The Stencil is Done! And those other things I didn’t do in 2014.

LAST YEAR I declared right here out in the open for the whole world to hold me accountable that I was going to:

1.  Turn my coat closet into a mudroom.

2.  Upgrade my powder room.

3.  Makeover my laundry room.

4.  Give my foyer a facelift.

Unless you count the three canvas bins I put on the shelf in the closet as “turning my coat closet into a mudroom,” here I sit one year and 23 days later having completed only two of those four projects.  The foyer, pictures to follow, and my laundry room.  A whopping 50%.  An “F” if we’re back in school.  So if you grade me on my performance for 2014, I failed.  An incomplete in two out of four endeavors.  Right?

WRONG.

It’s all about perspective.  And I often find myself channeling the wrong one.  When I introduced the Real Mom Monday hashtag I talked a little bit about the human desire to overachieve.  Always wanting more instead of being content in the moment.  Always comparing ourselves to what we see others doing, which is particularly easy to do when our lives are spewed all over the Internet.  Yeah, I cleaned my whole house today.  But she ran 10 miles through icy road conditions and burned 697 calories.  Yeah, I took my kid to the library today and taught him how to say “night night!”  But he just made partner at the law firm.  Yeah, I finished reading a really great book today.  But she made homemade chia and flaxseed muffins from all-natural ingredients she harvested from her rooftop urban garden.  blah, Blah, BLAH.

My friends, in 2015 I’ve decided to stop drinking from the half-empty glass of Kool-Aid.  Instead of saying I completed only half of what I wanted to do last year, I’m going to go ahead and say I’m batting .500.  For those of you who don’t know much about baseball, this means I’m pretty awesome.  I’m done not feeling awesome about what I’ve accomplished.  I’m done wishing I could have completed more and letting those feelings cast a shadow upon all the glorious awesome-ness I’ve managed to experience and create.  Done!

Today I am celebrating this AMAZING thing I did in 2014.  I turned this:

Foyer Before

Into this:

Embrace My Space Stencil

With my own two hands.

Embrace My Space Stencil

Okay, that’s not completely true.  I did have some help from my painter’s two hands.

Embrace My Space Stencil

I learned quite a few things in 2014.  The first being that I can’t do everything I want to do right now.  Or this week, this month or even, as this post illustrates so clearly, this year.  I can’t.  I can’t get every single project done around the house, cook dinner every night, stay at home with my son, wash his diapers, teach him sign language, blog every other day (or every other month), work on my muffin top, write a novel and have a super-successful professional career.

Embrace My Space Stencil

And I need to be okay with that.

Embrace My Space Stencil

The second thing I learned is that I can accomplish a lot on my own.  But I can accomplish even more with help.

When I made my four item to do list for 2014 my son was only 3 months old.  For all practical purposes he was a small blob I could move around from the kitchen to the living room to my office to my bedroom depending on what it was I wanted to do at the time.  Sometimes I didn’t even need to pick him up because he was snuggled warmly to my chest in my woven baby carrier.

But as he got older and less blob-like he let me know he had his own agenda.  Following me around the house all day so I could get everything on my to-do list done was not high on his list of priorities.

There are a ton of growing pains to sort through when you become a parent, one of the most aggravating being that it will take you twice as long to do things and you have about a quarter of the time you used to have to do them.  I’m no math whiz, but if you set yourself up with an insurmountable to-do list then your chances of getting everything done by yourself are about as good as your chances of winning the Hunger Games armed with nothing but an electric toothbrush and your extensive knowledge of 90s rap song lyrics.  But hey, may the odds be ever in your favor.

So this year I learned to ask for help when I’m feeling like I can’t do it alone.  This is exactly what happened with this stencil project, which had been hanging over my head for months.  I just couldn’t find the time to finish it myself.  I finally admitted that asking for help would be better than suffering through the darn project all by myself.

Embrace My Space Stencil

I’m so glad my painter came to the rescue because I’m absolutely thrilled with the end result.

Embrace My Space Stencil

I moved the rug from my son’s nursery into the foyer because it was getting really bunched up under the furniture in his room.  I think it was a combination of the flat weave style rug over wall-to-wall carpet that caused the bunching.  The rug is so gorgeous and I’m pleased it fits here.

Embrace My Space Stencil

The stencil makes its way all the way down into the hallway leading to the garage.  The doors on the left are to the coat-closet-yet-to-be-turned-mudroom and the door on the right leads to the still-covered-in-plaid-wallpaper-powder-room.

Embrace My Space Stencil

There you have it.  An amazing project I (with help) FINISHED in 2014!  I’m going into this year with an open mind, an organic to-do list and a muzzle on that little voice reminding me of what I didn’t do.

What are your plans for 2015?

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‘Tis the Season (for an obligatory post about my Christmas tree)

THE HOLIDAYS are full of delightful obligations.  Agonizing for weeks over whether you’ve picked the right gift for your husband only to discover he bought himself the same thing a week before Christmas.  Struggling to capture the perfect photo for the greeting card that your friends will toss into their recycle bins (trash bins for those of you with friends who hate Mother Earth).  Drinking just enough of your uncle’s homemade eggnog to reach that sweet spot where you feel slightly warm yet are still able to keep from telling the whole family how you really feel about drinking raw eggs and [Sony/Ferguson/Polar Vortex/Kim Kardashian/CIA/Frozen].  Drinking just enough Sangria to brave a game of Cards Against Humanity with your grandmother and still get up at six the next morning to make special gingerbread pancakes for your toddler who will throw them on the floor.  Drinking………..just kidding.

After spending the last six to eight weeks each year cooking, baking, eating, drinking, game-playing, buying, posturing, decorating, wrapping and, ahem, returning, it’s easy to understand why we are all burnt out come January 1.  Then we set lofty new year’s resolutions from our post-holiday slumps because we think the only way to balance out our year-end overindulgence and underperformance is to set ourselves up for more failure!

Happy New Year!

In the spirit of perpetuating ridiculous holiday obligations as a home décor blogger, I present to you these photos of my holiday decorations.  This year my theme was teal, lime and simplicity.

Christmas 2014

If you compared a photo of my house from last year to this year you would notice not much has changed.  I had zero desire to come up with new ways to display my holiday goodies.

Embrace My Space Christmas

I couldn’t even come up with a witty, seasonal phrase for my chalkboard; a crude sketch of a Christmas tree gets the job done this year.

Christmas 2014

I also left a lot of my decorations in storage this year.  The seaglass Christmas trees I made a few years ago make an appearance on the mantel this time around.  I’m digging this look.

Embrace My Space Christmas

I swapped out the photo in a 5×7 frame to display our Christmas card to add a bit of holiday cheer to the top of our media center.  An ornament hanging from the table lamp also adds some glitz without too much work.

Embrace My Space Christmas

The only new addition to, and the crowning glory of, my holiday decorating this year is my DIY Christmas tree topper.  I bought two extra large bows from Target, attached them to one another with binder clips and then used a few more binder clips to secure them to the tree.  Each bow was $5.  I’m happy with a $10 tree topper.  And I think this is pretty unique.

Embrace My Space Christmas

Finally, I decorated my mini tree and put it on top of the buffet in my son’s playroom.  I used a big bowl I had sitting around and filled it with bulbs as a kind of makeshift tree skirt.  My little guy LOVES this tree, so I’m happy I went the extra mile to set it up.  We stare at it every day.  He points to each ornament one by one as I dutifully call out their names, “Bear! Tin Soldier! Sugar Plum Fairy! Owl! Santa!”  Over and over.

Another silly obligation.  But it makes him smile.  And it makes him giggle with delight.  And that, my friends, is what fulfilling holiday obligations should be about!  So chuck the ones that stress you out and max out on the ones that make your loved ones smile and your heart burst like the Grinch at the top of Mount Crumpet.

Wishing you laughter, full bellies and contentment this holiday season.  See you all in 2015!

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Introducing #realmomMonday

I’M NOT A MOMMY BLOGGER.  Yes, it’s true that I’m a mommy and a whenever-the-wind-is-blowing-at-15MPH-to-the-East-during-a-Blue-Moon blogger, but I don’t venture into the Mamasphere on my blog.  Parenting is hard.  I’ve only been at this gig for a little over a year and I don’t expect it to get easier any time soon.  I applaud the women who are brave enough to share their parenting journeys with an expansive, critical and, often times, relentlessly nasty audience of faceless people bursting with opinions, judgment and primed-to-be-hurt feelings.  Those bloggers have skin made of rubber.  My skin is made of hot glue, which is why I stick to crafting and picking paint colors on my blog.

Since I blogged incessantly about my son’s nursery during my pregnancy, I’m all over the Internet as a ‘mom’ and viewed by some organizations and advertisers as a mommy blogger lying in wait.  I’ve been approached by organizations asking me to weigh in on baby products or to talk about safety issues on my blog.

My answer is always the same.  No, no, and, no.

Although I knew my reluctance to blog about the thing that I devote 95% of my time to nowadays would severely impact the frequency with which I blog, I also knew the minute I decided to jump into the shark infested mommy blogging waters that someone would get hurt.  I don’t want to talk about things related to parenting that could be viewed as judgmental or that would hurt the feelings of fellow moms who are just trying to do their best every day.  So here I stand with my feet firmly planted in home décor, crafting and DIY land, vigilantly protecting my friends and readers from feeling shamed and criticized for the choices they make and things they accomplish as mothers.

Or so I thought.  Recently, a friend posted this article on Facebook, which made me feel like I got it all wrong.  The article is about mothers feeling the sting of an ever-present desire to achieve domestic perfection in a world where social media makes sharing the ins and outs of our daily lives easier every day.  While I thought my choice to stay out of the wars being waged on the mommy blogs was the way to ensure I wouldn’t be seen as judging or shaming my fellow moms, this article made me realize that I may still be impacting them in a negative way by continuing to share a perfectly styled version of my life on Embrace My Space and its social media platforms.

If you read the article in the above link, it mentions that some of the negative feelings associated with the failure to achieve domestic perfection are likely related to the innate human desire to overachieve, especially for us Type A personalities.  I do agree with the article in that I think we are all in control of our own feelings and reactions to things–including the pretty things we see on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter–out there in the world.  That said, I certainly believe social media has a way of turning us all into unwilling pawns in a never-ending game of Keeping up with the Joneses.  Unless you swear off all forms of social media, you’re bound to be confronted with images of “perfection” on a daily basis.  And, let’s face it, when you’re suffering with a good ol’ case of the Mondays (or Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays), all this perfect stuff can be a hard pill to swallow.

All along I thought I was just showing a picture of my new bedding or the cake I baked for my son’s first birthday.  This is all safe territory, right? No feelings could possibly be hurt in the posting of these pictures.  But perhaps what I was doing unknowingly when sharing these things was causing a fellow mom ask herself why she didn’t make her bed that day or why she had to buy her cake from the grocery store.  Of course, the last thing I want to do is make another person feel like they aren’t enough.  I’m here to share, to inspire and to encourage others to create.

I’m not here to say that I will stop blogging styled images of my home or my day-to-day, because I’m a creator and it’s what I love to do.  Social media also gives me the feeling of connectedness in the solitary existence that is being a stay-at-home mom.

What I am here to say is that I want to show support and compassion to my fellow mamas fighting the good fight.  I’m here to say that I acknowledge how I could be feeding your inner perfection monster by sharing only pretty pictures of my home and life.  I’m here to say that I will make an effort to remind everyone that even though my bed was made in that picture I just posted on Instagram, that the rest of my house is messy, my laundry is not done, my refrigerator is empty, my kid has spaghetti sauce on his face and I’m still in my pajamas at 3PM.

Enter #realmomMonday.  A friend recently suggested that we should use this new hashtag to show the world motherhood in all its real, messy glory.  I think it’s a great idea and from here on out I will be sharing not-so-perfectly-styled snippets of my attempt at being the best mom I can be every Monday (or Tuesday, because real mom’s can’t always stick to a schedule).

I hope #realmomMonday catches on.  And when my fellow moms are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of facing the new week, their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds will be filled with reminders from other moms that, while our lives may be messy, our love for our children is perfect and we are enough.  And that is all that matters.

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