A Painted House

Archive for February 2011

Dear Edison,

This week you turned three months old.  And you’re ravenous. What’s that saying about a hollow leg?  ‘Cause I’m about to start thumping on your appendages or whistling into your sweet little wide-open-searching-for-food mouth and listening for an echo.  You want to eat all.the.time. day and night (don’t get me wrong, I feel you on that one, I really do), and I’m trying hard not to focus on how long this growth spurt might last and instead picturing just how cute I will look in those skinny jeans if this keeps up.  And when people ask me how I lost all the weight I’ll tell them it’s this great little program called The Hungry Baby. 

If your mouth isn’t open searching for sustenance, it’s because you’re trying to get your entire fist back somewhere near your uvula.  I swear, darling, you’re like one of those fish that lives with its mouth constantly open, sucking in anything that comes near it in hopes that it will prove satisfying.  A really, really cute sucker fish though. Just to be clear.  The upside of you having found your hands (and by the way, watching you fold and unfold your little fingers two inches from your face and seeing your eyes cross as you try so hard to focus on something that close to your eyes….always, always funny) is that if your pacifier falls out of your mouth you have an instant replacement!  Only you’re not quite adept enough to maneuver all those pesky fingers in a way that you can really get a good hold on them (maybe we should have James hold a seminar on that, he’s got it DOWN).  So instead of a quiet, squeaky sucking sound we are routinely serenaded by the shlurp and squelch of a determined baby who just can’t quite shove that knuckle far enough down his throat.  It sounds reminiscent of someone is using the plunger on the sink with enough vigor to cause the plants in the front yard to suddenly disappear into a hole and pop out of the disposal.  Only LOUDER.

Edison, before your next letter your Mama will turn thirty years old.  On one hand that sounds really old but on the other I look at your sweet face and feel like as the mother of two children, I’ve earned thirty.  Before you were born regularly I told you that for my birthday you could give me a full night’s sleep and I would be a happy woman.  And for a while there I thought we were right on track for that goal.  You were sleeping longer and longer stretches, even going six hours at a time between meals on occasion.  It.was.glorious.  And then last week you seem to have lost focus and reverted back to the early days of waking every two hours to eat.  Think about this, son; of all the people in my life you have the opportunity to give me the most cherished gift by doing……nothing.  At least between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.  I think your Dad would kill for the opportunity to get away with a gift like that.  So please take the offer, because in light of your recent sucker-fish impersination I could really use the sleep.

It’s February now Edison, which is not only the shortest but also the meanest month of the year.  It’s a tease, making us think that Spring is coming and then BAM!  It’s frigid again and we wake up to seventy-two inches of snow.  Kind of like you and that whole sleeping through the night thing, hmmm?  Anywhoo.  I can’t wait for Spring to come because you’re going to LOVE it.  Thus far you’ve lived your entire life inside, barring the sixty second walks into and out of various buildings.  And as far as you know this is all there is, the four of us bouncing around the inside of our house and off of each other as we wait out the permacloud.   Your warm little body, crystal-clear blue eyes, and enthusiastic grin has been a bright spot in the winter gloom.  But just wait, Edison, until you feel the sunshine on your face.   And taste sand from the sandbox because I wasn’t fast enough.  Or feel what grass is like under your feet and between your grubby little fingers as you yank it up by the roots.   And soon I won’t have to wrestle you into that ridiculously cute hat that you hate so much.  Spring means walks outside and fresh air and a whole world you know nothing about.  God was so good to us when he created new life and growth that re-appears each year, reminding us that even the darkest and coldest seasons will pass.  And since your little self has brought such joy and life to our family during these long months of confinement, I’m betting you and Spring will get along just fine.

Love, Mama


Last week a friend and I bundled up our four boys and did something stupid took them all on a thrift store shopping tour.  I was looking for two specific things (a desk chair and framed mirror), neither of which I found, but I did find a few other treasures.  Wanna see?

These Land’s End boots retail for $50.  FIF-TY DOLL-ARS.  Are you kidding me?  Who pays $50 for a pair of kids boots, which they will grow out of in one season?  Seriously.  I don’t even own an item of clothing that cost that much.  I paid $2.00 at St. Vincent’s, gave them a good washing, and tucked them away for next winter.

Ok, I’m really, really, really done buying Christmas items now.  Really.  But this wreath was too pretty to pass up.   It still has the Hobby Lobby tag on it for $39.99 and I paid $10 at the Salvation Army.  It looks kinda irridescent and gaudy in the photo, but in person it’s just beautiful and shimmery.

This one I won’t tell you about just yet, other than to say it was $3.00, because it’s part of another project.  Any guesses what it will be?

This wine rack was $2.00 at Goodwill and now holds towels in my bathroom.


The following glassware came from St. Vincent’s and the Salvation Arm.  The apple and short canister are in my kitchen, the pagoda-looking one is on display on a shelf I will tell you about soon, and the vial is headed for my bathroom shelves.  I paid around $8.00 for all four.

And since I’m covering thrift store purchases for the month, here are a couple of items I bought on a quick trip to Goodwill earlier this month, looking for that elusive bathroom mirror.  Isn’t this little biscuit tin cute?  I don’t know if it’s meant to hold the Tea or Dog variety, but I loved the gigantic cork topper.

Did you know that you can spray paint yellow trays with roosters on them and then put them in your living room?  You can.  And the world thanks you for it.

This little milk glass bottle was $1.00

And finally, I have a thing for little pedestals.  For example this one that I bought at Goodwill several years ago and painted, pictured in our old kitchen:

Display Disposables

This pedestal bowl is wooden and I spray painted it white  (shocking!).  It sits in my living room next to pictures of an adorable baby.  I imagine it will look beautiful full of ornaments at Christmastime.

But technically it’s not a Christmas decoration.  Because I’m done with that.  Really.

One of the things I love most about this house is the huge kitchen that just begs for big family and friend gatherings.   When we moved I just plopped our old table and chairs in the eat-in kitchen and hoped that someday I’d be able to get a bigger table to better suit the space.  Here’s a shot of shortly after we moved in:

I really wanted a round table, specifically one that seats six while still a circle – not four as a circle and six if you add a leaf and make it an oval.  We plan on having at least four children (I say that now, when we only have two) and my little mental picture includes all of us sitting around a round table at dinner and talking.  Or if our current pattern holds true, “talking” will consist of all of us sitting around a round table and Travis and I taking turns telling four faces to JUST PUT THE BITE IN YOUR MOUTH ALREADY.


I looked all over online and any round table that was big enough to accommodate six chairs was waaay out of my price range and then chairs would be an additional expense.  I planned to save my pennies for a couple of years before I could afford a new set.

Enter my best friend, Craigslist.

I responded to countless ads looking for a table the right size and even posted a wanted ad.  Nothing.  Then one week before Edison was due I came across an ad for a round table that was just big enough for our room, for only $60.  My fingers went flyin’ to my email.  So on the Tuesday before Edison was due on Thursday, my long-suffering husband trucked me and our toddler out to the edge of town and loaded up a solid wood table into the back of our van.  It juuuuuust fit.  And at 99.9995% pregnant,  I was no help.  He loves me.  (Side note: the lady wouldn’t budge on her $60 pricetag, even for a hugely pregnant chick.  Bummer, that belly on my short frame was usually good for at least 10$ off.)

So we brought her home, stuck her in the kitchen, and then I had a baby.  Well not that same night, she’s no Magic Labor Inducing Table (can you imagine the postage I’d spend sending this thing around the country to labor-desperate friends everywhere if she was?), but a few days later.  There she sat covered with a tablecloth for about two months until I felt the project itch again.

Here she is, before I got my hands on her:

The table top was pretty scratched-up medium tone wood and the bottom had been previously painted cream.  It looks pretty good in that photo but up close it was really dinged and dirty.

It’s a drop-leaf table; check out those fold-out support wings.  Eeesh.  Fly baby, fly.

The first thing we did was cut those suckers off.  Travis then cut and attached new streamlined support pieces that disappear under the tabletop.  Then we toted it out to the garage (Our neighbors must think we’re crazy.  Every couple of weeks we’re out in the front yard manhandling various pieces of furniture into or out of our house.  In the dead of winter.  I think there’s a good possibility we’re this neighborhood’s Janice and Ernie.).

Since my plan for our kitchen is to eventually decorate in black, white, and green, decided to go ahead and paint the table to match the plan in my head.  I applied one coat of adhesive primer and then killed off a large portion of my family’s brain cells spray painted the top in black semi-gloss, to match the kitchen hutch.   Did you know that if you spray paint something large and then leave your garage door open just a pinch the smell will spread through your whole house?  Awesome.  If the contact with the paint fumes has hurt James’ grasp of the English language we certainly haven’t noticed.  Anywhoo.  I brush painted the bottom with two coats of white semi-gloss.  The top received four coats of polyurithane and so far it’s cleaned up and held up beautifully.


The new “wings”….much better!

Once the table was finished I began the hunt for chairs.  Again, I didn’t want to spend a lot per chair since I’d need to buy six.  I came across these darling schoolhouse chairs on Amazon and a quick Google search found them for only $43 a piece!  Sold.  It was a website I’d not heard of before but for that price I was willing to risk it.   They arrived less than a week later, with free shipping no less.

And then they arrived and I gave myself carpal tunnel putting those silly things together with a million tiny screws and one of those teeny hexagon screwdrivers.  Quarter-turn, quarter-turn, quarter-turn.

One final comparison Before and After:

A custom table and six chairs for just $300!

  • Why must there always be a title?  How am I supposed to title a post that is by definition, a bunch of random junk?
  • Our kids totally tag-teamed us this morning.  From 5:00 on we heard a complaint of some kind from one or the other every. twenty. minutes. You know, just far enough apart that you can drift back off to sleep before a random screech sends your heartrate through the roof.  Travis typically fields distress calls from James and I handle all things Edison, so at 6:00 we were both laying awake wondering aloud to each other how they managed to coordinate their timing to ensure that NO ONE SLEEPS.  Stinkers.
  • My baby just took a full feeding for the first time in four days.  And then promptly fell deeply asleep for a morning nap.  Ahhh.  I have no idea what has been his problem but hopefully this signals the end of the I’m on a Diet So I’ll Just Have a Small Snack Every Three Hours, Thanks portion of our month.
  • That probably means I should be showering, not blogging.  Ehh.
  • I let James watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse solely so I can watch him do the hot dog dance at the end.  Kid’s got moves.
  • Also, the Where is Warehouse Mouse? segment of Imagination Movers always follows MMC and I derive great amusement watching my kid yell and point, “HE’S RIGHT THERE!” at the screen when they can’t find him even though he’s in PLAIN SIGHT.
  • Apparently I do NOT need another cup of coffee, as I’m plenty wound up.
  • Had some old friends and some new friends over to watch the Superbowl last night.  We love having the room to comfortably entertain a group without requiring anyone to sit on anyone else’s lap or having to yell over our children (thank you, play room).
  • Bummed though that football is over, as I couldn’t care less about basketball or baseball.
  • I’m thankful for a Monday morning with no plans, freshly bathed children, clean laundry, and a moderately clean house.  I feel like I’m three steps ahead going into my week.
  • We’re debating how to handle James’ birthday this year.  We did a big party for his first and just grandparents for his second.  I’m not sure if we want to get into the routine of a friends party every other year, or just wait until he’s five and has friends from school to invite.   No party between ages one and five does seem like a long time, but he certainly won’t know or care at this age.  Especially since the friends we’d invite, he sees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
  • Ok, really must shower now. 
  • And then (Teaser Alert!) take pictures of my latest room redo for a post later this week.
  • Happy Monday!

Several months ago we asked for suggestions regarding Christian kids music for James.  LOTS of you suggested the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart CDs by Steve Green and I’m so glad you did.  They’ve been playing in our car pretty much ever since, to the point that James can sing along with most of the songs.  There’s something so pure in hearing your toddler’s sweet little voice singing from memory, the words God gave us to live by.  It makes me feel like we’re doing something right.

So a few mornings ago when I was feeding the baby in our bedroom before coming down for the day.  (Stay with me, I promise my abrupt change in subject does relate.)  Normally I get James setup in his chair with his breakfast before sitting down to nurse Edison, but this morning Edison was the hungrier of the two.  James, finding ways to amuse himself upstairs, opened my nightstand drawer and found two tubes of chapstick.  He can’t get the lids off without my help, so I let him play with them because it beats having to holler at him from my immobile state to TURN OFF THE WATER in the bathroom.  Anyway.

So while he played and I nursed, I asked him if he wanted to sing the Fruits of the Spirit song from the aforementioned CD.  (See?  I told you it would come back around.)  “Umm, ok!” he said and we sang together, “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.  The fruits of the Spirit are faithfulness, gentleness, and self control!”  He knows all the words by heart.  Melt MY heart.

Two days later I was once again feeding Edison before we came downstairs for the morning.  Ever one for repetition, James went to my nightstand looking for the chapsticks.  Only they weren’t there.  Immediately he turned to me and asked, “Where are the Fruits of the Spirit, Mama?   Want the Fruits of the Spirit.”


Yep, my two-year-old thinks chapstick is the Fruit of the Spirit.  Maybe we’re not making quite as much progres in his Spiritual Formation as I thought.

Either that or he’s inherited my marketing genes and he’s brilliant.  Coming soon to a Family Christian store near you, the Fruits of the Spirit chapstick line …..Lovely Lemon, Joyful JuJube, Peaceful Peach, Patient Pear, Kindness Kiwi, Goodness Grape, Faithful Fig,  Gentle Guava, and Self-Control Starfruit.

Collect all eight.

Dear Edison.

Last week you turned 2 months old.  There is something so magical about the two-month mark in a baby’s life.  You suddenly transition from a little lump of baby into a smiling, giggling, cooing, charm machine wearing a dinosaur sleeper.   Your little personality is coming out in spades and let me tell you son, in this house full of big personalities you hold your own.  You’ve found your star quality and you’re working it for all it’s worth. Edison, you are one of the smiliest babies I’ve ever seen.  You cracked your first little smirk at three weeks old and it didn’t take more than a day or two before you realized that a big grin is your highest form of currency.  You seem to already understand that if you put on a big googly smile and coo a few syllables you’ll get and keep the rapt attention of every adult in the room.  As  a second child this is a particularly ingenious  move because you looooove personal attention and the big kid is capable of stealing it all away with one well-timed jump off of something high.  Nothing makes you happier than when your Dad and I lean over you and encourage you to interact with us by turning into a pair of chipmunks, squeaking and chattering because it makes you smile.  And then you glance over at your brother with those luminous, shining eyes and gummy grin and one can almost hear the challenge being extended, “Compete with that, Big Brother.  Bring it.”

Thankfully, your brother really does seem to like you.  My Mommy heart puddles each time he prays before our dinner and thanks God for his baby brother.  When you fuss he comes over, leans in close to your face, and asks you, “Why are you so sad, baby brother?  It’s ok, it’s ok.”  He wants to check on you while you sleep (often signaling the end of your sleep – sorry about that), asks you to play cars in the play room, and in general invades your space on a daily basis to the point that it endangers your personal safety.   And it’s all out of love, at least for now.  We’re just watching and waiting, ever ready for the day he tries to shove cheese up your nose.  Should he prove stealthier than I anticipate, I promise to get it all out so you don’t go through life thinking the world smells of cheddar.  Though I can think of worse things.

Edison, I believe you are what’s referred to as an Easy Baby.  God bless you, child.  It seems, looking back with a new level of experience, that your brother was NOT an easy baby.  Adorable, joyful, darling? Yes. But easy?  No.  So to have a child who eats willingly and eagerly, sleeps well and without a fight, and spends much of his awake time happily observing the world around him….well, it’s less a pleasant surprise and more a total shock to the system.  For months leading up to your arrival I was mentally preparing for the onslaught of the sleepless nights, questionable napping, and pokey eating I associated with newborns, only to receive, well, you.  What a blessing you are, sweet pea.

Also worth mentioning, somewhere near the eight week mark we finally, finally, finally reached the glorious state where the process of you eating lunch doesn’t leave me curling my toes, eyes raised to heaven, crying on the couch, whispering “Jesus, help me.”  You have no idea the dedication, determination, and questionable mental state it takes to shove a hungry baby toward a broken and bleeding part of one’s anatomy ten times per day, Edison.  Should you ever seek proof that your mother might be just a little bit Type A, a little “I started it so I’m going to finish it IF IT KILLS ME,”  don’t start with my college GPA or the four years I spent behind a desk putting your Dad through medical school.  Look to the first few weeks of your life, my determination to outlast the pain if it meant a year or more of free food and protection for your immune system, and the sheer stubborness displayed therein.  Just keep all that in mind when that same personality trait that netted you the best nutrition as an infant also makes you organize your underpants by color.

All that to say, Huzzah! for two months.

Love, Mama

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