Saturday, March 24, 2012

Yacht rock.

Unlike the lucky ones who are born with a full tank of internal motivation, I come equipped with precious little get-up-and-go. I'm not a driver, nor a doer and find just about enough satisfaction right around the 80% mark. Not even my blood is type A (it's B positive, obviously).

Because of this I'm a big fan of external motivating factors. Like deadlines and workout classes. Really anything that forces me to be somewhat accountable (hello, blog readers!). And when it comes to all things domestic, there is nothing quite so motivating as knowing someone will be seeing your home who hasn't seen it before. It's one of the best reasons I know to host a party!

Out of town guests are especially motivating because unlike dinner guests who see what you want them to see and leave at a certain point, overnight guests are granted pretty full access. When we say our house if your house, we're not kidding around! So knowing someone is on their way to town with a suitcase in hand always forces me to look around at my house with a fresh pair of highly judgmental eyes.

Suddenly the things I've grown accustomed to over the years - the almost matching touch up paint in the living room, The Boat, the falling apart front porch - stick out like a sore thumb. And, since company usually arrives at a certain date and time, I have a deadline built right in. I can't imagine anything much more motivating than that!

So naturally when I found out our friends Steve and Grace were planning a visit from Reno, we took the opportunity to look around and see what could use a little sprucing up (after doing a happy dance, of course - we love having company!).

Oops. That's our whiskey dance. Eh, same dif...

The front porch had recently become dangerous (Liam managed to put his rain boot through a rotted out board after school one day) so it was first on our list. Right after we replaced our newly broken dishwasher. Then I set my sights on The Boat.

The Boat is our second bathroom, conveniently/inconveniently located in my fancy new office (aka, the laundry room). It earned the nickname because it's teeny tiny and the floors are so uneven you feel like you're on a sinking ship every time you sit on the toilet.

We had never ever done anything with The Boat except make fun of it and apologize to anyone who had to use it. But with Steve and Grace on their way, it felt like the time was right. So we got in there (no small feat - it's literally the size of a shoe box) and shook things up.

First things first: the sink. The one we had looked cheap and the size and shape were all wrong for the (lack of) space. I thought a classic pedestal would be a much better fit but as soon as we hesitantly began demolition, we realized that the plumbing came from the floor, not the wall. So we had to search for another option.

Fortunately, we spied this little beauty on sale on our very first trip to Home Depot:

I liked the look of it and thought the vanity/pedestal hybrid would be a much better fit for our space. Plus the cabinet would accommodate our plumbing and give me some space to stash a few things. Perfect!

Except as soon as we got it home we realized the plumbing came out of the floor 2 inches farther from the wall than the vanity. So our quick little DIY makeover had to be put on hold while we called the plumber.

Bummer.

(Although, how great is it to have a plumber you love? Pretty fantastic if you ask me!)

I am beyond thrilled that we called him because not only did he move the plumbing he also installed the sink. Which might not sound that hard but remember how I mentioned the floors are really uneven? They're REALLY uneven. From one end of the vanity to the other was almost 2 inches different. If we had done it ourselves, it would have looked like something out of a carnival fun house. But our plumber trimmed the bottom of the vanity to accommodate the slope of the floor so the surface of the sink looks level. If you couldn't feel that your left hip was 2 inches higher than your right hip, you might actually think the room was somewhat level.

Your hips don't lie.

He also fixed the floor and trim to match the new vanity which would have been a DIY disaster for us (we probably would have just apologized for it for the next five years before some other out-of-town guests motivated us to fix it). Once he worked his magic, all that was left to do was paint, install new shelves, and add all those finishing touches that make a house a home. Now that I can do myself!

Ta da!

I tied the green floor of the office in to the bathroom
with the shower curtain print and some (faux) greenery.

What you might look like when sitting on our toilet...

Or this...

I wish I had more pictures to share (a before would have been nice...) but it's pretty much impossible to photograph such a small space. All that really matters is that our guests loved it and it felt really nice to offer them their own bathroom without an apology. Grace even complimented me on how beautiful it was before I told her we had just finished decorating!

And I don't know if it had anything to do with the lovely and comfortably stocked bathroom, but on their way out of town she thanked us for showing them true Southern hospitality. Which, I mean, come on...is there any greater compliment?!

So, obviously, we can no longer call The Boat The Boat. Liam suggested The Titanic but we ixnayed that for obvious reasons. I'm thinking maybe The Yacht? Because it's still teeny tiny and crazy uneven but so darn pretty we will happily forgive it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bruiser.

Over the weekend we went to Louisville to visit my sister and her family. Did I mention they’re moving there? Yeah. Come June they will be a quick two-and-a-half hour drive from our house. I know! It’s pretty much the best news ever. Anyway. They were there for a conference so we popped over to see them and spend some time with our nephew Jack. Because even though we’ll be seeing plenty of them very soon, this is the one and only time he’ll be 10 months old.

He’s a cutie pie and it was really fun seeing the cousins all together. Fun and funny. Because seeing Finn with a baby made it so painfully clear that he’s a little brother (and Jack is not…). Little brothers are used to hanging with the big kids so their tolerance for rough and tumble play is through the roof. First babies do not have that advantage.

2nd borns and 1st borns, hanging in a bar...

The weekend went a bit like this:

Finn: “Hi, Jack! I see that you’re crawling! I think I’ll ride you!”

Jack: “Um, Mama?”

Finn: “Go faster horsey!”

Jack: “Do you people see this? He’s ON MY BACK.”

Finn: “Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy…”

Jack: “HELP ME!!!”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I guess I just don’t usually see my boys in that light. When I think of Finn, I generally think of this little guy.

Although, I’m more than a huge fan of this little guy as well.

I mean, I know my boys play rough with each other, but it’s rough light at it's worst. They roll around and wrestle a little but there’s no hitting or anything intensely macho like that. They’re definitely more silly than aggressive. Which is exactly how Finn was playing with Jack but the contrast between them made him look like a total bruiser.

Which is exactly what they kept calling him in the ER last night.

“Looks like we’ve got a real bruiser on our hands!”

“I think I can see why this guy's in here!”

“Get back here you little monkey!!!”

I wanted to correct everyone like, “You guys don’t understand, he’s not really like that!” but I was in no position. I was at the hospital waiting for a doctor to stitch up my 19 month old’s forehead. I knew he had gotten hurt innocently enough – he tripped running around the ice cream shop and hit his head on the concrete floor – but I don’t think it mattered. If he looks like a bruiser, and runs around the hospital bandaged and bloody like a bruiser, he must be a bruiser.

If that baby scars, I may not even be able to convince myself anymore.

Happy drugs, happy bruiser baby.

And simply because they’re hilarious, here are a couple videos of Finny on drugs. Enjoy!

video video

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

If your story sucks, rewrite it.

As severe weather rolled across our state last week, I sat at home waiting for the News 2 Storm Tracker lady to tell me if school was going to close early or not (a lot of schools were closing because of tornado warnings). Meanwhile, a block away, Liam sat in his classroom watching parent after parent show up to collect their kids and hurry home to their basements.

By the time I came to get him (at 3:00, just like I was supposed to), there were only four kids left in his class.

"Mama, where were you? There might be a tornado! And almost everyone went home already!"

I was crushed. And kind of pissed. How did all these other parents know that they could pick their kids up early and I didn't? Who told them that was okay? And why didn't they tell me!?

I got on Facebook to see if I had missed some major announcement or something (sometimes it's the best source for this kind of information) but none of the parents I knew had mentioned anything. Then I saw a post from one of the teachers at school that said something like, "Thank goodness this day is finally over! A school full of frightened children and storms on their way and teachers who can't go home to their families until every last parent shows up. Times like these remind my why teachers are heroes!"

I felt like I got punched in the gut. There was absolutely NO reason I couldn't pick Liam up early and yet he was one of the stragglers. It was totally inconvenient (and a little stressful) for me to leave him at school until 3:00 and yet I did it without even thinking for a second that there might be another way. Why? Because school gets out at 3:00 and no one told me otherwise.

I knew I had a bad case of blind rule following when it came to myself but I honestly thought I was stronger than that when it came to my kids. And yet, here I was, forcing Liam to feel abandoned and scared (or at the very least bummed out that he had to stay at school while his friends got to go home) for no other reason than I was waiting for someone to tell me it was okay to pick him up early.

That is total he cow poo.

Why am I so afraid to do what I want? Or, honestly, to even just want without checking to see if it's okay first. I mean, seriously. What the heck!?

As we huddled in the hall waiting for the storm to pass and Liam's nerves settled back down to normal (he had never been upset by a tornado warning before), I realized something had to change. But since knowing and doing are two completely different things I needed one more lesson to drill it through my big thick skull.

Enter: this morning.

I was pretty sure Liam's reading club was doing job day today but I didn't save the handout and couldn't totally trust my calendar so instead of encouraging him to wear his career outfit (or Mario costume, since he wants to create video games and a Mario theme park when he grows up), I suggested he wear his regular school clothes and bring his costume so we could check with his teacher before wearing the costume because if you don't wear standard school attire and it's not job day then, well, I don't know. They probably won't hang a kindergartner up by his toenails for coming to school one time without a polo shirt. Or take away my license to parent. Would anyone even care? Probably not. And yet, here I am, acting like the sky will fall if for one second I do something I haven't specifically been told is okay.

Anyway. We got to school and after I got the permission I so desperately needed, Liam changed into his costume in the bathroom. We went to the library and for a second there I thought everything was looking up. Liam was wearing a Mario costume at school! And it's not like a whole lot of other kids were dressed up. There are only 6 kids in his reading club. And none of their career outfits were quite as bright or polyester as Liam's.

I was leaving the school on a high note when I ran into a mom I know whose son is also in the reading club.

"Are you staying for their presentations?" she asked after I said hello.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, their job day presentations."

"Oh," I said, feeling like once again I didn't get the memo. "I mean, I knew they were doing presentations but I didn't know we could watch. When are they?"

"8:30."

"Darn. I have to babysit at 8:15. How'd you know about this? Was it on the handout?"

"No. I just asked when they were doing the presentations because I wanted to watch."

So while I was waiting around for someone to invite me or tell me it was okay, she was just doing it. Because it's her life and her kid and she wanted to do something so she did it. Just like that. So simple and yet, WOW. Kind of a major moment for me.

As I hurried home to babysit, I started to feel totally defeated. This was crazy! Why am I going through MY life following someone else's rules? Rules that aren't even real rules! I can't keep doing this. I have to make a change. Not someday. NOW. But how? Liam's presentation would be starting in a couple minutes and I had two babies, one stroller, a missing front porch (long story...) and I had only gotten half way dressed to drop Liam off at school (a big coat can be such a lifesaver on those almost late mornings...). I started to wallow ever so slightly (poor Liam, I always do this, I'm such a loser, etc) and then it hit me - this is MY life. If I want to do something, I just have to DO IT.

So I walked the plank (a front porch reference that will make absolutely no sense whatsoever...), strapped both babies into the car, drove the block and a half to school, parked in a loading zone (!), walked though the front door and past the office without signing in (!!) and with Finn on my hip and my little buddy banging along side of me in his car seat, I strolled down the hall like I owned the place.

When Liam saw us his face completely lit up. And when I got to see him bravely stand up in front of the class and talk about what he wants to do when he grows up (not because anyone else has ever done it but because it's his life and he's going to do what he wants to do), I knew that anything that could stand between me and a magical moment like this one had to stay in the past.

Motivational speaker