I had major reconstructive ankle surgery two weeks ago. I've been in a bit of haze since then, trying to manage the pain with limited pain meds since I'm the only adult in the house and the kids need a fully functional adult, albeit a hobbling on crutches one.
I've been blessed with a veritable village of friends offering their help and support, from meals to rides for my kids (since I'm not allowed to be upright for more than a few minutes at a time nor am I able to drive yet) and walks for my needy dog. My friends swooped in and helped me care for my kids and my dog and just really made ALL the difference in the world in what could have been a pretty ugly logistical scenario of a single mom trying to juggle two kids and a huge dog all on her own while not allowed to leave the confines of her bed for two weeks. I even had the nicest client send me a gift certificate to a local restaurant around the corner from my cottage that the kids and I love. How sweet is that!? I have throughout all of this never felt more blessed or loved.
I am now slightly more functional, able to stand for about 10 minutes at a time on my good leg - without my operated foot turning purple... and adjusting, slowly, to the pain. Thanks to the outpouring of support from my friends, family (my mom drove down last weekend to cook and clean for me)!, clients and lovely weekend visits from my super helpful boyfriend, I have been able to keep the sadness and anxiety surrounding this surgery and long recovery at bay. I've been filled with so much gratitude and appreciation for all the wonderful help. I deeply appreciate and value it and recognize how lucky and fortunate I am to have had all this help. Friends and neighbors have stopped by nearly every day to offer a hand in a variety of capacities. My adorable neighbor who is a nurse even helped me take my first post surgery shower, now THAT is taking your riendship to a whole new level!!! I know how HUGE a blessing this all is. But, truth be told, I hate needing help. I hate even asking for it. I'm too self sufficient a gal to ever feel comfortable on the receiving end of all that love. Inevitably, I hit a wall this morning after too many sleepless nights (the knee to toe brace I am in makes it impossible to sleep, it is cumbersome and hurts in a bad, bad way) and because I am self employed, I am not able to collect disability or unemployment during this long recovery time and my work is such that I simply cannot physically do it while on crutches.
So, this morning, I got weepy and anxious and worried and sad and frustrated and agitated. I'm a very active, constantly on the go person. I wake up at the crack of dawn and go to sleep well past midnight. I normally walk my dog twice a day, work my tail off all day long, in between volunteering at my kids school, doing my shoots and my editing, running my business, running errands, and doing the never ending list of things that single working moms must do every single day. To go from that go-go-go pace to being unable to leave my couch for more than 10 mn at a time and dealing with chronic pain has done a number on me. I'm not in my element right now. I'm an outdoorsy gal. I need my fresh air and pretty scenery. I need nature. I haven't left my house in two weeks. I think I might be going insane. And today is the first day that I've even been able to sit at my computer.
The day before my surgery I deep cleaned my little cottage from top to bottom, culminating a week of stock piling groceries, doing shoots nearly every day, setting up everything for the kids, editing all night and prepping for the big surgery day. I try to keep my house pretty darn spotless in general, as best I can, but having it THAT clean was just so nice and I remember looking around and really SEEING my place with a new set of eyes. And I decided to take pictures of it. To mark the transformation over the past 18 months since we moved in. We have created so much art for the walls and so many projects and I've found so many beloved "treasures" at garage sales, craig's list and Ebay just from scouring and looking and seeking. During this time, we've really transformed our little rental cottage into a HOME. It's unfortunate that my landlord decided to raise the rent and in doing so, sent me into a bit of a panic on how to absorb this increase considering my circumstances and for a fleeting moment I thought we might have to move. But when I looked around that day before my surgery and saw with total clarity how much we love this tiny little place I realized we needed to stay here and I need to figure it out. I need to make it happen. It's really a teeny tiny home, just under 1,000 sq feet. The images I took that day after my deep cleaning, were taken with my wide angle 16mm lens and therefore make the place look MUCH bigger than it actually is. But it's home. We love it. We want to stay here.
I feel like this place so authentically captures and represents my style and how the kids and I live our lives, full of art and music and craft projects, in between battles over homework and my screaming at them to get along while I desperately try to finish editing a session before dinner so I can move on to the next one after dinner. It's not all rainbows and butterflies. It really is compromise. I dedicate time for my job and time for my kids. I juggle two parental roles and duties along with running and operating and sustaining my own business. We make it work. We've figured out the concept of teamwork like never before. I've developed a SYSTEM to keep things running smoothly. I also don't ever stop moving from 7am to 2am. Except for now. And as much as I thought I would LOVE this break from the chaos of my normal day to day routine, I'm actually going crazy because I still need to DO stuff but it takes me ten times longer to do it. But every day I heal a little bit and every day I progress towards being fully functional again. And as long as I stay focused on that goal, that light at the end of the tunnel, then I should be back on track in no time. In the meantime, I thought I would share our little cottage with you. Everything about it is near and dear to my heart. It's our little sanctuary. I hope you enjoy the visit. :)
This is the view as you enter the house from our front door. This is pretty much all our living space, living room and hallway all in one. At the end there is our kitchen and my bedroom and the kids shared bedroom are off to the right. Their room is actually the size of a walk in closet and not technically a room, more of an office, but we are calling it a room. It just BARELY fits their bunkbeds so that makes it a room! HA!
Little Etsy finds like this (above) adorn the house.
The yellow dresser was a Craig's list find. The collection of vintage typewriters are all garage sale or antique fair finds. I LOVE that dresser. So much. It is used to house all my newborn shoot stuff. I used to have a separate studio for all my work/studio related items and now I've incorporated them all into my decor, you will see little chairs all around the place which are props for my work!
I wrote that quote on a plain white canvas using an oil pastel. Took me less than 2 minutes for this "artwork" and cost me close to nothing as I got the canvas during a 50% off sale! Easy peasy! And my kids, well, I'm not short of pictures of them....
Ellie has this little thing she does called "pop up art" and she works on it after school and then leaves pop up art masterpieces for me all over the house. I love that about her. This was a favorite.
I have a huge, long standing collection of old vintage (mostly non working) cameras which are all over the cottage.
I found this old trunk on Craig's list for $20 which I bargained down to $15. It currently houses all my sewing and knitting materials... except that Gavin closed it and pushed in the lock and it still worked and now I have no way to access any of that stuff! Note to self: get a locksmith to come out to gain access sometime in the next year!
There's a great story behind this piano. I found it the week we moved in. A little old lady was selling it because she needed to move. She was going to sell it for practically nothing but was taking "interviews" to find the right home for it. After being interviewed by her, she decided we were the the right home for her beloved 1905 upright piano. :)
The world map has little red map pins on it of all the places I've visited in the world (prior to having kids of course) and the kids love to go over, pick a country with a pin, and ask me about my adventures there. The little owl is a gift from my friend Joy who designs them along with ridiculously cute knit owl hats. We've got three of her owls hidden around the house and the kids like to have their friends try and find them. Ellie and I have done shoots for her before, search Freckletree on my blog for those posts!
I very quickly ran out of wall space... 850 sq ft is just not enough wall space for someone like me who likes to DROWN my walls with artwork and imagery. So, I decided to create this "art wall" of sorts on the side of my bookcase showcasing some 3X4 prints of my favorite shots of Ellie being my model for my commercial shoots since she was 2 years old. We call it the Ellie Wall Of Fame. :)
I got the elephant print off a site called Society6 which helps promote artwork from artists all over the world. It's a great place to find affordable art and support independent artists. I loved the idea/concept of the three elephants being carried away by hot air balloons. The kids decided we were each an elephant and assigned one to each of us. I, naturally, was the biggest elephant...
Lots of arts and crafts projects. Images from a trade shoot with a dear photographer friend. These images were SO important to me. It was the first time the kids (and Kooper) and I were photographed as our new family unit. I hold these near and dear to my heart. A scrabble art project where I put down all our names and find ways of connecting words that describe us as a family. It was a ton of fun trying to get that thing together!
Why yes, those are all my kids photo albums down below on that bookshelf... but only for ages 0-4 years old.... the rest of all their images are in boxes and boxes and boxes... I stopped having time to make elaborate albums when they were 4 and 6. But I kept printing all the the images I was taking of them until they were 6 and 8 and then everything has remained on my hard drive since then. So frustrating! I used to be SO good about assembling these fantastic albums for them, by hand.... yeah,,,,, not gonna happen again til they move out for college... at which point I'll just pick up from where I left off! HA!
That top B&W image is one of Ellie that I took and the bottom B&W image is one of me that my mom took at almost the same age. Love having those two so close together.
The shell wreath you see below is one I made with my best friend Sophie when she was up visiting from San Diego 6 months after we moved in. The shells are all shells that the kids and I collected during those first 6 months during our daily walks on the beach getting to know our new stomping grounds. :)
Why yes, we have a urinal and YES, Ellie and I are very grateful for it. It is Gavin's to use and clean. So nice keeping that separate! LOL!
The kids shared room is TINY. And I recognize that we can't pull this off much longer with Gavin turning 11 this summer. But it's all I can swing right now and I've done my best to make the most of the little space and give them a sense of privacy and their OWN areas in the little room. Kept it bright and primary colors so it's not boyish or girlish. I used my grandfathers framed fish watercolor painting (above bed) as the inspiration for the colors in the room. He made that painting for me when I was a little girl and dedicated to me with my name on it. I hold it near and dear to my heart and wanted it to be the center piece of the room from which everything else was based off of. I found all the rest of the furniture at garage sales or craig's list finds.
This "memory wall" was once just the side of the pantry but it was wasted space! So, I bought adhesive corkboard and applied it to the wall and we now pin all our ticket stubs from events or movies or museum outings onto the memory wall. It's a great way to remember all the fun things we do, even if we don't get to do them that often, we appreciate them for a good long while when we do!
That art easel used to belong to my grandfather who was a pretty well known artist and architect in France. My mom gave it to me last year and it holds center stage in our kitchen. I just love it and Ellie uses it practically every day to write new messages or draw new images.
That garden has also seen a MASSIVE transformation. I'm going to do a whole separate blog post just on my garden. When I moved in it was two slabs of concrete and nothing but bark. Not a single plant. I planted everything back there and put in two separate veggie garden areas. And everything goes CRAZY out here, something about the coastal weather. Plants and veggies THRIVE!!!
Great story behind this kitchen set. I found the 1950's original formica table at a thift shop and two days later found the chairs, which match PERFECTLY, on Craig's list. This nook is so tiny that it was super hard to find anything that fit right but VOILA! Two surrendipitous finds that work beautifully in the space provided!!!
And one last "backwards" view as you are heading out of the cottage from the kitchen. We love love love love our little cottage and I am determined to find out how we can stay here as long as possible. Thanks for looking. Hope you enjoyed the tour! :)
Have a great day! Now, go out and get some sunshine and stretch your legs for me, ok!? :)