Nancy Benard

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Episode #84: Home Project Updates + Naomi Davis Interview

This week, we’re sharing a few renovation updates and welcoming guest Naomi Davis of Love, Taza. Naomi shares about her new book, A Coat Of Yellow Paint.

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Big thanks to this week’s sponsors! Be sure to check out the offers from AgilityIssuuPharmaca and Curtsy. All of our sponsor codes can be found on this page.

Show Notes:
-We chat about some recent home projects, including Emma’s nursery and Emma’s pink bedroom.

-Here’s a link to Emma’s LED candles you can turn on with a remote.

-Elsie talks about completing her outdoor space. See a peek here (full tour coming soon—I’m just waiting for some of my plants and flowers to bloom before taking photos).

-Here’s the wallpaper Elsie is currently installing: 1, 2.

-Here’s a link to Elsie’s kitchen backsplash project. And here’s a link to the marble countertop paint kit I am going to use on our island.

-Elsie discusses the bunk bed room she’s planning to build this spring.

-Naomi’s interview starts at 20:36.

-Here’s a link to Naomi’s new book, A Coat Of Yellow Paint, which launches this week! I loved the audiobook and highly recommend it.

-You can follow Naomi on her blog Love, Taza or on Instagram @taza.

Have a wonderful week!

Episode 84 Transcript

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Elsie: You’re listening to A Beautiful Mess podcast this week, we’re sharing house projects we’ve been working on on our spring schedule. We’re also sharing an interview with Naomi from Love Taza, who is one of our original blogger besties. I’m chatting with her about motherhood, her new home and her new book, A Coat of Yellow Paint. OK, Emma. It’s been a while since we talked about house updates and what we’re up to. So everyone knows Emma is living in her holiday house and I’m living in my second quarantine house. (laughs)

Emma: (laughs)

Elsie: And this is our life…

Emma: And life is good!

Elsie: Yes. And we are on the project train like we’re it’s like project after project after project. We don’t take breaks. We just do projects. Right Emma?

Emma: Pretty much. Well, and I also have been of the mindset that I’m trying to get like have everything done that I want done by early to mid May. I’m due with my son June 4th. And since I’m going to be a first time mom and I’m going to give breastfeeding a try, I don’t want any contractors in my home for those first two months. I just want to be able to walk around half naked with…(laughs) to feed my son. So, no one in my house, please! So I’m like trying to get all my projects wrapped up by then. (laughs)

Elsie: So you’re nesting and you’re also racing a deadline?

Emma: Yeah, basically, I’ll tell you the most hilarious and frustrating project I’ve been working on, which is I ordered some additional kitchen cabinets December 11th, and I have called more than 20 times seeing when they will arrive and they finally have arrived. I’m not going to say where they’re from, but it’s a big box store. And for the record, there’s one guy, Frank, in receiving who really tracks stuff down for me and was really, really nice. And I really appreciate you, Frank. I know you’re not listening, but I just have called enough times that I know this gentleman by name (laughs). But anyway, so I’m finally going to have these kitchen cabinets. It took like three months and I’d gotten to the stage where I would call and I would be like, listen, I’m seven months pregnant and I need these to arrive. I ordered them before Christmas, like I was just getting to this, like, crazy stage. But I’m very excited for them because it has a hidden trash, a hidden recycling bin and a built-In microwave, which is kind of my dream. I just want — I’ve never had hidden trash before and I’m very excited about it. And if you’ve had hidden trash for ten years, you don’t need to tell me. OK, I know everybody has it. I just haven’t had it. I’m very excited for it. (laughs)

Elsie: Let her have this one…

Emma: Just let me have it! But boy, did this dream take more to get done than I thought it would. (laughs) Anyway, that’s my silly thing that’s happened. But the other things I’ve been working on is mainly two things. My nursery for my son. You certainly don’t have to have a nursery done. A lot of people work on it after their child’s born. But since it’s my first, I’m just really excited. So it’s been really fun to put together his room and picture him being in the crib. And I have a little rocking chair and I sit in it and I think about how I’m going to, you know, be up at night with him. And it’s special to me. I’m just really excited for this next phase of my life. So decorating the room has been fun as far as picking out wallpaper and curtains and all that. I love home decor, but it’s been an extremely sentimental project that I’ve cried a lot during too, because I’m just really excited to be a mom. So that’s been my big thing. And I shared the wallpaper recently so I can link that in the show notes. I’m not sure if I’ve shared the full tour yet by the time this episode will come out, but if so, I’ll link it. And if not, you can look forward to it.

Elsie: I love the wallpaper you selected. I think that for a charming historic home like the room has kind of an arch door shape and kind of some interesting features, I think the wallpaper really made it feel so much cozier. So…

Emma: Thank you! It feels very cheery to me.

Elsie: I remember when we first shared the before and afters of the Holiday House when we first did it, people’s comments were a little bit negative because they felt that it looked a little bit, you know, like empty or cold or like under decorated maybe. And I feel like that has changed so much since you’ve been living there, like what you’ve done with the bedroom, painting it all the way pink and with this room giving it the 360 wallpaper. I think you’re just making it so cozy and I’m so proud.

Emma: Thank you. Yeah, I love the wallpaper in there. It’s my favorite. My favorite part — it just feels really cheery. One commenter mentioned that it kind of looks like Christmas a little bit too, because it has a lot of green and red and…

Elsie: Christmas all year!

Emma: …I love Christmas so I was like, I love that. I’m having a son, but I’m still doing kind of a lot of florals. And I just my idea is I want to expose him to lots of styles and lots of different things and kind of dress him like a tiny Harry Styles, so…(laughs)

Elsie: Oh, my God. You did your tiny Harry Styles and now my whole day is going to be spent shopping online as soon as we get done with this podcast.

Emma: I bought him a tiny pair of overalls the other day, I was at a thrift and a I don’t usually — it was the it was the first thing I ever bought him, like the first item of clothing that I ever bought for him. And it was really fun. And they’re so tiny. They’re tiny, tiny!

Elsie: Baby Harry Styles! I’m never going to get over this. Oh, my gosh.

Emma: I don’t even know if I can, I mean, aspire to that. Harry Styles is very cool. I love his fashion sense, but you get it. I just — I like an eclectic look and like experimentation and like, you know, artistic things. I want him to be exposed to lots of things. And then he can choose what he wants once he can talk and stuff. So until then, he can match mommy, which is going to be a lot of leopard print. So, sorry, bud.

Elsie: Hell yes, that’s adorable.

Emma: Other than the nursery. The other thing, and I completed this a little while ago, but I haven’t photographed it for the blog. So I had a faux mantel, a faux fireplace built into the second living room, which is in the back part of my house. And it has pink tile. And it’s just really fun. It’s it’s actually pretty simple, but it’s tiled. And I put a little candelabra in it and it has like the led candles that you turn on with a remote. And that’s kind of the vibe right now. And I just am picturing, like decorating it through the seasons. The only reason I haven’t shared pictures of it yet is just the whole space isn’t finished and I want a different rug and the rugs kind of near it. So I don’t have a great way to photograph it, like just by itself. But once I have the room a little more finished, I’ll be sharing it. So but it’s been done for a while and I really like it. It’s very fun. Adds a lot of personality to the space and. Yeah. Pink tile. So…

Elsie: Yeah. I love that. I think that I’m planning to put a faux fireplace in my bedroom I think and I think it’ll be kind of similar to yours. And I think it’s such a good idea for a room where you have the extra space and you just want to add something cozy to it. I think it’s brilliant.

Emma: Yep. That’s what I was going for, something that just feels a little cozy.

Elsie: All right. Wanna hear my projects?

Emma: Yes.

Elsie: So we have been going hard. It has been a season of lots of power tools. Collin is off this week, so he’s taking a break. And that’s the only reason you can’t hear a saw on in the background right now. (laughs). So, oh my gosh! Anyway, so we first of all, we completed our outdoor space, which I’m so excited about. As soon as the weather started getting warm, we started working on it. Some of the things we did that are different from last year is we did add the children’s safety fence, which is just a fence that goes around the pool so the kids cannot access the pool in case of an accident. The next thing we did is that we painted all of the cement flooring around the pool area. And this was kind of like a special paint we had to add, like an additive to make it not slippery, like kind of a sandy element. And it looks great. It looks really, really fresh and a lot cleaner now.

Emma: It made a big difference.

Elsie: Yeah, it made a huge difference. We did landscaping, we did the front and the back. This was such a big project. We did a lot of it ourselves and I’ll tell you — my theme. So I did something for all of the seasons. For spring and summer, I did a ton of hydrangeas and peonies. The peonies are for spring. I guess the hydrangeas are for summer and then for fall, in the front of the house, we did a gingko tree, which is the tree, it’s just a regular looking small tree. But in October it turns bright yellow with those really beautiful bright yellow leaves.

Emma: Oh, fun. That’s pretty.

Elsie: Yeah. So I think that’ll be really special for fall and then for December. So I did a large amount of the just, you know, the shrubs or bushes that looks like a Christmas tree where it’s kind of just like a tall, spiky bush. I mean, it’s a Christmas tree, basically a small, skinny one. So we did lots and lots of those. And the main reason I did that is because this past December, when we were driving around our neighborhood, there was one house that had a lot of those in the front of their house and they were all decorated with Christmas lights. And I lost my mind over it. So I’m really excited to have a Christmas-y house, this next year I think we’re going to actually do the outdoor lighting. And I’m very excited about that. And then I’ve been wallpapering like crazy. It’s been a big wallpaper season. That was one of the main things I’ve talked about before, that our house isfrom the nineties, it has a lot of angles that aren’t necessarily so cute. It has a lot of big walls, and it was painted white before we moved in, so it just felt very bare. Big, bare, plain is like words that you would use to describe it. So adding wallpaper into a lot of key areas did a lot for just giving more like charm and character and personality. So I’m kind of just going for it and I’m just going to add as much as I can until I feel like there’s like a cut off point and I don’t feel it at all yet. I feel like I’m just going to keep adding for a while. So we’re doing kind of like little little hallways and nooks. There’s like a landing above the stairs, this little hallway that goes to Jeremy’s office. We just did our living room, which is kind of a big open room. I’m doing my office in the coming weeks with a really dense floral pattern it is like, kind of has like almost like a Gucci inspiration was what I was drawn to about it.

Emma: Oooh, Gucci girl. That’s what our niece would say. (laughs)

Elsie: “Gucci girl”, yeah, except for I’m not 12, but I do still love Gucci. What’s coming up next is we’re doing a part two to our mini kitchen makeover, so I will link it. But we already did the stick on backsplash tile and I was planning at the time for that to be the whole thing. Like this is the beginning and the end of my mini makeover, because our kitchen’s already white and there are certain things about it. Irregular ceilings, tiled rug on the floor, things that are like just bad that aren’t going to get better. And then we have a strangely shaped, kind of stone shaped irregular island. That is…

Emma: It’s kind of a triangle.

Elsie: Yeah, maybe it’s kind of a triangle, but not. It’s, it’s just a weirdly shaped island that we…I was like, should I paint it? Should I do something? And I kind of debated on Instagram stories about it one day and Emma strongly was like, do not do this marble paint. It will be horrible.

Emma: I am against this plan. You heard it here, I am against the plan. I don’t think it’s going to work. I’m sorry. I’m not usually a glass half empty person, but I just I had a bad experience where I tried to marble a kitchen aid mixer one time and I got scarred for life. (laughs) So we’ll see. We’ll see if Elsie changes my mind, she might though so…

Elsie: Okay so what tipped me over the edge, it was two things. One is that Keely did her photo was counters in her bathroom and she epoxied them with a little fire gun? I don’t know what do you call it? (laughs)

Emma: Yeah a kitchen torch or something? Yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. So she made these like hard, dried, shiny countertops that she said it feels just as good as a natural stone.

Emma: They look awesome.

Elsie: And it cleans just as easily. And so that put me over the edge. And then the other thing is I was like, how bad were the fumes? Because one of the main reasons I didn’t want to do it is because I didn’t want to do this like big toxic fume project right in our kitchen — our kids eat there every day. And she swore to me it wasn’t bad. And since we have lots of windows and doors we can open, I was like, OK, I’m going to go for it. And then Elise, our friend from Elise Gets Crafty Podcast.

Emma: The third sister, as we call her.

Elsie: Yes! Our third sister Elise. So she texted me and she was like, why are you doing it? There’s no downside. And I was like, OK, you know what? I’m doing it because really there is no downside. Like, the worst thing that can happen is that the marbling will look horrible. I will paint it plain white and epoxy over it. And I’ll have a plain white counter, which is still so much better than what I have now. It would match the rest of the kitchen. There’s really like no risk of anything bad happening. It’s true. Other than wasting time maybe, which, you know, it’s a blog post. It’s what we do like. So I ordered the kit. I will link it in the show notes. I am so, so excited to do this. I’m definitely going to make a video and I will share every detail, even if it’s bad, I promise.

Emma: Well, I hope it works out. For the record, I’m not rooting for you to fail. I’m just nervous because I had that one bad experience and I’m like, “I don’t know”. But…

Elsie: The marble painting part does look kind of challenging. I’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos. I think I can do it because I have a lot of patience for faux painting…

Emma: Yeah. You have a very, like, art mind for like certain…I just feel like you’ll do a good job. So if it doesn’t work, like if yours looks bad, I feel like that will be for me the conclusion of like, nobody should paint marble it doesn’t work (laughs) but no pressure.

Elsie: I’m still nervous. It has rounded edges. I’m nervous about that.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: So yeah I will be honest how good and how bad it is, how much it holds up. I think it’ll just be a fun worthwhile experiment for the blog world because a lot of people have a counter that they’re not going to pay to replace to change, but maybe they would do this. So I think it’s kind of exciting just to see what we can do. It’s going to be a little while before we remodel the kitchen. And I don’t want to feel like I’m rushing it and I’m determined not to rush it because it’s not even planned out yet. And that’s only the first step, you know, so I need lots of time. So this will hopefully make us enjoy the space we have more in the meantime, which is always a good thing. And I will tell you a little secret. I did paint our outdoor countertop before our big photoshoot for At Home. And here’s what’s funny: it didn’t even end up in the photos. (laughs)

Emma: Oh! (laughs) Well, I’ll bet looks good, though, so. Oh, well.

Elsie: It’s OK.

Emma: OK, we’re going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

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Elsie: Ok, and then there’s one more project I’m excited about for spring. So we are doing our bunk bed room finally. So now that it is vaccine season and there’s, there’s like some hope that we’re going to be living somewhat of normal lives again, like hopefully we’ll be having guests again because we had almost no guests last year. Emma was pretty much our only guest and she came a bunch of times, but that was kind of our…

Emma: It was the only place I could go. So…there I was. (laughs)

Elsie: That was like, you were kind of the only person that used our guestroom. So anyway, I am really excited to do this bunk bedroom. I think it will be special for our kids having sleepovers as they grow up…cousin time. We have lots of cousins and are having more all the time. But yeah, I’m very excited to get this bunk bedroom done and it’s going to be kind of a playroom slash, kind of like an entertaining space for kids. And I think it’ll be great because most of the people who come to visit us have young children. So it’ll be a very useful place that we can enjoy.

Emma: Yeah, plus, if it was like a thing where the whole family came at some point I could sleep in a bunk bed. It’s not like a big deal.

Elsie: It’s true. It’s not like you can’t sleep in a twin bed for one night of your life. It’s not the end of the world.

Emma: It’s better than an air mattress to me. So, yeah, sign me up.

Elsie: Aww! Yeah, I’m very excited. Eventually, someday I’d love to host a holiday or something like that. So I have fantasies and I feel like this bunk bed is a big part of making those fantasies come true. I guess that’s all. I guess we’re — I guess we’re ready for our next segment, huh?

Emma: Mmhmm. I’m excited for this one.

Emma: Ok, so today we’re welcoming Naomi Davis. She’s known for her blog, Love Tosa, and she’s here to chat with us about her new memoir, A Code of Yellow Paint. Naomi’s blog was the first lifestyle blog I ever followed back in the day, like probably like 13 years ago? So I have loved her all these years. And she’s been one of our friends for a long time. She shares in her book a bunch of personal essays, things she’s never shared before on her blog — essays about motherhood and everyday life. I laughed, I cried. And today we’re going to have her on just to chat all about it. I want to say before we start that I loved the book. It’s memoir-style. So it’s very personal. Whenever I usually read a blogger book, a lot of times it’s like very professional, like advice-driven. So I think that’s what people expect when they see a book from us is like informational, you know, a DIY how-to, business book. But you really shared your heart and some life experiences that were really, really personal. And it was so fun to listen to.

Naomi: Thank you.

Elsie: I listened to the audio book version and it was amazing.

Naomi: Elsie, thank you. You’re the first person I’ve chatted with that’s listen to the audio from start to finish. I actually don’t know anybody else that’s done that yet besides me, which was so hard to listen back to. So it means a lot that you listened and that you, like, finished it. It wasn’t too, you know, hard to keep going because for myself, I’m like, oh, this is like this…it was very therapeutic in the moment to record, obviously. But, you know, listening to it back, you just, I self critique like my enunciation…

Elsie: Every person has a cringe on their own voice, like, that’s so normal. I have it severely. But I think I mean, you did an amazing performance and it was really, really fun to listen to. I listened to it over two days. So I was doing like some bike rides, I was listening to it while I was working. It was so, so fun. And we’ll talk about it at the end, but it has some bonus stuff at the end. So for our podcast audience, I did want to recommend the audio book because I already know you like listening to things and it is really a great audio book.

Naomi: Thank you, Elsie.

Elsie: So OK to start off. So, you know, we talk a lot about renovations on A Beautiful Mess and on the podcast. Emma and I are always renovating. It’s a passion in our life, like kind of our big one. And you’re doing your first big renovation.

Naomi: I know, I don’t know if I can talk about it. I feel like it’s just, I look at you and I look at Emma and I look at everybody that you have on A Beautiful Mess that produces such incredible renovation content. And for me, I just feel like I’m not cut out for this. (laughs) So I don’t know if we’ll ever want to do something big renovation wise again just because I think it takes a very different personality type.

Elsie: Okay can I give you two pieces of advice?

Naomi: Please. Yes, I’ve been writing down so many notes, you have no idea, as I’ve listened to a lot of your podcasts in the past with with all of the tips. But please do.

Elsie: Ok, my first piece of advice is you’re in the Valley of Despair and it will feel so differently after you’ve cooked maybe two meals in your new kitchen, it will all disappear. So the feeling you have right now will not last forever. And the other thing I will say, we’ve said this on the podcast before, is that we always watch this movie at the end of our renovation or in the worst part called The Money Pit with Tom Hanks. And you have to watch it with Josh.

Naomi: We have to watch it, yes!

Elsie: It’s about renovation nightmares. And it’s very therapeutic when you’re in that place of, like, what else could possibly go wrong?

Naomi: Well, and that’s the thing, right? It’s just you can’t — you just have no idea going into it. All of the things that you’re like, we had no idea. And then on top of it, you’re kind of at the mercy of your subcontractors or people showing up and actually doing the jobs that it’s not you know, you don’t have like a month and a half lag where everything just has to sit because someone didn’t didn’t do anything and no one else can do something till they finish and they are ghosting you. (laughs) It’s just it’s it’s a different world. So we will we will watch that movie. Thanks for the recommendation.

Elsie: Yes.

Naomi: And you’re right, like once we’re…I mean, we just started painting some of the rooms and I think once you like, we’ve had some light fixtures arrive. And things like that, where you’re like, oh, it’s going to come together, we’re not going to live with this, like pretend utility sink that, you know, and I just it’s a little bit of a and — I think also because we’re living in it, but there is a the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s very, very faint, but it’s there.

Elsie: Just imagine yourself at Thanksgiving. At Christmas.

Naomi: I have. I have, girlfriend. I’m like, the trimming around this window will be so nice with some garlands. Like, I’m like it will work. And if we can just get it done before then I’m a happy camper.

Elsie: Yes. OK, so my question is, I wanted to just hear I’ve seen like the brightly colored paints and the light fixtures. I wanted to hear a little bit about what you’re planning and what you’re excited about, like the first memories you want to make in your home when it’s completed.

Naomi: We…so this is the first time we’ve ever bought. It was actually the first home, the only home we even walked through, so I feel like we’ve probably done everything kind of backwards for how you should approach this as like first-time homeowners. You know, it’s like the only home we walked through. We just we fell in love. We really feel like this is where we’re supposed to be right now for our family. We’ve got five little ones and there’s just a great space here. There’s lots of fruit trees. We’ve got orange trees, grapefruit trees, lemon, lime. There’s peach trees in the back. There’s big palm trees.

Elsie: So magical!

Naomi: It’s really, really special because the property’s pretty mature with all of these trees. So we knew with the home, it’s this old ranch style home. You’re like, we can really make this ours, since I think it was built in nineteen seventy nine or something like that. But it’s been really fun because we don’t have a general contractor. I don’t, I’m not working with an interior designer, but Josh and I, we’ve just we I’ve really always believed in that sort of mentality of just making your home yours. And sometimes I think like we’re in this day and age where there’s such great content to consume on, like even myself, I’m like on Pinterest and I’m like, oh, well, maybe that or what about this? Or but then when I go to the paint store and I’m looking at all the swatches on the wall, like, I just I gravitate towards certain things that just really make me happy or my space making it feel like mine. And so that has been so much fun with Josh, me andmy husband, and even with the kids, a little bit like to see like what was we do with this room. And, you know, everyone gets a say and sometimes some are more overbearing than others, like my boys are very anti pink, but we just did blush pink in the hallway because my little girls are obsessed with it. So things like that have been really fun because I do think and, you know, we’ve rented a lot of apartments in the past and even with apartments, like, I really believe you can make it yours even when you’re renting, like nothing should stop you from wanting to really make that space a representation of you and how you want your family to feel in those walls. So so that’s been really fun. And and we have like I sometimes am nervous to share in the process because I want to go with my gut. And it’s hard when everyone’s like, wait, what what color range did you buy? Because I feel like unless until you see everything come together and maybe it will completely be a disaster, I really have no idea but right now in my head, like it looks good. So I’m just going with it. And I mean, this is paint like there’s things you can always change if you don’t like it. Right? So at the end of the day, like, we’ll give it a phase one and see how it goes. And maybe phase two will start earlier than then later with changing a few things. I don’t know.

Elsie: I love that. I’m so glad that you’re listening to your inner voice, because I think that watching someone renovate, if they are working from their instincts, is so much more exciting than them working from like what’s cool on Pinterest this month, you know, because that’s always going to be changing and a lot of it like we’ve already seen before. So I feel like your home is going to be something we haven’t seen before, which is so exciting. And I loved those parts of your book where you were talking about painting the crazy colors in your apartments and people would say, oh, it would be brighter and look bigger if you would just do white. And you were like, this is what I love…

Naomi: Because it’s absolutely true. I’m always like, you’re so right. It would be bigger and brighter. But that’s not what I’m going for. Like, I’m going for making it feel like us. So I think I think it’s really like it’s there’s such amazing tools and resources to say like, oh yeah, that would be great. But yeah, it’s so true. At the end of the day, like you want to walk into a home and be like, oh, this is your space. Like I get it like, I’m in Elsie’s home and it’s such a representation of Elsie and her girls and their family versus like this — I don’t know whose home this is. It could be anybody’s home, but it just looks like a you know, one of the the homes that maybe you would walk through where they pull down all the pictures off the walls and they try really hard to strip it of any personality to help it sell. And I think that I don’t know, I just I’m a big believer in that. And you guys do a great job of that with your spaces of really making it yours. I feel like you can always tell, like, oh, that’s definitely an Elsie Larson room. So…

Elsie: Thank you. Well, I am your biggest fan and I can’t wait to see these brightly colored spaces. I’m really looking forward to it. OK, so one of the main things I took away from your book, and this was a repeat theme over and over and over, is that you have a lot of confidence in your inner voice, both with parenting and kind of just everything. So my question is, how do you develop that if you feel like… because I think most of us, it doesn’t come naturally and we feel like we need more confidence.

Naomi: Well, I don’t know if it necessarily came naturally to me either, which, you know, in some of these stories in my book I share, for example, there’s a chapter called shoesies, where I’ve you know, I share an experience that I’m having with my fourth and fifth little ones as they’re fourteen months old in the stroller in on a July day. It was warm and sunny outside, but a stranger comes up and comments about how my little girls need socks and shoes on, their feet must be so cold. And I was thrown back to the first time I was a mother with my Eleanor, she’s 10 now, but I remember being in this Target parking lot when she was a newborn and having this same sort of interaction with a stranger who came over. And she actually she shared her perspective from my daughter’s voice. She she mimicked she was like, “mommy, mommy, my feet are so cold, Mommy.” And I’m standing there in the parking lot…

Elsie: That’s so awkward!

Naomi: It was just it was it was a lot to take in because I didn’t have that confidence yet in my mothering or my ability. I was a first time mom. I felt rather lonely because most of my good girlfriends and no one else was in this phase just yet. And so I didn’t have that confidence to say, like, she’s OK, like I have this. Thank you so much. Like, have a good day. I felt gutted, I like cried in my car as I got in because I just I was like, oh my gosh, I’m doing it wrong. Like I don’t know if I’m a good mother, I don’t know if I’m capable. I don’t know if I’m ready. And I think in that chapter, it’s just so nice to be able to have that visual in my head, having this exact same interaction, you know, eight years later and being able to look at this woman and not feel like offended, not feel hurt, not feel really anything except just like part of me. I was like, am I just super lazy in my in my mothering now that I’m just like, I don’t have the time to answer this. But I also just felt like I had this confidence where I was like, I know that my girls are healthy and happy and thriving and their feet are OK, like it’s warm outside. We’re doing fine. They love to be barefoot. I love to be barefoot. I think a lot of that sort of confidence or trust in my inner voice has come with experience in time. And I do think a lot of my experiences in life have really set me up for that just because there have been times where I’ve kind of pushed against the norm and try to do things a different way because I’ve really felt that that’s how I want to do it. And sometimes when in the moment it’s really, really hard when you have outside voices or opinions and people that really love you, that want you — like this is how I did it. So you should do it this way because it really worked for me when I did it this way. And when you can understand that it comes from that place of love, but be able to compartmentalize that and say, like, I’m so happy that that worked for you, but for me, like I really want to carve this entrepreneurial path or I want to have kids young or I want to have a big family or I feel happy doing it this way. Like there’s just so much beauty in that, because you get that one life and you at the end of the day, like what makes you happy is what makes you happy. And as a people pleaser, sometimes it’s hard for me to see that in the moment. But as I’ve pulled that in and really focused on on that, it’s it’s been so gratifying.

Elsie: Yeah. That really comes through. I — that was one of my favorite parts of the book, the story about the shoes, that sort of thing happened to me a, well a whole bunch times. I think it happens to every mom. (laughs)

Naomi: It does for sure. It’s like and frequently, right?

Elsie: Mm hmm. Yeah. One of my worst ones was on the day we adopted our second daughter, and I’m glad it was my second daughter and not my first, because I think it would have been much more crushing. But yeah, a woman came up to our table at dinner, our first dinner as a family of four, and confronted me with why we didn’t have formula. And I was like, oh, we’re getting some tomorrow. She was like drinking water and she was one and a half. So she was eating food and she was just like eating what we were eating. And yeah, it was like so weird.

Naomi: Yeah.

Elsie: But because I think I feel like I was I had enough exposure to enough strong women I like it didn’t ruin my day at all. And I was just kind of like laughing about it later on. Like this is more, more like a silly thing that happened then a crushing thing. So yeah, I want everyone to have that. I think having that confidence in your own parenting is such an asset because people are going to criticize you and do things differently. You know, maybe like something works for them. You know what I mean?

Naomi: There’s just no one way to do — to mother or to parent or to live your life. So it’s — we forget that sometimes and feel like we have to do what the masses say. So it’s just nice to be able to tune in and realize that sooner than later too.

Elsie: Yes. All right. Let’s take a quick sponsor break

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Elsie: Ok, so I want to talk about body stuff, so this was a big topic in your book, you talk about your background growing up as a ballerina and going through Juilliard, which those stories are incredibly fascinating because most of us have never been exposed to anything like that in our lives. And then, you know, becoming a mom and just like a lot of body confidence topics are throughout the book. Like there’s a beautiful story about you and your daughter Eleanor in there that was really touching. So I struggle with this, too. I think most people do. And I find it very difficult to talk about, like to the point where I basically don’t talk about it online anymore because I just don’t want to. So, yeah, it was inspiring to me that you were opening up in that way. And I was just wondering what advice you have for people who are really, really struggling.

Naomi: It’s a really touchy one because everyone’s experience is so different. I think the biggest thing is to make room for stories that don’t necessarily look like ours. I think sometimes in the past, it’s hard to open up about struggles with something because someone might say like, well, why are you struggling with that? Like, you look like this or, you know, and I think we are our toughest critics. And because of my upbringing, you know, I was in a dance studio 24/7 surrounded by mirrors, where I’m just reaching and striving for this perfect, you know, the perfect line, the perfection that we aim for in the dance world, which I totally get because it is this art form that is striving for that, but at the end of the day, in the beginning, I just didn’t have those tools and I really don’t think I necessarily even got those tools until a few years into my mothering where I could look at myself and not critique everything I didn’t like about myself. You know, when you’re growing up trying to have perfect turn out, but your hips are just not made to turn out or you have a big chest size and like, that’s not OK. There’s just things that our world puts on us. And it’s hard because you’re bombarded with all of this messaging sometimes. And I think it clicked for me as I became a mother and realized that I did not want to put on my children my own insecurities or my own frustrations with my body, which is very easy to do with just even a simple comment like about yourself in front of them, which then does not necessarily give them the tools they need to look at their own selves and say like, oh, I like, I’m strong, I’m capable, I’m healthy, like I’ve got this. But they’re like, oh, you we should be worrying about our ankle size? Like wait, what? So I feel like and I’m just I’m great. Like, I have this body that’s done so much for me. And so in a way, as with time, looking at myself in the mirror and smiling at myself and giving myself that sort of love back has been really beneficial. And it’s also really helped me to be able to set aside a lot of that, which I think I’ll have my whole life. Honestly, I think a lot of us will work through this forever. Like it’s not something that just goes away through one session of saying, like, hey, I’m really beautiful. I’m really strong. Like, thanks so much, body. But I just I realize, like, I don’t want to miss out on like, jumping into the pool with my kids because, like, I don’t really want to take off my sundress and strip down to the swimsuit, you know. And I think I just think we sometimes get so in our head that we forget that there’s a bigger picture here and like or we have a life to celebrate and it’s passing us by because we’re so fixated on silly things that we cannot change about ourselves. So it was important to me to open up about that just because for years I didn’t. For years it was really hard. For years you have people weighing in, especially with the Internet. Right? Like everyone gets to become sort of like a little bit of a critic on how you look or what you should change.

Elsie: Yeah. You know, and people never can really see, like, when you’re in a good place, maybe it doesn’t bother you very much, you know, and it just kind of rolls off or you can even, like, completely ignore it and completely shut out. But when you’re in a bad place, you know, and people don’t know which place you’re in, those comments can be extremely difficult. Even the positive ones, which is something I’m trying to teach my kids, is just to, like, not make any comments about people’s bodies, positive or negative, because it’s so hard when you’re, like, kind of going through, I don’t know…

Naomi: Well in your self-worth, like, that’s the biggest thing we hopefully can teach our kids in this next generation is like your self-worth is not bundled up with all of the fluffy comments you get, just as much as all of these hurtful, detrimental, like, you know, toxic sort of comments. So when people are like, oh, you look so great or like hashtag goals or whatever it is like, I think that that’s really dangerous, too. And so I think it’s it’s all about trying to make sure that you’re not giving weight to either of those, because then you’re going to have a really crappy day when, like that kind of comments not coming in or this kind of comments only coming in or whatever it is. And it’s just it’s just not it’s not worth your time. So, yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. That’s a really challenging one of my summer goals is to because I know you just move to a house with swimming pool, I just moved to a house with swimming pool. My goal is to say yes to my kids every time they ask to swim and to just kind of like put on a swimsuit no matter what. (laughs) Just do it!

Naomi: Even when the legs aren’t shaved. That’s my big thing I’m always like, why do I need to shave? But yeah, I know, right? I mean, it’s such a fun… childhood is so fast and fleeting too. I like my my oldest is ten. It’s bananas. I’m like, who are you. Like what happened. So yeah it’s I almost don’t want to say this because when Josh said this to me, it really scared and put things into like a terrifying perspective in a way. But he was like, we have eight summers I guess now it’s seven summers left with Eleanor. Like when you think about it like that, you’re just like, why am I putting off? Like, jumping in or doing the bike ride or whatever it is, like, you know, just grab it and go. So don’t let — I mean and I think that this is the other thing that I think is important. And what I realized with Eleanor in that essay I wrote about my body was that I think it’s also really healthy, especially with our with our daughters, with girls, to chat about the things that we are struggling with too, like, I think that it’s such a normal thing that they will likely experience too at some point in their life, kind of having this, maybe just as they’re exploring their relationship with their bodies to say like, hey, momma kind of struggles with that, too. We’0re like, this is really hard for me, but I’m grateful for this or I’m looking at it this way. And I think that that is much more healthy than just like never talking about it or never celebrating, you know, the odd quirks or whatever it is. And I think that there’s so much room for us to help set them up for success with how they look at anybody based on how we talk with them about our bodies and how we celebrate our own in front of them. So that that was the other that was kind of why I was like, you know what? Like this is going in. I’m not going to hold this back anymore. This has to this has to go in.

Elsie: Good. I’m so glad you shared that, because it’s definitely a thing that I don’t want to say all women, but I think it’s basically all women struggle at some point. It’s just tough. So I think that that’s a great subject. And yeah, learning or figuring out how you want to teach your kids. There’s so many different things for me, it’s yeah like body stuff, but also like religion and other things, like I suddenly like, oh my gosh, I better figure this thing out in my life if I want to be able to teach them. So you know how to be what.

Naomi: I love this I love this approach of and I’m realizing, too, like with faith, with religion, with everything, that there’s a lot that sometimes I’m like, well, I don’t necessarily know or like I don’t know if I believe that fully. And I think that our kids are savvy and smart enough, like, I mean, giving them the bits that they can understand based on their age. But it’s like, yeah, I don’t really know either. Like, I’m trying to figure that out too or. Yeah, let’s, let’s study that a little bit more together or whatever it is, because I love that you have that approach. And I think that that’s so special to give to your kids where you’re kind of you’re you’re not like well it’s like this and do this and don’t ask me questions. And, you know, because it’s just like I don’t know, I’m kind of it’s just it’s hard. Life is really hard already when you’re trying to figure it all out. And then you have this little one looking up to you, being like, tell me, show me, like, teach me. And I just think that, you know, we’re human beings that are imperfect, that don’t have all the answers. And I don’t think that we have to shy away from that. So…

Elsie: That’s beautiful. I love that. And I want to do it all the time, just like raise curious kids. That feels really good to me. So this past year has been a mess. Very exhausting. So I would love to hear if you have any self care tips or just like how to fix a bad day. I feel like you’re such an optimistic person, which is something I really admire about you. And I know so many of us are just kind of like waking…it feels like you’re waking up from a bad dream in a way.

Naomi: I just keep trying to remind myself a lot during my days that, like, I’m just I’m doing the best I can and I think everybody is. And I think when you can have a little bit of a mantra to just remind yourself all day long when everything is not working, like, I just I feel like we’ve had so much change this year and there’s just been so much that I’m just I feel like sometimes I’m hovering over this new life because we’re still in this pandemic and there’s just a lot going on. I really feel like tapping into that sort of like it doesn’t last forever. I can do hard things. I think we’re going to figure this out together — goes a long way because, I mean, it has been it’s just it’s a challenging time, but that’s life. Like, there are going to be challenging seasons. And I could have never foreseen this. I don’t think anyone could. So I really have learned that when I embrace whatever’s thrown at me and I learn to pivot because you have to pivot a lot in life. And I’ve had to pivot so many times this year that you’re much more open and and to receiving like the beauty around you, even if it’s not what you imagined the beauty to look like or, you know, you wanted to have this picture perfect in your head of what this day would be or this event or this thing that you’re working on. But when you can just pivot and be like, yeah, but that’s working. Or like, oh, I didn’t anticipate this, but this is great, too. It helps. But I mean, I have really off days. I feel like I’ve been so up and down this year. And I think it’s just really important to give yourself that grace and give yourself that sort of self self love to say like it’s going to be OK. (laughs)

Elsie: Yes, it really is. You were very brave to renovate during a pandemic and move across the country, so I’m really proud of you and I’m so excited for everyone to hear a Coat of Yellow Paint. It’s beautiful. It was really like it felt like the probably my most fun work days of like definitely of 2021 so far was just like listening to your book all day. Like This is my job! It was awesome. So I highly recommend it. Recommend the audio book. Do you want to tell them a little bit about the bonus stuff that is included?

Naomi: Yeah there are a couple pieces of bonus content in the audio version. So if you ,if you do the audio, you get to listen to an interview. Josh and I kind of chat back and forth a little bit about what the writing process was like for me, because it was a lot and then a kind of in-depth a little bit about some of these topics, too, because my husband, Josh, has been — we’ve been married 14 years this summer and we talk a lot. I read in the book about, you know, we work together, we team co parenting. And I really have this big belief in, you know, like dads doing diapers or just just being those team players, you know, irrespective of gender roles and just really showing up for your family. So we get into that a little bit in the the bonus content. And then the other piece, which I love is Elenor interviewed me, and that’s all I’ll say there, because it’s just, I’ll botch it.

Elsie: It’s adorable.

Naomi: She was really she…

Elsie: She did such a good job. I feel like she has a future in journalism.

Naomi: I think she does. She really does. I was a little nervous because she brought in this notebook and she had so many questions. And I kind of I was like, do you want to go over anything you like? No, I got it. I’m good. And they were so thoughtful and insightful. And she’s she’s just she’s a cutie. And I can’t wait to see what she does someday with the world. So that’s that’s a fun piece that’s really special to me. And I’m excited for everyone to get to listen to that.

Elsie: Oh, that’s magical. So it’s a Monday now, podcast day is Monday. And that means that your official book release is tomorrow. So everyone hop on and preorder the book. And I definitely recommend the audio book. It’s called A Coat of Paint. And it’s here!

Naomi: It’s here! Thank you, Elsie.

Elsie: Thanks so much for listening. We’re super grateful for your reviews. And any time you share our podcast with other people who love podcasts, it really helps us. And thank you so much. All right. We’ll be back next week.


Author / Contributor: Elsie Larson

Nancy Benard Homes

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