My Garage of Good Intentions: The Dresser

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As fall is rolling in and winter is soon to follow, it was time for me to get back out to the garage to complete another one of my projects. Mostly because I don’t want to be out there when it’s frigid, but also because it would be nice if my husband could park his car in the garage when the frost hits.

Like the hutch, the dresser comes with a story. Before we came to Bartonville, the church had been renting the parsonage out (the pastor’s husband was also a UMC pastor and they lived in his parsonage). I don’t know all of the details, but the tenants were awful. They got behind on their rent and had completely trashed the house. At one point, a nuisance notice had been posted by the county. They ended up being evicted. While they took most of their belongings, they left a lot of junk behind. A lot of junk. There were 7 TVs in the garage, along with a weight bench, some miscellaneous free weights, a patio chair, and this dresser.

 

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While the rest of the junk was being tossed, Vern (the man in charge of renovating the house for us) didn’t feel right junking the dresser. He thought it was in nice enough condition that it was worth giving away. When we came to look at the house, Vern showed me the dresser and I gladly accepted it. Yes, I needed that dresser to fulfill my Pinterest dreams.

It took me forever to get around to doing something with it. I just couldn’t decide what to do. I thought about removing some of the drawers and putting in shelves. But no, I don’t have the tools or experience for that. Then I thought about painting it and applying a textured paper to the drawers. But no, I don’t have the patience for that. So it came down to just painting, but I needed a color. I looked for inspiration everywhere, but kept coming back to the same answer: black.

I love black. My younger sister tells me I wear too much black, but what does one do with their favorite color? Wear it all the time. Decorate with it. Black is classy and timeless and should be used without reservation. At least that’s my opinion.

I used the same technique as my hutch. I sanded it down and then painted 3 coats. It was tedious work. I knew it would take several coats for the white to quit showing through. I was so eager to be done, I decided I would only paint the front of the drawers. That was until the incident.

I don’t know how many coats in I was, but I was lost somewhere between the thoughts of what else I could paint black and just how tired I was. I was so tired. So tired that one minute I’m holding the can of paint and putting the last touch on a drawer, and the next minute my hand is empty and the paint has spilled out into the drawer and all over the floor. It was such a mess! The only way to salvage the drawer was to paint the inside of it. And if I did that for one drawer, I would have to do it for all of them.

It ended up being a happy mistake. Except the paint on the floor. But it really did give the dresser a more finished look. Turns out sometimes you can’t take shortcuts.

The final touch was the pulls. What I really wanted to do was replace them. I had been looking at UFS and The Habitat Restore for something fun, fresh, and cheap. I had a lot of really good options, but nothing I couldn’t live without. It was going to cost another $5-$10 to replace the pulls. Not bad at all, but I couldn’t help think of how I could feed my family with that money. $8 will buy me a 10 lb bag of chicken quarters at Kroger. Or 3 gallons of milk at Aldi. 6 dozen eggs. Put into that perspective, it didn’t seem like I should waste the $8 if it wasn’t necessary. I would keep them, but not as is.

 

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Instead, I decided to look at what resources I had on hand at home. I had bought some gold spray paint for another project (waiting in my garage to be completed). I thought the gold would really make the piece pop and give balance to the black.

In the spirit of not taking shortcuts, I decided to take the legs off and spray paint them as well. Holy cow am I glad I did! When Nick and I turned the dresser on it’s back, we found several spider eggs. I almost lost it. I don’t do spiders. Just the thought of those things hatching in my house….

 

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Anyways, the dresser is finally complete! I absolutely love what it does to my living room. And it also gives me hope. If I could take an old dresser and give it new life, what more can God do with me?

 

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I’m Not Giving 100% Anymore

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As I settle into my role as SAHM, I struggle to understand what success looks like. When Nick asks me how my day was, my response is usually one of two options: “It was good. I got X, Y, Z done” or “It was awful. I barely got anything done.” I obviously measure the quality of my day by the quantity of accomplishments. And I’m realizing that this is exhausting.

Already this week I’ve scrubbed both bathrooms, vacuumed twice, washed and put away countless dishes, swept and mopped the kitchen floor, grocery shopped (bonus points for doing this with Milo), baked treats for small group, and done 2 loads of laundry. That’s in addition to my daily tasks of making lunch and dinner, going for walks with Milo, and running. Today when I woke up, I felt depleted. As I made my coffee, I pondered what should be on my to-do list. There are a million things I could do, but I decided that today I’m only giving 70%. Because giving 100% is stupid.

Now you might be thinking that sounds lazy. Or that your boss would never accept 70% from you on a given day. But let me illustrate this for you using running as an example.

I follow a training schedule for running. On Tuesdays, I do speedwork. This is usually a mid-distance run that is really intense. Wednesdays are a short, easy run. Thursdays are another mid-distance run that is usually a tempo run. So it’s one that I pick up the pace and push a bit. Fridays I take a break from running and strength train. Saturday is the long run. This is a tiring day because it’s usually 3 or more hours of running, but I’m not running hard enough to feel exhausted. Sunday is another day of low miles and an easy pace. Then Monday is a complete rest day.

Every day has it’s own goal and purpose, and not every day is 100%. There is a balance between all out efforts and rest. When someone is new to running, they will often try to run at 100% everyday. They think that’s the way you get faster. In realty, that’s the way you get burned out or injured.

So why wouldn’t other aspects of life follow the same principles? How long can a person give 100% to their job, relationships, etc before it all becomes too much? What if I stopped judging my day by how much I get done, and start assessing it by the way I feel at the end of the day? Could success be a day in which I give 60%, but my family is fed and I feel restored emotionally?

That’s my plan. To give 90-100% some days, but in between those days have ones of 70-80%. And to appreciate the rest days where I do nothing and wear sweats all day. This will be a challenge because as a novice SAHM, I want to give my all every day. But let’s face it, my all is becoming less and less with this mentality. Let’s trash 100% and start living with lower expectations.

Thank God for Family

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Last week I wrote about Milo’s latest bout of sleep troubles. Fortunately we had already made plans to leave that evening after Nick got off to work to go stay with his parents for a few days. Rather than waiting until 4pm to leave, Nick came home for lunch and we took off immediately.

The next couple of days were incredibly restorative. Nick and I were able to go out just the two of us, I took an epic 3 hour nap one morning, and was able to get a massage. Life felt a little more manageable.

The icing on the cake was the magic that Nick’s mom, Denise—aka Mamaw, had over Milo. She was able to get him down to sleep every night with minimal resistance. He slept all night, every night we were there and even took two hour naps during the day. That is completely unheard of for Milo!

It was wonderful to have the extra hands to care for Milo and to have the love, support, and time with Nick’s parents.

As if the weekend couldn’t get better, my younger sister, Malorie, came down for a couple of days. She babysat Milo Sunday afternoon/night so Nick and I could go to a party in Chicago for his brother Zack’s company, TongueSpank. Again, the time just the two of us was healing and Milo slept through the night (although he did give Auntie Malorie some trouble going down).

So we’re getting there. Thank you for your prayers and support, they’ve obviously been felt and appreciated. And we’re so grateful for our families who will drop everything to love on us and especially on Milo. I think we just might get through this!

It’s One of Those Days

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Can you say that when it feels like everyday? “It’s just one of those days. Like yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. Like it will be tomorrow.”

I’m tired. I feel at the end of my rope. As I write, my son is in his crib crying. No, I’m not neglecting him. Just the opposite really. I’m trying to do what’s best. And it’s breaking my heart.

Sleep has been hit and miss for Milo the last couple of months. First, we thought it was the move. Then, it was teething. The ear infection. Vacation. Maybe another tooth. But let’s just call it what it is: he’s a baby. And babies sometimes struggle with the simplest tasks, even sleep.

For a while, we would take turns getting up with Milo and soothing him. If an hour went by and he was still crying, we’d wake the other person. I would resort to nursing. Anything to get some sleep.

But then it seemed like we had developed a really bad habit, so Nick took the majority of responsibility of getting up with Milo. Milo knew he was getting no boob from Nick, so he would fall asleep better with him. Better, my friends, is still a relative term.

Once Nick was sufficiently sleep deprived, we turned to co-sleeping. It worked great in the short term, but eventually that didn’t satisfy Milo and then he was just crying in bed with us.

And so it was that we finally let Milo cry-it-out for the first time. When nothing else would work, we decided to just leave him be. He cried for what felt like forever. I cried only half as long. It was awful.

But the next night he slept 12 hours. My how I felt like a brand new person! But then it was back to crying. And it’s not just night time, it’s naps as well.

And all this time it’s been chipping away at me. I’ve lost pieces of myself every time I enter into the sleep battles with Milo. It’s broken my spirit more times than not. It leaves me wary. I don’t leave the house for fear of Milo missing a nap. I avoid the phone because I just can’t talk. If I talk, I’ll cry and I can’t cry. Too many tears have already been shed.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know that many moms have gone before me and many moms will go after me. And please, save your advice. I know the tricks and I’ve tried them all. This is just something we have to get through. If you want to help, say a prayer. Pray for peace, patience, and sleep. And understand when I’m unresponsive.

This too shall pass.

It Takes a Village

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After writing my post about how hard I’ve worked to keep running, I have felt the need to follow it up. Because my fear is that I came across as some kind of self-made-woman. Nothing could be further from the truth; it has taken a village to raise this runner.

It’s important to recognize those who have helped raise and shape you. Partially for humility’s sake, but also because these will be the people you lean on when times get tough. Your village can help carry you when you don’t have the strength to go on.

My village (in no particular order):

Joe and Kelly Bails
Joe has been my running coach since the early summer of 2009. It makes me proud to say I’m the first client he ever took on. A mutual friend had referred me to him, encouraging me that if I were to get some short term coaching I could learn a few things to become a faster runner. She was right, Joe made me fast. Under his care and guidance I broke PRs in every distance. But it wasn’t because he made me faster that I’ve remained a client, it’s been his care whenever we’ve hit an obstacle. Life is full of them and it’s helpful, necessary, to have someone guide you through them. Joe has directed me out of injury, recovering from my surgeries, and through the chaos of my pregnancy. He was the one making sure I did no additional harm to my body and was also the voice telling me to be patient, that we would make it through whatever was standing in the way.

I include his wife, Kelly, in my village because they are a coaching duo. But also because I’ve gotten to know her personally. She’s inspiring the way she coaches her clients, especially her Women’s Beginning Running group. She truly believes in a person’s ability to run and reach goals. I’ve also gotten to watch her train first hand and the dedication she has.

But Joe and Kelly are more than just coaches to me, they’re family. They took me in. Literally. I lived in their home for 6 months. Pretty sure I’m the only client they’ve done that for! They sowed me so much love and hospitality. So when they encourage me to keep going, I know it’s not about retaining another client (though I wouldn’t say that’s their mentality with any client), I know they sincerely care and are rooting for me to succeed.

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The Dragonuks
My younger sister, Malorie, is the President of my fan club. She hasn’t been able to physically cheer me on at every marathon, but those she is at she always has a poster made for me. A few of those posters hang in my basement as a means for daily encouragement. Whether she’s at the race or not, she composes a playlist for me. It’s amazing her ability to select songs that just really pump me up and provide extra encouragement. She gets it and she gets me; I couldn’t take a step without her.

My mom is my official cheerleader. She’s been to 10 out of 11 marathons. This year was my first marathon without her; she passed the torch on to Nick. Getting to travel to Boston and New York with her as been so incredibly special. The time together has brought us so close as mother and daughter, but also as friends. It takes a lot to stand around for hours, just to get glimpses of me going by. But my mom would never complain. She hops fences, catches trains, runs down streets to see me as many times as possible. And while I’m not around, she makes friends with other people in the crowd. Seriously, after every race she’s telling me about how she met so and so who was there to watch what’s their name. I love running for the community of runners, and my mom has found her own community in the crowd.

My dad is the best. His work schedule makes it difficult to be at a lot of my marathons. I usually run one in the spring (planting season) and one in the fall (harvest). But he does his best to make it to the ones he can. And when he can’t and it’s a larger marathon, he takes advantage of the runner updates via texting. On occasion he’s been known to email his coworkers on my progress or how I finished. He’s a very proud dad, which is all the more encouraging to me.

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MY Family
Nick and Milo are the newest additions to my tribe. In some ways, they’ve taken over the roles of my parents and Malorie (though they are in no way complete substitutions). Nick plays a vital role in the day in and day out training, making sure there is time in the day for me to run. He celebrates the every day runs, making it easier for me to keep at it. Milo has no idea how important he is yet, but nothing’s sweeter than seeing your baby’s face at the finish line. It’s exciting for me to think about how he’ll grow up with a sense of normalcy about going to Mommy’s races.

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I could go on and on. My friend Jenni who is another cheerleader. Ricki and Kimmy who have been amazing training partners and friends. The list of names just keeps growing. But the point is my greatest accomplishments in running, in career, in family, have always been at the hand of those around me. I think that’s a general rule of thumb. That at any given time, you can think of your own village who has supported you through life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Even more exciting to me is the thought that I’m a part of someone else’s village.