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Archive for April, 2011

This is Peyton holding my wedding ring like a rattle when he was about 3 weeks old.

I’ve been debating on whether or not I should tell you this story here on my little blog for the last month or so now.  It is a very personal story and I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that I am an “intense and deep” kind of blogger.  But, after several sleepless nights with this on my mind, and with the March for Babies walk this Sunday as well as Mother’s Day next Sunday, I’ve decided that this one time I will write something deep and intense in hopes that I can spread the word and share a message that is very very important to me and my little family.

This is the story of Peyton’s birth.  In past posts I’ve mentioned that my first son Peyton (now almost 4 years old…I can’t believe that!) was born severely premature.  I’ve also mentioned that my second son Sawyer (now 9 months old) was a bit of a struggle to keep inside and threatened to be born early from about 27 weeks on.  I never have gone into a lot of detail about Peyton’s birth in particular because the subject is almost sacred to me and I never wanted to weigh this blog down with such serious subject matter.  Until now.  Please, kick up your feet, and maybe grab a tissue, and keep reading.  My son is a MIRACLE.  And it would just not be right to keep his story all to myself.

My husband and I had only been married for about a year and a half when we found out that I was pregnant.  We were absolutely shocked since we were not planning on having a baby anytime soon and for the fact that I was on birth control.  I actually didn’t even take a pregnancy test until I was already 11 weeks along because I honestly thought that it was just an impossibility.  At 12 weeks I got the pregnancy confirmed at the doctors office and had a due date of October 4th 2007.  I was only 23 years old.  My husband was working part-time and going to college full-time to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business.  I was working full-time as an interior decorator for a furniture store to help put him through school.  Things were tight, but we had faith that we could figure it out and began getting excited about becoming parents and started making plans about what we needed to do to get me insured (I only had emergency coverage) and started reading books on how to “grow a baby”.  Some of you may wonder how I possibly could’ve been unaware that I was pregnant for 11 weeks.  First of all, it wasn’t something I thought I should be thinking about or looking for, second of all I honestly didn’t have a single pregnancy symptom that bothered me enough to notice (aside from having oddly light periods).  I didn’t have morning sickness or aches and pains or anything like that.  As a matter of fact, once I found out I was pregnant for sure and announced it to my coworkers the other pregnant ladies (there were 3 more) were incredibly jealous that I seemed fine and healthy and could go on as usual with my daily routine.  It was great.  I felt the baby kick around 17 weeks and fell in love.  I loved my little growing belly and finally transitioned into maternity clothes at about 21 weeks.  Also at 21 weeks I had my second doctors appointment.  I had researched all my options in the area and was planning on going through a midwife in a birthing center.  My mom had given birth to 4 of her 5 babies all naturally, one (me) even breech, without any complications.  I still didn’t have insurance (due to “pregnancy” being listed as a pre-existing condition) and had discovered that a birthing center with a midwife would be far less expensive than to go through a hospital.  I even was contemplating trying a water birth which I had talked to a friend about who said she loved it and had a great experience.  So that was the tentative “plan”.  So at 21 weeks I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound done to determine the sex and health of the baby.  The doctor examined everything and explained everything very well to us and the baby and uterus looked fabulous!  Oh!  And when it finally decided to stretch out we got to see that it was a BOY!  My husband was proud (he has 3 brothers and no sisters), and we were excited to start preparing for our new son.

This is me at about 5 months.  A week or two before Peyton was born.

The next few weeks flew by.  We threw around names but couldn’t really pin anything down although we both liked the name Peyton.  The only problem was I thought it would be a great name for a little GIRL.  My dad was trying desperately to bribe us in to naming the baby after him and Daniel’s (my hubby) dad was having a great time knowing that the baby would have his name as the middle name (its a tradition in their family).  Daniel was working hard, finals were coming up and he was taking on more hours at work to cover our baby bills.  It was nice and uneventful with no indication of the nightmare that was about to hit us like a runaway train.

June 14th 2007.  It was a Thursday.  I happened to have the day off and had gotten up early to take our best friends (they are married to eachother) to the airport.  They had stayed the night with us and were on their way to a family reunion in Idaho.  My bestfriend Tiff happened to be pregnant too, just one month ahead of me.  We had fun talking about pregnancy and kids and future the night before and even snapped this pic:

On the way to the airport I started having these cramps.  Tiff noticed my wincing and asked what was wrong and I just told her I was having weird cramps and thought that maybe I’d slept wrong.  She said that they were probably just Braxton Hicks and that she had been getting them for weeks now.  They weren’t very painful, just uncomfortable and continued randomly throughout the day.  I went along, cleaning the apartment and making some jewelry for friends and such but was really not feeling well.  The cramps were coming a little closer and I was feeling just EXHAUSTED and achy.  Daniel came home for lunch and I told him how I was feeling.  He told me to take it easy and rest.  I was getting a little uneasy about it, especially because the night before I’d read in my pregnancy book that the earliest a baby could be born and survive was 26 weeks gestation and I was only 24 weeks to the day.  I hadn’t read far enough to know what the signs of preterm labor were or even to know what labor would feel like so I was completely ignorant to what I was really feeling.  I hate being a worrier so I kind of shrugged it off although I did tell Daniel that I read that babies can’t survive being born before 26 weeks.  He just kind of laughed and said, “If Anna Nicole Smith can have a healthy full-term baby then you definitely can!”  That made me laugh and I felt a little less concerned after he left to go back to school.  But it didn’t last for long.

By about 9 p.m. the cramps were starting to really come close together and I really started to get nervous about what was happening.  Daniel walked through the door at about 9:10.  I was expecting to see him much later since he was in the midst of finals and was going to be staying at the library on campus until it closed.  He said that he just felt like he needed to come home and instantly saw me and knew something wasn’t quite right.  He started asking me questions about what I was feeling and got online and started researching my symptoms.  I was talking to him but every couple of minutes I had to stop and wince through another cramp.  Now that I’m thinking about it again, I can’t believe I didn’t realize I was in labor.  Again, it just wasn’t on my radar.  In my naivety I just really didn’t even know that someone could actually be IN LABOR at 24 weeks gestation.  I really just thought that I had eaten something bad and was having an upset tummy or the stomach flu.  Daniel went through a list of questions he found online under “pre-term labor”.  Was I bleeding.  No.  Was I having contractions.  I didn’t think so.  I thought contractions would be immensely painful and start at your back.  These were just annoying and deep in my belly.  Pain during urination.  No.  Although I had just gotten over a UTI.  Sudden gush of clear fluid.  No.  Low backache.  No.  Pelvic pressure.  No.  It was weird.  I was nervous but Daniel was the one to decide to go to the hospital.  We both thought, “Oh, its probably nothing.  Maybe gas.  Lets just go make sure and we’ll be home in a couple of hours.”  I really wanted to go grocery shopping (we were completely out of milk) and I really DIDN’T want the embarrassment of going to the hospital for “gas”.  I told him to hold on.  I just needed to go to the bathroom.  I thought if I just could empty myself out I’d feel better.  So I went into the bathroom and tried to go.  I pushed once and felt something suddenly drop low into my pelvis.  I begin to feel my pulse rise as doom filled my heart.  I also saw a large mucousy lump on my toilet paper.  What was going on!?  Instinctively my lower body tightened up.  I walked out of the bathroom and said, “I think we have to go to the hospital.  NOW.”

The birthing center where I was supposed to be delivering was about 25 minutes away.  I wasn’t sure if that is where we should be going or not but when a gush of blood poured out of me onto the seat of the car about 2 minutes from our apartment my husband instantly took a left to the nearest hospital down the street.  I was panicked.  I had not read about pre-term labor or preemies or childbirth or anything of that kind in any books and I had only been to two doctors appointments, neither of which we discussed the possibility.  I didn’t know if my baby was in danger or if I was or if we both were.  I tried to stay calm and breathe and keep from thinking the worst.  My husband was running red lights and was intensely searching for the ER wing of the hospital.  He parked quickly and calmly took my hand.  Daniel was intent and calm.  He was amazing.  We ran/walked into the ER.  It was pretty dead but we couldn’t seem to find anyone to help us for what seemed like forever.  The cramps were still coming strong but I was more worried now about the bleeding.  Finally Daniel flagged down a nurse and told him that I was pregnant and bleeding and cramping.  That was all that needed to be said apparently because I was quickly put into a wheel chair and wheeled into the Women’s Wing.  There, another nurse had me strip down and put on a robe.  I was scared to look at my pants and see the blood that had come from me.  She had me lay on the bed and hooked me up to the monitor.  Soon a lady doctor came in and looked at the monitor.  I was having contractions she said and even showed me how to track them on the monitor.  I couldn’t believe I was seeing my contractions.  I was really not in much pain.  Not nearly enough pain to be in LABOR.  Not the kind of screaming, rip your hair out, make your face red pain that I had heard of and seen on “A Baby Story”.  I felt so stupid for not realizing that thats what I had been feeling all day.  I was praying that my ignorance did not cost me my baby.

The doctor didn’t want to do a physical exam because of the bleeding so she had me taken down to the ultrasound room to try to find out where the blood was coming from.  Daniel was quiet but seemed calm and his face was reassuring.  He was trying so hard to keep me from panicking though inside he was panicking himself.  In the ultrasound room the technician pleasantly started up the machine like it was just another routine check up.  The monitor was facing us all and as soon as he put the wand to my belly we all gasped.  My water was “funneling” and my baby was half way through the birth canal.  Feet first.  That was it.  It was over.  The “trying so hard to not panick” was instantaneously replaced by severe shock and devastating doom.  The technician grabbed the phone and called up to the doctor.  “Prepare for an emergency c-section.  Mother is bleeding, water is funneling, baby in distress…”  I flung my arms up over my face and I started to sob.  Daniel and the nurse were running along side my bed as we flew through the hospital.  Daniel was trying to tell me it would be okay.  He had tears in his eyes and a terrified look on his face.  All I could say was, “I’m so sorry!  I’m so sorry!”  All I could think was, “I killed your son.  I killed your son.”  I did not care what happened to me.  My body had killed our son.  I was certain of it.  I didn’t want them to save me.  I didn’t want to exist.  Sorry.  I need a minute and a tissue.

They took me into the prep room first.  I was surrounded by doctors and nurses.  A see of strange faces all bustling around me, intensely shouting medical jargon at each other.  Someone was trying to put an IV in my arm.  Missed the vein.  Missed again.  It’ll have to go in the elbow.  Daniel was shoved into a corner and was on his cell phone trying to call a friend to come to the hospital for help and support.  I didn’t see much of what was going on.  I was shaking and sobbing and dying inside with my one good arm thrown over my face.  I tried to be calm.  I tried, but all I could think was, “Is this happening?  Is this real?  Is he gone?  Am I dying too?  If he’s gone I want to go too.”  I didn’t know what was happening but that sentence from my pregnancy book was haunting my mind.  26 weeks to be viable.  I was 24 weeks to the day.  Its over, hes gone.   No body had the time to explain to me what was happening and even if they had, I don’t know if I would’ve been coherent enough to understand it.

Once prepped they wheeled me into the O.R.  Bright lights and a mask over my face.  Someone saying in a thick accent, “You’re doing a good job darling.  Breathe deep…”  Where was Daniel?  He couldn’t come in with me?  The last thing I remember was seeing Daniel past my feet on the other side of a big glass window.  His face was white and he looked at me.  Desperate and helpless.  I will never forget that look.  Then I was out.

I woke up with a jolt.  Fire was coarsing down my body.  My belly and legs felt as though they had been crushed by a steamroller.  My body was shaking so hard I nearly bounced off the table.  Someone was asking loudly, “Are you in pain!?  We’re getting you morphine…hang in there!”  There had been no time to give me an epidural before I went under for my c-section and the anesthesia was wearing off before they were able to pump me full of pain killers.  I felt like I was being brought back to life.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be.  The numbing blackness of the anesthesia was peaceful and oblivious.  I missed it.  Daniel and his petrified friend were there over me trying to pray for me and helping the nurses and doctors to get me calm and comfortable.  I couldn’t talk.  They had intubated me too quickly to be careful and the lining of my throat was swollen shut and raw.  Either I passed out from the pain, or the shock, or they gave me a sedative because soon enough I was out again.

It seemed like I was out for days although in reality it was only about another hour or so.  I woke up to a quiet room in the Mother Baby wing.  The same nurse was there who was with me when I originally came in.  She looked at me so sympathetically, like someone would when they’re looking at a childless mother.  Daniel was not there.  I was confused and tried to talk to ask where he had gone.  I could barely make a sound because of how severely beat up my throat was but the nurse sensed what I was wanting to ask.  She told me Daniel was talking with the doctors in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and would be back shortly.  What?  Newborn Unit?  Why?  I managed to eek out, “The baby is alive?”  The nurse looked surprised that I didn’t already know that and seemed relieved to be able to deliver some good news.  “Yes!  He is.  And he is doing very well actually.”  My head was spinning and my heart was full of all kinds of mixed emotions.  I was relieved beyond words that he was alive but also weary of getting my hopes up because he would surely not survive much longer.  I just wanted to see Daniel.  I needed him to be with me and tell me what was going on.

Soon he was back.  I’m not sure what all he told me but the jist of it was this.  “The baby is alive.  The doctors say he is doing well.  He is 1 pound 7 ounces and 12 and a half inches long.  His legs and one arm may be broken from being stuck in the birth canal when you went into shock.  The doctors say that the first three days are crucial and if he makes it that long then his chance of survival goes way up.  There are so many things they told me but I’m sure they’ll tell you all the same stuff.  But anyway, hes alive.”  I couldn’t believe it.  My baby was alive and so was I.  Daniel had watched from a few feet away as the doctors had worked quickly to resuscitate our son.  The baby had tried to cry but couldn’t since his lungs were severely underdeveloped, like deflated thin balloons that couldn’t inflate on their own.  The doctors had gotten his heart rate up and had hooked him up to about 12 different machines and put him into an incubator to act as his new “womb”.  I was so grateful and still terrified about what else was to come.  It was all so surreal.   Truly like a nightmare.  Actually, I don’t think that I could even think up a nightmare as traumatic and frightening as that reality.  But it was a miracle.  Theres no denying it.  It was a miracle that Daniel had the prompting to come home early.  It was a miracle that we went to THAT hospital instead of the birthing center since later we found out that if we had gone to the birthing center first that they would’ve had to life-flight us back to that hospital and the baby wouldn’t have made it.  It was a miracle that the hospital we had gone to was equipped with neonatologists and equipment to save our son’s life.  My little 1 and a half pound miracle.  Now all we could do was pray and wait and see.  The doctors told us to be “cautiously optimistic”.  Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

I first saw my son about an hour or two after Daniel had come back down to my room.  I couldn’t sit up so they wheeled my bed up to the NICU and lowered the incubator table as low as they could bring it.  I could barely peer over the edge.  I was afraid to look.  I didn’t know what a 1 pound baby would look like.  Still a fetus really.  Still a candidate for abortion (which I am appalled by and it makes me sick to think about it).  My son was SO tiny.  Just laying there on his back with his arms and legs sprawled out.  You could barely see him through the wires and leads and tubes.  He had a little hat on his head that was way too big, and a mask over his eyes to shield them from the light.  He had a feeding tube going right into his belly through the remaining umbilical cord.  His mouth was open and a tube was taped to his cheek.  it went down his throat and into his lungs, pumping life into him.  His little bed was vibrating quickly, helping to shake his lungs loose and open.  His legs and one arm were completely black and blue (but not broken thank goodness).  His skin was bright glowing reddish-pink and translucent.  I could see little blue veins running every which way through his body.  A fine white hair covered him and his nose and ears looked too big for his face.  He looked like a little bird that had fallen out of the nest too soon.  Which is really kind of what he was.  I was shocked.  I was so sorry for the little alien-like creature I was seeing, but I felt myself pushing away, emotionally distancing myself from this pathetic little bird who I couldn’t see surviving one more day.  It was hard to accept that that little boy was my son.  The same son I had felt kicking all those weeks.  The same one we were picking a name for.  That was another thing.  It felt odd when the nurse asked what his name would be.  I was almost surprised by the question.  Do you name someone that is about to die?  Of course you do, but it seemed like such a strange thing at the time in the midst of my shock.

This is Peyton on the 3rd or so time on got to see him.  I put my finger in the incubator and he grabbed on to it tightly.

That night was terrible for me.  The shock was starting to wear off and the gravity of what had happened was quickly setting in.  We had no family around.  It was past 1 in the morning and no one we tried to call was answering their phones which bugged us as if letting more people know about it would ease the burden.  Daniel layed next to me on my hospital bed and we talked about what had happened and what the doctors had said and what all the scenarios could be.  Worst case:  He dies.  We have a funeral.  We lose our first born son.  Second to worst case:  He survives.  He has severe brain damage.  He is a vegetable all his life and we try our best to keep him comfortable for the rest of ours.  Any other scenario seemed easy in comparison.  The weight of what we were facing was so immense and the guilt I was feeling was unbearable.  After all it was MY FAULT.  It was MY BODY.  I must have done or not done SOMETHING.  It was hearing the new babies cry and the mothers in the next room tending to them that sent me over the edge though.  I started to sob again, but it hurt so bad to cry that that made me cry harder.  I was in pain in every way and couldn’t see a light at the end of this miserable tunnel.  Then Daniel held me close and said something that I will never forget and always love him for.  He said, “No matter what happens, no matter what trials we face, we will be happy.  This I know.  We will be happy again.”  During the hardest times of my life since then I’ve remembered those words.  So simple and so true.

We finally got a hold of our family early the next morning.  My parents were on a senior trip with my 18 year old brother.  My mom’s first words after Daniel told her I had the baby were, “Aw.  The poor guy never had a chance.”  They were all shocked to find out that he had actually survived and seemed to be doing as well as a 24 week micro-preemie could be doing.  We named him Peyton.  It was the only name that we had ever discussed really and upon closer inspection we realized that the meaning of the name seemed quite fitting for our little guy.  Peyton means “from the land of warriors”.  Perfect.  We’ll take it.  My sisters were the first to get to us and got there later that day after a 6 hour drive.  Daniel’s parents came in by plane later that evening and it was a relief to have family close.  We also happened to have family friends who were in our town visiting their son who came by and helped out immensely before any of our family arrived.  But I didn’t feel true relief until my mom got there on the 2nd day.  There is just something about moms.  No matter how old I get, I will always need my mommy.

The three days after Peyton’s birth were precarious with lots of crying and prayers, but lots of good news as well.  He did get pneumonia from swallowing meconium during birth.  But his brain scans came back clear which is almost unheard of for such a premature baby and meant that he most likely suffered little to no long-term brain damage.  Another very significant miracle.  He was also tolerating feedings well which was really important to his brain development and growth.  He survived those three crucial days and we were able to cross the two worst case scenarios off our list of concerns.  He wasn’t quite in the clear yet though and had a long and bumpy road ahead of him.

This is Peyton about 3 weeks old.  You can see the bruising from his leads.  Anywhere you touched his skin would bruise or tear.  You can see sores on his belly where the leads had been.  He still has scars from those tears as well as scars on his hands and feet from the IV’s.

I finally got to hold my son 3 weeks after he was born.  It took 3 people to transfer him from the incubator to my bare chest for “kangaroo care” (skin to skin holding).  Every time I held him his heart rate would steady and his oxygen levels would regulate.  It is a scientific and proven fact that preemies who are held by there mothers each day have a higher chance of survival and experience far less complications.    There is nothing like a mother’s love.  It is unique and powerful and cannot be duplicated or replaced.  My son is a walking living breathing example of my love and the love and prayers of hundreds of others.

He stayed in the NICU for 4 months and came home a whopping 8 lbs 5 ounces one week after his original due date.  While in the NICU he had a heart surgery (PDA ligation), which saved his heart although they thought may have paralyzed his vocal chords as a side affect.  It did not.  His vocal chords are fine.  Miracle.  He also had pneumonia twice which he survived, was put on 5 different types of breathing machines and eventually came home on oxygen (a nasal canula) which he stayed on until he was 9 months old.  They said that he would most likely have breathing problems and/or severe asthma.  He does not.  Miracle.  It is also very common for micro-preemies to have some degree of cerebral palsy.  He has none.  Miracle.  He also failed his hearing test and we were worried for some time about deafness or hearing loss.  He passed it upon taking it again when he came home and hears just fine.  Miracle.  For some unknown reason preemies tend to develop ROP in their eyes and some lose their sight.  The eye doctors monitored Peyton closely to make sure that his ROP would not develop to the point where they would have to intervene with laser surgery.  The laser surgery would take away his peripheral vision but save the rest of his vision but it is not something that they do hastily.  Peyton’s ROP progressed to stage 3 in both eyes.  Stage 5 is total blindness.  One night the eye doctor checked his eyes and regrettably told us to prepare for surgery the next day because the ROP was advancing and they needed to save the remainder of his sight if they could.  My husband prayed over my son’s eyes and the next day when the eye doctor check his eyes before surgery he was amazed that the ROP had stopped.  It never advanced past that point and my son has all his sight, although he should be wearing glasses if he would just keep them on!  Miracle.   I could go on and on but I’m sure if you’re still reading by now you get the point.

This is Peyton on his C-Pap at about 3 months old.

This is Peyton about a week before coming home from the NICU.

This is Peyton with his new specs at about 10 months old.

This is Peyton’s first Birthday!  What a fantastic day!!

This is Peyton now.  My little SuperHero.

I have made this post ridiculously long but I’m not sorry.  It has been a cathartic experience for me to revisit that night and remember how far we’ve come.  I wrote this story to spread a message.  Take what you will from it.  Peyton’s story spreads awareness of premature birth and the growing problem it is becoming among the thousands of healthy pregnant mothers in our country and around the world.  Premature birth is the number one cause of infant death and a leading cause of many life long serious health problems.  Anyone can have a pre-term baby.  I was 23, white, at a healthy weight, eating right, exercising, never had any health problems, never done drugs, drank alcohol, smoked, etc.  Since Peyton I have had 2 miscarriages and had Sawyer after being put on bedrest, having a cerclage put in, and being on various medications to fight miscarriage and preterm labor.  Peyton is a miracle in large part to lots of love, good doctors, lots of prayers and God’s grace, and support and medical research provided by the March of Dimes.  Which is why we March for Babies every year.  Peyton’s story also spreads the message of motherly love, and faith in God’s hand in our lives.  Like many babies who are born severly premature and survive, Peyton is a miracle.  I want everyone out there who is a mom, has a mom, or knows a mom to remember his story and spread awareness of preterm birth.  I am still having my children.  I still plan on adding to my family.  So I still want to fight to save babies and find out why we’re having so many premature babies and what we can do about it.  I never want to go through a birth like Peyton’s birth again and I never want any other mother to have to go through it either.  If you would like to help us and donate towards our team goal for the March of Dimes, click on the side button to the right.  Thank you so much for hanging in there with me through this post.  I so very much appreciate your love and support as I am striving to fight for a cause that my family and I are so passionate about.  Family is really what its all about isn’t it?  And I am SO BLESSED to have mine.

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Yay for Friday!!  My hubby has the day off and we’re going wakeboarding today with some friends.  I was preggo last summer so its been a WHILE since I’ve wakeboarded so I’m a little nervous and hoping that I can get through the day without any major injuries to my body as well as my pride.  I’m also not super excited to be seen in a bathing suit (its been 9 months today since I had my little guy!) since I still am not in my best “shape”.  Oh well.  Gotta take advantage of the opportunity to get some sun and have some fun!  Hopefully the kiddos will hang in there…we have nice childless friends who never complain about our extra cargo.  At least not to our faces that is. 🙂  Anyway, hopefully the kids will be good and have fun on the boat.  All right then…on with it..

So you remember a few posts back I put up this pic of this amazing ostrich feather light fixture right?

Aren’t you in LOVE with this?  I was dying to DIY one for my kitchen so I started looking into buying ostrich feathers…Umm…yeah…..WAY TOO MUCH $$$ even for a DIY version.  The cheapest I could find ostrich feathers was for about $1.50 a piece and thats the wholesale price if I bought in bulk.  I’d need at least 100 or so which would bring it to about $150 for just the feathers alone.  Not gonna happen.  So I started brainstorming to try to come up with a “faux” ostrich feather version.  I had an idea at about 3 in the morning one night to make faux ostrich feathers with thin white fuzzy yarn and pipe cleaners.  I thought I could make a sort of “loom” out of a cardboard box and weave myself 5 or so feathers at a time.  So I tried it.  And although it was a pretty creative idea,  my faux feathers looked how you would imagine they would…like pipecleaner and yarn “feathers”.  They would be really cute for a kindergarten project but there was no way they’d make the cut for my light fixture.  Bummer.  It was worth a shot.  If any of you have any great ideas to DIY this light with “faux” feathers let me know.  But for now, I have to say that I am pretty happy with my alternative project.

So after my yarn feather idea fell through, I started thinking about what else I could do and looking at other images for lighting inspiration.

I wanted to make something with kind of a fullness and sort of modern elegance.  Although the one I made is posterboard and much more structural than the lose feather light from above, they have the same kind of feeling and touch of lightness that I love.

I made this little baby myself with nothing but 5 sheets of posterboard and a glue gun and I’m thrilled with how it turned out!  It only cost me about $2 to make!

Theres no tutorial on this one (:( Sorry!) but I encourage you to grab some posterboard and get creative and see what amazingness you can design for your next new lighting solution!

Now, I just am going to cut a small hole through the base and attach it to my lighting setup above my kitchen table!  I’m excited to get it up and I’ll post pics as soon as it it hung!  Hope you like it and have fun making your own!  Have a great weekend!

P.S.  MAKE SURE TO USE A COOL BULB WITH THIS LIGHT FIXTURE!!! A COOL FLUORESCENT OR LED is best.

Update: I finally got this thing hung!! Yay and thanks daddy for your help! 🙂

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I painted my kitchen chairs green last weekend and I’m LOVING the way they pop now against my new white tulip table!  I completely forgot to take close up before pics of the chairs and didn’t even think of doing a “how to” on them but I will give you the rundown on how I painted, distressed, stained them right now for those of you who might be wondering.  This is my own made up way to distress and paint wooden furniture.  There are tons of great sites out there with lots of professionals that really know what they’re doing but I’m impatient and cheap so I do things the short and sweet way.   These chairs were previously painted cream and distressed and stained.  To get them green I simply bought a spray primer (in grey to save on top coats), and green spray paint.  The paint I used is from Rust-Oleum and is called “Fern”.  It came in a “Gloss Protective Enamel” which worked great and will be extra durable to little hands and wipe downs.  I also bought a stain that has a built in polyeurothane coating.  I used Minwax PolyShades in Antique Walnut.  Staining over a painted piece of wood furniture gives an antique feel and gives the piece real character.  I wanted my old farmhouse style chairs to look old and worn because I thought the flat gloss paint color would look odd on that style of chair.  Anyway, heres what I did:

1.  I sanded the chairs slightly with a medium grit sandpaper.  Just to give them some tooth for the primer to hold on to.

2.  Then I sprayed a coat of the grey primer all over the chairs.  I wasn’t super concerned if they weren’t completely covered in opaque primer.

3.  Once the primer was dry, I sprayed the chairs with the green enamel spray paint.  If I weren’t doing these for myself I would’ve done several light coats until the chairs were covered.  But I am impatient and didn’t care about PERFECTION so I just slapped it on thick in one coat, being careful not to create drips.

4.  I let the freshly painted chairs dry overnight.

5.  The next day I took my sandpaper and lightly sanded some of the edges and divets and other areas to give it that distressed, worn look.  Some of the areas got sanded down to the original wood, others got sanded down to the cream paint color that was on them before.  My chairs were already “beat up” from when I had distressed and painted them the first time.  If you want a real distressed look, feel free to take an awl, hammers, rocks, chisels, etc. to your piece to distressed it and make it look worn and old.  Then, when you sand, pay special attention to all those little areas and make them come out by sanding them back a bit.

6.  After they were all sanded and distressed, I wiped them down really well with a damp cloth.  Then I got my stain out and started applying it one area at a time with a paper towel.  This is where you gotta move kinda quick.  I just dip my towel into the stain and start rubbing it on in the direction of the woodgrain (or where the woodgrain would go if you hadn’t painted it).  Rub it on and keep rubbing over it until you have applied the right amount.  It will start to dry and get tacky if you rub too much though so you might want to practice the look you’re going for on a scrap piece of wood first until you feel like you have it down.  I covered the entire chair this way with the stain, making sure I worked in sections and got in all the sanded back areas (the stain is what seals those parts that you’ve sanded back so they don’t continue to chip).  

7.  Let the stain dry at least overnight before using the furniture.  I waited a couple of days before I brought our chairs back in to use.

Anyway, thats how I did them. So sorry there are no pics!  But heres what they look like now in my kitchen:

You can see in the pic above how the stain creates variations in the paint color.  I love that.

And there they are!  I love them and am even more thrilled about the green since I found some awesome green dishes at the DOLLAR STORE last week!  I’ll have to take pics of those too because they’re seriously awesome and you’ll never believe they came from the Dollar Store.

P.S.  I sold my old table and 2 of the 4 chairs that came with my tulip table and actually ended up making a $10 profit out of the whole deal!  Which made my hubby very very happy! 🙂

Anyway, check back soon because I also made a fabulous new light fixture for my kitchen that you’re going to want to see the easy breezy tutorial for!  Heres a sneak peek!

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I walked through my entry way hall the other day and suddenly had the urge to draw on the walls.  The hall looked fine as it was, but for some reason I felt like it needed a little more “dazzle”.  I’ve been loving some of the wallpaper that I’ve been seeing on design blogs and in design mags but never have wanted to “commit” to a wallpaper enough to justify some of the hefty price-tags that are tacked on to my favorites.  Here are a few of the wallpapers I’ve seen lately that I love:

I LOVED this Binweed Floral Wallpaper I found on femaleways.com.

And this Berry Black wallpaper also on femaleways.com.

This Sketchy Frames wallpaper is so fun too.

Wallpaper has re-emerged into interior design as a new beautiful wall decor option.  I used to hate the stuff, images of granny florals and peach and forest green came to mind, but now I acknowledge that a good wall-covering can really MAKE a space come alive.  As much as I have come to love the look of a wallpapered wall, I still can’t bring myself to make the commitment to spend the $$$ to do it.  So I came up with my own solution for an easy and inexpensive alternative:  Drawing on my walls with a paint pen.  And I must say, I am pretty pleased with the results so far.  Want to do it too?  OKAY!  Heres how!

Cost:  Depending on the size of your wall(s) you may need to buy 2 or more paint pens for about $3 each from your local craft store.  For the 2 walls in my hall that I’m doing, I’m thinking I’ll be using up 3 pens for a cost of about $9 for the finished look.

Supplies:

  • A paint pen(s) in a color of your choice.  I used white because thats what I had on hand but get creative and use whatever you think would look nice on top of your existing wall color.  *TIP* For a more muted fancy look use a color just a shade or two lighter (or) darker than your wall color.  Also, I think this would look amazing done in a metallic silver or gold paint pen.
  • A notepad or something to “blot” your pen on.
  • A stencil or traceable picture if you are not comfortable just winging it.
The tutorial is more about how to draw the flowers I am doing on my wall.  You could use this same “paint-pen wallpaper” technique using a stencil or just tracing any image you’d like to use from a printed page onto your wall.  The possibilities are vast so let your imagination go and have fun with it!
1.  To make the sketchy poppy-ish flowers for my “wallpaper” I simply started by drawing one large petal-like blob on the wall.
2. Then I just loosely traced over that again to make it more sketchy looking.  I also added little lines in one of the indented parts of the petal for my center.
3.  Next I loosely sketched in circles and dots to finish off the center of my flower.  There is really no screwing up here.  With this look each flower you draw will be different (which is what makes it kinda awesome and artistic) and none of them are “perfect”.
4.  For some flowers, this is enough.  But just for the sake of showing you how to draw more I added a squiggly line down the center to create two separate petals.
5.  Then I decided I wanted the petal on the left to fold down so I added this line…
6.  Then I added some more curving lines to the petal on the right to give it some more dimension.    I also finished this flower up by adding the base and stem.  If you’re intimated by the “artisticness” involved in this, don’t be.  Really its easy and you can’t mess up.  If you’re nervous about just jumping in and drawing right on your walls with the paint pen, just practice first on a piece of paper until you feel like you got the look you’re going for down.
7.  And thats basically how I’ve been doing it.  Every flower on my wall is a variation of this design.
*TIPS and POINTERS*  Decide how far apart you want your main vertical “stems” to be and mark those with a pencil on your wall first to keep the pattern consistent.  Draw your flowers first before the stems so you can decide whether some flowers are behind the stems and some are in front to add dimension.   Keep the size and spacing of each flower somewhat consistent so the overall look ends up cohesive and flowing.  Vary the use of full blooms, half open blooms, and buds.  The paint pends work best on walls that aren’t extremely textured and have a coat of base paint in a satin or semi-gloss finish.
Anyway, here are a few more of the flowers on my wall to give you examples and ideas:
And here are some more inspiration pictures of things you can draw with paint pens:
This would be SUPER easy and cute to draw in paint pen on your wall!
Another hand drawn tree wallpaper you could duplicate using a paint pen.
This would be a pretty easy look to achieve by tracing a stencil with a paint pen.
This would be fun if you painted the blue first and then drew the design over the top with a black paint pen.
Anyway, get creative and have fun with it!  It takes a bit of time, I’ve just been adding a couple of flowers every time I walk through the hall, but it is cheaper and a lot more unique and personal than actual wallpaper.  🙂  Enjoy and come back soon…I’m making a light for my kitchen and its going to be FABULOUS!

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I really LOVE feathers.  This obsession started about 3 years ago while google-ing “pin up hair and makeup” pics.  In a lot of the pin up sites I noticed the models wearing these amazing feathered fascinators and cocktail hats and brooches and…I fell in LOVE with the glamour that they instantly brought to a look.  Little did I realize at the time that the fashion and decorating world were on my same page and soon I began to see everyone and everything sprouting “wings”.  I started making feathered hair clips, brooches, earrings, headbands, cocktail hats, necklaces, etc. and haven’t stopped.  Sadly, I wear less feathers these days due to toting around my curious cargo (my 8 month old is constantly trying to pluck me) but I still enjoy making feathered things for friends and family and the occasional craft fair.

There is something about feathers that is always fun and always fashionable.  Even if all you can do is throw on a t-shirt and jeans and put your hair in a ponytail (this is my daily outfit lately) if you slap on a feathered headband or dangly feathered earrings you suddenly feel and look fashionable and glamorous.  They can be vintage inspired (like old hollywood and pin ups), modern and edgey (like Project Runway), or bohemian chic (like Anthropologie).  Here are some of my favorite feathered accessories:

This is a GORGEOUS feather fascinator in a classic fan shape that looks absolutely stunning on this old Hollywood-esque model.

This couture feathered bib necklace is FANTASTIC.  Imagine throwing that on with a plain white tee and jeans?  Scrumptious.

For a bohemian touch, I think this long single feather earring would do the trick.  Loverly.  Just loverly.

Here are a few examples of how feathers have been used in the interior decorating world recently.

This feathered lampshade would be a fun way to add texture and interest to a little corner.

 

I love this plum colored peacock feather rug.

I ADORE this ostrich feather light.  How fun is that!  Maybe for my new kitchen lighting…hmmm.  Maybe in colored feathers….

 

Anyway, this proves my point.  Feathers are awesome.  Wear them.  Put them in your home.  And just to get you started with your new found feather crush here is a tutorial on how to make simple feather earrings that look great…even with plain tees and jeans.

Cost: $ Maybe $2 per pair but you will get a lot of pairs out of the amount of supplies.  All supplies will cost probably around $9 or so.

Supplies:

  • Feathers. Whatever floats your boat.  Your local craft store will have them in packs.
  • Cord ends aka crimp beads with loop ends. These are in the jewelry section of the craft store in come in packs with different shapes, colors, sizes, etc.
  • Earring hooks. Same as the cord ends (different shapes, colors, styles, sizes, come in packs.)
  • Jewelry making tools. You will need round nose plyers and flat nose plyers.  I bought my jewelry tools at Walmart in a pack for about $9 I think.  Its worth it to pick up some and I use them for plenty of projects outside of jewelry making.
  • Strong quick drying glue. I use Quick Grip glue I bought at Walmart in the craft section.

Okay folks, lets get feathered.

1.  First pull out your feathers and clump about 10 or so (more or less depending on the kind of feathers you’re using) together with all there ends lining up together tightly.

2.  Next, take your glue and just dip the end of your feather clump into it.  Don’t get too much, this is simply to hold the feathers together so you can put the crimp end on.

3.  Hold the feather clump in one hand while the glue gets tacky and take the crimp end in the other hand.  Carefully place the feather clump end into the center of the open crimp end.  Loop side up!  You’ll need that loop to attach the earring.  The tacky glue will help hold the ends in place on the crimp end while you take your flat nose plyers and pinch the sides of the crimp ends down into the center to securely lock in the feathers.

4.  Repeat these steps for the other earring.

5.  Now its time to attach the earring itself to the feather clump.   Open the loop at the end of the earring by twisting it with your pliers.  Do not try to PULL the loop open as this will make it difficult to completely close once you have the feathers on.  TWIST.  DON’T PULL.  Once it is open enough, slide the crimp end loop onto the earring loop and twist the earring loop closed again.  Easy breezy and you’re done!

Now make a ton more with the leftover supplies because all your friends will want a pair! 🙂  Happy crafting everyone!

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Yay!  I’m excited right now because my hubby just picked up my new tulip table for our kitchen!  I found this baby on Craigslist on Thursday and called right away crossing my fingers that it hadn’t already been sold.  Lucky for me there had been another call on it but that person couldn’t come out to see it until Saturday (sorry person).  I literally jumped up and down when I got off the phone!  I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for a tulip table for quite a while now, hoping to score something under $200 which I know is a stretch for such an iconic table.  I have seen a few come and go (very quickly) on Craigslist but they’ve never been in my price range.  I also have been eyeballing the Ikea version (their Docksta table) shown here…

…for $179 but I wasn’t thrilled about the fact that it is made out of fiberglass and only 41″ in diameter.  If I were in a smaller apartment with just my hubby I’d probably do it.  But with kiddos and a decent sized kitchen, I really wanted something more substantial in size and durability.

I’ve been drooling (and dreaming) over the Saarinen Tulip Table (the real Mc’Coy) that you see parading all over design mags.  This one here is a marble top (I wish) in size 48″ for about $1100.  A tiny bit pricey for me I’d say…but hey…a girl can dream right?

The tulip table is a classic chic shape that looks just DIVINE paired with just about any kind of chair.  Here are a few of my favorite examples:

This is sort of a traditional eclectic room with a mid century modern twist.  Here the table is paired with the original tulip chairs.

Here is one of my favs.  This is a Jonathan Adler room (done for Liz Lange’s home).  Love the green!

In the pic below the table has been paired up with some old-school bentwood cafe chairs.  Reminds me of an ice cream parlor.  So cute.

I’m in love with this pairing of the tulip table with some robin’s egg blue Louis XV upholstered dining chairs.

This pic from most resembles the combo I’m going for.  I love the punchy distressed wooden chairs with the sleek white table.

I could keep on posting all the awesome combos but I’ll just give you this last one.  I love these graphic upholstered chairs!

So you see, the tulip table is quite the chameleon and a fabulous compliment to any style.  And I OWN ONE.  Albeit not the glamorous Saarinen original, but I’m pretty happy with my pretty little vintage baby.  Want to meet her?  Here she is!

Yes, she is a little thicker on the top, and not quite a seamless as her celebrity friend, but I love her anyway.  My tulip table has a metal base and a white laminate top.  I’m thinking that one day (once my kids have grown a bit and all their damage has been done) I will replace the top with something bigger and thinner.  This table is about 43″ across and comfortably fits our four farmhouse pressed back chairs.  The table actually did come with chairs but I like ours better to make it less “matchy matchy” although I do want to repaint our chairs in some shade of lime green I decided to really make them pop.  The table and four chairs all cost me $150!  Heres a look at the chairs that came with it:

Pretty fun eh?!  They were owned by the same couple since the 70’s so they do sort of smell like old people and moth balls but I think they’ll air out after a few days.  They are white vinyl and I do think I will be keeping two of them because I love the lines and could use them around the house.  The other two I will be reselling and think I probably can make back around $100 for the pair.  Which means that in the end my table will have cost me only $50!  Then, I need to sell my old table…so really when alls said and done I might be making a profit out of the whole ordeal.  🙂  My hubby would be thrilled about that (especially since he didn’t super love the idea of buying a new table when we already had one “that works fine”).  My poor hubby.  He loves me too much and always gives in!

Anyway, so thats my new kitchen table.  I love her and think that she is a great addition to our home!  When I get the chairs painted and new lighting (I’m thinking of making something new) I’ll post more pics.  But for now, here she is again!  Hope you all had a great weekend and come back soon!  I’m going to be busting out some more tutorials this week!

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