Monday, January 19, 2015

"It really tied the room together"

So while I like to make my blog thoughtful—I don’t dare say “philosophical”—this week is pure frivolity. And beauty. And pictures!

Josh and I have been going through a major furniture rearrangement on our second floor. We decided that since we so rarely have guests stay with us, we’re moving the guest bed from the biggest bedroom in the house (we occupy the second-biggest bedroom because that’s where the master bathroom fit) to the smallest bedroom in the house. The double bed looks kind of silly and oversized in there, but realistically, our cat Pansy is the only one will use it 360 days out of the year.

We also put the bed in here in a strange placement, because Josh didn’t want the head of the bed to go under our wall-mounted shelves, in case they should fall in the night and crush the face of our guest, on one of the four nights of the year we have a guest. Or our dear Pansy. We’ve had a close call before (see description below). So I agreed, and now the headboard is in the middle of the room, not against a wall, and carefully positioned to not block the window. It looks weird, but I’m not going to dwell on it.

The big bedroom is becoming our playroom/office/homeschool room, since we’re in talks about homeschooling Rye. But that’s for another episode. I think a playroom/office is a pretty bad combination, because if I need to get something done, like writing a story, it should not be in the same room with Rye playing. That’s why I currently get 98% of my work done while he’s napping. But then again, who actually does work in their office? Isn’t that really more of an area where you just dump paperwork and other stuff you don’t feel like dealing with? My current “office” is a desk in our foyer. It works, but the lighting is bad, so I usually unplug my computer and go to the dining room. But having an upstairs office will be nice for those times I am working while Rye’s awake but Josh is here to play with him. Plus that room gets good light and feels kind of spacious.

Except for when I'm writing this, because we are only half-moved in. Or rather, all the furniture coming in is in, and the stuff that needs to come out is only half out. And the reason the move is half-finished is because of the little things—like Josh wanting to spackle some holes where his giant CD rack fell off the wall. (And now those CDs are in laundry baskets in our basement, also waiting to be dealt with.) He also wants to sort all papers that were stacked on his desk before just shoving them back on top like we all do. And that’s honorable, but not something I can help with.

We also had a bookshelf with tons of photos still in their little boxes from the places we had them printed. I’m thinking I’ll go through them, finally, and put them in books, and toss those that aren’t worthy of being placed in books, which is probably 75 percent of them. So that should save us a lot of room too.

And now to the fun part of this whole room-switching discussion: I get to buy a new rug! And the best part, is that it is a rug for a “playroom/office/homeschool room,” in an upstairs level that few people will see. Which means I can go wild! I love looking at rugs. We only own three in our house right now, but you can guess that the two that were purchased since we remodeled our house 6 years ago were very, very carefully chosen. I love color, but I have learned how to show restraint when we moved to our “grown-up house.” Plus Josh really cares about home design and to a slightly lesser extent, d├ęcor, so I have to take his opinions into account when making these big decisions. And an 8x10 rug is a big decision! But I’ve been given carte blanch, except with price, considering this is a playroom.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve logged in about 8 hours of online rug viewing so far. And I don’t regret it. But since I can’t buy all of these rugs, I thought I would use this blog to show off some of the beautiful rugs I have found.

First, I wanted to go colorful. And I don’t mean in some rainbow kids rug or one with giant crayon pictures on it. Josh and I are not those kind of parents. We let Rye eat with our normal flatware on our ceramic plates. When he gets the hang of drinking from a cup that doesn’t have a sippy top, we’ll probably give him glass jelly jars for a year and then move him up to the real thing.

But back to rugs. One of the first colorful, acceptable rugs that I came across was this one:
This is about as kid-themed as I'm willing to go. But then the more I thought about it, I felt like this was more appropriate for a kid's bedroom, so I moved on.
Then I found these amazingly beautiful hand-woven cotton rugs by Safavieh. I fell in love with about 6 of them, but these were my two leading favorites:

   They're actually rag rugs, like those ones people used to keep by their kitchen sinks or in the laundry room, but these are made with a zillion different colors. I'm almost weeping at their beauty. My hesitation is that cotton is not the easiest to clean, but I can rationalize that by the thought that they are so busy with the colors, that any spot on them that you clean up will quickly disappear once you walk out of the room--you'll never find it again. I'm also a big sucker for chevron. And I don't feel like it's trendy--it's timeless.

   Then I started looking at other rugs by Safavieh, and decided this is a company I really like. Because they also had some gorgeous Ikat designs, such as this:

   This one is not overly Ikat, and the colors are still kind of muted. If my first floor rug was ready to be replaced, I'd definitely consider this as a possible replacement. But then I thought about how the upstairs room was such an opportunity to go crazy, and I decided this one was too safe. Another two that kind of fell into that category were these:

   The chevron is a little muted, but I'm not so sure it could hide stains. And then this second one, which is sort of a wood-block design, is also gorgeous, but not really wild.

   Then there are the ones that I would buy if I lived in an all-female house, like this gorgeous number:

  Not to mention all of the prettier-colored chevrons out there, like coral, a current favorite color.

  And I really, really loved this one, but I didn't think it fit our house. But I would absolutely buy it if I lived in an old church that had been converted to a house. Yes, I think that would be totally cool. 

  So there you have it, an idea of some of the things I find beautiful these days. If only I didn't love seeing my wood floors so much (or could afford $1,000 per rug), then they could all be mine.

   So which one did I go with? I thought about waiting until the room is put back together and showing a picture of it all together for the big reveal, but I would be annoyed if someone did that to me. Have you made your guess? Alright, I'll tell you: the blue chevron. It was on sale and kind of a steal, and seemingly stain-proof via distraction, and very thick and heavy which is good for little knees and sound absorption.  I'm hoping it's as beautiful in person as it is on the website.

   And that Josh will let me repaint the room if I decide that needs a more vivacious color too.

   And that he'll help me repaint because painting sucks.


Monday, January 12, 2015


Wow, I was really excited to see how many people read my last blog. I got 70 hits in the first day, which is more than any of the previous 9 posts I wrote three to four years ago. Thanks for taking an interest! (Though I secretly think some of you just wanted to see a larger version of that great picture of Josh and I. And to reward that curiosity, I will try to update my photo once a month.)

So what got me writing again? You might be thinking it’s all my awesome free time that I have now that I’m a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. It’s true. Sitting around watching my soaps and eating bon-bons was starting to get boring.

I had been trying to write some short fiction but that kind of lost steam. And by “write some short fiction,” I mean thinking of great one-line sentences that are so captivating they deserve a great 300 more sentences to be written after them, but not even that first sentence ever got written down on paper or my computer. I actually did put 3 ideas in my smartphone’s “notes” section, but that’s pretty much it.

For about a year my friend and pen pal Erica and I were using the same writing prompt book, “642 Things to Write About” to send each other writing challenges, but it started to feel more like a chore than a fun, creative activity, so we let that die.

But I am a Writer, and now that I am no longer a slave to AP Style and editors who don’t allow more than 1 exclamation point in a year (not kidding, that’s a rule), I should be writing! (Look how I flaunt that exclamation point. And if you’re someone I regularly text with, you probably know I use at least 3 exclamation points per conversation.)

I think I excelled at journalism because I’m not good at fiction. I like writing journalism because, literally, “I can’t make this shit up.” So writing about my own life feels more comfortable, until of course I get to some of those not-so-comfortable parts, which I also plan to start writing more about. Because writing is therapy!

I recently posted on Facebook an apology to people who have talked to me and think I’m boring, because I know that I am smarter and funnier when I’m writing than when I am speaking. Apparently I think at 70 words per minute. And I can talk way faster than that, which makes me trip over words, slur words into nonsense words (which cracks Josh up—our household favorite is “lasterday,” used when you think something happened more than a week ago but remember mid-word that it was actually yesterday), and typically run out of things to say too quickly. Then again, that very well could be the journalist in me—why say something in 400 words when you can do it in 40?

But back to the why of starting to blog again. It’s the New Year, and I had it as a kind of fuzzy resolution in mind that had been building up for a few months. Then I texted my friend Jenna to congratulate her on a blog she had written that I really liked and mentioned that I’d like to start blogging again, and asked her to ask me by the end of January if I had even started writing at all again. She texted back in amazement that she was actually using writing as her personal goal for the “10-Day Do Over Challenge,” where you spend 10 minutes for 10 days straight working on a project you’ve been putting off. She was on Day 3, where you have to tell someone what you’re doing and ask them to keep you accountable on it. That day came with a “bonus challenge” of telling a second person about your challenge, but she had decided not to do it. And yet here, providentially, I had texted her and asked her to hold me accountable for doing the very same thing. It is so cool how God puts things on our hearts sometimes, and cool to see what comes out of it when we submit and move in the way he’s leading us. Now we email each other about how we have skipped days and the 10-Day Do Over Challenge is turning into the Two-Week Do Over Challenge. But that’s OK. Life is busy, and writing takes time and thought. It can be exercised, but not forced.

So, needless to say, I became Jenna’s second accountability partner, and she’s my first, and now pen pal Erica has agreed to be my second. If any of you are interested in the challenge, I recommend it. It comes with a little workbook that is really easy (unless you truly have a paralyzing fear of starting whatever it is that you’ve been putting off), and I love easy workbooks because you can do them and still feel like you accomplished something, ignoring the fact of how easy it was. Check it out here.

If you are someone who also enjoys writing, I highly recommend that you just take 10 minutes a day to do it. In my ideal world, I would do it first thing in the morning, without leaving my bedroom, drinking Earl Grey tea that Josh slid into the bedroom without talking to me (the New Carrie is not a morning person like the Old Carrie was), and I’d write for 10 to 30 minutes and then go downstairs feeling refreshed and proud that I’d already accomplished something without getting dressed. And I’d still have plenty of time later in the day to watch my soaps and eat my bon-bons.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Fast Forward

Has it really been 2 and ¾ years since I’ve written my blog? I could have sworn it’s only been 2 and ½.

If this gap had happened between 2010 and 2012, I would have said you hadn’t missed much. Sure, Josh and I had gone on some really nice vacations and attended some great friends’ weddings, but the resumes of our lives still looked the same: same spouse, same jobs, same house, same family structure—DINK+2C (Double Income, No Kids, 2 Cats).

Surprise! Fast forward to January 2015 and that’s all changed. We had a kid! I quit my job! We still live in the same house, but a couple of months ago, even that was up for debate. We still have the two cats, but they have sunk in significance. When people used to ask us if we had kids, Josh would always answer “No, but we have two cats.” (I wouldn’t because talking about your pets is never relevant to the question of whether you have kids. If the asker wanted to know if you have pets, they would have asked that question.)

When people ask me how I’m doing these days, it’s hard to answer personally. I usually start out by talking about how much sleep Rye (our son) is getting, and how early he’s getting up (which directly correlates to how much sleep I’m getting), and I talk about people I’ve seen lately and what’s going on in their lives. When the few press on to repeat they were asking about ME, I try to think of something more to say than just “tired” or “OK.”

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard! The first year was incredibly hard, because as a mom acquaintance put it, “you’re in baby prison.” Babies need to sleep about 90 minutes every 2 hours. It’s a constant cycle of feeding and trying to get them to sleep and then letting them sleep. It’s really hard to get out to do simple things like go to the gym and grocery store, but to do something social—especially with friends who also have kids who also take naps and constantly need to eat and are fighting both—it can seem more trouble than it’s worth. Sadly. So when Josh would tell me on a Saturday morning to go out and have some free time, I really relished it. I could get in and out of the car in under 5 seconds! I could go to Target or Marshall’s and just wander around without having to make every decision in 10 seconds or less so the cart would keep moving! I could make 5 errands in a row without worrying about a meltdown in checkout!

I’m sorry, I’m veering into a mommy rant. I do NOT want my blog to become a venting spot for parenting frustrations. Because very little of that is original. So if I do want to expound on parenting stuff, I will try to make sure that it is original, or, at least, that my filtering of it makes it original.

Because part of the reason I want to restart the blog is remind myself that I AM more than just a mom. “Old Carrie” hasn’t died (though ironically, I feel much older now) or been lost.

And except for the lack of sleep, I am a lot happier now. Our marriage feels stronger than it has ever been as we have grown so much through our new roles. Our house is no longer just a cool house that we renovated ourselves with a million personal touches — it’s our house that our son is growing up in. And on the bad days, Josh thinks about how his job isn’t just a job, it’s his way of providing for our family, which is ever more important now that he’s the only one working. (I actually do still freelance, but I’m making about ¼ of what I used to. Or, I guess I’ll know the actual fraction once we get through tax season.)

It’s not that we were living insignificant lives before, but now we are more aware of the significance in everything.

And with that, I’m going to enjoy my chocolate mousse that Rye and I made before I put him to bed, then heading to bed myself. Because he’s getting up at 6:15 these days…