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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marie Antoinette Eye Candy







Years ago for an Art History class I chose to study the artist Vigée Le Brun. She completed 30 known portraits of Marie Antoinette and in my enthusiasm to learn about Antoinette, I ended up veering off course in my research. My paper as a result focused primarily on the subject rather than the artist. Marie Antoinette is such a captivating figure in history, it was easy to become enthralled. She is often regarded as a powerful antagonist and seldom remembered as a silly young girl, which for the most part is exactly what she was. I won't regurgitate my history paper for you, but I will say she continues to interest the historian in me, and I doubt I will ever fully come to understand her character or countenance.

If you've yet to see Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette I highly recommend it. The costumes, the opulence, the sheer unbridled femininity of the movie makes it a visual masterpiece. It is the perfect gloomy day movie, and if you're in BC I encourage you to curl up with some Lady Grey tea and spend the evening letting your sights indulge in this life of luxury.

Jxx

Monday, August 30, 2010

Renovation Update: We Are Horrid At Decisions!!

I *think* we've committed to countertop, flooring, and cupboards...

The much improved flooring has been purchased! We lucked out at a Home Depot flooring sale. In total our new flooring costs $40. We are thrilled!

New counter-tops have yet to be purchased, but they have been decided upon! It's a different colour than the flooring which was a deliberate choice. I thought it would make it more visually compelling.

I'm replacing a couple of the cupboard doors with glass ones since open shelving is not an option for us.

We are negotiating heavily on this beautiful sink, I am convinced I can't live without it. This sink completes me.

Next week we renovate! Have I mentioned we have no clue what we're doing? Our friend yesterday said his mother told him renovations often lead to divorce. With that kind of optimism in the event of a divorce, he inherits Doug. I don't do well in chaos, and Doug doesn't do well indoors for long periods of time. Please keep an eye on our national news for updates on this coming catastrophe. CBC has been alerted.

Jxx

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blog Announcement!



This is the lovely card I found tucked inside my macbook this morning!! Yes, I did marry prince charming. ♥ I have to confess I was beginning to wonder about the romance in our life when I posted a beautiful song on his facebook wall and after listening to the first line ,"I still hear your voice when you sleep next to me" he exclaimed "is this about me talking in my sleep? Because you know I can't help that!" I was a tad concerned our romance was dead and buried, but he has restored my faith. I would like to pass on the card's sentiment to all my readers who are fabulous!! I know I have a few new followers despite my blogs refusal to update my follower list. Bienvenue!!!

I do have something I'm very excited to share. I've been accepted into a creative writing program at UBC to work on my novel! I have been secretly writing a book about infertility and adoption, some of the excerpts I have posted here (such as yesterdays entry). I will still try to post Monday - Friday but I do have to submit a large amount by Dec 1st which may mean I'm less frequent at times.

I would not have had the confidence to do this without all of you who have not only read my blog, but have actually enjoyed reading it. I am amazed at the supportive e-mails I've received in the past few months. In fact, there are a few e-mails I have tucked away in my scrap book. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, it continues to surprise me that there are people who look forward to what I write. Numerous times I've showed my husband your e-mails and shouted "Isn't that ridiculous? They actually like what I write! It's crazy making!" I really am stunned by the positive feedback.

I hope all you fabulous people have a fabulous weekend!! I am excited to share our renovation plans with you Monday!

Jessa xx

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Honest Musings of an Adopted Dame : The Birth Parent Edition



I was born. This thought often surprises the crap out of me. Before you question my knowledge of biology, let me assure you I have a basic understanding of reproduction. I understand in order for me to exist an egg and sperm were likely involved. However, meeting my birth mom solidified this theory for me in a way I wasn't prepared for. Leeann is a tiny woman who stands about 4'11. She has striking golden cat like eyes, and a blue birthmark near her eyebrow. She is very unique and very youthful looking. Upon meeting her it kept astounding me that I was once inside her. Even more surprising that my sister and brother and I were all in the same uterus! I'm not sure why this continues to amaze me but it does. Perhaps it connected me to the earth in a way I hadn't realized I was disconnected from. The primal life circle I somehow saw myself outside of. I love the story Le Petit Prince, and I suppose I saw us as similar. As though I had simply journeyed here from a star with no earthly connections.

The first time I met Leeann was an emotional blur. We were both sobbing and I remember little other than her grasping my hand and asking if that was ok. I wasn't prepared for the waves of grief and celebration that rolled through me. I think she was more nervous than I was. I was apprehensive, but I think she was scared. Perhaps she thought I'd be angry, or ashamed of her. I don't think she realized I have long admired her decision. I have long thought of those terrified teenagers as strong and loving.They have given me many gifts in this life.

My Mom always addressed the topic of my adoption with respect. She was always very clear that my birth Mom had loved me deeply, and that I had two moms in this world who would give up their lives for me. I believe this made my ability to open my heart to Leeann much easier. I had spent my entire childhood knowing she loved me unconditionally. I don't believe any one takes the decision to give up their child lightly. I've yet to meet or read about a birth parents experience that suggest anything other than these parents love their children and experience tremendous ongoing pain from their loss. I believe a parents job is to make the best decision for the child, not the easiest decision for the parent. Knowing they can not provide for their child must be agonizing. Making that painful decision to let their child go, I can not imagine.

Birth parents are unsung heroes in adoption. While adoptive parents garner praise and respect for their decision to "save a child" (please be aware I cringe at those statements), birth parents are shamed. They are shamed for their decision to have sex, and then further shamed for giving up their child. These people who go through hell to give their child a better chance in life are not honored as they should be. These are tremendously strong people. They are NOT giving up "unwanted babies", they are giving up a piece of their heart. These babies are loved and adored, and they are given up because of an awareness that there is a better life for them. It is a sacrifice many of us will never endure, and many will never understand. As I sat next to Leeann with her hand in mine, tears streaming down her face, I was in the presence of that divine love and crushing heartache. I have rarely witnessed such love and longing.

Often in the adoption community we are bombarded with labels. "Real parents" versus adopted. "Natural children" versus adopted. Now that I have come almost full circle in my journey my understanding of this has altered some. I believe myself and my child's biological mom to be "real" parents. Neither of us will have a larger claim on this child. Without her, I would not be a Mom. My legitimacy as a parent is simply that I will be one,labels are irrelevant. My Mom will always be my mom, and I'll most likely always think of Leeann as Leeann. That in no way means I place the importance of one above the other. Without one there would be no other.

My mom wanted to write Leeann after I had made contact. My mom has always been extremely grateful for the opportunity to raise me (not surprising, I am adorable). She wrote her over Christmas and mailed her a small present. Leeann told me my mom's letter touched her deeply. My mom had written a letter of thanks. My mom was forever grateful to Leeann for giving her a beautiful daughter, and is forever in awe of such strength and courage. I think knowing how much my Mom and I respect her was a gift in itself. Adoption is never an easy decision. I know little of the pain they experienced upon coming home from the hospital other than Leeann was quite numb, and my father cried for weeks. My father's grief still haunts me. They all exist within me as parents. They may have played different roles within my life, but they are all a part of who I am. As my cousin so sweetly commented on a previous entry of mine, "being adopted means you are loved by two families". I truly believe I am.



LEGACY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD

Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother

Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it

One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears

One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.
---- Unknown


Jessa xx

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reader Inspired Post


This is post #101. Isn't that nuts?? This had me contemplating my readers. Several of my readers are also facebook friends of mine who I pay to read my blog. I mean whose houses I clean so they will read my blog. Lets just say they happen to read my blog.

If you are indeed my facebook friend please know I have not only diligently read your favourite quotes listed (and everything else you happen to list), but the literary snob in me has determined the merit of said quote as I'm also highly pretentious. I tend to think quotes reveal as much about the admirer as they do the writer. These are the crème de la crème I have found among my friends pages. I'll put the first name of the person who led me to the quote. This is flattering, not at all creepy. Well, maybe a little of both.


"If you are a dreamer come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer, if you're a pretender come sit by my fire, for we have some flax golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!"
Shel Silverstein - Thank you Mary! This led me to look for further quotes of his and I found this one that is forever in my memory.

“Tell me I'm clever, Tell me I'm kind, Tell me I'm talented, Tell me I'm cute, Tell me I'm sensitive, Graceful and wise, Tell me I'm perfect-- But tell me the truth.” I've never in my life been more accurately described.


"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world"
Anne Frank - Mel


Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Mark Twain- Priscilla

"People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun's out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light within."
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross - Elda

"I like pigs. Dogs look up at us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
Winston Churchill- Tim

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."
Dale Carnegie - Holly

“The silence of good people is worse than the actions of bad people.”
Malalai Joya- Keri

"To love another person is to see the face of God"
Victor Hugo- Alicia

"life should be fragrant, rooftop to the basement"
U2- Shawna

"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only a page."
St. Augustine- Nicole

"In the depths of winter, I find in me invincible summer"
Albert Camus - Shelly

Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.
rumi- Leah

Here is mine:

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love. - Sophocles



Thank you readers for the inspiration. Thank you to the writers for all the wisdom. Thank you everyone for supporting this blog! It means the world to me you continue to visit.

I'd also like to give a special mention to a dear friend of mine and an inspiring woman who received her referral yesterday for a beautiful little boy... AND girl!!! Two little angels!! Ruth, I am simply ecstatic for you!!

Jessa xx

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why are these not my kitchen appliances??







Did your eyes just start tearing up like mine at the sight of such beauty? These are must haves for the vintage lover. The blue stove and the pink fridge are delicious looking. I tried to convince Doug last night that maybe we should have a bubble gum pink kitchen. I was picturing a vintage bakery, with delicate cupcakes everyday! He didn't *exactly* go for it. Actually I believe his words were "I'm no longer partaking in these conversations." What I think he actually meant to say was, "Hot Dog! That would be just creamy." I watch a lot of old movies.

The above eye candy comes from www.bigchillfridge.com. The blue is growing on me. I was always rather staunch that kitchens should be neutral or warm colours. I really want to paint ours blue for the reno. The same sort of blue that the fridge is. What do you think? I'll try and find some blue and white kitchens this week. It would be a pretty retro blue. We'll see what I can find on line before making any decisions! I'm getting excited though!!

Jxx

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kitchen Reno by Utter Amateurs

The Postage Stamp Kitchen
The West Wing.
The counter-top matches my bedroom in 1989.
Those black marks are not dirt they are damage. The floor is 13 years old, and when we bought it 4 years ago the floors looked like this. The good news is they haven't gotten any worse from us. The bad news is they're ugly.
The Project : To Make This Kitchen charming.

The Inspiration. Isn't it lovely?


Doug is off work Sept 4th - 10th. We have contemplated long and hard what to do with our time... Our options were:

1. Fly to New York for a few days.
2. Drive up to Whistler and do a couples spa retreat.
3. Stay home and renovate the kitchen.

What lunatics would choose option 3? You're looking at them! In our defense we would rather do New York on a larger budget, and since this was completely unplanned we (Doug) need more time to afford the decadence of NYC. Plus, I figure our first trip there will be the one that needs to sell Doug on my relocation plan for us. I've already chosen our neighbourhood and apartment building, so I'm pretty invested. Our neighbours will be a theater directer and his beautiful actress wife who have fabulous parties and a grand piano. I haven't decided yet if they have kids or a cute small terrier. Either way it's going to be pretty awesome, if I can just convince my man to move. Fortunately, Doug is in finance so his career may drag him there with very little help from his scheming wife. If all else fails I figured I'd just pack up our stuff,leave him a plane ticket on the counter with a note and address that says "Don't be late, dinner is waiting". It's important to have a plan b.

For September though New York will have to wait. Renovation is the name of the game!
As you can see our kitchen is the size of a small bathroom. This may shock those of you outside of Vancouver, but those living in Vancouver will find nothing alarming about this. It is "condo sized". That sounds so much better than dinky.

I have no plans to tile it. The only way I would want it tiled is if it was done in vintage black and white, or robin's egg blue. I love hardwood in the kitchen. This is arguably less practical, but so am I. We decided to do the counter as well (thank heavens!). It's ok to admit the counter is obscenely ugly. It was hard to choose a paint colour in there with the pink/grey/black colour scheme. I am so excited to see it gone!

My plan today is (be aware by tomorrow it may be a completely new plan), is to match our hardwood into the kitchen for flooring and put in wood counter-tops! Our research has told us that wood has become more durable over the years for the kitchen, plus it's cute. I think it has a ton of warmth and European charm which will match the rest of our home nicely. My second choice was stainless steel, but our appliances are crappy, I mean white. Actually they are white and crappy. White I like, but the dishwasher requires us to wash our dishes by hand first which seems counter productive to owning a dishwasher.

Next weekend we purchase the supplies!! On Monday I'll update you as to the final choices. The following Monday the madness begins! The following Monday after that I'll have run away to New York to hide from the disaster we have made in our kitchen.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!!

Jessa xx

Image http://www.houzz.com/photos/32343/beach-vintage-eclectic-kitchen-

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Historian and The Castle







Last night I finished reading The Historian. It was a book I loved so much that I read it exceedingly slow. I knew once I was finished I would long for more time with the characters, and I was sad to say goodbye to them as I finally closed the book for the last time. It was brilliantly written and masterfully researched. It is in essence a book about Dracula, but the history in it is painfully true, and my knowledge of Romania and Bulgaria have increased more than I would have imagined.

Much of the character's travels took them to ancient monasteries, old castles, and ornate libraries centuries old. This left me craving historical buildings. I've spent the morning studying ancient castles and monasteries and found one I wanted to share with you.

Above is the Queluz National Palace. It is an 18th century Portuguese Palace located in Queluz. It was built as a summer retreat for Royalty and later served as a place of refuge for Queen Maria I (also known as Maria the Pious on account of her religious fervor) as following her husband Infante Peter of Portugal's death, her mental illness became sadly debilitating. In 1795 the court was forced to move to the Quelz palace as the Ajuda palace their primary home had burnt down. The queen would reside in her room all day and visitors would recount having heard her horrifying screams.

The building itself is remarkable and the french artisans who designed the interior did an exquisite job. I like to imagine the dresses and the dancing that took place within the ball room, and I am in awe of the rich history those walls have witnessed. While much sadness lived there it easy to see the dreamy and whimsical essence that lingers on. I suppose that is the beauty of a castle, it always invokes some enchantment.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!

Jessa xx

Images from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queluz_National_Palace

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Inspired by Love, Guided by Knowledge



Since I've been feeling rather inspired and joyous lately, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my thoughts on our adoption journey. Tomorrow I may be pulling my hair out again, so I want to seize the tranquility I've acquired as of late, and harness it into what hopes to be an uplifting post.

Some may find this an astonishing statement, but I know there is a chance we will never be parents. There is always a chance things we want and work for, will not come to us. That is the world we live in, and while I am hopeful and optimistic, I am also a realist. The fact is there are many who go without children despite their deepest desires, and I am no more worthy than they are. I am not shielded by some unknown power protecting me from that fate.

More importantly, over the past 6 years I have come to realize if my life is to be without children, that would be fine. I don't relish in the prospect, however my life has been without children for years and in the middle of infertility, miscarriages, a collapsed adoption agency, I have come out fine. I have come out stronger, and wiser (I hope) and with a healthier perspective on life. I feel I have grown philosophically and it has given me a better vantage point to observe humanity and suffering. I have become more invested in how people find peace and joy amongst chaos. I don't mean my personal traumas, but the great atrocities in our world. I have become more diligent in reading their stories, Mother Teresa's wisdom, hearing the voices of the oppressed. They have become my beacon of hope. They are survivors and I am ever astonished by their strength. They are reminders that I want the world to benefit in some small way from me being a part of it. It is my hope that my presence is something more than just a drain on the earth's resources. I am constantly being challenged to be a better citizen of the world, and with that my personal world grows and develops into something more remarkable than I ever dreamed all those years ago. I may never be a Mom, but I am becoming many things and perhaps my increasing education has been the biggest reward of all. One of my favourite quotes is "Inspired by love, guided by knowledge". I feel I am abiding by this more as each day passes.

I still have my moments, and will continue to have them. While I have learned a great deal I am still not impervious to sorrow. None of us are. I do become more aware though that I have the choice to go through this kicking and screaming, or I can "lighten up" as my creamer suggests. I can visualize each day as a new treasure for my memory book. I am more in love with my life as time carries on, and for today the end of my journey does not concern me, it is how I spend my time traveling that is the gift.

J xx

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Plea For Compassion





I want to say a few words about the floods in Pakistan. (This is what you get for reading a political scientists blog)

There have been 20 million people displaced by these floods. The donations for Haiti, and the tsunami have been far greater then what is being given now. This has been referred to as "donor fatigue". I understand that financially it gets exhausting for people to continue to donate to seemingly never ending disasters, but it is necessary. They need our help. The people of Pakistan continue to face much death and displacement. Our help and compassion is imperative for their survival.

We who live in the first world are spoiled. We live with extreme wealth due to the country we were lucky enough to be born in. We are no different from those who need our assistance, and no more deserving of food, water, shelter, and safety. Please consider that those in need are our family. They are our brothers and sisters on this planet and it is our responsibility to assist when and where we can. We need to start expecting more of ourselves as individuals and as a community. We need to expect more from the humanity within us.

Please donate today.

http://www.unhcr.ca/

Jessa xx

Images from:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/world/asia/17pstan.html?_r=1

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/04-pakistan-flood-disease-qs-08

Monday, August 16, 2010

Classic Charm









Romantic and tranquil, this home not only has stunning features such as the GORGEOUS fireplace, but is clearly decorated with an understanding of vintage love and contemporary freshness.

The kitchen cupboard doors are so charming and the clock in the living room is something I've spent the last few months searching for! There is something about old clocks that stirs the memory.

This home was featured in Sköna hem magazine and it is going on my inspiration board this afternoon! I believe when there is order and beauty in a home it makes even a bad day in bed more manageable. Home should be more than a place to rest our head, it should be a place to rest and revitalize our soul.

Jessa xx

Images from: http://www.skonahem.com/inspirerande-hem/hemreportage/very-british-i-saro/index.xml

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tree Hugger






I decided I wanted a romantic tree in my bedroom. Something that would look earthy with some vintage charm. I made a tree out of old willow branches and cut out pages from an old book I'd bought for decor use only. I also purchased some old Russian sheet music for some added old age charm.

The picture came from a card sent to me by an old friend with the saying "What joy is better than the news of friends". I've always loved the card and it was nice to find a perfect display for it!

Jxx

Make it Yours @ My Backyard Eden