Monday, September 20, 2010

No place like it.

The latter days of my visit were a blur of chasing Owen and holding that sweet baby girl, "Ma-weee", as Owen says. The baby was born on Thursday. All I can really say at this very moment is, I LOVE MY LIFE!!!!!!!!! I am so happy!! Laura and I talked about her busy life, one full of pressure and responsibility and little sleep. She admits it can be overwhelming but she wouldn't change a thing. She is madly in love with her family and she loves her life and loves being a mother. Carla and I have talked about it too. She says having a family is a lot of work. It is full of great pleasure and great pain. I feel a bit selfish and spoiled in my narcissistic life of one. But, oh my, I have come home madly in love with this life that is mine. Sleeping in (or sleeping at all for that matter), hot baths, reading books, no agenda, The Today Show, privacy, shopping, quiet, things in place, no diapers to change or mouths to feed. This list is endless. One certainly cannot compare and say that one is superior to the other. That is simply not the case. After 10 days of living with my best friend one thing I can say is, Laura is one of the most strong and patient women I know. Her ability to remain calm amidst absolute chaos, astounds me. The other thing I can say is, better her than me! I take so much for granted. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I have so much freedom. The world is mine. Target is mine. The Library is mine. Extra long vacations are mine. Weekends at the Beach. Weekends in the Mountains. Europe. Summer in Africa. Life in Africa. Anything I want to watch on TV is mine. Anything I want to listen to on my iPod is mine at any volume. This whole entire day is mine, to do whatever I want (aside from the 9-5). I can spend all my money on me. I love me. I love quiet. I love books. I love salad for dinner out of a mixing bowl. I love dinner in front of Top Chef. I love 10 hours sleep. I love music. I love my routine. I love not having a routine. I love long walks alone with my iPod. I am so incredibly, endlessly blessed. Currently, barren and single and so so so so blessed. I am basking in the peace of this life that is mine. It's so incredibly good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

quick update

Major Dad is home! He came home earlier than expected. We kept relying on daily text messages telling us where he was and where he was headed. I think it took a total of four days, but he made it home yesterday. He was originally planning on being on an afternoon flight, but called yesterday morning to let us know he would be on the first flight in. So Laura and I rushed around to get the house tidy, balloons inflated and banner hung. 
It was so sweet to watch Owen see his dad for the first time in 6 months and Hailey run full sprint off the bus and jump into her father's arms. No words. 
When unpacking, he pulled a Ritter Sport German chocolate bar from his bag and handed it to Laura and said, "I know your love language." Then Laura went to the pantry and pulled the same bar (different flavor) from the shelf and said, "And I know yours". We had gotten it at the Commissary the day before. I noticed her go back after we passed the chocolate and grab it as she said, "John likes these."
Everyone went to bed early and Laura and I stayed up making lists of things that needed to be done and names and numbers of who needed to be contacted, those on standby for meals and what to pack in her hospital bag. She commented then that she was having subtle contractions. Evidently they got a little more pronounced overnight. They are at her scheduled doctor's appointment now, but took her things just in case. I am here with Owen preparing dinner, watching the Today show, drinking cold coffee, still in my pj's. This mom stuff is hard. They say it is different when it's your own, but by then it is too late to back out. 
I am excited about the thoughts of being here to see Baby Girl when she arrives and just be here for the family and help make this birth as less stressful as possible for everyone. Yet, I leave on Sunday. Laura made the comment last night that she had a feeling it would be in the next 48 hours. There's nothing like Mother's Intuition.
For now, Owen needs a diaper change. I can smell it from here so I know that it's bad. I am psyching myself up for the job. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

no baby...yet.

Arrived uneventfully and greeted with huge hugs from a very pregnant Laura. She looks so cute. She is all belly. I took pictures, but won't post without her permission. I think she looks absolutely incredible and can only hope I look that great when I am with child. My first day here we took Owen to the daycare on base and went to the PX and the Commissary. The Commissary has incredible prices on pretty much all things. They have a really good international section and Starbucks for $6. Coffee was at the top of my list of things I needed during my stay. Laura had to go to the basement for the coffeemaker. I got deep discounts on vitamins and a water filter. I enjoyed tax free shopping at the PX and got a travel makeup mirror that I have been needing for $1.50. We also went to Laura's doctor's appointment. No signs of the baby wanting to arrive any day soon, but the GI Joe doctor let us hear her heartbeat! We got a short tour of the birthing center at the military hospital. We picked up Owen and then Hailey from school. Then I kept Owen, while Laura dropped Hailey off at a birthday party. It was actually for the daughter of a couple we went to college with. There are obviously a lot of North Georgia grads in the military and Laura and John are fortunate to find old friends when they get assigned to a new post.
Yesterday we went to a Company picnic. It was for all of John's troop, who are all in Iraq. So a lot of mothers and children and potato salad. It was held at a little pavilion/playground on Post. The wives and kids all signed large cloth banners to send to their soldier's in Iraq. I was honored to spend September 11th around these sweet families that make such a huge sacrifice every single day. They gave me a lapel pin with John's troop logo on it and I wore it all day, but later noticed it tore a hole in my brand spanking new jcrew cardigan. Ugh!
After the picnic, we went to Hailey's birthday party. This big event had been weeks in the making. All her little friends played at this huge gymnastics center and jumped and tumbled and then we ate ice cream cake.
By the time we got home, we were all exhausted. I was in bed by 9:30.
This morning we went to church. Now I am sitting beside Hailey as she makes Glogs ( and write this Blog.
We are leaving in an hour for a sibling class being held at the hospital for lessons on life with a newborn baby. I am sure Hailey, age 8 years 364 days, will ace it. Owen, age 2, not so sure.
There is leftover ice cream cake in the freezer. Laura is napping. Be right back...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In a few hours I will board a plane to Manhattan. Kansas that is. Laura and Major John are stationed there. John is in Iraq and Laura is due to give birth to a girl in 9 days. She is calling in the troops to come and help. That means me. It is a huge honor and huge responsibility. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, babies, diapers, Hailey's birthday party, childbirth, a soldier coming home. Laura owns a Nikon D5000 which I plan to use to show you a day in the life of an Army wife. More to come...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Chair

Back in March I found a chair and ottoman at Nearly New for $25. I walked away as it looked like a huge project for someone else. The arm was worn slap out and the wood was exposed and it would need reupholstering. I even looked at it and thought, "that would be quite a project." The next day I thought about how much I had been wanting a comfortable space within the living room, a place to curl up with a book, a cup of coffee and an extra seating space for when/if there is someone else there besides me. I hate my sofa. I think I am allergic to it. It is down blend and it makes me sneeze.  It is essentially the sofa below, but it a deep burgundy chenille. Because the pillows are down, they look pitiful once you sit down on it and I used to spend more time that I care to admit, fluffing the pillows on this stupid sofa. I finally took the back pillows off altogether and just put decorative throw pillows along the back.
I have not really bought substantial furniture in ages. I am focused on saving and moving and you can't take sofas to Africa, so furniture remains at the bottom of my priority list. But I am here. And I want a comfortable living space and it's $25! So I dreamed about the chair and called the next day and it was still there. I borrowed a co-workers truck. He said I could borrow it but he only had enough gas to get home, so I would have to put gas in it. I went, in my suit, to Nearly New. Parked in the back with the tailgate up to the loading dock. Clip clopped in my heels through the back of the warehouse and went inside and paid for the chair. I spotted all sorts of neat things in the warehouse, but tried not to look. Then, a blonde Junior Leaguer and I loaded her up as she said, "this is going to be quite a project." I fake smiled and slammed the tail gate as I brushed my hands together. At that time I was working about 75 hours a week and didn't have time to shave my legs, much less shop, so I drove right down the street to Forsyth Fabrics and picked out the first bolt of something that remotely worked. I bought 13 yards. 10 for the chair and 3 for the ottoman. (They have pictures of all styles of upholstered furniture. You pick your style and they give you estimates. They also have designers to help you talk it out. Or maybe they are supposed to do the talking but I pretty much just made the girl listen as I talked out loud about what I wanted.) I picked a brown twill. It was $8 a yard. My investment grew a little. I was not crazy about the color, but I wanted something a little faded shabby chic and something that would allow the chair to be neutral and versatile. Looking back I wish I had picked a thicker, more wrinkle free fabric, but that would have been more difficult to sew. But hopefully the mud brown fabric will go in all sorts of spaces. It will work for now in my olive green living room and could also work in a white washed walled, sea grass rug coastal cottage when I get one of those.

I knew I would need to repair the arm. I drove down to East Point to a hole in the wall scary sketch been there for years upholstery place. This place has not changed since 1965. It is gross. They have Christian tracks by the ancient cash register and a rack of car magazines that have photos of women with big bosoms lounging on them. An old clock with a Budweiser logo hangs on the wood paneled wall. A man and his wife run the place. Her hair is really big. He is bald. He tried to totally gouge me on the price and pulled out an old fat catalogue with prices based on dimensions and measure the pieces that I would need. He quoted me over $70. I said, "No." I pointed to the workshop area where men were working on pleather bench seat of an old car. There were various cuts of all sorts of foam stacked up high behind them. I said, "Sell me a piece of that." He did. For $15.  I still think I kinda got robbed and it was basically junk and debris but it worked and was what I needed. I got mad at him for trying to give me the run around and he didn't deserve my $15, but my lunch hour was ticking away and I had to go and he had foam and I needed it.
It actually looks decent here. But trust me, it was not.

I called Mama Deane to arrange to have my upholstery sent to Mrs. Stavros, the sweet little Greek lady who I intended to hire to do this for me because I had no intention of tackling this project myself. Mrs. Stavros made lovely slipcovers for Deane for a song and I intended to get in on the action. Cheap slipcovers were just what I needed. I boxed up my overpriced twill and sent it to Deane, and later mailed photographs and sketch of the chair with dimensions of every possible width, length, height and depth. I waited expectantly. A month later Deane sent me an email. Mrs. Stavros had locked up her house and gone to Africa. She is like 80 years old and sews little shirts and shorts all year long and then once a year or so, loads them up and takes little uniforms to school children in Africa. Oh, the irony. So this ugly, ugly chair sat in my living room starring back at me, gaping wounded in her left arm. My $25 investment had grown to over $100 and I had nothing to show for it.

I kept thinking, "How in the world am I going to fix this stupid chair?" Poor sweet Deane searches frantically to find someone else to fix it. The fabric gets taken to some place in the Newport News area and some lady attempts to tackle this chair to no avail. I call her numerous times and never get an answer. Two months later, she tells me that she simply cannot do it. She tried. It was too much. Deane has the fabric.

On the 4th of July I meet Angelique up at Tate with the box of fabric. It has come back to me, just at it was sent, in the same box. Only this time, a few pieces have been cut and the beginnings of an ottoman cover are recognizable. I opened the box in my living room and looked at the crumpled fabric and decided that my savings and $25 Find had just cost me almost $200. Fabric, shipping costs, filling Craig's stupid truck up with gas for letting me borrow it, foam for the arms, shipping pictures to Deane, ice cream to soothe the anxiety. I debated just trying to sell the fabric on ebay and throw the chair off the front porch. I decided I had too much invested and I was determined to do this. I had looked at similar sets like this at Ballard's and a chair and ottoman covered in the fabric of your choice retail for $800.

I found a lady at work who sews and asked for her help. She showed me how to cover the pillows. She took the ottoman cover home with her and sewed a skirt on the bottom. I hand sewed cushions. We were making progress. But even these milestones took weeks, as we were doing this on our lunch hour, maybe once a week. One day she came home with me at lunch to take a look at what all needed to me done. The next day she sent me a sweet Dear John letter and she bailed, said something about having a lot of other things to do. I don't blame her, but it took the wind out of my little sails and I had to go out for ice cream. Then I did what only a girl can do in a moment like this, I called my mama.

A week later she came over with a pineapple, a sack of sweet potatoes and a sewing machine under her arm. She began by helping me fix the cushion pillow. We added piping and changed the shape of the pillow and it looked great! I took off the existing skirt and began to use the original fabric as a model and never had to even pull out my measure tape. We used pillow stuffing from Target's $2.49 bed pillows. We cut four models for arms. I ironed. She sewed. I stapled. I nailed ($2.47 upholstery nails from Joanne's fabrics). I put on music. We ate sweet potatoes and cantaloupe and worked the entire time. She stayed until she started sewing crooked and neither of us could function. She came back a week later and we added piping, attached the skirt and finished that dumb chair.  I could not be more proud. Thanks Mom, Craig, Mary from Work, Deane, Angelique, Stranger lady who tried to help but sewed with WHITE thread on brown fabric that I will forever be taking out, Christine (for the sewing machine), and even Mrs. Starvros for helping those sweet children in Africa and thus forcing me to do this. I am not quitting my day job, but I want to reupholster my sofa now and I can help you with your project too. It was so easy. Piece of cake...with ice cream.

Buddy's Birthday

Carson is 7.

Nathaniel was right in the middle of it all.
He really made a wish, but wouldn't tell. Next time I see him I will try to get it out of him.
This kid is way too beautiful to grow up to be a stinky boy. Isn't he gorgeous?
He asked for a Leopard Gecko. I got him one.

drew kaiser is amazing!