April 14, 2014

The Cherry Blossoms . . .

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On Saturday we got up early and braved the crowds down at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC to get a peek at the famous cherry blossoms on the day of their peak bloom. We were not disappointed!

The cherry trees surrounding the Tidal Basin were a gift to the U.S. from Japan in 1912 as a gesture of friendship. The Japanese gifted 3000 cherry saplings which when planted around the inlet of the Potomac River that fronts the Jefferson Memorial, makes for an unimaginable display of beauty during the blooming season (usually late March to early April).

Because we’ve had such a cold, long Winter, the peak bloom was delayed a few weeks, allowing us to take our grandparents down to see Washington DC wearing her finest ball gown.

Enjoy the pictures! (Top photo taken with filter on iPhone)

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April 10, 2014

This Thing I Do To Myself . . .

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The radio silence this week is due one hundred percent to me putting too much on my plate. It’s this little thing I do to myself sometimes. Well, at a particular time, actually. See, my in-laws arrive tomorrow.  It seems that whenever I have guests coming to stay (which isn’t often enough, to be truthful) I get this crazy itch to finish about five thousand outstanding projects.

It almost never ends well. And I don’t learn my lesson.

GAAAAA!!!

Remember that Parsons chair I gave myself two weeks to finish back in February? Yeah, that didn’t happen. So I decided to attack it last week. Unfortunately, it had about two hundred staples more than the other chair. It is sitting in the dining room bare naked with the painters drop cloth draped artfully over it. Oh well.

What I did get finished is this desk.  When I acquired it back in January, it was being given away by a family from church. I took one look at the gorgeous detail work and ran, in the rain, to pick it up in my van.

The desk was beautiful but had horrible white paint on the top, sides, underneath, and on a few of the drawers covering up the wood underneath. I thought if I could strip it, then I could restain it and it would be lovely. Stripping it revealed poor quality wood underneath that didn’t match the rest of the desk.

Paint was my only option. I chose Annie Sloane chalk paint because I knew I wouldn’t have to sand the parts of the desk I hadn’t stripped. I used Paris Grey and gave it two coats. Once the paint was dry I sanded all the surfaces until they were smooth. I also rough sanded the areas that would naturally distress over time.

The most time consuming part of this project was waxing the desk with both clear and aged waxes to give it that worn over time, older piece look. I still need to age the pulls and knobs, but I’m just out of time!

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I am sitting at the desk blogging right now! I love how it turned out. It was a process but worth it.

Tomorrow I will wake up and clean house like a mad woman. I am so excited to see my in-laws! It’s been three years since they were last here due to their mission in Hawaii. We are going to have a great Spring Break with them.

Might be a little spotty on the posting, but will try to put up some pictures each day.

April 7, 2014

An Anxiety Update …

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It has been over a year since I first blogged about Hannie B. and her struggles with sleep anxiety, which you can read about here. I think it’s time for a little update on my girl wonder.

First, can we talk for a minute about the fact that she steals my phone all the time to take funny pictures of herself. Or sometimes pictures of she and Owlie. This weekend she thought it was time to teach our little guy the proper way to take a selfie. I have seven more pictures like this on my phone – just with lips doing different things. She makes me smile.

The update is this: Hannie B. is making amazing strides related to her sleep anxiety! I wish we could pinpoint one final solution that helped her think clearly and move forward, but in reality it has been a combination of many things. 

First, we consulted our pediatrician who suggested two things: a melatonin supplement at night and a therapist. The melatonin has been helpful. For the first six to seven months Hannie B took one 3 mg pill each night about a half an hour before her “getting ready for bedtime”. Notice I didn’t say bed time. That’s because our therapist recommended that we abolish the word bedtime for our daughter and also remove any clocks from her room. The idea of having a set bed time was stressing her out. And having a clock staring her in the face, reminding her that she was not in bed asleep yet didn’t help either.

Hannie B has adopted a very set routine for getting ready for bed. This is to help her body and mind fall into the groove of night time and realize “Hey, I do this every night.” She washes her face, brushes her teeth, sets out an outfit for the next day, reads her scriptures, prays and comes down to tell us good night. Most night this routine really helps her to calm down and relax. Every night is not perfect though, which is totally okay. We’ve noticed she gets more anxious when there is something really big the next day like a test or field trip.

On the nights when it isn’t going well, I usually go in and talk to her about her worries. We think rationally (well, I do) until we can wrap our brains around reality and then I tell her it’s all good and she should go to sleep.  There have only been four or five nights this school year where she’s been a crying mess. That is a HUGE improvement from last year at this time when it was happening almost EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

We have tapered her off of the melatonin because there aren’t many studies that show the long term effects of melatonin use in teenagers. She does pretty well without it and will take a pill if she is struggling significantly with sleep on a particular night.

One last big help for Hannie B has been physical exercise. When she was playing volleyball twice a week she slept the best. Now she’s not doing a sport but will go for a run or a bike ride to get rid of all her nervous energy and tire her body out a bit.

I’m really proud of my daughter. This is the first major struggle she’s faced in her life. It will not be the last. She will most likely deal with sleep issues for the rest of her life. There will be other trials bigger than sleep. She has approached it in a manner that is admirable: she’s asked us for help, she’s been willing to listen to professionals and incorporate their methods and advice into her life and she’s relied on God to help make up the difference.

So that’s the update. She’s a funny girl! And I’m lucky she’s mine.

April 3, 2014

I Love A Surprise …

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Back in January I posted this picture of Owlie and I reading in the tent I made him for  Christmas. I’m glad I set up my tripod to freeze this little moment in time of me with my boy. He won’t remember it, but I can show him the picture and tell him about the memory of us together in the dark basement reading stories.

Last week a friend (and closet blog reader) sent me a surprise in the mail. While raising three kids – her oldest is a Senior this year – she is back in college getting an art degree, I think in Illustration. She is very talented and let The Hubby and I tour her studio and view much of her artwork last Summer when we were visiting in Utah.

She loved this picture of Owlie and I in the tent so much that she “stole” it off my blog and used it as inspiration for an assignment in her print making class. Her surprise to me in the mail last week? A copy of the amazing linocut print!

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Of course my photograph does not do it justice! Every single detail is there in light and shadow. She has captured our moment together perfectly. I am taking the print to have it framed today so it can hang in our basement playroom where all the children’s books and the tent reside. Owlie was so excited to see us together again. I can’t wait to have this memory up for him to see every time he’s playing down stairs.

Thank you, Thank you, Rachel for such a sweet gesture, for using your talents to make someone else happy, and for thinking of me. It really means so much. I’m so glad my moment inspired you which in turn inspires me.

April 1, 2014

Oh, How We Need Each Other …

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Yesterday it was sixty-five degrees and sunny outside. The kids were home from school for a teacher work day. We threw open the doors, lifted up the windows, shouted for joy and burst forth in song because for one day it actually felt like Spring! It was nothing short of glorious! Maybe this bunny under glass is my way of trying to capture that feeling.

On Saturday I took my daughter to the first ever General Women's Meeting for our church. This meant that all over the world, the women and girls of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were gathered in churches, homes, and conference centers to hear messages especially prepared for them. I kept picturing in my mind millions of sweet sisterly voices singing and praising God at the same time. It was a unique and spirit filled event. I was so happy to be there with my daughter.

There were many things said that touched my heart and spoke to my desires to live a righteous life in accordance with my Heavenly Father’s desires, but one thing keeps sticking out in my mind and it is this simple line: “Oh, how we need each other!”.

Does that seem strange? It’s not an overtly religious statement. But it is a statement that has proven true in my life time and time again. I am strengthened by my interactions and friendships with other women. It is one of the reasons I write this blog. I feel a desire to connect with other women. We understand each other. We comfort and lift one another during hard times and help each other laugh through the craziness.

I cannot count the times in my life another woman has been a mentor, a friend, a partner-in-crime (not real crime, of course), a co-leader, a shoulder to cry on, a kind critic or a teacher EXACTLY when I needed her the most. It is no coincidence that our paths have crossed when they have. I know that God knows I need other women to help me grow and learn.

This is not in any way meant to discredit men and the important role they play in the lives of women. I will go on record right now as saying that I am pro marriage between a man and a woman. I am for husbands and wives being the very best of friends and confiding most closely with one another. I am anti man-bashing and completely unconnected with the idea that “I’m a woman and don’t need a man to be fulfilled, successful, empowered, complete, etc.”

But there is something in the female relationship – that bond of nurturing hearts and tender feelings – that draws me to seek out relationships with other women. This desire to know and be a friend to other women has filled my life with a catalogue of best friends I could not live without! For example, I just said goodbye to my best friend from Eighth Grade/College Roommate again as she left Maryland to move to Kansas! Our paths keep crossing because we are meant to be a part of one another’s lives. I am always so blessed to be around her. She has helped me to grow and change in ways I cannot list.

Tell me you feel the same. I hope you know that we need each other! Thank you for reading this silly blog about nothing. When I write it, I imagine I am talking to a dear friend who understands me and knows my heart. That’s you, by the way! Thanks friend, for being such a good listener.

And Oh! How I need you.

March 28, 2014

An Almost Perfect Day …

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Yesterday was an almost perfect day for me. Are you curious as to what that looks like? I want to document it because it was so great. Here’s how it went:

The Hubby got up early with Big C as he always does. He and Big C shared a prayer and then Big C got in the car and drove away by himself for the first time ever. I lay in bed praying my heart out that he would be safe and no crazy drivers would get near him.

Because Big C can drive himself, The Hubby came back upstairs and climbed in bed with me. He whispered in my ear, “What do you want to do today?” I was confused. I started mumbling about laundry, some email correspondence and organizing a closet. He then mentioned that he would be home. ALL DAY. With no work! Apparently the Jury Duty he’d been scheduled for had been unexpectedly cancelled.

We sent our boy RedDog off to school. Hannie B had been pukey the night before, so she was staying home for the day and slept all morning. Owlie came wandering down the stairs, rubbing his eyes and asking the first thing he asks every morning, “How was your sleep, Mama?” We made our way to the couch for a snuggle which involved Owlie, a stuffed puppy, and a Dad who likes to tickle.

After breakfast The Hubby and I tackled the bane our existence – the dreaded storage room of doom. Within two hours we’d cleared out about twenty boxes, gone through all the boy clothes in their bins, made a list of things to give away to people at our church, hauled a chair, an old vaccuum and a broken TV to the curb and reorganized our food storage, 72 Hour kits and camping equipment all while rocking out to great 80’s musing on Pandora’s New Order station. (Depeche Mode, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, The Cure . . . in case you were wondering.)

Next The Hubby joined me for a workout. Yes. You read that right. I’ve actually started exercising. I am so sore I can barely walk, but I am committed to seeing it through. Owlie joined us too. I’ve never seen a cuter jumping jack in my life. Hannie B. was our interval timer and twice said, “You got this Mom! Don’t give up!”

The Hubby took me to lunch at Panera while Hannie B. and Owlie watched Frozen for the kajillionth time. We ran errands to the Home Depot, the bank, Hobby Lobby and Costco. I might have said this is what Saturday would be like it we didn’t have kids. We laughed a lot and talked about ways to improve our marriage and be better parents.

When we got home Owlie was excited to show us the car his sister had made him out of garbage from our storage room cleaning project. It had silver plate wheels, a trunk, an exhaust pipe, a plastic bag windshield, wipers, a license plate, a steering wheel and control panel and she’d made him a drivers license. He was in heaven.

Undeterred by the frigid temps outside, we plowed forward with Easter decorations. The kids bedecked the Easter tree while I played around with the mantle and my egg collections. The house instantly felt more Springy, despite what the outside wanted us to think.

When Big C walked in the door, I felt such a well of joy that he was alive and had survived driving from our house, to seminary, to school and then back home again that I couldn’t help but run and hug him! Silly? No. Wait until you have a kid who drives.

We had a healthy dinner that everyone helped to make. At the table we discussed a book The Hubby and I have been taking turns reading. The kids are really thinking about the suggestions we bring up. I love it when our conversation at the table is productive and happy instead of argumentative and rude – and believe me we have our fair share of the latter.

Kids started homework, Owlie ran around like a crazy pants and Hannie B and I headed to Target where I found FOUR pairs of shoes! When we got home I straightened up a bit and joined my sweetie on the couch for a little March Madness.

We were snuggled into bed by 10:30.

That is what an almost perfect day looks like to me. I was with my people all day long. We were productive, happy and together. And that is what it’s all about to me.