Tuesday, January 20, 2015

blown away

 

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Twenty years ago today, I began my morning by giving birth.

Michael is my youngest. Unlike his older brother whose birth (28 months earlier) went on throughout an entire day and included being sent home from the hospital to wait—Michael arrived so quickly on January 20th that I didn’t have time for my epidural.

And this little distinction might possibly be the most fascinating part of mothering.

Don’t get me wrong, because I’m still learning. But it’s been my experience that discovering the uniqueness of each of our children is mind-blowing. And not just ‘accepting’ these differences, like we accept our fate

or accept the bad weather

or accept that we have to pay taxes

but staying utterly curious and interested to learn more about them.

Which is completely different from having a vision for who we want them to be.

Ah, it’s a humbling process and it never stops. Being careful not to “brand” our kids with our own unfulfilled dreams and allowing their inner selves to keep unfolding before us. It’s the drawing-outside-the-lines kind of parenting and it will challenge us to stretch our little egos until they feel like cracking. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

But if you’re a mother or father I don’t have to tell you this. You’re living it too. And maybe you’ll indulge me while I remember a few things on this special day.

I remember.. 

Patrick running up and climbing on my hospital bed and being excited and curious when I gave him a brightly wrapped present—was it a Spiderman figure? I can’t remember now—but I said,

“Look-it Patrick. This is from your new little brother, Michael.”

His brown eyes got big as he held the present and he said, “Really?!” before he tore into it. Truthfully, he wasn’t too interested in seeing this new brother who must have seemed quite boring just laying there swaddled in his cotton blanket.

But I considered it a great first impression. Who wouldn’t love a toy-carrying brother fresh outta heaven?

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I used to joke that for the first year of his life Michael thought that Patrick was a colorful, entertaining cartoon. Michael with his easy, calm demeanor, and big blue eyes- lit up at the sight of Patrick. He would sit in his baby stroller laughing and kicking his legs while he watched his brother in his play group or running around at his Gymboree class.

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Later when Michael started to talk, his Rs sounded like Ws and he could be hard to understand at times. Patrick quickly got into the habit of being a translator and often amazed us with his ability to understand EVERYTHING Michael said. It was inexplicable, like their own personal language.

Although I found his speech idiosyncrasies flat-out adorable.

I remember being in a Nordstrom’s bathroom with him when he was about preschool age and when we came out of the stall there was a line of chic looking women from the cosmetic department dressed in black, standing at the long mirror applying lipstick. It was utterly silent when Michael asked me in his husky little voice, “Mom. Why do girls pee outta their butts?”

It was the one time I was SO relieved he was hard to understand.

I remember Michael always called me, “Mom” and Patrick called me “Momma.” And he still does, even at age 22.

“Hey Momma, what’s sup?” is a common text I see.

I notice they seem opposites in their temperament but they laugh at the same things, and have similar tastes in music and food.

“Just get me what Michael gets” Patrick will say when it comes to ordering food today. And visa versa.

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One is more fiery and rebellious. The other steady, with a steely determination. When I’m with them now I notice they are both what I’d describe as socially astute when it comes to understanding people and dynamics.

Recently I found myself driving in the car with Michael when I was exasperated with his brother about one thing or another. I saw Michael smile and shake his head. “Mom, it’s so funny to listen to you guys go at it. He’s just like You… that’s why you guys butt heads.”

And even though privately I thought, “god I enjoy this kid.” I laughed and acted shocked.

But later it occurred to me how that comment was the closest that one brother will ever get to criticizing another. It seems outrageous to admit this, but I can’t remember ever hearing one brother saying a mean word to the other. They just never fought.

And though I’ve always attributed it to their age difference, now I see it differently. Now I understand it as a kind of loyalty. And I admire it.

They make me crazy with worry. They do dumb-guy things, keep sloppy rooms and they are a steady mirror of my deficiencies, reminding me how to let go.

To stop clinging.

And to stay off any preachy pedestal because their lives today remind me of my own rebellious, wild self that needed to go. To experience precious independence so that I could fall and get back up many times on my way to becoming ME

And not someone else’s version of ME. 

Our kids are a living, breathing reminder –everyday-- of the importance of choosing one’s own path in life.

And the importance of not giving a damn what others think when it comes to your kids.

Are you happy with your own path? Because we don’t get do-overs through our kids. This is their chance, their own journey and it’s a hard truth to face.  One that has me occasionally repeating a mother’s mantra for college age kids and above,

“Leslie.. get over yourself.”

Which I’ve learned, is almost a-perfect-kind-of-love.

 

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Today I am not a mother. I am a bottomless ocean of love with skin. And I am blown away by the gift of my children.

Happy Birthday Mike-Mike.

I don’t know why… but I feel so sentimental about your 20th birthday

 

 

 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Painted floors and a rustic barn door for my cottage office

 

 

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Well how do you like it?

Surprised by the green?

Ok you’re right. I’m just kidding. But a gal can dream about sitting in an office that’s totally D-O-N-E can’t she?

The truth is, I’m finally making progress on my office and this weekend I’ve been hunkered down in sweats and t-shirt determined to finish my floor. Did I tell you I decided to yank up that ugly carpet?

Living in a house built in 1966, I had a teeny-weeny hope that I’d hit the jackpot and discover hardwood underneath. Isn’t that what’s supposed to happen?

But nooooooo this is what I found instead:

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Caked on glue and random staples sticking out of some disgusting looking plywood.

 

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And you may wonder what kind of crazy person would ever waste valuable time yanking out staples and painting over this kind of plywood?

The answer is moi, of course.

(Can you imagine all this yuck painted a pristine white? Don’t worry I can’t either)

But since Mr. Moss and I haven’t had a single discussion about flooring for our upstairs (so many other projects) painting my little office floor with white porch paint buys me some time …and makes me happy for now.  

The fabulous news is that my Mom and Dad came to visit for New Years and besides having a beautiful week together, my awesome Dad made me some bookshelves !!!!

 

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And yes….I love-love love my new wall-to-wall bookshelves, and just finished painting them a few days ago. By-the-way, my parents couldn’t believe how real that beadboard wallpaper looks behind the bookshelves. Stay tuned, my reveal is coming soon.

But first, I gotta finish this floor.

Will it work? I have absolutely no idea, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Oh, and did I mention the barn door I’m working on now? I’ve been eyeing these all over Pinterest and whenever I go to Home Depot with my Dad it never fails. I get giddy happy about a new idea. Seriously, that place is my version of a flashing neon disco with this song blasting overhead…

Forgive me, I digress.

Back to my DIY barn door.

So. Once we decided on the sheets of pine for the shelving, I had my Dad include an extra one in his truck along with a thin (quarter inch) piece of plywood --that might have been a type of paneling because it had a grain pattern.

We cut this plywood into six inch strips.

Can you guess why?

Yep. Those would become the fake planks on my barn door. I’m telling you, I figured out how to make a pretty authentic barn door for pennies compared to the real ones.

After we decided how tall the barn door needed to be to slide over my closet, we cut it.

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Then framed it with the extra pine pieces from my bookshelf project.

The plywood was cut into strips that would fit inside

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This is a photo of the six inch wide ‘planks’ fitting into the front to create the illusion of a plank door.

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And here’s what I did today.

Before staining the entire door, I distressed the “planks” by brushing the sides with black paint to add depth.

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Then I laid them on the floor and proceeded to age them by scuffing them up.

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Basically I filled a plastic bag with screws and nails and randomly placed the bag around the thin strips of wood and started pounding.

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Once I got the effect I wanted I glued them onto the front of the barn door where they now sit and dry beneath the weight of some books.

I stain it tomorrow.

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Don’t forget to check back to see the finished door and my painted floor.

And the color decision for my bookshelves. Remember that question? Seems like ages ago.

Today I ordered my barn door hardware from HERE. Since I’ve only spent $34.95 for the pine sheet and $12.95 for the plywood (planks) I don’t mind splurging on some cool hardware.

…oh I’m sooooo ready to be finished with this office!

hugs to you all,

Leslie

I’m linking up at The Scoop, and  Inspire Me Tuesday and Wow Us Wednesdays

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

changes that matter to the Soul

 

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Funny how entering into a new year makes you stop and think about your life.

I’m not one to make resolutions but after all the tumultuous changes of this past year I find myself entering 2015 feeling a surge of momentum about the future. It seems that relocating cities, leaving family and dear friends and absorbing all the changes of my new life seems to have shifted my insides as well. And I feel it in my bones. A sense of empowerment about making a few, meaningful changes in my world.

So as I head into this new year I’ve been re-examining my life. I want to challenge myself to go deeper. To stop flirting with my vague, dreamy goals and become damn specific about how I want to grow and what I desperately want to accomplish.

Because.. well, this is it my friends.

At the risk of sounding trite, this is our One Precious Life and lately I’ve been reminded that when our lives are busy and wonderfully healthy it’s easy to take this reality for granted; it’s easy to forget what an incredulous gift Time really is.

And then the universe opens its arms and drops a few well-timed “coincidences” into your path that grab your attention.

Does this happen to you too?

First I stumbled on the 5 Top Regrets of the Dying, a little article that inspired this post and then I found myself in an unexpected conversation with a very sick woman.

It happened the other night under a ink-black sky dripping with stars, when I found myself sitting in a restaurant listening to a mother of two little boys tell me that her cancer is back. And that she finally realized there would be no miracle cure and her only hope was that she could make it ten more years so that her boys- now ages eight and ten-- would be grown when she finally dies.

And right after my gut stopped hurting, there it was.

Suddenly here were two random events about Time that seemed like tiny miracles, puzzle pieces for me to fit together. So that I could stand back to savor the message.

I believe our daily lives are filled with these kinds of miracle moments and they can nourish our souls if we see them.

Reading about the regrets of the dying seemed to validate the 5 habits I want to develop in the new year. And today I thought I’d share them with you in case you’re working on yourself too.

Here they are. In 2015 I want to:

 

1. Complete my passion project.

Have you heard about this? You take one dream, one thing you’ve been wanting to accomplish in your life and you work on it for 90 days, 90 minutes a day. It’s the 90-90-1 approach (90 days-90 minutes-1 focus) and it’s a way of re-connecting with your passion. Grabbing your comfortable little life and shaking it up with something that makes you feel alive and excited.

It turns out that one of the big regrets of dying people was that they spent too much time “stuck in a rut,” keeping old patterns and habits because of their fear of change. They felt regret  they had not allowed themselves to be truly happy by living a more authentic life. Which often means refusing to simply live according to others’ expectations.

Tackling the passion project forces you to get in touch with those feelings simmering beneath your surface which is good for the soul.

I’ll share more about my passion project later, and I’d love it if you joined me.

 

2. Develop a regular meditation practice. 

For me, beginning a daily practice of mindfulness is not only about becoming more present in my daily life, it’s also a way of helping me deal with my tendencies to worry and over-control. My first knee-jerk reaction (especially with my kids) is always worry and it’s exhausting. I feel like a lab rat ringing a bell and I don’t like it. I want a deeper kind of peace in my daily life, one that’s not hitched to a certain external event happening. The hubby and I are taking a mindfulness class at UCLA to get us both started, and I’ll share my experience with you.

 

3. Seek discomfort

I know it sounds weird. Who wants to seek out discomfort? But this is my way of reminding myself of the indisputable link between growth and discomfort. Isn’t this what getting outside our comfort zone is really about?  Ever since we’ve relocated, I’ve been reminded by my real honest-to-goodness experiences that it’s impossible to grow without feeling uncomfortable. Whether it’s saying yes to getting a stronger body, or for meeting a new friend for coffee, or taking a class—being physically sore,  nervous or mentally perplexed are natural reactions in new situations.

 

4. Reach out more

There is nothing more replenishing to my soul than having, deep meandering conversations with someone I feel a kinship with.  Seriously. If we were at a crowded party, I’d probably be the one in the corner engrossed in a conversation.

One of the big regrets of dying people was that they didn’t keep in touch with their friends, and over the years they let their relationships wane. Longitudinal research tells us that in the end, it’s the relationships in our lives that sustain us. But here’s something I know. There is nothing that replaces hearing the sound of someone’s voice, seeing the laughter in their eyes or feeling the warmth of a hearty hug. And while social media helps us stay informed, it’s not truly relational. Texting and Facebook cannot replace human contact.

Sometimes I worry that I’m calling at a bad time and so I’ll text instead.

But I want to ‘risk’ calling more often, even if it’s just to say Hi. You’re on my mind.

 

5. Gratitude Journal

My niece gave me this journal for Christmas.

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And I’ve decided that it’s a perfect place to jot down my gratitude at the end of my day. Even though I have to fight my-neurotic-writer-within, I’m giving myself permission to write like crap in it—because typos and incomplete sentences matter less than writing down what I’m grateful for that day. It’s also a place for me to compose gratitude notes to people in my life with the goal of sending them.

One of my big regrets would be dying without telling the people in my life how much they’ve given me, touched me, or changed me, even in the smallest ways.

I plan on doing this for my kids too.


 

I hope this little post inspires you to stare into space and become curious about the path you’re on. To think about what will really matter to you at the end of your life. And to ask yourself this question:

“Am I living that kind of life right now?”

If you answered no, welcome to the human club. We’re all works in progress, aren’t we?  Creating your kind of meaningful life means knowing what matters to you and taking those small, baby steps.

 

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It’s a new year. Let’s keep growing together.

 

xoxo

Leslie

I’m linking up with

The Scoop 

Inspire Me Tuesday

Metamorphosis Monday

 

 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014

how to make a lush, green Christmas centerpiece

 

 

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Hello everyone.

Crazy morning around here as we’re packing for our trip up North. But before I head out of town I wanted to show you one more possible idea for your Christmas table.

 

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These days I’m loving the long, fresh green garlands down the table. Very elegant and dramatic don’t you think?

So I originally planned on making one using the classic pairing of magnolia leaves, lemon leaves and seeded eucalyptus.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any locally and ran out of time.

 

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So I had to use what was close.

No, I’m not one of those lucky ones with a Magnolia tree in my yard. But I do drive around with clippers and when I saw these trees at an apartment complex I just got out and ….clip clip clip.

Free magnolia leaves. Done.

In place of the lush, green lemon or bay leaves I simply went in my backyard and clipped my Ficus leaves (a poor man’s version but it worked)

I also purchased a bouquet filled with Christmas greens since I don’t have access to pine or cedar branches or berries….

 

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I used green wire to bunch up my Ficus leaves…

 

I layered a foundation of Ficus leaves and magnolia leaves down the center of the table. Inserting berries along the way.

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And at the center I used the $4.99 bouquet from Trader Joes of Christmas greenery, (they have the best deals during the holidays)

inserting the pieces into the garland around a silver bowl of white carnations

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When making your garland …repetition creates a balanced look.

I duplicated the ends of the garland so that both sides had Ficus and magnolia leaves in the same position.

Feel free to clip the magnolia leaves if they protrude in places. You can even insert the individual leaves where you need them.

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Once your garland is finished you can add fresh pomegranates or shiny bulbs.

You could even insert fresh flowers.

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Sigh, I wish you could see how lovely it is in person.

See how easy? You can do this.

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(love these cocktail napkins)

Well I’m off to finish packing. The hubby’s calling me.

 

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Blessings to you all,

xoxo

Leslie

 

 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

a Christmas cottage kitchen tour-before and after

 

Hello friends.

I hope you’re all enjoying these last days before Christmas.

The other day my Mom told me that my decorating seems different this year and she’s right. Even though we’ve been in this house since August the truth is, I’m still working on the basics. In fact our entry is still half-painted because I’ve been trying to pace myself.

So Christmas decorating—especially in the kitchen-is lighter this year.

This kitchen is not technically a true “After” because we plan on a total remodel sometime next year (fingers crossed) so I haven’t wanted to throw a lot of money at this space; it feels uncomfortable to add hardware to these beaten up cabinets that are peeling in places and when the appliances are so dated.

So instead we’ve painted, done a few superficial changes and I’ve basically brought my own style into the room.

In the meantime, I’ve been learning lots of lessons about living in the moment and being grateful for what I’ve got (smile)

So on that note, here’s a little update on my kitchen.

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The bamboo shades for this window are being installed the first week of January.

On the day we were shown this house I brought my camera. So we got to see how the previous owners used this space.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Removing the broken microwave and cabinet doors and installing some white beadboard helped lighten this dark space up. (Thanks Dad)

BEFORE

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Apparently this side of the room is designated as a ‘family room’ on the original floor plan (go figure)…But there’s a second master bedroom next door that we’re using as an office/den instead.

So this entire space got painted in BM’s Brilliant White and we’re using this side as the kitchen nook.

AFTER

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I’m using this table from our previous home as the kitchen island for now…to make up for the lack of counter space.

And right now I’m looking for some vintage style stools that can fit underneath to save space.

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Remember this tray?

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the L shape counter (only counter space)

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There’s one thing I reaaaalllly miss in this kitchen and it’s the under the-counter lighting we used to have. Do you have it?

With this granite (not a fan) I can’t see a darn thing without my glasses so I stuck this little lamp (still looking for a bigger one) on the counter and…

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Halleluiah I can see!

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To help with storage I’m using my old office shelves on this wall and it holds our microwave, coffee cups and recipe books over here.

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You can see more of my rustic chic table setting HERE.

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I like using art in the kitchen, do you?

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I have plans for this corner.

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Well, that’s it for now my friends.

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Nothing ‘designer’ here, but I hope you liked seeing the changes

thanks so much for visiting..I’m so grateful for all the kindness and support I get on this little blog of mine.

xoxo

Leslie

I’m linking at Feathered Nest Friday, Grace at Home, Wow Us Wednesdays

 

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