Monday, February 28, 2011

make it awesome.

See this?

I've got a giant pile of that, waiting for me.

And this?

This little thing needs my attention, nearly every moment that he's awake.

Most days, my to-do list is a mile long. There are dirty dishes in the sink. Unfinished projects are everywhere. I could be planning trips to Italy... making more money... sheesh, even drinking coffee in silence. Instead, I clean diaper pails, jump at the sound of a little voice wailing through the baby monitor, and scramble to dry my hair before the little guy is totally awake.


Rewind, to 18 months ago.

I'm in my very own office {which, at the time, was larger than my bedroom at home!}. A vanilla latte sits on the desk next to me. I'm wearing heels. On my to-do list are words like paint colors, decorate, coffee with friends, shopping, nap, and rest. The sun is shining. I've got friends working in the offices next to mine; I can pop in and say hello whenever I want. I can take leisurely lunch breaks. I can do whatever I want.

And instead...

I'm sitting there, staring out the window, at the bike path that runs past our building. A woman jogs by, pushing a stroller, moving fast. And all I can think is, "I wish I was her."


I wanted to be that momma, jogging off down the trail. She probably didn't have a care in the world, beside taking her little darling baby out for some fresh air. Maybe they'd stop off for an ice cream cone, or roll around on the grass in the park. Of course, her baby never cried. She could push that child through any store, and baby would coo with contentment. Life would be grand, if that was me, ponytail bobbing to the beat of my gym shoes, as I pounded away, pushing my baby...


See my point?

You already know I've got a few unresolved issues that need dealing with {*grin*}. But I'm serious here.

Wherever you're at, there are going to be negatives. What's hanging you up?

Too many kids?
No kids at all?
A job that stinks?
Single, wishing you were married?
Married, wishing you were single?
Not enough money?
An apartment, when you'd rather have a house?
An unfinished house?
Old clothes?
Not enough peace and quiet?
Too much to do?

Let it go.

You've only got one shot at today.

Be faithful with what whatever you've got, big or little. Take what you have, and make it awesome. Rock it out. Live your life now.

Because, wherever you think you want to be... by the time you get there, you'll already be looking at the next thing. And the next. And the next.

Contentment is only possible by the grace of God.

So, wherever you're at today...

Be all there.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

before and after : stairs

I'm thinking hard about the direction of this little blog, which is why I've been posting so infrequently. In the meantime, here's a "little" project that I tackled at the end of 2010 and never got around to blogging about.


Once upon a time, my husband and I bought a dirty cat house. We worked on it hardcore for six months, moved in, and had our baby just two weeks later. At that point, the house was livable, and almost finished... but there were still projects galore, niggling at the back of my mind.

One of them was our staircase.

The kickplates had been painted white before we moved in, but the paint was cheap, watered-down latexy junk, and started peeling off almost instantly... revealing stinky, smelly stained wood underneath. Ick.

Here's the staircase, after I scraped the paint off:


To make this project more challenging, we had already had the flat part of the stairs refinished {that's the nice wood that you see}. Meaning, clumsy, splatter-painter-me would have to be extra careful...

I took a weekend, and painted. And painted. And painted. {Marty should get credit for this job, too. He watched a squirmy baby for almost 48 hours straight so that I could get this done...}

Here are a few more before pictures:

Notice the missing door in this one :)

And, here are the afters:

Much better, right?! {It only took me ten months to get around to it...}

If I keep this pace up, I'll finish my "to-do around the house" list in 3,027 years. Yippee!

{anyone have any tips on mustering up inspiration for finishing unfinished projects? I'd love to hear them! I've got a good one of my own: invite the whole neighborhood over for a Christmas party. It'll get any eye-sore projects in your house finished in no time!}

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Last week, Chicago was hit with a giant blizzard. Depending on who you talk to, we got up to two feet of snow dumped on us. The morning after the storm, we opened our front door, and the snow was up to Marty's waist. It was so stinkin' awesome.

I'm one of those weird people who likes shoveling snow. So while Charlie napped, Marty and I shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled. {mind you, our driveway isn't that long. we just had these ridiculous snow drifts in front of our house, seriously waist-deep. again, AMAZING! when does it EVER snow like that?!}

Our neighbors were out shoveling, too. We waved, and laughed, and watched their little boys body-slam each other into snow drifts. Charlie woke up, and we brought him outside in his cutsie-baby sled. And then, we all shoveled the driveway of a lady across the street who never talks to anyone. It looked like she was out of town, and who wants to come home to three feet of snow in their driveway? Six shovels made the work go fast. See us pictured, above {minus Marty, the designated photographer}. Later that night, we had an impromptu party, with spicy chili and hot dogs on the menu. I learned that one of our neighbors was a tank operator in the Czech army, another neighbor makes her own yarn, and yet another guy has antique motorcycles in his dining room.


Since the big snow day, I've heard other stories of other people's neighbors being, well, neighborly. Shoveling sidewalks. Pushing out cars. Salting driveways. So, the snow? Love it or hate it: crazy weather makes for good comradery... and yet another opportunity to love your neighbor.


we really do have exceptional neighbors.


It's stuff like this that makes buying a cat house totally worth it :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

true life, dude.

Sometimes, I feel really bad when I read other people's blogs. I get really down on myself, and subconsciously start saying silly things:

Look how cool that person is. She created her very own china cabinet out of sugar cubes, spray-painted it magenta, and then posted a tutorial with step-by-step photos so that the rest of the world can relish in her creativity and see how pulled-together she is.


She makes her own delicious baby food out of guavas and lima beans? I don't even know what a guava looks like. I'm a terrible mom. My child will now squander in utter malnourishment, because I don't know how to make that mystical guava/lima bean concoction.

{Totally overblown, but you get the idea.}

I blame myself, not other people, for these assumptions I'm making. No one is trying to project themselves as a perfect, look-at-me-I'm-the-bomb-dot-com person {I hope}. Instead, I see what other people are doing, and then flail my arms and run around in circles because I'm, well, not doing the same thing, too.

But, you see -- preaching to myself here -- I've been given a specific set of gifts and abilities. I can make lists like crazy. I get things DONE. I can glance at a paragraph and spot all of its grammatical mistakes in less than ten seconds. I can sometimes take pretty pictures. I can paint {with anything but watercolors. I hate watercolors. the end.}

etc. etc.


I can't make myself enjoy making pureed baby food. {I'll DO it. But I won't enjoy it. Sorry. I think it's boring.}

I can't build a china cabinet... out of sugar cubes, or any other porous material.

I can't really meal-plan well, or figure out how to organize my basement, or handle more than one child at a time {ha!}, or enjoy cleaning toilets {or anything, for that matter}, or strike up a witty conversation with a stranger sitting next to me, or play an instrument in front of a crowd without getting nervous, or... or... or...

{the list goes on}

So, I've come to a conclusion. You all keep doing what you're doing. You know... blogging, living, blogging about how you're living, etc.

And I will (1) be thankful that I have access to such an incredible group of creative, lovely people {both in the blog world, and in my face-to-face relationships}; (2) learn from your creative, lovely awesomeness; and (3) be happy with who I am.

My pastor says that, when in doubt, always err on the side of humility. And, since I'm in need of boatloads of grace {James 4:6}, I'm off to eat some humble pie.

Happy Friday!

p.s. Here are some of the cupcakes I made for Charlie's birthday party. They were fun to look at, and made our mouths turn blue :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a whole year

It's midnight. My little guy turns one year old today.

If I had half a brain, I'd write a witty blog post about life with a one-year-old, or how crazy it is that a year with Charlie went by so fast {or slow?}, or about some of my favorite memories from this past year {teaching Marty how to explode peeps in the microwave, maybe? holding Charlie for the first time? yep, definitely up there with those peeps...}

Instead, I'm a ball of mush. Tired, floppy, brainy mush. I had a million things to do tonight to get ready for little Charles's big day tomorrow {you know, the day he's going to remember so much about}, and instead, all I did was make a big, blue frosting mess in the kitchen, watch my husband sweep the floor, and poke around on the computer, editing pictures and making slideshows that are really, totally unnecessary. I've got this urge to do something monumental, since, well, this is sort of a monumental day. And instead, all I've done is stay up late, and turn into a crab. {poor Marty.}

Happy birthday, Charlie-warlie, from your mush-brain mommy and your patient daddy.

psssst. You're our favorite :)

{Click here for a little slideshow I put together of Charlie's first 365 days.}