October 21, 2014

So, They Took Crib Tents Off the Market...

That crib tents can no longer be bought anywhere is news to me. I don't know the backstory as to why this ban exists, but presumably, they were some kind of hazard.  I don't know because even though my two year old is my third child, I have never used or needed a crib tent.  When my girls were about 18 months old, I started worrying that they would try to climb out of their cribs and get hurt, so I switched them to a twin bed.  Here's how that went:

1. We dismantled the crib.

2. We put the new bed in her room.

3. She slept in it.

That was it.  It was one of those parenting moments where you feel like a rock star who has it all under control because your child just did the thing you wanted them to do.  I didn't yet know that this had absolutely nothing to do with me and my supposed awesomeness.  They just did it, so I thought it was easy. "Why do people need crib tents?" I wondered.

And then we had this boy.

Cute, right?

Well, when he became able to crawl out of his crib at will and with ease (a part of me must have known not to switch him preemptively), I took the front off his convertible crib and bought him big boy sheets.  "This is his new bed, and he will sleep in it," I thought.

No.  That did not happen.  He did love the sheets. But we did not sleep.


For nine days, pregnant, cranky me toiled through short, broken or missing naps and fragmented nights, sometimes sleeping only an hour or two at a time.  Sometimes sleeping on the floor.  ON THE FLOOR. Did I mention that I am pregnant?  No pregnant woman should even sleep on the floor.  Ever.  If I start a charity, it will be Beds for the Pregnant.

It was bad.  On the tenth morning, my overtired toddler threw a huge, colossal, mammoth tantrum.  It was huge, and it was outside.  (My poor neighbors...) And then I had a Pregnant Woman Meltdown. Once we calmed ourselves down with lollipops, bourbon (kidding!) and Bob the Builder, I set out to find a crib tent on the internet. On the black market if I had to.  I knew when I was beat, and this was it.  He had to go back to the crib.

After scouring baby stores, amazon and about a million blogs, I came across a reply that someone left to a comment on a random blog that I hoped would work just as well as a crib tent.  It was like finding the needle in the haystack. I couldn't find it again if I tried.  Here is the gist of what it said:

Lower the mattress inside the crib to the floor so the crib walls are too high to climb.

Now, I'm not the kind of person who jerry-rigs a crib for a toddler, but I was just desperate enough to try it. You can see from the picture that I zip-tied the wooden piece that is meant to hold the mattress off the floor to the legs of the crib, which added about an inch to the floor mattress.  The effect looks a lot like baby jail.

Pardon the poor photography, but you get the idea. I also put him to bed with slippery socks on so he can't get traction with his feet on the slats. AND I ordered him a sleep sack in case a Plan B is needed.  Yeah, I'm serious about him staying in there.

With the essentially-just-a-ladder chair removed from next to the bed and the rest of the bedtime accoutrements, he is playing happily. The crib wrap isn't even straight, but, in my defense, I was tired!

Disclaimer: As you can see from the picture, our crib walls sit very close to the floor already so no gap is left between the mattress and the crib for any body part to become caught.  If your crib has a gap, then this would be a very bad idea.  I know anyone reading this is too smart to trust that their baby would be safe in a jerry-rigged crib recommended by some random lady on the internet.  Use your judgement. If you suspect it might not be safe, then don't do it!

His response to a return to his crib, was to take a three hour nap and then sleep all night long.  He was calm.  His peace was returned to him. When I was putting the finishing touches on the crib, I said to him, "Aren't you glad that ordeal is over?" He looked right in my face and said, "Yeah!" I had stressed the poor little guy out, and now he was safe again inside the walls.

I guess some kids can be physically able to do stuff that they aren't emotionally ready for.  And when that happens, we moms can turn to blogs of the harried moms who went before us and maybe pick up a few jewels of parenting knowledge.  If you have found that here today, then I'm glad.  May you have many quiet, peaceful night of toddler sleep ahead of you!

August 19, 2014

The Antidote to Being Hurt by Mean People is Humility

I just love this blog.  To be honest, I haven't looked at it much over the past few months.  But when I log back in and see how pretty it is, it just makes me happy to be here.

So, I had kind of a... breakthrough. There is this thing, in my mind, which prevents me from writing my blog, and saying what should be said and doing what should be done. I had convinced myself that it wasn't anything - just a little thing in my head.  Nothing to worry about there. But then I realized that I have been letting it run my life for me.

 It's kind of like a little devil in red tights who sits on my shoulder and says stuff like, "Why are you doing this (insert worthwhile thing)? It's a waste of your time and people will criticize you for it. They will criticize you when you're not there and ignore you when you are there." (I know people like this, unfortunately. I wish they weren't this way, but they are. And I have been letting it paralyze me.)

I hate criticism. And I hate to be ignored. And that was where I got stuck. No matter what I did, these people and subsequently, the voice in my head, would criticize and ignore.  For years this has gone on. And then I realized the antidote to this poison:


When someone criticizes us and makes us feel like they are great and we are trash, the only way out of this trap is humility. When someone cuts us off in traffic, and then flips us the bird (I live in northern Virginia - that kind of stuff happens here), the only way to not let it get to you is humility. When the work you have done is not acknowledged, the only way to be free of the bitterness is humility.

We can't make the mean people stop. We can get angry and allow bitterness and resentment to build up, but that is poison for the soul. The only way to be free from it is to welcome it.  To thank God for allowing us to be humbled, and to seek to further humble ourselves.

I came across this list of "humility rules," written by Mother Teresa, who is, as you know, my favorite saint in the whole world. Some of these are easy and some are terrifically hard, and which are which probably varies from person to person:

1. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
2. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
3. Avoid curiosity.
4. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
5. Accept small irritations with good humor.
6. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
7. Accept censures even if unmerited.
8. Give in to the will of others.
9. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

This is a lot of stuff. So, I decided to focus on #1 and #15. 

I talk about myself ALL THE TIME.  Just because I talk all the time!  And I'm always telling everyone what's going on with me.  And when it's my immediate family, that means complaining.  It's been a process, but I am improving.

Choosing always the more difficult task, for me, means just doing the chore without comment.  Don't wait for my husband to take out the trash, clear the table, bathe the children, but just do it without comment.

The goal in working through this list is to strengthen the humility muscle. So that when the mean-spirited and thoughtless strike, which they will, it will not paralyze me. And maybe this will silence the little red-clad man on my shoulder. And maybe I will even become a better person.

June 21, 2014

80s Lamps Revamped

I'll just begin by saying that it's good to be back!  Please forgive my hiatus of the past few months.  In that time, we left homeschooling, committed to a Catholic school and found out we're expecting baby #4.  It's been a lot of personal upheaval for me, and I guess I just wasn't ready to talk about it.  More on all that later.

For now, I want to tell you about some of the projects I've been working on, mostly for the new baby's room. We'll be finding out if it's a boy or a girl in the next few weeks (we're those people) but for decorating purposes, it doesn't matter. I have seen a few yellow and gray nurseries on Pinterest that I just LOVE. Works for a boy or a girl.

So, how ugly is this lamp?  I mean, when my mother-in-law bought it 30 years ago, it was probably very fashion forward and trendy.  It was the 80s. My husband and I were lucky enough to inherit two of these beauties.  SCORE.

Over the past several years they have held various positions in our home, always looking very brass. I wanted an awesome new FREE lamp for the baby's room. So I looked online for how to redo a lamp shade, figuring that it would be easy to just spray paint the brass away - and it was.  I found this tutorial on YouTube for the lamp shade. I won't bother re-creating it for you here, since the very energetic and flamboyant man in the video explains it so well.

It was at this point that I began to feel very liberated and free from the ugliness...

I used leftover material from the quilt I made my husband for Christmas last year, and Rustoleum Universal Metallic Paint and Primer in One in Oil Rubbed Bronze to cover the brass. And in the end, it looked like this:

The baby's room is still a work in progress.  I painted this old, ugly 80s dresser in Annie Sloan's French Linen chalk paint, but I haven't put the drawer pulls on yet.  Wall art is also still a work in progress.

I loved the way it turned out so much that I quickly redid its mate for my middle daughter's room. You might think the color scheme in there is a bit wonky...  My philosophy for my big girls was to minimally decorate the nursery so they could choose the decor when they are old enough to care.  The result: every color and pattern in a mish-mash of whatever.  Maybe that's why I'm being so comprehensive in the new baby's decor.  

Remember the kitchen sign tutorial?  I use the same process to create this wall art for her room.

I hope this post has inspired you to pull some terrible 80s furnishings out of the dustbin and give them a new go at life!

May 19, 2014

First Communion Bride

Last week, my oldest daughter received her first holy communion, and she wore the white dress.  And the veil.  And the fancy shoes.  Isn't she pretty?

I wasn't raised Catholic, and when I received my first communion, I was 14.  I was baptized the same day and I think even had my confession before Mass.  Yep - it was just one of your ordinary three sacrament days. Anyway, I was too old for the fancy dress and veil, and the church in Carrollton, Ohio where I received these sacraments was pretty casual. I think I may have even worn white jeans.

So when the time came for my girl to receive the sacrament, I wondered why they dressed like brides.  In my research, I came across many different answers.  Some said, "You're getting married to Jesus!" and that sounded good to me.  The relationship between the child and God is similar to marriage.  There is a communion of persons, and it's exclusive in the sense that she can't worship any other gods.  But it's not like the vows a nun takes when she enters into a spiritual marriage with God.  It's more... basic.  More fundamental.  More bodily.

Some said that the white dress symbolizes purity.  Ok - I get that.  The child has been to confession a time or five, and they are pure when they receive.

Some said it is a symbol of their baptism. Alright.

I don't know.  None of these answers satisfied me fully.  It seemed to me to be a combination of these things.  Brides wear white to symbolize purity.  The veil, which is pulled back during the ceremony, symbolizes the new openness she has to her husband.  And the marriage is the time at which the two become one flesh.  Their bodies literally become one in the marital act.

I condensed this for my daughter into a sound byte which I hope would stick with her:

When the body of one Person enters the body of another Person for the first time, you wear the white dress. 

And the veil.  And the fancy shoes.

Receiving communion is a co-mingling of Persons.  We dress little girls as brides because they are accepting the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus into their bodies, where they will, hopefully, become one flesh.

I hope to impress upon my daughter the gravity and permanence of one person entering the body of another person.  Of course, she'll come to a greater understanding of what I'm talking about as she gets older. But for now, it's her and it's God.  And she is so excited to receive Him in communion.

March 26, 2014

Do You Have a Little Boy Who Needs a Tie for Easter?

How cute is this little man in his spankin' tie?  If you have a little guy in your life who needs to be super spiffy this Easter, visit my Etsy shop and place your order before the one you want is sold out! (Some styles are already sold out and some have only one or two left.)

I think the look on his face makes up for the slightly blurry picture.

The shirt he's wearing here isn't even the kind that's supposed to go with a tie, but it's comfy and that works for me. 

"I don't always wear a tie, but when I do, I prefer one my mommy made."

Actually, he wears ties a lot.  If he finds one in the bottom of my diaper bag or that has fallen on the floor, he holds it up to his neck and hands it to me to put it on him.

I like the clip-on ties because if your curious boy pulls on it, it comes off.  That makes me feel confident that if I am not looking directly at him when he's wearing it, there's no strangulation hazard.  It just pops off.  And I pop it right back on.  ;)

Again.  Blurry, but totally worth it.
Note for local friends: If you live near me, enter the coupon code LOCAL in the checkout process to waive the shipping cost, and I can give it to you when I see you or you can swing by my house.  :)

March 16, 2014

How I Cut and Highlighted my own Hair and Saved, Well... A Lot of Money

I feel kind of bad writing about something trivial like hair during Lent.  But, it's Sunday and I really wanted to share this with you.  It'll be a Feast of Beauty! Lent will restart tomorrow.

Since we sent our oldest child to Catholic school (more on that later), we have been wondering how we're going to pay for two, and eventually three, children to go, too.  Turns out, private school aint cheap!


So, we have been looking for ways to not spend money.  Cleaning our own house, mowing our own grass (if spring ever comes), eating in instead of out 98% of the time, clipping coupons every week and not just when I feel like it, and not getting my hair done at the salon are just a few of the ways we have been cutting back back.  (I hope no one in a third world country is reading this, because I sound soooooo spoiled.)

I never spent a lot of time or effort thinking about my hair because I paid through the nose four times a year for the stylist to do that for me.  Because I am a vain person, I was a little stressed at how I was going to make my hair look decent doing it myself.

You might think, "Devin is an artist!  She must be good at hair..."  Not so.  I am TERRIBLE. I have colored and cut my hair and other people's hair in the past at about a 90% fail rate.  It looked good about 10% of the time.  Maybe less.

Still - I was undeterred.  I thought - hairdressers have to know how to do everyone's hair.  I only have to do one person's hair.  How hard can that be???

This is a testament to what a little confidence in one's own ability can do for a person.  Confidence can overcome a complete lack of ability, talent and knowledge. I am living proof, because, when it comes to hair, I have none of those.

I watched You Tube videos and searched Pinterest.  I found a video I liked telling how to cut layers into long hair and one that told me how to use Frost and Glow to get natural looking highlights. (Sorry about all the cleavage in these videos.  Sheesh!) I tried these and was shocked to find that it looked pretty good! And I learned a few things in the process, like that already highlighted hair takes bleach more quickly than roots.  At $7 a box, I can just do better next time.

In matters totally unrelated to the looming gigantic bill for private school, I have been having some nightmares lately. I have found myself up at 3am unable to go back to sleep.  More Pinterest.  More You Tube.  I learned all sorts of stuff, including how to make my hair look like this:

It is so easy and quick:

I also learned how to do lots of fun hairstyles, like a poofy ponytail and a messy ponytail and other stuff. There are whole blogs dedicated to nothing but HAIR.  Who knew?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you in case you pay through the nose for hair, too, and always wanted to try it yourself but were afraid to. Search Pinterest for a picture of what you want, and You Tube for videos on how to do it.

Have confidence and take your time.

Good luck!  :)

March 2, 2014

Day 7: Whew!

So, I wrote seven posts in seven days.

It was HARD.  And lots of days, I did it even though I didn't really have time.  (Sleep is for suckers.)  It forced me to clean out my mental queue of stuff I wanted to talk about.  And overshare about my daily life.  And tell you about all the crafty stuff I'm working on.

Thanks for reading.  And now I will go bury my head in a book/painting/knitting project/sewing machine and leave you in peace for a bit. 

If you missed any of the last week (gasp!) here's a list so you can  catch up...

Day 1: On Being Overly Sensitive and Dealing with Passive Aggression

Day 2: On Hearing the Truth About Yourself, Even When it Stinks

Day 3: On Unfinished Projects (Pictures!)

Day 4: On Lent, Which is Coming Soon, and My Plan for It

Day 5: A Moment of Insanity with Preschoolers Brought on by the Internet

Day 6: Twirly Skirts. Rainbows. Chevrons. Girliness.

And this cop-out post, is day 7.  Thank you, dear reader.  Thank you.