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'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


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!, 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.