I had picked up boxwood garland several weeks ago at the Target dollar spot for $3, not knowing exactly what I would do with it.
The $3 garland made 2 wreaths. You just can’t beat that with a stick!
I literally just wrapped it in a circle (it’s wired, think like the way wired ribbon shapes) and tucked the ends in. I shaped it a little to fluff it up That’s it. Doesn’t even sound right to call it a DIY. It might have taken 5 minutes to make each one.
I have wanted pops of greenery everywhere this Christmas season and have been in love with red and white striped ribbon.
I love the simplicity of how these boxwood wreaths turned out.
The 2nd type of wreaths I made is fresh Rosemary wreaths. These were super easy and quick to make too. I made 2 of them within 15-20 minutes.
All you need is a fine floral wire, fresh rosemary (longer pieces work best) and wire cutters or scissors to cut your floral wire.
The longer pieces of rosemary work best, but you can see that the bottom portions of my rosemary were sparse, not a lot of green on the stem. I didn’t want mine to look too woody, I like the look with more leaves, so I cut off the bottom sections where there weren’t many needles/leaves.
I tried making the wreaths 2 different ways. This method is the one that worked best.
I knew I wanted to hang my wreaths on a set of shutters in my my living room. So, I held the wire up to the shutter to eyeball the size I wanted the circle to be. I formed a circle the size I wanted with the floral wire and just wrapped the ends to make it hold together. You can see the circle of wire in the picture above. It feels a little flimsy at this point because I used a fine wire (so it wouldn’t show) but that doesn’t matter.
Then I started curving a piece of rosemary around the outer edge of the wire. Cut a long piece of wire and wrap it around the rosemary to hold it onto the circle of wire.
If you use too much wire too close together you’ll smush down the leaves and it will be flat. Mine is a little more flat than I wish it was. So space the wire closely enough to hold, but far enough apart to leave room for the leaves to fluff out. Next time I won’t use quite as much wire so the pieces can stick out a little more naturally looking.
I would like it my wreaths were a little fluffier, but my rosemary bush was a bit neglected so the bottom of the bush was dry and leaves sparse. If your bush is healthier your wreaths will be even prettier.
I’m loving the simplicity of these two types of wreaths. I’ve wanted to add touches of Christmas to most rooms in the house but didn’t want it to feel cluttered or too fussy. Having some simple greens has helped it not feel too fussy for my taste.
And, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box! I couldn’t find the striped ribbon I wanted in the typical section at Hobby Lobby. I just happened to walk through the gift wrap section and found this fabric ribbon ( it was curled and I ironed it out) sold as gift toppers. It was perfect!
With that headline you don’t know what to make of this post, do you?
This past week Jessie and I were in East Tennessee visiting a best friend from high school. I had been trying to get back up here for a long while and the timing finally worked out. Ya’ll know Jessie keeps a very active calendar and trying to fit in a week-long trip where she isn’t missing much (she would make me miserable in that case!) is hard to do.
My First Trip to IKEA!!!
If you missed the Facebook post, Pam and I met in Atlanta (she was coming from her parent’s house in GA after Thanksgiving) and spent 51/2 hours in IKEA! We both love to shop, she loves IKEA, and I had never been to one so I had to see it ALL. She’s been to IKEA many times and we beat her record for the longest time spent there. I’ll admit 5 1/2 hours is crazy long BUT That did include time that we ate lunch in their cafeteria too. Thankfully for the hubby, I drive a Camry and was limited in what I could fit in my car. This was my first trip to IKEA, but I’m 100% sure it won’t be my last.
A lot of the decor at IKEA is a little more modern than my taste, but there was still so much that I loved. The furniture pieces that offer great storage and organization….I wanted to buy it ALL.
I bought this storage cube piece for Jessie’s room. We’ve been working on her room for several months now. I’ll eventually get around to a blog post on all the changes 🙂 We are working toward her room being more adult. She’s 17, and we want her room to suit her more grown up taste now and function in the ways that best suit her needs and preferences.
Jessie and Pam. They’re smiling here, but this is at the end of our shopping and we were all worn out.
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Thankfully, I had just gotten this wheelchair/transport chair right before our trip. There was no way Jessie could have done all that walking. In this pic, Pam had gone out to her car to get something and Jessie was pushing the cart while I pushed her wheelchair. That was a little bit of an adventure.
Pam has cancer. It’s in her bones and in addition to other ways it affects her, it makes it hard for her to travel long distances. Her sweet daddy paid for a hotel (so she wouldn’t push herself) so her trip home could be broken up into two days. That benefitted Jessie and me too, after all that shopping we were glad we weren’t trying to make it all the way to her house in Tennessee the same day.
Jessie LOVES to stay in a hotel. She likes to color at the desk and chill out on the bed watching tv. She also loves when they have a “breakfast room” as she calls it.
The next morning, after breakfast we got back on our way. When we were just an hour or so from her home, we stopped at a big flea market.. The main thing I found there were some stocking stuffers for my grown up kids. It can be tough to find cool items for their stockings that aren’t expensive and aren’t just junk. I won’t share those in case one of my kids reads this (unlikely).
Cancer stinks. How can I help? Organizing house projects!
Pam and I talk sometimes every day, but at least every few days. Over time, I’ve picked up on some projects she really wanted and needed to do in her home that she can’t do on her own. I’ve wanted to come visit and I’ve also really wanted to come help Pam with some projects.
Pam has been dealing with cancer for 9 years. The cancer itself and the medicines she takes mean she can’t do everything she used to be able to do, or wishes she could. She has good days and bad days. Some chemo’s have more harsh effects than others. They eventually stop working and she has to switch to another drug and adjust to new side effects.
Pam has a positive attitude about it all, but it’s really hard for her and would be for anyone, that there are many things she can’t get done without help. Once I get a project on my mind, I’m a person who really wants to get it done when I want it done. (Just ask the hubby 😬). Knowing how badly she wanted to do them, her undone projects have been on my mind and bugging me like they were my own.
She has friends closer by that come to help her but most of them work full-time in addition to a full mom-life schedule. Since I’m at home with Jessie I’m a little more free to stay long enough for a more in-depth project.
I really love organizing so this is a great way for me to be of help!
Some might think it crazy, but I really love organizing. If it involves a label maker, yeehaw! I have the older version of this label maker and love it. Seeing items all straight, contained and labelled when the project is done makes me all sorts of happy.
After I went to TN the first time to help Pam, she told me I should consider working as a professional organizer. She has hired a professional organizer a couple of times in the past and said my work was as good as hers. I don’t know how to get started and market myself for that but it would be work I would enjoy doing!
This trip I cleaned out and organized her pantry. This wasn’t on our project list, but on a day Pam woke up with a migraine, I couldn’t work on the planned projects without her input. I was ready to get to work so I busied myself organizing her pantry. I did have to ask a few questions about her preferences, but this was a project I could do mostly on my own till she felt better.
She actually has two separate pantry areas. Sometimes other people put away groceries, and she ends up with duplicates because she thought she was out of an item that was in a different place. I labelled as much as I could to help things end back up in the same place each time. All of her food is stored here, not in any cabinets. This first pantry has an AC intake in the bottom area. The other has shelves that go far back so it’s easy to lose things. We organized it in ways that work the best with the space we have.
Most of us have some something we wish we could change, when it comes to our kitchen. She would like it better if it could all be stored in one larger pantry, but we think this will work pretty well.
The Spare Bedroom Closet
This closet was full when we started. We took almost everything out and she went through most of the boxes. She got rid of bags and bags of trash and boxes of donations. When we went to town for her doctor visit we dropped off all the donations we had at that point and the day before I left I re-loaded her car with more donations to be be dropped off the next day.
This closet will look even better when she has taken her tree down and boxed everything for Christmas.
TIP #1: Have your mind set on what you want to achieve.
She quickly and ruthlessly made decisions to get rid of a LOT of stuff. This closet has been on her mind for a long time. She was mentally prepared to part with stuff knowing she wanted this closet to have a lot less in it when we finished. She didn’t want to leave decisions unmade that would lead to needing to go through it all again.
TIP #2: In some instances, it’s better not to get slowed down on your big project with the more emotional, difficult to sort through stuff. Make a plan for that.
There were a few boxes that would have slowed down our progress and we might not have gotten to finish before I went home. We set aside 3 or 4 boxes of items for her to go through more slowly, but the amount we left unfinished wasn’t overwhelming. We put them in her living room, where she can go through them leisurely but they aren’t out of sight. (Out of sight out of mind.) So she will get them done as quickly as she can.
We Decorated for Christmas
Pam had told me she wasn’t going to decorate for Christmas this year because she couldn’t get to her stuff or decorate by herself. We can’t be having that! So I really wanted to help her decorate. All of her Christmas decorations were in the closet I shared above. She went through many (and got rid of some) of the decorations as we pulled stuff out.
She plans to reorganize all of her Christmas boxes as she puts away her Christmas decor. This way, if she only wants to use a smaller tree or decorations she sits around the house, she can get to those specific items without having to open all the boxes.
Pam and I both love to watch Hallmark Christmas movies and it was really nice to watch them each night by tree light.
We didn’t get to everything I had hoped. Isn’t that always the way?
Pam has a craft/sewing/hobby room that she can’t use. When there isn’t a place to put things, it always seems to go there. We all have that space in our home when we shove things when we don’t know yet what to do with them. (I mean I do, don’t you?!)
I really had hoped we could work on her hobby room so it would be more functional. On the days that she feels well and wants to be creative she would have a place and be able to get to all her crafty things. We just couldn’t get to it this trip and it bugs me that we didn’t. Jessie usually has a spring-break week from most of her activities. We may try to make it back in the spring for round 2.
We can all find a way to serve. It might be a stranger, a neighbor or close friend. What that looks like is different in every season of life.
As a stay at home mom, there have been seasons where I felt I didn’t have much to offer in the way of serving others outside my home. When all my kids were young I felt like I had nothing to give. While that wasn’t entirely true, most of my energies were needed and used inside the walls of our home.
Now that 2 are grown and Jessie is older and more independent, I find that God puts before me opportunities to serve that I can do BECAUSE I am a stay at home mom and have time others might not.
Whatever our life situation, God equips us to be able to be a blessing to others. You may not have $ to give, but look around for a way you might serve others with your time, if time is what you have.
When we arrived back home on Sunday night we just had time to unload the car, change clothes and get to a Christmas celebration at Jordan’s (my oldest daughter) church. It was such a wonderful opportunity, still early in the month, to get my mind and heart turned toward worshipping the one at the center of Christmas. In this season it’s so easy to get too busy, so busy we lose sight of why we celebrate.
We’ve tried different systems in the past, but we’re especially excited about a new tool we implemented this week. Jessie already keeps up with what’s coming next on the calendar, to the point that it is sometimes frustrating. She’s always asking or confirming dates and times, and this mama does not like the constant looking things up. Any others out there? Can I get an amen? Giving her more control (she’s ready!) over keeping up with her papers/schedules/invitations in a way that’s easy to manage seems like the perfect solution for both of us.
This little pocket organizer we think will both 1) give her greater independence and 2) help us not lose papers. It’s her organizer, in her room, for her papers. I will write scheduled items in my planner and then she can keep the calendar or notice associated with all her activities in its assigned folder. She is thrilled to be in charge of her stuff!
I found this wall pocket organizer with folders on clearance at Target during the back to school sales. It was some ridiculously great clearance price. It wasn’t something I was looking for I just happened up on it while looking for something else.
She was excited when we bought it but we were planning to paint her room so we didn’t hang it up right away. Her room is painted now, she got new curtains, we rearranged her furniture, and we have been working on getting things hung on the wall. (I’ll share pics of all the projects we’ve done for her room soon!)
While she was watching tv in the living room, I surprised her and re-hung her white board and hung this new folder system. On her whiteboard, she likes to make lists and keep postcards and photos there. When I called her in to see she squealed and clapped her hands with pure delight. This girl loves some office supplies and organizational tools, just like her mama.
Jessie is pretty much obsessed with her activities. She loves to check the mail, watching for the new calendars listing the month’s schedule for each of her activities. She’s not at all happy either when it’s just bills or junk mail!
Now she has a folder for every activity that she regularly participates in. She also likes to take a picture with her phone so that if we’re out and trying to make plans she always knows what’s already on the schedule.
She is on the Special Olympic swim team and the Special Olympic Gymnastics team. She plays Miracle League Baseball when it’s in season. She participates in a parents night out/special needs respite care program at a local church once a month. She bowls with two separate groups (mostly not scheduled at the same times) and we’re active in our local church. Whew, that’s a lot.
I feel like I’m still forgetting something; but you can see she’s a pretty busy girl and that’s just the way she likes it. That’s a lot of activities to keep up with on the calendar. But knowing what’s coming up next and excessively planning for it is Jessie’s great joy in life at this moment.
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I’m linking here a couple of very similar systems for you :
We’ve tried a couple of other systems using wall calendars, personal calendars and a folder that I kept all the activities in that she could access. There are a variety of factors that makes me feel confident this will work better for us. If we continue to love it like we do so far I’m sure you’ll hear more about it.
Jessie is seeming so much more grown up in every way. She is speaking more maturely, thinking things out in a more mature way, and taking responsibility for her calendar/schedule is just one more evidence of her growing maturity.
By the time you read this I will be spending part of the day tomorrow with all my kids taking a little one hour road trip on an eye glasses seeking adventure. We can have fun doing anything together. Little road trips are just an excuse to eat out.
Jessie is more quiet when we’re out in public and everyone doesn’t get to see the funny side of Jessie. Some of the time, the funniest things of all are when she is dead serious. This week I decided to share a couple of sweet and funny Jessie moments.
(This post includes affiliate links. That means if you purchase through one of my links, I may receive a small ad fee. I mostly link things I’ve actually purchased myself. See full disclosure here. )
“Down syndromes don’t have to feed the dog.”
It’s Jessie’s job to feed our dog and cats. One day last week as we walked in carrying groceries, I noticed the dog didn’t have any food. As we were coming in the door she had been telling me something she planned to do. I didn’t want her to get busy and forget so I told Jessie that the first thing she needed to do was feed the dog. She walked from the front door to the kitchen table, and having had a moment to think she said, “Down syndromes don’t have to feed the dog.” Say what??
First of all, I want to clarify that “Down syndromes” is just one evidence of the quirky way Jessie sometimes combines or leaves out words NOT anything she has heard someone say!
In our family, we’ve always talked about Jessie having Down syndrome in the same way we might say she has brown eyes. As opportunities arise naturally, like when she’s trying to figure out if her classmates from church (who don’t have a disability) can play Miracle League baseball, she’s been learning that she has Down syndrome but the rest of us in our house, or in her class at church, don’t. She doesn’t, at this point, really understand much of what having Down syndrome means, she just knows it’s something that she has.
Partly because we’re active in our “Down syndrome group” and other ways that she hears the word, I think she is starting to try to piece together what it means. I think it was smart of her to try to use it to her advantage, even if it didn’t work.
She did, indeed, Down syndrome and all, have to feed the dog. But good try, Jessie, that was smart of you trying to use DS to get out of your responsibilities.
Jessie’s campaign to get the new WWE game.
Jessie LOVES WWE, particularly the Divas (female wrestlers). Each year, at this same time of year, WWE comes out with a new game. WWE 2K19 came out about a month ago and it has been killing Jessie that she didn’t have it yet. She has gotten the game every year since 2015. She is pretty much obsessed with getting the new game and if she doesn’t pre-order it her obsession ramps up with each passing day after it is released.
Jessie has been saving her allowance and had $40 of the $60 cost of the game. When we counted her money a couple of days ago, I had told her that she needed 20 more dollars. From her experience with earning and spending allowance, she knows 20 dollars isn’t nothing and she also knows it isn’t huge (like 100 dollars). She realized the amount she still needed wasn’t a completely unreasonable amount to ask us for. It was on; the begging began.
One of the benefits of kids’ earning allowance is that you get to say “Do you have enough money?”, and “You have to spend YOUR money”. Whether they have the money for a desired item is on them instead of you and with practice it eliminates most of the begging that I remember from the time before our kids began to earn allowance. We don’t often buy games etc, because if we do, it eliminates the need for kids to earn what they want. Why do your chores if your parents will buy what you want anyway?
Jessie has been learning about working and saving and spending. I’m so proud of the progress she has made. It isn’t unreasonable to ever give her something she wants as long as she mostly has to work for what she wants. I was already considering us giving her the rest of the money before she began what I can only call her campaign.
She began with talking about how badly she wanted the game. Daily. And telling me which wrestlers were in it and all the details I don’t really wanna know.
A couple of days ago we looked it up on Amazon to make sure of the price before we counted her money and she told me to “click it where it says buy now with 1 click”.
Yesterday we went to the fair on Special Citizens Day. It had rained and everything was wet and they didn’t open the rides. She was disappointed and told me since she didn’t get to ride we needed to go to the fair the next day. Everything in medid not want to go back to the fair the next day. I reminded her that last year she didn’t really enjoy riding so I didn’t want to go back to the fair again and spend money when I didn’t think she enjoyed enough to be worth the money I would spend. She looked sad for a minute, then quickly informed me that it would make her feel better if I instead gave her the money for her game. Smart thinking Jessie, and I would much rather give you $20 for the game than spend way more and come home with tired, aching feet.
Then, last night she sent me this series of 3 texts.
I was busy and when I didn’t answer in a few minutes she came to check and see if I had read them. When I told her I had read them but couldn’t think about it right now, she went into the bedroom where daddy was watching tv to work on him.
She plead her case to daddy. Daddy was sympathetic and said he would talk to mama about it. She came back a little later and when daddy hadn’t yet talked to mama, she got upset. To which daddy responded that if she acted like that he wouldn’t talk to mama. She was repentant and tried to be patient.
As soon as daddy started “talking to mama” about it I could tell he had been won over. Which was okay because I had been too. I ordered the game on Amazon and told Jessie it should be here Friday. Jessie’s first words to me this morning were asking if today was Friday.
Our kids of all ages (even those that are grown up), keep our life interesting and fun.
Amidst the usual housework, taking Jessie to all her stuff, physical therapy (for me) and phone calls about finding her new glasses that fit better (after an admonition from her eye dr.), these are the sweet and funny moments that make our life interesting and more fun. I love them and I love her.
Some of my favorite things on social media are reading about the sweet and funny things our kids do (with or without Down syndrome). I would love it if you would comment with a sweet or funny moment from your week. I will look forward to it 🙂
Jessie had oral surgery yesterday to take out a baby tooth. Her permanent tooth was coming in somewhere that it shouldn’t because it’s path was blocked by this stubborn baby tooth. We had been watching it a while and the roots showed no sign that it would come out on its own any time soon. I’m always one to give a little extra time for nature to take its course but this was becoming a real problem.
After the fact, all is well, but I wanted to share some sweet and funny things that lead up to this day.
Her dentist had recommended we see an orthodontist for them to make the call on what to do about the tooth. She felt sure the tooth needed to come out and also confident an oral surgeon should do it (instead of the dentist) as the tooth’s root was still fully there. She thought we might also need some orthodontic help getting the permanent tooth to move to its proper place (it’s currently coming in sort of in the roof of her mouth). We will have to see what happens now, our orthodontist said he thought it was possible her tooth might go where it should now that there is room.
I had delayed making an appointment with the orthodontist originally, because oral surgery means anesthesia of some kind, which instantly made me anxious and unsure what route to go.
When Jessie had several (minor, other than her open heart surgery) surgeries at the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL, each time we got the same pep/prep talk about how anesthesia affects kids with Down syndrome differently. It has a tendency to make their heart rate slow down. Sometimes, they would pre-medicate with a medicine that would prevent that from happening. Anyway, it was something told to us multiple times and is thoroughly cemented in this mama’s brain.
When Jessie was an infant she also had a set of ear tubes put in locally instead of going to the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. The procedure is so quick, and they’re under anesthesia such a short time for tubes and our ENT doctor felt good about it so we had gone along with it.
There was a combination of factors that made us decide afterward that if Jessie ever needed to be put to sleep again we would always do it in Birmingham. We have more specialists coming to our area now, but for the early years of Jessie’s life all the specialists were in Birmingham. Because they see so many more patients with DS and have so much more experience with them they seem to know more about Down syndrome.
When I saw Dr. McFarland, the orthodontist that had treated my husband and my two adult kids with braces, he was so instrumental in alleviating my fears. He listened patiently to my entire story outlining my concerns. (Ya’ll know I can’t say anything in just a few words.) He not only discussed with me orthodontic options but went way out of his way to give this mama some peace about Jessie having oral surgery locally.
He “just happened to know and be friends with” (I don’t believe that was by accident!) the nurse anesthetist that administers the anesthesia for the oral surgeons we planned to use. He called and spoke to him personally about my concerns. His wife also is a nurse anesthetist and he asked her opinion too. Then, he personally called me to tell me about his conversations with them. That’s going the extra mile, for sure.
This might seem small to some, but there are situations with Jessie that I fret about more than with my other kids for good reason. The peace I instantly felt about scheduling the surgery was no small thing to me. If we hadn’t felt good about it, we certainly would have scheduled an appointment to have it done in Birmingham (4 hours away), but it was so much less disruptive of our life to be able to do this locally. Not only that, it gave me peace about finding local solutions if she should need something again. There are more good options here all the time; that wasn’t the case when Jessie was younger.
When we met Dr. Evans (he was recommended to us) and scheduled the surgery, he explained some differences between the drug he would be using (Propofol) and what we think of as general anesthesia. He explained that although it is general anesthesia, given by IV, it doesn’t tend to have some of the same effects of inhaled general anesthesia. He reassured me that they had treated patients with Down syndrome of all ages and hadn’t had any complications with their heart rate.
Although this was out of the norm for them, Dr. Evans allowed me to go back with Jessie while they started her IV, because I told him that would help her have less anxiety. He also prescribed her one Valium tablet to take 30 minutes before our appointment time. It’s a 30 minute drive there so we gave Jessie the medicine as we pulled out of our driveway. About 20 minutes later we noticed that when she spoke her words were very slow and spaced out and she stopped playing a game on her phone. She was drunk as a skunk!
She was a little wobbly walking in so I was really glad I had asked Jay to come with me. I had pondered going by myself so he wouldn’t have to miss work, but I hadn’t been sure how loopy she would be before and after so he went with us.
Most of the time, it’s hard to get her veins and she knows to expect it to hurt. The Valium was the ticket, she was very relaxed and not at all anxious about the needle stick. She was already a little loopy, and then he injected something under the skin to help numb it, that way when he needed to move the needle around a little to get the right place in the vein it hurt only a little. Once the IV was in place I kissed the baby love and went out to the waiting room.
Everything went as smooth as it possibly could. She was a champ. We were out there less than 15 minutes when they came to tell us she was in recovery. She kept the gauze in her mouth without complaint for 30 minutes and then never once complained about her mouth hurting, even when I asked.
When I took the band-aid off where the IV had been, she acted like it was such a relief. For some reason, although she tolerates them in this kind of situation, she does not like band-aids. It’s like she’s aware of it every moment that it’s touching her. She is not the kid that wants a band-aid for every boo-boo.
A little something funny….
Ok, for a little something funny… and I don’t know if it can possibly be funny in printed text the way it was in person.
Prior to our appointment with the oral surgeon, when I was explaining she was going to have oral surgery, she had referred to when they “knock all her teeth out”. I had explained they were just going to take out ONE tooth and they weren’t going to “knock it out”. Even after my explanation she kept using the word teeth instead of tooth.
When we saw Dr. Evans to talk about surgery, Jessie listened to the grown ups talk and then Dr. Evans asked her if she had any questions. As grown up as she could possibly be, she asked him how she was gonna brush her teeth after they “knock her teeth out”. She remembered the last time she had lost a tooth she had a sore spot that she couldn’t brush. He explained that she wouldn’t brush the sore spot for a couple of days she could just brush everywhere else and near it. In this moment was the perfect blend of maturity (her manner of asking the question was so grown up!) and the innocent sweetness of Down syndrome all in one moment.
In the days leading up to her surgery Jessie had expressed several times that she was a little nervous. Thankfully, on the day of, she didn’t have time to feel nervous and everything went perfectly. I couldn’t be more thankful.
A new season…
I talk about life seasons a lot here. This summer I was in a season of struggling with some things. In recent weeks this fall I feel God has given me some peace and clarity in some areas that had felt scary and uncertain. When we’re in a difficult season it’s so important to remember it won’t last forever.
Something I’m loving that’s making a difference in my everyday life…
I’m currently using a Bible reading plan from the She Reads Truth app. Per usual for me, I started the 2 week plan 5 days late and am playing catch up. But I share that to say that having a reading plan is the only way I regularly follow through with reading my Bible and it makes so much difference in my heart and life. If you’re in need of a plan, check it out. Some are free, but the plans I’ve used most recently have been $1.99 and worth every penny. This is not an affiliate link, I share good things with you always with the intention to be helpful. If it can help cover the costs of operating this blog (there are costs!) I’m happy when that happens, but I have always been the one to call my friends to share a good find, which is just one of the motivations for this blog. If you already love She Reads Truth, or you check it out on my recommendation, let me know!
I’m loving this sort of fall weather we’re having and hope fall is being a kind season to you too.
I have very few male readers. But the few of you that exist might just wanna skip this post. It’s probably a little TMI (too much information).
Oh. My. Word. This is what middle age and procrastination will get you. Lots of appointments and the invasion of your person in a way I thought I was mostly over once I was past child bearing. Huh uh. I’ve been examined in a real personal way more often recently than during pregnancy.
I’ve known for quite a few years that there are some things that happen to your body as a result of babies that I never knew about before having babies. It’s okay, I mean, I wouldn’t trade those kids of mine for the world. But, you combine carrying 3 babies and a lack of estrogen since menopause and the combination can do some unexpected and somewhat unpleasant things.
I’ve just had my first appointment with a physical therapist for pelvic floor therapy. I never even knew there was such a thing, but my daughter, who is a PTA (physical therapist assistant), told me about it. I’ve been having some issues for a while that have suddenly gotten worse. I don’t know that it will eliminate the need for surgery, but I can tell that therapy will be of help not only with my female related issues, but probably a sciatic issue I’ve dealt with for more than 20 years. Which in my case is also a pregnancy related issue.
I haven’t felt that my menopausal symptoms were severe enough to warrant the risk of hormone replacement therapy, but I can see and feel the changes that the lack of estrogen brings. I have dramatically more wrinkles under my eyes, can see a difference in my facial skin tone overall and feel a real difference in my physical strength, especially where it concerns lifting. I have really disliked feeling wimpy about not being as physically strong as I used to be. And now there are these more personal female issues. I’m giving physical therapy a try first but it seems that surgery is probably in my future.
Menopause isn’t just about hot flashes. (A friend and I like to call them our “personal tropical moments”.) Or even emotions. Those are the two things we hear the most about. I don’t mind that it signifies the ending of the child bearing season; I’m ready for that. But this other stuff, it just feels like weakness and I’m NOT a fan of that.
I am super surgically conservative, for reasons I think are good and common sense. In addition to that I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat. And I have control issues. I don’t like airplanes and general anesthesia for the same reason–I have zero control of what’s going on. Not even an illusion that I have some measure of control. Added to that, ever since Jessie came along I just think it seems foolish to take any unnecessary risk. So, yeah, I’m SUPER surgically conservative. But I have an appointment in a week or so to talk about surgery.
Having said just how surgically conservative I am, I had a kind of (only kind of) funny realization when I filled out paperwork for a procedure I will be having the day this posts. On my medical history I listed eight surgeries. One related to miscarriage, 2 related to infertility, one related to childbirth, one caesarean section, 2 for female issues plus one more surgery for a benign breast tumor.
Until I had a miscarriage, I had never broken a bone or been admitted to the hospital for anything at all. I always knew I wanted to be a mama, but goodness gracious, it’s been a heck of a surgical journey.
I really hate making doctor appointments and especially if they’re gonna involve anything unpleasant. I seriously procrastinate on making any kind of doctor’s appointments. When I had my appointment around the time I turned 50 they made a referral for a colonoscopy, not because of any problem, but just a recommendation that everyone should have a screening at age 50. Y’all, I have dreaded that like crazy. I took the referral, but when they called I decided to postpone it. I mean, I’ll be 50 for a whole year, right?! Well, I’m 53 now so I really did procrastinate on that one for a while.
I have been such a whiny baby about not wanting to do this. I have been put off by every aspect of the prep and procedure. It’s not like one day of clear liquids will actually kill me, but I have whined about it as though it would. I feel like I’m tough about many things and other areas I’m just a big baby and this is one of them. When hubby had one several years ago I feel now that I probably didn’t give him the proper sympathy.
After I had Jordan (my 1st), one hour after childbirth and laboring all day, I was asked, “Well, do you still want another baby soon?” “Yep”, I said with a smile. But this….ah, lets just put that off for 3 years. Hopefully, by the time you’re reading this I’ll be home taking a nap and won’t have to think about it again for 10 years!
So, if you’re right there in this menopausal phase of life, you can commiserate with me. If not, I hope at least some portion of this gave you a giggle. And next week I promise not to be a whiny baby. I hope 🙂
Hope you’re having a great week (and no getting naked kind of doctor appointments!),
Recently I took Jessie and her friend Ashley to paint ceramics. Both girls really enjoyed it and I was surprised how long Jessie hung in there. I love the things Jessie painted and we already have plans to go back and for her to make some Christmas gifts. I think next time we’re going to get together a group of girls and their moms.
I’m sharing some details that might help you decide if you would like to do this yourself and or take your kids or grand-kids.
How Much Does it Cost?
At our local ceramics place this is how it works: you purchase the item you want to paint and all the supplies are included for the price of the item. They have items ranging in price from $3 to $30.
You can take as little or as much time as you want to paint. You can work on your project any of the hours they’re open until you finish it–all included in the one cost you pay for your item. You can finish in one sitting or work a while and come back another day.
As a frame of reference for you, on this day Jessie’s bowl was $8, her mug $10 (or I could have that backwards), Ashley’s angel was $20ish (it’s very large) and my trivet was $6.
Choosing Which Type of Paints to Use
Glaze paints leave your object with a shinier finish. Although I tend to like matte finish in many other things, I love the look of glaze painted ceramics. Personally, I haven’t seen as many things painted with acrylics that I just really love.
If your painted object will come in contact with food, you will need to use glaze paints. With glazes, the color doesn’t look as vibrant when you first paint it, but comes to life when it’s fired for a 2nd time. I show examples of both stages below. Because it needs to be fired again, you leave it when you’re finished painting and pick it up later. To get full, good coverage, you need to use 2-3 coats, letting it dry between. Kids might get tired of re-painting the same area.
You can paint with fewer coats as long as you’re ok with coverage that isn’t completely filled in or is lighter. Jessie didn’t want to paint multiple coats. We still like how they turned out, but as an adult, I painted 3 coats on the two projects I have made so far. If you want solidly filled in painted areas our ceramics place recommends 3 coats and letting it dry between coats. It dries quickly so by the time you finish painting, it’s ready to re-coat.
Once it’s fired for the 2nd time your item is safe for food and microwave and dishwasher safe.
If you use acrylic paints, at our ceramic place they will spray with a sealer for you and you can take it home the same day. The sealer adds a little shine, but it isn’t the high gloss of the glaze paints. Acrylics are more for decorative items, they aren’t safe for food.
Why I Chose to Limit Jessie’s Choices of What to Paint
You may or may not want to help guide your child’s choices of what they purchase. If your child doesn’t constantly create, their decorative ceramic project of any kind might be a sweet and treasured memory.
Jessie does arts and crafts year round. She’s offended when I don’t display them ALL in the living room. I’m just not a person who likes a lot of “knick knacks”. It feels like clutter to me. She makes so many things and there is a limit to what I can and want to display. In guiding her choice before we ever went I hoped (and it worked) to avoid potential hurt feelings.
I didn’t tell her what specifically to choose, but I told Jessie it had to be something she could USE, rather than an item that was entirely decorative. I explained that if she made something decorative her feelings would be hurt if I didn’t keep it in the living room and that there wasn’t room. We have been redecorating her room and I suggested she might choose a decorative bowl to keep her hair things in. She was allowed to choose anything that could be USED in any way.
This might not be a hard and fast rule forever but that’s what we went with for now. Since that time I’ve thought it might be nice for her to make something seasonal (fall, Christmas etc) to display. On this particular day she wasn’t interested in that kind of item anyway.
Our Fun Day and the Projects We Chose
Jessie’s first project was a bowl, not one for her room as I had suggested, but one for eating. Jessie loves hearts, but can’t draw them well herself, so the owner of the ceramic place drew the hearts for her and she painted them.
This is after the 2nd firing. I think she did two coats on the bowl and I know she only did one on the purple of the mug. At that point she didn’t feel like re-painting what she had already done. When she’s making gifts for others I’m going to try to get her to do 2 coats. 3 is beyond her patience, but if she only did one project 2 coats is very doable for her.
You know your kid. I’m giving you these details to help you as you plan your trip to paint ceramics.
I LOVE how her bowl turned out! Her favorite color is blue, she loves hearts and she likes a lot of sparkle. We’ve already been using it and I know this bowl will be enjoyed in our home for a long time to come. It makes me happy when I open the cabinet and see it there.
Jessie’s brother, Evan, was actually the first person to use her bowl and he said it is the perfect size. Since he said that it helped us choose what her next project will be, she’s going to make him a bowl for Christmas <3.
Ashley chose an angel that she wanted to paint for her mom because her mom loves angels. It took her several hours to paint but she never got tired of it. And, her project taking longer helped Jessie to keep painting longer than she normally would.
This is good fine motor work!
When Jessie finished her bowl and Ashley still had a ways to go on her angel Jessie chose a 2nd project, this time a mug. Her hands were getting a little tired. Holding the bowl in position with her left hand while she painted with her right was a lot of fine motor work. Because her hands were getting tired she didn’t want to paint a 2nd coat so you can see through the glaze.
Once the girls were set up with their projects I started working on mine. I would stop and start when they needed help with more paint etc. so I purposely chose a smaller project so I could help them when needed.
I had not been sure how long the girls would want to paint but chose a day to go when we go stay as long as we wanted. We painted all afternoon till we finished and our tummies were ready for an early supper before heading to church.
I am using this trivet (I painted something I knew I would use too!) by my kitchen sink with my handled sponge (that I use for washing glasses) and my scrubber on top of it. I used a stencil they had to paint the medallions. I painted 3 coats and then outlined with black using a pen/marker like thing they have for this purpose. You have to be careful not to get the outline too heavy but I would never have been able to do it with a brush!
Here are a couple of last thoughts/ takeaway’s from our day:
As with everything else, each of your kids might experience it differently.
Ashley easily stayed focused on her painting project without being tired of it or her hands feeling fatigued.
Jessie equally enjoyed painting but her hands did get tired and were shaking by the time she was finishing her bowl. Having her friend there I was able to coax her into hanging with it longer which I think was good for her, since it was within her ability and not completely overwhelming. I want to increase her attention span. Working on something longer, to her stretching-but-not-breaking point is helpful.
Jessie LOVES to give gifts. This will open the door for her to be able give gifts that are homemade with love that are an affordable price.
Now that Jessie has seen how the bowl has more full coverage and the mug does not, having that visual will help her to know the choice she is making next time. Whatever she chooses is fine, but it was just words without much meaning to her when I tried to explain it the first time. Just consider your first time with a kid a learning experience and fun without a lot of expectations.
We really did enjoy it and look forward to going again soon. If this inspires you to give it a try I hope you’ll let me know. And I would love to see your projects too!
This year I have been excited about some Dollar Tree decor finds. They don’t look like much straight from the store, but I love how they turned out once these pumpkins were painted!
This is how they looked when I bought them. Very fake looking. All but the ones with the polka dots on them are made of styrofoam. Our cat, Bad Buddy, got ahold of them and made marks in some. I was able to salvage most of them though.
A couple of weeks ago when I chalk painted my coffee table, I painted my pumpkins at the same time with the base color of a creamy off white chalk paint. It took 2-3 coats. It was a chalk painting and watching movies kind of day!
It was a couple of weeks later before I got a chance to put the final touches on with acrylic paints. Once they were chalk painted it really didn’t take long at all to finish them up.
On some of the pumpkins I used an antiquing glaze to shade the indented part of the pumpkin .
You only want a very small amount on a paper towel. After I dipped it in the glaze I wiped most of it off before I applied it to the pumpkin. And then still wiped most of the glaze off the pumpkin too. It takes so little!
After painting, you can still see a crease/seam in the edge, that they’re cheaply made, but once they’re next to other pumpkins and greenery it wasn’t noticable to me at all.
Some I accented with shades of green. I dry brushed the paint on- meaning I had wiped off most of the paint on the brush before I brushed it on the pumpkins.
Others I accented with shades of light tan and a very light peach.
For the stems, I painted all of them gold first. I left some of them gold, and others I used shades of brown to mottle it some, to look a little more natural. I love both looks, the gold and the slightly more natural looking ones. I didn’t want them all to look exactly the same.
For now, I used most of the pumpkins on our piano. I love how it all turned out once I added some greenery and tiny pine cones.
I switched up the Dollar Tree flowers a little and added a half price sprig of greenery from Hobby Lobby. The bookends on the right are a thrifted find made over a year or two ago.
I added a couple of the pumpkins to the mantle and a string of lights I bought last year at the Target dollar spot. After I bought them last year I never used them. I contemplated returning them but never did. I’m liking them in this spot now. I’m still enjoying the dollar tree florals here.
As this posts, we don’t have power back yet after Hurricane Michael but we’re thankful to have sustained very minimal damage. My sister in law just loaned us a generator. In addition to saving the food in our freezer, this menopausal mama is super thankful to be sitting in front of a box fan powered by the generator.
For the first time, Jessie went for a sleepover at a friend’s house. Quite a few years ago she spent the night with a friend from church for a birthday sleepover in their camper–but I don’t count that in the same category because she slept with the mama, a friend of mine from church.
This time, Jessie packed for her overnight trip the day before, and she made a list in her phone of the things she needed to pack the next morning before leaving home. Then, without a second thought about her mama, she spent the night with her friends.
I’ve known Karen, her friend Melissa’s mama, for quite a few years and felt very comfortable with Jessie staying there even though Jessie had never been to their house before.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not a huge fan of sleepovers even with my typical kids for a whole host of reasons too much to outline in this blog post. But on this day, in these exact circumstances, with this particular friend in their particular home I felt very at peace about it. Which is saying a lot 🙂
Okay, onto the sleepover. There were four girls, all who had Down syndrome, all of whom Jessie has known for many years. Jessie was thrilled to be included and didn’t express any hesitation about going or spending the night.
Remember when I blogged about becoming an accidental homeschooler? We might not have done a lot of sit-down-at-the-table kind of homeschooling so far this year, but there are always so many opportunities for learning in our every day life. This sleepover is one example. Planning what to take, packing, making lists, checking them off, so much good stuff to learn in ordinary life experiences.
On Friday, Jessie and I talked over what she would need to take. Saturday, they had plans to go to Wal-Mart together so she wanted to take her purse and wallet with spending money. Sunday, they were going to church so she wanted to pack a dress for that. Although she would be okay to skip one night without her cpap, she took it. I worried if she didn’t that she might wake up throughout the night (what she did pre-CPAP) and then wake her friends up or think more about being away from home.
First, by herself, she packed everything she knew she needed in her overnight bag. Then, together we talked through what she had in her bag and what couldn’t be packed till the next morning (toothbrush, cpap etc). As we talked, she made a note in her phone of anything she would need to do or pack the next morning. I helped her spell anything she couldn’t.
She was spending the whole day Saturday with them and we planned to get up, get her remaining items and head out as quick as we could. She’s not a morning person. I wanted her to be able to get up and check her list and not have to think too much or have a lot of questions when we were in a rush to get out the door.
She did so great with making her list and checking it the next morning. She has already been packing for her overnight swim team trips and when she goes to her sister’s. She was already doing well with that, but I’ve been mostly making her lists. By making the list herself, she has taken one more step toward independently packing and readying herself for a trip. And, she’s learning how to pack her CPAP, but it’s a very expensive machine, so that is still well supervised.
Jessie had so much fun spending the day with her friends and her friend’s family. When they went to Wal-Mart she used her allowance to buy a new game, Gouey Louie. I’ve played it with Jessie just last night. One of the “boogers” is hooked inside and the others are loose. The object is to pull the boogers out without making Louie’s brain pop out! It’s a cute and very simple to play game.
When Jessie FaceTimed me while with all her girl friends, I told her if I had known they wanted to pick boogers I would have just let them all pick mine…which set them off giggling and cackling like crazy.
Karen told me that when Jessie got her CPAP mask on she easily and quickly went to sleep. She had gotten up earlier than usual that morning and had a full and fun day so I had hoped she wouldn’t have any trouble going to sleep and she didn’t. I was surprised that she didn’t even call me to tell me good night like she usually does at her sister’s.
She went to church with Melissa and her family and then had lunch with them before I picked her up. She didn’t act in any hurry to leave when I got there either.
When she got in the car I said, “So, tell me all about it! How was your sleepover?” She replied with, ” I had a good time, that’s all.” Sigh. She did continue over the next few minutes with a trickle of details here and there but in general her description was anti climactic. She had a good time, that’s all.
It was such a treat to have a little time where I wasn’t “on call”. Jordan and Josh had come home from a vacation and we spent a little time with them. Evan was out-of-town so it was just Jay and me at home at bedtime. It felt weird, not to tuck Jessie in and put her cpap mask on. But it felt nice too. It is good to have a break now and then when she’s with someone we trust.
Her first sleepover was both a fun experience for her (and for me) and an opportunity to learn and grow. Win-win.
I hope YOU’VE had a good week. I say that often, but I really do mean it. There’s a mama I’ve been following on Instagram recently. She has a newborn just a few weeks old with DS who will soon have open heart surgery. I will never forget as long as I live what it felt like to be in that place. Then just a couple of days ago her precious baby started to have seizures. My heart has been heavy and I’ve been praying for them.
I haven’t had every experience related to Down syndrome that there is. But I’ve been on this DS journey for 17 years. I genuinely love connecting with other mamas, celebrating their successes, and sharing their sorrows. Whether by blog comments, Facebook or Instagram I love connecting with you and getting to know you better.
This past Saturday, I enjoyed a semi-relaxing day working on projects and watching chick flicks. I had known that both of my grown up kids were going to be out of town. On recent weekends we’ve been watching the Bama football games together each Saturday. With both of them gone, a project day seemed like the perfect idea, partly so I wouldn’t have too much time on my hands to miss them.
I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from Instagram these days and it’s been motivating me to work on some projects I’ve been putting off. One of my current Instagram favorites is Natalie at My Vintage Porch. She has great style, and in the short time I’ve been following her she’s constantly working on a budget friendly (my favorite kind!) project. In her Instagram stories she’s hilariously funny. I literally laugh out loud sometimes. Her Simplified Fall Decor where she used Dollar Tree florals was the inspiration for freshening up my living room with Dollar Tree florals.
I’ve painted a couple of other pieces of furniture but I’ve never used chalk paint before. I’ve wanted to try it, but it’s pretty expensive. I had seen many bloggers say they made their own chalk paint for much less $ with good results. A couple of real life folks told me they made their own and both of them had used plaster of paris as their “chalky” ingredient.
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My sister-in-law had recently chalk painted her coffee table and had given me her leftover plaster of paris–the ingredient she used to make latex paint into chalk paint.
If I had been starting from scratch I probably would have ordered (lots of articles said it’s hard to find locally) this calcium carbonate. This calcium carbonate is a good price and has good reviews by people who used it specifically for chalk paint. Calcium carbonate is essentially chalk, so it makes sense that it seems to be the favorite among some chalk paint makers.
The plaster of paris mixture worked just fine for me. Everything I read said if you want the look and feel of chalk paint, you should use flat latex paint to mix with your “chalk” ingredient.
I really like Valspar brand paint, it’s what we have used the last couple of times we painted rooms in our house. I went to Lowe’s and got one quart of Valspar flat latex paint mixed to a color I chose. It did take me 2 tries to get the color I wanted. I got it mixed the first time, then took it back and they added colorant to help me get the color I wanted.
A quart was more than plenty! I only used 1 cup of the latex so I’ve got a good bit left for other projects. I had originally planned to just get a sample size mixed but found out those only come in satin finish.
Mixing the Chalk Paint Recipe
I used this recipe on the Lowe’s website 1/3 cup plaster of paris mixed with 1/3 cup water. I whisked it together and it quickly became a smooth consistency. I then added 1 cup of the latex paint. On other sites and in my SIL’s instructions I saw that they gave directions for a certain consistency and not necessarily an exact amount of water. Next time I mix this chalk paint I will try it with a little less water. I think it could have stood to be a little thicker, and then might cover in 2 coats, but worked just fine the way I mixed it.
Although I’ve read you don’t have to sand before chalk painting, I did sand my table some because it had deep dings and dents in it. My favorite finish is a slightly distressed finish. I don’t want it to look new and shiny but not too beat up either. I want it shabby but not too shabby.
The hubby watched football most of the day and Jessie was happy on her own so I enjoyed watching several movies while I painted and then added a protective finish to my coffee table. It had been several years since I had last seen Sleepless in Seattle and that was my favorite of the day, love that movie.
Painting Your Project
I used 2-3 coats of the paint. In most places it seemed to need 3 as I was covering a dark green. The paint dries so quickly that by the time I could finish the whole piece I could pretty much start the next coat.
You want to use a good quality brush if you’re brushing. I had bought a small foam roller but decided to brush since I would need to use a brush on the leg spindles anyway. I can’t see many brush strokes in my finished project, it looks pretty smooth.
Where you see the brownish color in the cream paint, there was a little sanding dust that I hadn’t cleaned off well. So you will want to clean yours better than I did mine before starting to paint. Sometimes I get in too big of a hurry and just want to get done. Anybody with me? It was easy for the sanding dust to pool in the grooves and not super easy to see. After I realized what was happening I wiped the rest of table better before I continued painting.
It’s not anything that’s bothersome to me because of the color I chose and the distressed finish, but if you weren’t distressing your piece it might be more obvious.
When it was completely dry, I used sandpaper to distress the painted finish a little. I sanded just the areas that it seemed would naturally show wear.
I bought this Valspar antiquing wax at Lowe’s and had planned to to use it over the cream colored chalk paint.
I decided though that I wanted to leave it looking as it was, slightly distressed without the antiquing. I already have a project in mind though that I will use this wax for soon so I won’t return it.
Sealing/Protecting Your Painted Piece
I sealed the coffee table with 3 coats of water based Polycrylic, per the recommendations on the can. Luckily for me, my sister-in-law had lots of Polycrylic left over from her project and gave it to me.
Although the instructions say to wait longer between coats, when it seemed dry and not at all tacky to the touch, I went ahead and re-coated. My SIL said she did the same and it worked fine for both of us. I did read that you don’t want to let the polycrylic pool (use too much) or it could cause a yellowing in the pooled areas.
Although it says matte finish, it does leave just a little bit of a sheen. I like the amount of shine it has, it’s ever so slight, just not 100% flat.
When I paint my kitchen table I will definitely use Polycrylic which gives greater protection for more heavily used pieces. For the coffee table I think I could have used either–the polycrylic or a wax, which is for pieces that receive lighter use. It’s my understanding that the wax has even less shine and just offers a little protection.
While each coat of my polycrylic was drying I used the leftover chalk paint to paint some Dollar Tree pumpkins. Straight from the store they are not pretty, but I have pretty plans for them! They aren’t finished yet but you’ll see them soon.
I’ve thought about painting this table for years. I love how it turned out and wish I hadn’t waited so long to do it.
I plan to sand and re-stain the top of the table a darker shade. I started sanding a little by hand as I can’t currently locate my hand sander in the beast of a shop out back. I decided it was going to take too long without my sander and will save that part for later.
I’ve been researching and love some stain projects I’ve seen where they mixed a darker stain with grey. You can watch for that project in the future 🙂