Monday, January 9, 2017

One Life

Andrew's one gift request for Christmas this year was that I hand-letter a quote from a man named C.T. Studd--

I have little to no experience with watercolor painting but it was super fun.

But about this quote- can you even? It's hanging in our bedroom, so every morning it speaks to me. Unfortunately its voice is quiet, and the voices of my children (AKA the four horsemen of the apocalypse) are L O U D. And my voice becomes louder than all others when: we're in the middle of school and I hear glass shatter in the other room or I'm trying to read with Georgi and the younger two are fighting (over something we have two of) or we're having 'quiet time' and it sounds like elephants are on the loose in the girls' bedroom (you should hear me shout-whisper)  or I'm trying to think..or not think. There are many times throughout the day that mama's voice is like a fog horn. Oh that I would stop to think of Mr. Studd's poem more often. The glass breaking would be no thing but a chicken wing. Winston waking up early from his nap wouldn't mean my death, but would mean more opportunity for me to show him love that day...or patience, joy, self-control, etc. If I considered what lasts more often, I would calmly use the children's fighting as a chance to talk to them about grace, peace, and putting others first.

Our home school journey has been stressful and tiring as of late. I'm worried I'm not teaching them enough- like if they went to public school tomorrow they'd be 2 grades behind. Or I worry they're too sheltered- like if they went to public school tomorrow they wouldn't know what to do with people who are different than them. I'm worried we spend too much time together- like if they went to public school tomorrow they wouldn't want to come back home. When we started home schooling 5 years ago, I wanted to do it because it was familiar. I was home schooled, so it felt natural. Every year that we choose this for our family it gets harder to feel conviction...like am I doing this because I'm not being brave? Lots of people tell me I'm brave and doing the right thing, but is it bravery just because not many are doing it? Or is it cowardice because I'm used to being the minority in this situation and I'm completely comfortable with it? What makes it 'right'? Because we're christians? I wrestle with these thoughts on the daily. Ask Andrew. He's starting to think mama's gone cray zee. He hardly gets a toe in the door in the evening and I'm rolling my eyes and sighing deeply about 'his children'. We spend late nights talking about our calling- where/how/what?

But then I read this incredible work of poetry, and all else seems to shift into place. No matter what we choose, may it be with our eyes on the prize for the joy set before us. We've been given this little tribe to love and lead and let go, we hope to do so with zealous certainty.

First day 2015-16 school year
First day 2016-17 school year

The rest of the story..poem..

Only One Life
By C.T. Studd
Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Room of Two Stooges

[This post title could mean Georgi and Margot's bedroom, but I'm talking the boys' combined/compiled bedroom.]

It's been about 3 months now that Oliver and Winston have been in the same bedroom (there's a peek when the room was just Winston's here. Oliver was on the landing area. I'm not totally proud of all my past design choices...but they're there) The boys are 7 years apart, Oliver will be 10 at the end of the month and Winnie will be 3 next week, so I wasn't sure how it would go. So far it's been fun to see them bond as brothers, not just a baby and a big boy. Little Winnie in that bed...looks like one of the seven dwarves crossed into Jack and the Beanstalk's story and took a nap in the giant's bed. P. S. he has only fallen out once.
{there's a light dusting of Christmas spread through these photos, like the beads across the window.}
Okay, I gave the curtains to the boys (remember my attachment? I re-dyed my old DIY panel in my bedroom and said see ya on the other floor to this pair). This curtain rod is some sort of pipe from Home Depot that was black already, hung by some wooden brackets that I spray painted. The beds. I saw them at the Habitat ReStore on a Saturday and bought one for a boy's (not mine) bedroom redesign I was doing. I didn't love it in the space, but I loved the beds so much I wanted them for my very own...but I only had one. Do you know how difficult it is on Sunday to wait for Wednesday when ReStore will be open?! Time stood still, friends. Alas, the twin of the twin bed was still resting comfortably at the store 4 days later! Sconce lights are from our favorite vendor at our favorite east coast flea market (I feel like I can say that because we actually did go to a few). The nightstand was a $7 garage sale find. I got one army blanket at a flea market and one from Ebay (is that gross? I didn't think it was until I wrote it..) The rest of the bedding is from Ikea.




That glorious vintage orange faux leather (too many oxymorons?) ottoman was also from Habitat. I am certainly not an expert at styling photos (I can't be an expert at everything, and I'm already pretty spectacular at iPhotography) plus I'm always trying to hustle before a kid streaks through the shot or throws something into it, so I notice annoying things in the pictures as I'm putting them on the blog. Like woof, wish I would have ditched that pillow or decluttered those shelves a little... But that's all treasure. That giant Chewbacca Pez dispenser? Treasure. Copper faced bread box? Filled with magical treasure. There's also a small collection of found things that I maybe talked about in Winnie's bedroom post. When we were remodeling our house we found lots of funny little cars maybe from the 50's, a baby-sized pipe (?), a little clock, some marbles, an airplane hood ornament from an old car. The horseshoes were in our barn. I also see Oliver's favorite children's book series on the shelf- Imagination Station from Adventures in Odyssey. I wish I would've taken a close up of the silver snowman..do you see him in front of the wooden trees (irony)? Oliver made that when he was so little- from 3 Styrofoam balls coated in glue and glitter, thin cardboard formed a hat, small screws for eyes, the lead of an orange colored pencil for his nose, maybe wire for his arms? The yellow frame has a picture of my dad when he was little. Obviously we're also featuring the O's little league baseball team.



Oh this poor ceiling fixture! There were two of these girls in the house when we bought it, but only enough unbroken glass shades to complete one fixture. I rewired it (!) and painted it and loved it. Then one day when my brother was so kindly getting Winnie out of his crib...he overestimated the distance between Win's head and the light. I don't think the baby dude felt it as much as the antique glass.
I didn't know how much I loved the new wall color until I looked back at the old. I can't remember what that wretched tan was called, but I never liked it. I painted it when I was 8.5 mos. pregnant with Winston- Christmas Eve 2013. The new paint is 'Moonshine' by Benjamin Moore. I've used it on a few bedrooms including my own. 



Oh my. My skillz pay the billz. General Mills called- they want their grain back. This is an attempt to feature the boys' built in closet and drawer situation. I took these photos a while ago intending to write a post about small space storage solutions. I know I'll win you with these cunningly professional pics. 
When we realized we couldn't do a conventional swinging door because of a light switch on one side of the doorway and closet on the other, Andrew built and installed  this sliding door. I had him do a vertical ship lap.

My other dynamic duo (Mo and Larry...I mean Georgi and Marg) will have a bedroom feature next week.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy happy happy


res·o·lu·tion
ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1.
    a firm decision to do or not to do something.
  2. 2.
    the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.

I recently shared with friends what I'd like to be resolved to in 2017. I know there are some negative aspects of a New Year's resolution, but if I'm only trying to be resolute, acknowledging that there's a good chance I'll fail...is that okay? Hm.. 

Well, here it is anyway- I want to say what I mean, and not say what I don't mean. Do you know what I mean? There are always opportunities to speak or suck life. My reasons for saying or not saying what I wish I would or wouldn't is that I get nervous or rushed or absent minded or mad (or any extreme emotion). I find myself thinking a kind thing about the friend I'm with but not saying it out loud. Other times I find myself saying unkind things about people instead of keeping those thoughts to myself. I need articulation, courage, discernment, wisdom, humility. A divine act of Jesus. Basically I've resolved to pray without ceasing.

Happy New Year

1940s its a wonderful life


Friday, November 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy New School Room!

{After taking the pictures and writing a draft, I hung our basement Christmas tree- a tapestry from Ikea. Andrew mounted a copper pipe across the ceiling that I leave up year-round, slipping my *ahem, glow in the dark* curtain tree on at Christmas time.}
{Old school photos we picked up at an antique store in Maine last spring}
Every year in August I have a mild panic attack because I'm sure I'm going to home school again this year, but look at the school room! Through the summers it's neglected yet severely lived in, know what I mean? There are times throughout the school year (or every week..) that I question our decision to teach the kids at home. It's this strange feeling of trying to discern guidance vs. control. Do I home school because I want to be the primary influence on my children while they're young and impressionable, or am I doing it because I want to be in control? I think it's a combination of both, though I hope that when the time comes for me to send them out I can do it knowing they're ready because of what they learned at home. I want to prepare them, not so much protect them. I don't know if that makes sense. I didn't think this post would turn into a crisis of belief... I'd love to converse more about the school decision, but let's turn our attention back to the actual room. I think part of my struggle every year is the make-shift designated area. Like so much of our house, our basement has gone through multiple transformations. But none exemplified the word transform like the new school room. It's still not completely completely done, but so close and so functional and I can't help sharing!

The center island is for crafting and game night  and folding laundry while the kids teach themselves at the desk. So much use out of this little work mule! Including corralling wrapping paper. Glory be. As someone who struggles with organization, wrapping paper has been the bane of my existence. No more, wrapping paper fiend. I won the war. About the counter top--I've always loved soap stone, but haven't had a place for it until now. It's beautiful and smells like genuine dirt when washed. Mmm.

I bought these metal file drawers off Craigslist last year as a set of 4 that can hook together. I had three of them stacked (on top of each other and under a pile of books and papers). When we were designing this space I really wanted to bring the old drawers back so Andrew built them in. I love the original green metal so much..I should label the drawers, but don't want to ruin their simplicity.

Okay, do you want to talk about the stools or the tile? Or the Constitution hanging on that back wall? Kidding! I'll tell you the completely unexciting story about the chairs in a minute. Those tile floors that are drawing the hallelujah from your lips? Home. Depot. I'm telling you, they're just ceramic-made-to-look-like-cement tiles. Andrew installed them and I watched.
I honestly can't remember where the pendant above the island came from. I've had it for years..it's old just like me. And the ceiling. Andrew has white painted planks that will be sort of ship lap ish, but wider. I asked him to take a break from this room so I could use it for a little bit before he overtook it with sawdust and sawhorses.

If this isn't just the worst iPhotography...I don't really have time to hone my skillz. Forgive. Let's pretend it's brilliantly clear. That counter top? Menards. I'm not even kidding you. It was just raw maple butcher block that we used as a desk before, the kids challenged its ability to absorb..everything. Marker, paint, lipstick, glue, play dough. Poor Andrew couldn't take it anymore. He sanded the evidence out of it and stained it. Now- that giant sconce has a small story behind it. Andrew had borrowed (all the while thinking he had been given) an exhaust fan for his spray booth at work- for those who don't know, mister mister is a cabinet maker. The gentleman who loaned (not gave) the fan wanted it back. Well Andrew dear had built that puppy right into his Osha approved spray booth. It was not to be extracted. Alas, a combing of online auctions commenced, where he found a new fan for the old friend and what do you know he got a big old light covered in ages of finish thrown in. We've been hoarding it (along with so much other GARBAGE) in our garage in case we could use it someday. Write it down, take a picture- it was worth keeping.
This blessed bank of cabinets were the two original upper cabinets in our house's kitchen when we bought it. They were the color of pea soup, but not in a bad way. More like in a Kermit the frog kind of way..endearing. But recently I've come to understand myself more- I appreciates small doses of big color, not an entire wall's worth of cabinets indirectly featuring the Muppets. They were already in the basement, but not used very efficiently. Now my fabric is neatly folded and stacked, craft supplies are controlled, and my sewing machine is on a roll-out behind those doors so I can pull up a chair and pretend to sew. Um, that globe on the curved acrylic frame? Garage sale. For real. That chicken feed box? Straight from our broken down coop. I would like to fill it with plastic succulents. And I want to do silhouettes of my kids (like that sweet one of Oliver in 1st grade that I pinned up between the chalk boards) for above the feed box.

And these stools. Craigslist, I think they're old lab stools? Heavy duty and industrial and already broken in, so our job is done.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Seriously

As I considered writing a political post (and swallowed the puke that came to my mouth) a thought hit me. We are all more (or less) than our words. This is true for all of humanity. We say things we don't mean, and mean things we don't say.

I love where I live. I love freedom, I love cold weather, I love the clean country air. But when my thoughts shift outside of my little circle of influence, and focus on the influencers at large, fear/worry/depression sets in. I can only control myself (and sometimes not even!...mm, chocolate). I need to think about my people, my attitude, my calling- and hope and pray that as I stay true to Jesus and the truth of his Holy Bible, my small circle of influence will be bettered. And in turn, the circles that overlap mine will reach beyond and use my courage to light their group, and on and on. It's sort of like pay it forward. We all do as much as we can on a small level, and pretty soon it's a movement toward truth and respect and forgiveness and justice and mercy. But don't try to make your circle too big. Eventually you may be responsible and mature enough to handle more humans, but start by getting deeper with just the folks you already know. Strengthening your current personal relationships will increase your zeal and love for life. The Bible tells me to do everything without complaining or arguing, so while I'm getting deep with my peeps, I need to be mindful of keeping the conversation high and tight- like my brother-in-law's haircut. I mean encouraging and pertinent. No gossip, no dragging down. High and tight.

There's a chance I watered this down to the point of ineffectiveness. If so, here are some wise words from Valley of Vision- a collection of Puritan prayers and devotionals:

I commend my heart to Thy watchful care,
     for I know its treachery and power;
Guard its every portal from the wily enemy,
Give me quick discernment of his deadly arts,
Help me to recognize his bold disguise as an
     angel of light,
   and bid him begone.
May my words and works allure others to the
     highest walks of faith and love!
May loiterers be quickened to greater diligence
     by my example!
May worldlings be won to delight in acquaintance
     with Thee!
     ......
Let my happy place be amongst the poor in spirit,
     my delight the gentle ranks of the meek.
Let me always esteem others better than myself,
    and find in true humility
    an heirdom to two worlds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stools and rugs: revolving door, part 2

Let's get serious for like a sec. I want to be a good steward of finances and this green earth, so there's a slight crisis of belief that sails through my thoughts sometimes as I look to tweak things to perfection in our home. Patience and confidence are the top character qualities I hope to draw from in making decor decisions. A room is not going to come together over night, and often when I push it to, the design falls flat because it lacks the collected/cultured look that makes it feel genuine. So I rearrange and remove and add until there's an actual feeling cultivated. Like, "Hey, I want to spend time in this room. I want to look around and learn from the books and the art and the sunshine. I want the people I love to be able to enjoy this too." And then I sell the old rug and feel even better. ;) Anyway, the thing is there's definitely something to be said about surrounding yourself with beautiful things and people. Keep your head on straight- don't obsess, but recognize and appreciate it. And I'm also saying don't settle. God is the maker of creativity and we're made in his image, so art and beauty should move us. Mediocrity has rarely made a difference. In anything.

So you guys. I've had 4 rugs in my 5 Mile Rd. living room in the 7 years we've lived here. Is that normal? Every time I see a rug at a flea market, I check the price. ANY rug. Size, color, pile. None of this matters. I love rugs. And have we talked about lamps lately?...mama likes a good lamp. But reign it in, this is about rugs. Here is the last post showing the LR (rug from West Elm, sold it. Loved, but just too big for my micro living room. And golly professional photos are clutch..ee), and the first rug (from Ikea, still have it and love it). Then there's this ivory Moroccan wanna-be. I still have it, but it got so mangy so fast...what am I gonna do with a mangy rug? Just having a hard time saying goodbye.
{Target}

{West Elm}

{Ikea}
And now. My friends at Ecarpetgallery (they don't know we're friends) sold me this one. I wanted the age and the texture and the imperfection of a vintage handmade rug. This is it. It's a new antique, if that makes sense. Like made one million years ago, but never used. Maybe it's not quite that old..unless God made it..?

{Ecarpetgallery}



I mean, I love sun, but what the heck? Trying to take pictures here! Mr. Sun, you're throwing off my iPhotography groove.


I've also gotten a vintage kitchen rug this year, and for the girls' bedroom, and the upstairs bathroom...I'm on a roll. A rug roll. Rollin' out the red carpet... 

Okay, here's the kitchen rug, older than these very hills and bought at a flea market in Massachusetts..or New Hampshire. Those pint-sized eastern states have me confused. 
{East coast flea}
The girlfriends are getting book shelves in their bedroom soon. I'll take pictures and you'll see the rug I got for them from a different seller at the same flea market.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Stools and rugs: a revolving door, part 1

I've been working on the boys' bedroom, which is nearly ready for a photo sesh with my iPhone. It's getting pretty fun, y'all. 

Chairs. More specifically stools. These 3 beauties below came via Craigslist.  A couple years ago, my friend Tabetha and I were feeling clever without our combined number of 9 (NINE!) children, when we went on the adventure that is fetching a Craigslist find. So even though the stools were less 'petite Windsor' than I expected and more generic 'bigger is better,' my adrenaline said buy them, so I did. They were light maple, totally factory grade blah. I was inspired by this olive color and needed to introduce it to my house. Once painted, they were pretty.. but they were always a little too big for the space, and since they spun I was on constant spin patrol in an effort to preserve them and the counter tops. Alas, they went out as they came in- Craigslist.

[The giant chalkboard sitting behind them is waiting to play a role in an upcoming wedding that I'm styling}
If Andrew can't build something I want, my search starts in the 'used' market (thrift stores, flea markets, Craigslist), but after stalking the stools category on Craigslist for many months and not finding what I wanted, I decided to check target.com. I knew I wanted metal, and I found these nice little guys at a very reasonable price. They came in pairs, and since I needed 3, I'm selling one. Check the Brainerd, MN Craigslist! ;)






{The old stools were so big I had to climb on them to get beyond their backs and wash the counter tops..I'm not even being dramatic.}
{Yeah, my favorite part about these stools is they're short enough to tuck under the peninsula and not obstruct the view through the house from the kitchen to the LR. #smallhouseproblems}
The first stools we had (before the olive loves) were of the classic $10 backless maple, fall apart if you look at them variety. Three sets of stools in the 7 years we've lived here, and I think we finally got a keeper.

Next up- rugs.

Also, iPhone photography is in my wheel house..what does that even mean?