Tuesday, July 25, 2017


The cutest pup that ever was

I am an avoider. Spell-check is telling me this is not a word, but it is. Mostly, I try to evade conflict, which has proved to be both a positive and negative character trait for me.  My family and friends will tell you that I tend to look for ways to steer clear of altercations and keep the peace (coincidentally, my name means peace) alternatively though, I sometimes avoid situations that need to be addressed, so as not to cause trouble or worry.

I also loved our dog...a lot. And because I am an avoider, I have not yet truly dealt with that fact that we had to say goodbye to him last week because of a degenerative spinal issue that caused him to lose the use of his back legs. I've spoken the words only to a few people, because it feels too real to say it out loud, and because I have never had a loss just like this one, he was my first pup. As a result, I am not sure if my reaction is typical; I guess you can say I am a little self-conscious of the magnitude that this loss has had on me.

From the beginning, 11 1/2 years ago, Jason and I said we were not going to treat our dog like a human. We were not trying to judge those who treated their pets as children, but it wasn't how we were going to go about it. And for the most part...we didn't?

Here are the arguments for our case:

1. When speaking to Remy we didn't refer to ourselves as "Mom" and "Dad".  It was "Jason" and "Erin".  For example, I might say: "Remy, do you want to go for a walk with Jason and I?", and with a tilt of the head, he would answer. He would never, ever turn down a walk.

2. Remy was allowed on couches, but was not allowed to sleep on beds. Unless Jason was not home, then he was allowed to sleep on beds. He had manners though, he would always ask before jumping up by resting his chin on the couch until you told him OK.

Isn't that just the sweetest? We didn't teach him that.

3. And it's not like we took him everywhere we went. We did though, take him whenever we could. Whether it was to a mountain vacation, a sports game, a day by the pool or his all-time favorite spot, Moore State park. We wouldn't dare have gone there without him.

Remy's many adventures at Moore, including his first time sledding.  

4. We knew that since he wasn't a human, it would have been silly to teach him how to read.

Or talk on the phone.

We know dogs don't need glasses...

And we didn't make him ride in a booster seat that time, he wanted to...

5. He was as much Mitchell and Landon's dog as he was ours.

The bottom left picture is of the boys on the first day of school. Doesn't Remy look so proud?! The walk to the bus stop was one of his favorite parts of the day, he would have gotten on that bus if we let him.

6. I set out to convince you myself that we weren't treating Remy like a person. What I now realize is that I shouldn't worry so much- we treated him like family. And he was unequivocally a part of our family. He was with us everyday, knew our rhythms, sensed our emotions, loved us as much as we loved him, and it's just a really big loss for us.
I am coming to terms with the fact that he is not with us anymore, the pictures and stories have been therapeutic. I am going to continue to let myself grieve without worrying how long it takes, or if I am crying more than one should for the loss of a dog. I will know a little better what it feels like when others lose a beloved pet, and hopefully I will have a comforting word.  Lastly, since I am no longer avoiding the fact that we had to say goodbye, I can now say that I will always, always remember his sweet, loyal, adventure-seeking, cat-chasing, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky self and what a special member of our family he was. 💗      

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wishing You and Yours a Merry Christmas!

Sometime in November Jason said, "We ought to order our Christmas cards soon". The procrastinator inside of me laughed. But I politely said that oh yes, soon enough I would be getting to the Christmas cards. And then the weeks kept passing and it was mid-December and I kept thinking that I really *should* order those cards, but the timing never truly worked out (that's the nice way to say that I just didn't get it done).

Then December came and Christmas was two weeks away, so I spent one Saturday morning working on them. It honestly took all morning to edit pictures, choose a card, work on a layout, etc. When I got to checkout I was given the option of having my card looked over by a professional from the company; someone could proofread my card and look for any errors.  I laughed yet again. I'm a language teacher, after all. I once was the advisor for a school newspaper where I was the editor-in-chief.  I certainly didn't need someone to edit my Christmas card for me. 

I was ready to order, but when I went to the final stage of checkout, I saw that my cards would arrive sometime between December 21st and December 24th.  I didn't have time for that!  So I (quickly) made another card at a store that had one hour pick-up.  Perfection.
It was all coming together, even though I didn't order them in November or have them proof read by a professional. I was in the Christmas spirit for sure.

Then I picked up my cards a few hours later.  I gave them a nod of approval, I was feeling pretty spiffy. Until I looked a little closer and realized that I had just wished everyone a Merry Chritmas. I spelled "Christmas" wrong - of ALL the words! I guess I shouldn't have scoffed at the idea of having them proofread.
I thought maybe I would send them anyway, hoping no one would notice.  Or I could fix them up, I've got paper and glue sticks galore. But I didn't do either- I'm still the proud humble owner of 80 misspelled Christmas cards.

All of this to say....

We are certainly thinking of our friends and family this Christmas season, even though our card didn't reach you.  We hold you close to our hearts, especially those who have had a year of heartache.  We pray for peace for those who are hurting, and joy to fill your hearts in 2016.
Much love to all of you whom we hold dear.
XOXO Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Treetop Friends Nursery Decor

A recent visit from my cutie pie niece inspired me to post some art I made for her nursery when she was born (she's one now, I procrastinate :).

My brother and sister-in-law had registered for some Skip Hop items that were part of the Treetop Friends line. Everything was so sweet! We chose to buy the mobile like the one pictured below.


Seeing these cute little critters gave me the inspiration to paint a few canvases to go along with the theme:

I love the light pink background. While I normally use acrylic paints, this was a sample of wall paint from Lowe's that was perfect for this project (I watered it down quite a bit so that it wasn't too thick). I also used some scrap booking paper for the leaves, which added a little bit of dimension to the paintings.

They were a pleasure to paint, and even more rewarding was a trip to meet Eliza and spend time with family. We are all smitten with her, and will definitely be looking forward to more visits. In the meantime, I'm in the mood to paint some more, and nursery decor is pretty fun. So, who needs some artwork for baby?!   


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Faithful Thelma

"A mother bird sat on her egg. The egg jumped.  
'Oh oh!' said the mother bird. 
'My baby will be here! He will want to eat.  
I must get something for my baby bird to eat!' she said. 
'I will be back!' So away she went." -P.D. Eastman.

This all happened one year ago, and I've thought of it often. It's high time I tell you.

We were on our front porch when we noticed a bird was building a nest on top of one of the columns. Jason wondered if he should move the nest, to which I replied, "Of course not!" The mama bird had worked so hard on that nest.  In addition, if she had laid eggs and we moved it, she may abandon it. How could we live with that guilt over our heads? So we watched a sweet little robin as she dutifully brought twigs, dry grass and such into her nest over the next few weeks.

And then that mama, henceforth referred to as Thelma, sat. She sat and sat and sat. And we watched.
I couldn't tell if she liked our company or felt threatened by it. But then again, she chose that spot, so she must have been watching us and felt it safe to be amongst this family with a barking dog and loud, silly boys often armed with squirt guns and water balloons.

Then during porch conversations one evening, Jason stopped me mid sentence, "Sshhh. Listen!".  And we heard it: a tiny, darling, beautiful chirp. The eggs had hatched! We proceeded to listen to these little dears over the next few weeks and my bird admiration grew. I just had to see! So I stood on chairs, I climbed the porch railings, I grabbed the ladder- camera in hand. Neighbors would drive past and I would wave sheepishly, wondering if I was now referred to as "the bird lady". But it paid off.  Before long, look who started poking their little beaks up.
Their meek chirps quickly turned into desperate cries. They became very demanding, these little ones. They were constantly hungry.
Thelma, was a busy little lady! The majority of her day was spent flying around the neighborhood in search of worms. As soon as she brought one, she would fly off to find another. In the meantime, the birds would practically fall out of the nest in their pleas for more.
Our bird watching continued. We were homeschooling for kindergarten at the time and this was by far, the best science lesson of the year.

I found myself worrying about Thelma, it seemed like she never got any rest. I worried about the babies, too. During this time our house was on the market, and one of the tasks on our to-do list was to have the house power washed. I scheduled the appointment, thinking nothing of it until a quiet moment. I awoke from a deep sleep (if I'm being honest, it was probably a nap), realizing that the birds would not fare well if they were hit with a blast from the power washer. The pressure of those machines can be extremely strong and they're really loud. I wanted to cancel the appointment, but I was talked out of doing so. The dreaded morning came and the workers had not even finished walking up the driveway when I yelled, "We have birds!" I showed them the nest, explained how fragile the birds were, and kindly asked that they worked around that area of the porch. Then I casually asked if they had heard about The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which made it illegal to harm or tamper with many bird species, robins included. I informed them that the penalty for doing so can be a fine of up to $500, or 6 months in jail. They smiled nervously and assured me that they would not wash away the birds. While we were out that day, I worried about them terribly; I had a pit in my stomach thinking about their ordeal. I can't even imagine what Thelma was going through, wondering what that awful noise was, and not being able to reach her babies or to feed them. What if she was too frightened to return? Thank goodness though, the power washing ended, all the birds were spared and that faithful mama was back at her worm business before long. 

The birds continued to grow, just look how big they got!
I was perfectly content to go on watching these little ones and their mama and then one day, One Day, we were on the porch and I noticed one of the birds looking brave. He peered over the edge of the nest, looked down, looked up- and flew. He flew! Right out of the nest and away. Then the others, I could see their apprehensive determination until one by one they flew away out of the nest never looking back. I could. not. believe. that the boys and I had witnessed this. It hadn't even crossed my mind that we might see them fly away from the nest. 

Immediately I thought of Thelma, I'm not even sure where she was at the time. Did she see them? She must have known it was coming. Surely, she would feel a hint of sadness upon their departure, but how PROUD she must have been.  The whole occurence was amazing.  As I reflected upon it, I wondered if I would ever experience anything like it again. And then I realized, of course I will.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Places and Spaces

There's a few places and spaces in our house that I especially like.  Little areas that I pass by everyday, and they make me smile- every time. Can I show them to you?
This is a little catch all table that we have by our back door. The table was from my mom and the mirror above, my sister (the most fruitful places to shop furniture for our house have been in my family's basements and garages). The wood cabinet with the pottery drawers is from Pier 1, it was a Christmas gift from my husband the first year we were married. When I opened it I knew I had married the right man, it's exactly my style; I love the colorful mismatched paintings on the drawers. It's functional, too- it holds our keys, chap-stick, gum, and other miscellaneous items. And on the shelf below are my favorite cook books and mixing bowls (one cookbook was a wedding gift, and another I won on a blog give away. I actually won a blog give away once!). They are there for easy access, and for me to admire. Oh and that little bird? A sweet gift that flew all the way from San Francisco with a dear friend. I just love this little space.
This singer sewing machine stand has been in our family since before I was born. Growing up, it was where our television sat. Since TV's seem to have quadrupled in size it can no longer serve that purpose, but it's perfect for this little space at the top of our stairs. There's a dragon tree plant that my sister bought us when we moved in our house, whose spiky green leaves are always catching my attention. Also, there is one of my favorite family pics taken on Cape Cod. And do you see that beautiful canvas photograph? That was taken by some sweet friends while on their honeymoon in Hawaii. It was thank you gift, how beautiful is that?
Lastly, this plate wall. The fist time I saw a plate wall, I knew there was one in my destiny. Some of the plates I've had for years; the small teal one with the gold rim was my great-grandmothers and the first plate I owned that I knew would someday be a decoration.  I'm not sure if you can see her, but little orphan Annie is up there too. That was my all-time favorite movie growing up. You know, the one you watched enough times that you could press mute and the say every character's line in the whole movie? I found the plate in a thrift store in Florida while on a girls weekend with my sister and aunts. There's also a plate with the Finnish Church of Worcester on it. I've never been there, but it reminded me of how proud my grandmother was of our Finnish heritage, anything reminding me of her Sisu has a place in my home. I must admit though, not every plate has a special meaning. A few of them I found in the clearance aisle at HomeGoods right after the dreaded, "Good evening shoppers, the time is now 8:45 and the store will be"- you know the rest. I ran through the aisle, grabbing a few plates as I passed, lucky to not have dropped them in my they're-going-to-kick-me-out-again frenzy. And before I move on, how can I not mention that succulent arrangement on the round table? So well behaved, charming, and a gift from some special friends.

When I began writing this post, I thought these spaces were some of my favorites because, to me, they are aesthetically pleasing. And while they certainly reflect my decorating style, I've realized it's so much MORE than that. So many of these items are personal, they tell a story. That's really what it is, when I walk by these spots I'm reminded of some of the special people in my life that make me feel both loved and lucky everyday.

Do you have any favorite spaces in your home? No really, I want to know!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Painted Hutch

Can you believe I tried to give this away?!

First I posted it on Craigslist, and when I didn't get any bites I offered it to a few friends, none of whom had a spot for it. So we proceeded to move up the coast, and took this humble piece of furniture with us where it landed a spot...in the basement. Upon setting up the living room, we mounted our TV to the wall and the stand we had previously been using was too low to go underneath (and it was also kind of falling apart so I was happy to say adieu). We needed something of medium height that preferably had some storage inside, so I started shopping around, until I realized the solution was sitting...in the basement!

I  immediately apologized to my former hutch for being so insensitive, and then I gave it a makeover.

There are a whole lot of great furniture painting tutorials floating around, I glanced at few myself to paint this bad boy. But, here is a quick run down of the process:

-remove doors and hardware
-lightly sand

-apply two coats of primer (I used a small roller for this part which was helpful in getting the primer to "stick")

-paint away! I made the mistake of buying cheap paint for this project. As a result I ended up having to do three coats of paint, and I've already had some chipping. Next time, I'll get a higher quality paint. Also of note, I was given the advice to lightly sand between each coat of paint. This allowed for the smoothest finish possible (I did not sand after the final coat).

This project was not difficult, but it was time consuming. Allowing each coat to dry, and cleaning the brushes properly each time (meanwhile unpacking, organizing, settling into a new routine, and making sure my family was fed) caused this project to take a good week.

It was worth it though.  I don't think I'll ever try to give it away again, or sell it for that matter. And you wouldn't believe how many toys, games and legos are hiding inside!

P.S. I know, I know, one of the drawer pulls is upside down. I didn't notice that until recently. I'll let you guess if I'm the type that won't be able to relax until it's fixed, or if I'll get to it someday, maybe...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Day To-Do List

Last week, I divulged all some of my qualms with winter. In true New England fashion, yesterday we were hit with a storm that brought 10 (more) inches of snow. School was canceled before the snow even began, as the storm was inevitable.  Also of note, my husband was traveling for work and was scheduled to fly back yesterday (it was pretty obvious to us that his flight would be canceled).

I thought about sitting around in my PJ's all day doing nothing, and then I remembered my New Year's resolution: do more! As of late I've been a little bit of a time waster. For example, I'll click on the Yahoo news app and see a headline such as, "Loch Ness Monster Sighted off the Coast of Alaska" or "Snake Born With Two Heads", and I'm hooked. Or I'll read a Facebook post about the tuna sandwich that a friend's sister's cousin had for lunch, and I think "Who is this person, again?".  So today, I vowed not to waste time and I wrote a snow day to-do list:
And I'm happy to report between the boys and myself, we checked off most everything on the list.

                  We conducted some science experiments.
We ate things like this:
We made a sweet heart garland.
(tutorial courtesy of Stars & Sunshine)
And went out for a night ride.

Mitchell loved riding on this little snowboard. After a few rides down the hill he exclaimed, "I'm only six and I've already realized my dream!". On the to-do list for tomorrow: research snowboarding lessons.

And then, I found out that not only was JD's flight for yesterday canceled, but today's was canceled as well. This in and of itself is not a huge problem, but, Landon turns five tomorow. Wait, did I just say our little man turns five tomorrow!? Commence tears.

So naturally, Jay decided to hop in a rental car and follow the nor'easter up the coast so that he would, in fact, make it home last night. When he told me he was doing this, the snow was coming down (fast) and the winds were angry. I know, however, that he is a very competent driver and that there was no way he would miss his son's 5th birthday. He's awesome like that.

As he was driving through the storm, I realized that our road had been plowed, but our driveway had not. I bundled up, put on the outside lights (clock said 9 PM) and shoveled out a spot for his car. This wasn't actually too bad, but the berm was at least 2 feet high (don't worry, I had never heard that word either. It's the ledge of snow at the end of the driveway caused by a snow plow). And this proved to be tricky business.
I can't complain though, because after a short night's sleep, Jay woke up to go shovel the entire driveway (we have a looong driveway and the snow blower wasn't working). He continues to impress me every day, I hope he'll be my Valentine ;).

I can't promise every snow day will be productive as this one. But writing down my goals for the day proves to be useful for me, so I see more snow day to-do lists in my future. Take that, winter.