May 21, 2013

A new "big girl" room

Over the weekend I had one of my redecorating, rearranging, cleaning and organizing frenzies. I have them every once in a while and when it occurs, everyone better clear out because there is nothing stopping me.

I had been looking at pictures on this blog that I spend way too much time looking at. I have mixed feelings about decorating and home blogs. I like them because they help me to get inspired and I love looking at the way people decorate their homes. But I hate it because afterward it always gives me an unpleasantly anxious feeling that I need more stuff, more money and a better, bigger, nicer house.

When that happens, first I close the computer. Then I get to work. I love re-purposing and moving around the stuff I already have so it looks new and different. Sometimes I buy one or two small things to accessorize (I'm a big fan of getting new pillows), but mostly I pride myself in doing the change-ups without spending any money. And sometimes, I even get rid of stuff while I'm at it, which is a real bonus.

My first big project was the nursery three years ago --really a space that was going to be a walk-in closet before we found out I was pregnant. Daniel finished working on it a month before she was born, we painted it pale yellow and I decorated the whole thing for a few hundred bucks using mostly thrifted, garage sale and flea market items. It turned into a darling little room for her and I loved doing it.

Our house has been a work-in-progress since we bought it six years ago. We've remodeled two bathrooms plus added a wall of built-in closets in the bedroom and then, June's nursery. But it's a small, open, Craftsman style bungalow that presents many challenges since all the rooms basically connect to one another. There is not much of a sound barrier anywhere and not really a second bedroom, not ideal for families. Which is why I am constantly changing things and moving furniture around to make it work.

my sweet, hard-working husband
Now my baby is a little girl--soon to be three (sniff sniff)-- and she's been asking for a "bigger bed." She never really slept in her crib and when she was 20 mos. old we took it out and replaced it with a toddler bed. She loved that but lately I could hear her at night thrashing around and hitting the sides all the time. She was getting too big for it. Also, I would like for her to be able to get up on her own (she's an early bird) and just play with her toys or look at books for a bit before I have to get up. Yeah, right.

June's new room was our living room until recently, then it became her play room since not much could fit in her bedroom. Now I wanted to move her in there to sleep too. But I wanted it to be special and look different for her, even though my budget right now was about zero. And I didn't want to wait.

I got to work and moved everything around, got rid of a small couch that didn't get used in there, put away a bunch of toys that never got played with and generally cleaned and organized the space. Daniel had taken June to the zoo so I could work like mad without interruption. 

I had bought the old iron bed at the flea market a long time ago and it was up in the attic. I bought the bedding and pillow at Ikea a year ago. The cotton twill curtains were all thrift store finds.

 I made a little reading nook, and a space for drawing and painting in front of the window.  I used all the existing curtains but moved some around since I now had to cover the two french doors separating the room from our current living room (This should be interesting at night. I also just ordered a sound machine). The dresser was in the nursery (used to be changing table) and I switched out the drawer pulls for some pastel crystal ones. Good storage bins are key and I already had these. The rug was my single purchase --$10 on clearance at TJ Maxx.

After my day's work it turned out really cute and when June got home from the zoo she said "I love my new room!" The transition was a little rough for her the first night, and made me a little sad because my baby is growing up too fast, but change is good.

I still would like to move to a bigger house someday. But for now, we are fine in our little "spatially challenged" bungalow. It's cozy and I feel good about living simply and with less because our space forces us to do so. It curbs my shopping tendencies too. And I've gotten really good at sourcing great things at local yard sales, flea markets, antiques and junk shops. Daniel will tell you I'm no Mrs. Cheap. But still, I am pretty resourceful. And it just feels good to make do with what you have.

Next project: turning the old nursery into a fab new office/hideaway.

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Dear Mom,

It's Mother's Day. It's been a wonderful day. This day used to be one I took for granted. Then, after you were gone, I hated it. Now I know what it means to be a mother and it fills me with great joy. But the sadness is still there too.

Sometimes I wonder how I can do it without you to guide the way.  Mixed with the joy of motherhood for me (and the joy is like none I've ever had), is always a sadness that you're not here to witness it, that you aren't here to be a grandmother to June and a model to me.

You'd be proud of me, though. I am a good mom, despite your poignant absence. That's not to say that I don't have moments when I feel tired or irritable or like I don't have the energy to get through another day with a headstrong girl who is way too much like her mother. There are moments when sadness overtakes the joy. But mostly these days with June have been some of the happiest of my life.

All the work you did has paid off in so many ways. You gave me so much in the 30 years I had with you, but nothing compares to the lessons I learned about how to be a good mother. It somehow got through to me, even without my knowing it.

I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. You were right. You always said you wanted 6 kids and while that was not to be, you gave everything to the three you had. I now understand that desire. While I in no way can imagine being a mom to that many, I get why you loved it so much and why a big family was so important to you.

I wish I'd done this earlier. Everyday I realize how lucky I was to have June when I did. Being an "older" mom has its advantages for sure, but had I known how much I would love it, I would have started a lot sooner. (I can see you saying "I told you so.") I would love to give June a sibling, but nature is not cooperating. I know you know how that feels. It's yet another thing I wish I could talk to you about.

June is such a special little girl. She is beautiful and bright and funny and curious about the world. She loves school and she is sensitive and emotional and when she kisses me on the cheek, there's nothing better.

I've told her about you--Grandma Marilyn. I've told her that you are no longer here, but that you are in our hearts and she repeats that to people. She loves looking at pictures of you, especially the one of you in your prom dress which she calls the "princess." I will continue to keep your memory alive so that she knows you existed. And I will always carry you in me so she will know you even though you're gone. She's like you in a lot of ways. You'd be happy to know that she loves dresses and dancing, princesses and weddings. She can't wait to take ballet classes when she turns 3. Sound familiar?

Today, as always, Mom, you are missed. You are my inspiration for how to be a mom. Happy Mother's Day.