September 25, 2014

Motherhood and Ambition: How Art Fits into My Life and Family

By Crystal
Introduced by Amy

Friends!  How are you?  I've officially been a momma of two for a month! :)  I am definitely not accomplishing my days gracefully, but both my toddler and infant have survived (baby Miles is actually getting a little chubby!) and I've managed to take several showers this week!  Haha!  Miracle.  So, today's guest post is very timely for me, and I hope for you too!  It can be easy as mommas to lose sight of the talents and passions we were pursuing before we started raising a family--that's why I find it so inspiring to see a mom like Crystal who is giving her best to her family, but still able to carve out time to pursue her own dreams.  She is inspiring.  

Crystal and I were Art Majors at BYU-Idaho together...let me tell you, this girl impressed me.  Yes, by her artwork (she is sooo skilled) but I was most impressed by who she is as a person.  She is fun to be around and easy to talk to, yet she has this grace about's hard to describe.  She is wise and intelligent and kind and works tirelessly to accomplish her goals (She graduated with a double-major...I would have died!)  So pretty much I admire her a lot.  :)

Since graduation, I've kept tabs on her through Facebook, so I knew that she's still putting out incredible artwork, though she is a busy momma of two.  I had to get her input on how she accomplishes all that she does while caring for her girls.  Her ideas are super helpful, no matter what you goals and dreams are!  Enjoy!

When my husband and I got married, four years after meeting in an oil painting class at BYU-Idaho, we entered the marriage with the understanding that his primary role would be to provide for and protect our family, and that mine would primarily be to nurture and care for our children. We also had a mutual understanding that children would be a high priority, and both wanted to have a large family. We had both graduated with Illustration degrees, and at first, we were both able to spend an equal amount of time painting.

But of course, having a baby changed things quickly. After Eden was born, I had no idea how to keep being productive in anything except keeping my baby alive. How in the world was I supposed to get stuff done if I couldn’t have a schedule? It was obvious right from the beginning Eden wasn’t interested in following my schedule. I started to feel like it wasn’t fair that I never got to paint anymore. I got upset when James would walk in from a long day of painting and tell me how hard it was. I wanted to paint sooo badly, but day after day, it seemed more and more impossible. I read the biography of Minerva Teichert, who milked the cows before dawn, homeschooled her kids in a log cabin on the Wyoming prairie and pumped out massive paintings like nobody’s business. How did she do it? I don't know how it worked for her, but I’ve started to figure out some ways that it works for me.

1. Own your own goals. 

By that I mean don’t set goals (esp. about developing your talents) that require another person’s time, work or sacrifice in order to be realized. “But,” you ask- “Shouldn’t my husband help support me in my goals?” Yes, that would be nice of him, wouldn’t it? But if your goal is dependent on him, then you’re shifting accountability for it onto him. That means if you fail, it’s his fault, and if you succeed, you might not feel much sense of accomplishment, because he caused you to succeed. When I told James I had figured this out, he let out a visible sigh of relief. And to my surprise, I instantly felt empowered.

2. Figure out what you’ll need to sacrifice to pursue your talent, and then decide if it’s honestly worth it to you. 

I had heard other versions of this all the time from Leon Parson, my painting teacher, but back then I had no idea how I would need to do this as a mom. For me the sacrifice was sleeping in. After three years of sleepless nights with crying babies (our second daughter, Ember, came 15 months after Eden), my body had become conditioned to crave sleep in the mornings. I knew I would have to give that up. If I wanted to paint, I would have to get the painting started before they woke up. Then I could come back to it when they were napping or busy with some activity for 30 seconds here and there. You’ll have to figure out what it is for you.

Painting after the girls have gone to bed.

3. Involve your kids in the pursuit of your talent. 

This is something I’ve learned from Torgesen Murdock, an oil painter who has raised a family while actively participating in art shows, demos, and other events. Her kids never resented the time she spent painting because they got to put strokes on her canvas sometimes, or do their own paintings next to her. She also did live drawings at their school events, which made her popular with their friends. My girls have a low painting table near my easel. After breakfast, they make a huge mess with watercolor while I sneak a few more strokes into the painting I started earlier. Eden loves mixing the paints so much that when I ask to see her painting, she holds up the mixing plate instead of the paper. She also likes to teach Ember the names of the colors and show her how to do everything. It’s fun to listen to a two-year-old tutorial. Even though making an actual schedule doesn’t even cross my mind anymore, my girls respond really well to having a routine. Throughout the day, I step over to my easel for a couple of minutes when they’re eating lunch, napping, or playing in their room and make slow but steady progress on the painting. Then I can go to bed satisfied with my small but actual progress and also know that my kids had my attention when they needed it.

This summer we came to a three-month period of unemployment. With the help of some good friends, James and I were able to make preparations to spend the summer living out of a camper, doing plein air (outdoor) paintings in Montana. We replaced the roof on the camper. I converted the dining bench in the camper into a crib by stretching a volleyball net across the open side. James and I worked out an arrangement for the trip that allowed us both plenty of painting time. I painted mornings while he explored and played with the kids. Then he painted afternoons while I made dinner and cleaned up camp with them. We caught wild rabbits, ate wild huckleberries, and played with wild cousins. James and I both came out of it with some decent paintings to sell, and we look forward to repeating the trip every summer. In the meantime, I’m just doing my best to use “downtime” moments to work on painting goals, so I can use my talents to bless my family and others.

Making dinner!

Helping Dad paint.

If you're also a mom who is trying to develop a skill, my hat’s off to you! May your nights be quiet, may your children nap at the same time, and may piles of laundry to fold not distract you (at least not every time) from your great and worthy goals.


Such wise advice, right?!  Thank you Crystal!  Right now, I fear my only "great and worthy goal" is an afternoon nap.  Haha.  :)  What did you think of Crystal's tips?  (...And her gorgeous painting!)  Several other women I also look up to have told me their time to exercise, read scriptures, work on projects, write, etc. is early in the morning before their kids wake up.  *Groan.* I don't love to hear this, cause I am SO not a morning person.  I'd rather stay up late...but, right now that isn't really an option since I wake up through the night with my little babe, and a super late bedtime makes me too worthless and wiped out the next day to be a happy/patient momma.  But, early morning does seem like the most un-interrupted time!  (We'll see if I can ever get my sleep-loving self to quit pushing snooze till I am absolutely forced to get up.)

Since I'm still in the newborn haze, I pretty much feel like a sleep-deprived dairy cow and diaper changer with no other ambitions in life but to catch a little more sleep.  But Crystal has inspired me to set some (tiny) goals and keep moving forward!  (PS. Check out Crystals' amazing painting blog.)

Friends, I'd love to hear your input!  What are your passions/goals?  How do you pursue them while being a mom?  Or while working a busy job?  Or doing both?  When do you find the time?  Are you also a early morning accomplisher?  (I am in awe!)  Or week-ender?  Or maybe you're a night owl like me? :)  Also, if you appreciated this post, please Like, Share, comment, and/or Pin!  Thank you! :)

PS. Did you miss when we talked about our Secret Passions?  So many great comments!

Meet Crystal!

Crystal Oftedahl Johnson is a Christian, a wife, and a mother of two little girls. She graduated from BYU-Idaho with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education.

She and her husband James met in an oil painting class and are both artists. Crystal loves fine art oil painting, especially paintings of colonial America. She is also working on illustrations for a children’s book about free enterprise, while James teaches high school art near their current home on the Navajo reservation in southern Utah. 

Their little girls, Eden and Ember, love to play dress up and “cook” the sand in the backyard with measuring spoons and kitchen utensils. 

September 17, 2014

DIY Home Decor: Tween Bedroom!

By Sherie
Introduced by Amy

So, my sister Sherie has THE COOLEST house.  Have you seen it in her Home Stylin post?  If not, you are missing out.  Fer real.  You gotta check it out pronto.  So, after she recently re-did her daughter's bedroom I was like, "Um, this sweet room wasn't part of your home tour on SOM!  So, you must do another post." And she delivered!  My niece Livi is the coolest pre-tween ever...more into books, music, and art then boys, clothes, and shopping, so I love that this room is such a perfect fit for her.  She is close to my heart, cause we were best buddies when she was a little girl and we would always draw and dance together.  Plus, I too was more into books and the Beatles than the Disney Princesses at her age.  Her room would have been my dream. :)  I'm happy Sherie is letting us all see her hard work in this cool bedroom!

When Number 5 was on it's way, we decided we needed to turn the upstairs Craft/Scrapbook/Storage for anything/Black Hole into some sort of livable bedroom. It was decided that my oldest daughter Livi would get the room - banking on my motherly instincts that the baby was a girl, then girls would out-number the boys. (Motherly instincts NAILED IT.) As you can see, we let the kids have a little fun painting and writing on the walls. Why not, right? Behind the wood door is the furnace for the house… no we did not do that. The room inside would have made the sweetest closet, but alas… it holds a commercial-size furnace instead. At least her room is warm in the winter.

Here are some Before pics:

The walls had old, nasty wallpaper that was fairly easy to rip down. The kids had fun pulling it down after I soaked it with a rag. After we got off all of the loose pieces, I left the rest to just mud over. I fixed all the wood trim and repainted it, then textured the room (including the ceiling) and gave it two coats of paint. And don’t be fooled – that took weeks to accomplish.. with breaks every three hours to nurse the baby ☺. There's a big unused, chimney in the room, so we came up with the idea of making it into a tree which went perfectly with Livi's idea to put a hammock in her room. I liked the idea of very light blue paint which worked great with the look of the sky in the background.

After the walls were painted, Livi painted the trunk of the tree then I began filling in the branches, freehand. We had found the owl stickers at a craft store which roosted perfectly on the branches. My mom added the leaves afterwards.

The floor was a struggle. Originally I was going to sand the floorboards and stain them a dark brown to match the hallway. We realized the gaps between the boards were so big, we would need to put a lot of filler in between the boards and if we were to sand it and stain it, the filler would stain lighter and really stand out. So I rented a big sander and did the whole floor, then filled in the gaps one at a time with thin wood putty and sanded it with a hand-sander. There were still some gaps where the filler dried and shrunk back, so yes, I had to do the process AGAIN to fill it all in. It took hours and the sand blows all over the room and coats the walls and ceiling… plus yourself and breathing through a mask is just awfully comfortable…. But I got it all done! And yes… weeks again. We got the walls / ceiling all cleaned and I decided to paint the floor a pale yellow and seal it with a deck sealer. Thanks Sherwin Williams for the idea. Connecting the hammock to the chimney was interesting, but we just anchored it inside the chimney flue and bolted it to the other side. As long as you don’t weigh over 100 pounds, you’re good! So no, I’ve never been in it... Livi tells me it’s nice….

We had fun furnishing her room with refurbished pieces. We had a few new pieces, mostly from Ikea. Livi reads like it’s going out of style, so we set up her own bookshelf. We found an inexpensive clothes rack to hang her dresses with the rest of her clothes in the drawers under her bed. So Livi loves her room! If definitely reflects her quirky, modern style. I did almost all of the work in the room, so I was proud too! In a few years, we plan on putting a bathroom in part of her room, so the chimney/tree will come down, but we’ll have fun scheming the room out again.

Here's the room!

Isn't Livi's bedroom so cool!?  I mean, who the crap doesn't want a hammock in their bedroom?  And, Sherie is pretty much the cool mom for working so hard to help Livi have an awesome room...Livi had shared a room with her younger sister for a long time (who is all about the pink! Haha!) so now she's pretty stoked to have her own space.  

So, let's hear about your bedroom growing up!  I loved mine.  I shared with my poor sister Laura till she went to college (I was a hoarder as a little kid...all sorts of "collections" of treasures -aka- weird crap that kids love, like marbles and a million crayons/pencils.  I was NOT fun to share a room with.) From middle school on, I quit my pig-sty ways and spent many hours decorating my room...I bought tons of cool records from the library basement sale and hung the covers in my room, along with a giant beatles poster, a collection of globes, and huge magazine collages I painstakingly made.  Oh, and I rigged up a string of lights and several lamps to all turn on with the same switch of a power strip.  (Lots of extension cords...haha, what a safety hazard!)  

How about you?  What was your room like?  Did you share with a sibling?  Did you do your own decorating or did your mom?  If you have kids old enough to care, do you let them have a say in their bedroom decor?  I'd love to hear. :)  Not that it's an imminent concern (my two kids are little little) but, I've wondered about how that will go down, cause I care so much about the aesthetics of my home--I'm a little leery to give a kid free-reign, ha. What if we end up with black paint or One Direction posters everywhere??  *shudder*...haha.

I hope you loved Livi's room!  Be sure to Like, Pin, Comment, etc to show the love. :)  Thanks friends!  Have a sweet fall day! 

September 8, 2014

Audree's Birth Story: The Unplanned Kitchen Homebirth

By Chelsee
Introduced by Amy

Hey friends!  Today's guest post is by Chelsee, a cool girl I met at college.  And, guys.  Holy moly, her story blew my mind.  And since I just went through labor and delivery myself, it doubly blows me away!  Wow...just read it. --Amy

Audree’s birth story comes with a whirlwind of emotions. I would say it was one of the most unbelievable, scary, neat, crazy, but also funny experiences in my life. It was so intimate and had so many aspects that I wanted for her birth, but also completely unexpected and unplanned.

I was scheduled to be induced on March 7th at 7:30am. The induction date was set for 41 weeks as that is the longest that my OB wanted me to go. For weeks leading up to that date, I was having a lot of anxiety and really did not want to be induced. I did not want a long stay at the hospital and I wanted to be able to labor at home for as long as possible. (To give you a brief reason as to my history and why I wanted to be able to stay at home for as long as possible and go for a natural hypnobirth let me share short details of my first delivery. With the birth of our firstborn I went to the hospital straightway when I started noticing heavier contractions. I went in without a real birth plan in mind, got my epidural when I was writhing in pain at just 3cm and labored for over 10 hours in the hospital. Nothing was really wrong with that experience, but for some reason this time around I wanted to feel like I had more say and control as to what happened during my births and to let it happen naturally and try to better prepare my mind for the pain this time around.) This girl sure had a mind of her own though and everything surely was out of my hands.

Contractions started at 10:30pm on March 6th, the night before my induction. They were slightly uncomfortable, but they were manageable and I decided to head to bed to get some sleep. I was dozing off and got about an hour and a half of rest before I couldn’t really get comfortable in bed. So, at about midnight Jake and I decided it would be best to move downstairs to the recliner where I could get more comfortable and hopefully get more sleep. He joined me by sleeping on the couch.

For the next couple of hours I sat laboring and trying to relax while listening to my relaxation music/script from Hypnobirthing. I timed contractions on my phone, but they seemed to be very irregular and not lasting all that long. They would be anywhere from 1 ½ - 4 ½ minutes apart and lasting 25-45 seconds. I kept thinking in my mind that I’m not at the “5-1-1” (5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour) and that contractions needed to be longer, harder, and more uncomfortable than what I was experiencing in order to leave for the hospital. These contractions didn't seem to be worse than what I had experienced with my first and so I thought I had more time. Plus, even though the contractions were painful, after the 30-45 seconds of contracting, I was relaxed again and again dozing off in between them. After about 3 hours in the recliner, I decided to move to the birthing ball and rest my head on a pillow on the table. Jake was asleep on the couch (which he says he wishes he would have been awake helping me), but really I didn't feel like the laboring was that bad and I was handling it just fine. That was until about 3:30am.

At this point I felt that the contractions were bad enough to merit waking Jake up, although I still don't remember them being as bad as they were with my firstborn when I was just at 3cm. I had also started spotting a little bit. As Jake was waking up, I decided to have a little snack and started toasting a piece of bread, because if I was going to be laboring for the next few hours at the hospital I sure didn't want to be hungry. Jake was quickly (and while still half asleep) packing things up to head out to the hospital when I felt the need to hit the bathroom. Something that through labor wasn't very unusual for me. I hit the bathroom multiple times during this labor and so thought it was just another regular, quick visit.

At 3:41, as soon as I sat down my water broke and I felt her head crowning. I was going through transition, my body was beginning to push and I had no control over it, nor did I have control over my howling/scream. Jake who was upstairs getting the monitor ready to give to my mom so that she could listen for Josh while we were gone, heard the scream did 3 loud pounds on my mom’s door and ran downstairs. He already had the car pulled around and packed up waiting for me, but I couldn’t even take a step out of the bathroom, let alone walk to the car. When my mom came downstairs, she checked me and saw that the baby’s head was crowning. Jake came into the bathroom with my shoes, was frantically trying to put them on my feet and was determined to head out the hospital. But by the good thinking of my mom, she decided that we were going nowhere and she dialed 9-1-1.

(This was at 3:44am) The dispatcher told my mom to get me lying down on my left side. I have no idea how he did it, but Jake picked me up and moved me around the corner to the dining room floor and got me on my left side. At this point, my body began pushing when it needed to push and I really had no control over what was happening. I just kept screaming because it was the weirdest feeling ever. I had no control over the pushing reflex, and my body really had taken over completely. The only things I remember saying over and over and thinking at this point were “I can’t believe this is happening” and “I should have woken Jake up sooner”.

In between my body pushing I kept apologizing to both Jake and my mom about it. Over the next few short minutes my mom and Jake were taking directions from the dispatcher. In about 2-3 pushes (again pushes that I couldn’t force or have control over) her head was out. I remember talking to my mom in a panic about how much it hurt (that ring of fire is a doozy) and how sorry I was that I didn’t get Jake up sooner. As soon as her head was out, Jake was so worried about how blue she was, he kept telling me that I needed to push to get the rest of her out. I can still hear the panic in his voice as he was trying to direct me into pushing. However I tried and couldn’t really do anything. My body pushed when it wanted to, and I couldn’t force it. At the next contraction/push from my body, the shoulders and the rest of her body followed. It was such a feeling of relief. She was born at 3:51am. You got that right, 10 minutes from the time my water broke and 7 minutes from the time my mom called 9-1-1 she was there. The EMT’s hadn’t even arrived yet.

She wasn’t crying at that point, but I heard little coughs and whimpers so I wasn’t too worried about her. I still remember Jake being really worried about her though and trying to clean her mouth out. About a minute after delivery the paramedics showed up, clamped and cut the cord and began assessing the baby and me. Jake kept asking for suctioning because she had stuff in her mouth and nose. There were two paramedics that I remember being with us, one beside me kept asking me questions, such as “are you feeling okay?”, “are you dizzy?” to which I responded that I felt great. The other paramedic was by Jake’s side trying to assess baby and clean her up. My vitals and everything were looking fine and really I felt fantastic. All I felt was a huge wave of relief and almost a relaxation feeling. No pain, nothing. It was nuts! After talking this story over with my mom though, I really think that my body was in a state of shock and that’s why I felt so relaxed and was so quiet.

Over the next little while, they cleaned baby off and got her wrapped up to stay warm. As I later found out from my mom, the paramedics wanted to take her and do some work on her, but Jake insisted that I get to hold her and handed her to me. Never in my life, did I think that I would be lying on my dining room floor holding my newborn baby girl. Holding her was as if the world had stopped, that everything that had just happened and was currently happening was on pause. Those few minutes, felt like forever, like I was going through life in slow motion and it was incredible. Thinking back on it now, I really have no words to describe how I felt. I had just had one of the most intimate experiences of my life. My husband delivered my child and my mom who I have such an incredible, close relationship with was there to see it, to witness it and help guide me through it. I will never forget that moment.

I’m so lucky that my mom was able to be there not only to help me through it, but to document and help remember the story. When Jake pounded on her door just a few minutes earlier, she tells me that she had this instinctive reaction to grab her phone. Not sure why, she did and luckily she did because we had it to call quickly call 9-1-1 on and also for her to take pictures. I only remember 4 paramedics being there, but my mom later let me know that there were in reality 6. That’s a lot of people to pack in the lower level of our little townhouse. She took pictures, because how could you not document such a crazy and incredible moment. I’m so grateful that she captured these details.

The next few minutes or so consisted of getting baby and me in the ambulance to head to the hospital. Before heading out to the hospital though, I remember Jake briefly and jokingly asking my mom if she could mop the floor. Baby girl had pooped all over the floor in the middle of all the birthing bodily fluids and later my mom told me that it was all over the place. She said it looked like the apocalypse, blood all over the toilet, stuff all over the floor, etc. etc. I found it quite funny. Out of anyone though, she is one that can handle it. With that squared away, she stayed home with Joshua, who miraculously stayed asleep upstairs during all the ruckus.

Being my first ride in an ambulance, these are the small details I remember. The paramedic gave me an IV and asked me questions about my health history, name, date of birth, etc. etc. He called about 3 different people relaying the incident. All this happened while I held my baby and Jake was in the front seat. I also remember that dreaded paramedic rubbing my belly to get my uterus to keep contracting. If you’ve ever had a baby you know how awful of a feeling this is. It’s like daggers being jabbed you’re your uterus. I wanted to punch him in the face.

Once we got to the hospital, there were about 5 nurses to greet us at the outside door (I’m sure just to witness this crazy story) and they wheeled me through the hospital up to Labor/Delivery. Jake was running around signing papers as we were walking in and luckily made it with me to my room. I had no idea where we were in the hospital or how to get back to the exit which made things kind of funny/interesting when Jake needed to leave.

At this point, I still needed to deliver the placenta and so my doctor was called. She wasn’t at the hospital yet, so they needed to call her in. While they waited for her to come, they prepped and cleaned me up a little in bed. Here are a few little quirky details that I remember during this time. As they propped me up to get ready for the doctor, I saw a quick glimpse of my lady parts in the reflection of the hospital window. Definitely not a sight I ever want to see again. My poor little body. I also remember the nurses taking off my shirt (because it was filthy from delivery mess) and having a hard time winding it through all the IV’s and stuff. I also remember a nurse taking off my socks and just telling me that she was going to throw them away because they were nasty.

Through the craziness of what felt like 10 people in my hospital room at all times, my doctor quickly showed up. She delivered my placenta, which had still been in place for an hour since delivery which is about the max time they like to have it in. She also had to stitch up my almost 3rd degree tear. It was a pretty rough one because baby girl came so quickly. Except I’ll tell you now through recovery, it felt just like when I had an episiotomy with my first. So in many ways I knew already how to get through the recovery and what to expect from it.

Through that time, my baby girl was being assessed right next to me. The pediatrician did his assessment right there in the room and said that she looked fantastic. 7lbs and 3.7oz and 20 ½ inches long and she was perfectly healthy. Because she had a lower temperature than what they would have liked to see, after being wrapped in damp blankets during our transport through cold spring morning, they wanted her to have kangaroo time and had her breastfeed right then and there through the stitching which was really neat for me. My first baby had a rough start and nursing him didn’t come all that easily, so I was over the moon about the fact that I could nurse her right away and she was doing so well at it.

So after about 2 hours since delivery, the room was finally quiet. Everyone was assessed and squared away and Jake and I were finally able to have an alone moment with our newborn daughter. At this point, we could finally talk about naming her. Jake instantly said, “I really wanted to name her Makenzee and was going to fight for that name when we got here” but then there was a pause. Just before then as I was holding her I knew that that wasn’t her name and was really drawn to the name Audree, as was Jake. Our little diva. With a dramatic entrance like that, Audree it was. It’s pretty neat how a name just fits.

In the many times that I’ve shared this story now 2 ½ years since having my daughter, I get asked all the time “How did you and your husband do it without freaking out?” The thing was, inside we really were freaking out. However, you truly get into this survivor mode. That “fight or flight” stuff they talk about, really is what gets us through these kind of situations. When you have no other choice, you kind of just have to go with what you’ve got and make it through. I also believe my mom and the direction from God’s Spirit really is what had us make the decisions we did in the manner that we did. We are really lucky that my mom decided to call 9-1-1 and keep us at home. Can you imagine me delivering the baby with just Jake on the side of the road in his nasty, beater car? Um, no.

Even though it didn’t turn out how I exactly would have wanted it to, like safely and comfortable in a hospital bed, I’m really glad that I stuck with a natural hypnobirthing delivery. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be and the recovery was well worth it. I again would have to say that it was one of the most unbelievable, scary, neat, crazy, but also funny experiences in my life. Unbelievable because who really has met someone that gave birth on their kitchen floor? Scary because Jake and I really didn’t know what to do, but with my mom and our natural instincts we just did what we had to do to make it work. If you ask Jake about it, he says that he felt absolutely terrified. If you ask my mom about it, she felt like we were both handling it really well and were both pretty calm. Neat because it was the birth of my daughter with the two people I’m closest to helping me through. Crazy because of how quickly everything happened. And funny, because in each time that I’m telling people the story I can't help but laugh because of how ridiculous it all sounds.

So amazing, huh? Haha, not your typical birth story! I'm so glad Chelsee agreed to share it with us. :)  She is so brave, and her husband too!  And, I can vouch for the fact that it's tricky to know exactly how far into labor you are. 

If you were amazed by this story too, please show Chelsee by Liking and Sharing and commenting! :)  Also, if you're new here to SOM and you'd love to read more stories from cool ladies (like you!) then LIKE or Follow this blog on BlogLovin so you never miss a post!  We have a lot of fun around here. :)

And, thanks for being patient with my slow posting while I figure out how to be a momma to TWO kids! Ha, it's kinda kicking my bum, especailly the whole sleep-deprivation part of having an infant, along with an active toddler. But, I'll adjust and figure out how to take care of two at some point! (Probably when I'm about to have my third. Ha!)  :)

September 6, 2014

Meet Chelsee!

I am first and foremost the wife to the love of my life, Jake. We met almost 7 years ago while attending school at BYU-Idaho. We got sealed for time and all eternity almost 6 years ago in the Salt Lake LDS Temple and are currently living in Peoria, IL while my husband completes his training as an Emergency Medicine Resident Physician. I was born and raised in South Jordan, UT and my husband is originally from Wasilla, AK. We have three beautiful children together, Joshua (4), Audree (2), and Zachary (5months).

I enjoy sewing, crafting, dance/choreography, music, traveling and also cooking and trying new recipes. There aren’t many things that I love more than enjoying a lovely, comforting meal at home with my little family. I love to spend time outdoors with my children and also socializing and meeting new people. When we have the time, my husband and I enjoy exploring anything outdoors.

Read Chelsee's incredible SOM post: My Unplanned Kitchen Homebirth.

August 27, 2014

Baby Miles is Here!!!

By Amy

Friends!  I am happy and relieved to tell you that our little baber is finally here!  After going back and forth about what to name him for MONTHS, we finally decided on Miles William Graham.  (We heard the name Miles in a movie a few months ago and loved it, and William is for my dad and grandpa and two great great grandpas, and my brother too!  There's a great family heritage to that name.)

Miles looks like the sweetest little mumpy old man!  And he's got a wild mohawk that I am obsessed with.  Isn't it awesome how babies look so rough and beat up from delivery, all puffy, with no chin, and people still gush, "Oh he's gorgeous!" :)  I'm like, "Well, that's a bit of a stretch, but thanks!" :)

My sweet little mohawk dude!
His delivery had some scary moments--my blood pressure dropped and I passed out, which caused his heartbeat to dip way down, then afterwards, for hours while they waited for me to dilate enough, I felt pretty awful.  Then later on, he freaked me out pretty bad (and Patrick too) when his heartbeat kept plummeting again and alarms were going off and suddenly there were like 8 nurses and docs in the room!  (I was praying so hard over and over, "Please let him be ok! Please let him be ok!")  I had on an oxygen mask and they were changing my position over and over with not much improvement--we knew we had to get this baby out as quickly as possible.  My doctor was still 4 minutes away, but by the time he walked in everything was ready for me to push.  With the help of a vacuum and, I'm sure Heavenly Father, he miraculously popped out in about a minute! (...compared to the hour and half of pushing I did with my first baby!)  After a few agonizing moments while the nurses rubbed my purplish baby's little chest, he finally started wailing!  What a relief.  Of course I was bawling too. :)

It's so good to have him here safely. :)  And, my recovery has been amazing, cause I didn't rip or tear or have an episiotomy like I did with Hayden.  So, no stitches and sitting on ice packs, just a little soreness. :)

Friends, I have several amazing guest posts coming that I am super excited to share with you, but it may take me a little time.  Right now I am trying to figure out the new rhythm to life.  Cause when I have any time where both the boys are asleep, I just want to conk out too....oy, sleep deprivation.  And, this may sound really selfish, but I've been wondering, when can I fit MY stuff in when I have a toddler who misses/needs more of my time, and an infant who is pretty chill so far, but a challenge to feed? (Oh nursing, why can't I seem to succeed with you?)  I find so much joy in blogging and doing creative things, but I have to remind myself that my family and I will adapt and find our new norm, and I will get to do those things again, it will just take a little time to figure out.  Until then, please be patient with me especially if the posts are slow to trickle in, cause I love all of you and this happy little blog ...I won't give up on you so don't give up on me, ok?

Here are some extremely fancy, high-quality (ha) phone pics from the entrance of baby Miles...enjoy!  Love to you all!

A few days before Miles was born...Hayden is practicing holding a baby gently! Ha, do you like the swaddled Kermit?
Day before baby came!  Last belly shot!
He's here!!  6 pounds 7 ounces, 20 inches.

Proud dad!  Patrick was amazing through it all...I love him.
Oh, my sweet boys!!!  
Haha, we tried to see if he'd fit these adorable preemie pjs...he's skinny enough, but he can't straighten out his legs! Ha!

PS. For those mommas who have more than one kiddio, I'd love to hear how you helped your older child get used and like having a new baby.  Hayden loves baby Miles, but he's struggling with the changes in his life and routine.

PSS.  Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts about finding your groove after having a baby or having another baby.  Did you struggle with this too?

August 18, 2014

Rubber Band Lamp Makeover!

By Amy

Sometimes I really suck at making decisions.  Especially when they are as crucial as this one: find perfect, inexpensive, cool/interesting, glorious matching lamps for my bedroom.

Sheesh, talk about pressure.

We'd been mismatched for a while.  Now, there can be a time and a place for non-matching lamps...but the time had passed for this odd couple.  My husband protested, "But we have two lamps that both work fine!"  However, I think he knows by now that the aesthetics of my home are very important to me.  (I'm borderline obsessed.)  But, since I realize that I can't just go blow a bunch of money in the name of aesthetics, I always try to be frugal and DIY/modify what I can find second hand, or look for an awesome sale.

So.  I gently let him know that the time had come, and after 4 years of mismatched lamps, I was indeed going to find a set.

What a horrible pic, but here are the mis-matched lamps.
I searched thrift stores for a while (that's where I go first, it's always fun to fancy up peice of crap) but it soon became apparent that I would not find a matching set.  So, I decided that I needed to just bite the bullet and go spend some money.  I was determined to not pay over twenty for each lamp, so that helped narrow down a bunch of choices.  

I went ALLL over the place.  I looked all over my own town, tried stores in another town, and on a trip to see my sisters in Utah, I went to IKEA hoping for a miracle.  I looked online.  I was driven like a mad woman, consumed by the search for glorious lamps.  I even told my toddler that this was a "Treasure Hunt! Yay!" trying to ease his annoyance at the constant going in and out of stores on the quest.  I taught him to yell, "LAMPS!" whenever he spotted one...which he still does to this day, ha!

I took about a million pics like this on my phone, so I could go home and remember the options at each store:

I was really digging the industrial feel of the architect lamps, but Patrick vetoed them.   Didn't like how they look like an office lamp instead of a bedroom lamp.  I still would have loved two handsome bronze-colored ones, but I pick my battles. :)

My shopping buddy!
I saw so many cool options that were WAY out of the price range.

I really loved the shape of this one!  Such sultry curves!  But the price was less attractive.  :(
It was sometimes hard to visualize what would look good in the space, so I took a couple pairs of lamps home, just to return them later.  One particular pair of teal shades made me physically ill once I got them in my bedroom.  And, another super inexpensive pair were so short, once I got them home and next to the bed, they looked like toy lamps.  Ha.  Oh boy.  

The toy lamps!  Haha!

I planned on covering these shades with fabric...but I just didn't want to deal with it.  Sewing isn't my thing.  I'd rather spray paint!  So, back to the store they went.
At one point of my decision-making struggle, I even called my sister (who lives four hours away) and angrily demanded, "WHY AREN'T YOU HERE IN MY HOUR OF NEED!?"  (She has very good design taste.)  Sorry, Sherie, that was a little ridiculous, I now realize.  But she did talk me through my options for about 20 minutes in Fred Meyer's parking lot.

In every store, I would try different shades with different bases, stand back, try several different combos, then go back to the first combo, etc.  Once, when I was making some sort of frustrated sigh of despair, Hayden said, "Momma, it's ok! Do you need a Fuzzy?"  (That's the name of his beloved blanket, which he probably loves more than me.  Ha.)  I'd also bribe him with Starbursts to keep him happy going from store to store...not my best parenting moment.

Hahaha, oh my gosh, I can't believe I got a pic that documents my pathetic parenting...he is actually trying to bite through the wrapper to get to the Starburst!
After spending WAY too much of my time and life on this not-life-or-death-decision, I finally found the perfect combo in Target.  I face-timed with the hubs to make sure he approved, or at least could deal with it, and brought the beauties home!  Best part?  I actually did end up staying under twenty a piece!  Wahoooo!

They were boring, but I like bare bones, cause it gives me a chance to spiff them up.  :)  

So, here's the process and the end result!  (This is no detailed tutorial, cause I only do fast, easy crafts. No complicated steps for me!)  

I started with plain black bases with plain white shades.  

I wanted to add something fun and geometric, and we already have circles going on with the hanging lanterns, so I wanted to contrast the round shapes by using straight lines.  I already knew I wanted to spray paint them gold to repeat the bedroom's accent color.  Luckily, I had gold left over from the letters above our wedding pics, so I stuck some rubber bands on each base for an easy way to add some lines and rearranged them till I was happy with the design of the front sides of each lamp.

Here's after the gold spray!  (Patrick was kind to give in to the gold...he isn't a big fan.  I love it in small doses; every room needs some bling!)  I wanted to make the lines interesting, so I used wide and thin rubber bands, but the thin ones didn't work as well...the paint kinda seeped under them.  I ended up touching up some of the lines later with a trusty Sharpie.  Maybe I shoulda just Sharpied in the first place...ah well, ya live and ya learn! :)

And, here's a glamour shot of the finished product:

What a pair!  Soulmates, I tell you!

Remember the DIY Love Song Pillow tutorial?
I am at peace.  *happy sigh*  And, hallelujah, no more hunting, buying, and returning lamps!  The quest is complete!

Except, now I see that we could really do with a different living room lamp...  :)   

How about you, friends?  Do you like the final product?  And, have you ever been obsessive with a home decor quest?  (Please tell me I'm not alone!)

PS. I'm linking up this post to the "Do Tell Thursday Link Party!"  Check it out!  There are tons of crafty projects to oogle.. :)