Bathing Suit Drama

     Memorial Day is upon us and while we all honor the memory of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom, some of us are preoccupied with something far more vain. The beginning of bathing suit season. Her face says it all, no? One month old and already miserable in a bathing suit, and she couldn't be cuter. I swear I remember taking this picture like it was yesterday. Five short years ago, I tortured my sweet little babe and took pictures of it. I knew that it was priceless and even then I remember wondering if we are just hard-wired to find the whole bathing suit experience traumatic. Or maybe that's just me.

    Why do we care so much? I don't know too many men who feel very bothered about the prospect of suiting up. Really. What's the big deal? Why does bathing suit shopping send some of us into a panic or depression?

     I can't remember for sure when I first began to loathe the whole thing. Third or fourth grade I think. Yikes. I'm pretty sure my body consciousness started the day I had my school i.d. photo taken and the aide who transcribed my weight shouted, "80 pounds! What is your mother feeding you?" in front of all of my peers. Seriously. It's burned into my memory. While I get the irony now (said lady was not exactly svelte), like many, I struggled with body-image and eating issues all through high school and at least the beginning of college.

     Now I don't blame my adolescent issues solely on this lady who was probably better off collecting attendance cards that day. With maturity and experience came confidence, but the impression she left on me is obviously still strong some twenty-five years later. It reminds me of how powerful our words and actions are to our children. They are beyond observant and impressionable little people. Needless to say, the idea of raising my daughter to have confidence and not feel plagued by body-image issues is a daunting one to say the least. It might be unrealistic to think she will never be self-conscious, but I feel a big responsibility to set the right tone for her.

     For right now, she's still just five and is beyond excited every time she puts a bathing suit on, because to her, it means summer. I kind of admire that. While getting into a bathing suit might never be my favorite thing, maybe I have to follow her lead, suck it up, (and in) and just enjoy the ride.


Garden Markers...

I'm always inspired by what I see on some of my favorite blogs and in magazines. Lately, I've been seeing lots of chalkboard painted household items, like this terracotta planter from Scissors and Spatulas.

 My original plan was to come up with something similar for a couple of my beat up old pots (still in the works), but this year I decided to plant my herbs directly in the ground. With chalkboard paint still on the brain, (I couldn't let this idea go for some reason) I found a few leftover paint stirring sticks in the basement and thought they'd be the perfect markers for my newly planted herb garden. After two quick coats of Krylon's chalkboard spay paint, I followed the directions on the can, cured them, and voila: garden markers.

Not the fanciest, prettiest garden element, and in order to withstand the elements, I'll probably do some with more durable, outdoor friendly paint/finish and permanent marker,  but I got the chalkboard paint thing out of my system and may have just found a new hobby: spray-painting. I'm sure my husband will be thrilled. 

So, a cheesy little DIY moment that felt like an accomplishment after three fruitless visits
to the DMV in one week, but I digress...

If you have a garden/yard project you'd like to share, leave a comment and inspire me!

I'm linking up today's post to The Brambleberry Cottage. Stop over there for a visit:  


Finding some balance...

     For those of you who know me well, I'm sure you'll find this title comical.  True, balance and coordination might not be words that leap to mind when you think of me.  I have been known since childhood to trip over unseen objects or even my own feet.  While out for what ironically was one of my best runs in months almost two years ago, I maimed myself something fierce.  While anyone else who caught a cracked piece of sidewalk in the almost dark would have sprained their ankle, I gave myself an injury worthy of a professional football player. Seriously. Five months on crutches and 7 months of thrice weekly P.T. Clearly, I don't do things half-way.
   I mention this not for sympathy or because it makes me special but solely to give you a good mental image and background to my history of clumsiness. My dad blames it on my mom. My aunts insist all the females on his side are equally challenged when it comes to matters of balance. It seems like I've been struggling to find balance forever.  Whether we're men or women, it's our kids or relationships, our jobs, our friends or our families, I don't know anyone who's not trying to create or maintain a healthy balance in their lives.
    I thought once I became a stay-at-home mom, I would feel more balanced without the pressures of my job and bringing work home, but somehow that's not the case. While it's nice not to have those pressures, sometimes I feel so immersed in my role that I'm lacking balance outside of it. Perhaps, regardless of the job we do, if we enjoy it, do it well, or strive to at least, we always run the risk of being consumed by it. While motherhood is  the most rewarding job I have, some days it is depleting. Some days, I need something more.  Sometimes I feel guilty saying that.  Last week, after my first blog entry, my cousin Christa left a comment that reminded me not to feel guilty.  She was so right on the money.
     "Make sure to make time for yourself no matter how small it may be. When the "core" (you, yourself) of the family is intact, everything else just seems to fall into place. Take it from someone who's experienced this first-hand!"

     This is easier said than done for so many of us, but so important. I know I'm just starting to find it, five years after having my first child.  I'm learning that whether it's going to a yoga class or getting up an hour before my kids just to have some quiet time to myself, it helps a bit, yet I still struggle with the guilt of what might suffer when I'm taking that time. I know plenty of people who don't have children who have the same issues with balancing their work and social/home lives, too.

    What do you do to balance the demands of your life? What advice can anyone offer to those of us who find it difficult to manage the various roles we have to play simultaneously, while trying to satisfy our own needs and interests?


DIY drama


Designer Amy Meier's beautiful Ikat drapes as seen in January's Better Homes and Gardens.
 I made these curtains back in February after being inspired by Amy Meier's beautiful spread in Better Homes and GardensShe was kind enough to help me track down the fabric and my mom taught me how to make the most basic curtain panel. Really not too hard. I wouldn't look closely for straight seams or anything, but they'll do. After I get them up that is. And add some extra fabric because even after measuring eight-thousand-times, they were still too short. And a strip of fabric to cover the seam where I'm adding the fabric. Do you see where this is heading?

Flash forward to last weekend. We (read: my husband) rehung the old brackets, a little higher and wider than before because I wanted to try something different. We then remembered that old plaster walls are not fun, especially when there's no stud where you really need one. The plaster had been pulling away from the wall and crumbling beneath the middle bracket with our old curtains, so we were not terribly optimistic about this endeavor, which is honestly why we put it off in the first place. After about a half-an-hour of brainstorming, a little cursing, and being the tool-monkey for my husband, they were up, in place, and without visible signs of crumbling (yet). Obviously you get where this is going since I showed you a picture of said curtains still on hangers. Why did it never occur to us (me) that the extending curtain rod might not extend anymore since we changed the position of the brackets? Because this is what I do.

Why, why do I do this to myself? I'm sure my husband asks himself the same question. Actually I know he does. Often. Why can't I leave well enough alone and leave the ideas I see in magazines and Blogland where they rightfully belong?? Why don't I realize that maybe some things are probably beyond my capabilities?

Because I can't. I'm a tad crazy when it comes to this stuff. There's really no defense other than that. I can't blame it on my kids, my husband, or even the plaster walls. Trying new things and perpetually tweaking my space might perturb the ba-jaysus out of a very patient husband, but I am what I am.  He must really love me. Stay tuned for the finished product. I know you're on the edge of your seat ; )

Any DIY dramas or successes you'd care to share??
Happy Friday!


Thank You! Time for some input...

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have blown me away with your kind words of support and encouragement.  Taking that leap was pretty scary for me, so your feedback has bolstered my confidence tremendously and it means more than you know.

Now, the ideas are brewing and I'm starting to get a sense of where I'll be heading with this blog.  I've already gotten a good bit of feedback requesting tips/advice posts about raising our kids. Clearly I am far from qualified to give advice, but I do realize we are each other's own best support system. I'd be lost without the other moms in my life who make me feel sane. That said, what kind of kid-related topics would you like to see here from time-to-time? Your feedback will help me develop this part of my blog.  Thanks so much again for your time and encouragement! I'm looking forward to your responses.


Birthdays and BFFs

Thirty-five.  Carrie famously lamented about turning it in Sex and the City. For some reason that episode has been rolling around in my head since I hit my middle-of-the road marker back in January. I never really cared about numbers before, but let's just say, thirty-five hit me like a ton of bricks.  It's like some middle-aged mom I remember from my youth (not you, Mom, you always looked great) is inhabiting my body. I've got arthritis, newfound gray hair and those little expression lines that seemed cute to me five years ago seem a lot less so now that they won't go away. Surely, I look younger and more stylish than those moms I remember, no?  Considering that I haven't worn make-up or dried my hair in three days, it's safe to say, not so much.  Even my dad seemed taken aback when he wished me a happy birthday. How could he possibly have a child that old?? 

It dawned on me one day that my early thirties were gone. Vanished. While I'm content with where I am in my life and with what I have accomplished, I couldn't let go of the number.I try to remind myself that relatively speaking, thirty-five is still young, you're only as old as you feel, yada yada yada. Really all that is true and I'm not so vain that it matters all that much.  Once in a while it just stops me in my tracks and forces me to reflect (and sometimes cringe). The most important things about being thirty-five are the confidence and perspective I have now that eluded me at twenty-five, the life and family I've built with my husband, and the volume of memories and experiences that will only grow as I continue to age. 

Thirty-five has given me amazing friends along way, too.  At every phase of my life, I've been fortunate enough to make friends who are indelible in my mind and heart.  I am beyond fortunate to truly have a lifelong friend who is celebrating her thirty-fifth today. She has, without question, been a lifeline at every stage it took to get to this point, from breakdancing in the basement, to marriage and babies. It's safe to say that I look forward to getting even older with her. Happy Birthday, Best Friend. As Samantha in that same SATC episode so eloquently put it, "Honey, welcome to my box." We'll figure it out together.


Mother of the Year.

You might think this title is presumptuous or even preposterous. I would think it’s both if I was you and I didn’t know me. I have no illusions that I am or ever will be “Mother of the Year.” I’m not at all sure that there really even is such an award.  What I do know is that I have these “Mother of the Year" moments. These are not moments where I bask in the right decisions that I make, the creative and healthy meals my kids devour, the way I calmly and empathetically deal with my daughter’s dramatics or my son’s public meltdowns. These moments are, more often than not, the times where I wonder if my neighbor can hear me yelling up the stairs to knock it off, I lose my patience in the produce aisle, or when my daughter's snarky tone sounds all too familiar, ahem. It's moments like these where I sarcastically give myself the "Mother of the Year" award. The truth is, I have lots of these moments. I have lots of really great, fulfilling, aha this is what it’s all about moments too, but those are so much easier to deal with than “Mother of the Year” moments.

At this point in life,  I think I'm pretty aware of my strengths and weaknesses and fairly confident in what I do well. Parenthood, however, has opened up a whole new world of second-guessing and wondering if the decisions I make and the actions I take will benefit my children or cause them grief. This role is clearly the most impactful one I will ever play and some days, I fail miserably. I'm sure I'm not alone. The best way I know how to deal with this is with some reflection, endless phone calls to my best friend, and almost always with sarcasm and humor, hence my 'award'.

This blog is a place to vent, ponder, and commiserate on the place I am in my life these days, experiment with my love for design, exercise the "mommy brain" and most importantly perhaps, indulge in something that's mine and mine alone. There are many women who've inspired me to bite the bullet and sit down and write about it. I thought about it for a long time and now I'm going out on a limb and doing it. Join me on this ride. Let's take some risks. What are your "Mother of the Year Moments?  I'd love to hear from you.