Little Man

Yesterday morning we headed to our ultrasound to be introduced to our second child. Seeing a 12 oz baby’s tiny skull and spine, 10 tiny fingers and little bitty toes, I don’t know… it is truly miraculous. Something about being able to see those feet, not even an inch long, just puts me in tears. And then it was official, we could see plain as day, we are having a son. IMG_2664

It actually isn’t hard for me to imagine loving him like Aurelia. We’ve been able to love him as “him” for a while now. An early ultrasound gave us an unofficial sneak peek, so we were able to start imagining him much earlier than we expected. I’m normally full of words, but I’ve sort of been rendered speechless. We are going to have a son!photo-8

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IMG_2676I cannot wait to share plans for his nursery, kick around ideas for decor, and tell you about my super exciting plan I’ve hatched to hack an Ikea crib. I look forward to sharing these upcoming months with you as we count down to Rhett’s birthday!

And if you love this banner and sign as much as I do, check out the Party Decor section of Minted.com. It’s hours of paperie fun. Best paper, best designs- ever. I’ve ordered from them a handful of times and they are hands down my favorite!

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Trade Off

I keep thinking about trade offs.  Something always has to give, at least in my world.  I work in an industry in which I am immersed and surrounded by wealth and high earners.  Two and three homes, and not one moment’s attention paid to the balance in their accounts, except for how much more money is made.  I have mixed feelings about this.  1.  It is something to aspire to!  I now understand how wealth is built, how it is maintained and how to plan for the future.  I would love to never have to balance my checkbook again.  2. On the other hand, it sometimes feels extremely disconnected from reality because of that.  Many of these people are the “1%,” but the misconception is that they haven’t worked hard for it.  Everyone knows my feelings on hard work.  It’s just by chance that I ended up in this industry anyway.  How an English major who loves to read and talk about character development, dreams of teaching in another life (and living in academia forever), ended up with two very difficult licenses to trade securities… I don’t know.  For the short story, I’m a stock broker.  Not like Wall Street, however.  Just sitting quietly at a desk all day.  Ok sometimes quietly.  Sometimes I get rowdy.

It’s difficult sometimes not to get caught up in the race, and in my industry, and my position, they do a very good job of reeling you in slowly.  It’s sort of like drinking the koolaid if you follow me.  My heart’s happiness is found in writing, making things, working on my home, helping others in their planning, celebrating renovations, and of course, salvaging all things.  But (big ole’ BUT), I have a pretty good gig, and I’m so thankful for what that has enabled us to do as a family, and as a couple planning for our future one day.  I’ve learned more than the average person will ever know about retirement planning, estate planning, and saving saving saving money.  My senior partner always says he would rather have a Kansas City housewife, an electrician, or a plumber as a client above anyone else, because they are smart, tuned in, and oh-so-wise with their money.  People like that make our jobs easy, and they make it fun.  Being incredibly detail oriented has been a blessing in my career and at six years in, I can say I really am happy.  But there’s that trade off that keeps looming in my head.  And it’s guilt.

I’m not with my daughter during the day.  I miss moments with her that are mine to have.  What is the true cost of my career?  I’m not saying I know the answer to that.  I’m not saying it’s wrong of me or any other mother to work.  That’s what’s wrong with our position as mothers these day:  we are all too competitive and defensive about our decisions.  But how can we not be?  At every turn you have strong opinions, and good examples, of mothers doing it both ways.  Yesterday Aurelia pinched her brow and asked my Mom, “Mama?” “She’s at work!”… “Dada!?”  “He’s at work too!”  There’s a trade off.  And right now everything is beautiful and there is no impending doom, nothing is wrong and I’m not wringing my hands over our life, my position, and definitely not my daughter’s well-being.  Right now I weigh the trade off.  It is definitely something to ponder…

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Imagination

I know I said I would show your our new dining room, but there are just a few things I need to finish before it’s all done up and ready for its’ debut.  So, don’t be mad!  But I don’t have the dining room for you today.  Never fear though!  For I have committed myself to knocking this out for next week.  I love it, and I hope you will too!

This morning, imagination is on my mind.  Watching my little one is always a wondrous thing.  I can see her mind growing and working things out.  Nothing is more annoying to me than these “102 toddler activities!” pins and posts and lists.  My irritation is on a few different levels, the first being this overwhelming number.  102 things?  Who has time to sit down and compile a good list of 102 anythings, let alone things to do with a babbling little human who may or may not decide he or she will listen to damn word you say that day?  Not me.  And here’s a sidebar: Taylor Swift had a great response to a question about reality (listen, love her or hate her, I like this).  I’ll paraphrase, but in short, in an interview someone asked her about her concept of reality.  She said something to the effect of, I know what I can handle.  There are things I know I can’t handle, so I don’t look for those things.  It allows me to stay happy.  I completely agree with her here.  I don’t click on those ridiculous pins and posts of 102 lists because I’M NOT THAT GOOD.  And truthfully, I don’t need to be reminded of all the things I should be doing with her.  I know that’s not the kind of mom I’m going to be.  Not because it’s bad.  Because it’s not me.  And none of us need to feel any less than we already do, with these reminders that you forgot to origami a refrigerator box into a 2 story castle and hand paint it.  I hope my children will lead in their imaginative play time.  I hope they’ll come to me and say, We are pilots, Mommy and we need a plane!  Can we make one!?  I’m new, I get it.  My opinions may change about my directive in their creativity, but I know I’m more likely to instill my own summer reading plan and have “discussion time” around the characters, and encourage them to write their own stories.  I want them to lead the conversation about their imaginations.  I want to help them create what they dream up.  I really think improv is my thing.  I’m good on the fly.

Don’t get me wrong, I aspire to do really fun things as a Mom, and just as equally important: as a woman.  That is precisely the reason I created The Salvaged.  This is a place for my creativity to come to life, to work through life, to be a source of inspiration, and imagination.

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Have a great weekend everyone!

 

And We Grow

Growing.  What we grow into.  What we grow out of.  We grow into ourselves, we grow out of certain behaviors.  We learn and change and we try to be better.  My capacity to forgive has grown, even if my ability to understand has not.  Even if my ability to cope has not.  We grow up, grow out of our clothes.  We grow out of toys and friendships.  Our compassion grows and expands to include our friends who are adopted families.  We grow out of our own chains and those who shackle us to what we once were.  We mourn when we leave others behind, but we have to grow.  We sometimes grow distant, but we always return to grow closer and stronger and more confident in our resiliency.  Our responsibilities grow, along with the bills.  Our headaches grow, but so do our joys.

Love grows.  It shifts and moves.  It changes shape, takes on new meaning as our little family grows.  I thought my capacity to love another human being beyond comprehension reached its maximum potential in the eyes of my husband.  Then a tiny cry full of strength, an announcement of her arrival: and love exploded inside my chest again.  My first child.  My daughter.  And now another tiny, fluttering heart beat grows.  I never tire of that sound, or that sight on the monitor.  There, safe and sound and rocked with each step I take, our second child learns the cadence of our voices.  A miracle grows.  Love certainly grows.  We hope you’ll send up a prayer or two for us, and share in our joy as we prepare to grow to a family of four this fall.  I cannot wait!

Coming October 2013!

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via Story People

Reaching

Our daughter Aurelia has recently started reaching out for us.  She has been reaching up in general for a long time, but in the last week or so something is definitely different.  Now she toddles toward us with great purpose.  Arms and hands outstretched, she is reaching.  The feeling of her arms around my neck with the softest squeezes as she “pat pat pats” me, saying Mamamama: those are defining moments in my life, and it threatens to put me on my knees.  Not often is she still enough to let me rock her to sleep, or hold her when she’s tired, but just a few short moments of quiet time with her serves as my reset button.  It is her own little way of saying “I love you, Mama.” The sweetest voice, her thick curls, the smell of sunshine on her skin, it’s almost too much for my heart to bear.

Watching her reach out so intently made me wonder when we become aware of our vulnerability and start protecting ourselves- when do we stop reaching out for others?  I battle constantly with the concept of depending on others.  I rage against being beholden to anyone, pride myself on doing whatever-it-is myself.  It’s this constant struggle to allow others to help me.  Does it depend on who we are reaching out for?  We reach for a chance, for hope.  We reach to the sky in praise, in anguish, in desperation, in times of grief, of thanksgiving.  We grasp the necks and shoulders of those we love in times of celebration, as a comfort, in sharing.  We reach for dreams and aspirations, for the life we long to capture.  Our hands reach out for people to pull close to us.  We say, “embrace it,” as an encouragement: pull it to you.  Hold it against you.  We do this literally, and figuratively.  No greater joy have I known than reaching out for the man I love, for my daughter (who, as they say, truly is my heart walking around outside my body), those I love, and being met with an uninhibited embrace.   I watch my girl reach out, with no agenda, I think to myself, we should all keep reaching out.  It is a great force of power in this world.

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Realities in Parenting

I have been granted much great wisdom and experience in parenting.  A whole year of it.  Ok I’m kidding about the ‘much wisdom’ part, but I do have at least just a little experience.  It’s been on my heart because I have several soon-to-be first-time parents in my life.  Naturally I wanted to share.  When I was pregnant with Aurelia, it was a hailstorm of “just waits,” and horror stories.  You’ll never sleep in again.  This or that is a game changer.  Your relationship with your husband will totally change.  Your body will never be the same.  Now don’t get me wrong, thanks for the warnings you jerks, but while I was joyfully anticipating the arrival of my firstborn, I was simultaneously terrified.  In this age of over-sharing every.single.thing about every.single.thing, to say I was annoyed by all the advice was an understatement.  There are certain people from whom these conversations were always welcome.  And that list, my friends, is very short.  Nothing worse than some stranger giving you the run-down of how your life is about to change, with implications that it’s for the worse, whilst tapping my foot in an elevator praying get me the hell out of here.  (saying hell in a prayer- no sacrilege ok?)

You see, every mother has a completely different an unique experience because every child is as unique as their one-of-a-kind fingerprints.  Very profound, I know.  In my experience, there are certain kinds of people who want to slam you with their opinion to make themselves feel validated in their own choices.  This is why I try to always keep my thoughts to myself and not click on those 1,048 activities/ideas/meals/tips for your baby/toddler/middle-schooler on Pinterest.  Thanks Pinterest for reminding me all the time that I suck as a full-time working mom.  But I digress.  There are a few things I would like to share because *gasp* there is hope if you are having/will have/have had a new baby.

Favorite myth #1: You are just so exhausted.

You might hate me for this if you’re having sleep troubles with your little one, because I don’t have magic fairy dust to fix things for you.  However, this is what happened to us:  I had severe, severe anxiety for the first few weeks at home as soon as the sun started going down.  I loved people telling me that I was just exhausted.  I was like, I will punch you intheeffingface if you don’t stop trying to tell me what I’m feeling.  The fact is, I wasn’t exhausted.  Sure, sure you say: but it’s true.  I was tired, yes.  And there were nights that I was overwhelmed by the saddest little cries that only a few times we were not able to calm.  But overall, anxiety was the the hardest part.  That subsided soon enough though.

Favorite myth #2: You will never sleep (or sleep in) again.

This might be my favorite.  You know why?  Because I work full time, and I write this little blog for you which sort of feels like another, funner job, which means I get up at 5:00 am on the weekdays.  Aurelia sleeps 12-13 hours at night.  I usually get her up around 6:45 on the weekdays so I can get the very best hugs on the planet before work, but on the weekends, she wakes up and plays happily in her bed, usually until 7:30, which she starts whispering in the cutest voice ever, “Dadadadadada.”  (total Daddy’s girl, which I love, love, love.  Sweetest thing ever).  Therefore, I get around 2.5 more hours of sleep on the weekends.  It might not be 10:00am, but that is sleeping in, by God, and she is not yet 14 months old.  And this is how it’s been for a long time.  Whether or not this is a miracle, this is our reality, and it’s possible that it could be your reality too.  Don’t let people scare you to death with these threats about not sleeping.  Talk to your mom, or other moms you trust, who don’t annoy you to the point of murderous thought-bubbles, and find out what worked for them.  For us, the scheduling thing worked.  I didn’t read Baby Wise, and we didn’t spend all day tickling her feet or running cold water on her toes to wake her up.  We just made a schedule for her mealtimes and we forced everyone helping us with her to stay on schedule.

Favorite myth/comment #3: Just wait until she ___________.

Ok maybe this one might be my favorite because Aurelia has de-bunked most of the first-year “just-waits” so far.  Listen.  The first few weeks were extremely challenging, and I seriously do not know how I would’ve survived it without my amazing husband.  He was my salvation, pure and simple.  The first time he took the first two middle-of-the-night feedings, I climbed into our cool sheets and said out loud to myself, “this is really happening right now.” And I’ve never slept so hard in my life.  He always says, “whatever it takes,” and he means it.  My Mama has never shared any stories with that begin with “just wait” and I’ve found along the way that there were some struggles with my brother and me when we were babies.  But she didn’t say a word until I asked about something applicable to her experience, because she didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of me and make me worry about something that may never happen, because by way of being ME, I do that enough to myself as it is.  Thank you, Mama.  I’m so thankful for you and your precious heart, I don’t know what I would do without you.

So, these are just three small points that you should not let people slam on you and get in your head.  There are lots more, so maybe I’ll do this again sometime.  I just want to give you hope that your experience as first-time Mom or Dad may, in fact, NOT be terribly horrifying or scary.  Maybe it will, but you won’t know until you’re in the middle of it trying to figure it out.  There are people you trust in your life: go to them for counsel.  The best part is, your experience might line up with some of your closest friends, but it may be wildly different.  We sort of think Aurelia might be an actual angel on earth, but that’s because she’s ours and we find her to be as close to perfect as can be.  We sort of hold our breath for something to happen, but every milestone is met with the most precious spirit and a what seems like a willingness within her to be purely sweet and just a good girl.  That could always change, I know.  But you know what?  People that like to crush that for you aren’t there as a support.  They’re either jealous, they think you have it too good, or that you’re lying.  For today, if you’re expecting your first, thinking about having your first, or are in the trenches of newbornland, my advice is to seek your own reality.  No one can make it for you.  And take it easy.  It’s going to be alright, I swear.

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Creative Life

Do you know what I love about this time in which we are living?  The pursuit of happiness.  The rebellion against corporate America.  The slow enlightening of the return to American-made, one-of-a-kind, honing and sharpening a creative skill.  The Salvaged began just 60 or so posts ago.  I know I joined the ranks of thousands of other bloggers working themselves to the bone in another full-time career, and planning material to share with the world everyday.  It’s a huge commitment, especially while mothering a small family and trying to not completely ignore my husband.  There is sacrifice and hard work involved.  There are early, early mornings, which I have truly grown to love.  My home is quiet, and sometimes tidy, and this time is my own.  My craft if in constructing words, and being what they’re calling “a creative.”  My husband Joseph is my biggest fan and most cherished supporter.  He pushes and encourages me, and I am more thankful for his precious heart than he may ever know.  Joseph thinks I need business cards, and I really want some.  They happen to be extremely expensive (of course), because they’re letterpress (of course), but I don’t know what they would say.  ‘Need a creative idea?  Call me maybe!’ Or how about, ‘The Salvaged, a creative thing.’  Oh or maybe, ‘Lacey Saggio, I do things.’  It is so incredibly hard to define what it is I want to do with this thing, because I simply don’t know yet.  My sister-in-law Ashley gave me some of my favorite encouragement yet, so I will share it with you:  I was being especially hard on myself one night about doing more for my daughter, more as a wife, being better at planning things, just better in general.  I was doing that typical Pinterest-be-damned-thing where I started to feel bad about the laundry list of things I should be doing all day long.  (btw, I’m not in the freaking circus and I cannot juggle, ok?).  She told me in so many words, that some people are just really great at certain things and for example, that she could never make drapes.  That really made me start thinking about the things I am good at, and I can make drapes.  But I really am sort of a bad cook.  Not bad, ok.  I can make good food.  I don’t enjoy it though.  I sort of complain about that.  I’m off track again.  But there it was for me, I can make drapes!  I am a writer.  I have freakin-amazing trimming skills when it comes to painting.  I am capable.  Dad, thank you, a million times, for making me capable.  I can take things apart and figure out how to put them back together.  I can brainstorm for creative solutions, take the shortest, smartest route to the answer.  (Note: this is not always the easiest route.  In fact, by way of being a Renfro, it is never the easiest.  But the end result is almost always done perfectly).  I’m not a braggart, folks.  We simply should all be able to embrace our strengths and celebrate our gifts.  This little blog is my way of staying inspired, and sharing that with others.  Even if it’s just one message a week, or month even, of someone saying that they love reading what I have to say, or asking for direction on what to do about a front door, every comment pushes me to keep at this.

What holds me back?  Fear.  Fear of rejection and failure.  But I’m breaking free of that.  I have this saved on my phone and I look at it every day.  It’s from the incredible Sara D. Tolzmann of the Note to Self blog.  We must stay focused and passionate if we are going to change the definition of working: if I am going to live a creative life.  There is a need in this world for beauty, creativity, and a nod to our true human nature to connect with others.  I can really appreciate a good flow chart, and this one might be my favorite of all time.  I hope you like it too!

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