Decorating the nursery: A lesson in appreciating what I have

Note to self: Stop looking at pictures of nurseries online. It only upsets you. You can’t paint the walls, you don’t have gorgeous (and ridiculously expensive) furniture and the tiny room also doubles as a guest bedroom (with an already full-to-bursting closet). Stop coveting the giant, beautiful nurseries of folks who obviously have loads of dough. Focus on making this little space beautiful in your own way. And in the end, remember that your baby isn’t even going to notice any of it.

The above has become a bit of a mantra for me. I’m as much of a sucker for the beautiful magazine spreads of nurseries in Pottery Barn as the next pregnant woman (and we’re a little bit nuts, if you hadn’t noticed from your interactions with pregnant women). So even though this is completely a first-world problem (I mean, c’mon, my child will have his own room, which is heated in the winter, and all the modern amenities of life in the developed world), it’s still a buzz-kill to look at those lovely photos and then look at what I’ve got to work with. So mornings like this one, I need to hop off the self-pity train and focus on what really matters (which includes not going into debt!).

I’ve got an 8×10 bedroom. The walls are white (at least that means blank slate and they’re not some hideous maroon or something). There is a closet (but it’s full of storage). Nearly half the room is taken up by our guest bed. I’ve got a small three-drawer white dresser that was my father’s when he was a child. It’s sturdy, even if it could use a coat of paint (and it’s officially winter in Montana, so it’s unlikely to be getting that coat of paint until, oh, June, unless someone would like to let me borrow their garage and a belt sander). The window lets in loads of light.

I’ve got small pictures I’ve collected over the years that I’ve framed, such as a block print of a kingfisher from England, a picture of Highland cows from Scotland and a picture of a steam engine, also from Scotland. I have a framed painting by my grandmother of a barn in a mountain scene. I have a framed print of a yellow lab (little boys are made of puppy dog tails after all…). I have a small print of leafy seadragons (they’re pretty much the coolest animal ever — look ’em up) from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that gives my husband and I no end of delight. We have a couple extra frames from our wedding that we look forward to filling with baby pictures.

I’m making the mobile for above the crib myself. I found a darling pattern online and I’m nearly finished (though I’ve been nearly finished for a month now… time to truly finish it!). I sewed a bunch of little birds that have one fabric for their backs and heads, and another fabric for their stomachs. They will perch on some sticks we picked up near the headwaters of the Missouri. We’ll hang the entire contraption from the ceiling with fishing wire (rated to far stronger than it needs to be because I’m paranoid). I may also wrap ribbon around the fishing wire to spruce it up a bit. Undecided on that bit. It’s things like this when I need to ask myself: What would I look back on and say I enjoyed more? Hours spent scouring websites for the perfect above-crib mobile, or the hours I spent making one myself? As a friend of mine eloquently put it: Babies know love, not brand names and price tags.

We’ve hit a snag on the crib, however. We bought the crib and crib mattress at a garage sale this summer for $40. Unfortunately, the crib did not come with hardware and I stupidly did not get the woman’s phone number to contact her about whether or not she ever uncovered the parts (she was moving). So, we’re a bit bamboozled at how the crib goes together on closer inspection (we figured it would just take furniture screws… how naive). I’ve e-mailed the manufacturer to see if we can order parts, but the crib is probably 10 years old and who knows if the company still makes those parts. Frustrating, and possibly $40 down the drain (though I suppose we could sell what we have on Craigslist to someone who can figure out the assembly). If we can’t get hardware or create our own system with the help of a local hardware store (and it needs to be a good system… I’m not putting my baby in a jerry-rigged crib), it appears I can find another crib for pretty cheap at Target. I breezed through the local maternity store today (you know me and supporting all things local), and well, Target undercuts that store by $400 on cribs. And at this time in my life, that’s going to win out.

Otherwise, things are coming together. I have a great collection of picture books started (mostly from my childhood, and some I’ve recently picked up), and a couple of stuffed animals, too. I also have my baby blanket (well, the third incarnation or so), and a beautiful locally made bamboo blanket (it never loses its fuzzy texture even after lots of washing). I’m sure gifts from my baby shower will round things out. Fingers crossed the cloth diaper package works out! My mother-in-law has sent us a number of outfits (we are set on 0-3 months!). We have a hiking backpack that we plan to get a lot of use out of in the coming summers.

Instead of focusing on how much more beautiful the nursery could be, I’m going to focus on what still needs to be done, all of which is easily completed. Here’s my list (am I missing anything?):

  • Find hardware for and assemble crib, or purchase and assemble new one
  • Finish mobile, hang
  • Hang pictures
  • Launder bedding, blankets, towels, diapers
  • Set up rocking chair (second-hand from my step-mother, but in perfectly serviceable condition)
  • Assemble changing table, get changing supplies ready
  • Find curtains to block out light during daytime naps, hang
  • Acclimate kitties to baby things (no cats in cribs!)

I’ll be sure to post pictures as we get things checked off the list! Oh, and here’s something else to be grateful for: Both my husband and I have an entire month off (last two weeks of December, first two weeks of January) to prep the nursery and enjoy being together, just us.

So, since this is the month of Thanksgiving, it’s time for me to be thankful for what I have, not covetous of what I do not (and frankly do not need). Having less stuff means less stuff to store and less stuff to move. This little boy will be provided for and loved.  And that’s what really matters.

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Thankful

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

This year, a number of friends have kept “thankfulness diaries” throughout the month of November, to remind themselves how blessed they are even when family and friends are unemployed, they are far from home and it’s cold outside. Despite our woes, personal and national, we as Americans have much to be thankful for.

So here’s my thankfulness diary. I hope your diary is as rich as mine!

Nov. 1 – I’m thankful for my God-given ability to write. I started writing a novel today.

Nov. 2 – I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can safely go to a polling place, cast my vote and know that no matter how small it seems, my vote matters.

Nov. 3 – I’m thankful for lectures at Glacier Discovery Square that inform me and others about community gardening. It helps us focus our plans.

Nov. 4 – I’m thankful for teachers in this community. The students in School District 6 are getting a great education despite budget cuts.

Nov. 5 – I’m thankful for people like Elly Jones, who commits her time to making beautiful quilts for people in need. Love and beauty are powerful healers.

Nov. 6 – I’m thankful I can enjoy breakfast with my husband in Butte at Great Harvest. Their biscuits and gravy are unequaled!

Nov. 7 – I’m thankful for quality time with my husband, who lives far away.

Nov. 8 – I’m thankful for people who attend school board meetings and speak their minds in defense of their children. I’m hopeful that those people will petition their elected officials to properly fund Montana schools and continue improving education.

Nov. 9 – I’m thankful for a thriving business community in Columbia Falls.

Nov. 10 – I’m thankful for lunch with a very good friend with whom I can talk about work, good books and good food.

Nov. 11 – I’m thankful for veterans like Jesse Mann, who served his country in Iraq and sacrificed watching one of his daughters change from a baby into a little person so that I can write these words without fear.

Nov. 12 – I’m thankful for sunset over the Columbia River in Washington.

Nov. 13 – I’m thankful for a friend’s hospitality and the chance to visit Seattle for the first time. I’m thankful for the color and excitement of Pike Place Market, for thought-provoking art at the Seattle Art Museum and for a Nebraska Cornhusker bar in a Seattle suburb.

Nov. 14 – I’m thankful for hot coffee and a long drive with my husband. We love driving together because we spend the time chatting, enjoying the scenery and reading to each other from our favorite magazines.

Nov. 15 – I’m thankful for early birthday wishes from old friends.

Nov. 16 – I’m thankful for 25 wonderful years on this earth. Here’s to many more!

Nov. 17 – I’m thankful for a church that trusts me with its junior high youth. I can’t wait for many more fun youth group gatherings to come.

Nov. 18 – I’m thankful for the kindness of people in this community. I’m thankful for churchwomen who make me a quilt for a wedding present. I’m thankful for a guided snowshoe trip and “winter getaway” trip from a West Glacier resort as a wedding present.

Nov. 19 – I’m thankful for a husband who cooks me a delicious birthday dinner of deer filet, from a deer he shot himself.

Nov. 20 – I’m thankful for a fabulous group of friends who I can join for dinner, drinks and conversation, followed by a celebration of November birthdays.

Nov. 21 – I’m thankful for a church community committed to the wellbeing of its members.

Nov. 22 – I’m thankful for a warm apartment filled with the smells of a good supper and the company of two lovely kitties.

Nov. 23 – I’m thankful for my brother Josh, who turns 10 years old today! I’m also thankful for one month of being happily married.

Nov. 24 – I’m thankful for the anticipation of a potluck Thanksgiving with friends tomorrow.

(Thanks Pottery Barn for the image … I wish I could spend lots of money at your store!)