Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear Son,

Maybe some day in fifteen years or so you might wonder what your life was like around this time. I just want to you know a few things. Your Dad and I are so in love with you. It feels like two-ton chains tied to my heartstrings to think you probably won't have any memories of all three of us living together. I only wish you could remember the way that you stand at your door and shout "Ma-maaaaaaaa, Ma-maaaaaaaaa" at me each morning around 6 a.m. After those first few cries I walk the fifteen steps to your doorway with my eyes still asleep and my mind still dreaming of what it would like to swim at the very bottom of the ocean. I scoop you up as you hand me your pacifier. You call it a "thankyou" because I always ask you for it once you are awake, and thank you once you reluctantly give it to me. Most mornings you snuggle down between your Dad and I. You always hold your fuzzy yellow-trimmed blanket tightly to your cheek.  You copy how I lay on my pillows, very upright and stiff like a tiny toy soldier with sinus issues.

You usually close your eyes tightly and pretend to sleep for a few minutes. Sometimes in your effort to pretend to sleep you actually do doze off for a few extra minutes. Other times your pretend sleep erupts into a quick smile and soon breaks loose into deep belly laughs. Like you know, that we know, that you were pretending all along. Once you grow tired of pretending you pull down the top of my blankets and wiggle over until your face is hovering a few inches above my chest. I can usually hear your quick determined breaths through your stuffy baby nose. You use your strong little fingers to move my shirt down until there is a nice round patch of skin for you to nuzzle into. You lay your soft cheek onto my chest right where my collarbone meets my neck. This is how I fist met you in the hospital. Skin to skin. I'd like to think that each morning you are attempting to recreate that moment when you first felt my love pour all over you. I think about it each time you demand to feel my body heat. The way you feel up against me peacefully listening to my heartbeat is the highlight of my days right now. I can't think of any way a mother could feel more needed and loved. You are letting me know that me, just laying there being me, is quite enough for you (something that I've heard the opposite of quite a bit lately). Once you've had your fill of my warmth you usually crawl towards your Dad and wake him by grabbing a fist full of his hair. If it is a weekend morning he usually tells you "Okay, okay, I'm up" and takes you to go play trucks in the slanted morning sun of the living room. I wish you could remember all of this someday.

I want you to know how happy and stable your life has been. I know it really doesn't make sense for two people to try so hard, and suffer such loss in order to have a child, and then split from one another two years later. I don't understand it either. But your house hasn't been full of yelling and fights. I'd always imagined couples who split to do so in very dramatic and fitful manners. But our separation came by way of whispered secrets, and truths written on pages of notebooks. But I know one thing for certain,  you were meant to be on this Earth, in this family. You were wanted, hoped for, and prayed for with all of our might. I don't want you to ever think for one second that we didn't love each other enough to bring a beautiful soul like yours into this world. We love you, we love you, we love you.

And I'm so sorry.

- Mama

p.s. I found us these two heart pillows the other day. One for your bed and one for mine. Will you be my Valentine?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let him go, Bluebird

Peaks and Valleys: Life is full of them

(This may make me sound like total nutso.) I've had a reoccurring image haunting me for quite a few years now. It was always more of a strange quirky thought then a real cause for concern. When I see the image it is a simple old-fashioned tombstone with green grass around the edges. The strange thing about the tombstone is that the birth month and day are the same as the death month and day. Only the years are different. Even though the image pops into my mind while I'm awake I can never quite understand the dates, although somehow I know that they are similar. In the past few years I've thought that maybe this premonition meant that I was destined to die on my birthday. That was as much sense as I could make out of the whole thing. I had even mentioned it to a few friends. It wasn't a fear great enough to make me stay locked-up safely at home on my last few birthdays. It always remained just a creepy thought it the back of my head.

Then this week the symbolism hit me. Our first date to the day it all ended were exactly seven years apart.

January 15, 2004 - January 15, 2011
RIP: my marriage

And that is exactly where I am right now. I'm in mourning. I'm mourning the dreams I had, I'm mourning the friendship that I've lost, I'm mourning the life that I thought I had in front of me. And although I can feel something amazing inside of me right now, promising a better future, whatever that might mean...It still hurts.  

The only thing that really seems to help me right now is music. A friend sent me this perfect song today. 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life Alone

I wore spaghetti straps and floral prints even though
 we are thigh deep in snow (it makes me feel good).  
I bought a book with 1,276 pages. It should keep me busy for a while. 
I took a refreshing fifteen minute walk in the freezing cold.  
I took these photos without your help. 
I listened to certain songs on repeat. 
I saw you for an instant and it felt so strange. 
I stayed busy until 3 a.m. and then slept out of pure exhaustion. 
I held my breath under water in the tub and blocked out the world for a bit.  
I felt free in a really weird way. 

I felt like superwoman until the baby asked "Dada? Dada?" 
And then I'm pretty sure that my heart just stopped working. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

date with me

This is what I'm doing today: 
You could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it
If your heart is bleeding make the best of it
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

Taking myself on a date. 
I'm thinking shopping, thrifting, sketching at the library. 
And then meeting my mom for  yummy cafe food for lunch. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This is my prayer.

And I've held out as long as I can. Now I'm letting go and holding out my hand.  

I surrender. My little white flag is up. 

Help him find his way. 
Help him to be healed. 

But for now I'm letting go. I'm placing him in your care God. 
I can't worry any longer. 

Empower me to know this is the right decision. 
YOUR will be done God, not mine. 
I have no idea where you are leading me, or why. 
But I can't fight against it any longer. 
Help me to be a strong enough mother to do this alone. 



"...And the world’s got me dizzy again
You think after 22 years I’d be used to the spin
And it only feels worse when I stay in one place
So I’m always pacing around or walking away
I keep drinking the ink from my pen
And I’m balancing history books up on my head
But it all boils down to one quotable phrase

If you love something, give it away"

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Edna: Queen Bee of the Whales

About a month ago a local fiber artist gave me a huge pile of her old fabric. I've been slowly peeking through the stacks and pulling out my favorites. Last night I saw some potential in these scraps:

Of course I was immediately drawn to the whales. 

There are a whole bunch of vintage prints. It really has my wheels turning. Expect many more paintings like this in the near future. 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flattered (times two)

Wow, I got home from teaching dance tonight and found two great surprises.

1. My desk and crib projects were featured on the blog Better After! The two sites that I can get lost in for hours are Better After and the Design Sponge before/after galleries. Both sites have been known to soak up vast amounts of my evenings. Thank you again!

2. My inbox also had a Stylish Blogger Award from Eva (isn't that an awesome first name?) over at Lovers in a Dangerous Time.

As part of my award I'm supposed to share seven things about myself:

1. I am left handed when I write but I do almost everything else right handed. BUT when I paint I use whatever hand is closest to the side of the paper I need. Left hand paints left side of paper, right hand paints right side of paper. Get it?

2. My parents come from families of 8 and 9 siblings... so I have 1.1 million first cousins. Most of them went to my very small high school with me. Fun times. I love having lots of little baby cousin friends around for Lex.

3. I  have a mole  perfectly centered in the dent above my upper lip. Lots of people tell me that I have something on my mouth, or they think it is a piercing. Which also makes me super paranoid about always waxing ; )

4. I have to have noise in order to sleep. I use a white noise app on my phone a lot.

5. I (uber messy) shared a room with my (very clean) older sister until I was about 10. One day I packed up and moved my belongings into a large cardboard box in our playroom. I slept on a camping cot inside the box. My parents tried to wait me out thinking that I would eventually move back into my shared bedroom. In the end, a few years later, they built me walls and I got my own room.

6. I am a bubble bath freak. I can easily spend two hours in there reading (doesn't happen as much now that I'm a Mama.)

7. My parents used to let me "ice skate" with sponges tied to my bare feet and cleaning gel smeared in the bathtub.

Thank You Eva! I'm so glad that someone can appreciate my lack of mom jeans.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bizarre Happenings

And now, my bizarre happening. (Which is nowhere near as exciting as April's)

Bizarre Happening by Carly  

Lex's dad was primarily raised by his mother and her parents. He did visit his dad on weekends but wasn't too close to that side of his family. One day back in 2008 we got a call from his father. He simply stated, "grandma has died" and left us with a few details about her funeral arrangements. Even though my husband hadn't seen his grandma in years he only thought it approporiate that we attend her funeral. I had seen photos of his grandma but I had never gotten the chance to meet her. 

So we rearranged our work schedules and made time for the funeral. We drove up to L.A. and found the correct address. The viewing location was something that I can only imagine existing in California. It looked like a huge nice hotel. We went inside and told the ladies at the front desk the name of the funeral we were there to attend. The receptionists told us a room number and we followed the signs, and took an elevator up to the location. It literally was like a hotel for the deceased. It was so strange to me. It was a huge corridor of rooms where viewings were taking place. We found the correct room number and my husband greeted a few of his distant relatives who were lingering outside of the doorway. 

It was a pretty small room so we waited a little while until there was room for us to enter. Once we entered the room we were given a chance to approach the casket and say some prayers for his grandma. Lying there she looked a bit older then what I had remembered. We then took our seats in the relative-lined room and listened as family members recounted stories from her life. There was the typical funeral chit-chat taking place about how nice she looked in her casket, and how it was a relief to see her set free from her ailments. We were told that the actual funeral service would be taking place in a chapel on the same grounds. Everyone began shifting around in their seats anticipating the need to clear the room and move to the new location. 

Around this same time a new visitor entered the room. 

I turned my head to follow the visitor and quickly realized that I was looking at my husband's grandma...

The same grandma that we believed was lying in the casket in front of us.... (!!!!!!!!!) 

A little freaked out, confused, and stunned, I nudged my husband and forced out an urgent whisper, "Isn't that your grandma?!" 

He squeezed my hand and replied "Yeah, I think it is..." 

And with that we politely exited the room with the other relatives who were starting to walk to the chapel.

I didn't know whether to giggle or cry. I might have done a little of both. 

 After a hurried chat with my sister-in-law in the bathroom I was given the correct information. The deceased grandma was actually my husband's grandma's sister (which explains the similar appearances). We have no idea how the message was relayed to us incorrectly. It was the strangest feeling ever to sit during the service, and visibly see the woman who we thought we were coming to grieve a few rows ahead of us alive and well. We kept it to ourselves that day how dumb we felt to think we were at an entirely different funeral. Sorry grandma. 


But maybe the most bizarre thing is I have another story almost exactly like this one. Except this story takes place at a country club. My roommates and I worked setting up/organizing/decorating for about an hour for THE WRONG wedding. We were there an entire week too early. Oops. 

Your turn: What is the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to you? 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Post: Bizarre Happenings

This is my beautiful friend April. 

She blogs over here about her life (now in NYC!).
 And now over here about music and entertainment. 

April was one of the super cool chicks who used to work at the ultra nostalgic, now deceased, music store Tower Records Anaheim. *tear* I have so many awesome memories of that place. And I never even worked there. Just look how cool it was: 

Last July we had the chance to go back to Southern California for our first visit since we had moved away. During a little backyard gathering April sat down and told me her story of a bizarre occurrence that had happened a few weeks prior. It left me feeling totally shocked, amazed, and grossed out. If I hadn't heard the words out of her own mouth I may have not believed it. 

And it is just TOO good not to share. 

Have I raised the hype level high enough now? 

Yard gathering. Back of April's head. 

So read and enjoy. I'll be back tomorrow with my most bizarre happening. 


Bizarre Happening by April 

WARNING: the following may be gag-inducing.

Months ago, when I was staying at my parent's house in Southern California and it was around 4 a.m., I began flopping back and forth in bed, like a fish out of water who couldn’t find comfort in the warmth of a blanket and a mattress (with a pillow top, nonetheless!).

I am a very sound sleeper, which means I make no sound when sleeping, I'll reiterate, I am a very no sound sleeper.  So my high level of sound, in the form of uncomfortable grunts, while trying to sleep was alarming.

 I started realizing more and more that the source of my discomfort was coming from my nostrils. Specifically my left nostril. My first thoughts were along the sinus related lines. I told myself to forget it and go back to sleep. Now my nostril was stinging. This was no ordinary sting, this was a face-changing sting.

I was now up.

My instinct was to put pressure on it. When I did the pain would stop. When I let go, the pain returned. And it returned angry. It became incredibly painful. My second instinct was to blow my nose and when I did this, small blood drops hit my tissue. I felt relief, as I had never had a bloody nose before. I thought, “This must be what a nose bleed feels like!”. Oh poor, naïve nose-bleed virgin.

My mom was now up.

This applied pressure, release of pressure, and nose-blowing went on for about 20 minutes.  I even stuck a q-tip up there and used a small mirror to look up my nose but saw nothing.

My dad and sister were now up.

I stopped the panicked, chicken-with-its-head-cut-off routine and went into survival mode.  As my mom suggested this was all the result of dryness, I remembered the oddness of a set of tweezers I’d seen earlier, they were lying on a side table in the living room. I grabbed the tweezers, returned to the bathroom, reached in without looking, squeezed and pulled.

A moth! I had just pulled out a moth. I had just pulled out a moth from my nose. Not a conveniently tiny moth, it was rather large (it should be noted that moths do not come in a desired nostril size) and at this point dead (recall the q-tip and applied pressure).

I tossed the tweezers in the sink when I’d realized what happened. The moth and the tweezers lay in the sink, I looked up at the mirror. The moth had apparently been serving as a cork and when I released it a thick, dark stream of blood ran down my face. It looked like an awfully cheesy horror film. I burst into tears, sounding like a child realizing Santa is actually his parents being tricky. I howled. The stinging I felt was the fluttering of the moth's wings.  I was hysterical.  But the good news was that I had won the war against my just revealed opponent: the moth.

I should, maybe, let you know that I don't have a huge nose. It's rather normal in size. Just in case you were thinking I was some sort of circus freak.

I still have phantom moth-in-nose-pains. I still, on occasion, pull the covers over all of the orifices on my head to protect from future nostril invaders.

One Moth-er of a Nose Bleed

Sunday, January 9, 2011

You are loved: thrifted children's wall art

What do you get when you mix thrifted frames, antique sheet music, and vintage cloth napkins? 



You are loved. (So he never forgets.)

Frames were $3.50 each at Salvation Army. The sheet music was from an antique shop. They were about $20 total. I picked them for their amazing cover artwork in shades of blue & green. The napkins were an old thrift find. 

Fabric lettering is just taped on so I can change the message
 in the future. Maybe "go to sleep" will be next. 

Cheeseball at 17 months.

The things you love you lose...

I don't know how many religious songs there are that have ever been sung in a bedazzled leotard with cheeks a-hangin' ... but this one is. I've been listening to this song a lot lately and loving the lyrics. Made me laugh to google the video today and find this.

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air

I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying "Lord I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need To see me through

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through

When food is gone you are my daily meal
When friends are gone I know my savior's love is real
Your love is real

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

Time after time I think "Oh Lord what's the use?"
Time after time I think it's just no good
Sooner or later in life, the things you love you lose
But you got the love I need to see me through

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you
Sometimes I feel like saying "Lord I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love
You got the love

- Florence and The Machine 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Waiting for the call

So when does it all change? When do subtle insignificant daily habits distort into new rituals? 
You forget to give a goodbye kiss one day. Is that the start? 

In what moment in time does a significant other go from being the very axis in which the world revolves on, into someone you wouldn't mind having a few days away from?

the proposal 2005

Just exactly how long is the "You hang up first. No, you hang up first" stage supposed to last?

Does it all change when a certain level of maturity is reached in the relationship?
It is a matter of reality? growing up? the real world?

Does it have to change? Should it change?


Is the real world anything like the examples that have been shaped for us?
Option one: The couple despises each other and generally makes every attempt to maintain their own freedom. The Al and Peg Budies of the world.
Option Two: "True love," no conflicts, the amazingly thrilling butterfly sensation deep in your gut. Cinderella and her Prince...

Is there a middle ground in there somewhere?


And then there is the deeply confusing matter of expectations. 

Some people plan for and expect things to change. For the intense emotions to gradually fade into a flickering candle rather then a fireworks display. Could the world really function if all relationships were as thrilling as that first kiss? 

Other people are absolutely dumbfounded when feelings fade and The One suddenly seems just like everybody else. They feel forsaken, hurt, and even angry. The rug has been pulled out from right underneath them. They didn't see it coming. They long for the love that they once had. No other forms of  affection seem to compare to that initial feeling. 


Is it naïve to think that a marriage can maintain the level of happiness, excitement, and punch, that the first six months of dating provide? Are you jaded if you don't think so?

Is it wrong to strive for butterflies, weak knees, and exhilarating rendezvous? The kind that leave you unable to sleep...

Is it wrong to "only" strive for a slow and steady love? The kind that leaves you feeling grounded, secure, and warm all over...


Can two people, stemming from completely different sets of expectations, striving for different types of love, ever make each other truly happy? Did it have to end this way?


How long do these growing pains hurt? 

Can my 40 year-old self just give my 26 year-old self a call? Let me know how it all turns out, okay?


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shower Curtain + Quilt = Headache.

"Real" seamstresses please avert your eyes from reading this post.

Seriously why don't you go look over here instead?


*And the rest of you please squint slightly and glance quickly when you look at the photos...*

On my trip to Target last weekend I got an awesome clearance deal on two cotton shower curtains. They were only $2.30 each. Cheaper then a yard of fabric. I got one in aqua and one in yellow since it was such a good deal. Ever since Lex moved into a toddler bed I've been on the lookout for warm bedding. On Christmas my grandpa happened to give Lex a quilt that he had won in a raffle. The quilt had a random combination of footballs and Scottie dogs on it. No, I'm not joking. Footballs and Scottie dogs. Since I was never going to use the football quilt I decided to cover it with the cotton shower curtain.

I wanted the top half of the blanket to have the cotton shower curtain fabric with this block pattern...

...and the backside of the blanket to be made from super soft T-shirt sheets. A smart person would have just made a simple duvet cover, basically a huge pillow case, and put the quilt inside of the cover. But for some unknown reason I decided that I would much rather sew the fabric directly onto the quilt. Bad idea. I got about halfway done and it looked horrible. I ended up having to put an extra layer of fabric under the curtain fabric or else the dog pattern would show through. Which resulted in many THICK layers of fabric. And yadda yadda yadda, things got complicated. 

 Some people tell me that I am a very stubborn person. But I like to think of it as determination. I was too determined to scratch the whole project. So I decided to rip out a few seams and try a different approach.  "Measure twice, cut once" or in my case, don't. So in the end the blanket has a few holes that I had to repair after losing some of the fabric. One long seam has the curtain fabric folded under, and one long seam has the curtain fabric wrapping to the backside. Oh well, thats what I get for just diving in without a plan. Anyhow, nothing says "Mommy loves you" like a wonky meandering seam. 

It is better to restyle something then to never use it, right? 

Finished Product

Sniff sniff, all grown up at 17 months. Doesn't look like the nursery any more. 

Mommy loves you. 

$5.00 Apartment Kitchen Makeover

I'm pretty sure that every apartment I've ever lived in has had an ugly kitchen. I've had an idea brewing in my head for a while now as to how to fix this issue in my current kitchen. Part of my New Years Resolution to cook includes bribing myself to spend more time in the kitchen. Now that I can actually stand to look at my cabinets maybe the cooking will be easier...maybe?

Here are my unashamed "before" photos.
But actually that is a lie.
I had already organized the space above the cabinets before I remembered to take a photo.


I used this vintage tablecloth and one $5 roll of white self-adhesive paper to redo the kitchen. 


I wrapped all of the doors first and then got busy with a x-acto knife. After they were wrapped in the laminate, I used 3M spray glue to attach fabric cutouts from the tablecloth. 

(I swear, if I see one more kitchen with fake ivy and wicker baskets above the cabinets....)
Displaying my very small collection of cookbooks along 
with my grandma's coffee tin and syrup bottle. 

 I cut out more of the tablecloth and put the
 fabric in simple Ikea frames that I already had. 

The yellow bag is from Catalina Island.
 I love it so much I'd rather display it then use it. 
*side note* 
The last thing I still need to find/make are two bar stools. Anyone seen any good ideas lately? 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tablecloth Curtains

On Sunday my sister and I braved the cold and made the 45 min drive to the nearest Target.
 I am truly making a sacrifice by living here.  : ) 
I ended up finding this great large sized bird tablecloth made by Dwell. The only way my cheap-butt could justify the $25 price tag was to do something more with it. Plus we only have an itty bitty Ikea dining table that we leave folded into a triangle most days. So I really had no use for such a huge piece of fabric. 

Retro fabric curtains that I've had FOREVER 

Simple simple.
 Chopped it in half, left all the edges raw (because WHO really cares?). 
Added some loops to the top to make it fit the window better (while using less of the pricey fabric). 

Yellow birds, it was made for me. 

And just enough left for our tiny table.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolutions Shmezolutions

Hello. I seem to have fallen into a pit somehow. But I've wallowed here long enough and decided that today would be the day to climb out. I guess nothing sums up my emotions lately more then the word "blah." I had a great Christmas that involved closure in a major part of my life. It was enough to really give me an adrenaline rush for days. Then I guess it ended.... and I haven't been able to pick back up again. I don't really feel like writing, or painting, or talking, or bathing for that matter. But from working in behavior therapy, I know that when a task (ie:  life) seems too overwhelming it is important to break it down into itty-bitty baby steps first.

So today I'm inching along in life by writing this here blog post.

Yesterday we closed the door on 2010. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I had big hopes for 2010. It was my first full year of being a mom. I graduated college. We survived our first year in the midwest. I guess some part of me was still holding out hope that something truly awesome was going to come along in the last weeks of December. That somehow something would happen to turn the ugly mess of 2010 into one big happy memory. That some miracle was going to swoop down from the sky and give me the redemption that I feel is somehow owed to me. But that didn't happen.  I guess I feel cheated that I ran out of time to make the year better. Now I'm suck with an overall yuckie reaction when I look back on 2010.

So I guess the only thing to do now is put my chin to my chest and push forward into 2011. If I was really brave I would say that in 2011 I hope to find the perfect balance of work/parenting/happiness. Because the idea of continuing my current life/schedule for another full year makes me want to pluck out all of my arm hairs. I also would say that I want to find some meaningful friendships this year. I might even be really daring and say that I want to be really happy with my life once again.

But I'm not feeling brave or daring. So I'm not making any of those things my resolution for 2011. Instead I'm choosing something safe. Something I feel that I have some control over.

I hereby solemnly swear, in a resolute fashion that I, Carly, will learn how to cook this year. I will try new methods and recipes and I will find success. I will create recipes that will become traditions in my little family. I will mainly focus on vegetarian cooking, but I might give myself the ultimate challenge of cooking meat here-and-there (meat and I have a very poor history when it comes to me being responsible for making it edible.)