Friday, December 12, 2014

mama confessions : holding hands.

I remember the distinct thrill of first intimacy when a guy would reach for my hand for the first time on a date.  The way his thumb might rub the top of my hand while walking, or draw pictures on my palm during a movie.  Even better than a first kiss, sometimes, was the first time holding hands.

Or there were the times sitting in church with my Gram, when she would grab my hand and hold it throughout a hymn while we sang, and I would be struck by how close to her that touch made me feel.  I would marvel at the coolness of her skin, papery yet soft as silk. The wrinkles and pale blue, raised up veins on the tops made me think somehow of her life and all she had been through for her hands to have gotten to this point.  Her life had not been an easy one, but yet there she was, at peace, holding hands with me.

I never was first to let Gram's hand go.  I practically held my breath until she did.

Then there is holding hands with my husband.  No longer the thrill of the unknown, but the peace that comes from the known.  Even better.  The steady and always firm comfort.  They seem to embody who he is.  Never clammy, slightly on the dry side. Always warm and strong and capable.

Now I will confess that my current favorite person to hold hands with is my son.  Three years old.  If you are a mama of one this age you may know exactly what I am talking about.  Not just the hand held out for you to grab before crossing the street or a parking lot - the necessary hand holds.  No, even sweeter still are the moments he grabs my hand while snuggling on the couch.  Or when I am laying in his bed holding him at nap time, hoping to God he will fall asleep soon so I can sneak out and get things checked off my to-do list, and then he grabs my hand.  He'll squeeze it lightly, or rub his tiny thumb on my palm in perfect contentment until he drifts off to sleep.

When he reaches for my hand in those moments, it is like I am on a first date again, sorta.  I am overcome by the intimacy.  In those moments my to-do list flies from my mind and I am only wondering how long I can lay there just enjoying holding hands before I fall asleep myself.

We delve out hugs (well, if you are a hugger like I am) left and right, to relatives, friends, maybe even co-workers at times.  A hug is great - it is sweet, commonplace, socially acceptable affection.

But grabbing someones hand, to me, is intimacy at its core.  You can't do it without wanting a serious connection. The intertwining of fingers.  Whether with a lover, a close relative, a dear friend, or, in my opinion, quite possibly the best hand holding -- with your child, who needs your warmth and trust and comfort and closeness.

And to be truthful, most days you need theirs just as much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

the renovation : the dining room

It has been a long time since I've posted on the 'dream home' renovation progress.  Not that there hasn't been any...just nothing all that noticeable.

But since Thanksgiving is this week and we hopefully are all feasting somewhere, I thought I would share our dining room progress!

This room, when we purchased our home, was the living room for the back unit (then a two bedroom rental.)  Someone had the brilliant idea of painting one of the walls and all the built-in bookshelves black.  There was really icky, old carpet, a very outdated (not in a good way) light fixture, and the white on the trim and ceiling was pretty dingy.

So we changed all of that!  :)

Here you can see the door that was once separating the front of the home from the back...which we have opened up!  
You can tell I love warm colors! The large canvas art I bought when I first moved to Cincinnati and also hung in the dining room of our first home.  The dining table and rust-hued chairs we purchased when we got married seven years ago.  Both the art and the table still make me happy!   I am getting ready to host Thanksgiving dinner next week, so I've decked out the table with a few things.   I love the afternoon sunlight in this room so we haven't put any window coverings up.  Do you think it is necessary?   I kind of want to keep them bare, which is probably a design no-no.  (Sound off in the comment section below!) 

Here is the before view, looking in from the bottom of the back staircase.  While the back of the house has less Victorian architectural detail, the built-ins and this arch are two things that made me happy when we first looked at the house.
The wall color we used is Sherwin Williams "Dorian Gray" which is a warm medium gray.   The light fixture we custom ordered from Etsy.
Isn't it amazing what paint and decor (and sunlight) can do for a room?

We also added a doorway in that corner leading down to our basement.  Prior to that if I wanted anything out of storage (which, let's face it, we have a ton down there due to the renovation) I had to walk outside, around the house, and unlock a separate exterior door.  Yuck.  So I am very glad we added this door for inner, convenient access!
While I actually love a black accent wall...the lovely built-in shelves got lost with this choice.  So we painted them white and did away with the black:

Beyond the stairwell / hallway you can see the family room, which we are still working on, but you can see our progress from this post.

Now we are trying to decide on hallway colors, as you can see.  
(There are quite a few walls in our home with paint samples galore!)

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Friday, November 21, 2014

finola - 18 months!

Dear Finola, 

On Thursday you turned eighteen months.

I have struggled to write this post because everyone (including you) has been sick this week and it has been a blur of night wakings and coughing and rubbing Vick's on chests.  But I know if I don't get this down it will only get harder and harder to do.
So here goes...

Since your first birthday you have quickly leapt from crawling baby with a few little curls behind her ears  to walking, running, dancing, "hopping" crazy little girl with wildly bouncing blonde mane who has a daily increasing vocabulary.

You have quite a few more words than your brother did at this point, which has been super fun!  You say words like "bummer" "hop-hop" "juice" "up" "done" "dog" and are awesome at repeating things.

I still consider you a fairly "easy" baby (which, of course, is all relative.  My "hard" might be another person's "easy" or vice versa) but you have started to have some "pre-terrible twos meltdowns."  Girl, your meltdowns are a considerably more dramatic than your brother's ever were.  If you are told "no" (even in a quiet and patient tone) you shriek in the highest pitch I've ever heard,  crumble to the floor in a "child's pose" (we speak in yoga often in our house) and many times will try to bang your little blonde head into the floor (which I gently prevent while rubbing your back.)  You have also hit me in the face and pulled my hair when mad...which I am not a huge fan of.  

You do funny things like sit on Cormac's toilet (clothed) and yell "POT!" and then go through the motions of brother's bathroom routine.  I have to prevent you from flushing the toilet a million times.  Does this mean you will potty train early?  Boy, wouldn't that be lovely!

You are still a really, really good eater, favoring fruit over any other food.  You are in the 30th percentile for height, and 80th for weight.  The doc said at some point soon you will become a pickier eater and have a growth I am going to enjoy your chunk while I can.
please nola, always eat your cake with gusto!!!
Still a great sleeper.  So, so, so easy to put down for naps and bedtime.  Now you like to have a pillow and be tucked in with your blankie like a big girl.   You always ends up back on your tummy though, per usual, sprawled out and breathing noisily.   You sleep just like your Dada...while Cormac sleeps peacefully on his back, completely silent, like Mama.

You started walking just before turning 14 months old.  You are now my little dancer who twirls and moves happily to any music you like. There are even songs I will sing that you will hum and bob your head and try to sing along with.

You fold your hands to pray at mealtime prayers, and even say some of the words...which melts me, of course. 

You love to help me do all kinds of chores, especially cooking.  I am praying this continues and you and your brother will spend a lot of time with me in the kitchen, honing our skills.  I didn't start cooking until I was twenty-six years old and married,  so you will have an awesome head start, I hope!
mama's helper always!
You cling to me most times when upset, but your adore your Dada and whenever you hear my phone ring or the door open you yell, "Dada, dada, dada!" excitedly and run for the door.    You are pretty affectionate with people you know.  I am dreading your teenage years because you have a sweet, flirty smile and sparkle in your eyes that will capture any heart.

Of course, you also have a deadpan stare (and strong arm) that could deter any unwanted perhaps we are safe?

just started walking - still tentative!

loooooves to swing!
with great grandpa - she's a total cuddler 
sometimes a wide stance is necessary.
snuggles from her pop-pop
jumping on beds and wrestling with her brother are a couple of her favorite activities.
I promise she usually wears pants.
swingin' with grampa
getting dirty does not bother her.

mostly a mama's girl...but definitely loves her some dada, too!
that smile is how I'll always remember her at this age
piggy face.
"Hold hands with you?  Not so sure about that..."

white tights never a great idea with this one.  does not fit our lifestyle.
  I think perhaps you might have inherited my unintentionally expressive face.  You can't really hide your emotions.  The flip side of that is your joy and laughter is loud and boisterous and infectious.  Your serious, perplexed stare is kind of fun, too.  I relate to it well...
annoyed...probably due to the forced family photos.

"Fine mom. I'll wear this flower costume.  But I won't like it."
probably a sugar meltdown.  just sayin'.
my little poofy snow angel
you can't see it but she is carrying a walking stick.  a future outdoorswoman, I'm sure!
While I'm sad I never got to have the same one-on-one relationship I had with your brother at this age, I am overjoyed to get to watch you together.  There is fighting, there is irritation, there is laughter, there is love...
I love the two of you together, despite the chaos that always ensues.  However, I savor the "stolen" moments alone with you, as well.  Like while Cormac is at pre-school for a couple hours several days a week, or when you first wake up from your nap and I let brother watch a show just so we can hang out a little bit.
so we both look a little frazzled here -- but this is our mama/daughter reality.  
I pray for you every day and that I can always be the mother that you need - better than my natural abilities allow.

I love you, little girl!