Plan into Action: Alex's Room, part 1

It's good to be home from vacation (yes, I know, post to come).  Actually, I feel empowered to have survived this past week and still say with a genuine smile, "my cup is half full! Sip sip!"  For one thing, massive deadlines were met, Alex caught up on her sleep, and we all survived yesterday's 105 temperatures.  I wonder if these tropical-like temps are causing little frogs to show up late at night on my sliders, sticking at strange angles 3 feet up from the ground. Impressive. He was only 2" but so cute and yellow, and I love how sticky his little digits felt in my palm. 

And speaking of Alex, she was recovering from vacation overload aka: no naps, too much fun, & late to bed.  Tuesday night, she turned around to me in the midst of a pre-bedtime whirl and screams, "Mommy, I have pants in my ants!"  Really.  2 words: uncontrollable laughter.  The girl is a hoot.
I completely surprised Alex and Enzo this morning by setting up the playdough under the dining room table.  Enzo said, "really?" as if I just threw down thousands of M&M's on the ground and told him to go hog wild.  Yes really. 

 At some point, you have to introduce children to the concept of "under the table and dreaming," right? No space here for batteries. 

Now onto the meat of this post...
Alex loves pink.  No, I’m sorry, she LOOOOVES the color pink.  She’s been begging me for 2 months to turn her bathroom pink and now she’s thrown her bedroom into the desired mix too.  I had a few thoughts in my head for her bedroom, but nothing organized or concrete.   And the older I get, the more I seem to need a restrictive deadline to get me going; but Alex was maturing and I knew it was time to move her room away from what was her nursery to something that will encompass her Uber feminine personality.
Now to back up this conversation a bit, you need to know that I’m not a pink girl.  Yes, I danced ballet for 10 years and wore plenty of pink, crinolyn and tutus, but I am naturally drawn to deep earth tones and to sea glass tones of blues, aquas, and greens.  The thought of combining the color pink with juvenile home textiles gripped me with fear; just walk through any Walmart and you will understand why I dread pink bedding covered with princesses, Dora, or goofy looking flowers/owls/animals. There had to be a happy medium even if that required me to sew everything. Oh, and I would.

On Thursday, I sent out a quick e-mail to two of my friends, Shannon and Cindy, asking them if they’ve seen any cool wall hooks in their online perusing.  And I mentioned that I really wanted to craft hooks out of a series of old door knobs; Cindy commented that she may find some at a cool store while visiting Michigan next week.  It was quick note to bounce a few thoughts off of friends as a means of jump-starting my brain.  But oh how it got the train rolling out of the station before I was ready (I was willing, just not ready).

From a design standpoint, I was caught between a love of both modern and vintage: my house is contemporary and screams for clean lines, but I had 2 thoughts in my head that drove me towards vintage touch. 

  • Make a Soule Mama’s style word banner over her bed from old wool blanket pieces.
  • Make unique wall hooks out of vintage door handles.  
I knew that design elements from Shabby Chic could encompass both my desires and the requested pink color, but I feared breaking out in hives from the excessive layers of lace and florals! I had to find a happy medium within my Vintage Chic look.  I started by Googling “Shabby Chic”, which directed me to a large selection of bedding at my favorite store...Target.  On line, I narrowed my favorites down to 2 comforters, which of course were on sale and out of stock on line; so off to local store with Alex in tow.  

I found the chenille patchwork comforter at the store, but was left ambivalent once I had it in hand.   However I discovered the Cherry Blossom collection that I never noticed on line (confirmation once again that Target’s pictures on line do NO justice to the actual items).  I loved it - clean lines, super attractive floral pink on white print, pink ribbon edging - but how would Alex feel?  I showed her an unwrapped pillow sham, and she immediately placed it on the floor along with a small pink cutwork pillow and tried to go to sleep in the Isle.  She did this bed making activity 3 times enthusiastically.  Check, she likes it, and check, that sham goes right into the wash.  Hmmm, some how that little pink pillow came for the ride and made it home too….

Over the next 24 hours, I drove to 3 Target stores, trying to acquire one of the remaining Queen sized quilts.  

I will admit that the last trip was simply icing to grab other details including new glass pulls for her dresser  
and new swiss dot drapes for her windows.

These few changes alone have transformed her room drastically, made her over-the-moon giddy, and motivated me today to design (on paper) the built-in bookshelf.  I’ll admit that at this moment, I’m feeling the need to Krylon a lot of objects pink and to finish redecorating the bath while I’m at it.  This could get interesting. For some reason, my project list keeps growing.

So for now I am waiting for a wool blanket from an Etsy seller, a shower curtain from Ebay, and (hopefully) knobs from Michigan *fingers crossed*.  I  am nowhere close to finished, but I feel good. I have my head wrapped around the project, a supply list for Home Depot, and a deep seeded desire to grab lots of pink paint chips for an accent wall.  More to come.
Happy Weekend!


~this moment~ just us girls

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via SouleMama


The Pages of My Heart

One part of Alex's daily life revolves around reading and story telling.  The routing started out as a means of settling her down at night, and now has grown to be a part of our relationship, our interaction.  I read.  Ben tells the elaborate stories.  I try to cap it at a few books, but I've been known to read more than 4 if she gives me the look.  And after I finish, Ben and I change positions and he starts the story telling.  And from a distance, I can hear her talking to Ben in her petite voice, "Let's talk about..." or "Daddy, tell me about…" It's awesome to watch them thrive together.

As busy as life can be, I believe that we always should make time to sit together.  Every. Night.  And confirming my belief, I recently saw a story on National news, talking about a father who read to his daughter every night until she left for college. It started it out of his concern that they were growing apart; I believe she was the ripe old age of 6.  Their nightly interaction became an essential part of their lives and honed their relationship - so much that the daughter as a teen chose to continue reading, rearranging her social schedule at times.  As you can imagine, they progressed from chapter books all the way through the Harry Potter series to an amazing selection of classics. You could just see the love as they talked about how their "schtick" flourished with time.  Seriously touching.

The other night on vacation, it was late - beyond 10pm - and Alex insisted that we read.  So we made it through 2 books and I told her that we were all going to sleep.  5 minutes later, she rolls over towards me, sporting a hurtful pout and crying.  Not just a tear.  Oh no, a river of tears followed by uncontrollable sobbing.  And I saw a part of me reflected in her the first time - the silent cryer, the sensitive one - and I knew her reaction was no joke.  I finally coerced her to admit how I upset her, seeing that all I knew was that I hurt her feelings.  "You wouldn't read to me." And the tears flowed again. You would have thought that I verbally attacked her from her level of emotion.  And it all centered around a book and our need to be together. Sleep could wait.


Last week (before the current heat wave), Alex and I set out a quilt on the deck, dragged out a throw and a mountain of books, and invited a few of her stuffed "friends" to join us.  The sun was setting and it illuminated the pages with golden light.  After our first book, Alex broke away from our quilt to pick flowers.  If you know her, flower picking is her her daily obsession that mortifies her father and makes her mother glow.  She's my girl. 

Then she kicked off her frog boots, deciding that a boot would be the perfect vase to hold her flowers.

I cannot lie - she did a nice job.  

She was visibly tickled, admiring her work and repeatedly pointed out to me how boo-ooo-dul her flowers are.  Then she sat down and resumed reading. Boo-ooo-dul.  Simply boo-ooo-dul. Gosh, I'll miss that mispronunciation.

Ok, I might be rambling with this post, but I haven't taught Alex to arrange flowers; and instinctually she knows what to do.  I haven't taught her to read, but somehow she knows the importance of that time too.  And it's moments like these when I feel my Mom present. And I am thankful.
"There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up." - Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts


~this moment~ sunset romp

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via SouleMama


Anatomy of S'more

Summer. Take another deep breath.  Mmmm…

To me the epitome of summer circles back to childhood.  Simple memories of playing flashlight tag at dusk, collecting fireflies, swimming until my skin pruned, long days, tired nights, and making S'mores from the abandoned coals of the barbecue.

Bodies huddled tightly over the fire, buzzing like a colony of bees hard at work - a task at hand.

Preschoolers, Teens, Adults - all talking, turning, guiding, and roasting their marshmallows to perfection.

Elbow room at a minimum. The air is sweet and smoky from burning marshmallows.
Audibly you could hear her and others mumble "Mmmm" in delight.
And in the midst of the moment, Alex says "Oh Mommy.  S'mores are the best. I really, really like them. Can we do this again?" But of course.  It wouldn't be summer without it.


~this moment~ summer toes

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via SouleMama


Buzz of Summer

When it hits 4th of July weekend, there's always that point in my mind where I remember it feels like the mid-point of summer.  It's hot.  The air is thick.  Our skin is sticky and coated with layers of sunscreen and bug spray.  Hair sticks to the back of my neck.  Bathing suits and towels always feel damp.  We sit on the ground and eat popsicles and water mellon and crave root beer floats. And this is when I feel alive. Energized and busy like the bees in my garden.  Buzzing.  Following rituals. Constantly in motion. 

This holiday weekend was no disappointment.  We had the treat of staying home and parading and running through farmland and swimming in the intense splendor of summer.  I kept thinking all weekend about the power of rituals around seasons and holidays.  The importance of rituals.  And how what we do shapes ourselves and our children. There is a place and a rhythm where they exist or are created.  
Sunday we found ourselves on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, landing at Jenny & George's house, playing with our extended family, the Wheatley's.  Jenny and George are surrounded by farmland, so their house was nestled among haystacks and corn fields.  

Alex ran into the corn field with Jack and within 6 rows, she was undetectable. 

They were just short enough to run through the rows without feeling the sharp edges of the corn husks.  I cannot say the same about my experience in the field.

Alex was in love with Jenny's 4 year old daughter Katie.  They ran in the fields, held hands, swung together, and loved picking flowers from Wayne's garden.

I enjoyed roaming through Wayne's plot.

 It was my first time seeing the massive scale of broccoli, cantaloupe, and zucchini.  Remember I am a virgin harvester this year.

Wayne explained to me how he designed the beds with irrigation and which bugs are affecting his harvest.  Still, he has a bounty.  And I am energized from seeing his harvest just like I am from studying other gardeners' perennial beds.


We stayed on the boat over the weekend - call it a "boatcation" if you will.  It's 50 paces from home, but you feel hundreds of miles away from daily life.

Alex finally discovered the cool little nook/cave under the V-berth pillow.  It can't be any bigger than a few square feet, but it's perfect for her. She sat under there with a flashlight and her doll Sallie and belted out "Somewhere over the Rainbow."

We made some sugary sweet treats for friends.
 RC Treats are the one treat that fits every holiday.  Just add a shape and sprinkles and voila!

Yes, they disappeared quickly. Thank God.  We ate peaches so juicy that Alex stripped down to her skivvies.

And then we paraded on the 4th.  Oh how we paraded.  Two times to be exact.

The first one was in Eastport at the first annual children's parade.  Children were encouraged to decorate and ride their bikes, but seeing that someone doesn't like to her Skuut, I opted to make a Statue of Liberty costume from 1 yard of white material and 1/2 yard of 1/2" foam.  Thank God Mom taught me to be resourceful.

More than 50 families attended, and we got to see fellow friends Nathan & Brock. The bonus: it was lead by Police escort and a fire truck!

It ended at the local playground and every child won an award.
I commend the mom's for getting a list together of each child's costume/entry, and for making sure that there were lollipops, water, and snacks for the kids.  What a treat. I can't wait to make this a tradition.


The second parade was a bit more of an old-fashionned, Anytown USA, American Pie parade in Galesville, MD.  Ben drove the Faces of Valor car, which led the event this year.

It's what you think of a patriotic parade - old cars, ponies, marching bands, large wagons pulling local families, and candy being tossed at kids. Alex loved sitting in the car waving her flag at people as we drove down the route.  She had a grin ear-to-ear.

Here's Alex at the end of the Parade.  Exhausted, but still waiving strong.
I loved watching kids sitting on the side of the road, hot and sweaty but armed with buckets - just waiting for the moment to pounce on the treats being tossed from the parade vehicles.


We ended the holiday surrounding ourselves with friends on the back lawn of the marina.  Splayed out on blankets, eating s'mores, playing corn hole, and holding littles who were waiting for fireworks.  

And when I closed my eyes I could hear the buzz of children, of excitement, of summer.  And I knew rituals were there and it was simple but oh so good.  It makes me excited for next year, but then again, I don't want to wish one day of my current summer away. Simply rejoicing and being content.

~this moment~

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. via SouleMama


Forever Neverland (a big fat post)

"I have a place where dreams are born and time is never planned. It's not on any chart; you must find it in your heart. It's Never Never Land." - Peter Pan
Months before Alex's 3rd birthday, she planted the seed for her ultimate birthday celebration.  At the time, Alex loved the story of Peter Pan - the book, the movie, the characters, the fantasy of it all.  
And my imaginative little storyteller let me know that she wanted me to invite Wendy, John, Michael, Peter, Tinkerbell, & Hook; oh and that she wanted a cake with all the characters flying overhead.  And that all she wanted for her birthday were 2 balloons and a Wendy Darling dress made by the one and only mama.  Check, check, and check.  

I fell prey like a hooked trout, and I ran away with the concept of hosting a Never Land dress up party.  I had partners in crime - Cindy and Shannon - who sent me endless number of links to Pan-related Etsy posts or became my sounding board for party details.

I had the perfect setting under the Oak tree at the marina. 

Ben helped me set up posts so that we could string up old fashioned lights.  And Mark, who happens to be Shannon's husband, routed out a large piece of barnacle-encrusted driftwood to say "Hangman's Tree."  It's as if he read my mad mind...

And to top it off, the man has mad rope-tying skills.  He hung the sign up on the big oak tree and then made a clothes line from the remaining line.  The dream into action was so much better when intermingled with a slew of sailing knots and a clothesline post made from an old wood oar.

The tables were topped with gold-toned runners, pan hats, pixie dust and dried roses.

And the food was served under the second star on the right.

There was plenty of fairy dust and pixie sticks for the crowd.

Even though details equate to a great loss in sleep, I was motivated by creating a fantasy world for the children.  
Here's my one tough Lost Boy, Nate. And one amazing fairy fantasy house for Alex.

There was a plank to walk

Yes, the plank says "Oh No!"
 a tipi with a (simulated) fire for the pow-wow

Thanks Poppy for the awesome tipi!
 a tattoo parlor

a treasure hunt filled with booty

and space for wings to flap and for swords and imaginations to swing wildly.

As for that cake…. Mama achieved giving Alex a pink cake with the characters "flying" mid-air.  It looked awesome, but oh baby, it tasted even better!

Most of all, I achieved creating a moment of Never Land for the children and giving them a space where they could be kids. 

At the last minute everyone ran for Mermaid Lagoon (aka the Marina pool), which rounded off an well-paced evening of fun, friendship, and a whole lotta sugar. 

As I placed her to bed that evening, she gave me a big hug and kiss and said in her little voice, "Oh Mama, thank you so much."  Oh baby, I can feel your gratitude.  I would do it all again, and yes, I love celebrating your life. xo

P.S. A big shout out to Cindy and to Mark for being my personal photographers.  Sorry, this mama got a bit too busy taking care of way too many details.  Love you for documenting life.