I swear to Nod

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Land of Nod at U Village in Seattle

During our family trip to Seattle last weekend, my heroic husband took the kids so I could go shopping at University Village all by myself. I usually shop with kids-in-tow, which only exacerbates my indecision paralysis. Thus I leave the store sweating and swearing, empty-handed, sheepishly dragging misbehaving kids out with me.

But this time I was able to try things on alone. I bought things. I had conversations with the salespeople that didn’t revolve around my kids. For those two hours, I saw a glimmer of hope for regaining my identity.

You see, I’ve spent the past few (six) years changing diapers, rationing Goldfish crackers, and communicating in mommy-voice, and it took a toll on my identity. So the afternoon to shop alone was like therapy.

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan's Shelter Island Home

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan’s Shelter Island Home: stylish, relaxed, and kid-less. Hamptons-Magazine.com

I went into the Jonathan Adler Home Store. Check out his Shelter Island Home (right). Adler does a great job of making rooms fun! Walking through the store was something I wouldn’t dare do while managing kids alone. Too much liability and not enough time to enjoy the sights.

And the next store I went into was The Land of Nod. I enjoy getting their catalogs in the mail, but going inside the store took our relationship to the next level. The Land of Nod is Crate & Barrel’s kid company. The magicians behind Crate & Barrel have taken the same stylish, modern, casual approach and applied it to kids’ rooms, but with more color and whimsy.

It’s like a mix of Crate & Barrel and Jonathan Adler. At Land of Nod, the colors pop, accessories are witty, the inner artist is embraced. Both for parents and children. They create kids’s rooms that even adults would love to live in. See a small sampling below.

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Chalkboard Art Wall on display

kids-bedrooms

Copyright Land of Nod

SwahiliBasket_DotsDecals_Sp2013

Copyright Land of Nod

Fade2PinkBedding_VIR_Cat0712

Copyright Land of Nod

ModernCrib_MarineQnCribBedding_DotsDecal_Sp2013

Copyright Land of Nod

RainforestCribbedding_VIR_Cat0712

Copyright Land of Nod

Our poor third child will get a decorated nursery someday soon, and I swear to Nod it will be worth the wait. Completing this project will be another step in the right direction for regaining my identity.

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Damn involuntary Suessisms

With kids, the more you interact, the more your thoughts actually transform into that kid-lingo. I’ll be with grown-up girlfriends out for a drink and say in my sing-songy mommy voice that I have to use the potty.

I’ve lost it. It’s like the brain has been divided between mommy side and grown-up side and, during the span of three kids, my mommy side has engulfed the normal side. I fear it has caused permanent brain damage.

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Which brings me to Dr. Suess books. The dreaded Horton Hears a Who takes a good 30 minutes to read, and anytime the kid chooses that one, I try to squirm out of my reading job. That thing takes forever! In fact, many Suess books are ever-so-long.

So it makes sense that after all that Suess-immersion, my thoughts take on the shape of Suess-style rhymes. I often quote lines right out of those books and apply them to my daily conversations.

So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day. I sat there with [Lulu]. We sat there, we two. And I said, “How I wish. We had something to do!”.

But what’s worse is when my own thoughts actually assemble Suess-style. I don’t even realize it’s happening until the thought-rhyme is executed and I feel ashamed that I’ve come to that.

For instance:

Sometimes your noises make me choke; I could use another rum & coke.

Or

Mark my words, I’ll be damned if I have to drive a minivan.

To quote Dr. Suess, “This may not seem very important, I know, but it is, so I’m bothering telling you so.”

Gestating the bonus baby

When I first heard a year ago that friends of ours were expecting a surprise baby long after they thought they were done, I actually said the word suckers. I teased my friend about not blowing up the condom like a balloon before relying on it.

Then I found out I was pregnant with a surprise third, and the word sucker haunted me. At the time, my mind was still reeling from serious depression, as recounted here in my post, How to go crazy in 6 months or less. Just when I felt like I was getting a grip, a little pee stick turned up with a f*cking plus sign and my house of cards came crashing down. I felt like I couldn’t breathe for a few months, I was having panic attack after panic attack, sure that my life and my kids are going to be so f*cked up because I made this mistake of relying on just one form of contraception.

Years ago, I had decided that any more than two children would be too many for me. My identity rested in having precisely two kids and I didn’t know how to change that.

Having three children felt so big, so looming, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what that meant for me. My clothes wouldn’t fit for another year (or two). I would fill a sedan to the brim – or surrender and get the dreaded minivan. I might need those damn leashes for my kids like my mom used.

I felt like I was gestating a grenade.

I struggled with a new breed of depression and anxiety throughout the pregnancy. And as a stats junkie, I knew that my baby would experience the negative effects of my stress, but knowing that stressed me out even more.

But one month ago Little Lucinda made it. I made it. (My therapist deserves most of the credit.)

And you know, it’s not as crazy as I expected. My clothes aren’t that far from fitting. I now look longingly at minivans. And I’m shopping on Amazon for wrist leashes for wild card kids.

Having a baby is still a miraculous thing, even when it’s the surprise pregnancy. I got through it, kicking and screaming, and Lucinda did too. This bonus baby felt like someone played a joke on me. I now get the humor.

Keeping up with the mega-Joneses

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About a year ago, while we were in escrow to buy a home, I was spending a lot of time absorbing any decorating inspiration I could get my hands on. I had checked out a Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic book, and in the book she shared how she had sought out and successfully purchased a home that wasn’t even for sale in Malibu. I’m talking about her Casa Sugar, worth $4.4 million.

Then I heard another story of my friend’s brother, who was building a home on the cliff overlooking the water in Santa Barbara and some stranger drove up and said, “My client wants to buy your home,” and the owner said it’s not for sale, and the stranger said, “You don’t understand. Oprah Winfrey will pay whatever you want for this home.”Unknown-4

Thus sold the home.

About a year ago, I fell in love with a home I drove by. It was Spanish-style, with a beautiful courtyard, and I immediately envisioned my kids growing up there. Unfortunately it was not for sale, and I’ll remind you that at the time we were in escrow with another home, and my husband thought this was proof that I was completely insane. But I could not stop thinking about this other home, and my perseverance kicked in. I did some detective work and found the name of the person who lived there. I googled his name, and found his website, and looked for contact info, but not before I was temporarily distracted by his professional videos about his subconscious healing and hypnosis services. (There’s a market for hypno-healing?!?)

Under the influence of the legends of millionaire homebuyers mentioned above, I emailed the guy living in the home I coveted, asking if he wanted to sell the home, and spent the next 8 hours tossing and turning, lovestruck by this home.

The next morning we went to the local coffee shop and while I was trying to convince my husband that this not-for-sale home was the home for us, who should walk in but the hypno-healing spiritualist himself! Feeling like I knew the guy already after watching his videos (perhaps a few too many), I exclaimed, “Joseph? Is that you?”

I probably came across something like Stuart from SNL’s the Californians wherein he exclaims, “Whuuturyuuduhinghere?”

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I thought it was fate. My husband thought it was an unfortunate coincidence. And Joseph probably thought it was stalking. And when Joseph told me it was not for sale,  I didn’t have the endless supply of cash to convince him otherwise. My naive hope for that home fell from the sky like a dead duck. I had forgotten to take into account the significant difference between me and those incomparables I was influenced by. Oprah, it turns out, is in a different league.

So I didn’t get the home and I might have lost some points from the “I’m stable” category. I do still go by the home hoping to find a for sale sign. Money draws the fine line between eccentricity and insanity.

money-oprah

Celebrity-Cash.com

Oh, the third

There is a slippery slope in parenting. When we had our 1st child, we read to him lots of times throughout the day. Absolutely no TV. Organic everything. Lots of photos and videos were taken.

Fast forward to our 3rd. No videos taken capturing her existence during her 21 days of life. In fact, no books read to her, either. And my manifesto not to let her sleep in my bed? That was destroyed 2 weeks ago when we realized she clocks better sleep there (which in turn boots my husband to the couch. Ce la vie.).

Photo of our 3rd child, taken when she was just 2 days old. Not sure we've taken any since then.

Photo of our 3rd child, taken when she was just 2 days old. Not sure we’ve taken any since then.

Many years ago, when my mom had 5 children under the age of 7, my mom lost my then 4-year-old sister at Sea World. My sister had outsmarted her rainbow-wristed leash and walked out the exit gate. She was wandering in the parking lot when some good samaritan brought her back into the park and turned her into the lost and found. They announced they had a missing child. My mom took a head count and eureka! it was hers. My mom hadn’t even realized my sister was missing.

Can you imagine what life was like for her 5th and later 6th children? Those kids taught themselves to do pretty much everything. As for us older kids, they could barely keep tabs on us either. Think Lord of the Flies, but tucked into suburbia.

Our 3rd has been the easiest baby. But I’m starting to see that it’s because we’ve dropped everything superfluous and left only the necessities. She gets fed, clothed, and sheltered. Anything more than that is bestowed on her by the grandparents. And I’d venture to say she’s all the better for it.

Kitchen reveal: f*cking good enough

In my very pregnant state, I have come to peace with what I was able to accomplish with the kitchen. I didn’t repaint over the last color I tried out (too many fumes) and I didn’t switch out the light fixture after all (afraid to start shock therapy too early for the bun in the oven). But I did decorate, and that can be the most fun part of it.

Here’s the first before.

Before

Before

We sold the island and spent quite a few months in serious kitchen soul-searching. I scored this great table revealed here and have had no regrets. The winning table has hosted dinner parties for 8, birthday parties for 10, as well as daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the family. It’s perfect. I bought 2 upholstered benches from World Market to make a cozy corner to sit and eat, enjoy coffee, work, and read at the table while enjoying the park view.

I framed some of my favorite calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co. as inexpensive art in $15 Target frames.

The previous owners had installed an electric range under a very low microwave – only 12 inches from the burners – which means it not only wasn’t up to code but whoever was cooking had to hunch over to fit their arms between the burner and the microwave. Oh, and make sure you’re using a short-handled spoon! Plus only the back burners worked. These factors made cooking a bit of a pain.

So I dragged home a new gas range and hood from the Lowes 4th of July sale, and my husband came to my rescue and installed it. We nixed the microwave (slow-cooking incentive). But after Superhusband installed the range and hood we realized there was a 6-inch gap of unfinished wall where the backsplash didn’t go all the way up to the height of the new hood.

Before: Old stove. When we removed the microwave we saw the backsplash didn't go all the way up so we had to get creative.

Before: Old stove and exposed unfinished wall where backsplash didn’t go all the way up.

I decided to use faux tin ceiling tiles from Home Depot, cutting and assembling to match the gap space, painting them the cabinet color, and installing over that unfinished gap. A $20 solution with infinite emotional payback.

I’m pleased to report that f*cking good enough is pretty damn great.

New stove with faux tin backsplash

New stove with faux tin backsplash

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

After: Completed eat-in kitchen

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Inexpensive art: Old calendar pages from Rifle Paper Co.

Sweet little built-in

Sweet little built-in

The elusive push present

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A push present is something the partner is supposed to present the mother after she has birthed the child – whether pushing was involved or not. For the record, c-section births are deserving of push presents as well. Look at Tiffany’s Celebration Rings site and see the arrival of a new baby is at the top of the list for when this celebratory piece of jewelry is supposed to be presented.

I had never even heard of a “push present” before my 3rd pregnancy. My mom bore 6 kids and worked like a dog and certainly never negotiated anything sparkly or pretty out of the deal.

I had heard stories of men presenting their women with a gift upon delivery of a baby – as if any sum of sparkly goods could possibly begin to reward her for her sacrifice. As if her just reward could fit between a thumb and forefinger (unless it’s a set of keys to a new house or car or both). But it still sounded nice.

But I was beside myself to learn there is actually a common name for it! Behold the “push present.”

I feel like someone who just found out there is something called Christmas. I feel like I should fire Hallmark. I feel like…well, I feel like I had better go shopping for my own damn push present because I don’t trust my philosopher husband to pick me out anything of value that doesn’t come leather-bound and way too deep for my projected post-partum mental capacity.

Anyone out there ever received a push present?

Vicarious nesting

The other day I loaded up the dishwasher, then walked across the kitchen and told Josh, “It’s ready to go.” His eyes got huge, he stood straight up, and whimpered, “She’s ready to go?”

I laughed, “The dishwasher, not the baby.”

We’re waiting for the baby’s arrival. Which is usually when nesting kicks into high gear – when you want to do something really productive (like produce a human) and you settle for other tasks that would otherwise elevate you to superhero status but in nesting phase only whet the appetite.

As a very pregnant and stubborn woman on bedrest, fighting my desire to complete home improvement projects, and knowing I still have a month to go before the bedrest sentence is lifted, I’m undergoing hard times. I said as much to Josh a couple of days ago.

My Superhusband has already jumped to my rescue. Yesterday he single-handedly moved the boys’ beds downstairs so I can make their old room the nursery. Then he moved my favorite chair into the master bedroom. Today he installed our handrail – which I had taken down a year ago to paint the wall and failed to reinstall. And then he re-caulked the kitchen sink – another project we’ve been meaning to do for a year. And as much as I try to negotiate, he’s not letting me lift a finger.

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My Superhusband says I’m not allowed to show his face. Not sure why. But since he’s doing all the grunt work of nesting for me I’m not going to fight him on this one.

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Note the newly-installed handrail thanks to my nesting husband

I am so thoroughly impressed. It’s almost as good as first-hand nesting. Almost.