A Little R & R

Aside from the obvious r&r I’ve been taking here on the blog we had a little family r&r the other week at the beach.  Yep, we packed up the family and drove four hours south to the sunshine, sand, and fun.  Well the girls and I did at least because we were tagging along with Michael Luke for a physical therapy convention…  so he spent most of the time in meetings.

Our trip couldn’t have come at a more perfect time though.  Our time at the beach marked two months with Esther.  Two months can seem like a long time. Newborns change drastically in two months.  Some are even sleeping through the night at that point (thank you Noah).  Esther is no different really.  She has changed so much in the past two months.  She smiles and laughs a lot more now.  Her anxiety levels have gone down… not gone but they have decreased.  She is also coming closer and closer to sleeping through the night but like newborns who have only been in their home two months she still gets totally freaked out when she wakes up in her room in the middle of the night. We are moving forward though.

One of the steps of moving forward that we were warned about and that we knew would come was grieving.  Esther did some grieving in Hong Kong… especially the days immediately after she became ours but nothing like what we experienced the week leading up to our beach trip.  You see, Esther left some pretty important people back in Hong Kong. She was loved and she loves them.  One of the is her Kai-ma (God mother in Cantonese).  I hope to share more about this amazing women later this week but in the meantime it’s enough to know this woman was like family to Esther.  Family that she can’t see, or hug, or play with anymore.  Family that in her mind was practically dead.  Family that she missed.

It just happened one day out of the blue… she started complaining of her stomach hurting. I figured it was a stomach bug because it had been making its way around town so I didn’t think too much of it besides preparing for the worst and applying peppermint oil to her tummy.  Later in the day her energy level dropped and her Chatty Kathy self practically silenced.  That got my attention and let me know she was for real about not feeling well.  Then later that night she started running a fever.  Mostly around 101 but climbing past 103,  and hanging out at 104 before coming back down.  At this point we knew she didn’t feel well but didn’t know what to do besides wait for the virus to hit. So we gave her some medicine and applied more peppermint oil to her to help bring the fever down.

The next morning her fever was gone but she was barely moving, still not talking much, and not eating hardly anything.  Most of the day she laid on the couch and was content with me just holding her.  She was not content with me stepping out of the room to do anything else.  So housework and cooking sort of came to a standstill because we all know that the “Mommy” part of the job comes first and thankfully my husband insists on it being that way.  We repeated the same thing for another day.  Barely moving, fever rising at nighttime and then back down by morning, and in my mind waiting on the stomach bug to rear its ugly head.

Like any three year old sometimes she has a hard time finding the right words to express herself. By the third day Esther began to say, “Mommy, I’m scary.”  With a little probing we discovered that she “was scary” because she missed her Kai-Ma. She missed Hong Kong.  And occasionally she would tell us she wanted to go back.  Not in the I don’t love you or want to be with you sense of “go back” But in the I miss everyone who used to be in my life and want to see them again sense.

At this point my heart broke becauseI realized that it had been almost two months for her without seeing or hearing from Kai-Ma.  In her mind, why did we have her and why couldn’t she see the ones she loved.  So we begin to talk to her about how sometimes when your heart hurts your tummy hurts too.  We told her that even though Kai-Ma misses her and loves her Kai-Ma wants her to be here in our family and Kai-Ma wants Esther to be happy.  We begin to try to explain to her that in August she can talk to Kai-Ma again.  (We are allowed to talk to her once the adoption is finalized… but how do you explain that to a three year old!?)  We also read and talked to her about adoption. About her birth family. Mother’s Choice.  And how God had a plan all along for her to be part of our family.  I can’t say how much she understood but she definitely enjoyed talking about Kai-Ma.  By Sunday we declared it an “oily” day and diffused Valor, Stress Away, and Joy and applied Tranquil to her throughout the day.  We did this for a couple of days and kept talking to her about Kai-Ma  Slowly she began to perk up a little each day, reaching her normal self seven days later… the day before we left for the beach.

So you can see why the beach was a welcome retreat at this point.

Here Esther’s anxiety almost completely went out the window.

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The girls hardly fought because there was plenty of sand and waves to go around.

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And for once I got to sit and read for a little while.

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It was what we all needed. R&R.

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P.S. Esther still has times that she is sad or “scary”. Which in the mind of a little three year old that has been completely transplanted half way across the world what part of that is not scary? We tell her that’s it’s perfectly fine to miss the ones you love and talk about getting to talk to Kai-Ma again.  I hope Kai-Ma is prepared to talk for about ten hours in August because Esther has a bunch of stuff she wants to show her and tell her about.  We are also talking pictures to show Kai-Ma.  This has been great therapy for Esther.  Even though we can’t talk to her yet it’s something she can do in anticipation of her.

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Easter Nails

My birthday is coming up this weekend. I will be the dreaded much anticipated 3-0.  In the grand scheme of things it’s not that big of a deal.  I mean what’s thirty when we are talking about eternity.  And if I’m thirty that means I have been driving half of my life… which seems like a long time ago. and that’s only fifteen years. So here’s to another 30 or 60 or however many years God blesses me with here on earth.

In the meantime I’ve been thinking about how to personally celebrate my birthday.  You know, a little me time.  A little let me sit back and relax time.  One of the ideas I have is to go get a manicure and pedicure… because what girl doesn’t like to be pampered (and have her feet massaged).  Plus with the warmer weather (minus this week) it wouldn’t be so bad to have cute little toes to show off.

So anyway while I thinking about having my feet massaged and my hands pampered I thought I would share some of the adorable Easter nails I have found on Pinterest.  Oh, if I could only try them all.

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Aren’t these fabulous?! Ok so who has unpolished nails but after reading this post really wants to add a little color to their digits? Me,me!

I plan to be back later this week with a recap of last weekend but if not… “Happy Easther!”

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Design Crashing: stickandstrum

Late last year I got an invitation from some good friends of ours, Shane and Shauna, to help them select finishes for their new business adventure, stickandstrum.

Stick and Strum AcademyI was beyond excited and loved the challenge of working on a tight budget.  It brought me back to my healthcare design days.  Any way, Shane had been teaching music for several years and decided to follow through with his dream to open his own music academy.  So stickandstrum was born.

Back in December Shane sent me pictures of their soon to be studio…



it was a nice place but definitely lacked some personality.  So after talking with him a bit, looking at his Pinterest board, and trying to get a feel for what he likes I created a couple of concept boards on Polyvore and sent them to him.

Music Waiting Room

This was the one that ended up winning both of our votes plus Shauna’s.  The idea is that even though stickandstrum is a music school it would look and feel like a recording studio.  We wanted each of the students to feel special and that they were coming for more than just a “music lesson”.  With a little bit of my help and a ton of Shane and Shauna’s creativity I think we created that.

ss5We chose to go with darker colors on the walls and trim to create a more intimate space and to tone down the bright colors that we wanted to use in the furniture.  Most of the furniture is from IKEA.  Shane and Shauna headed over to Atlanta one day and loaded up a truck full of supplies for stickandstrum.  Shane also took advantage of his collection of poster and used them as artwork throughout the space.


Shauna found the coffee table in the attic space above the studio.  She gave it new life with white paint for the sides and legs and chalk paint for the top. Because what kid doesn’t love letting the world know their thoughts?

Noah Noah’s mom couldn’t resist.

The challenge for the waiting was creating enough sitting room for several parents and a couple of siblings to wait during lessons.  We came up with the idea of adding this bar (not a bar you serve drinks at)  to one of the walls.  It created seating for four and makes a great place for someone to set up their laptop or work on some homework… all without taking up much space.

Shauna found these cool boxes, painted them, and filled them with games to keep the kids entertained… or the adults.  
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This is command central (a.k.a. Shauna’s desk) and what you see when you first enter stickandstrum.  I’m pretty sure they have something cool planned for the wall behind the desk… I just can’t remember what it is.

Directly behind the lobby and waiting room is this giant chalkboard calendar that Shauna created.  I love it!  This is perfect for visual people like me.  They plan to set up a store in this room and also have a guy who does guitar repairs that sets up here.
ss1We chose to use color on the walls in the back area.  The picture above is Shane’s office/teaching room and it showcases some of his guitars.
ss15Further back in the studio is a garage area which makes the perfect space for group lessons and concerts.  Part of Shane’s teaching philosophy is to do more than teach a person how to play an instrument.  He wants to show them how to create and play in a band and them give them a stage for their concerts. How cool is that?

Noah tested out the drums in the group drum area.  I could totally see her rocking some drums some day.  What do you think?
ss3 ss2On the other side of the garage is the stage where students can perform and rehearse. The area is designed so that the group lesson areas can break down and seats be added for concerts. Stickandstrum even prints and sales actual tickets for their concerts. Can you imagine how special this makes the students feel?  I think it’s awesome!

I hope you enjoyed my first Design Crashing adventure.  It was so much fun helping Shane and Shauna bring their dreams to life.  I have loved following them throughout this whole process.  You can follow along to on Facebook, Instagram,  and Twitter.  And if you live in the Birmingham area and are looking for a place for your child to get plugged into locally check out stickandstrum Academy.  They offer private and group lessons for all ages (even adults) in guitar, piano, bass, drums and ukulele.  Shane is one of those talented people that can play a boatload of instruments and also has other teachers on staff.  There is even a Kids Camp this summer for children ages 4-9.  If Noah and Esther were old enough I would probably be considering it because I have no doubt they would have fun.

Ok, now for the fun confession part of the post. Did you take music lessons growing up?  What instrument did you play?  I never took individual lessons but was in the band in Middle and High School.  I played the flute.  I’m by no means going to say I was great but I enjoyed it… plus I learned how to read music while I was at it.  Too bad that doesn’t officially count as a second language.

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