and that is too psychologically terrifying so we ignore it all and paint a smile on our face and we go about our lives. Because what other choice do we have?

But we do have another choice. Horrible things that happen to us don’t have to FEEL horrible forever. We can talk about them, process them, accept that it happened and it made us feel horrible, we can grieve it, and then we can keep going with less of the horrible to drag around. This works. I am living proof that it works.

I have often been known to joke with friends about “Abused Child Privilege”. When my friends tell me about conflicts they have with their mothers, or some time their father disappointed them and how it affected their relationship, I will joke about being lucky that things with my parents were *SO BAD* that my only choice was to get into therapy. My choices were basically: Repeat the cycle of abuse, feel terrible forever and make life choices governed by that, or get in therapy and stay there. The kind of mother I am to Atticus is my greatest achievement and I know that is because of the dedicated work I have put in to recovery.

So to any of you who are feeling awful right now. Who are waking up from nightmares for the first time since you were a teenager. Who are finding yourselves breaking into tears and you can’t explain why. Who are feeling panicked and heavy and scared. You might not have Abused Child Privilege, but you do have Abuser As President Motivation.

You don’t have to always feel the same way you felt when you were victimized. One of my favorite recovery sayings is: The only way out is through. There is a way to be free of all the horrible experiences you’ve been victim to in your life. But it involves getting through them. It involves talking about them with a therapist or counselor, a trained pastor or caring friend, grieving that it happened to you, recognizing that you survived it, and turning all the shame you felt into pride in yourself. This process takes time. And it looks different for different people. Grief is a very personal thing.

Some people like to talk about letting go and I have very purposefully been avoiding that phrase because, like OCD and Triggered, in the wrong hands it makes a mockery of the process. I would describe it more like gravity. You process it and you grieve it until one day you realize that your own personal gravity has changed and the horrible thing can’t orbit you anymore. What you “let go” of is all the shame and fear. Take that horrible thing that happened, strip it of the horrible feelings, and then it’s just a thing that happened. The event will always be a part of your life experience, but you can sanctify it. Make it purposeful. Use it to expand your empathy, or spur you to working for justice.

You will have to do this with every horrible thing. And sometimes, as you dig, you’ll discover new horrible things that explain pains you didn’t understand.

For example. When I am walking in a busy place I have this instinct. Bear and I will be holding hands walking along and people are passing by me. Every single time it is a man that passes me, the thought crosses my mind that they will reach out and grab me in a manner our now President-elect bragged about. When I’m in a bad mental place I will actually find myself physically flinching as men pass me. When I’m in a better place the thought will cross my mind and I will just say “Oh brain, you poor silly thing.” and let the thought pass. But until recently I never knew why I did that. Why was I so afraid? Why couldn’t I let that thought go?

But all of this unpleasantness in our news, this state of perpetual trigger that I have been living through, brought up some stuff. It brought up memories from my third grade year. Not new memories exactly, I’ve always remembered the experiences, mostly, I’ve even told some of the stories, in parts. It’s just that now I can admit what they mean. I can see them with new eyes. I can see the stories next to each other, I can suddenly remember the endings, I can view it with an adult understanding of what is right and what hurts and I can acknowledge for the first time what those experiences really were and how they made me feel. In the past those memories would come up and I would shove them down. I would push them away and chop the memories in to little bits until they were small enough to live with (To be fair to me, I had a lot of ugliness to get through before I could get to this particular ugliness. The brain and it’s survival techniques are a true marvel).

So when new stuff comes up and new realizations hit you like the horrible stuff just happened yesterday, you have three choices. You can suffer, which I think we’d all agree is not a great option; you can shove it all back down where it came from and pretend it never happened, but that never works forever because the truth wants to be known and it will still come out in odd ways, like flinching every time a man walks past you; or you can shrug your shoulders and say “Welp, while I’m down here I might as well clean up a little.”

If you are going to be affected anyway, why not face it? Why not use the Abuser as President Motivation to get some emotional work done? The thoughts are haunting you anyway, you’re feeling the feelings anyway, the biggest hurdle to recovery is admitting that you need help and here you are needing help.

Look up a crisis center near you and see if they have group therapy or drop in options. Don’t listen to the voice in your head that says you’re not *___fill in the blank___* enough to qualify for that kind of assistance. Of course you are. And if that voice just won’t be still, know that centers like this have triage skills and will send you to the appropriate level of care. Seeking out professional help is one of the best things you can do in so many ways, but what it did for me is to give me a voice of authority that said: “You have been through painful experiences.” When they took my pain seriously, I could take my pain seriously.

If someone hurt you, I am sorry. You never deserved that. What you do deserve is a life free from the guilt and shame and fear that accompany the hurtful experience. I know it’s possible, and I believe you can get there if you will do the work.

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Bedroom Makeover Reveal!

dsc_0001Here it is in all it’s glory. My long discussed, long awaited, final bedroom makeover reveal. I finished many of these projects a while ago, so sharp eyed instagram followers might even recognize some of these changes, but it took me a very long time to get all the tutorials and videos done and ready to share. 2016 has been a YEAR. But honestly, so were 2015 and 2014. I’m on quite a roll. But now I get this lovely oasis to spend my time in, and since I’ve been spending a lot of time convalescing lately, it couldn’t get better.

 

dsc_0005Bear got a new dresser to replace the one that was a casualty of too many moves, I got a reading nook with my cozy no binding blanket, and on the wall is a grouping of some art collages I made. I made those without intending to share as a tutorial, so I’ll give a close up of those on another day.

 

dsc_0009My midcentury Craigslist dresser got a desperately needed facelift. The drawers needed new supports to keep from sagging in to each other, the body got a couple coats of bright white, and the arc detail was brought out with a little gold. That arc pattern became an accidental motif through the room and I love it. And of course new laundry hampers that are now kitty scratch proof. On the wall are a collection of photos and art prints, and in the corner is my Quilled Heart artwork.

 

dsc_0028This is my side of the bed, complete with some of my sick person supplies. Even in my glamour shots I can’t help but keep it real. Here the Hanging Lamp shines down on my Bookshelf Bedside Table and Tulle Lampshade.

dsc_0033When I was a little girl I thought having a vanity table was the most glamorous thing in the whole wide world. I keep my makeup in the bathroom so I use this table for frequently worn jewelry and lotions. I keep coconut oil in the candy dish and in the soap dispenser I keep some fragrant lotions. I never remember to put lotion on until I’m in bed, so keeping it here means I actually use it.

 

dsc_0035Under my bedside table I keep a basket full of Atti books. I love that he loves books so much, I just don’t want him to mess up mine. This keeps him busy when he wants to be near me and I am needing to rest or get myself dressed. She-Ra likes to use it as a perch. You can also see my lovely Mosaic Medicine Box instead of a pile of pill bottles.

 

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dsc_0066Bear’s bedside, as clean as it will ever be. But at least with his Manly Trinket Box it has a chance.

 

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dsc_0064And of course the big centerpiece of the room, my bed. Upholstered Bed Frame and Wingback Headboard, Custom bedskirt, Suit Sham Pillows, Cable Knit Pillows, Blinged Out Rhinestone Pillows, and a couple of cats. With some Spirograph inspired String Art Medallions up above.

The quilt is a to scale replica I designed of Piet Mondrian’s Composition: Light Color Planes with Grey Contours, but I can’t share that in a tutorial, I’d have to draft a pattern for sale. Maybe I’ll get to that if 2017 will leave me alone! In the meantime, I’ll be hiding under my covers and enjoying the view of my beautiful bedroom.

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How to make an upholstered wingback headboard

Wingback Headboard

So, I promised this a couple weeks ago already, but travel and doctors appointments and first days of school have foiled all my good intentions. But I’m getting my feet back underneath me, so let’s pick up where we left off in this bedroom makeover, shall we? I made a bedframe, and now we’re going to make the over the top fabulous headboard that goes with it. To recap, the theme for this bedroom was feminine masculinity. So in keeping with the upholstered bedframe, I knew I wanted an upholstered headboard that would look like a pinstriped blinged out suit, and evoked the big wingback armchairs of an old-fashioned library or smoking lounge. The only problem is that the one I wanted cost over 10 thousand dollars. So what was a girl to do? Make it myself of course.

This does require a bit of woodworking, but it’s my kind of woodworking where you can be a little sloppy with things and it won’t matter because it will all get covered up with fabric. Even if you’ve never cut a piece of wood, I think you can do this.

All the lumber I used were simple 2×4’s. You might also see them labled as “studs” in the lumber aisle. Since this is all getting covered up, save yourself some cash and use the cheap stuff. All the screws I used were 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Step 1

The headboard is made up of three pieces: the two wings and the center piece. Each are built pretty much the same way, just build a box with a cross piece to keep things square. The crosspieces go inside the long pieces, and everywhere two pieces meet gets secured by drilling pilot holes for two screws and then attaching the pieces with the wood screws. Build two boxes exactly the same to be the two wing pieces.

Step 2

Because the center piece is so much bigger, it needs some more support on the inside. Pay special attention to how the pieces are arranged because that would really mess up all your measurements. Build the box part first, with the top and bottom pieces inside the side pieces. Then add the center vertical post. Measure so that you’re installing it right in the center because that will matter in a couple of steps. Pilot holes and two screws in each spot where they join. Then you need the two cross pieces, but they need to be offset so you can attach them to the center post.

Step 3

Here’s the three pieces all framed out. Attaching them altogether won’t happen until they’re upholstered.

Step 3a

And a closeup on how those screws are used to keep the crosspieces in place. Drilling pilot holes with a drill bit the same size or just smaller than your screw will keep the wood from splitting and save your sanity from trying to screw in a screw that refuses to go where you want it to.

Step 4

Next each of these framed boxes you’ve made need to be covered with plywood. I could not find plywood big enough to cover my center piece in one piece, so I had two pieces of plywood cut just wide enough to meet in that center post and then screwed them into that.

Step 5

Wood screws all around the sides until the plywood is stuck for life.

Step 6

From this point on I brought it in the house to upholster. You don’t want to attach anything yet because that will make upholstering a million times harder, but you do want to know *where* you’ll be attaching things when it’s time for that. So it’s time for more pilot holes. Drill four holes along each side where the wings will attach to the center. Line the side of the wings up flush with the back of the center headboard piece, and drill a hole through at the top, two throughout the center, and one more at the bottom. Put more pilot holes along the bottom of the headboard where the bedframe will attach. One hole on the left, a couple straddling that center beam, and one more on the right. REMEMBER: Don’t use wood screws yet. You’re just leaving a mark to upholster around.

With the holes drilled, upholstering can begin. I neglected to take pictures of this part of the process. Sometimes I get on a role with the making and forget that some parts of this aren’t common knowledge. Each of the three pieces needs to be covered with a layer of batting. This adds a layer of softness to the whole thing while keeping the fabric from wearing out by rubbing against the unfinished wood. Lay the batting out and then place your wood piece on top of it, plywood side down, bringing the extra batting around to the back and then staple it in place.  Remember, the batting will not be visible so it can be ugly as ugly in there and as long as it’s not lumpy no one will ever be the wiser.

For the center piece, upholstering with the final fabric is done in the exact same way. Lay out your pinstripe fabric and place the center piece over it, flat side down. Being careful not to pull so hard you warp the fabric pattern, pull the extra fabric to the back of all four sides and staple it in place. For my king size bed and the fabric pattern I chose, I had to sew a couple pieces together to get it wide enough to cover the whole piece. For a bonus technique you could sew three pieces of fabric together so that the seam doesn’t run right down the middle of the headboard. Two seams are better than one if they are off to the sides and out of the way.

Step 7

To upholster the wings, it looks best if you do a little sewing. This tutorial might help if you’ve never had to do this kind of thing. You’re basically just sewing a bench cushion while leaving one end open. For each wing, you need to sew two side pieces to the gusset, which is the piece that runs down the middle. Sew each side to the gusset on the top, a long side, and the bottom, leaving the other long side open. When you’re done you’ll have a little cover ready to slide right on to the wing.

Step 8

If you press your fingers over the fabric, you’ll find the pilot holes you created. Cut out a square of fabric and batting to reveal the hole without any fabric in the way. Drills and fabric are mortal enemies, so you want to make sure you’ll be able to get the wood screw in place without any of the fabric snagging and ripping your beautiful creation. These holes will be sandwiched behind the other pieces and won’t be visible. Cut the same holes in the headboard where it will join the bedframe.

Step 9

Now that the upholstery is on all three pieces, you can attach them together. It takes a little bit of wrestling, but pull the outside wing upholstery back just enough to get the drill in and screw through all your pilot holes. When the piece is attached, you can then bring all the extra fabric around to the back and staple it in place. Remember, if you’re using a pattern like pinstripes you don’t want to pull so hard you pattern gets out of alignment, but you do want it nice and snug.

Step 10

Now it’s time to address the back. Theoretically, you can leave this alone, but my brain will never allow that to happen. On the sides without plywood I like to add a layer of muslin to add another layer the wood has to wear through before it makes a mark on my pretty fabric. So with a piece of muslin, and a piece of suiting material, both wide enough to cover the entire back piece, I take the top edge and staple it along the whole back of the headboard. But! You can do it in a way that hides all your staples if you lay your fabric out right. Lay the patterned piece over the front of the headboard, right side touching the right side of the front. Then lay your muslin over that and staple away. Flip the fabric towards the back and all your staples will be on the inside.

Step 11

For the other three sides you could get some fancy upholstery tools involved, or you could just neatly fold the edges in and neatly staple it in place. I went for the neat staples. This will be facing my wall, after all.

Step 12

I wanted to finish off my headboard with a row of nail head trim along the wings. The trim comes in a long roll that you bend in to place and then nail every 4th nailhead. It saved me a ton of time and looks great.

Step 13

With my headboard finished we brought the bedframe back in and attached it through the pilot holes we created.

Upholstered Headboard

I’m pretty much obsessed with it. It is such a grand statement and super comfortable, and I saved myself about $9500 off my dream bed. Now I need to outfit this bed with more pillows than a person needs.

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Family Goal Leaf 2016

Build2016
Back in 2013 I started a tradition. Every year our family comes up with a word of the year. Something to strive for, something to keep in mind as a goal to work towards together, some value we want to focus on as we go through the year. And then I take that word and I make an embroidered leaf ornament. In my minds eye I can see years from now when we have so many they decorate a little tree. A family tree full of family goals.

Normally I make this ornament in January. Normally this is the first project I work on after all the Christmas hubbub dies down. But I think we’ve all seen that this year has not been a normal year. So here we are, nearly 2/3 of the way through the year, and I’ve finally finished it. I came pretty close to lapping myself, but I finished it.

Family Goal Leaf
Our word for this year is Build. And I guess it’s appropriate, because I’ve been so busy building I didn’t have time to make the leaf. I’m getting SO CLOSE to being able to show off all my work behind the scenes. SO CLOSE. I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a media startup, but we’re almost ready to start sharing the media we’ve been starting and I can’t wait. This year has changed everything for us and if I live through it, it’s possible that all my dreams will come true.

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How to make an Upholstered Bedframe

Upholstered Bedframe

My bedroom makeover project has been finished for a while now, but with all of the horrors of the last couple of years, I couldn’t do the work to share it. There’s a tremendous amount of work to pull together a decent tutorial with video, and seeing how I’ve been pingponging between fertility procedures driving me to the mental hospital to surgeries for my baby and then more fertility procedures that ended badly and more surgeries for my baby, there has been no brainspace available for things like describing furniture builds. But now that I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet back underneath me (BRB gotta find some wood to knock), I can finally commit to sharing the big bedroom makeover I’ve been wanting to get to for over a year. I have A LOT of projects to share for this bedroom makeover, and I am THRILLED with the result. So buckle up, because I have tons and tons of ideas for you. Starting today with the centerpieces of any bedroom, the bedframe.

I wanted this room to be a kind of masculine take on a feminine bedroom. An androgynous bedroom. Something peaceful and restful and beautiful, that actually looked like it didn’t just belong to one or the other of us. I wanted to blend our styles. So if I was going to do something as soft as an upholstered bedframe, I wanted to do it in a fabric that would read masculine. So I bought myself 100 yards of suiting material and decided to make myself a pinstripe wingback bed.

 

Step 1

Because we have a California King bed, I needed to make a giant bedframe. Beds can be surprisingly non-standard in their measurements, so since you’re building yours from scratch, the first thing you should do is measure your bed. I’ll give you the measurements I used, but unless you also have a giant bed, you’re going to need to customize them.

You’ll start by building yourself a great big box. Measure the length and width of your bed. I added an inch on each side to give myself room to maneuver. That extra inch means 1/2″ on each side so you don’t have to squish your bed into position. My bed measured 72″ x 83″, so the finished size I was shooting for was 73″ x 84″, except I made a bunch of mistakes with my measurements so learn from my example and measure everything three times and double check your math. Luckily as long as your mistakes are consistent, this project is pretty forgiving.

You need 2 2×4’s to make the top and bottom of your box, and those should be the finished width of your bed. I cut mine 74″ long, which was a mistake but one that was no biggie. Then you need 3 2 x 4’s to make the sides and middle of your box. These should be the finished length of your bed, minus the width of the 2×4’s you’re using for the top and bottom pieces. Those top and bottom pieces sandwich all the vertical pieces, so you need to take their width into account to get your finished length. 2×4’s usually measure about 1 1/2″ wide, so if you subtract 3″ from your finished size, you’ll know how long to cut your side and middle pieces. I cut mine 81″ long.

Set the pieces up together and drill pilot holes where they’ll be joined. Screw them all together with 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Those other pieces of wood you see outside the box are the pieces that you’ll be upholstering. Given how loosey goosey I was being with my measurements I had to make sure they’d be cut the right size so I laid them right up next to my 2×4 box to make certain. I cut 2 1×8’s 84″ long for the sides, and then one more 76″ long for the bottom. The side pieces should be the same size as the finished 2×4 box, and the bottom piece should be the same length of  the 2×4 box plus the width of the 1×8’s which is about 3/4″ each. If I was being careful I would have cut it 1/2″ shorter, but I think I’ve already shown I was not being careful.

 

Step 3

Set up your 1×8’s next to where you’ll be installing them on the box. They should be standing upright so that the wide sides of both pieces of wood are touching. Once they’re lined up, drill a hole from the inside of the box, through the 2×4, and into the 1×8. This pilot hole will tell you where you’ll need to keep the upholstery out of the way so you can screw the pieces together without ripping through your fabric. Fabric and drills are not friends.

 

Step 2

Wrap batting around the entire 1×8 piece, securing it with staples.

 

Step 4

Wrap your upholstery fabric around your 1×8 pieces, continuing to secure it with staples. I wanted to keep the staples as hidden as possible, so I wrapped the wood like a present, keeping all my seams where they would be hidden by being attached to the 2×4 box. Fold your corners neatly and tuck raw edges under before stapling. Feel through the fabric for where those pilot holes are and cut the fabric away neatly to leave yourself room to attach it. Use 2″ wood screws to attach the 1×8’s to the 2×4 box, screwing through those pilot holes you drilled. Make sure you use wood screws that aren’t too long or you’ll go all the way through your 1×8 and have a screw poking through your fabric. I attached the 1×8’s in six different spots to make sure they’d be attached super strong and stand up to kids and pets climbing all over them.

 

Step 5

Now you need to add slats across the bed. Nobody likes sleeping on a saggy mattress, so you need to make a nice firm foundation. I used 1×3’s and cut them 74″ long so they’d fit nice and snug on top of my 2×4 box.

 

Step 6

I attached six slats total, spread out across the length of the bed.

 

Step 7

Now we need to get this thing up off the floor and add the legs. There’s many ways to do this, but the way I went with was to use this straight plate. I screwed it into three corners but if you add a little block of wood into the corner of the 2×4 box you can attach all four sides. I didn’t think it was necessary because I’ve got some extra steps coming, but if these legs are all you’re using to hold up all the weight of the bed and the people and jumping kids and pets in them, you probably should.

 

Step 8

I found these great midcentury inspired legs online. These just screw into the straight plates.

 

Step 9

Now, a California King is heavy. Two tall grown adults are heavy. Wrestling kids who jump on the bed are heavy. And a California King is wide, so without a middle support, you’re going to end up eaten by a sagging bed. But a middle support is also hidden under the bed and doesn’t have to be pretty. So I took the scrap pieces of 2×4 and made two middle legs that will keep this thing so stable that a parade could march through and the bed would be rock solid at the end of it. The middle piece should be the height of the legs, including the straight plate. Basically the distance from the floor to the 2×4 box. Then the two outside pieces should be 2 1/2 – 3″ taller so that it can fit onto the middle beam and leave you room for screws. Use wood screws to stick those pieces together, making sure they’re flush on the bottom.

 

Step 10

Slide those legs around the middle beam and use wood screws to attach it from both sides.

 

bedframe

If you aren’t making a headboard, you’d probably want to finish the top of this bedframe with another upholstered piece at the top, but I didn’t want it to get in the way of the giant headboard I’ll be building. And that I’ll be showing you how to build next week.

 

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Father’s Day Sensation

I’m perpetually behind these days, but in case you didn’t see it, here’s my boys being famous. I have watched these commercials dozens of times because they legitimately make me that happy even if my own family wasn’t in it.

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Tresa gets a trainer

Trainer

It’s been three solid years of torturing my body trying to have another kid. It’s been over eight years of hoping and trying and testing and measuring, but it’s been three years of hormones and needles and pills and surgeries and procedures and hospitals. It’s not quite over yet, we still have two frozen embryos we’ll be giving one last try before the end of the year, but that’s almost a formality at this point. We don’t expect a different result which means that I’m making peace with having only one child with needs that exempt him from the typical childhood experience. Not a single other part of my life has gone according to how the stories go, so parenting shouldn’t be much different.

I had my major surgery in December, and Atti had his in February. I was still in my recovery window when Atti became completely dependent and needed to be lifted – in a particular way that kept him immobile – several times a day. Which meant that I was carrying this 50 pound kid everywhere he needed to get without functioning ab muscles. It’s amazing my back held out for as long as it did.

But of course I got injured. Caregiver injuries are no joke and I can pretty much count on fighting back and muscle problems for the rest of my life. I have one friend who just had her spine fused because of damage done by improperly lifting her disabled daughter. But children are not free weights. There’s really no way to properly lift a free-spirited child. They work against your proper form.

I can’t blame it all on Atticus, though. My back was hurting me but what sent me into full spasm requiring muscle relaxers and my own immobility was my dumb butt trying to yoga my way out of the injury, but only yogaing my way into full blown seized up muscles. I suck at moderation.

Which makes my trainer even more perfect for me.

When I first started meeting him I was charmed by his hippie ways. He’s a little more open to the woo woo than I am, but I cannot argue with the results he gets. He does this thing called active meditation where he makes me work really hard and then stop and meditate and it works like magic to get me crying about pent up stuff every time. Unfortunately, since my surgery, I’ve been to bad off to use his full skills. Instead he comes over and does some energy work and some deep tissue massage. Somehow he still makes me cry just by pushing on the right spot. Last time he pushed on a spot in my abdomen and I let out a blue streak that would make a sailor who left the sea for the call of the open road and now worked as a longhaul trucker blush. I had to end the session by apologizing for my remarks about his mother.

Right now I can’t do much of anything. I walked a mile around the lake and it knocked me out for three days. I’ve had shin splints for weeks. My trainer has to keep begging me to listen to my body and stop pushing so hard, but I have no chill. I am regularly so bummed out about my current condition that I go right past where I know I should stop just because it’s so depressing that THAT is where I have to cry uncle.

I’m trying though. My trainer keeps promising me that a little bit is all it takes to make progress, so maybe by the time Atti is grown I’ll be fit.

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So. What’s new with you?

IMG_2142

Hey pals.

So. Last we spoke I was calling “uncle” during the run up to Christmas. Turns out that major abdominal surgery during the holidays tends to throw a monkey wrench in your productivity plans. The recovery was pretty brutal. Six weeks, so, technically, I’m STILL recovering. But today I got Atticus on the bus all by myself, and then went for a two mile walk around the lake. That feels like a benchmark.

During my post-op appointment my surgeon told me all about what he found, and like surgeons often do, he made it sound like it wasn’t that out of the ordinary. And for him, maybe it wasn’t. All he does is look at endometriosis ridden bodies, after all. But when my fertility clinic saw it they all lost their minds. My nurse Sue called me up saying “Oh my gosh!! We had no idea it was so involved! How were you walking?!” Which, I won’t lie, felt pretty great. Some people compete in triathlons, I just get through my day with my innards all attached to each other.

There was scarring and adhesions and fibroids just EVERYWHERE. On my intestines, blocking my uterus, attaching my ovaries to the inside of my pelvic wall like they were one of those fraternity pranks where someone is plastered to the wall with duct tape. My bladder was “fused” (that was the actual word the surgeon used) to my uterus. And of course scar tissue from the emergency C-section that saved me and Atti. It was a crime scene in there.

Recovery has been super hard – give thanks for your abdominal muscles next time you need to cough or poop – but I’m feeling so much better. It’s been years since I had this much energy and motivation. Since I had…hope? That I wouldn’t always need to apologize for backing out? Or begging off? Or asking for help? That maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to just..do..all the things that so many people take for granted.

Including having a baby. We’re in the middle of our latest attempt at a cycle right now. Just yesterday I climbed up into those stirrups that I should really just start paying rent for at this point, and had another ultrasound. From my many years of tracking my ovulation, I know that I tend to go pretty late in my cycle, which is a bit of a problem when you’re trying to control so many variables. My reproductive system is just too punk rock to be controlled, though. It’s all “Go ahead and pump all the medicine you want in me. I won’t be rushed. I do what I want. You might call me uterus, but I say it’s uterMe.” And then it puts on some aviator shades as a screaming YEOOOOOWWW echoes behind it.

If my dang body will just play along already, then we’re hoping for a transfer in a couple of weeks. Just in time for yet another December birthday in the family.

My niece is still living with us and that is going awesome. I have a whole lot I want to say about that, but I can’t do it today. Or maybe ever. Dang grown people with their own idea about what they want spread on the internet. It has been a big adjustment but a wonderful one. And maybe one of these days I’ll convince her to let me put her on the blog. She is so incredibly gorgeous and talented, and maybe the only person I’ve ever known who didn’t want to share that with the Internet.

There is still so much more to talk about. Atti’s new wheelchair and his big breakthroughs, my own big endeavors, my plans to make all my dreams come true, and how Force Awakens blew my mind. But I’m trying to learn to pace myself. I am still recovering after all.

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Christmas FAIL

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Year of Pleasures: Feminist T-Shirts

Fourth Wave Tshirts

My friend Noelle launched a T-shirt company last year and I’ve become obsessed with it. Like, the first T-shirt I bought because I’m a supportive friend and the design was awesome. Every single other T-shirt I bought for me. (And I literally own every T-shirt they’ve made. It’s the only thing I wear these days.)

Fourth Wave Apparel was founded by feminists for feminists, to celebrate the achievements and gorgeous vintage style of the women’s movement. They take great care with their sourcing and the results are amazing t-shirts that drape instead of cling and are so soft that I literally get stopped by strangers to pet my shirt. I went into a crunchy granola type store wearing my Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society shirt and I nearly got tackled to the ground. I am not at all exaggerating when I tell you that a crowd gathered around me to know all the details of this fabulous shirt. Even Atti’s teachers and doctors comment on them. I wear these shirts and I’m the most popular girl on the block.

(I’m still a supportive friend, but other than that I have no affiliation with this company and am not getting paid. I just really really believe in this product and it brings me a whole lot of pleasure.)

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