Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pallet Wall Art..The Obsessions Continues

It appears I have lost the ability to sit on the couch and watch tv. Don't be alarmed, though, because I plan to do my best to regain that ability as soon as I finish this post.

One of the very first things I pinned on Pinterest was this beautiful wall art. If you know me at all you know that I am ridiculously, gloriously cheap, and since this artwork is made with a repurposed wooden pallet and some paint I considered it to be practically free. But what words should go on my art?  Where should I put it?  How can I make it uniquely my own?  And, most importantly, how on earth can I paint letters that look that good because Lord knows I can't free-hand it!

I began staring at this big blank place on our wall where a cheap picture used to hang. It was a poster in a plasticy poster frame that for the most part matched our decor and filled the blank spot. It met an untimely death during an indoor baseball game played by the Hickman boys. I always tell them that as soon as they break something they can't play inside anymore, and I acted sufficiently appalled at the fact that they had broken the picture, but I never liked it much anyway.

So...I had location.

Then I pondered, as I often do before I start a project. Four or five weeks of pondering, in this case. I spent about six hours (all totaled) reviewing lyrics to hymns that I might consider using. I kept a running list of ideas on my ipad and even began grouping the lyrics by topic - those about grace, those about music and singing. (Yes, I'm type A even when I'm being artsy.) Some of my favorite finalists included:

  • echoes of mercy, whispers of love
  • tune my heart to sing thy grace
  • how great thou art
  • no tender voice but thine can peace afford
  • all is vain unless the spirit of the holy one comes down
  • redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die
and that's just the short list. 

I also considered skipping the whole hymn thing and going straight to the source by using scripture. I considered Psalm 37:4 (Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart) and some excerpt from I John 4, the scripture from our wedding. After all that, I finally decided on lyrics from the original artwork. 

After location and pondering came pillaging. I had the boys on the lookout for wooden pallets on the side of the road. I crept past construction sites hoping to find one sticking out of a dumpster. I called local department stores and asked if they had any to spare, and finally got lucky with a couple of local businesses. 

You know how I know Trey really loves me?  He dumpster dived with me. After a Sunday afternoon of pillaging pallets from dumpsters, I had two varieties to choose from. I chose the one with the smaller slats because I knew that I had to saw them and smaller meant easier.

I removed the slats from the base of each pallet with a hammer, and then sawed each slat into three somewhat equal pieces. Part of what made the original so cool was its imperfection, and that took a lot of pressure off me, too. 

When it came time to saw, I felt all brave and capable, so got out Trey's circular saw and plugged it in and read the directions. Then I remembered that he was at work and that I didn't know what I was doing and I pictured myself bleeding out with my arm sawed off in the garage all because of a Pinterest project, and I saw the boys having to dial 911 and attempt to save my severed arm by putting it in the freezer, and I realized there wasn't room in the freezer for an arm, so I chose to forego the circular saw and instead used a combination of a small manual handsaw and an electric hand saw. You're welcome, Hickmans. 

To connect the boards for the signs, I used the staple gun and some brads to attach two pieces of one inch plywood strips to the back. The brads were small enough that they didn't come through the front. The plywood strips were $2.49 each at Hobby Lobby, and I used two. We already had the brads. 

In the original, the wood was left wood-colored. My wood, however, wasn't exactly wood but more wood-ish, and the color wasn't great. I decided to paint it off white, and had to buy paint at Lowes. I got the little sample size, and it was about $2.50. The paint didn't cover the wood-ish material very well, but when I finished the first coat I actually liked the effect, so I left it at one coat.

The fantastic Deanne at work told me how to make the letters look like I knew what I was doing. I printed the lettering in the font I wanted, placed it on the sign, and then went around the lettering with a ball point pen leaving an indentation in the wood. I still couldn't see it well enough to paint, so I then went over the indentation with a pencil. Then I painted. It's not perfect, but remember that imperfection is the point, right? 

I had two pieces, and I didn't have any idea of what to put on the third. Hanging two would have worked, but in my head there were three of them. A trip to Hobby Lobby solved my problem when I found a cross for $8.99. Using my something-is-always-40%-off coupon on my phone, I got it for $5.40. I hung it on the third board with a nail. 

For hangers, I affixed wire to the back of each piece with the staple gun. 

Here's the finished project, all for about thirteen dollars.

Now I have to figure out what to do next. I still have some pallets, and I'm still collecting them. I think I have a pallet addiction. And I already went to the trouble of finding all of those song lyrics. They need to be on something. In our Sunday school class this morning I remembered that there is absolutely nothing on the walls in there, so maybe that can be my next project. I suppose I'll begin the pondering phase.

On a side note, yesterday I picked up these old cabinet doors at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for a buck a piece.

I have a project idea for one of them, but I bought five. The other four have turned into a perfect art project for the boys on a Sunday afternoon. They are currently outside painting masterpieces as all of the neighborhood kids look on and offer their creative inspiration. This might just be the best five bucks I ever spent.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Greatest Fear

or, as an alternate title, it's a good thing they're alive so now I can kill them.

Disclaimer: No Hickmans were injured during the course of this story.

My greatest fear is that something will happen to my children. I recognize the futility of attempting to wrap them in bubble wrap and confine them to their rooms, and I do my best to keep the crazy paranoia at bay, but it doesn't always work.

We live on a street with lots of families, and I'm grateful that the boys have kids in the neighborhood they can play with. They cavort from yard to yard playing football and what-have-you. I'm happy about this, yet I remind them about six hundred thousand times a day to "stay away from the street!" and "watch for cars because they can't see you!" and I do frequent checks to see if I can catch them being less careful than I think they should be so we can have a quick mini-lesson on how to watch for cars and stay away from the street. I know they are as safe as boys can be playing outside, and I know that boys should play outside with their friends, but still, I always fear they will be careless and something horrible will happen. I figure probably every parent feels this way.

In the scene I'm about to create, it's important to note that I've been feeling a little run down this week. I've been dragging myself out of bed every morning and doing my best to act like I feel great, but I feel exhausted. I think the problem is that I've gotten back into my gym routine, so at night I'm really tired. So tired, in fact, that I'm sleeping really hard. As a result, I've had these wild and crazy dreams every night for like two weeks. I'm doing hard work in these dreams - running from killers and escaping fires and warning people of disaster and such, and I think all that work is making me wake up tired. This is my hypothesis regarding my lethargy.

(It occurs to me here that it may seem to the outsider like I'm in need of a psychiatric evaluation. I won't agree or disagree.)

Tonight we got home from school around 5:15, and the boys immediately went outside to play basketball. I considered straightening the house a little or finding something for dinner, but ultimately I felt the need to crash on the couch for the twenty minutes I had before Keaton's basketball game.

So I dozed into a state of conscious oblivion and briefly wondered if anyone would notice if I just slept until tomorrow. I thought about turning off the living room light, but that would have required me to get up from the couch, so the idea quickly passed.

Then it happened.

The scream.

A blood curdling scream of panic echoed through the garage. I knew immediately it was Keaton screaming, and I could hear the terror in his voice. The scream was continuous and strong, so in that split second I knew that Keaton was okay but he had seen something terrible.

I leaped over the dog gate, threw my phone on the floor, and as I entered the garage I saw the neighbor's truck stopped at the end of his driveway. The back lights flared, so I knew it was running. Keaton was now screaming words, but all I heard was "Molly's dad!" and I could see Molly's dad running around to the back of his truck.

I did not see Tucker.

In the two and one half seconds that followed, my worst fears were realized. I knew in my heart that there was a person under the tires of that truck, and that our lives would never be the same. I was moving in slow motion in the beginning of a Lifetime movie, and I blamed myself for allowing my children to play outside and not sitting with them every minute and trying to take a quick nap and just all around being the worst mother ever. I saw a funeral and weeping and I knew that I would never, ever recover. It was my greatest fear realized.

And then I saw Tucker.

And then Molly's dad picked up a misshapen object from under his truck tire, raised it up, and said, "I popped their basketball."

And then Tucker began to scream. It was a blood curdling scream of panic. A scream delivered not because of serious bodily injury to a loved one, but because he just discovered that his basketball had been popped.


I mumbled, "Dear God, I thought it was a person," and I clutched my screaming-but-perfectly-fine children and retreated quickly into the house and began to sob. I'm sure Molly's dad probably considered the emotional stability of my household for a moment or two before he got back into the truck.

I cried, and when I calmed down, Keaton calmed down.

Tucker continued to wail. Wail terrible cries of lament and pain as he lay crumpled on our living room floor.

"Tucker," I said calmly, "It's just a basketball. We can get a new one."

"But I loved that basketball.  It was my favorite one. And now I can't play basketball anymore," he choked out between sobs.

I guess I just thought I had calmed down because crazy mommy surfaced so quickly.

I was crying and yelling at him. "I thought it was you!  I thought you were under that truck and it was horrible! You guys just scared me to death! I can't stop shaking! I thought you were run over, but it was just a stupid basketball!"


And so the event ended as they often do at our house: "You are being ridiculous. You've been screaming for five minutes and I'm not listening to it anymore. Go to your room until you can get some control of yourself."

I guess tomorrow we'll buy a new basketball.