Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baby Clothes

Life is funny in the way it works sometimes. Or perhaps I should mention that it's funny how God leaves out little bread crumbs for us that lead us to bigger realizations. 

A few posts back I wrote about the clothes in the attic that were staring me in the face - a visual reminder of the second baby that probably wasn't going to happen. When I wrote those words, I pretty much knew that Craig and I were done having children, but saying that out loud is, for whatever reason, much tougher than silent acknowledgement between two parents. So even though I knew the direction our life was headed, I was still afraid to get rid of the clothes because those baby clothes hold intense memories of joy, frustration, exhaustion and of a pure miracle. 

The light pink sleeper that she wore her first night home. My mother and I swaddled her together, placed her in the bassinet and stared, both of us giddy and emotional from the presence of the next generation of women in our family. 

Her first pair of tennis shoes, given to her by one of my closest friends and my former coaching buddy. The first in a large collection that is filled with Converse and Nike - the kinds of shoes which also fill my closet as well. 

The coming home outfit I bought in 0-3 month size, thinking it would fit a newborn but in reality it was much too big. My abnormal and agitated reaction to dressing her in an ill-fitting coming home outfit was the first sign of darker things to come. I felt like a huge mothering failure for not picking the "right" coming home outfit. Three years later, this seems utterly ridiculous but at the time it was SO. DAMN. IMPORTANT. (And now, I'm just happy if she is dressed in semi-appropriate clothes.)

Birthing a baby and then making it through the first year was no small feat for me. There were day days and long nights. Lots of tears, fears, struggles and fights. So I can't just toss the clothes in a bag and take them to the Goodwill. Getting rid of this baby stuff, for me at least, has to be done in a way that is healing and peaceful.

So yesterday as I was standing in the hall, catching up with the new (pregnant) volleyball coach, I felt a sort of calm come over me and before I knew it, the words "I have a ton of baby stuff for you" came out of my mouth.  And it's true.  I've got loads of toys barely used and clothes hardly worn.  Clothes that need to go and snuggle another precious baby girl...just not one that I give birth to.  

But more than that, in the small moment where we stood in the hall discussing different aspects of pregnancy and motherhood, I felt at peace with our decision for only having our only. Having one child doesn't make me any less of a mother than my friends with four. It doesn't discount the hours I spent cuddling a sick little girl, worrying about her safety or praying for her future. I wanted to be a mother and have a family and I DO. A family doesn't have to match certain specs of size and numbers...a family is defined by the love shown and shared with one another. And sure, in our family two of the people sharing and showing love just happen to have four legs and a tail...but there is love between the five of us and just like there is grace and forgiveness, gratitude and faith. 

As I re-folded and packed all the baby clothes away in the container to haul up to school this morning, I smiled wistfully as I glanced at my own baby, so big and independent at almost-three. I prayed for the new little sweet girl who will inherit these clothes, prayed for a healthy pregnancy and smooth transition to motherhood for her momma. But mostly, I thanked God for the girl he gave me and the peace I have with our decision. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A New Year, A New Room!

At this point in time, it seems like Craig and I are here in our current house, our current town and current job positions for the long haul.  And in making that decision, I decided awhile back that we need to maximize the space we have in our home.  By all standards, it is a pretty big house - we've got a very open plan in the downstairs with four large and very functional rooms.  Upstairs are two modestly sized bedrooms, our large master suite and a huge playroom for all of Natalie's adventures.

But for all the space we do have, we weren't using it properly.  I'm a firm believer in functionality and purpose - it's not the size of the space, but how you use it that makes the difference.

Having said that, I am probably IKEA's dream consumer.

So with this idea of functionality and purpose, I began crafting an idea for rearranging certain areas of the house so that the needs of our family were better served.  First of all, we do not throw enough parties or eat enough fancy dinners to necessitate three separate dining areas.  

Here is a rough sketch of our downstairs that I made through the free online program, Floorplanner.

Originally when we moved into our home, we had the front study, the formal dining room AND the breakfast area in the kitchen as potential eating places, complete with tables and chairs.  Over time we realized that three dining areas MIGHT be a little excessive for a family of two people, one small child and two lazy dogs.

So things got shifted around.  We sold off one of the tables and chairs, moved the dining set from the study into the formal dining room, bought a few new pieces of office furniture and I've been slowly (as in over the past eight months) putting together a functional, comfortable and overall useful study for us.

But before I really got too crazy with the furniture and design, I needed to think about what purpose this study really needed to serve:

1. Craig has really gotten into the buying, selling and trading of baseball cards and he needs space to store cards, print invoices and package cards to send to buyers.  He also is still scheduling games and referees for local basketball tournaments so he needs an organized space to do that kind of complicated work.

2. Over the years, Craig has collected lots of sports memorabilia, many items of which hold a lot of sentimental value.  I wanted a place to display these items in a manner that wasn't so obvious as a "trophy room" but instead as the backdrop to an area where work and relaxation take place.

3. There are two rooms in our house that we occupy the most - the open living room and kitchen area and our master bedroom.  Both of these spaces have large, flat screen televisions.  As much as I enjoy my DVR, I felt like we all need a space where there isn't a television.  An area where I can curl up with a book, Craig can work on schedules or baseball cards, and Natalie can color, play games or read books.

4. Eventually Natalie will be in school and will come home with homework.  She will need a space to do work on the computer, or a large floor area to create a project.  As one of our personal technology rules for her, there will never be a computer in her room so I felt like we needed to establish an area of the house where work (and eventually, her homework) is completed away from the distraction of toys and television.

So, without further is the progress on our study thus far:

View into the room through the archway from the foyer.

My reading and computer nook.  The general theme for the room is dark brown furniture accented with stark white, steel gray and soft turquoise.  I got the bird canvas on sale at Hobby Lobby and the candle pilaster was a Mother's Day gift from Craig and Natalie.  And of course...the puppy dogs MUST have their space in our new room.

Craig's desk and memorabilia wall.  We bought the desk last summer through Staples, the shelves were a Father's Day gift from IKEA and all the office supplies were either Christmas presents or stocking stuffers.  In the picture on the right, you can see all of Craig's special framed items - his second place medal and team picture from his his run in the state tournament way back when he first started coaching, there's also a piece of the net from when the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup, and most importantly, a signed football by Aikman and Staubach that Craig's father gave him before he passed away.

I tried to arrange the shelves in a way that filled up the space without being too cluttered or too "sporty."  There a painting that Natalie created last year, a picture from our trip to the beach last summer, as well as the yearbooks from the three years we worked together at the same school.  And of course...lots of signed sports stuff.

For Christmas we were gifted with some money from my parents and the first big purchase we made in the new year was this Hemnes bookshelf from IKEA.  I definitely wanted something that had doors - more of a cabinet than a true bookshelf - but even more than that, I really liked how only the top few shelves are exposed to the glass and the bottom is covered up.  This allows for a pretty display up above and major organization of baseball cards, family pictures, art supplies, etc. hidden down below.  On the top shelf is another signed football along with some baseballs of Craig's, on the second shelf, I emptied our upstairs bookshelf of some of my hardback books (I took the covers off because I think for display purposes, the naked books look better), a few childhood photos of Craig and myself and then finally signed team photos of Craig's current 7th and 8th graders along with a signed basketball from the University of Texas basketball players.  While we were at IKEA buying the bookshelf, I also stocked up on four gray storage boxes with lids for prettier organization.

And what's missing?  I'm still on the hunt for the perfect second hand side table that I can strip down, paint turquoise and plop a lamp on with a coaster next to my chair.  If I'm going to be reading and typing in this room...I'm going to need a place to put my wine glass.

Although the basic pieces of this room are in place and it is incredibly functional for all of us to use, there are still a few BIG things that we need to address...eventually:

1. Painting the walls a soft gray above the chair rail and a dark gray below.

2. Scraping the popcorn off the ceiling and then replacing the old air vents.

3. Replacing the light that screams "dining room" with a higher placed funky lighting fixture.

4. Pulling up the light colored flooring and replacing it with the same dark manufactured wood flooring that we have in our living room.

5. Finding and hanging curtains - the windows are HUGE and the curtains are going to be a lot of work but I'm thinking of something light, white and very airy.

6. I'd like to put a soft rug in the middle of the floor - something with a mixture of white, gray and a dash of turquoise.

Overall, I am VERY pleased with the progress that we have made in this room and it already has served its many purposes.  As much as I would love to have it all done and perfect RIGHT NOW, with our bank account the way it is right now with a child in day-care and two car payments...well, lets just go with the old saying - good things will come to those who wait.  I know that it this is all just a phase and eventually, we will have the disposable income to do the necessary repairs and updates to our home but in the meantime I will take joy in the little things that we accomplish along the way.

Friday, January 3, 2014


I am in baby purgatory.  Something must be done about this.

See...we have meticulously stored all of Natalie's baby items (clothes, toys, supplies, etc) in the attic build out that is off of the upstairs playroom.  All her clothes are folded in bins and stacked up against the wall.  There is a car seat, her jumper, a few walkers and the Bumbo just sitting in that room, taking space while simultaneously mocking me...tempting me...forcing me to sit in this purgatory, a limbo of sorts.

Craig is pretty firm on the "no more babies" idea for a myriad of reasons - a little bit financial (two years away from NO car payments and NO day-care!) and a lot bit just the overall comfort level of our life right now (no sleepless nights, easy to get up and go, no diapers or bottles).  And for the most part I am right there with him.

But then there is the stuff in our pseudo-attic.

If we keep it around then it signals the idea that we're not really sold on this only-child thing and there is space to change our mind in the future.  But if we get rid of the big ticket items and I cut down the amount of clothes from her babyhood that I save, then it is pretty final that we are done having children.

I can't make either decision.  I hate having all that stuff in that room taking up good, usable space, but I also don't feel like I'm ready, at thirty years old, to say that I will never bear another child.  Either decision is just too,

And so it all sits there and I just keep the door closed.