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Feb 28, 2014

Catching a Breath/Photo Dump

Most of our extra time these days has been spent working on the house!

I'm painting furniture, Rich is doing all the hard work updating the dining room and, next, the kitchen. This house quickly, almost immediately, felt like home when we moved in last fall. It's such an awesome comfortable place as-is.  But we started dreaming of plans to update/freshen up each room during our first walk-through and it's exciting to start to see those changes happening.  


Rich is building wainscoting for the dining room, a more casual style that reaches higher up on the wall than most with a little shelf at the top.  It and the trim around the entryways will be white.  The top of the wall will be gray/taupe.  He got that painted last night so he can start putting up the boards this weekend!

He's putting wainscoting with coat/bag hooks on the opposite kitchen wall to tie it all in, since it's basically the same room.  And we'll carry the same colors through the kitchen and put up white subway tile backsplash with gray grout to finish it up. 
I'm so excited!  Just a little facelift to update it a bit, without going all out or changing the structure of the place. 
In the meantime, to add some color against our very neutral walls and tie in the colors from each room a little, we've been painting furniture too - our hutch, a new/old table my parents gave us and a couple of mirrors.  I haven't taken pictures of the table and mirrors yet, but I like them (kind of on the fence about a mirror color...we'll see how that plays out), but the hutch...oh the hutch. 
Here it is before.  My brother in law built this hutch years ago and I haven't painted it once in all those years.
We made up for that this time.

Our first attempt at matching colors from a photo we liked turned out really, really bad.  What the hell were we thinking?  It was such a waste of money, but we learned a valuable lesson - always buy $3 samples first! 

Our next attempt was closer, better contrast, more earthy colors that better match our style, but still not exactly right. 

Ugh. Seriously? 

I had my oh-so-wise sister over for lunch one afternoon and, when told her I wanted it just a shade or two lighter/brighter and was going to repaint it again, she suggested that I try sanding it down a bit, which would make it look distressed, which is a style I like, plus it would take some sheen off and lighten it up, since the color under it was much lighter.  She's so smart.  It worked like a charm and we love it now!  Here it is finished and back in place.
The curtains I got awhile ago updated and added color, as do my throw pillows that I have a slight obsession with...I love me some colorful throw pillows.  
I've also picked up a few things here and there to pull our colors into the kitchen, family and living rooms. All I can say is God bless Home Goods.  These things would have cost a fortune anywhere else, but I didn't pay over $15 for anything.  Here are a few awesome find.

Before all the work began, we had a little Valentine's Day fun with the kids.  We decorated (and by decorating I mean we threw some confetti down, cut out some paper hearts and hung them around the house) the night before and set up their little gift bags.  

We got them a few little cheap things (pencils, erasers, little clipboards with notepads, tiny chalkboards...they are constantly writing notes/drawing pictures and taping them to our walls...seriously, I have to take a picture of our walls sometime. It's absurd), which they loved almost as much as the candy.

But what they really loved was their books! Lena got Frozen and Sam got The Lego Movie.  
They both loved them so much they slept with them for a few nights! 

Especially because we took them to see both movies - Frozen a week or so before and The Lego Movie a few days after.  We all loved them, though Lena and I, of course, were more excited about Frozen...we're still singing the Let It Go song...a lot...I mean to an alarming degree.

My Valentine's Day gift from Rich...beautiful spring flowers, along with a card with a lovey, gushy note inside...this man knows how to keep me happy. 

A few candid shots during our seemingly constant running between schools and errands and work and playdates and band rehearsal and ballet and church.  And the kids aren't even involved in many activities yet.  I don't know how my sister and Molly do it with three older kids involved in 100 things each!  It's exhausting just listening to their schedules.  So right now I'm just savoring these young days which still retain some semblance of free time. 

Sam posing with the drawings he worked on from a book that teaches you how to draw things step by step.  Mom and Dad got it for him for Christmas and he's really been enjoying it! 

Last Saturday was so lovely and warm and sunny.  Sam had a playdate early that afternoon and, when we got home, we found Lena outside on her bike playing with the neighborhood girls. I don't think I've ever seen my baby girl so happy.  She adores those girls down the street, who are only a couple years older than her and think she's the sweetest thing ever.  :)  Sam joined them all and they played outside for hours, riding bikes up and down our dead-end street, jumping on our trampoline, enjoying snacks and drinks while decorating our front made my heart warm thinking of how much fun my kids will have through the years in this neighborhood with these people.  It's why we moved here and it's so awesome to see it coming to life. 

Can't wait for spring!!

Feb 26, 2014

Let Go. Let God.

I've been meaning to write about this since I walked out of the church doors a couple of Sundays ago, but just haven't had time.

Pastor Frank gave a very moving sermon about assessing and addressing our internal wounds. During the sermon he showed a short video of people holding up handwritten signs bravely confessing their wounds: I am addicted to meth, my husband abandoned me, I regret, I'm afraid, I was abused, I'm an alcoholic, I'm angry, I'm lustful...things like that.  Then it showed the words on the signs being crossed out as each person handed them over to God...

Let go.  Let God.

I sat staring at the screen, hypnotized by those words being crossed off by our loving and understanding father who has experienced it all - pain, suffering, feelings of abandonment and loneliness, betrayal, temptation, anger...deep wounds that we all harbor in some form, torments or traumas from things we've done or things done to us.

Wounds we keep hidden in our darkest places so no one can see or sense them.  We're ashamed of them, embarrassed by them, afraid of them.  Some of us have so many wounds or such large gaping wounds that the dark places in which we hide them expand, pushing all else away.  I know people like that.  I have friends like that. 

Hell, I've lived like that for a time.  Through very stupid and hurtful decisions I've made, by thoughtless acts done to me, terrifying situations, helplessness...I've been depressed and alone and scared, living in the dark.  My family and friends, who love me and pray for me and kick me in the ass when necessary, helped pull me out a time or two and continue to be guideposts to me.  And my faith teaches me and counsels me and comforts me.  But I remember the dark...

It can become suffocating and exhausting just trying to survive in that dark - it's emotionally, spiritually, even physically heavy.  And that's when the fear seeps in, wrapping it's ugly tentacles around our hearts and minds.

Fear, I believe, is the most dangerous human emotion, from which all other negative human emotions stem.  And fear can breed some very powerful responses when we live in the dark.  Two I experienced most were selfishness and loneliness.  After all, we can't see much in the dark other than ourselves and how alone we are there.

We can become blind to those surrounding us, those who want to help us or those who need help themselves.  We can become blind to everything but our own suffering. 

So we hold onto our wounds and rip them open again and again, because to suffer is to feel, and feeling pain is sometimes better than feeling nothing.

It becomes difficult to remember the lightness of being free, unshackled from our wounds, from our fear.  It becomes difficult to see that we shackle ourselves. 

Let go. Let God. 

The step from darkness into light isn't as big a step as we fear it to be.  Especially because we don't have to take it alone. 

I believe God knows our every thought, word and deed.  I believe that he walks right beside us as we trudge through our everydays, that he cheers for us during our triumphs, that he sits with us during our torments, that he feels sorrow for our mistakes, though he never gives up on us.

I believe that he is with us even when we don't acknowledge him, that he believes in us even when we don't believe in him.

Isaiah 40:31
[have you said] “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”?  Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?  God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.  He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out.  He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.  For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall.  But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.

Joshua 1:9
Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Isaiah 41:10
Don’t be afraid. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Owning up to our mistakes, our fears and wounds...realizing that we do not want to merely survive in the dark anymore, that we want more from life, more from ourselves...admitting that we cannot shoulder these burdens on our own any longer...and asking God for help allows us to forgive ourselves, to forgive others...and to finally let go.

Let go.  Let God. 

And the feeling of truly letting go of the loneliness and hate and fear and self loathing and bitterness and anger and grudges, well, it's like gravity has been suspended. 

It is the lightness of truly being

Once we stand freely in the light, a whole world comes into view that was once shrouded.  We see others surrounding us.  We see other lives and other struggles and other triumphs and the beauty of our differences.  Compassion is cultivated in that place and serving each other becomes more important than serving ourselves. And instead of feeling the pain of our wounds, we feel compassion and love and mercy and grace for and from others and God.

2 Samuel 22:29
Suddenly, God, your light floods my path, God drives out the darkness.

Philippians 2:3-4
Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

There is joy to be found in that place.  A joy that's inexplicable and soul filling.

It's not always an easy road.  No one, not even God, promises us that. But the hard times are easier to bear when we allow others to help us carry them.  When we have someone to go to, to lean on, to depend on.  That's what the light gives us. 

I apologize if this comes off as preachy.  I certainly don't intend it to be.  I've learned these things throughout my life and need daily reminders of their truth.

Because I still go through dark times, when I feel the tickle of my wounds trying to return to me.  Sometimes I'm so stupid that I let them in like old friends, almost grateful for their familiar sting.

But my faith is much stronger now. And I have learned how to wield it at the moments when I need it to help me fight against the pull of the darkness...

Romans 13:12
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Pastor Frank's sermon reminded me of the importance of these truths for myself and provoked me to put this out there for those who might be, like I became, tired of shackles.  For those who need to know that they can

Let Go.  Let God.

Feb 7, 2014

This Week...

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow!  Finally, some respectable snow in Columbus.


I cut bangs on Lena! I've been toying with the idea for a long time and just decided to go for it yesterday. And we love them. I mean (with or without bangs), this girl is the most precious thing.
Sammy got a little clean up trim too, just until we can make it to the barber.  My mad hair skills only go so far. Such a handsome boy...

These kids are gorgeous.

And since I'm in my 'I'm sick of winter and everything needs refreshed phase' (ergo the haircuts), I asked Rich to put up our new curtains last night and, as in all things, he did an awesome job.
You can't tell much from this dark picture, but those heather gray casual curtains I wrote about in my last blog look as perfect in our dining room as they do in our family room. Love!
Spring better come quickly or I'm apt to make more changes...I have been wanting to paint some furniture...hmmm...

Feb 3, 2014

Snow, Home, and Ping Pong

My sweet ones headed outside to play in the feet of snow that fell on Chardon during our visit there a couple weeks ago. It was so peaceful watching that snow cover and quiet everything in its path. 
The hills and big old trees covered by that thick blanket of white made every window of Rich's parents' house look like a framed postcard (though I didn't get a worthy picture).  We just don't get snow like that here in was so beautiful.  So even though that beauty created some pretty slick roads for our journey home, I was so happy that, along with another awesome visit with Rich's parents, the kids got to experience that kind of snowfall.

My fault. My fault. Sam wanted me to open this family-sized bag of M&M's and I, in my astonishing grace, knocked over and emptied the entire contents of the onto the floor. Most went under the cabinet, which was a pain in the @%(*&, but whatcha gonna do?  At least the kids held the dustpan for me as I swept. :)
My parents posted on Facebook this picture of their house, which made me nostalgic and melancholy (imagine that, lol).
This is home to me.  It's been home since elementary school and it always will be home. My parents and their friends and even Lori and I (on a much smaller scale) poured so much energy and time into renovating this old Victorian house into a home for us.  It is beautiful and warm and loving. It's a big place, though it doesn't feel that way when you're in it (especially when we show up with husbands and kids and cats and dogs in tow).  It is always cozy and homey and cheery and welcoming.  I know it is getting too darn big for Mom and Dad to stay in much longer, as there's just so much cleaning and upkeep on a house this size and this age. But instead of accepting that fact and processing my emotions about it (like I had to when my grandparents finally sold their home, which I loved almost as much as my own childhood home), I'm wallowing around in denial and hoping to win the lottery so I can keep this one in the family. :)  
I visited World Market (again) last week...several times. Ugh. I could spend an entire paycheck in that place every month. It's a beautiful dangerous place for me, fraught with perils around every corner...the perfect pillow, globe, canvas, quilt, wall decoration jump out from the shadows and dazzle me with their colors, concealing their price tags among their patterns so I have to hunt and put effort into finding them.  Well played, World Market...well played. These are some things I was so drawn to, but passed up because of the hefty price tags I finally tracked down. :(

But I did buy this from a 90% off rack of Christmas stuff. Guess how much I paid for this gingerbread house kit...guess...17 cents! We also snagged a chocolate advent calendar (put away for next year) for 13 cents! What? Score for us!
We assembled our gingerbread house yesterday and the kids loved it. It's not quite the picture on the box. Ha! But seriously, they must have had pounds of icing to make theirs look like that, because we used every last bit of it and this is what we got.
The kids were happy and entertained, so that's all that counts.   
We all ate part of the roof yesterday, which wasn't too bad. Too sweet for me, but the kids seemed to like it...just look at their eyes. Hahaha!
Nailed it. :)

I also found this ( The ever elusive perfect color and print, 48" x 84" curtain panel, ready-made and budget conscious! The photo is hard to see, but the background is a heathered gray with my favorite accents of turquoise and red and tan and green making up the rest. They look so fresh and casual and warm, instantly updating our family room. I had to order the rest (because of course the store only had this one), but I got the same great deal online with my 15% off coupon and free shipping! One more for the other family room window and then a set on the dining room windows too. Hey, what can I say? When I find something I love for a great price, I stock up. :)
And one last little thing from World Market's clearance toy shelf - a ping pong set: "transforms any table into a ping pong game for hours of fun". :)  The kids had a laugh fest with this over the weekend, as did Rich and I. The set is as mini as the price, but still big enough for a fairly good game between Rich and I. After all, a family who ping-pongs together, stays together.