We’re having a…. (Hint: it’s not a boy. Or a puppy.)

This pregnancy thing just got real, people. Because on Friday, we found out that we are going to be bringing a real live baby girl into this world.

baby 12 weeks ultrasound 2

I didn’t think knowing whether my baby was a boy or girl would change anything, but it does. At least for me. There’s something about being able to say “SHE’S moving” that makes it so much more real. Like, this is really happening. I am really going to have a baby. When did I get old enough to be responsible for another human being? I’m pretty show it was just a few weeks ago that I looked this. And found this to be a perfectly beautiful ensemble. (Oh wait, I’m thinking of this dress.)

dress up

Since many of my 7th graders have been obsessed with knowing whether it is a girl or boy ever since they found out I was pregnant, I had them cast their votes all last week. It sort of turned into an all-out war with fairly absurd logic.



I suppose I should say non-logic.


A couple of girls requested that I email or text them with the results because they “couldn’t live waiting until Tuesday to find out and neither could their mom.” I am happy to report that there were no casualties. This is probably mostly because I wasn’t being “destructive or mean.” (?? wheredotheygetthisstuff)


I also had a student ask in complete sincerity—he wasn’t even trying to be an obnoxious almost-teenage boy—if it could be a puppy. Said his sister saw it on TV. No, honey, it can’t. Sorry to disappoint.The best, though, was the girl who literally drew a punnet square on the whiteboard to determine that we would be having a boy based on the facts that Rick and I both have brown hair and brown eyes and boys with brown hair and brown eyes are cuter than girls with the same. I’d have been offended if I wasn’t laughing so hard.


You can see from some of the photos that a few kids suggested names. My personal favorite suggestion was “Turd Pickle.” That right there is 7th grade boy brain at its finest and most creative. Too bad that particular name is really more suited for a male heir.


Aaaand you obviously know that the presence of a girl means that pink WILL be making its way into this house and Rick can’t even veto it. I told him he should be extra happy that it’s a girl because now I won’t try so hard to sneak pink into every other room of the house. I picture something like this:

pink explosion nurserySource-ish

The only difference is that my baby girl will obviously have a nose. I know because I saw it in the extra-creepy 3D ultrasound. (Of course, that particular image also suggested that I would be giving birth to a clay alien baby, so who knows.)

If you’ve had a baby, did you find out girl or boy before it was born, or did you wait for it to be a surprise? If you haven’t had one, what do you think you’ll do if you have a baby in the future? There is no way I could have waited to find out. Well, I mean, I could have waited, but then I might not have definitively eliminated puppy from the realm of possibility and I’d just always wonder.


Convert a Trunk to a File Box…with the help of Joan Rivers, Dr. Phil, and a pesky cat.

Ready for a project that is fast and simple? Me too. Let’s talk about the trunk that we upgraded to a file box.

convert a trunk to a file box

This might not seem ground-breaking, but it is. Our former filing system was This. And This is not a joke.


We are nothing if not classy. And organized.

The thrifted $5 metal trunk-turned-file box has been sitting around for so long that I can’t even find an original photo of it. It began its life dingy gold but has been seriously confused by all of the colors it has been under my roof: first gold, then brown, then red for about 5.4 minutes until Rick asked why there was a fire engine in the house, then blue, and now teal, thanks to a couple coats of Rustoleum 2X Lagoon.

convert a trunk to a  file box

It has, furthermore, held a variety of purposes, from Boob Light Graveyard to Cat House.


And now we’ve had the nerve to convert it from your plain average trunk altogether. Dr. Phil will probably be all up in this nurtured identity crisis. Our story will be featured before the parents who buy their kids pot and after the estranged-sister-in-a-cult-that-eats-tree-bark intervention.

Lucky for you, the conversion process was simpler than a cult brainwashing and cost us only $.98 for a square dowel. That’s less than the price of Tums, which will be necessary after ingesting tree bark.

Converting a trunk to a file box: What you’ll need.

  • trunk
  • one 1/4”x36” wood dowel (maybe more than one depending on the size of your trunk)
  • skinny scrap wood
  • Gorilla Wood Glue
  • hideous and inefficient former storage system (optional)
  • husband who can operate a table saw (not optional)

Converting a trunk to a file box: What you’ll do.

  • First, the wood needs to be cut to size. I highly recommend doing the dishes in exchange for your husband completing this step for you. This exchange also guarantees that all parties come away with necessary limbs still attached and not hanging in a bloody mass from the table saw, a perk that my husband is smart enough to recognize. That, and he hates doing the dishes and if I lost my fingers he’d have to do the dishes for the rest of our lives. My approach was foolproof.
  • Second, use Gorilla Wood Glue to attach the scrap wood to the sides of the trunk. I used the file folder to determine placement.


  • The dowels were glued last. My recommendation here is that you let them cure before you go and hang your 89 pounds of mostly unnecessary files on them, causing them to sag prematurely. Nobody likes premature sagging. Just ask Joan Rivers.

U.S. comedian Joan Rivers arrives at the British Academy Television Awards, BAFTA,  in London, Sunday May 20, 2007. (AP Photo/ Max Nash)Source-ish

  • Next, kick your cat out of the trunk for the 18th time.


  • Add your folders.

convert a trunk to a file box

  • Console your cat when she learns she is no longer welcome in the trunk.


  • The end.

By the way, I am declaring war on cute and coordinated Pinterest photos that tell me my file folders should be chevron or polka-dotted or hand-painted with “You are my sunshine.” I don’t really care what the inside of my file box looks like and neither does my bank statement. My method is Spinterest: spin around in circles long enough and everything looks cute. Or you vomit. Which isn’t usually cute. But it temporarily takes your mind off of your non-cute file folders. Win.

Where do you keep your files? Is anything in your home experiencing an identify crisis? Do you think Joan Rivers’ face would move if someone poked it with some tree bark?


Could you, would you have white walls? (Plus an accent wall sneak peek)

I’d continue that rhyme from my oh-so-super title but the only thing I can think of that rhymes with “walls” in the .74 seconds I am giving myself to spend on this beginning is “Could you, would you something something balls” and we just won’t go there. Except we probably already did. Apologies.

With the possible exception of the fact that I feel like I got hit by a truck (standing up and down repeatedly is overrated with an extra 10 pounds attached to you) I am feeling good about our recent house progress. Here’s where we stood on our common room makeover up until Saturday…

benjamin moore simply white

…and I say “until Saturday” because on Saturday, something in that room got a big hit of this.


Buuuut I’m not ready to share that particular project with you yet, so that’s all I’ll say for now. (Insert maniacally evil laughter here. Even though evil laughter makes no sense at this moment. Insert it anyway.)

The walls and ceiling have all been painted with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in eggshell. In my humble clueless opinion that means nothing unless your name is Rick and therefore YOU MUST TRUST ME, Simply White is a really nice warm white—not too stark and icy, but no yellow undertones either. Even though white usually gets a bad rap (generally a renter’s woe), I chose white because a lot of the rooms I am drawn to have white or pale neutral walls with layers of bold color and pattern. Like this:

emily henderson

Or this:

white walls

Or this:

white walls room

Basically, I knew that I wanted the walls to be the backup singers for furniture and accessories and accents that would be the real stars.

simply white benjamin moore

(Um, that back-up singer metaphor? Really, English teacher? That’s the best you could do? Gag. You should probably have a baby and quit your job.) 

The $4 dress from Old Navy that you see folded over the…scale…(???) in the above picture is the possible color palette inspiration for the room. And that dress, while I love the pattern, will not be worn by me in public. Ever. It will become pillows or something else more becoming than a sack on legs with a super unflattering hem and sleeves. Okay, okay; because you insisted, I’ll model it. Peer pressure these days.

DSC_1573You all wish YOUR dresses looked this cute. And that your hair looked this frizzled.

In addition to painting the walls, we also completed the super important step of forever leaving our mark on the floor that will soon-ish be carpeted. Obviously our mark would involve a cat face. Or a noseless, mouthless wannabe cat/rabbit (crabbit?) face with deformed ears. (I’ll give you a hint about which member of our household was the artist here: this person would look even worse in that dress than I did and their name rhymes with SHMICK.)


But despite that fact that I waste time taking pictures of my pasty white legs in non-flattering dresses and that Rick, I mean Shmick, paints pseudo-cat faces on the floor, we are moving right along with this room. Because just three weeks ago from the first picture in this post the same view looked like this:


Gives you a full shot of the floor that is now significantly improved with the addition of a crabbit.


Yes, progress is good.

benjamin moore simply white

Major things still to do:

  • Herringbone the heck out of something in the room. Insert evil laughter again, with even less purpose this time around.
  • Install new trim and crown.We bought MDF on Sunday—and Rick already started installing it. He is on this renovation like butter on bread. Like white on rice. Like bad similes on posts. Like my terrible figurative language is out of control and installing trim will make it stop.
  • Carpet the floor. The whole upstairs is getting wall-to-wall for reasons I’ll discuss in another post but that stem from the lead poisoning I discussed in my last post.
  • Paint that creamy yellow door. It’s like someone went to get their teeth whitened and the dentist missed a tooth. How embarrassing for them. And the dentist.
  • Replace the ceiling fan…and move the new fixture, because it’s no longer centered since the closet was built.

Do you—or would you—have any white walls in your home? Any bad figurative language you’d like me to work into my next post? What do you think got a shot of navy and white herringbone? I’ll send a signed copy of the crabbit portrait to anyone who guesses correctly.


Lead Poisoning: What Every Parent Needs to Know

You all know that my blog is not a tireless dirge of doom and gloom. (I talk about bras too much for that to be the case.) But there is one topic that, while definitely being home improvement-related, does not fit in with the usual form of levity around these parts. Nonetheless, it has hit close to home and I hope the story, while long, will resonate with you, as well.

Lead. More specifically, lead poisoning in children.

what every parent needs to know about lead poisoning

It’s one of those things that I heard about occasionally, but didn’t necessarily think much about. I naively believed lead poisoning to be the result of something drastic and neglectful like a child physically ingesting loads of lead paint from old windowsills, something that could surely never happen to me because hello I will not have chippy old windowsills and wouldn’t let my kid chew on them anyway.

Turns out I was wrong. Turns out it’s much easier than that for a child to end up with lead poisoning, especially when you live in an old home that almost definitely contains lead paint. Turns out you can be the most attentive, loving parent and homeowner and still be looking in horror at elevated lead levels, not knowing what you should have done to prevent it and wondering what kind of future your child could have had if you had known sooner.

This is what happened to a friend of mine, who we will call Natalie to protect her privacy. She has a daughter who is almost two (we will call her Abby), and last year at Abby’s one-year check-up she was tested, as children now are in New York, for lead in her blood. Natalie didn’t think anything of it until the results came back with a lead level of 10. According to the New York State Department of Health, this requires action.

lead levels in childrenSource

Initial feelings of indignation—Natalie had previously shared my beliefs about the causes of lead poisoning—were quickly replaced by confusion. How could this happen? Where is the lead coming from? Next was the horror and regret: what have I done to my child? No mother wants to face that question, and Natalie said she spent many days and nights in tears as she and her husband began the painful process of figuring out what had happened and what needed to be done to get Abby’s levels back into a normal, safe range.

So what had happened? They, like us, live in an old house. They, like us, had done significant renovation that involved tearing out old plaster and lathe and replacing it with drywall. Then they, like us, had a baby.

See why this is hitting close to home?

Plaster and lathe alone does not necessarily contain lead, but you know what can: the layers of old paint on that plaster. In their renovation, Natalie and her husband had worn the necessary HEPA masks, sealed everything off, and had cleaned up adequately—or so they truly believed. But the dust created by that process had not been fully eliminated despite their efforts, and, as they learned when the Department of Health came, it had settled into the ducts of their forced air system and into the carpet fibers of their home. Abby’s crib was situated right over a register. Lead dust was found on this because of the dust that had settled into the ducts, meaning it was blowing around the room whenever the heat was on.

The Department of Health also pointed out a key indicator of lead paint’s presence: this scaly, alligator-like effect on a painted surface, which was around their entryway door frame.

sign of lead paintSource

Natalie and her husband hired professionals to clean out the air ducts, had a whole-house water filtration system installed, replaced all of their home’s original windows—the windows themselves had not been painted but the window tracks had, and with lead paint—and all wall-to-wall carpeting was replaced. These are not easy, inexpensive DIY fixes.

As a result of her loving parents’ adamancy to fix this, Abby’s blood lead levels are now down to a 1. The thing with those lead levels, though, is that the damage done from an elevated level is irreversible. Natalie and her husband also have no way of knowing what the levels are in her brain, which gets rid of the lead more slowly than the blood.

Abby is a beautiful, happy, and healthy little girl—but Natalie finds herself wondering what her future could have held that it no longer will because of her exposure to lead. Abby met some of her milestones a little later than expected, and while Natalie does not know exactly what the cause of those delays were and will never know for sure, she wonders if they could have been prevented. More specifically, if the knowledge she has now could have changed anything in Abby’s early life.

She won’t ever know. But what Natalie does know is that knowledge is power, and in this case, it has the power to change the future of someone else’s little girl or boy, which is why she gave me her blessing to share her story.

She wants you to know that all it takes to elevate a child’s lead levels is 30 particles of lead dust. This can fit on your fingertip.

She wants you to know that images like this make her simultaneously sad and angry, recognizing that tell-tale alligator scale created by old lead paint and wondering what she can do to prevent the children in those pictures from coming in contact with this window-turned-decor. Because one little loose flake is all it would take to cause irreversible damage.

lead paint and children

She wants you to know that she would have done anything to prevent this from happening to her own child. And she hopes that by sharing her story, she can prevent another mother somewhere from experiencing the same pain and regret with which she now lives.

What you can do in addition to sharing this story with others:

  • Before sanding, scraping or disturbing old painted surfaces, test it for lead. You can buy a lead test at the hardware store for less than $10.
  • If doing renovation in a home built prior to 1978 (the year lead was banned from paint), use a HEPA certified vacuum and soap and water to clean up areas in which potential lead dust has been created. Do NOT dry sweep or use a regular vacuum, as this will stir up the dust even more.
  • Have your ducts professionally cleaned if lead dust has been created in your home. This is the only way to ensure there is no lead dust remaining.
  • Consider what you are drinking: if the water pipes are old, they may contain lead. Use a certified water filtration system for your water.
  • Walk away from those chippy old things and instead create your own non-toxic distressed finish on pieces.
  • Visit here for a list of common lead sources.

Have you had any experience with lead paint? Do you have any wisdom to share? Do you have any questions that my friend can answer for us? She is admittedly more of an expert than she wishes she had to be.


Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day. It’s different this year. This year, I am flooded with thoughts and emotions (oh, emotions) of being a mother myself. Looking at this picture of my mom holding me in the hospital, I find myself wanting to wish away the days between now and October so that I, too, can know how it feels to hold your first baby for the first time.


I am so thankful for this little one inside of me, whose tiny hand melts my heart every time I see it…

baby 12 weeks ultrasound 2

…and for my own mama who has held me thousands of times since that very first time nearly 27 years ago.


Happy {day after} Mother’s Day! :)


The Difference Four Weeks Makes {Bump, 17 Weeks}

In four weeks, the trees went from bare to beautiful. In four weeks, I went from that awkward “Is she pregnant?” phase to more like I’m the owner of a legit prego tummy.


As one of my 7th graders wrote on a note to me: “You get bigger and bigger every day. I think it’s awesome.” Seriously, they crack me up. They found out about a month ago when two girls came over to me in study hall and whispered “We have a question to ask you, but it’s kind of embarrassing, and we don’t want any boys around.” Their hilarious reactions and comments have been making my days quite entertaining ever since then. They ask frequently whether it is a boy or girl, and when I tell them I won’t know until the end of May, the standard reaction is “You’re going to keep us in suspense until then?!”

I’m happy to report that four weeks’ time has also (mostly) brought about the end of morning sickness. Aaaand in less wonderful news, in four weeks, the neighbors went from politely staying out of their yard while we took necessary bump photos to having the nerve to barge in and open their shed and look through their things (!!!!!!) while we took necessary bump photos.

DSC_1545 (2)

Neighbors these days. ;)

Happy weekend, everyone!


Going Drip-Splat-Smear Happy {Imprecise Watercolor Dot Art}

Allow me to highlight some key differences between myself and Rick.

Difference #1: Rick stores his ties from a hanger and makes sure that all are hung at precisely the same height. I store my scarves in a box on the floor and occasionally even on the floor. No precision required.

Difference #2: Rick puts all of the forks in one side of the dishwasher utensil rack and all of the spoons in the other. All happily facing the same way. I shove. To use the term “haphazardly” would be generous.

Difference #3: All of the bills in Rick’s wallet are sorted from smallest to largest, neatly flattened, upright and facing the same way. My purse contains 98% unnecessary junk and eats things. Rick went in there to find something last night and came back 10 minutes later slightly chewed asking me “how I ever found anything in there.”

In sum: I work hard at embracing my inner slob.

So you can imagine that when Rick came home to see this splattered and smeared and drippy and entirely imprecise watercolor propped against the den wall…

drippy watercolor dot art

…his expression looked something like this.


In case you need further confirmation of my slob-fest, all of the dripping and smearing and splattering was sort of an accident. Said accident was brought about by me being in a ginormous hurry budgeting my time wisely, and then I just went drip-splat-smear happy and messed up the whole thing. I believe it was Picasso who once said “Art is born in moments of irrational haste.”*

simple watercolor art*Picasso never said that.

The frame and mat used to live in my parents’ attic. It also used to sport two ladies lounging in what appears to be the middle of a lush meadow.


I sprayed them with paint. Lush meadows are overrated.


I made the big dots just by smearing on some watered-down craft paint with a paintbrush. I didn’t measure or use a stencil. (That would require time, people.)

DSC_1529Does this color remind anyone else of boxed macaroni and cheese?

The next step in my madness involved accidentally letting said dots drip all over because, in my impatience, I picked up the thing before it was dry. Fail. (But I like it better this way. I am slob, hear me roar.)

drippy watercolor dot art

easy watercolor art

This whole mess was inspired by this much prettier and less drippy watercolor dot painting that I’ve had pinned for a while. This whole mess is also currently alone in inhabiting the space above the desk in our den. It might need a friend or two to watch over it and make sure its purse doesn’t get too messy, if they are willing to look beneath its disheveled outward appearance and see the tender soul inside who just doesn’t have time to concern itself with organized forks and spoons.

drippy watercolor art

Whose neatness does yours most closely match: mine or Rick’s? Have you ever been working on something and then accidentally-on-purpose made it messy? Anyone else have a man-eating purse? Please do spill. (Or splatter. Or smear. You know, in keeping with the theme of this post.)

Linking to the Pinterest Challenge at Bower Power, Sparkle Meets Pop, Red Bird Blue, and Young House Love!

Want to read more?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...