Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tablescape Thursday- Pretty in Pink!

Welcome to Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan of the blog, "Between Naps on the Porch". If you haven't already, be sure to check out the lovely tablescapes on her blog. There are so many good ideas and so many pretty things to see, that it is really a special treat!

This week, I created a lovely pink tablescape, perfect for a Sunday brunch. Let's see what we have around the house to create this table. As I have said before, most of us have everything we need to create a perfect tablescape, we just need to use the things we have in a different way. This week, I didn't purchase anything for my tablescape. I would have preferred getting some lovely pink tulips from Trader Joe's however I have a busy work schedule this week and I had to do my taxes.
The pretty pink and white plates were the inspiration for this week's tablescape. I purchased them about ten years ago at a wonderful little antique shop, that has since gone out of business. I didn't pay very much for it, probably less than $10, but I bought it for the pretty pink roses and pretty gold scalloped edging. It was made by O & EG and says Royal Austria on the back. O & EG stands for Oscar and Edgar Gutherz. The plate is not hand painted, nor is it signed on the front. The more expensive antique plates made by O & EG will be hand painted with the artist's signature on the front; estimated dates for this type of plate is 1899-1918. I love learning about the history of an item.
I started with a pink striped tablecloth that I had made from a duvet cover that I liked. I originally used this pattern in the guest room of my former home. I purchased an extra duvet cover and split it in half using one side for a table skirt and the other side to make drapery side panels. I topped the table with a battenburg lace table square. White Spode bone china is used and pretty pink rose petals complete the foundation of the table.
Upon closer inspection, you will notice my sweet little bunny, all dressed in her pretty Easter bonnet. This was the first gift I received from my former husband when we were dating. We were married fourteen years. I put her on a cake plate, surrounded her with a pink and green sugar coated wreath and some pink Easter grass. Pretty white birdies from Michael's add some texture to the table. I have one set above each plate setting. Pink candles offer a romantic touch to the brunch.Here is a closer look at our little lady.

Here is a picture of the tablescape from afar.

This vase is also an antique and I purchased it at the same little shop. I don't think it was an antique when I bought it however now it is over twenty years old. This vase was made by Seymour Mann for Jolie Fleurs Bone China, 1987; it is called, "Pink Roses". I loved the texture of the vase and the pretty roses. It is in perfect condition. I have seen it on one or two antique sites both in the pink and in yellow. As for antiques, I just buy things I like and if they happen to be worth something, that's great however I really just purchase things for their beauty.

I love this pretty little clock. It was a gift with purchase many years ago at Carson Pirie Scott. I still love the colors today.I pulled one of the chairs away from the table so you could see the pretty tablecloth. I loved long tablecloths-I think they make it look very elegant.

Now these sconces are one of my favorite things! Years ago, I was looking for some crystal sconces to go over my fireplace and I couldn't find anything I liked. I found these at a salvage place in Chicago called, "Salvage One". This was back in the days before they upgraded to a different facility. At the time I bought them, they were located in a dilapidated old building. They rescue old fixtures from buildings prior to tearing them down. I love things with history. These are made of brass and have such pretty crystals. Ironically, they look just perfect with my mirror. They are electric however I live in an apartment so they aren't hooked up. The shades are from Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic collection; I purchased them a few years ago.

Here is a sweet little angel and a mother and baby bunny.

One last look at the table....

I hope you have enjoyed my "Pretty in Pink" table!

Note: I am a Professional Organizer and Home Stager. I operate a business called, "Dream Organizers"; my motto is, "Keep it simple. Get organized. Make it beautiful."

Friday, March 20, 2009

President Obama’s Thoughtless Joke-Change We Can Do Without

Dear Son* was sitting in his wheelchair as I prepared to brush his teeth. The glass of water was at the table and I had just put the toothpaste onto the toothbrush. At seventeen, I still am brushing his teeth, since he has very limited use of his hands or arms. Good Morning America came on and one of the first stories was President Obama’s appearance on Jay Leno and his “gaffe” regarding the Special Olympics. He was talking about his bowling score when he said,
“ It's like -- it was like Special Olympics, or something.” The news report went on to talk about it and I felt sick to my stomach. Here was my Dear Son listening to our President, make an off color joke about people with special needs. It hurt me and it hurt me to have him listen to the commentary. They went on to report that when he got on Air Force One, he called Timothy Shriver**, Chairman of the Special Olympics to apologize prior to the airing, for his gaffe. Timothy Shriver, told Good Morning America (GMA), “He expressed his disappointment and he apologized in a way that was very moving. He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population. He, I think importantly, said he was ready to have some of our athletes over to the White House to bowl or to play basketball, or help him improve his score." That’s fine Mr. Shriver, but how do I explain that to my Dear Son?

As the day went on, Oprah came on. She praised Obama’s appearance on Jay Leno however there was no mention of the gaffe. Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, was a panelist on the Oprah show filling in for Gayle King. Jenny, typically outspoken and with a child with special needs said nothing.

Later in the day, I heard a comment by Jay Leno, that he felt it was his best show ever. No mention of the huge gaffe. I guess it wasn’t important.

I had to wonder, however, if the remark had been different, how Barack Obama would have felt. Suppose he was sitting at the breakfast table with his two daughters, when GMA came on. Suppose the President of the United States had appeared on Jay Leno and made a thoughtless joke that included a “racial slur”. Suppose the President had called the NAACP and apologized and said that "maybe they could have some African American people come to the White House or something." Would he want his daughters to go? How do you think they would have felt? Do you think they would feel welcome? Do you think he would want them to go? And what about Oprah? Would she have praised the show or would she have mentioned the slur? And Jay Leno, would he have said it was one of his best shows ever…or would they all think twice before they made those comments?

Much was made of this historic election. For many months, we heard stories of how many people grew up at a time when equality wasn’t the norm. And yet, it’s somehow o.k. in 2009 for the President of the United States to make a joke about a segment of the population that can’t defend themselves.

And what about Timothy Shriver’s response? What I expected to hear, from the Chairman of the Special Olympics was how deeply disappointed he was in the President’s statements. Instead, he simply said that he was moved by the apology and that this could be a learning experience for the rest of the country. There wasn’t any disappointment in his tone; instead, he was rather upbeat when they interviewed him.

This story reminded me of a post called, "Retard" that I wrote in July of 2006 where I discussed two incidents that a friend of mine and I had regarding people making derogatory statements about children and people with mental and physical disabilities, similar to what the President of the United States just did. I wrote,

“I remember when I first started blogging, I would read this pediatrician’s blog. One day, he made a derogatory comment about “riding the short bus”. He didn’t seem to think there was any real problem with making such a derogatory statement like this. I was appalled that a pediatrician today could make such a statement and not see anything wrong with it. When I called him on it, he told me to stop reading his blog,that he could write whatever he wanted. Nice. The point isn’t that you can call people whatever you want because you have a blog, the point is that as a pediatrician, a professional, a human being and a father, you would think that someone who have more compassion than referring to those with mental disabilities in a derogatory manner. Aside from compassion, it’s just plain wrong. And then to accept money from these parents for your “professional” services, seems appalling. Can you really expect your mentally disabled child to be treated respectfully and with dignity by their pediatrician if they don’t see any problem with making derogatory statements like that in public no less?

I am amazed that some people still think it’s o.k. to make derogatory statements about people with mental and physical disabilities. I am amazed that people make statements about people who can’t defend themselves. I am amazed that people don’t understand how easily it can be for anyone to become disabled. I mean, you can get hit by a car and be severely disabled mentally and physically for the rest of your life."

I ended that post telling my friend, “that we need to come up with a response for people. When you are fortunate enough to have a child born normal, I suspect you don’t imagine what it might be like to have a child who is retarded. But ignorance is not acceptable anymore. It’s also not fair to Dear Son and children like him. He is not any less of a person because of disabilities. And to be referred to as the butt of anyone’s joke is totally unacceptable today.”

I wrote that post in 2006. I guess not much has changed. Let’s hope the President is listening.

*Dear Son is seventeen years old and suffers from a progressive neurological disease and intractable seizures as a result of a random mutation of the ARX gene. This mutation causes infantile spasms, dystonia and severe mental retardation.

**Note: Timothy Shriver's mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is the founder of the Special Olympics; his uncle is Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, whose endorsement in the Democratic primaries was viewed as instrumental in Obama winning the Democratic nomination.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dear Son Update

Today was a long day. Dear Son had a ten minute seizure at school and the paramedics were called. He had been having more seizures lately and we had just visited Ped Neuro Doc last week. At that time, they took some readings from his Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) to send to Cyberonics (the VNS manufacturer) to see if the battery on his VNS needed to be replaced.

Dear Son had been having increased agitation and seizure activity for the last few days. It had been decreasing somewhat since Sunday. Sunday evening he had become very agitated kicking the walls and unable to settle down. This is totally out of character for him. He would sleep for fifteen minutes, then become extremely agitated, then fall asleep for ten minutes, and the cycle repeated itself. Dear Son's Dad had him Friday and Saturday night and had some issues with Dear Son's medications that may have prompted some of these issues. By Monday evening, things were slightly better although I was up every forty minutes for the entire night.

This morning, school called and I rushed to the hospital. It's always stressful when these things happen. They are required to take Dear Son to the nearest hospital, which in this case, is across town from where we live. I always get stuck by one of the freight trains that pass through one suburban town. Today wasn't any different. In addition, I am not very familar with this area so I have a hard time remembering how to get there, especially when I am in a hurry and under pressure.
When I arrived at the emergency room, there was a Program Administrator waiting in the lobby to greet me. I had never met her before so when she was there, I thought Dear Son had died. I hate when they do things like that. I went back in the ER, saw Dear Son and spoke with his teacher. He didn't look very well. Of particular concern today was the description of the seizure. It was not one like he normally has and that alarmed me.
The ER took labs and followed up with our Ped Neuro Doc. Dear Son was released and we came home around 1 p.m. He slept at the hospital and has been sleeping ever since. He probably won't be up until the morning. Often times after a seizure, they will be tired.

Hopefully, tonight will be quiet. I expect things will improve with the increased meds.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Tonight We Love"-A Romantic Tablescape for Two

This week's tablescape is being hosted by Susan of the blog, "Between Naps on the Porch". Each Thursday, she brings many beautiful tablescapes for our viewing pleasure. So let's get started.

--------Tonight we will have an elegant candlelit dinner for two. There will be strolling violinists during our meal. Perhaps we will hear some music like this:

With the beautiful music, comes the dancing. Who can resist dancing on a night like this. Don't we make an elegant couple?
I have hired a chef for this evening so I could take a spa day to get ready for this evening. I have done everything else. The table has been set. To make it more personal, I removed two of the dining room chairs so the table is just set for two. I angled the chairs to make it look more elegant and less like an every day dining area. There are sheer fabric panels tied around each of the dining room chairs. Each chair is offset with a beautiful Swarovski flower pin; you won't find anything this elegant in your fine restaurant dining rooms. The sheer fabric panels are actually drapery panels; they match the master bedroom. I used four of them altogether. I used two, one for each chair. I centered a sheer drapery panel on the chair, folded it in half with one half on the front of the chair and the other half on the rear of the chair, then brought the sides together in the back tieing them in a loose knot. I added the Swarovski pin for a special touch, since it is a very special evening for two. I used another sheer panel on top of the white tablecloth, almost touching the carpet and then a second one folded in half and put it down the center of the table for additional layering. Notice how pretty the sheer fabric is and how it tumbles to the floor on the back of the chair.
Here is a view of the table from above. Now you can see the layering of the drapery panels which act like a table runner. As a Home Stager, I firmly believe we have most of everything we need to create a beautiful home. We just need to use our things in different ways.
The table looks exquisite this evening. We have some beautiful pieces of depression glass which are highlighted by the lavender sheers. Here is another view of the table and the sheer fabric on the chairs.
The place setting is Spode Mansard. The crystal water glass is Lenox, Monroe. There are tiny bunches of leaves made out of depression glass on each of the dinner plates. Aren't they beautiful?

The candlelight reflecting in the mirror is always lovely, especially at night. Some of you have noticed my new mirror. It is an antique Louis XV giltwood reproduction mirror. It took my breath away.

What could be prettier than some lovebirds for some lovebirds? These were actually my inspiration for the table. I saw them and built the table around them. You may notice the purple glitter on their tails. Since purple is the color of passion, what better color for a romantic evening. Of course, we have two lovebirds, since pairs are always good feng shui for romance.Here is a picture of the centerpiece (below). I actually have it my master bedroom on one of my three drawer chests. The vase is a beautiful piece of depression glass. I love the detail on it. To give my centerpiece some height, I turned another piece of depression glass upside down and then placed the other vase on top. Of course, the centerpiece is still low enough that we can talk softly over dinner.Below is another picture of the lovebirds. You can see the glitter on the tail better in this light.You may want to see a few more pieces of the depression glass. The rose candleholder is one of my favorites. When the lights are off, the candlelight shines through the sides and you can see the iridescence of the candleholder. I purchased these pieces almost ten years ago.

One last look before we sit down to eat. My companion for the evening has arrived. He looks very handsome in his tux; I can smell his aftershave when he kisses me.

Our dinner was spectacular. The food was outstanding; our chef did an amazing job. The strolling violinists created such ambiance. They played several of our favorites, "At Last" and "Unforgettable". But now...well...that's all I can share with you. I am going to close the door to our bedroom now. I hope you enjoyed the room with a view...
and my tablescape.

Good night.

Note: I am a Professional Organizer and Home Stager. I operate a business called, "Dream Organizers"; my motto is, "Keep it simple. Get organized. Make it beautiful."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

If Your Child’s Face Were a Mirror, What Would You See?

A few weeks ago, I was taking Dear Son out to the school bus. As we walked out to the school bus, from our garage, I noticed a new gentleman getting off the bus. Typically, we have a bus driver who drives the bus, a bus aide who is responsible for getting the kids on and off the bus and a nurse. As the man got off the bus, it was clear that it wasn’t our normal bus aide. He was one of the men in the office at the bus company, who had to fill in for the aide on our bus. When someone is sick on our route, the office staff fills in. The special needs busses are different, in that they require a little different staff to attend to these kids needs. Not just anyone is assigned to these busses. He got off the bus and was looked quite grumpy; he clearly was not too happy that he had to fill in. He grudgingly opened the door to the little school bus. Dear Son watched the man from his wheelchair. It was a cold day and he had on his down coat, a hat, a scarf over his mouth and a blanket over his wheelchair. I try to keep him warm on these very cold days and the short school bus often has the rear door opening and closing to get the students on or off, so it can get quite cold on the bus. The man didn’t say anything as we came closer to the bus. I said hello, as I normally do, and now that Dear Son is such a big man, it takes two of us to help pull the wheelchair on the ramp. I usually pull the chair from the one side and the bus aide pulls it from the other side. The nurse stands there watching to make sure everything goes well. I asked the man to help me pull him back. He wasn’t too happy about that. Once Dear Son was loaded onto the bus, I left to go inside.

Once inside, I thought about the man’s attitude. Yes, it probably wasn’t what he had planned to do that day but what a difference it would have made it he had chosen to be happy. These children in contrast, don’t have an easy life. Dear Son can’t feed himself, can’t dress himself, can’t brush his teeth and can’t stand up. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair. He can’t pull his hat off on the bus when it’s too hot or pull his gloves (mittens) on when’s he cold. Yet the man’s attitude on the bus was all about himself and how hard or inconvenient it was that day, to have to ride the school bus. I was annoyed with his behavior. After all, how hard would it be to have greeted Dear Son with a smile and been a little more enthusiastic about getting him on the bus? It would have taken only a minute or two. Upon deeper reflection, I thought it was probably what I looked like to Dear Son at times, many years ago. Caring for a special needs child takes a lot of work. Sometimes I get very, very tired but more often than not, some things are just really hard. Everything you do for them takes the most work or the most effort and day after day, it can be exhausting. If you talk to almost any special needs parent, the one thing they wish for the most is for things to be easy.

For as long as I can remember, Dear Son has woke up with a smile. He’s been a happy baby, a happy kid and now a happy teenager. One day, many years ago, I thought to myself, I wonder if Dear Son notices when I am having a hard time or when I am tired. I wonder what he thinks. As my mind wandered on, I wondered if maybe he thought he was a burden or if he thought his Momma didn’t want to take care of him, even though I was just tired or something was a lot of work. I thought if his face were a mirror, what would I see? What is the face that Dear Son sees when I take care of him, when I do things for him? Would this be what I wanted him to see? Would this reflect how I really felt or was my face a reflection of the difficulty of the task? I decided then, that I needed to change my attitude. I needed my face to be a reflection of what was in my soul and not a reflection of my lack of sleep, the difficulty of the task or the fact that I was tired. I loved and have always loved taking care of Dear Son and don’t suspect that will ever change. I would never want him to think that taking care of him was a burden because it is not. It is the most joyful thing that I do and there is nothing I would ever want to do more than that.

From that day on, I began to look at things differently. I pretended that his face was a mirror and made sure that the face that I was projecting was what was in my soul. That I was happy to see him, that I loved him dearly and that it was an honor and a pleasure to take care of him every day. I began to be more upbeat and made sure I was smiling when I greeted him every day. When I was doing tasks that were unpleasant, I made sure that I spoke about it in a positive way, not that it was a burden to do so. I must admit, that often at home, I can be almost syrupy in the manner in which I speak to him, so in public, I do tone it down a bit. When I have an unpleasant task, I make sure that I don’t let him see this side; maybe upon leaving the room, I might mouth a word silently after exiting the room. That way, he doesn’t see me. It can be easy, when the children don’t speak, to think that they don’t hear things as well, especially when they can’t comment on something. When he arrives home from school or from spending a weekend with his Dad, I make sure that I greet him with a smile, that I look him in the eye, that I give him a hug and kiss or grab his hand, just that I acknowledge him in some way and let him know that I am glad he is home and that I missed him. It’s funny because now when he gets home, he gets excited, just waiting for me to see him and acknowledge him. When I tuck him in bed at night, after a weekend with his Dad, I make sure to tell him that I am glad he had fun at his Dad’s but I am glad he is home because I missed him. I really mean that. I make sure that from the time I put in my contacts in the morning from the time I take them out, that I give him my best.

But I also think it’s important to have a good attitude when working with him because these children have a difficult life. If I think that everything I do for him is hard, it has to be ten times harder from his perspective. Trying to walk when he was younger, when he couldn’t, was tough. Trying to use your hands and arms when they don’t work is tough. Having to have someone help you eat, or get a drink or change your diaper or wait on you 24/7 is tough. That doesn’t mean that he can understand the big picture but surely a child can get a sense when they are burden and when you are genuinely happy to see them.

The other day, I came across one of his former IEPs (Individual Education Plan) at school. It was written by his Occupational Therapist at school. The man was describing Dear Son’s strengths and wrote: “Strengths:

* Very engaging, aware of others and his environment.
* Gets excited about novel and preferred activities.
* Laughs joyfully.”

He went on a listed a few more. His challenges were few, but huge: dependent for all self care and mobility and limited communication skills.

I thought about this description a bit and how challenging his life can be. We need to do more to help these children and when we change our attitude by focusing more on what we can do for someone else and less on how hard it is for ourselves, somehow everything seems easier. In the end, I suspect that it’s just another one of the life lessons Dear Son taught me. When you focus on helping others, you ultimately help yourself as well.

Note: Dear Son is seventeen years old, suffers from a progressive neurological disease and intractable seizures as a result of a random mutation of the ARX gene. This mutation causes Infantile Spasms, dystonia (movement disorder) and severe mental retardation. He is unable to speak, uses a feeding tube and can not stand, walk or roll over on his own. He is however, a happy teenager who loves people and loves school.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Glamourous St. Patrick's Day Tablescape on a Budget

Welcome to Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan from, "Between Naps on the Porch". The feature invites bloggers to create a weekly tablescape and feature it on their website. Be sure to check out the lovely tablescapes. They are jam packed with many ideas to use in your own home.

This week, I created a glamourous St. Patrick's Day tablescape. The challenge I gave myself this week was to create a tablescape for around $5. I live in a small apartment so I don't have a lot of storage space to store decorations for every holiday so I try to purchase very little. I firmly believe that most of the time we have plenty of things around our house to create something lovely, we just need to use them in a different way. Once you get used to being more creative, you will find lots of things that you can use in your own tablescapes. Let's get started.
I've gathered up a few items from around the house. I have a glittery St. Patrick's Day hat that Dear Son wore to school last year. I have some green bracelets and necklaces, a watch, and a few pieces of green clover jewelry-these were all things that my sister had and was going to throw out (I asked for them to use in my tablescape!). I had some green marbles, a silver picture frame, a silver dish and a crystal candleholder. The goblets I received from a friend to use for tablescaping. They are glass I am sure but had the look of Irish crystal so I thought they would be perfect for today. One problem I had was that I didn't have any special plates for St. Patrick's Day so I wasn't sure what I would do to make them look different.

I had attempted to use green carnations in the crystal bowls however I was unable to find them this week. Then I tried to locate two green salad plates however that didn't work out. I went to Michael's and found these foam glittered shamrocks for $1.00 and decided to use them on the plates. The dinner plate, salad plate, cup and saucer are, "Spode Mansard" fine bone china; the pattern has since been discontinued. I absolutely love the pattern. I purchased these around twelve years ago.

Next, I took the pedestal from my cake plate and added the glittered hat from last year. The cake plate gives height to the tablescape. I stuck a shamrock pin in the hat to embellish the hat. Unable to find the carnations, I used green apples instead; total cost was $2.00. Plus the apples are edible so I don't need to find storage for them!

I took a green bracelet with the shamrocks and put it around the crystal hurricane. When the candle is lit, the flame shines through the bracelet. I stuck a foam shamrock on the base. I took a one of the metallic beaded necklaces and laid it in the crystal bowl beneath the apples. I would never wear any of this jewelry, but I knew it would be perfect for this tablescape. Sometimes, you just need a dash of color to reinforce your tablescape. When adding color to a tablescape or using color in a room, you should use that color a minumum of three times, otherwise the room or tablescape will look unbalanced. Above is a photo of the apples and the hurricane.

I wanted to use the picture frame. I knew I needed more green on the table with all of the white, so I purchased a St. Patrick's Day card for $2 and put it in the frame. To embellish the frame, I added more foam shamrocks on each of the four corners.

To fill out the table, I needed to add some sparkle. After all, if you are using candlelight, you want as many reflective accessories as possible. I tossed a few green glass marbles randomly on the table, added a watch piece and a few more of the foam shamrocks.

I took the other bracelets, that I was originally going to use as napkin rings and placed them around the candleholders to add a little more green to the table.
Finally, the finished table for $5.00! The apples were $2, the card for the picture frame was $2 and the green glitter shamrocks were $1. All that is left is to create an Irish dinner!

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day! Be sure to come back next week to see my "Birds of Paradise" tablescape. It is ultra feminine and very elegant.
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