Aug 26, 2014

Back to school salivating

The baby of course - did you think I meant me?

Although these three simple words - back to school (deep sigh) have always thrilled me right down to my sharp pencils and new notebooks loving soul.

I was homeschooled (the top student in my grade, haha...) and was begging my mom by the middle of August to let me start some of my new books. I was so over sleeping in and running around outside all day with the neighbor kids and even beach days, as fun as they were. A new math set (even though I hated math - go figure) and the smell of pink erasers and a crisp stack of textbooks sent shivers down my spine and I felt as though I was about to embark on an ocean journey to far away lands. Oh, learning, how enticing you were.

I still feel this way. I've been ogling school supplies in the flyers for weeks, strangely entertained by comparing prices on loose leaf paper and trying to figure out what is going on with all the pen choices that are available. I realize with glee that September is getting closer and I feel like some learning is going to happen and aren't you excited!! (Perhaps I've just gone crazy from too many renditions of The Itsy Bitsy Spider which has led to larger than usual intellectual cravings?)

At any rate, I want to make lists of goals and choose new books to read and pick out curriculum for my children even though they're only not yet 2 and 5 months old. Mmmm, maybe a tad bit early to lay it on so heavy, poor kids.

(And in case you think I plan on being some kind of educational superwoman, I've been known at times to get more excited about the planning and the possibilities than the actual follow-through. Hmm, maybe I should make a list of ways to combat this issue?)

I may not be going back to school or having to figure out a teaching plan this year, but I'll try to take advantage of this extra dose of ambition and enjoy the fresh-piece-of-paper feeling the season offers!

His highest ambition thus far is to escape bedtime with any kind of ball.

Aug 22, 2014

Thoughts on decorating and a (thrift store) lamp re-do

We've had our house for two years but I feel like I am just beginning to really know my style - not that I could sum it up easily but I am starting to see more clearly what I like and what will work in our home.

I think it takes trial and error and learning to trust your instincts. Looking at what others do for inspiration helps but ultimately you have to like something because you like it, not because someone else does. Case in point - I have always admired people who's home decor tastes are bold and bright and original, and so for a while I thought I should be more brave and just paint a room fire engine red. Okay, that color never actually crossed my mind but you get the point. I felt like my tastes were boring. But one day I just came to terms with the fact that I love neutrals. I like the way they make me feel peaceful when I walk into a room - white curtains and light colors, a feeling of airiness.  And I'm beginning to see that neutrals can be a backdrop for interesting things and creative choices - a room is much more than just the paint color on the wall or the type of curtains you have hanging. (And by the way, I still admire bolder tastes - it's just not, at least at this point, for me.)

Something else I've realized over the past couple years is it really takes time to make a house into a home. Back when I used to clean houses for a time, there where several that looked like the owners had just gone through the Sears catalog or ran through the Brick picking the contents for their entire living room in one swoop. Nothing old or thrifted or made, nothing with a story to tell. A good room, to me, has all these. And besides, how many of us really have the money sitting around to just buy everything brand new and all at once? Boring, anyway.

Thus over the past couple years I've slowly (accomplishing things and adding two babies to the family doesn't always mix well) been doing projects here and there and poking around in thrift stores to find little things to make our home. I thought I would share a recent project because it is so simple and there are so many possibilities, in making over a thrift-store lamp.

There it is for you, in all it's before and after glory. I wanted a lamp for our desk but didn't feel like shelling out big bucks and in the back of my mind I thought I had read something about the possibilities of spray paint...a quick google affirmed my suspicions and pinterest told me there existed a magic product called Rust-oleum that came in this beauty of a color called oil-rubbed bronze.

One day I held my breath and went to goodwill and rushed back to the electronics area and it didn't take long to find this svelte old thing. It was gold and it was dated and it was ugly (unless it is your style) but it promised me some spray paint might make me change my mind. I left without it, telling myself if it was meant to be (or something like that) it would be waiting for me four days later on 50% off day. The happy ending, of course, is that it was.

$4.04 and a bit of time, newspaper, and tape later, I had this baby mummified and ready to go. 

(Perhaps unnecessary, but I took this picture so if you attempt something like this and you're like me you won't stare at it for several minutes pondering how to prepare it for paint.)

And then I took it outside and sprayed away. I did three light coats about a minute apart (you don't have to wait long, bonus!)  and called it done.

You can see a bit in the picture that I didn't worry about completely covering the gold - it was unintentional but I realized I had went a little light in spots along the edges and liked the look.

I have to say, this turned out ten times better than I thought. It feels so durable (the spray paint is a paint and primer in one) and I don't think you would ever guess this was a painted finish. I immediately started dreaming of gold chandeliers and light fixtures at the habitat restore here that could be completely transformed with this stuff. (But that is what such thoughts shall remain for the time being, a dream.)

So the total cost breakdown is $4.04 for the lamp, $11.99 for the shade I found on clearance at Target, and then I probably used $2-3 worth of the $10 can of spraypaint. Not a bad lamp for under $20!

And it's fun to think "I made this" (sort of) every time I click it on in the evenings. As for accomplishments, I can also think about how many diapers I've changed over the course of the day but that isn't quite as fun ;)

Aug 3, 2014

On asking and trust

We are still waiting for our home to sell, living in this in-between place of asking the Lord for something but not yet certain of His answer.

I was going through pictures the other evening and found the ones I had taken of the house we  made an offer on, pictures of more space and original wooden floors and a lovely staircase and rooms that (with some work) could become just right for our growing family. I thought about where we are now, how I love our little home but we're outgrowing it and if we can't sell and therefore miss out on the amazing deal of a house that we found then when, and how can we afford something else later on?

(And it isn't just about the house. There are other factors and things we are praying about and we wonder if moving this distance could be a part of the answer.)

But as soon as those anxious thoughts passed through my mind I was brought back to the truth that I am (slowly) learning to build my life, my days upon: the Lord is sovereign. Far from being a lofty, out-of-touch-with-reality truth, it is the foundation of all reality, intersecting with even the smallest details of our lives. My Heavenly Father surely knows what is best for us, and when we ask him for bread and fish He won't give us a stone or a snake. What this means is that I can be confident that He gives good gifts, and that if it isn't given it isn't good for us.

You should know that I am so spiritual that I always have this calm, trusting heart...don't worry, I'm kidding. Some days I am full of I am tired of waiting and why won't God do this or that and other discouraging or frustrated thoughts.

But that is when I know I need stillness - an open Bible and a repentant heart and time for prayer. It's here that my Father draws near and reminds me of the truth I need. He opens my eyes to see the right way again, and sometimes I'm just blown away with thankfulness over His gracious gifts that are everywhere around me.

He reminds me that He is enough, that all my deepest needs and desires have already been met in Him. When I am quiet enough to hear His voice, I know that I only want what is of His will, nothing more.

We ask and we choose to trust His answer.

Jul 23, 2014

On writing about marriage and celebrating three years.

Today marks our three year wedding anniversary.

In thinking about doing a post for today, I realized I don't write much on the topic of marriage or about our relationship specifically. There are a couple of reasons: although I feel I have learned quite a bit in the last few years, I think that only three years of being married still places me in the novice category. I have much still to learn and I don't want to pour out advice when we haven't gone through any real struggles yet. Not to say that I haven't benefited from other newbies sharing about their marriages, just that I've never felt quite ready to delve into this in my writing yet. Maybe in the future!

The other reason I don't tend to write about marriage is I struggle with the balance of authenticity. Sometimes in the online world, we tend to share only the good and beautiful stories and pictures of our lives. Those are wonderful to share, but without meaning to we can paint a picture of perfection. Others who don't know us well might think we never struggle or have difficulties, and that's not helpful. On the other-hand, it can be difficult to write with honesty on the not-so-perfect parts while respecting another's privacy.

And perhaps one more reason why I hesitate to share - I remember when I was single I didn't mind seeing facebook statuses about relationships but sometimes there were so many and it fed into my discontentment. Of course, this was my heart issue, but in remembering that I want to be sensitive, knowing that when we have something great to post or want to brag about our spouse (or other things) there may be others out there who are struggling.

With all this said though, I think we live in a culture that loves to trash talk or look down on men (just look at most sit-com relationships). So as Christian women, it's important to set a different example of speaking about our husbands with love and respect, and one aspect of this can be praising them in a public way occasionally when we get the chance - not to put ourselves on display or show off, but to genuinely encourage and build up our husbands!

(an attempt to get these three in one photo...not sure what's going on in the expressions...)

So (with apologies for that lengthy introduction) that is what I've decided to do today as we celebrate three years of marriage - to share just a few things I love about my husband, Loris.
This is the first thing that comes to mind because it was the first thing that drew me to him: his love and pursuit of Christ. I love that he knows Scripture well because He wants to know Christ well (and to be like Him).  He is an example to me of humility - he is almost always the first to admit fault and seek reconciliation in our marriage (even when I may be more to blame). I probably can't count the times he has encouraged me to a deeper prayer life. I'm so thankful that our common faith is the foundation of our relationship - what storms in life can't we weather with this in place?
He balances me in many areas. A couple that come to mind: He is firm in his convictions and sees the world in a more black and white way than I do. Sometimes this can cause friction but most often I'm thankful because I can get too caught up in people-pleasing and long, confusing trails of thought. He brings clarity when I'm caught in a fog of questions.

He doesn't just love our children, but deeply enjoys them. I think in public he is more likely to stress out over our toddler's sometimes difficult behavior or to worry about him falling down the stairs or off the slide (safety police), but at home I get to witness how much he genuinely loves being their daddy. I love overhearing conversations between him and Joshua as they play in the living room or being called to come quick just to see "Miriam's amazing smile!"  I love being parents together - we honestly sit around talking about our kids all the time, re-hashing the funny things they do, convinced they are the cutest, coolest, most interesting humans to ever walk the planet (I'm sure you feel the same way about yours).

And just one more thing - he pays attention to the little things I like and tries to spoil me regularly, whether it's encouraging me to get myself a coffee or treat when we're out doing errands or to buy that shirt he saw me eye on the rack. He may not think it's a big thing, but I love being reminded that I'm his girl.

Thanks, readers, for allowing me to indulge in a little bragging today!

And to you Loris, thank you for three years of fun and friendship and growing together!  I am so thankful to have you as my husband. I love you!