I’m “THAT” Mom

“Don’t be THAT mom.”

This phrase haunts me. I feel ashamed that I’ve said it; and I would be willing to bet there’s not a woman reading this who hasn’t said this to a mama and meant it to be sage wisdom.

I’ve been thinking on this phrase for months, after a dear friend and dedicated mama came to visit with her family. Her sweet almost-one-year-old often has trouble falling asleep; so to help her, they walk her in the stroller or take her on a drive. One night her husband loaded their baby in the car for a goodnight drive and she looked at me and said, “I was never going to be that mom.” And my heart felt so sad. This woman is THAT mom who doesn’t want her baby crying in her crib for hours. This woman is THAT mom who pumps 5 times a day in order to feed her baby nutritious, immunity-building breast milk for the first year of her life. This woman is THAT mom who loves her baby. I learned so much about being a mom from my friend that weekend.

Before becoming a mom, I said I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who takes her baby on a drive to help them fall asleep. Guess IMG_0191what? I’ve done this when Grace refuses her nap for 1.5 hours and I am about to pull my hair out.

I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who shamelessly breastfeeds her baby in public. Guess what? I refuse to cover my daughter’s head in public because her eating offends you. Guess what? It shouldn’t be the social norm that I need to leave a conversation or a social situation because my child needs to eat.

I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who babywears because their child doesn’t like to be put down. I’ve vacuumed the whole house with Grace in the carrier because she would not stop crying. Guess what? I love baby wearing. And Grace loves to be carried. So it’s a win-win.

I wasn’t going to be THAT mom who lets her baby sleep in her bed. Guess what? Grace sleeps in our bed [part of the night]! Oh the horror! And I bet you would be surprised at the number of people who bed share but keep it a family secret. And for those of you concerned: No I’m not afraid we’ll crush her. And guess what? I have been getting a full night’s sleep since 2 months. Sleep regression? What is that??

And just because Chris and I have chosen this parenting style for our family does not mean we think it’s for everyone. Because every baby is different, every mom is different and every family is different.

No 16 year-old is going to need dad to drive them around the block to fall asleep. No 18 year-old will want mom to carry them everywhere (and I think my back hurts NOW). No 20 year-old will want to share mom and dad’s bed. Every stage is a temporary season which brings new challenges, new joys and new judgements.

We should love THAT mom who is struggling with a nap schedule and exhausted from driving around town 3 times a day for hours. We should encourage THAT mom who is having anxiety about leaving her child for the first time. We should be patient with THAT mom who calls the pediatrician for every sneeze. And we should support THAT mom who doesn’t want to let her baby cry it out.

I’m THAT mom. The one you’ve warned other moms not to be. The one I’ve warned other moms not to be.

And I’m a damn good one.

 

 

 

Lovin on New Mamas

After having a baby myself, I learned the true needs and desires of a new mom. First, mom doesn’t want you to show up for a visit empty-handed. Second, once the baby has arrived it’s likely she has everything (plus some) she needs for the baby; so don’t show up with 100 outfits. Third, she wants to hold her baby and she has every right to; so unless she has the “I have to go to the bathroom, please hold my baby look,” don’t swoop in for the hold.

I have been guilty of all of the above. And if you’ve done any of these things, mom likely understands and appreciates your love, presence and support – even though it may not have been in the way she’d have preferred.

Sophie

My beautiful niece, Sophia Anne

On September 6 I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl named Sophia Anne. And while I am so full of joy over her arrival, she lives in another country and I will not be able to see or hold her for months. Also, I’ll not be able to love on my sister-in-law and make her dinner, clean her bathrooms or walk up and down the street with a screaming child so she can nap. All things my sister did for me.

My in-laws took a short trip to England to help with the new baby and to help my sister-in-law, and since I could not go I opted to send a new mommy survival kit. These are all items I wish I would have been gifted after baby Grace’s arrival. Because honestly… mom needs love, too.

This survival kit revolves around my life’s mantra – Ain’t nobody got time for that. Because new moms don’t have time for ANYTHING except holding their baby, feeding their baby and having an emotional breakdown.

TIMG_0167his kit included:

  • granola bars
  • gum
  • face wipes
  • tinted chap stick
  • nursing tanks
  • Mother’s Milk tea
  • a book

Here is a download of the content I used for each of the tags. You can modify, as needed. I should also mention the gift included a hilarious card that asks, “How’s your va-jay-jay?”

Hopefully this will give you an idea of how you can love on new moms and not just on their babies. Flowers for mom is also a lovely gift!

Beet Greens. It’s What’s For Dinner.

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My adorable sous-chef

This is our first year with a vegetable garden. Some crops thrived while others did little-to-nothing. Beets, thankfully, thrived. Beets were something I ate often as a child but wasn’t introduced to eating the greens until recently. They are peppery, delicious and good raw or cooked.

With an abundance of beet greens in the house and little of anything else, I pulled together this super simple and healthy dinner. I supposed you could substitute the beets greens for another leafy green if needed.

Happy cooking!

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Beet Green Pasta

  • 10 oz pasta, cooked according to the package
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 2-4 garlic cloves (depending on how garlicy you want it)
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 cups beet greens, coarsely chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

In a larger skillet add a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Cook red onion for 7-10 minutes. Grate garlic into the skillet, add the salt and pepper to taste and cook for 1 minute. Add currants, cook for another minute. Add beet greens and saute until wilted.

Add pasta to the skillet and mix together. Add a little more olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.

Carrot Cake… for Breakfast?

I mean, who doesn’t love carrot cake? And who doesn’t love cookies? And who doesn’t love to eat cake and cookies for breakfast?? IMG_0095If you answered no to any of these questions, just stop reading.

Actually, I have a confession to make. I got mad one time at Chris for eating cake for breakfast.

I also got mad at Chris because Grace and I started to make these cookies – only to find that he took the entire jar of applesauce for his lunch. Very frustrating. So we finished making them a couple days later after Grace had a major meltdown. I like to bake cookies when I have a meltdown, and it seem so does she.

This recipe is from the blog Oh She Glows and it’s one of my favorite! They are delicious, filling and easy to grab and go. Also, they are SO good you wouldn’t have any idea how healthy they are.

In case you care about such things, they are vegan and absent of processed sugar!

Oh Mega Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies

Yield: 13 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 cup lightly packed shredded carrots (use finest grate)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (other liquid sweeteners should work)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

 

1. Preheat the oven to 325F and toast the pecans for 10-11 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the batter. In a large bowl, mix together the flax, flour, oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and raisins.

2. Grate the carrots and ginger using the finest grate. In a smaller bowl, melt the coconut oil in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds. You want the oil hot so it doesn’t clump up when adding the cold wet ingredients. Now add in the maple syrup, carrots, applesauce, grated ginger, and vanilla. Stir well.

3. Remove pecans from the oven and add to the dry ingredients. Increase oven temp to 350F. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well. The dough will be very sticky, so not to worry.

4. With a spoon, scoop about 13 cookies onto a lined baking sheet. They don’t spread much so you can put them an inch apart. Bake for 14-15 minutes at 350F and allow to cool on baking sheet.

Nutritional info (Per cookie, makes 13 cookies): 186 kcals, 9 grams fat, 24 grams carbs, 5 grams fibre, 10 grams sugar, 4 grams protein. You also get 620 mg Omega-6 and 31 mg Omega-3 fatty acids per cookie thanks to all the flax!

 

 

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

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My adorable sous-chef

My life’s motto: Ain’t nobody got time for time. I say it at least once a day. Makeup? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Washing the baby poop from under my fingernails? Ain’t no body got time for that. Making dinner? Ain’t no body got time for that.

I used to be a strict recipe follower. I would never deviate from instructions until after I made the recipe at least once to see how I might make it better. Now… I seriously don’t have time to follow a recipe. Instead, I read recipes and use them as a blueprint for making something easy and fast.

This soup was the first thing I made after Grace was born. I couldn’t believe she sat in her seat long enough for me to make it. Granted – by the time it was done she was screaming her head off – but the soup was completed. Here’s the recipe I used as a blueprint. In case you care about such things, the blueprint recipe and my recipe are gluten free and dairy free.

Chicken Sausage, Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup

1 lb. Chicken SausageIMG_0077

Olive Oil

1 Medium Red Onion, diced

1 Medium Sweet potato, diced

2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

3/4 cup Salsa Verde

2 cups Chicken Broth

2 cans Great Northern Beans

Juice from 1/2 a lime

Cilantro

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat some olive oil and cook chicken sausage. When it’s about half way finished add the red onion. Cook until chicken is completely done. Stir in sweet potatoes and garlic. Then add salsa verde, chicken broth and great northern beans. Bring to boil them simmer for about 20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are done. Remove from heat and stir in the juice of half a lime.

Serve with cilantro sprinkled on top – and avocado, if you’d like!

PS – I promise I will learn to take better food pictures. I bet taking them during the day would help. But ain’t nobody got time for that.

Our Daughter’s Unique, Special and Adorable Ear

A month ago I was in the post office with Grace. There were two sweet little boys and their dad; and as all children are, they were very interested in Grace. After asking a million questions about her, the older of the two turned to his dad and said, “look at her little ear.” The dad, completely mortified, tried to shovel his sons comment under the rug and hoped I didn’t hear. I tookIMG_9604 the opportunity to show off my daughter’s incredibly unique, special and adorable little ear to the first person who ever commented on it.

Grace was born with Microtia and mostly likely Atresia. Here’s a formal definition taken from The Ear Community:

Microtia is a congenital deformity affecting the outer ear (pinna) where the ear does not fully develop during the first trimester of pregnancy. A Microtia ear is often smaller in size, can have a peanut shaped appearance, only have a small nub or lobe present, or be completely absent at birth.

Atresia (also known as aural atresia) is the absence or closure of the external auditory ear canal.

We had no idea of this until Grace was born, and we’ve been learning more and more about what this will mean for our daughter and our family. Often times, Microtia is accompanied by other things – including kidney problems or nerve problems in the face. She, thankfully, seemly has no other “issues” accompanied with her little ear.

Grace recently had an extensive hearing test called an ABR. This ABR test determined that she has excellent hearing in her normal ear and a moderate hearing loss on her little ear. While she has no ear canal that we know of, she can still have a hearing aid  on a headband that will vibrate on the bone behind her ear. Don’t ask me how it works, because I haven’t gotten that far in my research. Grace will get one of these in a month.

IMG_9857The reason I write about this is most people notice her ear, but don’t ask. I wouldn’t ask either, to be fair. So for those of you who’ve met Grace but are afraid to ask – it’s Microtia.

A sweet friend asked me how I felt about it… if I was upset that she had this. And the honest answer is yes. Yes, I’m upset that my child isn’t “perfect” (as if there’s such a thing). I’m upset that she has to grow up with a small ear and answer to stupid people who will make fun of her. I’m upset that she could potentially be behind her peers in speech. I’m upset that she needs a hearing aid. And I’m selfishly upset that I have to pay for all the doctors and equipment that will help Grace live a “normal” life.

Why couldn’t this happen to a family with excellent insurance? A family who didn’t have to pay a sick amount out-of-pocket for these doctors and hearing aids? [On a small side note...I'd love to smack those people who complain about paying a co-pay. Or who complain about paying whopping $1000 to have their child delivered at the hospital. Boohoo. I digress...]

Grace could have something much, much worse then a small ear. She’s beautiful and healthy with a blooming personality. She doesn’t have a life-threatening illness, nor a sickness where she will need to pump medicine into her body daily. She will live a normal, comfortable, blessed life (well, at least that’s the hope). So while it’s normal to feel disappointed about her small ear and feel frustrated that all my friends have babies with normal and perfect ears… I love my daughter’s unique, special and adorable ear. And Chris and I hope we can teach her to love it, too.

Reflections on Motherhood: Two Months and Counting

I feel as though I needed to write this post to assure you all that I am still alive. And Grace is still alive. And Chris is still alive. We are all living – running solely on coffee and love. Mostly coffee.

Two months have passed and things have gotten better. Not easier… but certainly better. Not sure if Grace is crying less/hating her life less; or if I am getting used to her misery and tuning it out. I think it’s a little of both. After months of trying to figure out why my child is so miserable, I believe I’ve finally thrown my hands in the air and accepted that this is just how it is. Don’t even try to make a suggestion on how to fix it. Because I’ve tried it. Out efforts include:

  • Colic Drops (Probiotics)
  • Happy Tummy heat pad
  • Giving up dairy
  • Giving up about EVERTHING in my diet
  • Bouncing on the yoga ball
  • Car rides
  • Football hold
  • Gripe water
  • Gas drops
  • The womb app
  • The swing
  • The mamaroo
  • Doing bicycles with her legs
  • Chiropractor (for the record I’m convinced this is the only thing that makes a consistent difference)

It would be unfair to say she cries all the time. I am counting my blessings where they come. She is a great sleeper – particularly at night. Also, she’s started smiling and cooing. And while it sounds incredibly cliche, this all gracemakes the misery worth it. My shirts are covered in leaking breast milk, my arms and hands are consistently soaked with drool and there’s poop under my finger nails (because who has time to wash their hands)… but it’s really worth it.

In just the last week we started putting her in the crib to nap. Previously she was napping in a wrap while we wore her, or in our arms. I cried when she took her first nap in the crib and felt completely morbid because I thought her silence must have meant she died. I’ve also started putting her to bed on her own before us. She goes down between 8:30 and 9:30. And it’s glorious. Seriously. I have time to write this blog post.

And while I now have a little bit of time to myself in the evening and several hours during the day while she’s napping – motherhood is still hard. I’m currently on a diet where I eat only meat, beans, vegetables and fruit. I am hangry all the time. I’m freaking starving. I can’t go out to eat. I can’t go to anyone’s house to eat. I spend a small fortune at the grocery store on flax milk and quinoa pasta. The worst part is – I’m not convinced it’s doing anything. I will be having a heart-to-heart with the pediatrician next week about this. I cannot live this way.

Phew! Now to positives. Grace is so stinking cute. She’s growing and learning every day. She’s laughing, “talking”, trying to imitate my hand movements, kissing (with her mouth wide open) and bringing me incredible joy. I feel as though my greatest success as a mom is our great breastfeeding relationship. She’s a great eater and I love feeding her. In my next life I want to be a lactation consultant and empower women to breastfeed for the health of babies and the incredible bonding it ensues.

We’ve also been surrounded by incredibly loving, caring and supportive people. People that we are proud to surround our daughter with. To help us love her, pray for her and teach her. It takes a village, and we have an amazing village. Right now, these people are mostly loving on us, encouraging us and praying for us, but we know that it will translate into raising a beautiful, loved, woman of God. And this is the true desire of our hearts.

So again, we’re still alive. I could not believe the amazing outpouring of encouragement I received from my last post. The amount of women – some who I know and many who I don’t – who shared that my experience was also there’s gave me great hope and encouragement.

Hopefully I will get back to crafting and cooking soon and will post something other than an update on motherhood.

The First Four Weeks of Motherhood – Is This Real Life?

Damn. This is hard. Everyone tells expecting mothers (often in a taunting or demeaning manner) that motherhood is the hardest thing they’ll ever do. And sure, I understood it would be hard. But, damn… this is hard.

I consider the first four weeks of motherhood successful because Grace is still alive. And that’s the ultimate goal right? To keep this totally dependent new life alive. Here’s how I am measuring the first four weeks:

  • 4 emotional breakdowns
  • Over 400 tucks
  • Over 100 pads/panty liners
  • 10 depends
  • 16 pounds of epsom salt
  • Hundreds of diapers (who can count?)
  • 7 packages of wipes
  • Too few hours of sleep
  • Close to 300 times of whipping out the breastarants for feedings

The final round of family left this past Wednesday, and if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would have eaten, slept or showered over the last four weeks. Let me tell you what mamahood is like…

Time is no longer a reality. I have zero concept of day, night, Monday or Friday. It doesn’t matter. The only reason to keep track is I have an occasional doctors appointment.

Grace doesn’t like to be put down so I’m still trying to master a one-handed life style. And for those of you reading this that roll IMG_9626your eyes and think I’m spoiling my four-week-old rotten because I’m not letting her “cry it out”… let me drop some knowledge on you… It’s impossible to spoil a four-week-old. Talk to any decent pediatrician and they’ll back me up.  Anyway, back to my one-handed lifestyle – I can’t put her down while I heat up dinner (because making dinner is no longer a reality), or eat dinner. So her clothes are covered in food that I drip all over her. And showering? Only on days when Chris goes into work at 2pm do I shower. And makeup? HA!

I still have yet to recover 100%, so I spend most of my days sitting. Primarily on the couch, but occasionally outside. I’m fairly tired of sitting and can’t wait to walk and run again. Just when I think I could maybe walk about the block, I bounce Grace  around the house to pull her out of a freakout moment and I’m sore again. Ugh.

My house looks like a bomb went off. Seriously. My family cleaned multiple times when they were here and it was wonderful. But now that they’re gone… it’s a disaster. You can’t clean with one hand very well. Also, I said I would never let my house be overtaken with kid crap. Well, I now have receiving blankets strewn across the living room, a play mat, a napper and a swing. I bite my tongue.

IMG_9748Grace hates taking baths. This makes me very sad because I thought this would be one of my favorite things as a mom. But instead, her screaming is mind-numbing, she moves around so much I fear she will drown and she craps in her towel EVERY TIME we take her out.

A few other highlights from the first four weeks – I had an emotional breakdown to a total stranger who came to drop off dinner for our family. I went to bed in the clothes I wore during the day on Wednesday because I was afraid to get out of bed and put Grace down to put my PJ’s on, for fear that I would awaken the beast. No one has seen Grace in my favorite outfit yet because every time she’s in it she craps out of her diaper and up her back before we can leave the house.

So I’m making it seem like I hate motherhood… but this is not the case. I love Grace. And I love being her mom. I have spent most of my days since Grace sitting on the couch, feeding her and staring at her. You would think this would cause time to stand still, but when the sun goes down each day I can’t believe another day has passed. Each day passes and she’s one day older, it’s one day closer to when I have to go back to work and one day closer to when she won’t want me to hold her all the time anymore. And as easy as it is to be frustrated that my hygiene has gone down the tubes, that I have no time to bake or cook, that my house is a mess and that I’m so sleep deprived that I can’t see straight… I am cherishing these moments when my daughter needs me and wants me. Because one day neither will be the case and I’ll look back on this time fondly.

 

My [Unplanned] Birth Story

Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, maybe you should reconsider reading this. Unless, of course, you want to hear a less-than-perfect birth story to fuel your fear of labor. Then, by all means, read on.

Grace Aline came into the world on April 1 at 10:05 am. She was 6 lbs 12 oz, 20 inches long and literally the most beautiful IMG_9565thing I have ever seen – though I could be biased because I made her. This entrance, however, was not easy on either of us.

March 31 at 4:30 am I had my first contraction. I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing contractions until a few hours in when I Googled “what does a contraction feel like.” Let me tell you what it feels like – the worst menstrual cramp of your life + someone is wringing out your uterus like a wet dish towel. Throughout the day I worked, rested, drank electrolytes and baked brownies, and by 5:30 pm I was no longer able to focus on much of anything. All the while Chris was counting my contractions on his contraction counting phone app and waiting for 3-1-1 (contractions 3 mins long, 1 min apart for 1 hour). This is when we were to call the midwife.

The contractions were never this close, but my water broke at 1:30 am, while I was on the couch. I ran to the bathroom like a raving lunatic screaming that the amniotic fluid is everywhere! Chris assured me that it was not everywhere – just all over me – and called the midwife. We decided to go to the birthing center at this time – to which I rode in the passengers seat backwards, on my knees, hugging the seat and writhing in pain. Very illegal – in case you were wondering. Upon arrival at the birthing center I remember very little except that I was 9 cm dilated. So I thought – Yeah! I’m going to push out a baby in less than an hour! HA! What false expectations. Two hours of pushing later there was no baby, really not even any progress and meconium on the bed.

IMG_9569What I also remember at the birthing center was the loving support of the midwife, Chance, and the nurse who was coaching me, breathing with me and speaking words of encouragement – even when I said I couldn’t do it. The midwife shift change happened just as the meconium was discovered and my favorite midwife, Laura, was the new midwife and encouraged us to consider a transfer for Grace’s safety. So off to the hospital we went (I should mention the hospital is across the street). Chris drove, Laura was in the passengers seat (with three pairs of my underwear that Chris threw in the car in a state of panic) and I was in the back seat on all fours with my head in the car seat screaming. It’s actually fairly hilarious when I think back on it.

At the hospital I was blessed with the most amazing labor and delivery nurse – Yarka. Additionally, my blessings kept coming with an incredible Doula and friend, Lauren, AND my midwife who both stayed for the whole delivery. All three of these women, in conjunction with my husband, spoke words of love and encouragement to me, gave me strength to continue and helped decipher the less-than-caring words of the a-hole doctor who delivered Grace.

The hospital was a total blur, but I can tell you this much – while an epidural was offered and encouraged by the doctor I didn’t take it. The thought of getting a HUGE needle in my back, in conjunction with all the side effects of an epidural for both me and Grace were MUCH more terrifying than continuing on with no drugs. Plus, then I wouldn’t have gotten the self-dubbed title of badass mama. So after 2.5 hours of pushing at the hospital and no baby, but significant progress, we decided on a local anesthetic and a vacuum to assist in getting Grace out.  In case your not familiar with the vacuum, it’s not an electric suction. Instead, it’s a little suction cup that goes on the baby’s head to help guide her out. I still had to do all the pushing work.

So after 5 hours of pushing, 2 catheters, 13 hours with little-to-no food, a hospital transfer and a vacuum – Grace FINALLY came out. Granted, she was covered in poop and had a very pointy head – due to the vacuum – but she was still beautiful. All in all, I’m happy we were transferred to the hospital for several reasons – the biggest being that she would not have been able to come out without a vacuum. Also, the postpartum care I received from the nurses was incredibly helpful, as I had significant tearing and could hardly get out of bed. But, will I go to the Midwifery again for baby #2 (which will be several years down the road)? You bet!

Living Room Progress – Still a Work in Progress

We met the neighbors behind directly behind us the other day, and they are a nice young couple who put recently just put in a chicken coup! I am so envious of their chickens, as I’ve been asking Chris if we could do this for months. I mean, I don’t plan to clean the chicken coup – that would be Chris’ job – but his excuse for not building me one is that  it will be too big of a mess. I’m hoping Tommy and Dani (our neighbors) make it look clean and appealing enough for Chris.

We’ve been discussing our home exterior more and more as the weather turns warmer, but there is still much to do on15-color-yellowground-1108-xlg the interior. And while that’s the case, I’ll share a few photos of our living room. First, I should mention that every room in our house (except the kitchen) was a yellow/beige color. And not the pretty kind of yellow/beige (if that even exists). So when deciding how to decorate the living Chris suggested we just paint over the color, and I’m SO glad he did.

After painting our ceiling and walls, the biggest obstacle was covering our hideous eye-sore of a swamp cooler. If you’re not from Colorado (or another state with an arid environment) you most likely don’t know what a swamp cooler is. It’s basically an evaporative cooler that cools air through the evaporation of water. Despite my overwhelming desire to  desire to take it out of the wall, I know I’ll be thankful for it in the summer time. So with the help of my brother’s wife’s mother (I know you had to think about that for a second) and her creative catering and party planning friend, I was able to successfully cover my ugly swamp cooler AND put together a few items I already had to semi-complete our living room.

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Can you guess where the swamp cooler is?? It’s behind the big map. Yeah – that’s how big it is. I purchased several maps from http://www.paper-source.com for $4 a piece, put poster board behind it ($.25), attached magnets ($2) and snapped it onto the swamp cooler (I should mention that the swamp cooler cover is metal). The additional frames surrounding the swamp cooler are map from our travels, money from our travels and a collage made by a very special person.

IMG_9557I should also mention our unusual pendant lamp. Our living room is dark and in need of all the light it can get. A hanging light was definitely the best option, but I definitely did not want to pay a lot of money for one. So, the solution was a $5 pendant light chord from Ikea, an awesome vintage lightbulb we found in our basement and a $3 lamp shade from Goodwill that I ripped the cover from. I covered the metal of the lampshade with yarn and the light chord with twine. And voilà – a $10 hanging lamp. We still need to hide the chord coming down the wall and hide the wall outlet with a floor plant. But those are minor details…

On to my favorite piece in the living room – our dresser turned TV stand! I IMG_9560LOVE this dresser. There’s an adorable mid-modern furniture store down the street from my house that was having a 50% off sale; so I got this gem for $75. It took a little convincing for Chris to go for it, but he did and I don’t think he regrets it.

We don’t ever want the TV to be center of our living room or our lives. But we do enjoy watching SNL and, Chris, the occasional baseball game, so we do own a TV. Among the globe I found at a flee market and Chris’ field guides (including Rocky Mountain Scats and Tracks) held between the extremely heavy jade lions he brought back from China – the TV isn’t much of a centerpiece. Also, above the TV are a couple other maps I bought for $4 and attached to poster board.

Lastly, can’t have a map themed room without some vintage luggage. Chris’ mom and grandma were here a couple weeks ago and seemed very puzzled that I would use these as decoration – since they use them for traveling. Oh well. Not everyone can get my decorating style. But I will tell you that the adorable blue vanity case is hiding diapers and wipes for a convenient changing station in the living room.

So these are the living room highlights! Again, the house is still work in progress but Chris and I are slowly making it our home.