When Everyone is at “The Next Step”

dandelion

 

Fun fact; I love dandelions. Have you ever noticed that they have three stages of life? They start yellow, bold and bright. Kids pick them and make their parents “bouquets”. In wild fields, their bright yellow disposition adds beauty and light to an otherwise overgrown mess. Soon, they move to the white, fluffy stage. Soft, open, and fun to play with, the dandelion has grown to a mature flower. In the end of their life phase, they spread their seeds so they continue living even when they are long gone. I have always associated their stages with the sun, moon and stars. 

Yellow Sun, White Moon, Stars wide among us. 

Their stages of life are reminiscent of our stages of life as humans. We start young, wild, vibrant and free, soon turn into soft, open, mature people, and eventually, spread our seeds. In the blink of an eye, it felt like everyone was at the “spread our seeds” phase of life, and I can’t keep up. 

My instagram feed has turned into pregnancy announcements, newborn photos, and couples with their kids. All of the blogs I used to follow are now mommy blogs. At one point this morning I thought to myself “is there any blog for the married person who might not want kids?” 

Before we married, Mark and I discussed kids, a lot. To me, it was an important topic that I continually drove home. First and foremost, I knew that even though we were marrying young, I did not even want to think about children until I was at least 31. Even then, it’s just a discussion. I also felt strongly about having only one child, a conversation we joked about often. “Okay baby, we’ll start with one.”  There is also no guarantee that we’ll be able to have children. We tend to have this idyllic mindset that having a baby is a natural occurrence. Knowing many people in my life who had the opposite experience, I have always leaned towards the pessimistic side of this conversation. (And, while there are many “I’s” in this paragraph, please note that this was a “we” topic through and through. I am writing from my perspective.)

“Will you still love me and want me even if I can’t make you a dad?”

“Of course I will. We’ll adopt, we’ll look into other options, or, we’ll get some more dogs.”

As our world progresses, it is more and more clear that women are choosing to take this route. And, guess what? It’s perfectly okay. YES! It’s perfectly OKAY for a woman to choose not to have children. Oh, and a woman is still a woman even if they cannot have children. The truth is, having children is a choice, and, it’s a conversation couples should have, revisit it, and have again and again. 

It’s been wild to see people I went to high school as mom’s. Or, the girl you were crazy with in college suddenly a mom to two adorable children. Watching as the world around me transitions into the next step of their life isn’t the worse thing. I mean, they are producing some wildly adorable children. 

As of last week, we do not know if we are going to have children. Being a teacher, Mark sees the entitlement growing among parents and children. His fear is how we would ever counteract society. “Could we raise a child with our values or would it be influenced by society?” I guess we won’t know unless the time comes. However, for now, we are happy as just us three. 

 

How To Refinish Your Table

When we bought our house a few months ago there was this moment where we realized we had absolutely nothing to fill it. Our apartment was tiny, so we didn’t even have a table to eat at. We already knew we were going to buy ourselves a sectional and new bed, but, we just weren’t ready to have to buy all the other things that were necessary to fill a house. 

Fortunately, we have friends who are generous and, frankly, far too good to us. One of our friends gave us his old table and six chairs. The table was too big for our space, but, the chairs were perfect for us. On move in day, our other good friend gave us his old dining room table. It was a brand new oak table that fit in our little nook perfectly. I loved everything about the table… except the color.  Of course I was grateful for a perfect table, I just wanted to customize it to us a little more. 

“Hey baby, I think I’m going to sand down that table and make it a little more butcher block in style.”

“Leanne, you’re not going to take a perfectly good table, sand it down, and re-stain it. We don’t know how to do that.”

“Well, how hard could it be?”

Oh,  poor, poor Mark. Always so earnestly concerned when the Type B side of Leanne surfaces and proposes a ludicrous idea. Fortunately, while I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing, I had an idea of how to do it. 

Before we move forward, I apologize for the bad iPhone pictures used in this post. I wasn’t intending to use these pictures for anything other than a reference for what it used to look like *incase* things didn’t go as planned. However, after many compliments and disbelief that “it’s the same table” I thought “eh, why not share it with the 4 people who read this!” So, here we are. 

Full disclosure; I 100% do not believe that I am an “expert” in this topic. I just believe that if you find a piece of furniture that is ::almost:: perfect you should have the belief in yourself that you can change it fit your style with a simple vision and a few affordable products. 

 REFINISH TABLE

What You’ll Need: 

  1. Rust-Oleum Spray Paint, Chalked. We used the “Aged Gray” color for this table since it matched the backslash of our kitchen perfectly. We also have the Linen White, and the Coral Blue that we’ve used on other projects
  2. Black and Decker Sander. I did minimal research when looking for a sander. I just compared the lowest price ones and bought the one with better reviews. Having used this little powerhouse on multiple projects I can say this is AMAZING. It comes with sanding paper, and, a little bag that traps most of the dust. The best $24 I’ve ever spent. 
  3. Wood Finish in a Spray Paint Form. Here’s the thing, I’m not a ::neat:: painter. I lose patience quickly but for some reason I love spray painting things. I think it’s the easy motion and how evenly everything forms, even for an amateur like me. If this is your first time staining something I would definitely suggest using this product. No drip, even distribution, and beautiful coloring. 
  4. Rust-Oleum Polyurethane Spray. Sticking with my theme of loving “spray” this polyurethane brought life to the wood finish without being too shiny. 

 

Steps:

  1. Convince your husband it’s a good idea. 
  2. Take legs off the table, move the tabletop to an open space (make sure to put something down to catch the paint. An old sheet, garbage bags, ya know, whatever.)
  3. In our case, we had to tape the bottom before staining since the two-tone look we were looking for meant there was a possibility for a cross painting mishap. (I don’t even know if that makes sense. Once again, not an expert, just a recent home-owner who likes DIY projects) 
  4. Sand down the table top evenly. As corny as this sounds, let the sander do the moving. Apply a bit of pressure, go with the grain of the wood, and move evenly across the surface. Especially on the edges.
  5. Wipe the dust off the top with a wet rag and while the top is drying, move to the legs.
  6. Make sure the legs are upright and easy to walk around so the paint doesn’t smudge. We sprayed two sides at a time, waited a minute, and rotated. This spray does dry very quickly. Use the chalk spray of your choice and evenly spray the legs. DON’T stand too close or else you’ll get drips, and that’s just not easy to fix. But, if you do drip, just wipe it, and move back a step before spraying again. Ours took two coats and we didn’t sand it down.
  7. While the legs are drying, begin spraying the table top with your choice of wood finish. Again, move your hand evenly above the surface, stand above the table at a good distance so you don’t drip, and watch as the table transforms. Here’s Mark spraying the table (as the project progressed, Mark became more and more into it. Man, I love that guy.)

IMG_0215

8. Let everything dry for about 3 hours, then, go back, and spray the top with polyurethane. Let that dry over night. Observe and analyze your work the next morning. If you need to touch it up, go for it. If not, bring it inside, put the legs back on, and enjoy your beautiful new table.

refinish table

 

And, there you have it. Not as scary as you thought, right? Our table is usually staged everyday (it’s currently staged for Christmas) but I wanted you to see it without any distractions. It also comfortably sits 6. If you have any suggestions on area rugs for that space, HMU, okay? 

Still to come; the great story behind that sign and why it sits there. 

 

On Being The “Bigger” Bridesmaid

There’s no sentence more flattering and heartwarming than “Will you be my bridesmaid?” I have had the honor of being a bridesmaid a few times this year. Having been the first of my group to get married, there’s this extra level of love and appreciation that I have for being included in someone’s day. To me, it’s an honor. 

But, what happens when someone’s day causes you to live out your worst fears? Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded bridesmaid dress. 

This is a hot topic on wedding forums and among friends. Do you choose a dress flattering for everyone, or, do you choose the dress you envisioned when you started planning your wedding 3 weeks into dating your fianc√©? After all, it is YOUR day. However, let’s flip the script is your wedding what you envisioned if your bridesmaids aren’t feeling confident? Will their smiles be the same? Will their happiness for you truly exude if they spent the weeks before your wedding anxious and unhappy because they know they’ll ruin your pictures?

I was recently in a wedding where I felt all of this anxiousness. When I went in January to get measured for the gown, I didn’t even see the gown. The woman took my measurements, told me there was “no way” I would fit in the sample they had in stock, and filled out her ticket to order my gown. My measurements were the same as the measurements for my wedding gown, which, for the record was a size 16 taken in. She told me she was ordering me a size 24 gown because “that’s what my measurements were”. I looked at the saleswoman with horror– There is nothing wrong with being a size 24, but, I spent the last 3 years going from a 20 to a 12/14 and I knew there was no way I could be a 24. (oh, and did you know that “plus size” gowns are more money? $300 down the drain)  They ordered the gown, and, I spent the next three weeks analyzing every inch of my body. Size shouldn’t influence our psyche, but, this certainly did. 

In between buying the house, moving, showers, three weddings, etc., I realized we were 2 months away from the wedding and it was time to get my dress. I called the bridal salon to pick it up. They put it on a hanger, had me pay my balance and didn’t even let me try it on. I finally asked to see the gown and to my dismay, the gown was HUGE.

“I’m not going to fit in that. It’s too big.”

“I guess you can get it taken in but it’s too late for us to.” 

I took the gown home, tried it on, and cried. Two of me could fit in the gown, but worse, I didn’t understand why I was dismissed so quickly by the salon. Was it because all the other bridesmaids and the bride were so small? Did they not want to do the work required to have that gown fit me the right way? Fortunately for me, the same woman who I bought my wedding dress from offered to fix this dress for me. 

I stood on the same platform where I fell in love with my wedding dress, only this time, I was standing in a dress, analyzing my body, and hating every moment of the process. As the seamstress pinned the dress, it became more and more obvious that this dress was very unforgiving and there was just no way I would recover from this. The weeks leading up to the wedding sent me into a slow spiral of low confidence. Avoiding mirrors, wearing baggy clothes, not eating much: all because in the back of my mind, that dress was all I could think of. I imagined myself standing next to the size 00 maid of honor, who picked the gown, and looking like a beluga whale. I’d wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares of the bride screaming at me because I ruined her pictures. Nightmares of Mark leaving me because of how ugly I looked that day.

All because of a dress. 

I work out 4 times a week for my health, and, most days, I love the way I look. I have no problem rocking a pair of high-waisted jeans and a bodysuit. I know my husband loves my ass (sorry, mom he does) and appreciates that I take care of myself. Most importantly, I appreciate the way I look and how far I’ve come. Sure, there are days where I wish I could just suck the arm fat away ( a struggle I had even during my wedding). Yes, there are days where my stomach protrudes out a little more than normal. Regardless of imperfections, I am healthy, and, it’s taken a long time to love myself.

On the morning of my friend’s wedding, her future mother in law sensed I wasn’t feeling comfortable. She asked what was wrong, and I just poured my heart.

“I just know that regardless of how much I love myself, that dress has re-surfaced all and any insecurities.”

“When we first met you at the engagement party, we all described you as the perfect, most beautiful pin-up model. You are a vision and you have absolutely nothing to worry about.” 

It was heartwarming to hear how other people saw me. In the end, I put my shoulders back (but, not too far back because the dress was still too big despite alterations, so caution was necessary) walked down the aisle and enjoyed a beautiful wedding. 

Ultimately, this day isn’t about me. It’s not about any of us, really. It’s about the bride. It’s about her marriage to her best friend. Sure, this might seem like a dramatic explanation of a situation. You might even read this and think I’m being insensitive, rude, and uncaring. You might even think I’m exaggerating. In the back of your mind, you might have whispered to yourself:

“just work out more, Leanne.” or “Eat less, Leanne.”  

And, you could be right .By writing about this experience I am opening myself up to ridicule. However, a persons feelings and how they’re treated isn’t a reflection of their routines and habits. If it’s one thing I learned from this experience is that each person has their own insecurities. Other bridesmaids that day were feeling anxiety over details of the dress as well.

“My boobs are too small” “My stomach is too big.” “Spanx won’t cover all of this.” 

To me, each of them were perfect in the dress. And, to them, I looked great. We all see ourselves differently, right? If we’re bringing it back to my first question, I hope brides take this story into consideration when picking their bridesmaid dress. Your vision is your vision, but, it might not hurt to include everyone in the process. The appreciation goes a long way, and, even more important, a genuine smile from your closest friends will forever warm your heart when you look back at your photos.