August 13, 2015

Lesson 222: Ford's Nursery (and Artwork)

As I was sitting with Ford in his nursery today, it struck me how much I enjoy being in his room. When we moved into our new house almost one year ago today, I was seven months pregnant. The majority of my nesting took place in this room.

We had moved from three bedrooms to four, and so this room was also the only one in the whole house that was completely new to me.

I was excited!

As such, I finished decorating in here fairly quickly.

And then moved on to the more difficult task of making old items fit in a new space and promptly forgot how much I like it in here.

Ford's room was used by the previous owners as an office. Day one in the house was spent removing the plastic countertops attached to the walls. My dad and Mark refinished the floors. And after a few weeks, we had beadboard installed.

Ford is the only one of my three who's gender was a surprise on delivery day. Thus, the room began with gender neutral bones that I eventually man-ified after his birth.

For the foundational decorations, we found a white modern, hipster crib on craigslist (gasp, I bought a used crib), chose an aden and anais bumblebee crib sheet from amazon, and bought new curtains from Target (that I first saw hanging in the home of the girl who I bought the crib from). The patterned chair was an impulse purchase from the Pottery Barn outlet that I had spent years regretting until it found a home in this room. The dresser came from my father-in-law's mother, and it is just beautiful. The rug first laid in the family room of our 2nd home, originally from West Elm. The distressed bookshelf sat in my bedroom most of my life painted blue. In our first home as a married couple, my mom painted it black for our family room. When we went to refinish it for Ford's room, the blue showed through under the black and looked so awesomely intentional that we just decided to keep it as is. The effect is one of Mark's favorite contributions to our house. The yellow stool is from Home Goods and the pillows are Pottery Barn.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm explaining the room backwards.

Actually, the inspiration for all of these decorations came from the room's central piece of art.

I have gifted all three of my children with a picture for their bedrooms, chosen while they were still in my belly. Samara's are a front and side angle of three-dimensional Degas' ballerinas made from paper and framed. Hudson's is a funny koala bear print picked up on an anniversary trip to Asheville weeks before his birth.

This particular picture I found in a fun gallery of a girls' weekend to Raleigh, NC with some sweet college friends. The artist's name is Jenn Hales and if you click on this sentence it will take you to her website. She has some great stuff for kids' rooms! 

I just bought a print rather than the original (because of price, obviously) and then had it framed. I love this quirky picture. It reminds me of my three mischievous bunny rabbits and the fun they will have growing up together. I love the color palette, pale orange, chalky gray, light blue, small hits of black and yellow. I love that it's playful and innocent, yet doesn't scream baby. Finally, I love that I was with some best friends when I bought it and their opinions were part of the decision.

This picture hangs with prominence in the room and is visible from the hallway.

On the chair sits a crochet baby blanket gifted from some of our RUF students, a sweet name plaque from my aunt, and this beautiful picture taken just days after Ford was born by our good friend, Katie Taylor Deegan. Click here for her website.  

On the other side of the room, hangs my favorite picture Katie took that day. The skin rolls on his arm are just too precious for me.

This 11x14 photo was simply finished in a Target frame and made to match another picture hanging on the same wall. They flank Ford's closet doors.

On the other side is a beautiful print done by a college friend's wife. It is part of a series that visually represents the growth of a Christian, and this last one in the series is a picture of the church. I gifted it to Mark for his ordination back in 2013. Find their art here.

The last piece of the nursery puzzle came with styling the top of Ford's dresser. I haven't posted this room yet, because I've been continually rearranging it for almost a year now. The entire room is so sparse, but interesting. Beautifully simple, but intentional. I had a hard time figuring out the right balance of fitting with the quiet found in the rest of the room, but allowing for the fact that an actual person sleeps in here.

So in the end, this display is meant to be full of childhood and fun with the wooden animal train found with my mom in an antique store in Pennsylvania, the quintessential sock monkey, and the Beatrix Potter books. The yellow lamp base was thrifted and topped with a Target shade. Finally, all the various knickknacks have sentimental value of some sort, reminding me of our parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. .

But this area also has a mesh of ideas and themes intermingling to create sort of story. It's about boyhood and travel, adventure and exploration. This comes out in the arrow, the airplane and these way-too-perfect old books.

I love the idea of Ford growing up to be brave and adventurous, strong, kind, and good. And at the same time, I recognize that it's easy to make such things entirely self-serving. How easy it is for a young man's heart to be swayed away from truth and towards his own desires. So just recently, I added this little verse from the hymn "Come Thou Fount" to the arrangement. It came as part of a set sold by Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. I have used others in various places throughout the house and have included them in gifts.

I wish I had a few more "big picture" pictures to show you, but Ford is sleeping soundly in his room, and I want to finish up here.

A few final thoughts about how I envision this room transitioning. Eventually, our hope is for Ford and Hudson to share a bedroom. Think bunk beds and blue and everything boy! When that occurs, this room will become a guest room. (Maybe a nursery at some point, but shhh, don't tell Mark I'm talking like this!)

The curtains, rug, chair, dresser, and lamp will all stay. A sleigh bed and new bedding will come in.

And though many of the distinctly "baby" items will probably find new homes, I am sure my guests will thoroughly enjoy considering my silly bunnies that set this whole room in motion.

Lesson Learned: It's easy to love a room that is full of artwork that I love. 

June 23, 2015

Lesson 221: Documenting Today

I can't say I ever thought I'd reach a point in life where I would feel an intense desire to do laundry. But friends, I'm there. A deep-seated longing habitually resides within the pit of my stomach, the back of my mind, the trenches of my heart, and its cry is a desperate one.

"Please let me wash our clothes."

As the piles build next to my bed, in the children's baskets, spilling onto the floor in three, four, five rooms, I lie awake at night in a panic that I will never experience the beauty of empty space again.

When my brain finally experiences relief and begins to allow sleep to drift in, I am unpleasantly awoken by the sound of the baby next door. He wants milk. Again. Just like he did three hours ago. And six hours ago. And nine hours ago. (I could do this counting backwards in three hour increments all the way to October.)

Oh why won't he sleep?!?!

As I make my way to bring him relief, I trip over mounds of clothes and know for sure that this feeding will be followed by at least an hour of lying awake, dreaming about laundry. And thus is the mind of a mama of three little ones when her house is undergoing a renovation.

A renovation in which the washer and dryer have a useless, but permanent position in the middle of the kitchen. A renovation that scatters nails and wood chips on the baby's stomping, I mean crawling ground making this newest stage of development one of even greater vigilance. A renovation that has been planned since last August, that is small in size, but complicated in scope. A seemingly endless renovation.

I reason with myself that the workers and the noise and the dirt and the constant unfinished nature of my house and the porta-potty in the yard would not be so hard to handle if only we could wash our clothes.

Or at least I had myself convinced of that until the hot water heater went out.

And the dishwasher stopped working.

And the coffee pot broke.

And the baby started moving, and yet still doesn't sleep all night.

On days when I'm not dreaming about doing laundry, I'll picture a life in which I brightly wake up from eight uninterrupted hours of slumber, drink a steaming cup of coffee in a clean mug, take a deliciously warm shower, and dress myself in something fresh. All my children are scrubbed clean as well, contentedly playing with this or that. Ford is smiling, making his rounds throughout the house, knowing exactly which small items are safe to put in his mouth and which to avoid. It's not 100 degrees outside, and so we progress to the back yard. It's sunny, but breezy. No one is sweating their brains out the second they open the door. No need to stay inside where the construction is occurring.

Except that in reality it's the hottest outside.

So this is where we are today. Record high temperatures. Renovation. Broken or unavailable appliances. A moving, but not sleeping baby. And a group of people, clothes, and dishes that are progressively getting dirtier and dirtier.

I'm sorry, but have I mentioned we're supposed to be potty training this month? Yes, the plan was to let the late-bloomer (who must be trained by the fall for school) run wild in his birthday suit outside all summer, but well, have I mentioned the heat?

We're putting on a pretty good face, but things are kind of tense here these days. I suppose I shouldn't be overly surprised when I find myself reaching for an adult beverage to accompany my mid-day meal or when I have a strong desire to nap all afternoon.

After church and a take-out lunch on Father's Day, I happily chirped to Mark, "Only six more hours." He gave me a confused, humorous look and said, "Until what?!?" And I realized I was counting down the hours to bedtime.

So much for a relaxing family summer.

But we're gonna be fine. We received a hand-me-down coffee pot. A serviceman jumped the dishwasher (thought hasn't fully fixed it yet.) Who needs hot water in the summer anyway (me)?

I should just stop.

I want to paint a rosy #firstworldproblems picture of contentment in the conclusion, but the truth is I've been up since four, not sleeping, thinking about how grimy everything feels. And realizing that the goal of this post was not to conclude, but to capture a moment in our little family's life.

The summer of the mudroom / half-bath renovation.

The summer everything broke.

The summer we were all dirty, all the time, so no one wore clothes, ever.

The summer it was too hot to go outside, so it's not that big of deal that no one bathed.

The summer Ford was a baby ... and acted like a baby.

The summer of 2015.

The summer I longed to do laundry.

Lesson Learned: I've been told to savor these times. I'll be my best!

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