Lisa's Lines

The tooth fairy failed. 

My 7-year-old woke up the day after having lost her first top, front tooth to find her tooth untouched under her pillow. She was crushed. I was devastated. Never, never, never has the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, St. Patrick’s Day leprechaun, Elf on the Shelf, St. Nicholas, or Santa forgotten anything. Ever. 

I woke up to Anna standing beside my bed with her head hung low and her little tooth in her hand. “Mommy, why didn’t the tooth fairy take my tooth?” she asked with big, sad eyes (while my husband gave me a surprised / exasperated look from the other side of the bed). 

Ugh. I wanted to inform both of them that I was sure that the fairy got home late from  work, made a special dash to the bank to get a $25 roll of $1 fairy coins (because they wouldn’t break a roll), threw together dinner, helped with homework, tucked two children into bed, said prayers, read books, and then got super busy cleaning the house, washing dishes, folding laundry, roasting the darn turkey that would have otherwise gone bad had it not been cooked because it wouldn’t fit in the freezer, and writing her family’s Christmas letter… but I answered with a, “Oh, honey, sometimes the tooth fairy gets really busy. Try again tonight.” 

She sadly padded off to her room and closed her door. Ugh. Why did the tooth fairy have to forget that ONE thing on her list!?! 

A few minutes later, little sister Ellen bounced into the hallway and asked what was going on with Anna. I explained it to her. Then, she ran to her sister’s door and asked to look at the tooth. Anna opened the door and showed it to her.

“Your tooth is stinky. The fairy isn’t going to want it,” the little sister piped.

Anna slammed her bedroom door shut just as mom appeared on the scene. After sending Ellen to her room, I sat with Anna and talked about her tooth. She agreed to try putting it out for the tooth fairy one more time. 

To make sure the fairy saw it and would know just how special the tooth it is, Anna created a drawing complete with arrows and directions and positioned her tooth in a special glass Cinderella shoe, which she displayed at the head of her bed. No fairy could miss it. 

Well, the tooth fairy must have felt pretty guilty because when Anna woke up the next morning, she found a cute personalized little fairy-size apology note lovingly sealed with a tiny pink heart from the fairy (with an explanation that included the fairy coming across an injured squirrel on the way to Anna’s house and having to assist the hurt critter). Anna also found three shiny $1 coins. She was thrilled. 

“Mommy!!! The tooth fairy came! She left me three dollars and a letter!” she happily announced prior to sunrise. “I bet Kaden (a friend in school) got a letter too! The fairy didn’t make it to his house the other night either.”

Oops.

*****

I’m refinishing my Great-grandma Eleanor’s dresser. It’s the first project I’ve tackled in 7+ years that doesn’t include finger paints, glitter or popsicle sticks. (Surely, other moms with young kids can appreciate this.) 

The glass-top dresser was stored in our garage last winter. My husband complained every time he had to maneuver the snowblower around it, but I refused to put it in the basement. If it went to the basement, I would never bring it back out and transform it into the beautiful buffet table I envisioned. So, it stayed in the garage. 

I began working on it in the spring. It is my first time refinishing a piece of furniture, but the guy at the store told me what I needed and I obediently purchased every item. My husband (who has refinished furniture before) gave me this advice:  “Put the stripper on, wait until the paint bubbles, and then scrape it off.” 

Turns out, my great-grandma liked to paint. Under the beige/ivory exterior, there was a layer of robin-egg-blue paint, which covered a lovely daffodil-yellow paint, which covered what looks like a coat of white paint. According to my dad (Eleanor’s grandson), Eleanor was known to change things up often and liked color. (I can’t help but smile thinking of how much she would have liked Pinterest!)

Refinishing furniture is a slower, more tedious process than I initially thought, but the hours spent in the garage working on the dresser were wonderfully peaceful.

Having mommy work on a “mommy-only” project was new for my kids. But, they are old enough to not require constant supervision and had lots of fun with their freedom. One afternoon, I gave them daddy’s hammer and a bucket of nails to keep them busy and they created a special on-the-ground tree fort. My husband cranked up the music and tackled his own garage projects. It was good for all of us.  

However, mommy’s dresser project became more interesting to my kids as I invested more hours. Oftentimes Anna and Ellen would sit near me and we’d talk as I worked. They’d ask: “Why are you doing that?” “Did I meet Great-great-grandma Eleanor?” “Why did she paint it?” “What are you going to do with it?” 

They both wanted to help me. They wanted to TRY to do what I was doing, and after telling them “no” 100 times and explaining the hazards of potent chemicals to them, I caved after their 101st request (please don’t judge me). Both girls donned all the necessary safety gear—in a well ventilated garage—and got to work painting on the gel and then scraping off the paint. They stuck with it for about a half an hour. I had my husband snap a photo of the three of us working. I plan to stash a copy of the photo in the dresser/buffet when it is ready for use. 

It makes me happy knowing my kids will remember working on the dresser with me. The piece has been around for five generations and will become a permanent piece in our home and maybe—just maybe—it will find a spot in the home of one of my daughters some day. 

Another thing that makes me happy is a set of paw prints—preserved by robin-egg-blue paint—beneath the lowest dresser drawer. Great-grandma was a cat lady (like me) and her furry friend must have stepped through her paint while she was working and left its own marks on the dresser. This makes me smile because it’s something that would totally happen to me, and I love that great-grandma didn’t try to remove the prints or paint over them. My girls and I enjoy looking at the paw prints and talking about how silly cats are. Anna even suggested we dip our own kitties’ paws in paint and add their prints to the project. I have to admit that it would be cute! After all, the dresser most likely spans 5+ generations of beloved family felines. 

Unfortunately (and much to my husband’s displeasure), I was not able to complete the project before the cold weather set in. The half-stripped dresser will remain in the garage for yet another winter, but that’s okay. I look forward to working on it again in the spring. Hopefully the piece will grace our home next Christmas and for many more Christmases to come.