Archives For On a Personal Note…

Next week Jack is going to start attending a Mother’s Day Out program. I went back to work part time when he was three months old but he’s always been in in-home care. This is our first time that he’ll be with a group of other kids in a daycare-like setting and I actually think he’ll really enjoy it. I always notice that he’s less clingy and more willing to play independently when there are lots of other people around. I guess there’s just so much to see and do! So anyway, one thing that kind of caught me off guard about this MDO program is that there’s a specific set of things I need to provide (crib sheet, blanket, etc.) and everything has to be labeled. I could just write his name everywhere with a sharpie and call it a day, but do you know me it all? It needs to be cute. Plus the idea of permanently altering baby items with monograms or handwritten names has always struck me as wasteful–it’s kind of awkward to consign, resell, or pass down something with your kid’s name on it!  So I brainstormed a method for attaching a cute fabric label that can be removed with a seam ripper. All you need is some fabric and iron-on transfer paper.

First, I created an image with his name in a grid. To do this I made a table in Publisher, saved it as an image, then used paint to flip it so it would print in reverse. If I’m being honest, I forgot to print it in reverse the first time and wasted an entire sheet of transfer paper. It happens to the best of us.

iron on transfer sheet

Then I simply cut a rectangle of white muslin I already had (you could use any light colored fabric, even an old t-shirt) and followed the instructions that came with the transfer paper to iron the image onto the fabric.

transfer text onto fabric

Then all that was left to do was cut out a label and sew it onto Jack’s blanket. I didn’t stress about sewing a perfect rectangle, I just tried to make a reasonably neat box around his name and then I cut off all the excess fabric around the outside. I actually love the way it looks.

diy fabric label

So for the cost of some transfer paper (I already had it but you can get some for less than $10) and some spare time on my Sunday afternoon I now have more than 70 labels that I can attach to anything fabric throughout the rest of his childhood. They can be washed and worn and as Jack grows I can use a seam ripper to remove them with no significant damage to the item. If you don’t have a sewing machine these would be easy enough to hand stitch or you could use some fusible web to iron it on if you’re not worried about wanting to remove it someday. Or maybe even fabric glue! I think that stitching is the best option though.

custom fabric labels

I attached labels to his blanket, the crib sheet I bought just for MDO (I decided it was too stressful for me to have one of his two regular crib sheets clean and not on his bed every week), his little paci blanket thingie, and when the adorable little backpack I ordered him comes tomorrow I’ll put a label on that too. I also ordered some of these erasable food labels for his pacifiers and sippy cups–the pack of 70 is obviously way more than I need just for him but I figure I can use them in the kitchen, around the house, etc. Yay organization! I love having things neatly folded and labeled just so.

I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend. We attended a beautiful memorial service for my grandfather, enjoyed visiting with family, and finished season 1 of House of Cards. I can’t believe we have to wait until next year for season 2! Hopefully I can talk Nick into taking up Orange is the New Black with me. I love summer TV.

A few weeks ago I rearranged some of the furniture in my office. moving this small end table to in front of the window. I got it on craigslist in 2011 for $35 and used it as a nightstand for a long time, but when I switched things around upstairs I moved it down here to go with the two small chairs as a play table for Jack (check out that link to see how far this room has come since last summer!). I actually really liked the wood tone of the table when it was upstairs, but the floors on this level are a slightly different shade and I felt like the floors + table clashed.

021 (570x380)

I usually like to bring swatches home before deciding on a color, but I was feeling brazen so I picked a shade I plucked right from the display. I think motherhood has made me more decisive. The color I originally picked was Valspar’s Gala Gold, but the lady working the paint counter gave me a hard time about mixing a Valspar color with Olympic paint, so she helped me find a matching shade in the Olympic display and we were both happy. The color I went home with is Olympic Golden Glow (mixed with their premium/no-VOC paint in an eggshell finish). I painted most of it in the living room while watching TV with Nick after Jack was in bed. It took so many coats that I lost count but I spread the work out over a couple of nights so that I wouldn’t get annoyed (yeah, yeah, shoulda used primer, I know).

004 (570x380)

At first I thought I might leave the top unfinished, but after a few coats I brought it into the office to see what I thought and the two-tone look was just not working for me.

015 (570x380)

I used a brush on the base and sides and a small foam roller on the top, and despite having to apply eight thousand coats I still have at least half a quart of paint left. Sometime this week when I get a chance I’ll bring it outside and spray on a few coats of some protective enamel that I’ve used in the past.

046 (570x381)

Here it is in its natural habitat:

004 (2) (570x380)

After Jack went down for his nap I cleaned up the room for some prettier shots that I can use to update my house tour page.

034 (570x380)

038 (570x380)

I really have to thank the person who pointed out to me that the prior arrangement was not working as well as it could. Sometimes it’s hard to hear negative feedback and my first couple years in the trenches as a social worker were really difficult for me because I couldn’t handle all the criticism being slung my way by resistant and defensive clients. I didn’t realize at the time just how challenging my client population was–I thought it was just me. Those were some of the most difficult years of my life and they’re what inspired me to start this blog. I needed a creative outlet free from all the pressure and emotion that I felt at work. As hard as those years were, they helped me develop the valuable skill of being able to process criticism effectively. Whenever someone says something unpleasant to or about me I stop and evaluate whether I objectively think that it’s true (example: client yells at me for being so nosy when I ask her how her day was. This is hard for me to hear because I am, in fact, pretty nosy, but I was not being nosy in this instance so I chalk it up to her being defensive for some reason that it’s apparently my job to find out. Thank God I’m not working with teenagers anymore.). In this case, I stumbled across some folks discussing my blog on an internet message board. Some posters who seem to be frequent readers of this blog were saying some super sweet things about me (thanks y’all!) and others were saying that it’s just not their style (totally fair) or that certain things in my house looked a little “off” to them. This was valuable feedback for me, because it inspired me to look around a little more objectively to see whether I agreed. My home is a work in progress and there’s always room for improvement. I decided that, in fact, my little sewing desk would fit better at the end of the sofa and Jack would have more room to actually use his play table if it were in front of the window. This is so much better! So the moral of the story is twofold: 1) just because somebody says something about you doesn’t mean it’s true, so don’t take everything so personally, and 2) sometimes criticism can inspire you to change for the better, so don’t write it off right away.

Whew, I didn’t expect to get all Dr. Phil on y’all this Friday morning! Actually, in my professional opinion I think Dr. Phil’s a quack, but that’s just me. I hope y’all have a wonderful weekend and thanks as always for reading. You truly light up my life.

My Pawpaw Hamrick passed away yesterday. I shared with y’all recently about how he’d been ill. I think after a lifetime of overcoming the odds–getting married and becoming a father at a young age, losing the use of his legs while he still had teenagers in the house, seeing his home destroyed once by fire and once by flood–we all thought he was invincible. But over the past week it became clear that his time had come and I’m comforted by the fact that he was allowed to leave the hospital and spend his final hours at home.

1012457_10201676112534064_174525893_n (456x570)

995762_737789861966_1196740501_n (570x380)
(photo taken by my cousin, Brian Hursey)

The same day that he went home, my Pawpaw Gulley (who had been staying with me for two weeks) moved into his new apartment. We were very close when I was growing up but I haven’t kept in touch as diligently as I should have these past eight years that he lived in Amarillo. It was so great to reconnect with him and for him to get to know Jack. We got so used to having him here that the house feels empty with him gone.

004 (381x570)

It’s been an emotional and tiring week. The older I get the more important family is to me, which is a big part of why I’m actually looking forward to moving closer to home in a few years. I never thought I would want to go back but here I am, wanting to be closer than an hour’s drive from my parents and grandparents as they get older. We’ve only got so much time on this earth, might as well spend it with the ones we love. Thanks for reading, y’all, and for always being so supportive and kind. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life, even if many of you I’ve never met.

This is my Pawpaw Hamrick. He’s been married to my Grandma Sandy since they were teenagers and my mom is the fifth of their six children (five girls, one boy).

2009 (570x428)

Somewhere in the midst of raising teenagers my Pawpaw started to get a tingling in his toes. Pins and needles and numbness. My Aunt Julie drove him to the doctor’s appointment that would change his life. He would soon lose the use of his legs. I don’t think they really knew why. What happened next is legend in our family–he and Grandma went out for ice cream and came home laughing. It would all be okay.

2012 (395x552)

And it was okay. They kept on keeping on. They’ve since lost nearly everything they owned twice–once to fire and once to flood. He got really sick the summer that I got married and we thought we might lose him. It was during that hospital stay that doctors told him they thought they knew what had attacked his nerves all those years before–Guillain-Barre syndrome. He got off the ventilator and came home from the hospital and has had a really rich and full four years (and a new great-grandchild every year, I might add). But now he’s sick again. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in April and as pre-treatment assessments dragged on his body started to fail. Saturday his heart stopped but they brought him back. He’s in the ICU now and on a vent again and we’re really not sure what’s going to happen. All this to say, please keep him in your thoughts.

Now this is my Pawpaw Gulley. He was married to my Nanny for 60 years and my dad is their only child.

037 (407x570)

After my Nanny passed he remarried and moved to Amarillo, Texas. Texas is kind of a big state so that’s actually really far away from South Louisiana. We missed him terribly but he was so happy out there that we couldn’t help but be happy for him. But after eight wonderful years it was time for him to come home. His new apartment in the senior community near my parents won’t be ready until the first of the month and he needed someplace to stay in the meantime. My parents’ house would require him to climb stairs every day, and although he’s the healthiest 90 year old I’ve ever seen they worried about him being there alone while they were at work all day. So I offered my house, and here he is! I’ve never had anyone stay with me for more than a couple of nights before so I was a bit nervous, but even though he just arrived yesterday I already feel like things are going to go great! He likes to hang out with Jack, watch Rangers games on the TV I set up in his room, read western novels on his Kindle, etc. He’s met Jack once before and seen him plenty on Facetime but it is still so special for them to get to spend this time together.

Since my sister and I are their only grandchildren we inherited a lot of stuff when Pawpaw moved out of his old house. My Nanny bought this bedroom set as soon as she finished high school. It’s actually Shannon’s now but since she doesn’t have room for it I keep it here. I rearranged the furniture in here to make things more comfortable for Pawpaw and I actually really like the way it is now. There’s an old TV just to the left of this photo.

005 (380x570)

After asking a couple of friends for suggestions I put a couple things in here to help Pawpaw make himself at home. I printed out a list of the channels available on that TV and also printed out another page with instructions for using our alarm system and our cell phone numbers, address, and nearest cross street in case of an emergency. I also brought in a lamp from another room, a cute old-fashioned clock I found at Target, and a small flashlight from the Target dollar spot. Pawpaw doesn’t do much writing these days, his hands are rather unsteady, but I gave him a pen and paper just in case.

010 (380x570)

I cleared all my junk out of the armoire and put out two pictures I already had of Nanny and Pawpaw when they were young. Did I mention that their names are Charlotte and Jack?

015 (380x570)

The downstairs bath is attached to this room and I added a nonslip mat, a cute bath rug I’ll show you tomorrow, and just last night I ordered this shower grab bar off of Amazon after I started worrying about Pawpaw getting in and out of the tub safely.

I mentioned last week that our grandparents have had drama on both sides of the family. In addition to my two Pawpaws both going through major upheavals Nick’s Grandpa Sam moved into a nursing home last week (here’s an interesting article about Grandpa Sam’s career as a musician and comedian in New Orleans). Luckily Nick’s Abuela on the other side of the family seems to be doing well lately–she and her daughter are even moving from Connecticut to Austin this year and we’re excited to have them closer (though we’ll miss the excuse to travel to what is essentially an outer suburb of NYC). Nick and I are so lucky to have so many of our grandparents still around. I hope we have many years left with them so that Jack can get to know them the way I got to know my Great-Grandma Cookie. Isn’t family wonderful?

I hope you all had an amazing weekend, and thanks for reading!