Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We Are Cancer Free!

One of the best parts about marrying the guy I did is the wonderful family I inherited with him. They're very loving and warm and they'd do just about anything for you. They don't necessarily talk about feelings, but it's not very often that they have to. It's understood because of how well they show it.

At the center of this wonderful family is my mother-in-law, Margaret. She's so petite that you may never realize how strong she truly is. But this year, we learned that strength comes in many sizes. Even in petite, athletic little women like Margaret.

Right around Thanksgiving, Margaret was diagnosed with anal cancer. I've never written about it here because I didn't want to interfere with the family's privacy during a difficult time. She's been through chemo and radiation, yet each week she text me to ask me how I was feeling.

It was a conversation we had many times. I would also ask her how she was doing, and even in her sixth week of treatment, she would only tell me that she was a little tired. I knew things were at their worst when she told me that she wouldn't wish this upon anybody, but that was the only indication she gave us that she was hurting at all.

Nevermind the fear I'm sure she felt.

Nevermind the physical pain and exhaustion.

She was doing her best to shelter us from her reality.

That's one of the things I love most about Margaret. She loves those around her selflessly, even if it takes every ounce of energy she's got. It takes some getting used to. I'm not used to letting people look after me.

I love the way she loves my husband, and how loving she is to me because I'm his wife. She's a wonderful mother, friend and grandmother. She's the mother in law that a new bride hopes for.  And I can't wait to see how she loves Tilly, too.

We were so blessed to receive good news Monday that Margaret was officially cancer free. We never considered what the other option might be, but I know our family, and this world, needs someone who loves people the way Margaret does.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

City Life Magazine: March Column

As some of you know, I write for a local monthly publication called City Life. Sometimes I miss my old job and writing regularly, so writing a column for City Life is a great outlet for me. I know some of you don't live near me, so I wanted to start sharing those columns with you here, too. This was my column for March.

Just after Thanksgiving, my husband, Ty, and I discovered our family would soon be changing, and we would welcome our first child in August. Whether you are “trying” or not, nothing can prepare you for the moment you first realize you’re going to bring a new life into this world. It’s a speechless excitement unlike anything I’ve experienced.

That lasted five minutes or less.

Next, I began the list of all the things we need to do before a baby arrives. I sat in the bathroom rattling off a laundry list to Ty.

“We’ve got to rip up and replace that carpet in the guest room. I’d also like to replace the carpet in the office because that will be a nice play room for the baby when I’m in the kitchen. We’ll need to call the painter because there are some spots in the guest room that need resurfacing, and maybe while he’s here he could strip and replace the wallpaper in the laundry room. We need to get electrical socket covers for the entire house. I wonder how much a pool cover costs. …”

My husband knows this is my process. My first stage: acceptance and excitement. My second stage: the game plan.

That was a couple of months ago, and since then, I’ve slowed down, taken a deep breath, endured a few weeks of nausea, taken lots of naps, eaten more hamburgers than usual and found so much joy in this experience. Part of that has been realizing our baby doesn’t care what the wallpaper in the laundry room looks like, and I need to let go of some things.

There have been several doctor’s appointments. Seeing the flutter and listening to the rhythm of such a small heartbeat is like witnessing a miracle. And by the time you read this, we’ll know whether Baby Jordan is a boy or a girl.

Around the Christmas holiday, we were able to share the news with family and friends. To see my dad’s eyes well with tears and his face light up with excitement was one of the best moments of this experience for me. To attend our church’s Christmas Eve service, and in the glow of candlelight, hear voices echoing “Silent Night” resonated within my soul like never before.

This is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

There are still moments when I hear a song, and I’m filled with emotion. That can be partially blamed on my out-of-sync hormones, but the enormity of it all is more than I have the capability to digest. Clearly, I realize that I’m not the first person to have a baby, but I feel like up until this point, without even knowing it, I’d been left out on one of life’s great gifts.

There are so many things I wonder about our baby. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will its hair be curly or straight? What color will its eyes be? Will it love to swim or play golf, like either mine or Ty’s families? Where will it go to school one day and what will it accomplish in life?

One day, I’ll get to see how it plays out as a proud mom. That’s the greater game plan, more important than carpet and pool covers.

I would like to say that I’m always this zen about the change that is soon to come, but that would make me some type of super human. I can easily become overwhelmed by everything from picking the right car seat to paying for college tuition. My goal is to process it one day at a time because, thankfully, I don’t have to pay for college for several more years.

Ty and I went to look at a crib last weekend. It wasn’t what I imagined, and Ty could sense I was a little disappointed, “Don’t worry about it. We still have plenty of time to find a crib. That’s the good thing about you being such a planner, I don’t worry about things being taken care of because I know you’ll keep everything on track.”

I’ve yet to wrap my head around all the responsibility that comes with motherhood, but maybe this is my first step, being the crazy planner who keeps our family on track.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We're Halfway There

Does this blog title make anyone else think of Bon Jovi?

It makes me think of Bon Jovi. Which makes me think of Bon Jovi's hair.

  Then that reminds me that Bon Jovi and I used to have the same hairstyle.

It's hard to tell us apart.

Anyway, this blog really isn't about Bon Jovi. But here's what it is about -- I'm halfway through this pregnancy!

People ask me all the time how I'm feeling, and I always tell them that I really don't feel any different. I've had an easy pregnancy so far. The only difference I've noticed is that there's someone kicking me and rolling around regularly in my midsection.

It's weird, but sometimes I will feel Tilly moving around in one spot, so I put my hand there to see if I can feel her from the outside and she almost always stops moving. It makes me feel like we're communicating. Ty hasn't been able to feel her just yet, but I think that will happen fairly soon.

Ty and I went to our 20-week appointment yesterday to have Tilly's anatomy ultrasound done. This was the big one. Because Ty and I opted out of any screenings, this is the only way we can find out that our baby girl is healthy and developing properly. We were so happy to hear that everything looked good, and Tilly is a healthy little girl.

As we were walking out of the ultrasound room, I overheard two of the girls at the front desk say the name Tilly and they even spelled out the name. I sat back down in the waiting room to ask Ty if he'd heard them talking, and he had missed the conversation. I said, "I swear they just said the name Tilly and even spelled it out. Do you think someone else is using that name, it's not like it's really common?"

It wouldn't really bother me if someone used the name. This town is big enough for more than one Tilly, but I was just so curious. So, after we checked in with the doctor, I went to the front desk to schedule my next appointment and thoroughly embarrassed my husband.

Here's how that conversation went:

Stephanie: Did I hear you guys say the name Tilly? That's the name we're using, and I'm wondering if someone else is using it, too.

(Ty starts backing away, slightly horrified.)

Front Desk: I don't think it was us. That doesn't sound familiar.

Stephanie: Oh, ok. I think you guys were the only ones up here though.

(Ty is really backing away at this point to indicate, "I'm not with this woman.")

Front Desk: That doesn't sound familiar. ... oh, you know what ... I think they (the doctor's office at the next window over) were asking something about a patient with the last name Tilly.

Stephanie: Oh, a last name. Ok, I just thought that was a crazy coincidence.

(Ty is all but sprinting for the elevator at this point.)

I hadn't considered the possibility that they could be discussing a last name. I felt bad for embarrassing Ty so badly, but my curiosity got the best of me. We got in the elevator and started laughing our heads off. The things that drive a pregnant woman? Ty reassured me that these ladies would probably remember me from now on out as the crazy lady who's territorial of her baby name. That's not really the case, but I just had to ask!

This was the last appointment Ty was planning on attending with me anyway, but my behavior may have given him more incentive to not accompany me to any more appointments in the future.

Friday, March 16, 2012

From Barn to Bedroom: A Refinished Headboard

Well over a year ago, LJ's mom, Mrs. Lesa, gave me a headboard that didn't sell during their garage sale.

I loved it, and I couldn't believe it hadn't sold. I saw its hidden potential and knew I could put it to good use. Lucky for me, Mrs. Lesa was interested in purging her barn of old furniture and generously donated it to me.

Then, it sat in my garage for a solid year.

The oak was weathered from years of barn dwelling, but it was nothing a little sanding couldn't fix. The top of the headboard had beautiful wood details that made the piece seem special to me. Of course, I don't have a before picture even though it was propped against my garage wall for a year. I had good intentions, but it never came to fruition.

However, during my pregnancy, I've had an uncanny desire to finally take care of the things on my longstanding project list. I don't think life ends when you have a baby ... but my actions sometimes say otherwise. I can't help it. I'm nesting.

Nesting all over the place. ...

I cannot nest fast enough. ...

I wonder if birds feel this same way when they nest?

So, I finally finished up the headboard this week and love the end result.

I started by painting the entire headboard in a slightly off-white satin paint.

This was the hardest part. I spent about three hours painting these wood details in an turquoise acrylic paint. And complained enough that my husband helped out. Love him. For many other reasons besides just this one, but I love him for this one, too.

I then put a black glaze in the creases of the headboard and turquoise parts to bring out the special little details. I followed that with some light sanding to give it a more weathered look and sealed it with polyurethane to protect it for years to come.

No worries, I was safe with my painting. I covered my mouth with a rag and made sure there was plenty of ventilation.

The guys moved it upstairs last night, and it does a lot to make the space nice and cozy for our overnight visitors.

Now, what to do with those other four pieces of furniture in my garage?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fabric for Tilly's Room

Since finding out Baby Jordan was a girl, I've started to think back on all the little signs I'd been given about her gender leading up to the day we found out. I don't really believe in signs per se, but just go along with it.

First, we had a name ready to go. 100 percent decided. Unlike our boy name that was 50 percent decided. My husband was convinced that if we had a little boy, his middle name would be Wayne. I told him I would cross my legs and resist delivery over the name Wayne.

I'm sorry if you are reading this and your name is Wayne.

Secondly, prior to knowing our gender, I would peruse the fabric store with LJ to look at fabric for Knox's room. If I found fabric I liked, I would have a swatch cut. Somehow, all my fabrics ended up being for a little girl's room. Coincidence? ... humm ... probably so ... but it's fun to think I had some divine mother's intuition thingy going on!!

So, here's the fabric for Tilly's crib bedding. I think it will be lovely with her fun green dresser. I've marked on the photo which fabric goes where. With the dresser and this colorful fabric, everything moving forward will be more subdued.

I immediately loved the center fabric, but didn't really know what to put with it. Fortunately, my sweet friend Amanda owns the best fabric store in town, Milling Around, and helped me pull the rest of the fabrics together. I love her and her store!

I think it's fun, different and girly without being pink! And I'm pretty sure if I went with a soft, sweet "baby" room, I would tire of it quickly. I love seeing her room come together, but I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that in a few months she'll be in the room, too.

How can I ever be 100 percent ready for that?

Monday, March 12, 2012

When All Else Fails ... Etsy!

We've had several trying weeks of nursery/home prep for Baby Tilly. We've stripped wallpaper, had the sub floor repaired in our office, picked out and ordered carpet, called more painters than we care to mention ... and most of the time they don't call back.

I could have had a meltdown by now. Is this the correct situation to pull out the "I'm Irrational and Pregnant" Card? I don't want to think about sub floor, paint, texture or carpet for another second. I just want to decorate! The idea of nesting is not to rip apart your home, but to make it a safe, cozy haven for the little one. But right now, we've got to lay all the ground work before the fun nesting can begin.

In the midst of our home repair hell (I literally have plywood floors in my office as we speak), I have had glimmers of decorating fun, thanks to Etsy. After spending Friday afternoon tracking down painters without reply, it was stupid how excited I got over an e-mail from Mint Home saying, "Your dresser is ready!"

This beautiful gem is on her way to me!

I think the piece turned out more wonderful than the first item I spotted from Mint Home.

Here's the original:

I think keeping the original hardware made my dresser even more spectacular.

This dresser makes me feel like I'm getting something accomplished. Before Mint Home contacted me about this dresser, I'd tooled around with the idea of refinishing a piece myself. I started investigating green paint swatches and quickly decided to leave this one up to the pros. Green is tricky!

However (side note), I have refinished a headboard for the upstairs guest room and will share that with you soon!

I can't wait to get the carpet and walls finished so I can begin piecing Tilly's room together. I picked out some fun, funky fabric for her crib bedding, but I'm waiting to see the dresser in person before I settle on it, for sure! And there's not a drop of pink in sight.

I've been taking progress pictures of our construction zone and promise to share once the projects are completed. But for now, it's too sad to only share the "before" without the "after."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Real Twist

I thought it would be a fun activity for the Netherton girls to have a night out, so around Christmas I gave Amy and Ashley each a Painting with a Twist gift card. We finally got around to painting last night.

Ashley and I had each done Painting with a Twist before, but Amy was our rookie. Doesn't she look excited?

Here's the real twist ... I paint better with a little pinot grigio in my system. Don't creativity and booze run hand in hand? Some of the best writers and painters were a nasty mess of a person in real life. I'm not saying I need to be blitzed, but a little pinot would have helped this girl out.

It's a small sacrifice to make.

It also would have helped if our teacher would have told us how to paint a flower rather than just "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle." I ended up with tarantula flowers, according to Amy. Then, my painting partners abandoned me and went rogue to paint flowers using their own artistic expression.

Why can't I just be a rule breaker sometimes? March to my own beat and all that?

We still had a good time. Even drinking O'douls. Well, I drank O'douls. Ashley and Amy were jerks and drank Abita Stawberry.

At the end of the night. These were our masterpieces.




I tried to paint over my "wiggle, wiggle, wiggle" tarantula flowers. They ended up looking like Yellow Jackets. I've still got that Jacket Pride. C.E., what, what?

By the end of the class, Ashley and I were over the Irises. You can find us by the back of our heads.

This gives you a better idea of how horrible mine turned out. It's still in the back of my car. In this case, I think alcohol could have improved my fine motor skills. Couldn't have hurt.

These were some of my other class favorites.

I guess she didn't like her's either.

Perfect example of why you don't bring boys to Painting with a Twist.

Especially to paint Irises.