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Friday, January 30, 2015

Staging or Not

There are so many things I love about re-doing/refinishing furniture.  

I love the blank slate.

How it begs to be reinterpreted.  

I love the finished product.

I love interpreting each piece.

But lately, well, things have been flying off the shelf and just out of sheer time, I've left one little thing out of the process.

Staging has left the building.

I love staging - pulling out unique finds to accent a certain piece.  
The master of staging is Miss Mustard Seed.
Her staging is amazing.
(photo found here)

But lately, staging just isn't happening.
We're too busy.
The counselor delivers a piece to either Antique Plaza or Merchant Square before I get any staging done.

Bless his heart, he tries for a bit of staging, but it's just not the same.

Sometimes the photo looks really professional, fingers and all.

That's it.
And they still seem to fly.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kind and Sweet Little Things

There are too many to count, but I had to share these tender moments I've had recently.

Last night as I was laying Mayer down for bedtime, Eden asked about a picture he has hanging on his wall.  

I’m not sure where Mayer found this photo.  It’s from about 8 years ago when he was just a baby.  I thought I’d had it tucked away in some scrapbook, but Mayer had found it and hung it on his wall.
“I love that picture of you,” I told him.  “You were such a smiley baby and look, you’re holding a little motorcycle.”
“I hung it up because Grandma is in it,” he said.

Sure enough, looking past his bright one-year old eyes is his beautiful Grandma Lofgreen.  

She passed away last spring and my kid’s are having a difficult time with it. 
I thought back to that day, Easter 2006.  Grandma had made a ham and scalloped potatoes.  Her and Grandpa had hid eggs in the yard.  Little did we know in a few short years, she’d be gone.
Love.  I love that Mayer knows his Grandma loves him.     

I was particularly tired a few nights ago when I heard Eden crying.  The counselor was helping her get ready for bed.  Teeth brushed, pj’s on, prayers said – so what was the problem?  I was too tired for meltdowns and as soon as she rushed in the door I told her she was to go back to bed and lay down. 
“Mommy’s had a long day,” I said.  “You need to go back to bed.”
“But, Mommy,” she said, “I forgot to pray for the baby in your tummy.  Can we say another prayer?”
Yeah, that got my attention.  Love that sweet girl and her articulate prayers.

I was at church on Sunday and the last class had just finished.  I was hungry and tired and the high-heeled shoes I’d worn were not the best choice for a pregnant woman!  The counselor and I gathered up the kids when Payson came running up to me. 
“Hurry, Mom.  Come here,” he announced.
“Payson, we’re all going to the car now,” I said.
“Please,” and he grabbed at my hand. 
“What is it?” I impatiently wanted to know.
He pulled me down the hallway until we stopped right next to a friend of mine who is also pregnant.  However, her pregnancy has been so rough she’s been in and out of the hospital.  She is so nauseous she has suffered and fainted.  She can’t even keep water down at times.  I’ve offered to watch her sweet little daughters off and on so she can rest.
“Mom, can you set up another time we can watch her kids,” Payson asked.  I guess Payson didn't remember the name of the mother, so he had to physically take me to her so I would know.  My friend’s little daughter reached up to Payson and he gave her a hug.  
Here they are at their playdate.
Mayer got in on the action too.

Pregnancy although wonderful, doesn’t necessarily make me feel beautiful.  I can’t see my feet anymore.  Nothing fits and I’m only getting bigger.  A few weeks ago I was looking through my closet before date night.  Was there anything cute I could where that wasn’t black yoga pants!  I pulled out a denim shirt my sister-in-law had recently give me, found a pair of pants with just enough spandex they still fit and did up my make-up.  Once out the door, the counselor put his arms around me and whispered in my ear “You’re so beautiful when you’re pregnant.”  Although the counselor is always full of compliments, I had been feeling low for several days.  How did he know what I needed to hear?  My insecurities swept away.  The words entered my heart and made a permanent impression.  
If my husband thinks me beautiful, that’s good enough for me.  That sweet compliment has carried me ever since.

My dad (who lives two houses down the street from us) will bring home children bikes from thrift stores and fix them up for his grandkids.  When we all visit, there can be up to 10 little kids peddling Grandpa’s bikes up and down the street.  A few days ago, I noticed our little neighbor’s bike tire was flat.  This didn’t stop him from riding it up and down the street, keeping up with my kids as they raced and jumped off burms.  A little while later, Mayer and the little neighbor came up the street from Grandpa’s pulling a different bike.  Mayer had found a bike just the right size for the neighbor, but the chain was off.   I watched as Mayer went to the tool box and took the tool he needed to fix the bike and offer it to the neighbor boy.  All fixed, they raced until sunset. 

My sweet neighbor Diane loves to thrift.  This Saturday was ½ day at Goodwill at to my surprise, she bought bag after bag of baby boy clothes.  How did she know I’d given away all my boy clothes and baby supplies years ago?  All washed and ready to go.  

Diane also comes over and helps with the evening dishes.  

She was recently baptized and we've so bonded over this spiritual journey.

When Diane found out Eden was Mary for the Christmas nativity, she found her the best baby Jesus.
How did I get so blessed to have a neighbor like Diane?

I’ve heard this song a hundred times, but today it has new meaning to me. 
Toby Mac – Speak Life
Our positive words and actions can make such a difference in other’s lives.
I know God is looking out for me.

Everyday there are so many beautiful experiences that keep me present.
Linking up to:
Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Give and Take of Motherhood

I have been immersed in motherhood.  My mothering soul is reaching out to the universe looking for enlightenment and encouragement.  I take long walks and listen to talks on motherhood, love and parenting, raising children and creating loving family relationships. I'm reading books, talking with other mothers and reaching out more and more to my own mom.

A few weeks ago while thrifting for more stretchy skirts and xl shirts to fit over my growing belly, I found two old wood ornate frames.  I knew immediately I wanted to turn them into chalkboards.  This is my thing lately, and I do it with old mirrors too.

The first old frame had a thick cardboard print-out with this painting photocopied on it. (I want to emphasize photocopy so you don't think this is a blog post about the 25 million dollar painting I found at the thrift store!)

I’d seen the painting before.  I’m not sure where, but it did look familiar to me.  I looked at it for a moment, appreciating the beauty, then quickly moved on.  I was ready to chalk-paint over it when something told me to look at the print a bit longer.  Was the image sisters, friends, mother-daughter? 

I set it aside, painted the beautiful frame it had come in and thought nothing more of it.

Until the next morning, I sat down for breakfast and opened a book I’ve been reading.  

Art of Motherhood is filled with a collection of beautiful paintings and text discussing mothering through the ages.  I found the book many years ago at the thrift store and you can see from the tattered corners, it’s been looked through a few times.

Would you believe I opened the book up to this exact page?

I found it amazing.  Was this painting trying to teach me something? I stared like I was seeing it for the first time.  How tender the embrace, how in love the two are.  I began reading the history of Madame Vigee Lebrun’s painting title Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child.  The painting is the artist with her daughter, Jeanne Lucie Louise. I grabbed Eden and hugged her in my arms while reading.

The text read:

“One wonders what sort of mother she was to little Julie.  She reportedly took her impending motherhood in stride, continuing to paint energetically throughout her pregnancy.  On the day of Julie’s birth, the artist’s closest friend, Mme de Verdun, came to see her in the studio and found her working, as the artist remembered, “between the throes.”  Urged to take to her bed, the artist replied that this was simply not possible, she had a sitting for a portrait the next day.  The artist did, however, take her friend’s advice, and her daughter was born that night.”

Oh, the joy I found in this little piece of history.  That Madame Vigee Lebrun was too busy in her heart's passion/painting to attend to her own labor is simply wonderful.  I remember editing a manuscript while in the hospital laboring with Reef.  I find the pull in motherhood between giving of ourselves but the desire to keep a bit of ourselves is constant.  We make sacrifices for our children, but still desire to make our mark as individuals, not just mothers. 

I recently found the artist Kate Daisy and I’m in love with her work.  

(images found here)

Here she is, painting with baby in tow. 

Passion to create.  Passion to live life to it's fullest.  Passion to love beyond measure.

And my sister-in-law Monique who I admire so much.   Here she is living her passions with her baby.  They are both so beautiful.

I love strong mothers.  I have friends going back to school for higher education, training for marathons, learning about interior design, teaching dance classes, traveling to exotic places, learning about whole foods or essential oils and writing books.  I admire strength in woman who do all they desire to do.  Nothing holds them back.  To teach these attributes to your child is a great thing.

I find with each child I have there is a larger capacity and desire to be creative in mothering, but in other things too.  How is that?  Sure days are busy and time is limited, but in some ways my passions are magnified and I’m able to accomplish more then before.

My favorite gift this Christmas was something my father-in-law said to me while we were out on a walk with Eden on Christmas day at sunset.  The air was cool and crisp and he lovingly held my arm in his.  I love this man and think he is very wise.  He’s just lost his wife and finding his footing again.  He’s felt sorrow beyond my comprehension and still, with hope and optimism he said to me:  “The heart has an infinite capacity to love.” I've thought about this over and over again.  I always have room in my heart  to love more.  Love will always grow.

I didn’t turn the copy of Madame Vigee Lebrun and Child into a chalkboard.  I hung it in Eden’s room as a reminder as mother’s and woman, we can have it all!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

So you want to raise a boy . . . again?

On December 29th at 20 weeks pregnant I lay on the table at the ultrasound clinic, certain the tech would confirm my motherly intuition. 

All the dreams, impressions, comments from strangers, coincidences – all of it said I was having a girl.

“You’re having a girl,” the tech was supposed to say.
“I knew it,” I was supposed to say.
I had my daughter’s name picked out.
I had her first outfit.
In my mind, everything was set.
Four boys, two girls!  Eden would have a sister. 

But, the tech didn’t say I was having a girl.
“There he is, it’s a boy,” she said with delight.  She didn’t know she was supposed to “It’s a girl.”  I hadn’t told her that.

To hear I was having a boy was about as foreign to me as if she’d said “Congratulations.  You’re having an alien.”

I told my boys I was crying tears of joy.  “I am so happy,” I said, choking through the sobs. I asked the counselor to come hug me so I could hide my face in his shoulders.  I was doing one of those ugly cries.  I have been very emotional during this pregnancy, but what was this I was feeling?  I realized I’d made one major mistake with this pregnancy.  For the first time ever, I picked the gender of my unborn child in my mind from the very start.  It was a girl.  I wanted a repeat of Eden.  I had all the clothes.  I had the pink room.  I had the hair bows!  With all my other children, gender didn’t matter.  I’d wanted a baby anyway the baby came.  So why did it matter this time?

Truth was I wasn’t sad to be having a boy at all.  I love boys.  My boys are the best.  I love being surrounded by them, their energy, the special way they nurture me. I love watching them set goals and accomplish difficult things. I love watching them run, jump, slam dunk, climb, throw, wrestle (ok, not so much the wrestling part), pray, study and learn.  I love having a husband who is so good because I know my son’s have an incredible example. 

I realized I was crying because I was saying goodbye to my almost there/just within reach potential second daughter.  All the things I’d planned we’d do, all the cute dresses, all the tutus!  Once I got a grip and told myself I’d work through the emotions of this later, my thought was “I’m having a boy.  I’m having a boy!  OH MY GOSH!  This is amazing, but I know nothing about raising a boy.”  I thought this while sitting in a room with my four sons.

I know nothing about raising boys.
Crazy, but that’s how I felt.
Perhaps overwhelmed is a better way to say it.

What do I know about boys?  I know I love my boys.  This is a normal day for me.  
My boys with their friends.  Eden and I are outnumbered!

My boys!  They play, they eat, they work, they eat, I discipline, I threaten, they obey, I reward, they eat, I threaten again, they say sorry, they play, they eat, they wrestle, I yell “Take it outside!”  We have lots of basketballs and skateboards. They experiment with my tools, search and leave their sport equipment all over the house. We do a lot of hiking, love to travel, the counselor takes them camping, SUNS games, UofA games, monster truck events– you name it – we’ve done it with our boys.


They’re so special,
they’re so amazing,
they’re so complex!

The world tries to pull boys in so many directions to count.  As a parent, I feel like it's a strange game of tug-of-war.  There are drugs, addictions, laziness, and violent video games.  So many things that corrupt. There is fighting, gangs and wars.  There is showing off to friends and ridiculous stunts with consequences.  I know, I have four younger brothers.  I heard the stories of the pool-hopping, the car chases, the girl’s they liked with the pretty blond hair.  Boys are exhausting.

And with all that, boys have a lot to aspire to.  My brothers did it.  Because my parent’s loved them, feed them, prayed for them and taught them how to work they are all amazing men.  John Mayer says it best, doesn’t he?  

I know daughters have just as much potential and complexities, but I get girls.  I’m a girl.  I feel like I have some sort of grip on raising my daughter.  Both boys and girls will make their mark in the world, find a promising career, fall in love.  But, my boys.  They are a mystery.  Oh how I want each of my boys to be good to their wife, like their dad is to me.  Someday each of my boys will be a dad too, they will be a provider of their own family.  Most importantly, I want them to grow up and be happy.

How do I do that?

How do I raise a boy who grows up to be a happy man? A good man?

I’ve done some soul searching.  I’ve spent a lot of time in prayer.  Having a fifth son has forced me to get a grip on my growing basketball team.  
“My dream team,” I’m calling them.  
"I can do this!  I can do this!” My new mantra!  

And then I remembered a book from my childhood.  So You Want To Raise A Boy by W. Cleon Skousen, published in 1958.  

This book sat on my parent’s book shelf in the living room.  I remember staring at this book (and the very cute boy on the cover) time and time again thinking “If there’s a book written on raising boys, it must be a very difficult thing to do.”  I watched my mom reference it over and over again, each time blowing off steam then to regain her composure, bow her head in prayer and try again. 

I borrowed the worn book from my parent's last week and after reading it, I wanted to through it against the wall.  Yep, it confirms the inevitable.  Boys are complex little people who can go in all sorts of different directions.  They don’t make sense, they do crazy things and they have lots of testosterone.  I was hoping for a check list.  
Where was my check list?  
Do A, B and C and you will have a perfect boy, but the book doesn’t say that. 

Then I got to the chapter 29 “What is the Ideal Mother.”  From the first sentence, my racing mind was finally silenced.  I felt peace.  I could relate to every single word.  I read it in pure humility.  This is when I got it.  Each sentence seemed to feed my soul.  Everything was making sense.  All the confusion I felt was replaced with a small smile appearing on my face.  I felt so honored to be the mother of boys; to be the mother of almost six children.  Boys, girls; whatever!  They all need love . . . and food!

“The ideal mother is struggling toward heaven and drawing her children with her.”
“By design the ideal mother is a perfect imperfectionist.”
“An ideal mother becomes the model or standard by which her son will judge women.”
“A wise mother finds herself in a key position to guide the entire family toward unity and solidarity.”

What a position of power I have.  Wow!  Shaping these boys, all my children that will someday be leaders in their homes, cities and countries.  It’s such a privilege.  I can do this.  It’s what I was born to do.

I have asked myself “Is Eden enough?”  I have one daughter.  Since finding out I’m having another boy, I look at her and know 100% she’s enough.  She’s my perfect feminine spirit and I’m so blessed to have her.  We have such a special bond, my oh my!

Since finding out I’m having another boy, I feel a bit softer towards my boys.  They need just as much love and nurturing as girls.  Being pregnant makes me a better person and mother.  I have a constant reminder of the sacrifice of what I’m doing; how they are worth it and the rewards and joy to come.  I can’t wait to meet my new son (just typing this I have tears in my eyes).  My five most precious moments in the world are when the doctor holds up my brand new baby and introduces us for the first time.  I’m so happy I get to again try to figure out how to raise a boy.  Most of all, I can’t wait to see my boys with a new little brother.  There will be laughter, there will be joy and if I have anything to do with it, there will be cake!

So, what was my husband's reaction at the ultrasound clinic?  Fist-pumping excitement all the way.