July 11, 2014

Beach Times Infinity.

Last week we got to spend five days and nights in Sandestin, Florida, with plenty of daytrips back and forth to Grayton Beach and Seaside, too. There is a chance you guys may be thinking, "Are these assholes always on vacation?" Because there was our Outer Banks trip not so long ago, and I got to escape to California for a business trip recently. But here's the deal--we have just been super blessed this summer with generous friends who have helped make all of our family vacation dreams come true. This go 'round, we went to Florida with our friends Johnny and Tara (and their two sons, ages 4 and 2) and were able to stay in their family's beach house. For the record, I recommend making friends with people whose lineage includes beach houses. It also helps that the dynamic between our kids is pitch perfect at the moment, so we could enjoy lots of adult hangs while our kids played together. Tessa has an epic crush on four-year-old Sawyer, who she has known since birth, and she said all kinds of moony, swoony, nauseating things like, "Mama, don't worry, Sawyer will protect me" and "Sawyer, we are gonna get married when we grow up, right?"

It felt like our first real family vacation because it was long enough for us to get comfortable and settle into the easy rhythm of it, and we had all four of us there. When we went to the Outer Banks we didn't get to take Liv with us. I liked the freedom of being baby-less, but I missed the snot out of her. This trip I really bonded with her. Because I felt lighter, buoyed without the pressures of everyday life, I could just carry her around on my hip as much as I wanted and fully snuggle into her sweetness. I feel very aware right now of her fleeting babyness. It is almost gone, so I am drinking up every last baby drop before she traipses off into full-on toddlerhood. God willing and the creek don't rise, she is my last baby. 

It was Livvy's first visit to the ocean. She was not a fan. The waves and the cold water overwhelmed her. Instead she loved the pool. Loved it. We found a baby float for her and could hardly get her to part with it for the whole trip. Tessabean has definitely proven to be a water lover this summer--unlike last summer, when we endured the world's most traumatic swim lessons. She ate the ocean up with a spoon and then went back for more. The pool was equally delightful to her. It's hard to believe that her fingers and toes aren't still wrinkled. 

I am a landlocked baby who was born with saltwater and piƱa colada in her veins, so I am incredibly grateful for having gotten to lay eyes on--and float in--the ocean so much this summer. On Monday, the day we headed home, we weren't in any particular hurry to get on the road for the seven-hour drive back to Nashville. Instead we drove out to Seaside again. Nekos wanted to take photos, and I wanted to take one more dip in the ocean. It was the first time since our vacation had begun that anxiety found me again, a tight knot in my throat. I felt myself getting irritated with the kids and with Nekos, with myself. No one wanted to get in the ocean again except me, so I walked down to the beach myself and stripped off my dress. I waded into the water, layered as far as the eye could see in shades of clear blue, turquoise, and navy. And then I just floated, palms to the sky, hot sun, cool water. All I could hear was my breath, deep and even. The anxiety fell away. I have to keep this feeling with me. I think I will.  

July 8, 2014

Rockin' Roses Stencil Wall.

I was so optimistic about doing this stencil wall. First, it's not a very big wall--not even six feet high. It's just this little patch of wall at the top of our stairs. Like I blogged about before, what I really wanted was this Hygge & West wallpaper called Petal Pusher that I couldn't afford. Instead, for Mother's Day, I asked for this Royal Design Studio stencil called Rockin' Roses, since it's really similar to the wallpaper.

I think I just went about this whole process all wrong and made it way too hard. It literally took me about six weeks from start to finish--although I took plenty of breaks along the way because I got frustrated. In fact, I can't remember ever getting so frustrated with a home project. I wanted to paint over it many times and just pretend I had never attempted this. I normally love taking these things on, if you couldn't tell. But I'm not an artist, and I ended up having to basically hand-paint on every detail because my stencil work was not good. For one thing I think I should have ordered the paint and the stencil brushes that Royal Design Studio sells, instead of trying to save money and source them elsewhere. Instead I used this crappy Martha Stewart stencil brush I found at Michaels and this Sherwin Williams' Metallic Impressions paint, which was really shimmery (like I wanted) but also really watery (which meant I had to roll on three coats of this very expensive gold paint to get started, and which meant any touchups I did with the gold had to be retraced at least twice). For the white paint, I used Sherwin Williams' "Alabaster."

Among my mistakes, I used an apparently lint-covered paint roller that left maddening specks of lint all over the wall. It was so bad that I had to sand the wall to get them off. I've since learned to put my new paint rollers in the dryer for a few minutes and then go over them with a lint roller before putting them anywhere near a wall. I also just taped the stencil onto the wall with painter's tape, but I think I would have had better luck using spray adhesive like a lot of people online suggested. Finally, I am quite sure I could have chosen a way more basic stencil instead of this majorly elaborate (but totally gorgeous) one.

In any case, I love the result, which is what matters. I don't even want to think about how many hours I logged at the top of my stairs with just me, Spotify, a bottle of beer, and my paintbrushes. Towards the end of the project, Tessa would catch sight of me working on my wall and say, "Mom! Are you working on your project AGAIN?!" Shamed by a four-year-old. But man did it do what it was supposed to do in my mind's eye, which is give my hallway a really fun pop of personality with a glamorous edge. In my mind's eye this pop of personality would be far less imperfect than it is, but so be it. And finishing this wall also encouraged me to add quarter round around the edge of the floor, where there was a gap from me pulling up the carpet and painting the floors last year. Now I just need to do the rest of the upstairs trim. Fun times. I'm actually serious about that "fun" part. Everything is fun compared to stenciling. And my upstairs already looks so much more polished with the trim in place.

By God, I love it. Worth it. That's what I tell myself anyway.