The Completed Secret Nook!

The tiniest room in our house just got a dramatic makeover! Welcome to our little secret nook under the staircase.

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My goal was to make a big impact with a tiny budget, and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

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As a refresher, here is where this room started. Seven square feet of potential!

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Since it’s so small, it just made sense to go through paint that I already had to find something that would work rather than buy more. After trying out a few colors on the wall, I settled on the leftover paint from our guest bathroom renovation: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s). I painted both the walls and the trim the same color and I love the effect that had.

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About a month ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and built these cute little book ledges using scrap wood from our garage and stain we already had. This project was so fun (and free!) and I think they look great in this space!

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I really wanted to trick out this space as best I could and have some little secret surprises that you can only see if you’re inside. I’ve always pictured it as a Harry-Potter-style cupboard under the stairs, so I wanted to make it seem a little magical without actually being Harry Potter themed. One thing that kept coming back to me was stars on the ceiling – when I found these metallic gold constellation decals on Etsy, they really stood out to me as the perfect option!

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The set I bought came with nine constellations and then a bunch of extra stars. I may have gone full nerd and actually looked up online to see how each constellation should be oriented and where they appear in general relation to one another if you look outside in our specific geographic location…is my type-A showing? Once I figured out where I wanted everything, these decals were super quick and easy to apply!

Another thing I’ve always wanted to do in here is make a chalkboard wall – the triangular wall above the door was the perfect space for it. A friend of mine had some chalkboard paint she was willing to let me use so I didn’t have to buy another jar and I picked it up off her porch. I primed and painted 2 coats and voila!

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Justin used a scrap piece of wood and a router to create a ledge for chalk to sit above the door frame and it worked perfectly. We initially thought we’d have to glue it to the frame but he made the wall-to-wall size so precise that we were able to just push it in and it’s very securely wedged.

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The last thing this space really needed was a light source. There is no plug and we didn’t want to spend the money to hardwire lighting, so I came up with a plan for a DIY sconce using a 79 cent plastic bowl, scrap wood, black spray paint, and a puck light. Justin and I (ok, mostly Justin haha) created this in another DIY Date Night – it turned out so well and works perfectly for providing a little light to read or play.

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Such a big difference just having a light source!

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I wanted the space to feel cozy and comfortable, so I finished it off with a microfiber floor mat that had a little extra squishy padding and a cute textured pillow that was 30% off at Target.

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Because of all the DIY projects using leftover materials from other rooms and projects, the total cost of this entire room makeover was right at $75. I’m so pleased with what a huge difference it makes and imagine our kids will spend many hours entertained in this space!

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Sources

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s)

Chalkboard Paint: Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Latex Paint

DIY Bookshelves: Tutorial here

Constellation Decals

Pillow

Floor Mat

 

 

April 2020 Book Reviews

For as never-ending as March felt, April seemed to fly by! I stayed busy with lots of home projects, but I was also able to read a few books this month and I’m excited to share them with you today because I ENJOYED THEM ALL!

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That’s right, this was a month of winners! Let’s dive in. 🙂

The Murmer of Bees by Sofia Segovia

The Murmur of Bees by [Sofía Segovia, Simon Bruni]

An abandoned baby with a disfigured face covered in bees is discovered under a bridge and taken in by the Morales family. It isn’t long before they realize the baby, Simonoprio, is special and will alter the course of their family history. This revolving point of view story follows the family over generations in their small town in Mexico and explores how their lives are affected by the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Flu Pandemic. This book is a unique mix of  historical fiction and fantasy – it’s both realistic and magical. It was beautifully written and I came to love the cast of characters. I love reading books that talk about historical events I don’t know much about, and this was no exception. It was especially to read about the 1918 pandemic while I’m living through an actual pandemic myself. That being said, I read this on my kindle and was shocked one day when my home screen informed me that I was only 25% done with the book, even though I had already spent hours reading. Turns out, this book is 476 pages long. What! I did like that the chapters were very short (there are 100!) but it still felt really tedious to get through at times. The narrator also changes with every chapter and it was sometimes hard to determine who was talking and keep all the characters straight, especially in the beginning.

I enjoyed this book and still consider it an overall “win”, but the length (and pace at times) did take away some of my enthusiasm for it. If you’re in the mood for a slow build, character-driven, historical fiction family saga with some mystical elements, this is your book!

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Two neighboring families are familiar with one another but not overly friendly, with the exception of their children Peter and Kate, who develop a close friendship growing up. Right when their relationship looks like it could be more than friendship, a tragic event affecting both families alters the trajectory of their lives. Wow. This book doesn’t shy away from going deep, circling issues of mental health, trauma, addiction, betrayal, forgiveness, and how our past affects our future, even when we try our best not to repeat history. The author did an absolutely brilliant job of developing real, complex characters and I found myself so invested in everyone, particularly Peter and Kate. The book spans several decades but the author does an excellent job of keeping the story moving – there are times where it feels like you’re watching a 3 minute movie montage that sums up several years in a few important scenes, yet is surprisingly easy to follow and I didn’t feel like we skipped over chunks of time. I actually really enjoyed this way of storytelling!  It is a poignant, raw, super compelling story and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend!

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The Authenticity Project: A Novel by [Clare Pooley]

A green notebook is discovered in a small cafe, and when the cafe owner opens it in hopes of returning it to the owner, she discovers that it was actually intended as a sort of social experiment. The notebook’s owner had written his story without filter or alteration and he challenges the person who finds his book to do the same and pass it on. This call to be authentic inspires the cafe owner, Monica, to write her vulnerable truth and leave the book for someone else to find. Soon, the book has traveled around the world and back, bringing together an eclectic group of six individuals in ways none of them could have anticipated.

I saw this book on the shelf as I was heading to check out at the library and grabbed it on impulse without much expectation. It was such a delightful surprise! It’s quirky, fun, engaging, and lighthearted gem of a book that carries unexpected depth as well. I absolutely flew through it and didn’t want it to end. The characters are all interesting and lovable and I came to care about every single one of them. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like they are your friends; I was ready to fly to London and pop into Monica’s cafe to join in a meal with everyone. This is the perfect choice for when you want a beach read but with a little depth and I highly recommend it!

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Spanning the 1950’s Cold War era, this book takes the unique narrative of not only alternating points of view, but also alternating geographical regions. In the East, we hear from Olga, the mistress and muse of write Boris Pasternak who is sent to a labor camp for refusing to divulge information about his work.  In the West, we hear from Irina and Sally, two very different women both being used by the CIA to covertly obtain and distribute Pasternak’s masterpiece, Doctor Zhivago, back into the Soviet UnionThere are also chapters narrated by other characters, sometimes even a collective group of typists with an ambiguous narrator, and it’s a fascinating, addicting read. It gave me vibes of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo meets The Golden Hour with a splash of The Alice Network and Winter Garden. It felt familiar, yet unique in its own way. As I said earlier, I love reading historical fiction based on people, places, and events I don’t know much about; I knew very little about life behind the Iron Curtain and I found myself constantly putting down the book to quickly Google one of the characters or events mentioned to learn a little more.

The first 2/3 of the book was fantastic, but I have to say that the last 1/3 tapered off for me. I was still enjoying the book, but I found myself skimming a little more and not being quite as interested. I’m not sure why? I think the plot slowed down, which was disappointing and even a bit boring at times? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me? If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know if you felt the same way! Overall, I thought this book was really good (can’t believe it’s a debut novel!) and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a compelling work of biographical fiction.

 

And that’s a wrap on a great month of reading. I’m hoping that our library opens back up in May, because I’m really anxious to get some of the books I’m on the wait list for. Fingers crossed!

Happy Birthday Justin!

Today is Justin’s 32nd birthday, so today’s post is all about celebrating him (with a few throwback pictures sprinkled in!)

I first met Justin when he was 22 years old. We were friends for a long time before we started dating, but even so it’s crazy to think I’ve known him for nearly a full decade!

This was from our first “official” date way back in August 2011 after being friends for almost a year.

I had planned to surprise him with a weekend away with some of our good friends for his birthday, but that unfortunately we had to cancel our plans when this pandemic hit. I’m so bummed that we aren’t able to have the adventurous weekend I envisioned, but we were still able to enjoy some small celebrations at home.

2012 – We were engaged and he insisted on mutton chops because we were headed to a country concert that night.

I got some of his favorite sweet treats (root beer floats, Krispy Kreme donuts, and mint chocolate chip ice cream) to indulge in throughout the weekend, he choose our dinner menus (Saturday night pizza and Sunday ribs) and we gave him a gift we knew he would love: 5 free hours on Sunday afternoon to use however he wanted! He chose to spend  time walking in the woods and then in his woodworking shop – some of his favorite hobbies. When he gets home from work today, the kids and I will have a few other small surprises for him to celebrate with dinner and family time.

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Truthfully, he has never been someone who likes to celebrate his birthday (a concept that I, as a huge birthday lover, just cannot understand) so I know he appreciated just a low key weekend with a few special treats and lots of time to relax.

20200308_093841Justin is full of energy. He is the kind of person that makes others feel comfortable right away. He can find a way to relate to everyone he meets, and he is just such a genuinely FUN person to be around that people always gravitate to him. Everyone just enjoys being around him!

He is also one of the hardest workers I know. He is competitive and athletic and spent years of his life honing his skills in various sports, then he chose a career in healthcare and worked his tail off to do his absolute best through years of studying and training. He’s one of those people who just seems to be good at everything he tries (which is  annoying when I just want to beat him at something one. time. haha). A lot of it is natural talent, but a big portion of his successes come from the fact that he just keeps working and trying to improve in whatever he does, from his job, to the way he takes care of our family, right down to hobbies like golf or woodworking or how he plays a board game.

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I have loved watching Justin grow into his role as a father. He is truly a partner and our marriage and parenting feel like teamwork. LJ and Vi both light up when he comes home from work, and I’m constantly amazed by his ability to leave work at work and jump right into dad mode when he walks through the door. The picture above is such a great example of the type of guy he is – professional job, but he wears fun socks to show his personality. He gets home and the first thing he does is pick up one or both kids, and a dog is usually not far behind. We all love when he comes home. 🙂

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He also is really thriving in his role as toddler dad with teaching LJ things like how to kick a soccer ball or reel in a fishing line and my heart gets all melty watching them together. 

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He is supportive of my dreams and his constant affirmation and support has helped given me confidence in many areas of my life. He always finds a way to make me laugh and I have just as much fun traveling the globe with him as I do hanging out at home.

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2016 – Adventures in Cinque Terre, Italy ❤

I could go on and on, but I know this post is probably already way overboard in his mind so I’ll just end with this: Justin is simply my favorite person to be around and there is no one else I’d rather be quarantined with.

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Happy birthday to our favorite guy – we’re so glad to celebrate another year of your life!

Plans for our “Secret” Nook

I’ve been itching for a project.

We’re in the sixth week of quarantine, and I’m starting to get really antsy. Not to mention, all this extra time spent at home translates to having lots of extra time to look around and dream up things I’d like to do to our house. I’ve decided to join up with the One Room Challenge starting May 7 and tackle a more involved, yet still fairly low-budget room renovation (stay tuned for more details soon!) but in the meantime, I found myself in need of a smaller project.

I’ve already finished a few other projects in this time of quarantine: first with a simple basement refresh, then with a freshly painted garage landing with a really special purpose, and finally with a sweet scalloped accent wall in the nursery. It feels so satisfying to get a quick project done and see how a little work can make a big difference in improving a space!

I’m really motivated to finish one more project before the One Room Challenge so for the next 12 days, I’m focusing my efforts on the tiniest room of our house – a little Harry Potter-style cupboard under the stairs.

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Since the first time we looked at this house, I knew I wanted to use this unique little closet as a fun nook for our kids to play in. Even though the door is by no means hidden under the stairs, it feels like one of our home’s little secrets and I want to make it a really special hideout/play space.

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A few weeks ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and made the two small floating bookshelves as the first little update. I’ve had some ideas for this nook swirling in my mind for a while, but seeing the shelf project complete got me excited to do more and I started dedicating serious time to forming a plan. The “room” is just over 7 square feet but I want it to pack a serious punch. I initially thought I’d do a fun wallpaper, but I kept coming back to really wanting this room to feel like a secret. I want it to be full of unexpected surprises. I spent some time just sitting in there, imaging ways to add extra character and fun into such a small space. After thinking through different plans and letting them stew in my mind for a while, a couple ideas kept resounding loudly in my mind.

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I’ll be sharing the progress on this project over on my Instagram account, but I’ll leave you with a few hints for now:

  • One of the surprises involves this piece that I asked Justin to make for the space:

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  • The room itself may not be hidden, but there are some aspects of it you can’t see without going inside…

I’m excited to share this journey with you and hopefully have a fun reveal coming soon!

 

 

 

My C-Section Experience

April is C-Section Awareness month, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about mine, particularly my first c-section with LJ. I never really wrote about that experience before but today it is really on my heart to share it. I discovered after mine that c-sections aren’t really widely discussed  like other births are and if I can be a small part of making this a larger conversation and help even one woman with my story, I am honored to do that.

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Twelve days after Vi was born. I wish I had a picture like this after LJ’s birth too. ❤

When I was pregnant with LJ, I knew one thing: I wanted Justin to be the one to catch the baby. Because of his medical experience, our doctor was 100% comfortable with this and I was so excited for Justin to be the first one to welcome our son or daughter into the world. I wanted his arms to be the first ones our baby felt. I was so excited for him to be the one to look up at me and tell me whether we had a boy or a girl.  I could see that moment so clearly and I wanted it so badly. I didn’t care if my birth was medicated or not, I cared about that moment. But I didn’t get it.

My water broke around 10 pm on a Monday. We headed into the hospital and I labored all night and all the next day. By 11:00 pm Tuesday, I had been stuck at 9 cm dilated for 5 hours and wasn’t progressing anymore. When the doctor came in to talk to us around 11:30 pm, we knew what she was going to say and my heart broke. I had prepared my heart for a lot of different birth scenarios, but I was not prepared for a c-section. It sounds silly, because of course I knew that a c-section was a possibility, but I did not prepare my heart and mind to actually have one. It just didn’t seem like it would happen to me! We knew baby was head down, there weren’t any known complications, and I assumed I would be able to deliver my baby vaginally.

The doctor did not say I outright had to have a c-section, but she did say that that was the direction things were headed if there were no changes soon, as they were concerned with how long my water had been broken (after 24 hours, the risk of infection greatly increases). I asked for everyone to leave the room for a minute so Justin and I could talk. We held hands and just cried – this was not the scenario we hoped for and we were both so discouraged and disappointed. I remember saying “this is just the first of many tough decisions we are going to have to make as parents in this baby’s life” and we decided to make the decision to go ahead with the surgery. We felt like it was the best choice for the health of our baby. I’m thankful that it felt like a choice – like I did have a tiny bit of power over the decision to move forward and wasn’t forced into it. And within 45 minutes, LJ was born. The doctor held him up, and Justin got to announce “it’s a boy!” We discovered the cord had been wrapped around his neck, and I was immediately extra thankful that he was alive and healthy.

I had a son, and I was of course thrilled about that, but laying on the operating table, I still felt robbed of the birth experience. I felt like I had failed. I felt like my body had once again let me down (the first time being our experience with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy). It was a bittersweet mix of happiness, disappointment, confusion, and just complete and utter exhaustion.

I was grieving but I didn’t really let myself accept and feel grief. People kept finding the silver lining for me: both me and the baby were okay. LJ was here safely. We were lucky. We were blessed. And I felt like I should just be happy and thankful and grateful. What kind of mother grieves when she has a healthy baby to love on? I kept reminding myself over and over again that it didn’t really matter how he got here as long as he got here. And truthfully, I was also just so so so tired from losing 2 full nights of sleep through this whole experience (LJ was born at 12:16 am Wednesday) that I didn’t really have the mental capacity to process my feelings in the moment. And then, we got the news of corioamnionitis – essentially, my placenta did get infected during labor and LJ would need to go to the NICU for 7 days for antibiotics. That experience is a post for another day but it was absolutely gut-wrenching to have to hand my baby over to the NICU nurses and leave the hospital without him. My postpartum hormones were an absolute mess, I was crying all the time, and I didn’t really allow myself to process my c-section because I was in full-on mama bear mode visiting my son as often as I possibly could.

I know that my number one priority was a healthy baby, but it did not happen how I wanted. It did not go the way I dreamed. And even now, 2.5 years later, I have tears running down my face as I write this because I am still grieving this experience.

I think it’s hard for mothers to outwardly grieve or process their feelings on their birth experiences for fear of responses like “at least you . . .”, “be thankful you . . .”, “you should be grateful that . . .” And I’m going to go out on a limb and speak for other mothers when I say: WE KNOW. We understand that there are worse scenarios out there. We know that we may be lucky compared to others. We are grateful for the blessings we have and for the things that did go right. Of course we are so dang happy that our baby has arrived! But telling someone they shouldn’t be sad because they could have it worse is like telling someone else not to be happy because they could have it better. You are allowed to be thankful for your baby and still feel sad about your birth experience.

Let me say it again: you are allowed to feel sad about your birth experience. Even if it still resulted in a healthy baby. There are all sorts of birth scenarios out there, and it’s okay if you’re sad the experience didn’t go how you wanted.

Looking back now, 2.5 years after my first c-section, even though I grieve the experience I didn’t have, I know that we made the right decision. I am not ashamed of my c-section. And when I got pregnant again, I felt much more empowered and prepared to schedule a c-section for Vi’s birth, and her birth experience was completely different (read more about that here). I know I’m not alone, and I know I’m not a failure. I am proud of the bravery it took for me to undergo a surgery to bring my babies safely into the world. I’m thankful for all the resources that helped my recovery experience actually be very positive, and I’m proud of how uplifting and encouraging the c-section community has been for me.

Am I still bummed that I didn’t get the experience I wanted? Yes. I cried writing this post, and then I cried again re-reading it! I will probably always have bittersweet feelings about the experience. But more and more, I am becoming comfortable with the paradox of my feelings. I am both overwhelmingly thankful for my son’s life and health, and incredibly bummed that his daddy couldn’t be the one to catch him when he was born. I am disappointed, but I am grateful. I have accepted it, but still grieve it sometimes. I feel both sadness and happiness when I think back to November 22, 2017, and I am okay with that. It doesn’t mean I love my son any less. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good mother. It just means that birth is a complicated experience with lasting effects no matter how it happens, and it’s ok to talk about.

If you’re processing a c-section (whether past or future), know that you are not alone, and it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling. ❤

 

35 Days

It’s been five full weeks.

Five weeks ago, we were supposed to be leaving for a trip to New Orleans. Justin had a conference and we were going to turn it into a little work + vacation getaway. I had been looking forward to it for months. But in the week before, things started to rapidly change. Talk of the coronavirus became more and more prevalent – it seemed like the only thing the news was covering. There was so much uncertainty, so much confusion about what this all would mean. I certainly didn’t know what to think about everything, but I could feel a rising sense of anxiety. It seemed like the entire country was collectively watching and holding our breaths, waiting to see what happened. Then over the course of a few days, everything started to stop.  Events got cancelled, destinations closed down. Tom Hanks had a confirmed case. March Madness was moved to a fan-free event, then cancelled altogether. I’ll never forget watching ESPN when they ran the headline “The Day the Sports World Stopped.” It was just so surreal. Needless to say,  Justin’s conference got moved to virtual presentations, out trip got cancelled, and life changed dramatically. Not only did we not go on vacation, but the era of social distancing began and I’ve barely left my house since.

35 days.

It’s been 35 days since we’ve had anyone else inside our house. 35 days without our usual routine. No library. No weekly cycling class. No church services, no play dates, no date nights, no babysitters, no events, no get-togethers with friends, no family gatherings. The past 35 days have felt a little like a bizarre alternate universe. Like it can’t really be happening, and yet, it is.

Since I am a stay-at-home mom, it might seem like my life wouldn’t be that different these days, but it still is. Before the virus, we would typically leave the house at least once a day. It was rare to have a day fully at home and rarer still to have two in a row. It has been a huge adjustment to lose all our activities and have to entertain ourselves at home every day. Same toys, same house, same people – monotonous and relentless. And now I am “on” 24/7. LJ is 2.5 years old and Vi is 8 months. They are both in pretty needy stages of life and demand a lot of my attention. I miss the mental breaks I had while driving in the car or going to story time where activities to entertain my kid were already planned and we just needed to show up. I miss the gatherings for play dates and small groups where I could gain fulfillment in talking with other adults and LJ had socialization with other kids instead of relying on me for all his interactions.  Justin works in healthcare and has actually picked up some shifts where they are short staffed, so this means less help for me at home. No babysitters, no grandparents, and less time with my husband home. I have felt exhausted. Overwhelmed. Discouraged. Isolated.

I’ve read many articles and listened to a few podcasts and one thing keeps coming up: the feeling that you’re feeling is grief. This deeply resonated with me. I feel like we are all grieving something right now. Big or small, everyone has lost something. People are grieving the loss of jobs. The loss of vacations. Athletes are grieving the loss of the seasons and tournaments they have worked so hard for. Seniors are grieving the loss of proms, graduations, and the time of their lives that is supposed to be a hopeful celebration. Couples are grieving weddings and honeymoons. Pregnant women are grieving the experiences they hoped they’d have: partners at the appointments, baby showers, gender reveals, family at the hospital, visits after the birth. Families are grieving the lost get together for Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. People are grieving things that they have planned for and dreamed about for years. We are all hurting. We are all grieving the life we thought we would be living these past 35 days.

I know there is much to be grateful about. I do not take for granted the fact that my family has remained healthy so far. I am incredibly thankful for a safe place to stay at home, for the resources we have (reliable internet and utilities, enough food and supplies, etc) and for continued income from Justin’s job. My heart goes out to all who are hurting, whether from a loss of a loved one to the virus, loss of a job, or loss of stability in another way.

Another resounding message I’ve seen is this: you are allowed to be sad. While my losses may seem small in comparison to others, they were still loss. I think it’s possible, even necessary, to recognize the ways in which you are lucky while simultaneously acknowledging the ways in which you’re hurting. It’s okay to be disappointed. You can grieve and be grateful at the same time. It’s okay to just feel your feelings. It’s okay to not be okay.

It’s also okay to try to find the silver linings. I’ve seen an image re-posted many times that says “Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know there are better ones coming.” And there have been positives to this time at home. I have loved seeing all the stories shared on social media of drive by birthday parades and people clapping for essential workers. We get to see kindness spreading in the form of donations, handmade signs, homemade masks, and hundreds of other ways, both big and small. There is a global sense of “we’re in this together” that I’ve never seen before and it’s amazing and so encouraging.

 

There are also positives in my own life. I have had some really special moments at home with the kids that we might not have had if we were filling our days with activities. Vi is sleeping better than ever because our daytime schedule is so consistent. We’ve had the opportunity to slow down and focus on simple family time. Without other plans, Justin and LJ spend hours outside on the weekends and it’s been so awesome to see their bond deepen.  Spending a peaceful evening watching them fish together while Vi and I rock on the porch swing will remain one of my fondest memories of this time at home. Vi started crawling and Justin and I were both home to get to witness it the first time. We’ve been able to use technology to stay connected to friends and family, and I would even say it’s brought us closer in some relationships because there is so much more intentional conversation.

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When I thought about what I wanted to write today, I decided I just wanted to get my thoughts and feelings out there. I felt like it was important to document this time in history and I consider this post to be like a diary entry – a snapshot into how I’m feeling right now and a look at what this time has been like. The past 35 days have been surreal to say the least. I’m trying to stay positive, but allowing myself to feel sad when I need to. Some days feel almost normal. Some days feel hopeless and I want to cry. Our state’s stay-at-home order was supposed to end today but has been extended until May 1. We’re not sure when things will return to normal (or whatever our new normal will be).

I’m not sure what the next 35 days will hold, but I’m just trying to take things one day at a time. ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Scalloped Accent Wall for the Nursery

Today I have a fun project reveal to share! It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment project and got completed about 24 hours after I decided to do it – an accent wall in Vi’s nursery!

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I’ve been struggling with what to do in this room for a while now. Since we didn’t find out Vi’s gender during my pregnancy, we decided to keep the nursery simple by painting it white. We knew we could always add color later. Well, it’s later. She’s almost 8 months old and still has white walls, a white crib, white artwork, white sheets…it’s boring and sterile and doesn’t give off cozy feelings. I’ve been itching to update it for a while and would love to add wallpaper or a fun wall treatment, but there are just too many uncertainties with the room’s future to do a big project. We don’t know if we’ll have a third baby someday. If we do, and it’s a girl, the girls will move to LJ’s room since it’s bigger and he will move in here. So why put a ton of money into a room that could potentially need to be re-done in 2-3 years? But also…why keep a room white and boring for 2-3 years just because I don’t know the future?

After I took this picture of Vi in her nursery on Wednesday afternoon I realized something: I don’t know the future, but I know what’s happening right now. And right now, this is my baby girl’s room. I don’t want to invest in more permanent changes, but I could still make a big impact with a small cosmetic change that didn’t take much time or money. I’ve was inspired by the walls Bre painted in her daughter’s room, so I decided right then and there to just go for it and paint a cute scalloped accent wall!

Indiana’s current stay-at-orders call for people to only leave their homes for essential travel, so I was determined to complete this project using only the materials that I already had. I had about 2/3 quart of paint leftover from the dresser changing table I recently re-purposed for my sister in law, so I decided to use that (Sherwin Williams Fading Rose in Satin) for the accent wall. Truthfully, it’s not the shade or sheen I would have chosen had I been able to go to the store and pick something out. However, I liked it well enough and knowing it would just be something to tide the room over for a couple years (if it stays Vi’s room, I’d love to wallpaper!) made it an easy decision to say yes to.

Here’s one last look at where the room started:

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I wanted the painted section to cover roughly 2/3 of the wall. Since the room has 8 foot ceilings, I kept things nice and simple by marking 5 feet up the wall. Once I had marked it in a few places, I used a level to draw a thin, straight pencil line the length of the wall.

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I placed painter’s tape just above the marked line so that paint would cover it, and I used the level again to verify that the taped line was straight across. I also taped out the side walls and baseboard.

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We just painted the room 9 months ago, so the walls were in pretty good shape, but there were a few small dents that needed to be repaired. I used patching plaster and a joint knife to fill in the dents and let it dry overnight.

In the morning, I lightly ran a sanding block over the places I patched to make sure everything was smooth and ran a damp microfiber cloth over the wall to make sure it was clean and dust-free.

I had our pack n play and Slumperpod set up in our bedroom so Vi had a place to sleep during the day. As soon as I put her down for her morning nap, I turned on LJ’s favorite show (currently, Blippi on Amazon Prime) and got to work. I trimmed out the wall with a 2 inch angled paintbrush and then filled in with a roller. I rolled out a quick second coat after Vi’s nap and just let her play with a few toys in the nursery crib next to me for that <10 minute task.

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As you can see from the various shades of drying paint above, I pulled off the painter’s tape as soon as I finished the second coat. I find this is key to the tape coming off easily and not sticking extra hard to the wall under dried paint.

While both my kids were up and playing nearby, I worked on deciding what to use to trace my scallops. Get ready for some super technical instructions…

I used a ruler to draw two straight lines on the back of the large paper that came in an Ikea frame, and tested out two different plastic lids from our recycling bin to see what size scallop I liked best. Ha!

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I decided I liked the slightly bigger look, so the sour cream lid was the winner! I used a mini level and painter’s tape to mark where I wanted to line up the lid with the painted line on the wall.

I managed to get both my kids down for a dual nap after lunch and started tracing out the scallops, being careful to make sure to line up the tape marks with the painted line.

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It almost worked out perfectly, but the last one was just a little bit too big for the remaining space. I went back to my Ikea frame paper and cut out one of the scallops so I could bend it at the edge – I barely had to bend it but I’m glad I took the extra step to make sure the pattern was consistent.

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Ideally, I would have used a small stiff paint brush to paint over the outlines (something like this) but I didn’t have one so I improvised and used a sponge makeup applicator!

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This worked pretty well for tracing the scallops, but it was a very tedious process.

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Once the outlines were done, I went back to my 2 inch paint brush to fill in the rest. After getting two coats on, the wall was done!

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Even though it’s not the exact color I would’ve chosen on my own, it did coordinate well with the things I already had for the room, and I definitely think it made it much cozier.

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This also inspired me to finally have Justin hang a shelf that has just been propped against the wall for months. He made this triangle shelf several years ago and I think it brings warmth to the space.

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All in all, including the time it took me to gather materials, prep the wall, and paint, I would say this project took about 4 hours of active, hands-on work time. And the best part is – it cost me $0 since I exclusively used items I already had on hand.  Not bad for a spur-of-the-moment project!

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If there is one thing this project reminds me of, it’s don’t wait. Don’t wait years to know for sure exactly how a room might be used – rooms will always be evolving! Don’t wait until you have the exact perfect tools on hand – what you already have might do the job just fine! Don’t wait until you have a room perfect before you deem it worthy of sharing – celebrate the progress! There are still things I want to do here. We’ll eventually need to replace the carpet and trim. I’m waiting on a fun piece of artwork from my sister’s studio to put up a gallery wall next to the closet. The room will keep changing as Vi grows (or as our family changes) so I’m going to continue to just celebrate each step we take in making our house a home. I fall more and more in love with it in each change we make!

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Welcome to your new room, sweet Vi!