Posted in Family

High Needs Hell

***previously published on Harness Magazine: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/high-needs-hell/

High needs babies. Have you heard of them? If your child naps every day, sleeps in a crib or lets you go into the next room without an atomic meltdown, I’m guessing you have not. For the mothers and fathers that empathize with the above conundrums, I feel you. It is real.

Do not let anyone pressure you into thinking you’re doing everything wrong and all babies follow the same simplistic formula. That propaganda is detrimental to high need parents.

Our eyes are heavy, our clothes are dirty, and we are beyond touched out. I teetered on the edge of a mental breakdown with my first child before I stumbled across an article about high needs babies and subsequently found a book titled The Fussy Baby Book. As those words leapt off the page, a sliver of light greeted me in my dark lonely tunnel.

For the first time since my daughter’s birth, I felt competent enough to care for her needs and I had hope that things would improve. I’d be able to run to the bathroom without her clinging to my shirt and I could clean the house without the weight of my baby carrier. By the time she was one, I had a handle on her quirks.

And then I got pregnant. My son was born exactly forty weeks from her first birthday.

For those with high needs babies, you fear another high needs infant. It’s terrifying. Then, you weigh the odds and figure there’s probably no way you’ll land yourself another clinger. Statistically speaking, this can only get easier, right?

Enter my son. He’s off the charts for high needs. His clingy behavior is more than I could have imagined. He’s affectionate and giggly. He gives hugs like no other and blows kisses from across the room, but there is no escape.

My daughter liked to play with relatives and family outings were a small break in the monotony of my chaotic life. My son, on the other hand, digs his nails into my shoulders and squeezes for dear life. The mere thought of going to another adult causes crocodile tears and sobbing to the point of gagging.

Now, I understand that there’s nothing I can do short of exposure therapy or trial by fire. The only way I can get a break is to rip off the band-aid and apologize to whoever volunteers to watch him, but I can’t do that.

Mom guilt is fierce so I endure the endless touching and constant whining because I’m his mom. I’m their mom. The thought of him worrying himself into hysterics is too much and has deterred me from leaving up to this point.

I haven’t been shopping without either of them. I haven’t had my hair done in a salon in nearly two years. My husband and I haven’t had dinner without at least one of them in over three years. Oh, and yes my son still sleeps in our bed.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a toll on us, but he’s on the same page as me. He doesn’t like the idea of leaving them, nor do we have babysitters that we trust won’t go off the deep end with their constant whining. I know what you’re thinking.

It can only get better, right?

That was my driving thought, but then I found out I was pregnant. It was never a serious thought. I only took the test to put my mind at ease because I had been nauseous for a couple of days.

Nope. Two lines. Two terrifying lines.

I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t devastated and I won’t pretend that I’m over the moon excited. At twelve weeks, I’m just now able to accept my fate and the possibility that my next will be just as needy.

Motherhood is hard. It’s heart-wrenching, exhausting, isolating, humiliating, and beautiful all at the same time. I know I’ll love this baby just as I love my two Velcro babies.

But I honestly don’t know how I’ll survive. I know I will, but the exact formula for making it through the next two years is unbeknownst to me. I’m bracing myself for the worst with as much optimism as I can muster.

This isn’t written in hopes of pity or words of encouragement. It’s simply thrown out there to let other women know they aren’t alone in feeling trapped by their all-consuming role as a mom.

I see you and I’m weathering this hurricane with you.

Posted in DIY

Peel & Stick Wallpaper DIY

I had big plans…and then I decided smaller plans might be more attainable this go around lol.

So I decided to spruce up this weird wall space in the “hall” that leads to our basement.

Empty Wall Space

Once upon a time, there were doors here and the kitchen and living space were chopped up. (Thank goodness we didn’t have to do the work to open it all up 🙌🏼)

BEFORE

But…I still really craved more craftsman charm and this weird space framed by lots of trim felt naked. {insert wallpaper}

Where to Buy

So I looked on Amazon. Then I looked at Target. Then came Etsy but, lawd have mercy, I was not dropping that kind of cash for just a small project. Sooo back to Amazon and I found a Scandinavian print that reminded me of a few pricier arts & crafts styles I saw on Etsy. It’s Nuwallpaper peel & stick.

Obviously, the husband was not on board for this loud print, but who’s driving this bus, right? 🙋🏼‍♀️

Wallpaper Application

It took lots of cutting and lots of matching the pattern to fill this space. I underestimated how much matching I’d have to do but we got there…

I suggest a razor blade or an X-acto knife to trim around the woodwork. A squeegee or plastic paint scraper works wonders for smoothing bubbles too.

I just started at one corner and peeled the backed off at a 45 degree angle as I pressed the wallpaper onto the wall. Simple as that!

***lesson learned*** DO NOT peel too much of the backing off before you’re ready. The paper will stick to itself and screw it up beyond repair once it’s wrinkled.

Yay Wallpaper!

Needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with this snazzy new wall and it doesn’t feel overwhelming since it’s just a small space.

And I definitely see more wallpaper in my future.

Posted in DIY

Dresser to Buffet DIY

So, if you haven’t already seen me being awkward and talking into my phone, Harness Community Magazine recently asked me to take over their Instagram stories for a morning. They asked me to do a home/DIY project and I decided to give an old dresser some new life as a buffet in our kitchen.

Harness Community Magazine

In case you haven’t been on Pinterest lately, dressers in the kitchen or dining room are definitely becoming a “thing.” Some people are using them as coffee bars or a replacement for the ever-popular bar cart.

Dresser Redo Pinterest

Repurposed Dresser Pinterest

Well, I’ve been pregnant for what seems like forever so a place to store liquor isn’t a priority in this house lol. This pretty little thing will probably be my houseplant home and a catch all for spare dishes, books, and the kids’ art supplies.

Before: tired but well loved dresser

There are some scratches and gashes but overall, it’s still a sturdy dresser

This dresser came from my husband’s family’s old farmhouse and it used to belong to his uncle. He used to store ammo and spare tractor parts in it lol. The two drawer pulls on the right are much lighter from his repeated use.

We used it for baby clothes for a hot minute but we’ve gained more bedroom storage and don’t need it upstairs anymore.

Dresser deconstruction

This was pretty simple. Just pull the drawers out. We picked up some cheap MDF board at Home Depot and cut it to the right dimensions. The dresser itself has a lip on the edge that keeps the board from sliding out so we skipped nailing it down. (I doubt the dresser was built like that but after 70+ years and several moves the wood has shifted a bit.

Paint the shelves

I went back and forth with the colors but decided on this moody green.

I left the some of the wood in the back natural and I seriously love the contrast.

Stain the dresser

I also touched up some of the worn spots and gashes with a wood stain. ***a little goes a long way with stain!

This was already patched with wood putty so I just took a clean rag to apply the stain over it.

And that’s it! Some new boards, fresh paint, and stain and we have a pretty new addition to our kitchen that fits with my granny-chic decor. ❤️

Finished dresser to buffet DIY

Posted in DIY

DIY Terrarium and Amazon Tree Cuttings

So, you know that period of time after you find out you’re pregnant where you feel like you’re just barely surviving and incapable of anything extra? That’s where I’ve been for the last three months. At twenty-two weeks I’m emerging from the fog and ready to tackle ALL the projects! And I have a ton (nervous laughter).

For now, I’m tending to my growing collection of houseplants and my big dreams of planting trees to block out the Dairy Queen and Exxon behind my house. (Insert personal rant here) Oh, and to the teenagers that hang out at the bank revving your engines and listening to mumble rappers…screw you. Also, I’m pretty sure some of you are not teenagers and therefore need to grow up a bit. Moving on.

Now to the good stuff…

DIY succulent terrarium

John knows I’m not into roses or sappy cards for Valentine’s Day, so he went with this pretty little geometric terrarium. It’s perfect for the baby succulents sold at Home Depot, which is where I picked up these beauties.

This planter is pretty small, so in retrospect two succulents may be overkill because I’m not sure how big they’ll be able to get in there. With that said, I can always transplant and switch them out.

I bought some plain old river rock to line the bottom. This is recommended for succulents to ensure proper drainage. Then, I threw a layer of potting soil on top. Most plant experts suggest soil made specifically for succulents and cacti. (Now, I’m not going to lie…I’ve been throwing mine in regular soil for years and nothing terrible has ever happened) Just don’t water too much! After putting these down in the soil, I tossed some more rocks on top.

I could have probably gone with less soil, but it worked out fine after I used my trusty tablespoon to move the dirt around.

I struggled to get my hand in the tiny container to situate everything, so I used a tablespoon to dig and arrange the rocks.

Completed Succulent Terrarium DIY

Trees for Privacy

Now, back to our privacy issue in the backyard…I spent months researching what trees would provide privacy in the shortest amount of time. Each Google search brought me back to these willow hybrid cuttings. The description says they’re capable of growing 12 feet in a year.

I was skeptical, but I got 18 cuttings for less than I’d probably pay for a tiny shrub at Home Depot, soooo here we are.

They arrived wrapped in a damp paper towel, completely naked sticks. I was prepared for this because the description was pretty honest about what to expect.

I threw them all in glasses of water and put them in the kitchen window. In two days, the had root sprouts. Two days later, they started to get new growth. At this point, I’m scrambling to get these into some potted soil because the growth is unbelievable.

I’ll probably find whatever pots I can and get these in soil for a few weeks before transplanting them into the ground. I have no doubts they’ll put on substantial height this spring/summer.

They can be planted on their own or in a line for optimum privacy. I received 18, so I’ll probably do a combination of both. The recommended care is pretty simple; don’t use fertilizer until a year of growth, water frequently, and mulch around the base.

Fingers crossed they hide our yard from the road and don’t take over the neighborhood like a wild bamboo forest. 😬

Posted in DIY

2020, please don’t suck

I wish I could say I enjoyed last year. We had sprinkles of joy amongst storms of stress and sadness. We bought a beautiful home that is OURS and ours alone. We’ve been filling it with treasures, photographs, and family heirlooms.

We also lost my husband’s grandmother, which I’ve honestly struggled with. My babies were at her house every week visiting and tearing the place down. She would drop everything just to play with Jack and attempt to snap pictures of Millie mid-run through the house. The shit storm that followed her passing is too much to describe, but I will say that she wouldn’t have wanted anyone to go through this mess.

Moving on.

I’m pregnant. I found out I was pregnant a week after her funeral and I like to think she’s watching over us because she’s the only grandmother I’ve ever had in my life. This pregnancy was a HUGE shock and I’ve struggled to wrap my head around the idea of another baby. Two children with such a small age gap have been a struggle and I do my best to keep my head above water most days.

Jack won’t even be two when baby # 3 is born. So…here we go again. It’s a boy! So, I’m counting my blessings because as much as I adore my Millie Girl, she is D.R.A.M.A. and I’m convinced boys are easier in that respect.

They obviously have no idea what’s coming

With that being said, we have a ton of projects I’d like to finish before this baby comes in June. Both indoor and outdoor, I want to check off as many items as possible before this belly retires me to the comfort of air conditioning this summer.

  • The pillars on our front stoop are crumbling…so we need to redo the repair on those
  • TREES! I want to use landscaping to add privacy in the backyard and side yard
  • Paint and SEAL all the dings and chips we’ve sustained since moving in
  • Wallpaper. I need zhush it up a bit in a few of our rooms and I’d like to find classic craftsman prints or something that gives subtle art deco vibes
  • Lastly, plot out how we’re going to fit three kids in our three-bedroom home because we didn’t plan for this lol

So…cue the vision board for all the work my husband is dreading! (Disclaimer: I do my fair share around the house and am pretty handy with power tools on my own.)

Bradbury Wallpapers
Spoonflower
Fardis Interiors

I may be picky when it comes to woodwork, but I get it honest. So, I’ll be going through and redoing a fair amount of trim and window framing if these kids will allow the time. 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

https://pin.it/lx3hdkbelhawxc

So stay tuned for the hot mess that is sure to ensue. Wallpapering accent walls starts ASAP and the backyard overhaul starts in March (even if John doesn’t know it yet).

***Also opinions on which style of wallpaper I should go with are MORE than welcome!

Posted in Uncategorized

Holiday decorating hacks for homes with toddlers

My house is a literal wreck this morning. To be honest, it’s been a wreck for over a week now because these kids won’t nap at the same time because of the barometric pressure, a sleep regression, or a witch has put a hex on me. I don’t know why. The gist is…NOTHING IS GETTING DONE AROUND HERE.

Sure, I have my tree up, but that was only because my husband wanted it up. I’m going to sound like the biggest Scrooge, but I kind of hate Christmas. I will admit that I like it a little more since having children, but the decorating thing never puts me in a good mood.

Having toddlers trailing behind you undoing all the hard work you just attempted obviously doesn’t help. So, if you’re like me and sick of seeing your decorations demolished, here are some LAZY life hacks.

  • Only decorate half of your tree and sacrifice the lower branches to be dusted with Cheetos and fruit snacks. OR buy the soft felt ornaments they always seem to have at Target and save those for your little one’s favorite limbs.
  • Forget about cute hearth decorations for the fireplace. There is no hack. They will be destroyed. Buy the least gaudy Christmas stuffed animals and stack them there. Call it a day.
  • Pretty candles and ceramic house displays? Sure, if you have a shelf high enough to remain safe from your 16 month old and his new obsession with climbing ALL THE THINGS.
  • Okay here’s a more positive tip. Instead of splurging on intricate ornaments and the most expensive wrapping paper because they complete your Instagram aesthetic, buy holiday themed throw pillows and blankets. You know, because they can’t break those.
  • Dollar General candles smell better than expensive ones. Okay, that was positive right? And no one is sad when they get tossed off the table to be shattered two days after you bring them home.
  • Lastly, just forget about putting bows on your presents under the tree. Unless you’re wrapping everything on Christmas Eve, you’ll be LUCKY if the name tags survive.

I know, I’m pretty much the biggest Grinch with the tiniest heart, but I’ve been burned by their tiny toddler hands one too many times and to be fair, Halloween will always be my jam. I will say that I enjoy the activities that they enjoy and we’ll call that a win. Maybe we’ll do some homemade ornaments and garland this year so they can feel more involved and I won’t be as paranoid about everything breaking.

Here are some links to unbreakable decorations (tested by real “demolition artists”)

https://www.target.com/p/4ct-knit-plush-holiday-characters-christmas-ornament-set-wondershop-8482/-/A-54557139

https://www.target.com/p/garland-felt-mitten-countdown-to-christmas-sign-wondershop-8482/-/A-54539562

Also! Target is having BOGO 50% off on wreaths and garland 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

For all the garland gatherers, your season is here!
Stock up on Christmas wreaths and garlands for the holiday.

Posted in Uncategorized

Efflorescence, old newspapers, and atomic spies

So I’ve been huffing and puffing about this old brick in my fireplace for a couple weeks now. You see it’s slowly being covered with these white patches on the exposed brick.

No, it’s not mold. I know this because I already had that minor heart attack when I saw the same splotches on the exterior walls in our basement. After obsessively googling and scraping away at the walls, I’ve determined our masonry has efflorescence, which is basically just salt deposits surfacing from porous material.

A dead giveaway of efflorescence if the way it sheds a sparkly dust when you scrape it with something. Efflorescence also dissolves in water whereas mold will not.

No biggie. It’s fine. They make cleaner for it and I figure I’ll use it on our fireplace since we actually see it every day but today we found a surprise when John started to tear out the old particle board from the fireplace insert.

At some point in the 1950s the owners decided to brick up our fireplace rendering it useless (I’m fine 🥺) and in the process they must have packed it with old newspapers. Although very brittle, they were a nice little surprise on this otherwise boring Wednesday.

We’re guessing this paper is from sometime in 1953 judging by the article on the Rosenberg’s (Atomic Spies) ☝🏼

We’re total nerds so we thought it was cool.

Here’s to hoping we unearth some more surprises in our old Craftsman to go along with the old newspapers, dirty brick, and the huge pile of coal still waiting to be used at the bottom of our coal chute.

Posted in DECOR

I’m not into farmhouse (Don’t come for me)

*Previously published on Harness Community Magazine

I know. Everyone is all about Chip and Joanna and the white and gray. They love shiplap and knocking out walls. Tobacco baskets, repurposed metal kitchen tools, pictures of cows…I get it. I enjoy those things in moderation, but the whole farmhouse trend does it all at once. And I’m not here for it.

Even when I lived on a farm, I favored cabin details and real antiques. Hobby Lobby knockoffs weren’t my fave. Now, I’m not gagging at Hobby Lobby. I do love certain items from there but fakes of real items I could find at the thrift or antique store are not on my shopping list. I know, Joanna doesn’t get her stuff at Hobby Lobby. I know.

But here’s the main reason I’m over FARMHOUSE.

IT ALL LOOKS THE SAME. 😱

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Over this ☝🏼

And this👇🏻

Photo by Milly Eaton from Pexels

I’m probably pissing people off at this point, but that’s not my intention. It’s not that I think it looks bad. I think it all looks the same.

And I could be wrong. It’s subjective after all. {In thirty years I may hate everything I have in my house now when I look back in pictures.} I just think homes should have room for more distinct personality.

Sure, all styles bleed into each other a bit and I’ll admit I like the light and airy look Fixer Upper introduced. I like open shelving and houseplants. I just think cow pictures, farmhouse signs, and whitewashed furniture will go out in time. Just as the primitives trend…

It’s just my opinion but,

When there’s room for exposed brick, a funky light fixture, or something dreamy and old…I’m here for it. Everything in moderation, especially the token elements of farmhouse style. You don’t have to have it ALL.

Obviously I’m not a huge Fixer Upper fan, but there’s a couple design shows I do enjoy because they leave the period of the house and don’t bulldoze over with gray walls and shiplap.

I dig this 👇🏻

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy from Pexels

And this 👇🏻

Photo by Hemanth Nirujogi from Pexels

Hometown happens to be my fave because they always take the original timeframe of the home into consideration. Usually something is handmade and they document that, giving me the feeling that I can replicate their project. I think their focus on revitalizing their small hometown also pulls on my heartstrings a bit.

Taking something old and making it feel new is my favorite thing to do. I like:

  • yard sale furniture
  • old cigar boxes
  • vintage art with a new frame
  • antique glassware
  • houseplants
  • clawfoot anything!

Maybe my style is granny-chic? I don’t know but I do know that no one’s decor looks exactly like mine. I’m not telling anyone to try decorating like me either. If you did, I’d probably follow suit and change mine drastically just to keep the uniqueness I enjoy.

And if you enjoy farmhouse, by all means, you do you. I’m just sharing my personal preference. ✌🏼🏡🌿

*I do still LOVE a good farmhouse sink

Posted in DIY

Our “lazy” DIY patio

I’m a sucker for a good Pinterest inspo photo. So when I saw these cozy English garden inspired backyards I felt the nagging pull to start nagging my husband about it.

I wanted flagstone with clouds of ground cover blooms around the perimeter 🥰. Let me be the first to tell you…I did NOT get flagstone. When we no longer have toddlers and dogs that trash our yard, I’ll splurge on expensive landscaping. Until then, I’ll be doing the as seen on TV version. And that’s fine.

(Here’s our DIY budget saver patio)

Now in the spring, I’ll probably give it a border of perennials but I’m happy with the end product. I also plan to build some planters with lattice that extends over the fence so we can grow some vines for added privacy in select areas.

We found this concrete mold at Home Depot that gave us the faux stone look for cheap.

The process was pretty simple. It took us one evening to dig up the yard and nail down the shape and size we were going for. The next day (or two 🤷🏼‍♀️we have kids remember) we leveled out the dirt. When it was time to pour, the husband used Sakrete. Within a few minutes of filling a mold, the stones were firm enough to pull the mold away. So there’s no waiting or needing to buy several molds.

In the process of digging up the yard for this project, we made a minor discovery. Our house was built in 1900, right? Well apparently there used to be a stable on the back corner of our lot and we found the walkway leading out to the foundation.

We investigated around the fence and discovered the bricks go all the way back to a concrete foundation, complete with a brick floor. Once we finalize our plans for the storage building, we’re going to push that fence back and uncover the entire path and landscape around it. English garden vibes am I right?🍄🌷🌻

Posted in DECOR

{Come on in}

You won’t find anything remotely “farmhouse” in here and I don’t mean any offense in that. It’s just not my jam. No, I’ve been dreaming of owning an old house for as long as I can remember, and with that comes a mashup of vintage and modern trinkets.

(I’m would never call my style feminine. I tend to favor a more masculine approach to decorating and a small portion of John’s collection of tobacco pipes fit in nicely on our kitchen shelves.)

We didn’t do any of the remodeling restoration work here, but they nearly nailed every detail in what I’d call my perfect home. Which is crazy because we’d never met them in our lives.

Needless to say I was thrilled at the prospect of filling this house up, but we started from scratch with most of our furniture. Because we were coming back from Alabama to stay in John’s family farm, we sold most of our furniture just to avoid packing it up. Enter IKEA!

(The couch, coffee table, and side table are all IKEA finds. I mixed patterns with the rug and curtains but I think it works 🤷🏼‍♀️ The rug is an Amazon find. I refuse to splurge on my floors with two dogs and two kids.)

Another large portion of our downstairs decor includes bits and pieces I’ve snagged at antique stores and flea markets since we moved in together in 2011.

(Like these Colt prints I picked up in Deland, FL.)

(Or this gossip benched I discovered at a yard sale a few years ago)

I guess I’d label our house as eclectic with classic touches here and there. My favorite decades are the 20s and 30s and my dream house looks like a speakeasy, so I try to bring that in wherever possible.

We’re nowhere near done, but the first floor has a definite vibe already. While the upstairs, including the master bedroom, is still a bit of a blank slate. Stay tuned for peeks of how we’re decorating the second floor, including IKEA hacks for toy storage 😬.