Friday, November 07, 2014

Some Thoughts on 40

I am 40 years old today.

A year ago, I planned to give myself the opportunity to completely freak out about this day.  A year ago, when Robb was out of a job and I was working 16 hours a day to do craft shows to keep us afloat. But that freak-out hardly seems necessary.  I expected to feel like a door was closing behind me at 40, with things that I still wanted to do stuck back there. But with the arrival of the new year, Robb's new job, my red hair and a positive pregnancy test, it seemed that any illusion of my age limiting me completely evaporated.

And I can say pretty confidently that I didn't waste any of my 30s, so no regrets there.

I book-ended the decade with babies.  I suppose it would have been easier on my body to have had the biological baby at the beginning of the decade and adopted at the end, but truly, this was the right path overall. When I think of how much I learned and changed because of Charleigh, how much social awareness she brought to my life, I am so thankful.

In between, those bookends, we started a church.  Which has a similar rate of success with starting a restaurant.  Only it brings in the little element of your soul and spirit and you big thing.

We travelled to places I'd never been:  To Arkansas. Florida. Canada.  San Francisco.  I love traveling and each of the places we went was a gift that can never be taken away from me.

I always loved old things. I always bought old things. But it was in my 30s that I found my groove as a redeemer of old things.  Those simple tile nippers that Robb got me for Mother's Day one year turned into a hobby and then a passion and then a business.  I know now that as a creative, there are no limits and so I can bring my work to the forefront when I need to and even better, I can push it backward in line of priority and focus on more pressing people.

In this past 10 years, I have finally learned how to be with people.  I learned how to really love my husband and my kids. I didn't really know how to do that before.  Sure I had warm feelings toward them and cared for them.  But I had never learned how to dig deep, acknowledge who they really are and who I really am and accept both those things, no matter how it looked.  And that's also how friendship became so much more.  I didn't know how to be a friend in my teens and 20s.  I was too self conscious and too independent.  I didn't know how great it was to just be myself and enjoy other people being themselves, no matter how different they are from me. I'm better at asking for help and I'm also better at taking care of myself. Not in a selfish "me-first" kind of way, but in the healthy "I want to have something to offer my family and my friends, so I'm going to take care of my body and soul" kind of way.  I'll never be perfect at any of those things, but I am not nearly as interested in being perfect anymore.

All that to say, I rocked my 30s.  I'm proud of that decade.  And now I'm looking forward:  in the next ten years, I want to do a good job of loving people...the people I live with, the people I live near, and the people that live far away.  I want to be as healthy as I can be.  I want to be creative more than busy.  I want to be generous more than guarded.  And I want to have fun more than scheduled.   I want to run more 5k's, keep working on myself in therapy, overcome my fear of empty canvases, and generally do things that make the world a better place.  At the end of this decade, I have ten year old. At the end of the next decade I will also have a ten year old.  That much will be the same. I wonder what will be different?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"What's life without Whimsy?"

Even though around week 40.5 of my pregnancy, I began to doubt her actual existence, our little girl did finally arrive on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 6:03 in the morning.  And then it was finally time to share her name with everyone...from the Grandmas to the waitress at Grubbs...who has been wondering what W stood for.

Months ago, when we found out we were having a girl, we began the arduous task of trying to find a name. When your other kids are big, though, they have interacted with a lot more people than the typical family of little kids, and therefore, have many more opinions.  Throw in
-an enormous extended family that so far, has only a small amount of overlap in monikers,
-at least three past churches of perfectly good hipster names that are back in style (c'mon...old lady names are adorable!)
-and then just basic preferences
and let me tell you, we had searched every website, and read every page of our old stand-by baby-name book that had been good enough to name an entire generation of my siblings and cousins, and then some.

So when Robb announced rather boldly that he had it, I was dubious.  I should have remembered how confident I was when I stumbled across "Charleigh" a decade ago.  When it fits, it just fits.  I was a bit skeptical, but I was comfortable enough to roll it around a bit.  Charleigh liked it immediately. Vin paused, thought about it and then decided he was all in. Mattie mulled it over night, and pronounced her support in the morning.  I was afraid it was too old lady at first.  One night, Robb - who is terribly prone to talk in his sleep - cautioned me while I attempted to roll my big bell over in bed..."Please don't squish my Whimsy-baby."  Hearing his protective concern, especially in his sleep, made me realize how real she was to him already. I realized in that drowsy moment that Whimsy was her name, no matter what.

Frankly, is there any better way to tell everyone how we feel about this little post-script?  She's no accident. No frustrating back-track down a missed turn.  She's a scenic little drive down a pretty little side road that most people choose to avoid because it's not the most direct route.  We are just soaking in the joy of the journey.

And for her middle name, we rolled around some other options, but it was important that she have a family name, like the other kids have.  As the months passed by, certain events stood out as important moments in the bigger story of our lives and her middle name became an obvious choice.  And so we named her Whimsy Catherine after

- Robb's sister Cathy who came with Megan for the baby shower back in July. September 15th marked 5 years since her husband Kevin left us all missing him and his giant, kid-loving heart. If our Whimsy has half the wit, strength, brilliance or hilarity of her Aunt Cathy, she will be a sparkly human indeed.

- Our friends Sara and Carl's precious baby Katherine, born sleeping just a few weeks before our daughter.  She is always in our hearts. I still don't have words to express much else about this.

- My dear Aunt Cathy, my mother's sister.  Just weeks before Whimsy was born, her youngest daughter, just 25 years old, passed away from a vicious cancer. Tessa was the youngest of the cousins and was quite simply the sweetest human being any of us will ever know.  She was like a warm, simple candle that welcomed you wherever you were coming from.  It broke my heart to think of her loss as she was one of the babies who bounced on my hip at family gatherings like Aunt Cathy bounced me on hers. This lovely ribbon of care has been cut and I ache for my aunt, the whole family and for myself.

- My dear, dear, dear friend, Kathy Freeman.  It's not enough to say that she was present at Whimsy's birth. She's been tangled up in the life of the Ryerse family for 8 years now and when Robb asked me what role I wanted her to play, I said, "I want Kathy to be the hostess of our birth."  And that is what she did.  She arrived in the room with only the energy she has at 5:30 am, and started applying hot, wet towels to my labor-weary back.  She cheered me on when I was sure I couldn't go on without pain medicine and she gave me the empowerment I needed to go ahead and push before anyone else realized how ready I was.  And then, when Whimsy arrived, she did her amazing actual job of being a lactation consultant, which is to help babies and mamas learn to nurse. Women all over this town take one look at Kathy and say, "You!  You were the one that helped me!"  To top it all off, she then went to pick up my other kids, and came back with coffee, breakfast, and a bowl of beautiful fruit.  If you don't have a Kathy in your life, you need one. Immediately.

These are the stories of her names. She represents so many things. Her smiles and her tears express our joy and our grief and our very lives.  Truly, what's life without Whimsy Catherine?


Friday, August 29, 2014

Master Closet turned Tiny Nursery

Our master closet has been anything but a master closet since we moved in almost 5 years ago. It has held Robb's books and tried to be an office. Then it held all my dishes and tried to be a studio.  Then it became the perfect hiding spot to hold all the vintage items in my Etsy shop, The Classic Butterfly. Finally, it has become a tiny space to hold our new tiny human. Situated just off our master bathroom and across the hall from the laundry room, I am happy to have her little room close by and not banished to the upstairs where the three bigs battle for the conch and sole posession of the bathroom.

I love how much love and care has gone into making her room ready, not just from us, but from our dear friends, family and community.  From the hard labor of cutting the door to the soft sweet things for her to wear, she already has a little village of people who love her.

Before: mosaic studio
before: vintage storage

during: removed shelves
during: cut a new door and walled off the old entrance

New door, new gray paint, new light fixture

After: accent wall, shelves, furniture
Dresser : The Velvet Otter Changing pad cover: Land of Nod via Gingiber herself!

We opted for a mini crib: or as they call them in Europe, a crib.

Rocking Chair from an antique store in Prairie Grove

Sheep pillow via Land of Nod, Gingiber design  with some other Etsy finds!

This gorgeous mobile was a gift from the wonderful Kara of  Arch + Craft

A little vintage reading card from Vintage Market Days

Amazing board books from Nightbird Books
And let's not forget, our stash of cloth diapers from Terra Tots!
And finally, this mobile I made of our family: It plays "You are my sunshine."