Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Functional Decorating

In my "about me" section of this blog, I mention my love for functional decorating...and I never really followed through on that subject. What can I say? That whole creating and sustaining another human being thing got in the way.

So, I am a fan of functional decorating, which I define as decorating with objects that I enjoy looking at that also perform a function. I like surrounding myself with things that resonate with more basic needs, like cooking. As an added bonus, decorating with functional or hard working items means spending less because one item has multiple functions. Now, how can you not like that?

Enough talk. Let's look at the perdy pictures!*

*Disclaimer: pictures were taken in sub-par lighting and may, in fact, not be perdy.

That red circle on the wall is a ceramic sunflower (if you squint you can kind of make it out). But wait! It's not just a red ceramic display piece poorly captured in a digital picture. It is also...

A trivet! It's place on our wall helps tie together the red floral of the curtains with the reds in the wall tapestry and it is conveniently close to the dining room table, ready and waiting to be taken down when we need it.

Similarly, this wooden leaf hangs next to the kitchen. The colors of the wood compliment the countertops, but more importantly this beautiful wooden leaf is actually a cutting board. Now, I'll be honest, I have never used this cutting board for cutting. It's too pretty. But we do regularly use these ones:

Right off the kitchen, these wooden cutting boards fill an otherwise blank wall with functional art. We sprung for extra hefty, simple hooks that tie in with much of the metal used in the kitchen. That way we don't have to worry about the weight of the cutting boards being an issue and it visually ties the hallway into the kitchen.

Our main living space has very high ceilings. To fill the space along the wall, we used pressed tin tiles. These tiles were left over from a project in our last home, so we already had them. They fit the space, matched the decor, and we can always choose to remove them and use them for another project. Basically, I am thinking of this as a storage solution in addition to a decorating decision. But for now, I love that they compliment the rich green of the wall, as well as subtly catching and reflecting light into the room. 

[I'd also like to take a moment to confess that the entertainment center does not fit the scale of the TV or the rest of the room. It's one of our college left overs that has yet to be replaced. We have been looking for something we can upcycle. Fingers crossed that garage sale season yields some promising pieces.]

The red poof? That was one of my best buys and on I had to convince my husband of, because he was pretty sure I was being crazy. It is an indoor/outdoor piece I got on sale. Mr. Man LOVES this thing. For him, it's something to climb on or a bean bag chair to flop down in. For the adults, it's a foot stool or something comfy to sit on when we want to get down to Mr. Man's level. The fact that it's indoor/outdoor means that it's super durable and easy to clean. I paired a similar piece with the rocking chair in the nursery.

Next to the papasan chair, you'll see this little wooden stool. This is one of the most hard working pieces of furniture we own. It is currently acting as a side table. In the past it has played a supporting role as a plant stand, a night stand, and we frequently use it when I cut R's hair. It often pulls duty as extra seating or a place to set drinks when we have company. It is easy to move from room to room, which is awesome, and the relatively simple silhouette and neutral color means that you can use it anywhere.

Speaking of extra seating, let's talk about this guy:

It's an ottoman for our loveseat, a toy box, and it can be pulled out and used for extra seating - that's obvious. But wait, there's more! It was THE BEST cruising surface when Mr. Man was a baby, being firm but soft. It's a great addition to a blanket fort, where it can form a wall, be used in combination within the loveseat to create a tunnel, or just to keep a blanket in place by closing it into the lid. It's also long enough that it can be used as an impromptu barrier/baby gate; at least until your kid gets big enough to crawl on top of it. Plus, it's leather and can be wiped off. Basically it's the best $120 I ever spent.

So that's what I mean by functional decorating. I am hoping to start "regularly" sprinkling some decorating posts into my toddler-dense repertoire. If you like what you see, let me know!

Friday, February 27, 2015

What I probably shouldn't admit to

I have a secret. I have considered coming clean and posting something about it on numerous occasions, but it's a very taboo subject. In fact, I'm likely to lose many readers (or I would if I had many readers) by admitting this, but I have decided I'm finally going to come clean.

Ok. Here goes. I have a happy marriage.

I'm guessing those of you reading this will fall into one of two camps: The You-Just-Wait Camp or the You-Lying-Liar Camp. Oh wait, there's probably the Honeymooners Camp and maybe, just maybe, there's The Believers Camp. The Believers Camp is shrouded in mystery, composed of those of you who know what I mean because you, too, find yourself mumbling guilt-ridden condolences when friends call bitching about their spouses or sobbing as they go through a divorce. Guilty because you just can't relate.*

*Note: I've had previous crappy relationships, so I can relate, except for the obvious and crucial part - I never married those guys.

Those of you in the Honeymooners Camp - Congrats! Enjoy! But you will be transitioning into another camp, as the Honeymooners Camp is, by definition, temporary. I hope your marriage continues to be fulfilling. I wish I could welcome you to my camp when and if you arrive, but as I implied, members' identities are kept secret for safety reasons.

You see, in our culture it is very much NOT okay to admit to having a happy marriage. But before I get into that, let me provide my marriage stats. I have been with my husband for 14 years (wow, that's crazy to see in writing!), living together for 13, married for nearly 12. We left the Honeymooners Camp long ago. So, those of you in the You-Just-Wait Camp, don't bother ordering me a t-shirt.

Now for the part that members of the You-Lying-Liar Camp are going to jump all over. We were married for 7ish years, maybe 8, before we ever had a fight. It involved one person raising their voice, exactly one cuss word (kind of irrelevant in our house, since we mentor sailors in this fine art), and an apology. I can count on one hand the number of times we have fought. It was almost always over something ridiculous. That first fight was about artichoke dip.

Not once have we waved the Your Family flag in each other's face...and man, one of us has an endless supply of fodder. Our fights have never included the throwing of objects.** There has never been any revenge taken, passive-aggressive or otherwise, after these fights. They all ended in sincere apologies, and that one time when I was pregnant, a lot of crying. And no, fighting is not the sole indicator of a happy marriage. Some people like fighting; R and I do not. We are much more likely to have a heart-to-heart conversation about how we feel. I know, it's so sappy.

**Full disclosure, I believe I once threw a sock on the floor in a very passionate display of exasperation.

I'm not trying to paint a dishonest picture of our relationship. We don't agree on everything, but disagreements are kept friendly. There are times of frustration - especially in heavy traffic in unfamiliar areas - where one of us believes the other is making a mistake. There are even times where we bring up a past failure or disagreement, but most of the time this is done jovially. We poke fun at one another a lot. But it is fun, not the caustic, bitter, teasing that so many people believe is universal in relationships.

I have never once questioned my choice to marry my husband. Not a single time. We are perfect together, though neither of us is perfect - especially me.

Here's my disclaimer: Our relationship does not diminish yours. Honestly, your relationship is unique and so is mine. There is just no way, it seems, of telling people that you are in a happy marriage without it sounding like bragging. There is no way to let people know that it is possible to be with someone in a monogamous, long-term commitment without seeming smug, as if you are looking down on the failed relationships of others. And that's not what I am doing nor why I'm bothering to write this.

I am writing this because my relationship is never represented in the public forum. Instead, there are pieces like this one. That piece is funny and, I am sure, on spot for many. But not me. Instead, it, and so many pieces like it, suggests that there is something wrong with me, or my relationship, or that we are Lying Liars. The truth is simpler than that: our marriage is easy.

OK, I realize I might have crossed a line by saying that, but it's true. Our marriage is easy. It requires some maintenance, sure, mostly since Mr. Man came along with all his needs. A child has created a lot more work, and at times that means that one of us feels like they are doing more than is fair. Yet overall, we remain companions, happy in one another's company. I will go so far as to make some of you roll your eyes by admitting that my husband and I are best friends. Each of us would rather spend time with the other than with anyone else. It's corny, I know, but so are we.

When I hear that all marriages are work, it simply doesn't resonate. And when I read blog posts that say things like "all spouses have, at times, secretly hated one another," I'm shocked. I actually asked R about this, after reading it. Was I missing something? After staring blank faced at me for a moment, he said, "Is that a joke? Why would I hate you?" "Exactly!" I shouted. Because seriously, I've never hated my husband. I've hated things he's done (Why on Earth would he dispose of a bag that was on the counter without first looking inside? Why?!). I've hated things he hasn't done (The toilets don't clean themselves, you know?!). But I've never hated him. We enjoy each other. Authentically and sincerely enjoy one another.

Is there a secret? Well, we are careful to keep our language non-accusational, for there is a big difference between "You never do X" and "Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one doing X." We try to take the other person's perspective. Mostly, I think we try not to take each other for granted. And we continue to have fun. Is that a secret? I don't think so. Certainly not a well guarded one.

I can guarantee that life will be hard sometimes. As spouses (or in any other committed relationship), there will be issues. Money will likely be tight at some point, one of you will do something stupid or expensive or both, the health of someone you love will fail, there will certainly be death. There will be uncertainty and stress in your life, this is 100% for sure. What isn't a guarantee is that the source of these problems will be your marriage.

Still this happy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Toddler Update

It's been such a long time, blog, but I swear, I haven't forgotten you. I think of you often, if not necessarily fondly. What can I say, the truth is that you sometimes seem like an unnecessary obligation. I realize that is harsh of me to put forth, but in the midst of work, chores, plans, and a toddler-sized tornado, you will always be last on my list.

Just had to get that off my chest. Phew!

SOooo, I have a toddler. One that talks. Like, A LOT! And says absolutely hysterical things like, "Naked boys best!" and "Oh no! Karma (the dog) no pocket!," in between a litany of "mama! Mama! MAMA!" and "Eat! Eat! Eat!"

He's also flirting with potty training - something I am sure he's doing because I don't want to. My plan was to wait until 2ish, while spending the months leading up to it making regular potty usage seem like a special, awesome thing. Also, by then it would be summer and he could run around without clothes on. Instead, around 18 months, he bugged us so much to use the potty, and started telling us before he did his #2s, that without any fanfare at all, we bought a toilet seat. Then a toddler-sized potty. He likes to request to use it a lot. He tries to use it sometimes. And has actually used it 3 times. We do a special potty dance when the feat is accomplished, but I'm largely letting him tell us when he wants to try. Very low key. You know, the exact opposite approach I was planning because kids love to laugh as they burn your plans down to the ground. Hooligans!

He insists on doing many things (walking up and down stairs, climbing onto furniture, making huge messes with silverware during meals) "like a big boy." Oh, and he's also been out of his crib for weeks because someone was capable of climbing out. Yes, that's right, my toddler has free reign of his room. Nap time has largely been fine, but bedtime ramped up from crib-secured drink requests to shoving things under the door, screaming for those things when they were no longer within reach, banging on the door, opening closet doors, and basically running amok. Bedtime is such a longer process now!

Yeah, so my baby is not really a baby any more and is much closer to the little boy continuum. The only thing anchoring him to baby is that he is still nursing. That's right. At 20 months we are still nursing - just once a day, first thing in the morning, but it's still very much a thing. HAHA self from 10 months ago, your concerns about weaning and/or nursing past 12 months were totally a waste of time.

Aww. No longer a baby. I can't believe it. But, in my opinion, this is better. Better snuggles, better communication, better sleeping (you know, once he actually falls asleep). Toddlers are a lot of work, but they are so much more involved in the world.

I just wish I didn't still have to feed him every hour. Yep, that's still totally a thing. Apparently forever. I'm starting a savings account now to pay for his food during the teen years.