Saturday, March 31, 2012

Just Speak Calmly....

Yesterday I had to make a trip to the craft store to replenish some supplies for a batch of jewelry I'm making for market.  Usually not a big deal, half hour trip, even if I have a bunch of babies in tow.

Most of the time when I go to a store with lots of little ones I get lots of "your brave" or "oh, dad is babysitting today" and honestly a lot of "wow, your kids are very well behaved" This was not one of those days.

I knew I was pushing it.  The kids are all getting over sore throats and sniffles, they were tired, but I really needed to get some stuff and I was already out after dropping Buggy off at dance so I went for it.

I was in the bead isle when things started to go wrong.  I had just found the clearance section and was rooting through the bargains like I was looking for truffles and Jack-Jack started crying.  Bitsy had taken his bottle away. Jack-Jack was in the child seat part of the cart and Bitsy was in the basket, Cardo Man was walking; and I had already told him about 21 times not to stand on the edge of the cart, he could tip it over. 

Anyway I told Bitsy to give Jack-Jack is bottle back and she did, after she used her teeth to rip the nipple off.  I didn't catch is little act of defiance until Jack-Jack started crying again when he dumped the entire contents of the bottle in his own face, soaking himself and the floor under us.

I say, "Bitsy, that is not nice, give me the rest of Jack-Jacks bottle."

"no! you can't say it to me!"

"Bits, give it to me please" (just speak calmly Capable)


At this point she throws the nipple at me and a bottle of red paint I had put in the cart earlier and begins to howl!

Keep in mind that Jack-Jack is continuing to scream his little head off because he is soaked in milk and his precious nipple is missing.

It is now that Cardo Man switches from "Can we buy this? Can we buy this? Can we buy this?" to "Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad...."

"Cardo wait a minute..."

Cardo bouncing up and down on his toes "DAD, MY POOP IS COMING OUT!"


I have a milk soaked screamer, a paint throwing screamer and one who's "poop is coming out"  and a extremely young sales associate asks  "Hi, can I help you find something?'

Yes, yes you can ,I need about 10 more pounds of patience and you might need to get a mop because we just spilled milk all over the floor....and my boy taking a dump next to the milk

As we are running to the bathroom Bitsy's tantrum has continued to escalate to the point where she starts to slap at her own face so I need to restrain her hands.  We make it to the bathroom before the poop comes out but now we are in a strange bathroom and the little prairie dog has gone back into the burrow, ugh.  It is really echoey in the bathroom and Bits has now switched from a wailing cry to just a wahhhh, wahhhh, wahhh cry of rage.  Jack decides that sounds pretty cool in the bathroom so he joins in. 

Cardo man finally does his business but now Jack-Jack is trying to stand up in the cart and fall to the floor.  So I end up with Jack-Jack over one arm and balancing cardo over one knee while I wipe his hiney with the other hand.  (note: at home he can wipe his own hiney but this public toilet was just too far off the ground and the seat was too wide for him to do it without touching the toilet seat to prevent falling in, and I have a problem with little hands on public toilets seats, so I did the wiping, don't judge....there are germs!) Bitsy, still yelling.  While am washing my hands I see Cardo in the mirror going to stand on the edge of the cart, AGAIN!  I seriously told him about a gazillion times not to.  I whip out my super ninja moves as the cart starts to go over, and catch the basket of toppling babies.  This scares Jack-Jack and he is once again crying, and I am getting there myself.

We come out of the bathroom and it appears they have assigned the young sales associate to follow the crazy guy with the yelling kids through the store.  This just firmed my resolve to finish this shopping trip no matter what.

15 minutes later with kids still yelling we head to the register to check out, you know the only register open with the brand new cashier who can't figure out how to ring the coupon and then calls the manager who is on break so you get to know your line neighbors, yeah that register. 

 My kids have been yelling for about 20 minutes in this store, still are yelling, and the people in line are thinking "Just get out of here!"  The group of three elderly asian ladys behind me are shaking their heads and pointing fingers, there faces are pity, dissapointment, and angry accusing shame.....stop looking at me!

The general consensus of the store staff and shoppers is clearly this guy is not qualified.

That's when its my turn to pay, the cashier asks are you a member of our rewards program?  No, I am not.  She gives me the little talk, I say OK, sign me up (you do get a coupon for $5 off).

She asks something else, Bitys is still yelling so  I say sorry what?  Oh, email address.

Now she can't hear me and says sorry would you repeat that I didn't catch that email...

So I stand there with milk spilled down the front of me, breaking a stress sweat from the screaming and the rest of the line just wanting me to go away.  I pause, look at her and then all the customers behind me watching my little struggle; and in a very loud,  but very calm voice I say;

"Its  CAPABLE......FATHER......AT.....G......MAIL DOT COM."

Cashier, raised eyebrow.

Me, "well, most days anyway." 

And collect my $5 coupon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Block Print Paper Dresser Makeover

Dresser makeover!  Here is the before;
OK, so not so great at this point.  I look at it in the picture and understand why the people at the Goodwill were looking at me suspiciously when I saw the $20 price tag and threw my body across the top of it and yelled mine, mine, mine!

Just kidding, kind of, I did sit on it and refuse to move until I had a sold ticket.  Thrifting can be competitive....hoarders will do just about anything to get their fix. 

Anyway, I had the kids with me and it takes forever to get something loaded into your car at the Goodwill if you wait for the employees to help you; so I used what I call my "Grapes of Wrath Caravan Method."  This is where I balance the large piece of furniture on a cart, (no, for real) and then put Jack-Jack, Bitsy, and Cardo in another cart.  Then you push a cart and pull a cart.  Have I mentioned that I carry bungee cords in my diaper bag just for this?  I'm sure people are wondering if I'm walking home, and if the dresser is good enough, I would!  I would like to include a picture of this someday but I don't have eight hands.

Well, our thrifting side show made it home with the dresser and the work began, scraping the stickers off......I have scraped sooo many stickers off furniture that I rarely let them in my home, my kids are sticker deprived.  Cardo did bring some airplane stickers home from school the other day that I failed to intercept.  He says Dad close your eyes I have surprise and leads me to my room (oh boy, this could be really sweet or maybe the chihuahua pooed and the floor and someone walked through it).
Surprise!  "I decorated your bed with my stickers!"

Airplane stickers all over my headboard, thanks buddy.......

Sorry, sidetracked, here are the in process pics;

Sanded, primed and the first couple coats of gloss white paint.

I'm making an effort to always wear a dust mask, the older kids say that all the dust is making me dumber. I don't know if that is why I can't help them with their math homework after 5th grade.  I rough the finish up with steel wool between each coat of paint to get good adhesion between layers, this makes the paint job durable for years.

I chose a selection of handmade, hand block printed papers for this dresser with a floral theme, then aligned them in strips across the drawers.  Then its lots of layers of acrylic!

Finished Product!

This dresser is currently available. Message me for details, Thanks!

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Want A Flower

My sweet little Cardo Man had to make yet another trip to the dentist today.  This was one of many trips he has had to make to correct some oral issues that he has had.  He has even endured oral surgery at his young age. 

For me this would be enough to hate going to the dentist, he however takes it all in stride and goes happily.   He is a little charmer and has all the staff wrapped around his little finger with his brave attitude and smiling face within a matter of minutes.

Here he is in the chair today.

He is confident enough now to give the hygenist and dentist instructions on how to do things the right way.  Kindly of course, they might be new at this, right?

After the trip to the dentist it was off the the pharmacy for some meds for his upcoming procedures next week.  Hot Mama told him he was such a great boy at the dentist he could pick a treat for himself while they were at the store.

Guess what he picked.... candy, a toy, chocolate milk.....

No, he picked flowers.

I love this boy.  When we go to the store he loves to bring flowers home for Hot Mama and this time he thought he needed some.

He does have a practical side, when they were in line to pay he saw the gum and asked Hot Mama if he could have some gum.  She said you can have one treat, whatever you choose.  If you want to put your flowers back you can have gum. 

A moment of consideration and then "No, I want my flowers, I'll get gum when they die."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bug paper Dresser Makeover

Papered dresser makeover, here it is done.  I loved the paper, dahlias are Hot Mama's favorite and there are dragon flys and wasps in the paper.  Its kind of a ugly / beautiful thing that I like do with pieces.

Here it is to start with, thrift store find great lines but boring.  For you don't ever paint wood people there were several places that the stain had sun bleached and lets face it the world is over populated with wood dressers - you all have one!  Now dressers with bugs and flowers on the drawers that's rare.

I'll skip the pictures of all the sanding and priming, for one they are boring and I don't want you to judge my hoard that was in the back of the sanding pictures.  I did end up painting it on my kitchen island so that I could make sure none of the kiddos escaped the house or played with sharp objects.

Next step is to cut the paper to size and apply to the drawers. This involves soaking the paper in a acrylic solution to expand the paper fibers, putting that on the drawer,  smoothing, out all the air bubbles then letting that dry.  Light sand with fine steel wool between 3 additional coats of acrylic.  Finally I sand the edges of the drawers to remove any paper edges that aren't perfectly smooth and a final coat of acrylic.  The whole thing usually takes several days with drying time.

Drying drawers waiting for a final coat of acrylic.

Ta-Da, the completed dresser posing for her after pictures.  Makes me happy......until I notice i switched the drawers in the picture and the pattern on the paper doesn't match up, Oh well.
You will be glad to know that she went home with a nice couple at the Fremont Market today.  They were kind enough to bring me their ugly dresser they had been using as a donation to my makeover ugly furniture effort.  I love Fremont shoppers, thanks guys!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This Week in Before & After

This weeks projects, all of these pieces and more will be in my booth at the Freemont Sunday Market this week.  I also can ship all over the country via several carriers for reasonable rates, if you see something you like let me know!

Before:  Goodies collected from thrifting and craigslist stalking, the most expensive item $19.99, the least FREE! It sometimes takes a while for me to re-imagine what each piece should look like so we often have random ugly furniture sitting around the house waiting for me to feel inspired. 

Trash or treasure?  I see lots of potential and I think I have a bag of knobs left over from another project that will be perfect for this dresser.



Rich Pacific Northwest inspired green, painted over a black undercoat to deepen the color saturation, paraffin wax rubbed before the green coat and then distressed.  The green comes off where the wax was creating the distressed effect.

Electric Apple green with glaze, total transformation from a dated 80's piece of furniture that had outlived its use to a piece that I'm sure people will be fighting to take home from the market this weekend!
One of my favorite blues, aqua awsomeness.

The magazine rack is now grape and distressed and the chair I didn't get a before, but the great vintage needlepoint plaid on the seat looks great with the grey.
Vintage lamps, now eye candy for any room.  I like to use them without the shades and with a antique style low wattage edison bulb. 
I didn't get the before picture of this one because once what to do with it I was so excited to get started I forgot the camera.  Grey and Yellow, always a great combination but then I used vintage lace on the drawers to create the negative image of the lace, perfect!

Finally my favorite this week, the ugly monster sticker dresser with no knobs.  First a dark slate/navy blue and then I used vintage blueprints that I rescued from a dumpster a few years ago and applied them all over the dresser.  The blue prints are detailed and ornate with lots of technical notations and wonderful color, who would throw those away!  The detail of the blueprints is a great contrast to the simplicity of the vintage dresser.   Finally over sized orange knobs and a dark glaze.  I love it!  I'm taking it to the market this weekend but may spend the day talking people out of buying it so it can come back home with me!

How to say "I love you"

We are a say I love you family, we say it all the time, and mean it.  We say it when we leave the house, on the phone, at dinner, at bed time, at random moments, really all the time.  I'm sure that we make other people uncomfortable sometimes with all the "I love yous",  The first time I told the parents of our first foster kids  "I love you, your doing a good job", I could tell they believed me but wanted a way to escape from the moment.  That was a couple years ago and when I tell them that now it feels natural to all of us, like "of course you love me!" 

With all the love going around I noticed that Gelly has a bit of a crisis when it comes to these moments.  I know that he loves us, and will tell us he loves us on his own terms when he is feeling close or particularly happy, but tell him you love him and he's not sure what to do.  For him its a loaded statement with an element of risk.  He has had difficult experiences with love, loss and people who should have loved him hurting him, he has suffered.

A couple of days ago we were getting ready to drive to school and Hot Mama told him, "love you Gelly have a good day at school".  He responded like he usually does when this is uncomfortable for him, he pretends that he didn't hear it.  I guess this was not a real surprise because he had just talked to Mama S a day or so before when she called for Cardo Man's birthday.  He had a lot of anxiety approaching the birthday wondering if she would call and then deciding if he would talk to her when she did call. He actually hid in his room for a while when I was talking to her while he decided what to do.  My sense has always been that there is some feeling of loyalty that if he loves us he can't love her anymore.

We got in the car and were the only ones driving to school that day, a really rare thing to be just the two of us  in the van.  So I asked him. 

"Gelly, why when we tell you that we love you do you some times pretend that you don't hear us?"

"I not know what you talkin about."

Keep in mind that Gelly has a pretty serious verbal delay that makes some of these conversations difficult, He is 6 but communicates at a much lower level. I know that he is thinking beyond the level of a 6 year old,  sometimes the vocabulary to express really serious things just isn't there yet.

I said, "I know that you know what I am talking about and I just want to understand how it makes you feel. "

I explained that when I love someone it makes me feel happy to tell them I love them,  and when someone loves me it make me happy that they tell me.   "Have you ever thought about how it makes you feel?"

Silence from the back seat for about two minutes. 

"It makes me feel like I don't know who I am."


I looked in the rear view mirror into the biggest brownest eyes and could see all the questions that bubble under the surface about who he is, why bad things happened to him, how he ended up with me with no say so in the matter after bouncing through 3 foster homes, his struggle to make sense of his own story.  How do you love me when I feel like so many other people didn't, If I love you back does that mean that I can't love Mama S.....How do I find my place?

My heart broke for him.
We stopped in the school parking lot and talked about who he was; from his birth to the struggles that Mama S had and the danger that put him in, going into foster care, coming to us, adoption and our life now.  We talked about the boy I see him as, kind, strong, a good brother, determined, and smart.  A person who deserves to be loved and a person who has one life that can have lots of different people in it, family by birth and family by adoption.  Not a person with lots of different parts of their life that must be kept separate.

A boy who deserves to be loved in a way that he can know who he is.

I was hard to let him go that day, I just wanted to take him back home and protect him from all of the reality of what has been his life.  I know he thinks deeply about his own origins but I may have underestimated how deeply. 

The conversation ended with me telling him I was really proud of him for talking about big feelings like that and that he should only tell people that he loves them if he really feels like he should.  I told him I really love him and will keep telling him I do, but that doesn't mean he needs to do anything other than know that I really, really mean it, forever. 

I drove home repeating my plea to the lord to get this right for him, to be the dad that he needs and that he will know we all love him so much.

That night at dinner the family was particularly noisy and in an attempt to just get the volume down a couple of notches I announced to the family, "do you know what would make me a really happy daddy?"  I was just going to suggest that we all be a little more quiet, but Gelly raised his hand lightning fast and said "I know!"  "I love you dad!"

Wow, again.

I love you to Gelly.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Before & After Projects For This Week

I have done quite a few projects in the last couple weeks and wanted to get all the before and afters up in one post.

 I have lots to tell about what is going on with the family and the kids too in the days to come.  We have had experiences with birth parents, switching some of the kids to home school, and Gelly coming up with some great questions about why our family has different colors.  So check back.

OK, here goes with the before & afters;

If your one of those people that freak out when in comes to painting original antiques, relax, its a reproduction with a cherry stain that has no personality.  A thrift store bargain at $12.00.
Green paint, antiqued glaze and now we've got something.  SOLD

Before,$3.99 thrift store find with lots of possibility but ruined finish and a little plain.

After, finish restored, birds on a wire added.  Simple and beautiful.  SOLD

Before, sometimes I get so excited to get going on a project that I forget to take the "before" picture!  I remembered part way through on this one, the sanding and part of the priming is done.

After:  I found this clown paper a couple of years ago and was waiting to use it.  It makes me laugh every time I look at it because the clowns look a little evil, well, even more evil than your usual clown.  Time out chair anyone?

This chair we'll just go right to the after because I forgot to take the before.  This lovely chair was a trash can find.  My heart skips a beat when I see legs like this sticking out of a rubbish bin and the kids know that no matter how late we are the 12 passenger van is pulling over for discarded furniture!  They are just enjoying the anonymity of our new neighborhood when it happens now.  My absolute favorite is when the homeowner sees that your taking their trash and invites you into the garage for some other "junk" they were getting rid of, no seriously its happenss enough times to me that now it seems reality.  SOLD

Before, what can I say blagh.  Thrift store find that is yelling trailer park chic.  Don't under estimate the power of paint and paper.

After, complete transformation.  SOLD

Before, nice but very dated.

After, rich blue with black glaze for additional depth.  SOLD

And Finally,
Before, was this even attractive when it was new?

After, much better.  SOLD

Just to put these projects in the context of my life as a stay-at-home dad; during the couple of weeks that it took to make these pieces I changed more than 100 diapers, did roughly 40 loads of laundry and drove almost 400 miles to dance lessons......

Oh, yes I did!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Working from home, upcycle desk make-over

Working from home, not the work you do as a stay at home parent to make the home run, but the work you do from home to make make the money is not something that I have figured out exactly how to do efficiently yet. 

That might have something to do with the 9 kids.

This picture shows how work usually looks for me.  I'm refinishing a vintage magazine rack for market,  my little Jack-Jack a huge fascination with any small kitchen appliance, and any project I'm working on.  This means that for the last year I haven't made a smoothie, loaded the dishwasher or painted much with the use of both hands.  This isn't really new, Mooster was the same way and he is 10 now. 

Don't worry, I only use water based low/no VOC products :)

 A up-cycle re-finish project usually goes in a lot of starts and stops, with a lot of help (or interruptions) from the kids.
Here is a desk from beginning to end.

Beautiful lines, but destroyed finish and lots of kid carving in the top.
Patch the chips and gouges.
Sand the whole thing down.
Prime with a good stain blocker.
Paint on the kitchen island, not the best spot, but I can make dinner and supervise homework and chores from here.
Apply the paper.
I had to live with it for a few days to decide if it needed a dark glaze over the paint and paper, I decided it did.

Finished product at market!