Thursday, October 28, 2010

What I Scored at the Nester's Yard Sale

When I saw the Nester's yard sale post this morning, I simply had to sit down and scrawl out a companion post because. Don't all of you inquiring minds want to know what I brought home?

Of course you do.

I had already planned to go visit Lily that weekend. How lucky that it was also the same weekend as the Nester and Emily's yard sale!

There were many treasures for a girl to take home but I was trying not to be too spendy.

Still, I have some fun loot to show you.

Here's my trunk loaded up with mine and Lily's stuff from the neighborhood sale.

And here's a random guy who jokingly asked if we wanted him in the picture. I jokingly said back to him, "Sure!" He took me seriously.

Okay, so here's what I bought at Nester and Emily's:

Some galvanized buckets to store library books and other junk...

Some cute new clothes...because they are such stylish sisters...

And clearly the most photogenic sisters on the planet, are they not?

Some bangles and baubles that they sold so cheap I felt like I was stealing. {This isn't even all of them}...

That cute brown purse you see in the top picture...

A little fur rug for Blondie's "dressing area..."

And a baggie of chandelier baubles, some of which you see here on the chandy I've been making for my girl. It's not quite finished but here's a sneak peek.

This chandy and The Nester go way back. Remember her swap-meet she held over a year ago? Well, Lily and I got to go and after the swap-meet concluded, there was still a table of unwanted items just waiting for a good home or the Goodwill. Lily convinced me to take home a plain white light fixture and told me to turn the sconces upside down so that they're pointing up, not down, and to remove the ugly frosted globes. {It is so wonderful to have an ever-resourceful best friend who has mad creative skillz. Seriously, she built a whole company with her creative self.}

This poor discarded chandy sat in my garage for over a year just waiting to light up Blondie's room. We've been stringing beads and blinging it up bit by bit. It is sparkly and delicious and best of all, it cost me a package of Wal-Mart beads and fishing line.

And speaking of the girl's room, Blondie has finally gotten one of her own and we've been slowly working on it since August. We're almost finished and I can't wait to show you how it turned out. It's like a candy store. I want to be her roommate...

{And Lily's and the Nester's and Emily's.}

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snapshot of Grace

For better or for worse. For richer or for poorer. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad times.

Fifteen years, all of the above, and we have Grace to thank for every moment.

{This snapshot: A celebratory anniversary trip to the mountains, just the two of us. All of it made possible by Grace.}


Linked up today with Emily {Chatting at the Sky}

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Miracle Desk

With the advent of a new school-year, I must confess that I've had to ward off homeschool-room envy. I recently told friends that I don't envy people's big, fancy houses; I envy people's school rooms.

Our kitchen table has worked mostly fine until this year, but with Blondie's increased work load, I begrudgingly shuffled books and papers and crayons from the table to the counter multiple times a day. We had to clear the school junk away so that we could eat breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner at this all-purpose table.

And if we didn't? Someone invariably spilled juice or smeared peanut butter onto somebody's math book and I would get mad because they were mad and papers were wet and I blamed all the world's problems on my lack of a homeschool room. Because I'm so rational and all.

And while I knew that I could make do just fine without an actual room devoted solely to education, I still needed a solution to the constant shuffling of papers and high-stakes juice spillage.

I literally lost sleep rearranging my entire house in my head night after night searching for a solution. And then, it hit me.

Take this seagrass settee...

And turn it into a window seat on one side of the kitchen table.

Use the empty space left by the moved settee for a long, narrow school desk and book storage.

So that's what I did.

You know how sometimes you really want something and you think it's going to change your life and make it so much better but then it doesn't turn out to be the miracle you though it would be?

This is not one of those times.

I spent about $100 and saved a whole lot of sanity. Also? I have always wanted a window seat for that big bay window. Turns out I had one all along. It was just sitting on the other side of the room holding piles of unfolded laundry.

I can't believe how simple this was and how well it's working for our family. Thanks for letting me show and tell.


And thank you IKEA for the affordable desk solution.

{I used 2 Vika Annefors cubbies, 2 Vika table tops, and 4 Vika Curry legs. Instead of using one long Vika tabletop at $40 that would have required just one leg, Lily advised me to purchase 2 smaller Vika tabletops at just $5.99 each and 4 legs at $3.50 each. I saved a little money that way but more importantly, I actually have 2 separate desks if I ever choose to move these elsewhere.}

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Love 'Em For Who They Are

If there's one lesson I've learned {and am still very much in the process of learning} about loving husband and children, it's this:

Love them for who they are and not for who you want them to be.

Clearly one could write a book on this but for now, how about just a post?

I am a girl of dreams and expectations. Prone to bossy-ness and control, I could write a list called How to Live Your Best Life Now and then a follow-up list called Did You Do That Stuff I Said on the First List?

Those are touching and endearing qualities for a wife and mother, are they not?

Sometimes I'm nudged to examine how much expectation I place on others in subtle ways. You may recall this post about Blondie a year or so ago. How I agonized over her issues with books and reading, how God showed me that I needed to just let go.

Well, she has continued to read...but more out of duty rather than delight. It has been a laborious, tiresome, chore of a task and I have simply hoped that one day she would grow to love books as much as I do. {Again, the expectations. Groan.}

We've tried American Girl books. Nope. I bought the whole Little House series, just knowing she would love it. She didn't. After painfully getting through Book 1, she came to me and asked, Mommy, will you be offended if I tell you that I just really don't like this book? It's just, well, sort of boring for me. I'm sorry.

And while I wasn't offended, I was a little sad and mostly bewildered. Oscillating between thinking of her as ungrateful and overly particular versus thinking that we just hadn't found the right genre, I was at a loss. After trying and failing with many books, I spotted one I'd forgotten about on the shelf, one I'd picked up brand new from a thrift store forever ago.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The books {13 in all} are quirky and dark, full of irony, rich characters and ghastly situations. The children, though prone to one misfortune after another, remain inventive, heroic and hilarious. The plots are a roller-coaster of despair and short-lived triumph.

She can't stop reading. With each book, she's building confidence and reading faster, catching me up on the previous chapters whenever we get even a minute to chat.

And while I had visions of her snuggled under her comforter reading pioneer adventures and sweet stories of vintage girlhood, that's just not her thing.

I shouldn't be surprised. Roald Dahl, with his freakish characters and odd, mysterious tales, was one of my favorite authors as a child.

And so I accept and applaud this girl of mine who is coming into her own in many ways, literature preferences and all. She's not tattooing herself {yet} or dying her hair fuschia, but I'm learning, in both the big and little things, that while I can lead and guide, nurture and love, she is who she is.

I love her for that.

As for those lists about how to do life according to me, I don't think anyone's reading them anyway.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Perfectionist's Guide to Domestic Imperfection

I'm a perfectionist.

Before you write me off thinking my house is spotless and I have a meal plan pasted on the fridge and freshly-baked bread in the oven, hear me out. I've often felt like a perfectionist on the inside but had trouble reconciling my far from perfect environment.

Thoughts like, If I'm a perfectionist why are there more weeds in my yard than flowers? Why are there 8 loads of laundry at any given time? Why is there any entire family of gnomes living in any one of my closets, concealed by the clutter and mayhem that seems to pile up at an alarming rate?

Often perfectionists may look very imperfect, so I've been told. I thought that was just nonsense but it makes sense. In the past, if I could not complete a project in its entirety, I simply wouldn't do it at all. Unless I could clean the entire bathroom perfectly, I wouldn't even take 90 seconds to clean the toilet. The incompleteness of it all gave me a rash.

Often perfectionism is construed as laziness when really it's just an all-or-nothing state of mind.

Unfortunately, my vision for orderliness has not meshed well with motherhood and homeschooling and the absolute mayhem that ensnares me every day. The school-year is sheer academic and domestic survival.

I always think that the summer will somehow save me.

Anticipating my summer self as Martha Stewart on a steady diet of Red Bull and espresso, I imagine that I will clean every closet, label and alphabetize everything, paint the shutters, slipcover my furniture, reupholster the torn-apart seagrass ottoman, plant a garden, cultivate flowers, read loads of books to the children, and rid my house of every last speck of clutter.

I wish I could say that's an exaggeration. It is not.

{Delusions of grandeur anyone?}

Tempted to give up / wallow in sedatives for the next 16 years, I told myself there had to be another solution. Any solution. Even an imperfect one. And therein was the answer. It's nothing new or mind-blowing but putting it into practice, telling myself this is the only way for now that anything will ever get done, has been absolutely mind-blowing for me.

Are you ready?

Baby steps.

My new mantra? It's better than it was.

That plus a big dose of acceptance.

I'll give you an example. Nearly 5 years ago we moved into this house. I put stuff in the kitchen cabinets rather hurriedly. Patterns and needs change over time and nothing in the kitchen was working for me anymore. Noth. Ing. I wanted to scream and curse every time I opened a drawer or door, usually because something fell out and hit my head or toe. I wanted to get the kitchen organized over the summer from top to bottom. I wanted to do it all in one day. I had a system in my head, a plan in place, but I knew I would not have a whole day to do it.

My solution? One drawer at a time. One day I did 4 drawers. It took 45 minutes. Four drawers in my kitchen were perfect: clean, organized, functional. Over the period of several weeks, I had a working kitchen.

This is not a difficult concept for most people. I guess I am just slow to learn.

As I mentioned, perfectionists tend to see things through the lens of all-or-nothing . And most of the time life just doesn't offer that luxury. I will probably not have the whole house clean and organized all at the same time until my kids are grown...and by then I'll be too tired to even care.

I function better, think better, and am nicer to others when I have visual peace and an orderly environment. I just do. But the other 4 people living here? Not so much. Something's gotta give and seeing as how I'm largely outnumbered, that something...someone is me.

I have a feeling that many times I will only get the toilet clean before I'm summoned to do something else. Instead of seeing how the rest of the bathroom doesn't match the clean toilet, I can choose to bask in {not literally of course} the clean toilet and be thankful that it is no longer a science experiment.

Tonight I'll go to be knowing that I have an organized kitchen even though those drawers may be surrounded by closets full of clutter and the gnomes. And on the days when the world is just too messy to handle, I may just crawl in among the neatly folded dish towels and take a nap.


Postscript: I wrote this at summer's end. It's now October and I can confidently say that my new mantra is indeed working. Bit by bit, small task by small task, I'm making progress.


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