Friday, October 19, 2018

Home Tour: Living Room

Guess what? I found a few minutes to snap photos of a couple rooms and with that I'm launching a home tour! Maybe I'll get some momentum going and you can finally see where we live. When you walk in the front door (shown above), the first room you see is the living room, so I thought I'd start there. 

Here's how it looked when we bought it: giant ceiling fan, gray walls, and wood trim that made the new windows look out of place.  

And here it is now:

For those who've seen our previous house, you know it was a bit fancier. When I knew we were downsizing, I thought a casual style would help us feel comfortable using all the spaces for all the things AND allow me to mix my favorites together in the same room. To soften it up, I added wood tones and baskets and a colorful, but worn looking rug. The rug was needed anyway, since the previous living room rug is now in our bedroom that doesn't have carpet.

We still use our trusty dresser entryway to hold our winter gear, kids' shoes, and the other things you want handy when you're walking out the door (sunscreen, umbrellas, etc.) The bowl holds my car keys and spare change. 

If you're sick of your stuff, this little tour may be inspiration for you to shuffle yours around and get some new looks. Adding in a few new pieces like the key bowl above (clearance at Target) and the Ikea vase and thrifted vase make big changes without breaking the bank. Below you can see how I pulled art from three different rooms (at our old house) and grouped it here. 

From the front door, you see the view below. That little bench catches a lot of in-coming and out-going items as well as providing a place for people to sit to take shoes off. I worried this guy was too small for the wall, but in my experience, small is better when it comes to benches. Even at the foot of the bed - they look great when they aren't even close to the width of the bed. 

This piece of art got a new matte and frame which makes it look so different. I love how it looks on this wall. So simple. So good. 

This living room is very dark at night and I hope to someday have a pair of sconces on either side of this artwork. And maybe a fig leaf tree where the floor lamp is? Sigh. The gorgeous art is from Jenny's Print Shop...where I happened to get ALL the new art for this house. Almost.

This was the first print I knew I had to have from Jenny's Print Shop. It makes me so happy. 

The book cases are cheap, but we wrapped the backs with flax color fabric. It feels like the shiny backs with their obvious creases scream, Look at me?! I'm so cheeeaaap! This must be silenced and temporary wallpaper or fabric is way less frustrating than trying to paint them. Been there. Never again.

The windows really make this space. I have an ongoing love affair with windows (one of my favorite features of our last house). I'm just a sucker for sunshine and these let it in without needing thousands of dollars of work. This bench maximizes the seating and feels window seat like. I hope to have some blanket baskets tucked under it one day. 

This time around, I tried organizing my books by color. It works well for me because I remember what color a book was, but my husband isn't sure about splitting up authors. I put his complete sets somewhere else. :)

This gold end table became more subtle with a wood table top I bought on Etsy. They sell several sizes, and I didn't have to do anything as far as finishing it. Easy? Yes, please.

And lastly, we added the coffee table. We were without one for a while and boy, is it nice to have a place to set your stuff! 

Let me know if you have questions about anything. I'm a little out of practice!

Friday, September 7, 2018

What We've Been Up To

Since it's been a hundred years since I've written, I'm going to give you a speed of light catch up thing. Synopsis? I don't know, but if you ever read Highlights magazine, you'll remember the stories where there were pictures that replaced words? I'm gonna go that route.

Super sophisticated. 

Per usual.

We did make some of my dreamed of improvements before and after our move in. We added a pantry and a little more space to the tiny main floor bathroom. We also moved the sink and vanity from the main floor to the basement bathroom-to-be. Possibly my favorite change was this custom built cabinet that gives us SO MUCH more kitchen space.

When we moved our stuff in we found out we had a room full of things to get rid of in our summer garage sale. The downsizing is real, but it feels like we fit this home better than any we've had. There were also science fairs, recitals and a trip to Ikea...

...and at last, a new kitten.

His name if Phineas and he eats truckloads, talks incessantly and is fluffulicious. We're in love.

Shortly after, Brian became severely anemic and then there were a million tests. Then there were bed bugs that turned out to be bat bugs (yes, it's a thing), neither of which do you particularly want to discover in your new little house, but if one has to choose, go bat bugs every time. Overalls came back from the 90's so I went straight away and got a pair. Also our kids got baptized.

This would have been a highlight any time, but particularly in comparison to our war on bugs and we celebrated. The kids said it was so fun, they wished they could do it again. 

During graduation time (Brian's busiest as a principal) our lease came due on our car. So we leased a new car with room for our kids' growing legs. I turned 38 and tried my hair a reddish color.

My younger sister moved to Florida, we built a temporary deck and Chandler went to summer camp for the first time. (I'm starting to feel this is the "dear diary" style of Christmas letter...) But the best, best part of this whole time, was our vacation. Not only did we need to get away from all the stress life threw our way, but it killed time while we waited to find out what Brian needed to do about his anemia. If you want to understand what a relief it was for all of us, just look at our faces when we reached the ocean:

Then we saw this (below) with our own eyeballs. (Magnolia Plantation, South Carolina)

We saw friends and celebrated the 4th and ate pizza in St. Louis.

When we got home it was time to clear out that room of stuff we'd decided we didn't need and had our annual garage sale. That wasn't enough work, so we decided it was time to add a shower to the basement bathroom, effectively exiling the entire family from my main floor bath. Well, except Phineas, who's become monstrous.

Brian had surgery a week ago to take care of some internal bleeding that caused his anemia. He's been a trooper through a painful, slow recovery. We hope this will get him back to his normal, energetic self. 

So there you have it. Or an overview of it. Our new house is pretty darn cute and I'm excited to share it with you as I have time. All my fingers and toes are crossed that this will begin an era of quieter waters for us, so I can indeed write a bit from time to time. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

We're Moving

Can you believe it? We can hardly believe it either. We've been in this house for eight years and didn't plan to leave, but other expenses keep increasing and the amount we are willing to devote to a house payment has gone down. 

My hope was to move into something smaller, without sacrificing quality (i.e. more future expenses) or neighborhood. While we're moving to the edge of the neighborhood and won't be in the CENTER of the country club, we're still in an area we love while getting a bit closer to both of our jobs. 

It's been an ordeal finding a house, selling ours, and getting both houses fixed midwinter, but we're getting closer to being settled. One of the hardest parts about this transition has been not being able to get a new cat. After Leo died, I wanted to run out and get a kitten that day, but we knew we weren't in a place to do that. I've had some serious cat withdrawal and am looking forward to a new baby in our new house. In fact, we've already chosen a name. Phineas. I die...

Anyway! Here's a little tour of what our new house looked like when we bought it:

Living room



Main Bath

Master Bedroom

Kids' Loft

Family Room

 Laundry Area

So a lovely little mid-century house, born in 1947. Which seems very NEW to us, as our previous houses (all four) have been built in the 1920's. This house was flipped with integrity (not all are!) and we appreciate what they did. Of course, I have some ideas of my own about how it could be SO MUCH BETTER, and so we're doing what we can in that direction. 

It's well under way and I hope to find time to update you on our progress. If it weren't so much WORK, I'd be telling you every little thing! On top of it all, I was sick for a week...packing boxes whilst coughing and blowing my nose. Eww. But I do want to share with you so I'll do my best. 

Hope you're staying well and weathering whatever life throws your way (expected or otherwise). You may feel sad over this as you know how I loved my house on Lake Street, but I want you to know our family is processing and learning what is most important to our happiness: that we're together - wherever we find ourselves. 

That's not a bad thing to know.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Good Medicine

It was my dream since I was a girl to have a cat from kittenhood on and Leo was that dream come true. 

When he got sick and we knew he wouldn't get better, I felt desperate. I stayed up, afraid to go to bed, just in case he wouldn't wake up in the morning. I cried and felt so much love in my bones, like they were humming with the pain of being alive and losing. 

Then I told him he could go if it was too hard, but the next day he was still here because he knew I didn't mean it. I told him again, but still wasn't sure. Then I didn't say it because our relationship never needed words so he knew I was okay. I was finally able to take every snuggle and purr as a blessing. I felt thankful every day he decided to stay around.

Once my daughter asked me how I could keep my lovey, Bear-bear in a basket of sentimental things. That's when I realized Leo had become my lovey. He was something soft to hold, which helps me feel things will be okay. Sometimes I'd put my ear on his belly and close my eyes so everything would fade away except his purr. 

Leo died Monday and I barely made it to yoga Thursday. I decided to flow (or practice) in gratitude for him. When I'd feel the strength of my breath, I'd think how strongly I'd loved him. When it felt good, I'd remember how special it felt when he'd let me know he loved me back. When I lay in savasana, I suddenly knew what else he was to me. He was good medicine. 

All of this, my friends, is good medicine. My fatigue. My family's struggles. Our next kitten. Missing Leo. Some medicine tastes good and some tastes terrible, but all of it's healing me.

As I lay with my eyes closed, I saw Leo in a long line of medicine from the Father of lights. I felt held and nursed, because God knows, we all need nursed. I felt trust too. Some of this will hurt, this getting better, but I won't fight her. I'll swallow what life brings and trust that it too, is good medicine.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

To Everyone With a Me Too Story:

(told or untold)

I've been reading your stories and realized I am what some of you thought of when you differentiated yourself from a "real victim." Some of you were never touched. Some of you were unconscious or drunk or half asleep. Some of you didn't know the person who did it. And for those reasons and many others, you felt less legit. You felt ridiculous because someone else's suffering towered over yours.

Someone like me. I'm not saying my experience was the worst, but I think measuring sticks for suffering are bogus. Anyway, I was awake and I was tiny and it was my father. My story is one people don't want to hear. It's just too much, if there were a scale for such things. I couldn't tell much of it anyway because my mind decided it was impossible to live with and repressed the memories after I told my mom. If it wasn't for an exam that documented scarring, I don't know when I would've been wise enough to believe it. 

And what I want to say to you is, your hurt sounds SO LIKE mine. I don't feel a space between us. It doesn't matter if there was or wasn't penetration. They crashed through your edges as if you were their property and now you struggle to feel safe and autonomous and at home in your body. That's the same, friends. That's the same freakin' thing. 

Which is why I love this quote:

This is a jewel of truth we forgot when we were treated like a cubby-hole for penises. Some of us have found it again and that gives the rest of us hope it can be found. I'm still finding it. 

I'm still finding lots of things, but for the sake of sistering, here's what I've learned.

If I could speak to my former self or someone who's just beginning to address this pain, I would say, "Go ahead, lovie. The darkness won't crush you. I'm calling to you from the place where light lives and one day you'll bask in sunshine much brighter and warmer than you've ever felt."   

I know you're split open, but your soul is held safe. By any higher power you admit to, the pure, carefree version of you is not lost. I believe it's held safe somewhere in the cosmos beyond this earth so nothing evil can touch it. I know it's gone and you can't reach it now, but that healing people talk about? It's when you're reunited with yourself. 

This will take time. I'm sorry to tell you this part, but I don't want you to feel you're doing it wrong when you can't bounce back. Anyone who tells you to suck it up or pull yourself up by your bootstraps can stay the hell away from you for a few years. Find the people who know the truth about this pain and listen to them. They will teach you how to become your own hero, someone who's in this with you no matter how long it takes. 

Can I tell you something else? Sometimes the deepest shame is about what we did as a result of assault. As a girl, I trotted to my neighbor's house and showed their kids some things I'd learned. In counseling as a grown up, I could hardly bare to write about it in my workbook. I figured what my dad did was his fault (and wasn't even sure of that), but what I did because of it was surely my responsibility. Well, this is another thing you'll need to sort, but when you do, it will feel like you've cut loose a bag of bricks. 

No matter how minor you've considered your experience, it sent the message, You're not safe. This message can settle in our bones. That's what trauma does and we have to relearn a sense of safety. You'll have to show your sweet self, "You are safe," and she won't get it right away and so you'll show her again. 

The best gift you'll find on this road is a friend in yourself. This seems impossible if you're still hating yourself for being there and not being strong enough to save yourself. I blamed and punished myself for fourteen years before I took a second look at what happened and I've only recently begun to accept my vulnerability. 

Most importantly, healing will come.

Not all at once, but it will come.

And a part of mine has come from knowing I'm not alone.

Me too. 

P.S. There's a little more about my experience over here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fall Touches: Inside

How do you make fall happen in a house that's mostly pink, turquoise, grey and gold? I wasn't sure myself, so for the last few years, I just put a white porcelain pumpkin out, lit some candles and called it good.

But then I saw the perfect pillow and it all became easier. See?

In fall, I want all the baskets and blankets and plaids. So with that lovely pillow pulling in oranges and smoky blues and the mustard throw, I was set!

I also love salt rock lamps but didn't know how to incorporate them into my house. I found a set of two votive holders and love watching it glow on chilly nights. I'm still loving my fake flowers, even though one of them's gotten a little sooty! 

I pulled the blanket basket from another room and love being able to stuff a blanket in there rather than folding it to look tidy over the back of a chair! So easy. 

The other touch of fall we have is a bowl of candy corn in the kitchen. It's a tradition and it's usually gone in a couple days, but there it is.

Hope you're enjoying all the beauty of the season!