Diary of a Mad Nesting Woman

DISCLAIMER:  What you are about to read is true.  I’m sorry to admit this.

Scene One, The Other Night:

It’s 11:30 at night and the kids have been sleeping for hours.  I’ve finished a load of laundry, scrubbed my tub, soaked all my make-up brushes, cleaned the smudges off my silverware drawer knobs and organized my kitchen pots so that all the handles are facing to the right.  I decide that 11:30 is a great time to roast some brussel sprouts, so I Google a few recipes and settle on a complicated version of coconut oil/bread crumbs/apple slices/reduced vinegar and honey sauce–because I’m simple like that.  Once brussel sprouts are slid into the oven, I proceed with normal midnight chores.  “I’m going to paint the living room,” I conclude, and I head out into the garage to gather my tools.  Upon hearing the garage door slam at some Godforsaken hour of the night, Brett follows me out to inquire.

“What are you doing?” he asks, obviously hesitant for my reply.

“I’m going to paint the living room,” I answer, as if this is a perfectly normal thing for an eight month pregnant lady to be doing at midnight on a Monday evening. 

“Babe, it’s like, midnight.  Can’t you–”  He stops.  I think it was my eyes.  I’m pretty sure the devil climbed into my body and glared some kind of Twilight character stare because he never finished his sentence.  In fact, he offered to stir the paint for me, pour it into a pan and carry it back into the house.

I painted one wall.  I ate delicious brussel sprouts.  I went to bed.

Scene Two, Yesterday:

I’m out the door with two dressed kids at 7:30 in the morning.  I get my coffee.  I go to Lowe’s and buy succulents and spray paint.  I go to ballet.  I call doctors and set up a year’s worth of appointments for my kids in case the Apocolypse comes and I can’t get one.  I come home and start another project because I certainly don’t have enough.  I’m going to spray paint my frames and redo my entry wall, and it has to be done right now.  Like now now now.  I lay out a sheet of butcher paper in the side yard and start spraying the hell out of a stack of frames.  Brett finds me there.  He says nothing but hands me a construction grade face mask.  “Wear this,” he says.  “Thank you,” I answer.  I stop painting for a moment to get the mail, but I leave my face mask on.  The neighbor across the street looks at me and I smile and wave.  Except the smiling is kind of a moot point.  I mean, the mask.  I holler “I’m painting frames!” loudly to explain, but it came out a bit of a muffle.  “She thinks I’m crazy,” I think to myself.  She’s right.

I paint twenty frames.  I go to Fred’s.  I come home and cry that my world is falling apart and that I really really want Brett to change out our towel bars in the bathroom.  “Pick some out, and I’ll do it,” he answers. 

Oh God, poor Brett.

Scene Three, This Morning:

I add a second coat of paint to some frames.  I cry to two friends on the phone about–you know what, I don’t even remember.  I tell Brett he should rent a carpet shampooer and clean our bedroom carpet before the baby comes.  I stress about putting on my favorite yoga pants today because I put them in the hospital bag and what if I get them dirty and they’re in a laundry basket when it’s go time?  Tragedy, man, tragedy.  I decide to risk it but think about it about thirty more times throughout the day.

Noon: And here’s where I finally realized Sistah done lost her mind.

Out of nowhere, I declare a couples meeting (Brett trudges into bedroom…”What?”), and I–seriously, this is absolutely ridiculous.  Here goes.

…I lost my shit.

“How come Lainey doesn’t know how to ride a bike yet?”  I whined.  “I thought you said you wanted to teach her.  She’s five, Brett.  She should know how to ride a bike.” 

People, I’m going to lay it out there:  I am not proud of the last three days.  Brett called me from the car this afternoon (he had an “appointment” but, God love him, if he left the house just to drive in silence and tranquility, I’m totes cool with it) and said he had a great idea–how ’bout we go have a family outing this week and–oh, hey babe–wanna go out for lunch tomorrow? 

I suddenly felt awful for him and realized I am a hot mess of hormones and nesting and freaking out. And he is trying so hard to support me and this crazy time of life for us birthin’ women.  We replayed the events of the last few days together this afternoon and laughed so hard we couldn’t finish.

And Heidi.  Bless her.  Her great philosophical words of advice to me in these last days could be cross-stitched on a pillow, painted on a plaque: 

“Bizotch, drop the brussel sprouts.  Put the paintbrush down.  Go.  To.  Sleep.”

*****

And now, completely unrelated to the above story are the sweet photos of less maniacal moments this week.

Evening driveway play is our come-to-Jesus time. 
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Ahem…said succulents.
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I like xylophones simply for the rainbow.
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Birthday party at some local stables this weekend.  She got to brush horses.  She was happy.
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The Twirly Wand in ballet.  It’s earned its right to be a proper noun.
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Ballet moves transfer home to swing.  Point them toes, Nellie.
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She mothers.  Constantly.  Dolls, sister, babies. 
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This smile.  Yes.
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She’s Student of the Week in her class this week.  We created her me doll together this weekend.
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When we finished, she asked if she could make another one with no help.  Her creation:
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And that, my friends, got us to mid week.

Happy day. 
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Last Bites

Last week, I stayed with a friend’s mama in the Minnesota tundra. It was a quick trip—only two nights—but long enough to savor a small chapter of the good winter story I miss. Morning coffee at a kitchen table overlooking a snowy scene of frosted branches; climbing under the weight of double down comforters at night, feeling safe and caved in from the frigid temps outside; and late dinners enjoyed with candlelight and good conversation.

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Hot spicy chili, seared buttery garlic bread with herbs, homemade pickles, Chicken Dijon, creamy potatoes. Each night after we lingered over dinner for as long as we could possibly stretch that delicious ceremony, I noticed another ritual, obviously repeated every evening in this home.

“Last bites!” the mama called, and sleepy dogs curled in heaps near our feet suddenly rose to attention, two words signaling their nightly scurry to the kitchen counter where they knew they’d be treated. I watched as two dogs panted, tails wagging, and excitedly received their post dinner reward. I, in turn, savored a little more mindfully the last bites on my own plate and the remaining moments of that calm kitchen table before rising to help clear the dishes and get ready for bed.

Last bites. I love that. An all call to taste and cherish the end of something good.

I’m clearly feeling this right now, aware that the delicious ceremony I’ve lingered over for the last eight months is nearing its end. And probably for good. I’d love ten babies and bunk beds built into every crevice of our home, but we also know what feels about right for our family and its needs.

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I actually like pregnancy, and somewhere there is a voice inside that is laughing—the voice that remembers the first twenty weeks of dry heaves and smell aversions. Okay, I like the second half. I love the miracle of growth and that can’t-quite-catch-your-breath phenomenon of movement. Every time they turn a knee, press their tiny back side against my stomach, throw a swift kick to the side, I smile: Hello there baby, you are mine.

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I love the anticipation—replaying the vision of the moment he’s handed to me over and over and over. What will I feel? What will he look like? What will that moment be like—the one where I pull him right into the special hollow in my neck reserved for my babies and kiss his head, whisper “Happy Birthday,” feel his first breaths against my skin?

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I remember those moments from the last time I did this and yes, I think about that too. Precious, unforgettable moments that perhaps make preparation for this birth a little bit different…but not much. I’ve talked to a lot of mamas who have made the choice to have another baby after welcoming a child with Down syndrome, and there is a range of emotions represented from feeling very nervous and scared to completely open and fearless to the infinite possibilities pregnancy and birth bring. All of these emotions are normal and okay. Our experiences in life make us each different in the ways we embrace and react, and I can relate both to the added fears as well as to a more open acceptance for what lies in store.

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After Nella was born, I looked back on her birth and for a moment almost felt embarrassed for the silly details for which I had prepared when they seemed so meaningless after, compared to the depth of emotion that accompanied her birth and diagnosis. Really?  Birth favors, a pretty nightgown picked out for the occasion, hand knit hats, a birth song, candles?  Does any of it matter when you’re bitch-slapped with the reality of what life is really about?

It does to me. I’ve realized that. Because here I am, three years later, a lot more comfortable with who I am, and I’ve already packed the hand knit hats, birth favors my girls and I made together, and the perfect new pair of pajamas I’ll wear in the hospital—the ones I’ll save and point out to him years later. “I wore these the first night I rocked you to sleep,” I’ll tell him someday. I am the mama who knows that little details make her happy and that welcoming a baby to the world, regardless of what that risk might hold, heralds a hell of a celebration for my freak flag waving heart.

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It finally arrived–the outfit my mama’s been crocheting for his homecoming.

While I don’t feel overly nervous or afraid for this birth, I am aware that latent emotions might stir up. I am listening to my body, my heart, my intuition. I am holding my babies close and feeling grateful for the opportunity to be this boy’s mama. And I am tearing up at the thought of being told again “One last push” because I know that what follows, always, is love.  I am aware that in the coming weeks, there will be moments where the raw emotion of the past, present and future will merge, and I don’t know what that will feel like but I imagine it will be good for the soul.

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Here’s what I know: no one knows what life may hold, but beyond whatever it is…there is amazing.

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There are so many incredible ways to become a mama these days.  I was given the opportunity to bring three little lives into this world, and I am grateful for the complex and miraculous series of events that formed their perfect bodies, their precious souls.

There are a few more doctor appointments, a few more weeks of falling asleep dreaming of what loving him will feel like, a few more kicks and somersaults, and a few more smiles from feeling Brett’s hands reach across to lie against the curve of my middle.  I don’t ever ever want to forget what this feels like. 

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And so I savor the last bites.

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Shared Room: Baby’s New Digs

With T-minus-forty-some-days until due date, I am more aware of the window that’s slowly closing–savoring the constant movement within, memorizing the curved silhouette of my body and beginning to clearly imagine what it will feel like to have him here.  The weight of his swaddled body in our arms, the sound of sleep breaths in our necks, the outbreak of sister fights as they repel each other’s grab in an ugly game of Who Holds Him Next.  I’m preparing.  And I am not ashamed to use Who Holds Him Next as a very efficient bribery tool.

When we found out Lainey was going to be a girl, I was at Sherwin Williams the next day.  Pink.  Pink, pink, pink–every paint chip card of it taped to the wall until I settled on Romance, the softest blush shade perfectly balanced between too peachy and too purply.  I bought the things the baby books tell you need even though you don’t.  I registered for a girly bedding set.  I enjoyed that pink room for over five years, through welcoming another girl and patching more pink over wall scribbles and nail holes.

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With preparations for a third baby, I’m much more laid back this time.  I know he’s set up for at least the first year simply because I have boobs.  It wasn’t until yesterday that I even realized we no longer have an infant carseat, and all it took was a “Hey, anyone not using…” text and five minutes later, we had a carseat.

But the room?  There’s something about the baby room to me.  It’s a place I can walk into that last month of pregnancy, sit down with my coffee and look around at the details that say “We’re waiting for you.”  Okay, maybe I do that all nine months.

Although he’ll snuggle in our room first for a while, Baby owns half the rights to the room next door–the pink turned buttery wall room that is now haven for a soon-to-be-bonded brother and sister.  I wanted a colorful, gender neutral environment that encouraged play, incorporated art and felt warm and homey.

The New Digs:

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My Favorite Things about this Room:

* I made more purposeful choices about what to put in it, and a lot of that included exploring options before I just clicked to buy something or put it in my cart.  The only new piece of furniture is a toddler bed we purchased from Craiglist (spray-painted it red).  Most of the items in this room are switched out from other areas of our home or were found inexpensively at Goodwill, on eBay or from Etsy.

* For Lainey’s first nursery, I didn’t know any better than to buy an entire bedding set–a lot of the price going to the crib comforter.  We never used that comforter, and this time around the most important crib detail for me was a sheet I loved.  We added an inexpensive plain white ruffle and bumper and an afghan we already had. 

* Rather than spending the bulk of a room budget on things that will only last for the first couple years of babyhood, I invested in things that will last through room transformations–namely, art.  My favorite items in this room are the crib mobile (art that will hang in our room long beyond nursery days–more on the artist below) and the above-the-dresser art which includes Lainey’s drawings, some favorite Etsy artists, and some illustrations torn from old children’s books.  Frames were purchased from Goodwill.

* We don’t have room for two dressers, so we utilized the book shelf space to store baskets for baby clothes and accessories.  I weeded through toys and made a collection of our most-loved, made-to-last treasures in a corner storage area that’s easy to clean up because everything has a place.  This has taken me a very long time to learn, but I feel like we are finally getting the hang of simplifying and managing toy messes. 

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Owl Hanging, Darlybird; Clipboard holds a favorite photo my father-in-law took–a baby-wearing mama in an African village
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* Our teepee was a gift from a fellow Florida mama. It creates a fun space for reading and chill time, but I love it because it is completely portable. It can collapse in all of two seconds and be stored in a closet, or we can easily move it to another area of the home.

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House Pillow: Two Stars Etsy shop, discount code below; Queen of Hearts doll, Darlybird

* Two simple D.I.Y. transformations: our flag bunting and the fabric-backed bookshelves. For the flag bunting, I spent about $3 on felt, cut it into triangles and hot glued the edge onto twine.

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To add more interest and depth to our bookshelves, I cut fabric to size and used UGlue strips to adhere it–easily removeable.

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The rest was a little bit of nesting and a lot of love. We are so excited to bring this baby home and create more stories for this room.

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Antlers, Yarn-Bombed Anters, Discount Code Below.

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Fox Pillow: Gingiber, Doll: Darlybird, Elephant Pillow: ShopRuche

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Mother/Daughter Image Block: Artist, Sascalia; “My Wild One” Print: one of my favorite artists, Irena Sophia; Jessie Willcox Smith illustrations torn from a children’s book.  A huge framed version of the mother and baby one used to hang in my parents’ bedroom when we were little.  I’ve always wanted it in my home.

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Vintage skating patch–one of my favorite eBay finds.

Other Deets and Discount Codes for you:

Crib Sheet: Land of Nod
Rug: World Market
Mirror: Antique Shop
Mounted Antlers: Yarn-Bombed Antlers, use code 10Offantlers for 10% off your order.  Most shop items are set up for your custom order–you choose mounting, stain and yarn.
Hand-Stamped House Pillow: Two Stars, use code ETSTunicorn (yep, that’s right) for 25% off your order.
Teepee: Play Haven, use code TP10ETST for 10% off your order.

And my favorite, the crib mobile–our treasured piece of art, representing our entire family:

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The detail on Nellie’s moccasins slays me.  And yes, unicorn.  I know.  Pretty awesome. 

Pink Cheeks Studios, the maker of our mobile, is our new sponsor; and I’m so excited to introduce this mama’s talent.  This year, I’ll be introducing sponsors a little bit differently in an effort to connect not just with a business but the people and ideas behind it.  These posts may show up between regular posts, and I will do my best to include them in a way that allows you to move along and click out if you’re not interested or follow along to learn more about how these businesses started and where they find inspiration.  As always, we choose the sponsors we work with based on innovative ideas, art and products we love and the thought behind the business–and we hope you’ll like them too.

I’m thrilled Pink Cheeks Studios is our first “behind the business” interview.  I fell in love–like cried when our mobile arrived–with the detail and thought this mama puts into her creations.  While we have our mobile hanging over the crib, it’s something we’ll display in our home long after the babies have grown. 

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Nichol of Pink Cheeks Studios creates pillows, prints, softie dolls and crib mobiles with various themes.  My favorite–the custom created family mobile.  She captured so many details about our family–what we wear, what we love to do–right down to Brett’s flip-flops and Nella’s boots of choice.

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I asked this talented mama to answer a few questions, and I loved getting to know her more through her answers.

1) How did your business get started?

My business started when I gave myself a challenge to sew a “pillow monster” a day for 30 days. I did this to jump-start some creativity and help me break free from some sadness after my mother passed away. I blogged about it, and someone in the comments mentioned Etsy to me. Then my pillows evolved to have arms and legs and now I make softie dolls and mobiles. I love every minute of it, and I feel very fortunate that I get to make a living by using my hands in a creative way.

2) What’s your favorite thing about making your creations?

My favorite part of making my creations is the “Turing Right Side Out” part. When you sew 3D pieces, you basically sew everything inside-out until you are ready for the stuffing step. Every time I turn a piece right side out, I get a little thrill of excitement (it’s the small things, right?).

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3) How did the name for your business evolve?

My shop is named after my son, Walter, whose cheeks turn bright pink when he sleeps, laughs or gets a bit shy. He is my main joy provider in my life, and I want my shop to exude joy.

4) Where do you draw inspiration for your art?

I get a lot of inspiration from other artists. I love Alexander Girard’s wooden dolls, Chicago Imagist, Karl Wirsum’s sculptures, and everything Elsa Mora does (she also has a lovely blog). I also still feel inspired by a puppetry class I took in Prague about 10 years ago.

A big ‘ol welcome to Pink Cheeks Studios.  We’re so happy to have you aboard. 

*****

Lainey’s back in school, routine has taken over and I’m excited about some new ideas for the blog this year which include our upcoming fundraiser.  Three Years, Three Chromosomes, Three Cheers for the way so many have come together to celebrate and honor all of our beautiful differences. 

Here’s to the excitement of potential.
Have a great Monday.

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