Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pinterest Project: DIY Hot Pads

Since my first Pinterest Project turned out so well, I thought I'd try another one out.  This time around, I thought I would try out a sewing project.  Try as I may, my sewing skills aren't all that great.  I can sew a straight line.  I've managed to make things like pillows, curtains and table runners.  But that's about where my sewing skills stop.  However, after stumbling across this tutorial for hot pads with hand pockets, I decided to try to up my sewing game.  

You see, I needed some new hot pads.  I've had these ugly tan ones forever.  Despite lots of trips through the washing machine, there were some stains that decided to stick around.  And they were just ugly.  I've been on the lookout for some new ones, but I couldn't seem to find any I liked for a price I was willing to pay.  When I came across the tutorial on Pinterest, I realized I could pick the fabric I liked and make it for a fraction of the cost.  

The first I thing I did was go to Jo-Ann and pick up the supplies I needed.  Bless the cute old ladies who cut fabric at Jo-Ann, but they are slow as molasses.  Waiting for my number to be called to get my fabric cut gave me plenty of time to pick out the bias tape and thread I needed.   

I followed the tutorial pretty closely, although there were a few simple changes I made.  I couldn't find any Insul-fleece, so I got Insul-Bright instead.  I think it's basically the same kind of material, but was a bit thicker.  Since it was thicker, I only used one layer between the full squares of fabric.  I thought using two layers would make it too thick and bulky.

The tutorial was very easy to follow and had lots of photos to help make the steps crystal clear.  I was very excited to stumble upon this blog.  It's chalk-full of cute sewing, craft and decor tutorials.  I will definitely be visiting this blog often!   

While my finished hot pads didn't turn out perfectly, they managed to turn out pretty decently.  I really liked the finished edge of the bias tape.  I had never used bias tape before this project and I love how easy it was to use.  

The one mistake I made was not sewing the basting stitch close enough to the edge.  That meant that the bias tape didn't cover the basting stitch.  This only happened on a few corners on the backs of the hot pads so it wasn't a huge deal.  But if I were to make any more in the future, I will make sure to sew the basting stitch closer to the edge.

These hot pads will serve many uses.  I can use them to put hot dishes on.  We use hot pads whenever we eat from hot soup bowls on the sectional in the living room.  

And the handy pockets will make taking hot pans out of the oven a breeze.  

Here's my review of the Pinterest Project: 

-Tutorial: A+
Loved this tutorial and it was super easy to follow.  I especially appreciated the photos that accompanied the written directions. 

-Level of Difficulty: B 
There were some tricky parts, like using the bias tape.  However, I am a relatively inexperienced seamstress.  I'm sure someone with more experience would find this project super easy.  Even so, it wasn't terribly difficult.  

-Finished Project: A-
I love how these hot pads turned out!  They are super cute and I love that you can coordinate them with your own kitchen decor.  I'm sure they would look even more professional if I were to try this out again.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

I'm So Fancy!

I tell myself I am so fancy every time I open up my closet now.  Why?  Because I swapped out all my mismatched plastic hangers for matching fancy velvet hangers!

As someone who adores all things neat and orderly, I can't begin to tell you how much I love staring at my new hangers.  I have my mom to thank for them.  I asked for them for my birthday back in April and finally got around to swapping out the old hangers for the new ones.  Thanks, Mom! 

All of my clothes and shoes fit in my closet and the dresser in my bedroom.  And I keep all my clothing available all year long.  The thought of switching out clothing with the seasons doesn't sound fun to me, so I just keep everything out all year long.

I am a little picky when it comes to hangers.  I can't stand wire hangers and hate the plastic ones you get from the store.  I remember when Adam and I moved in together, he had these plastic hangers with the swivel hooks and they drove me bonkers!  I would put a few in with the recycling when he wasn't paying attention and replace them with normal plastic hangers.  I don't think he ever even noticed!  

I always dreamed of having wooden hangers in my closet.  I eventually got some to hang up our coats in the coat closet downstairs.  I love them, but realized that they take up quite a bit of space.  If I were to put wooden hangers in my clothes closet I would have to cut down my already slim wardrobe down by half.

I eventually decided I wanted slim velvet hangers and I wanted them to be all one color so they would match.  The slim design meant I could fit more clothes in my closet and the velvet meant my clothes wouldn't slip off the hangers.  I picked out the hangers below from Home Goods for my birthday.  Home Goods, Marshall's and TJ Maxx are great places to buy hangers.  I think the 30 pack was in the $12-$15 range.  I did have a look at few different stores to get enough packs of the same color.

It was super exciting to add such pretty hangers to my closet!  I love that they all match and my clothes stay on the hangers a lot better.  

I even enjoy putting away my laundry more now since adding the hangers to my closet.

After looking at the mound of plastic hangers that had accumulated on my bed during the hanger swap, I realized there were enough white plastic hangers for all Adam's hanging clothing.  So now we both have matching hangers, even though mine are far more fancy than Adam's.  Somehow I don't think he'll mind.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Use Whatcha Got

I don't know about you, but I like to change things up around my house from time to time.  It's very tempting to go out and buy new things, but that's not very budget-savvy.  I have found that rotating the home decor items I already own is an easy way to get a new look without breaking the bank.  There's a closet in one of our guest rooms that is full of all kinds of home decor items.  I stick things I'm tired of using in there or random clearance finds that I pick up.  The funny thing is, after something has been in the closet for awhile, it almost becomes a new item again.  I will look in that closet when I want to change something up and forget about all the cool treasures I put in there.  

I was getting a bit bored of my laundry room shelves.  They were perfectly cute, but I just wanted to make them more exciting.  

So I look everything off the shelves and found everything was coated in a nice, thick layer of dust.  I guess I need to do a better job of dusting!  After I removed all the dust, I spread out all the items.  Then I took a trip to my guest room closet and pulled out some items that could work with what I already had going on in the laundry room.  It looked like a hot mess at this point, but that's all part of the fun.  

I decided to reuse a few of the items that were already on the shelves.  Then I also added a few items from my closet.  I did add a $3 bucket I found at The Dollar Spot at Target.  That's it, though.  I ended up with a whole new shelf display for only 3 bucks!   

To add some function to the shelves, I put out the basket on the middle shelf, which houses some toothbrushes I use for removing stains and a lingerie bag.  I put some washing machine cleaning tablets in the flowered tin.  And I added a white dish to the bottom shelf so I can put random things I find in Adam's pockets in there for safe-keeping. 

I found this free butterfly printable that works perfectly with the color scheme I've got going on.  After looking at the finished shelves, I realized I made them a bit more girly than before.  But that's okay because Adam doesn't spend a whole lot of time in there.  

I like that the shelves are pretty to look at with a little function hidden in.  This is the perfect example of how to use whatcha got to create some new decor.  

Not bad for a half hour and 3 bucks!  

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Shower Saga

Today I will share with you the saga of our master bathroom shower.  And it is quite the saga!  

It all started when we moved in a few years ago.  The shower in our master bathroom was a tiny stall with sliding glass doors.  The sliding doors had years of soap scum and the tracks were downright disgusting.  I tried many cleaning methods, many of which involved me kneeling in the shower with q-tips and toothbrushes.  I was able to get it looking far better than it did, but it was still gross.  I tried to live with it for a while, but got grossed out thinking of all the gross-ness that was still in the shower tracks that a toothbrush couldn't reach.  

So, I convinced Adam that we needed to take down the doors and replace them with a shower curtain.  We were able to take down the doors and tracks without any trouble.  I bought a waterproof fabric liner and a long waffle-weave shower curtain, along with an adjustable tension rod.  I wanted to go with a fabric liner that we could wash instead of the smelly, plastic liners that had to be thrown out from time to time.    

Let me tell you, an adjustable tension rod is not the way to go.  It stayed put for a few days, but eventually came crashing down.  We tried several times to put it back up only to have it fall back down. Adam had enough of it after a few crashes and bought a rod that could be secured into the wall with screws.  I must admit, it was way better than the tension rod I originally bought.  

Now we had a shower curtain that stayed up, but another problem arose.  Whenever we would take a shower, the liner would billow in and stick to us.  There are few feelings worse than a wet shower curtain liner stuck to your legs.  It drove me crazy!  The liner we bought claimed to have a weighted bottom, but it certainly didn't have enough weight to keep it from blowing around.  

My solution was to sew some magnets into the bottom of the liner.  This definitely helped prevent the shower curtain liner from blowing around, but it soon created another problem.  The magnets, being magnets, stuck to each other.  So every time we got in the shower, we would have to unstick all the magnets and strategically close the liner so the magnets wouldn't cross paths.  It was annoying.  

Then, we encountered yet another issue.  Since the magnets would stick together when we opened the shower curtain liner to get in and out, it stuck together in a soggy mass of fabric.  It never dried out fully and mold and orange stuff (I don't even want to know what that was) started to grow.  I figured since it was a washable, fabric liner, I could just throw it in the washer with a little bleach.  That did not work. The mold and orange junk was still on the liner!  So, I got out a toothbrush and tried to scrub it away with bleach.  I was able to get most of it off, but it wasn't like new.  We had to repeat this process every month or so.  It was just plain ridiculous!

So, I decided to look for another shower curtain liner.  Since we hung the rod so high, we needed a liner that was 95 inches tall.  The only one I seemed to be able to find in stores or online was the one we already bought, which was a piece of crap.  

Eventually, I decided to look at shorter options, figuring we could lower the rod and hem the shower curtain.  I ended up getting this shower curtain liner from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  It had pretty good reviews, but was a tad pricey.  There are handy little suction cups on the sides that you can stick to the side of your shower to help keep the water from getting out.  

Despite the suction cups, it still billowed out and stuck to my legs when I took a shower.  This made me very angry!  

I then set my attention on finding a solution to this problem that did not involve using magnets.  After spending far too much time researching reasons why shower liners did this and possible solutions, I came across this crazy thing called Shower Curtsy.  It looked ridiculous and I was highly skeptical.  But I was also desperate at this point, so I asked Adam to order it along with some other things he needed from Amazon.

Let me tell you, I am in love with Shower Curtsy!  It definitely keeps the shower curtain from sticking to my legs.  You stick it on the liner with the weights in between the liner and the curtain.  Since the weights are in between the liner and curtain, you don't even see them.  I pulled the curtain aside in the picture below so you can see how it is attached.  I say a little thank you to the creators of Shower Curtsy every time I get in the shower now.  

After all the time, money and grief we spent on this stupid shower, we probably could have ripped out the old one and put in a fancy one with glass panels!  Oh well, at least we now have a shower that is not gross and allows me to take a shower without the liner attacking me.  

Hopefully this post will offer some tips that will help you out if you are having similar shower issues.  Who knew a shower could have such a saga!?!      

Friday, May 20, 2016

Jazzy's Thoughtfulness

Jazzy is a very thoughtful little lady.  She seems to know just what to do to make Adam and I happy.

Adam was out of town on a canoe trip this past weekend.  Jazzy always misses him when he's gone.  I think she especially misses their evening runs since I can't seem to keep up with her when I take her.  Jazzy must have really been missing her daddy and eagerly anticipating his return.  I know this because she left him a little treat on his side of the bed.  I think she was trying to say, "If you come home now I'll give you my chew stick.  Here, I'll even leave it for you on your side of the bed!"  Adam was quite touched when he came home to see the present Jazzy left for him.  

Another example of Jazzy's thoughtfulness is how she is doing her part to take care of the rabbit problem in our neighborhood.  Jazzy must have overheard Adam and I complaining about all the rabbits running around our neighborhood.  She managed to get a baby rabbit while on a walk about a month ago.  This past week, she hunted down another baby rabbit in our yard.  I saw her lunge for something and then heard awful squeaking sounds.  Luckily Adam was out in the yard with me.  I ran in the house so he could deal with it. Then, this weekend, Jazzy managed to find yet another baby rabbit on one of our walks.  I had a blast trying to pry her mouth open and pull the baby rabbit out of her mouth.  Thanks so much, Jazzy.  You would think we don't feed her!   

I can't wait to see how Jazzy shows off her thoughtfulness next! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Support Group Experience

After attending the Kansas City Infertility Awareness Conference, I decided to go to their monthly support meeting.  I had contacted the group leader prior to the meeting.  She gave me a head's up on the format of the meeting, so I had an idea of what to expect.  

There were about fifteen or so people in attendance.  Most were women, but there were a few husbands and other family members.  Everyone got a chance to share their story, their concerns, their fears and their hopes.  It was heartbreaking.  To hear one sad story after another was incredibly emotional.  I was very glad I had put a pack of tissues in my purse!  

If nothing else, it was nice to know that I wasn't alone.  Other people have dealt with loss and infertility. Other people have felt the anger, fear, embarrassment, sadness and utter despair that I have felt.  

I had concerns prior to going.  I feel like I am in a good place in dealing with the loss of my baby and my infertility struggles.  I worried that hearing everyone's sad stories would suck me back into my grief and depression.  I didn't want to lose the peace and hope that I have in my heart.  

I will say it was hard to talk about my story and share with others.  And it did bring up some of those old feelings.  But I am glad that I went.  I'm not sure that I will go every month or even if I will go again. However, it is nice to know that it's available.

I think it is so important to have supportive people in your life if you are dealing with loss or infertility.  It doesn't matter what form that support comes in, whether it is a support group, a friend, a therapist, an online forum, a family member or someone else who has dealt with those issues.  I know that I have greatly benefited from the many people who have shared their time with me.  If you are struggling and need some support, check out the Kansas City Infertility Awareness website for more information about their support group. 

Surround yourself with people who get it. © katie doucette portfolio:

Friday, May 13, 2016

Two Birds, Many (Paver) Stones

The side of our house had a little problem... was really, really boring.  There used to be a giant holly bush right next to the downspout when we moved it.  It was thisclose to the house, so we tried to trim it back.  I guess we trimmed it back too much because it died.  Ooops!  So then we were left with a very blank space.  

Before I get to the solution to this problem, let me introduce another problem.  In our backyard, we have a rather large circular planter.  It's okay, but we have some issues with it.

First of all, it is huge!  It takes up a big chunk of our yard.  Our yard is a decent size, but it is very wide and not very deep.  When you add a big circular planter, it really cuts into the size of our yard. Secondly, it gets very little sunlight in this area of the yard, which makes it very difficult to get anything to grow. We managed to find a few shade-loving plants like hostas and colombine, but any of the vegetables we tried to grow didn't make it.  We had some success with herbs last year.  All in all, it's a tricky spot to grow what we want to grow.  So, Adam and I decided to get rid of it.  

We plan to take out the whole thing and plant grass in its place.  This is no small undertaking!  It's a rather large project and will likely take us lots of time.  But we got started on it a couple weeks ago.  Adam had the brilliant idea to put some of the paver stones to good use on the boring side of our house.  There's also a layer of gravel at the bottom of the circle that we plan to use as a base for the concrete pad of the shed we are hopefully going to build this summer.

We decided to use the paver stones to help dress up the boring side of our house by creating a planter bed/retaining wall.  I had a pretty good vision of what it could look like and Adam's engineering mind knew exactly what to do to make it happen.  

The first step was to decide where to put the paver stones.  To do so, we set up a string line to indicate where the paver stones should go.  Since the yard slopes downward towards the backyard, we'll have to put more than one row of pavers towards the end of the planter bed.  

Once we had our string set, we could get started with the hard part.  I feel a little silly saying "we" since I did very little of the manual labor.  I did important jobs like washing off the dirt clumps off the paver stones with a garden hose and wandering around the garage looking for tools that Adam needed.  

Adam got started on the hard work.  He buried the downspout, dug a trench to set the paver stones into place in, added sand to stabilize the paver stones, and ever-so-carefully placed each stone in a level fashion.  

I never seem to fully grasp just how much time and effort house projects take.  And if it were up to me to complete all these house projects I have visions of, I'd be in big trouble and have a bunch of half-finished projects.

All the rainy weather and our busy weekend schedules have prevented us (I mean, Adam) from finishing this project.  But it is well underway!  I'll be sure to update you with our (Adam's) progress.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What Kids Who Hate to Read Taught Me About Teaching Reading

I realize I don’t typically discuss teaching on this blog, but I know a lot of the friends and family who read this are teachers.  I figured this would be the perfect place to reflect on my first year as a middle school Title I reading teacher and possibly give my fellow teachers some new ideas.  

Let me start by saying how much happiness this job has brought to me this year.  This job came my way when I truly needed something to give me a purpose and help distract me from losing my baby.  I will be forever grateful for this amazing opportunity.  

Being a middle school reading teacher is literally the best gig in education.  I get to convince kids one at time that reading is awesome.  It’s hard work and I haven’t managed to convince all my kids that reading is worth their time.  But it’s so worth it when a middle-schooler tells you they are tired because they stayed up late reading a book that you suggested to them.  

Like any good teacher will tell you, their students tend to teach them more about teaching than any other book, professional development or training ever could.  This is definitely true for me.  When I started the year, I had a group of 40 kids who all hated to read.  One of the first questions I asked them was, “How do you feel about reading?”  Some of them didn’t want to hurt my feelings, so they claimed it was “okay.”  But most of them told me they hated it or it was hard or it made them feel stupid when they had to read in front of people. Heartbreaking, right?  

So, I set out on a mission to help them see that reading can actually be worthwhile, and dare I say, fun!  I learned a lot as I carried out my mission.  Here are some things that might help you if you are in the business of teaching kids reading:

Acknowledge their feelings and build a relationship.  
I have had more success with students when I acknowledge their fear or disgust of reading. I don't tell them they are wrong for feeling the way they do. I just tell them that it's my job to help them realize that reading can actually be enjoyable. I take the pressure of them and put it on me. The kids still have to do the hard work, but they seem to relax a bit when they realize I will help them and don't expect them to do everything themselves.

This is the first step of building a relationship with my students. This is the critical step! Students have to trust you in order to take risks in front of you. I ask my students to do things that are difficult for them. I ask them to read books that challenge them. I ask them to think in ways they haven't ever thought before. I ask them to try strategies that are new to them. They won't be willing to try these things out if they don't trust you. They have to be comfortable enough to fail in front of you before they will try these difficult things.

So I spend a great deal of our short amount of time together building relationships. I get to know them and their families, what they do on the weekends and classes they like. I ask them how their track meet went, how their new puppy is doing and how they did on their latest social studies test. This is time well spent! You will get so much more out of them if they know you care about them. And you have to be genuine with them. Middle-schoolers are great at detecting bullshit. They will know if you aren't honest with them or if you are just pretending to care.  

Don't make them read on a specific level or for a specific amount of time.  
Although there are many teachers and education professionals who would disagree with me, I don't believe middle school kids should read books based on their Lexile or specific reading level. It can be incredibly demeaning, which is a blow to their reading confidence. Typically, if students are reading below grade level, the books on their reading level will not match their interest level. I think it is far more important for kids to find books that are interesting. If kids find a book interesting, they will be far more likely to pick it up on their own and actually read it.  

Again, some teachers and education professionals will disagree with my next statement, but requiring students to read for a specific amount of time or a specific number of pages isn't effective. If students hate reading, assigning them to read for 30 minutes each evening is just setting them up for failure. They won't do it. Instead, help them find books they will like! Once you find a book they like, they will pick it up and read it on their own. Some of my students who described themselves as non-readers at the beginning of the school year now tell me they spend an hour reading at home each night! I didn't tell them to do that, they decided to do that on their own. When you put the power to read back in their hands, they take more ownership of it. Of course, it's super important to celebrate with them when they choose to read on their own.

Read with them and for them.
I just made a big deal about how students will choose to read on their own if they find books that are interesting to them. But guess what? Students who hate reading aren't going to go out of their way to find books that are interesting to them. That's where I (and other reading teachers) come in. It's our job to help them find books. And we can't just offer a few suggestions and give up on them when they turn them all down. 

One of the most knowledgeable, realistic perspectives in reading education (according to me) is Penny Kittle. I use so much of her philosophy when teaching kids to love reading. She is a big proponent of providing kids with meaningful book recommendations. And in order to give a kid a quality book recommendation that they will take seriously, you have to have read the book. So I read a ton! I don't take home any paperwork. I take home books. I read constantly and I listen to audio books while driving to and from school. I ask our school's librarian and other teachers for good books. Because of all the reading I do, I have a pretty big bank of books to draw from when I recommend books to students.

It's also important for me to share the fact that I read for enjoyment and to make myself a better person. I always share my honest opinion about books to my students, too. If I hated a book, I tell them. It's important for them to see that it's okay to abandon a book that doesn't hold their interest. If a kid asks me if I've read a book and I haven't, I tell them. I tell them what books I want to read, as well. One thing Penny Kittle does that I have adopted is to share the book(s) I'm currently reading, what I just finished reading and what I plan to read next with my students. It serves as proof that I actually read and offers instant book recommendations to kids. I have several students that always stop and take a look at the books I'm reading/finished reading/plan to read.  

With some students, I have to take the time to get the kids invested in a book I think they will like. It's not enough just to hand the book to some kids. Quite often, I read the first few pages or chapters with the kids. We get a sense of the story and the characters together. We annotate to get a sense of our feelings and thinking about the book. Once I feel like they have a good grasp of the book, I turn them loose with it. This step is so important for kids who have a hard time getting into a book or understanding what's happening.

Vocabulary is key.
One of the biggest reasons why kids struggle with reading is a lack of vocabulary comprehension. When you constantly try to read words you can't pronounce or words you don't know the meaning of, it's overwhelming and defeating. So kids stop reading, which means their vocabularies stop growing. It becomes this vicious cycle. That's why it is super important to help kids grow their vocabulary bank. When I'm talking with students, I try to throw in new vocabulary. When we are reading together and come across a word I can tell they don't know, we talk about it or look it up on Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary. I also encourage the kids to make vocabulary cards to add to a bulletin board in my room. It's become a resource that all the kids use and take pride in adding to. Some kids even started to ask if they could make a card if they come across a new word on their own. I make it a point to explain how important vocabulary is to reading and it helps them become more active in learning new words.

Play games.
Even middle schoolers like to play games.  6th graders still get really excited at the mention of playing a game. 8th graders aren’t as quick to admit they want to play a game, but they will have a big smile plastered on their face while they are playing.  Trust me.  There are lots of games out there that help develop reading skills and oral expression skills.  A few of my favorites are Taboo, Scattergories and Mad Gab.  Taboo gets kids to think about different ways to describe words, which helps them develop their vocabulary and practice their oral expression.  Scattergories helps kids work on spelling and critical thinking.  Mad Gab helps kids practice their decoding skills.  Just remember to go through the cards in Taboo and Mad Gab ahead of time and remove any that aren’t school appropriate.  You certainly don’t want a 7th grade boy trying to get you to guess the word “lingerie” or “hangover.”

There are lots of other things you can call a “game” which will trick kids into working on reading skills.  Mad Libs is great if you are working on grammar or sentence structure.  I have the book Bananagrams for Kids, which is chalk full of word riddles, which helps with critical thinking skills and spelling.  It’s all in how you present the activity.  If you call it a “game,” they’ll automatically get excited about it.    

I could go on and on about all the things my students have taught me this year, but I'm sure you are tired of scrolling down. These are my best tips. Happy summer to all you teachers out there! And happy reading!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day... my beautiful mom.  She is the best woman I know and everything that's good in me came from her.  (I love you bunches!) all the moms who are lucky and blessed enough to get to hold their babies. all the moms who never had the chance to hold their babies or aren't able to now. all the moms who are waiting for their babies to come into their lives. all the moms whose babies are dogs or cats.

Let all the moms out there know they are loved today!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Musical Artwork

Updating our tv wall in the living room spurred a little game of musical artwork throughout our house. After hanging the three pictures above our new tv stand, I decided the mantel was looking a little busy. There were the three pictures above our tv on one side of the fireplace and our vacation gallery wall on the other side.  And then there was all the fireplace stuff.  There was just too much stuff happening on that wall.  

I decided to pare down what was displayed on the mantel.  After thinking about what would work, I decided one, big black and white photo or print would look best.  I threw around the idea of trying to get Adam and Jazzy to pose with me for a family portrait.  But after I remembered how long it took us to get a decent photo for our Christmas card, I changed my mind. 

Not wanting to take on a time-consuming project or spend a lot of money, I started wandering around my house looking for photos we had that might work.  I stopped in our bedroom and decided the photo of us that Adam got me for my birthday a few years ago would work perfectly.  The scale was right and it would make a statement without being too overwhelming for the space.

I kept the black "K" on the mantel for just a little something extra.  The simplified mantel decor definitely helps the wall look less busy.       

Yes, the print on the far left is being held up by tape.  I am going to talk Adam into making me a frame since it isn't a standard-size print.  And the bookcase is all kinds of crazy.  Adam and I have plans to build a larger bookcase that will provide more storage and fit the space better.  Even though there's still some work to be done, the wall is looking much better than it once did!

I solved my problem of how to pare down the mantel, but I had created a new problem.  What about the big blank space in on our bedroom wall?  

So I wandered around our house some more and ended up looking through the guest room closet that is full of random home decor items.  It's a little embarrassing how much crap I have crammed in there.  But I'm sure glad I didn't get rid of the old canvas artwork I used to have hanging in my laundry room!  It has some yellow lettering and when I saw it I knew it would tie in perfectly with the yellow-framed "The Best Is Yet To Come" artwork my mom colored for me.  I figured I could make a little grouping of artwork with some pops of yellow.  

I decided I needed one more "something" to hang with the canvas and the colored artwork.  I have seen more and more decor that is "dipped" in paint, that is the bottom half is painted an accent color.  I decided to replicate the dipped look with a wooden "K."  I bought a white "K" and some yellow craft paint at Michael's.  After taping off the bottom of the "K" with some painter's tape, I used a craft brush to swipe on some bright yellow paint.  

The mini gallery wall fills the space nicely and adds a fun pop of color.

There you have it!  A little game of musical artwork.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Kansas City Infertility Awareness Conference

This past weekend I attended the 6th Annual Family Building Conference put on by Kansas City Infertility Awareness.  I must admit I was pleasantly surprised.  

While I've been very open with dealing with the loss of my baby and my ensuing infertility struggles on this blog, I haven't really sought out any therapy or support groups.  Adam and I saw a grief counselor that specialized in infant loss and miscarriages right after we lost our baby.  Neither one of us really connected with the counselor.  Or perhaps it was too soon after losing our baby and we were not in the right frame of mind to talk about what had happened.  So, after two visits, we decided not to go back.  And the thought of attending a support group didn't really appeal to either of us.  We were both a bit guarded and talking in front of a group of people about this horrible thing that happened to us didn't sound pleasant.  

I eventually opened up to family members and friends.  I can't begin to describe how much this has helped me heal.  I truly appreciate all the wonderful people in my life who have talked with me, cried with me and hoped with me.  

About a month ago, one of my co-workers told me about the conference.  Her niece is one of the board members.  Having talked about my infertility struggles with my co-worker, she shared about the conference.  At first, I thought it wasn't for me.  But I decided to give it a try.  I figured if it wasn't for me, I could always just leave.  

I talked Adam into going with me.  I know it was definitely going outside of his box.  But he sucked it up and was kind enough to come along with me.  

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I am so very glad that I attended!  If nothing else, I feel a little less alone now.  I heard from many different women who have walked in my footsteps and felt all that I'm feeling now.  I also gained some new insight into IVF and adoption after attending breakout sessions on those topics.  

I left feeling more informed about family building options.  I was grateful to all the women who shared their stories.  And I gained some more hope for my future.  I'm even planning on attending the next monthly support meeting.  I'm very excited to see what I will gain from the support group.  

Thank you to Kansas City Infertility Awareness for putting together such an inspiring, informative conference!