Friday, September 19, 2014

What Glenn and the kids did while I was away…


While the older girls and I were in Virginia helping my sister with her kitchen cabinets, etc., Glenn and the kids were quite busy here at home. 


I realized somewhere along the road to Virginia, that it was probably the first time I had left home for a few days without preparing any meals, giving any directions – other than weeding and watering plants – or going over medication or school schedules!

My children are growing up.


And my husband is a wonderful dad.

For most of our married life, Glenn has been alternately self-employed and employed by others.  But no matter what, he has hardly ever taken much vacation time.  He is the employee who will go in the day after a major holiday so others can be with their  families. 

But this time, things were different.  This time, he was the one who took off time to be with his family. 


In the weeks before I left, he planned several fun activities to do with the younger kids. 


They went to the Indianapolis Zoo.

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They went to a large indoor playground at a church nearby.  They stayed for 3 hours!

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He took them to a Fall Festival in a small town close to us.


He took them to Steak and Shake.


They cleaned out the van and gave it a car wash and oil change.  (probably more rewarding for me than the kids…)


He took them to a matinee in the middle of the week.


He read to them.


He let the three little girls sleep in our room on a blow-up mattress the entire week.

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He took them to a toy store and to Claire’s Boutique.


They went out to lunch several times and for ice cream cones.


He read the Bible with them and prayed with them.


He spent time with them. 


As memorable as the trip to my sister’s house was for the older girls and me, the time Glenn spent here with the other kids was equally so for them. 


He gave them a gift that will never gather dust or be stored away in a box in a closet. 





(he also built a surprise for me in the kitchen… more on that soon..)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Kitchen Reveal, And a Little Extry


Several weeks ago, one of my sisters emailed me and asked if I would help her paint her kitchen cabinets.  Because she lives in Virginia, and I live in Indiana, this was a little more of an undertaking than might at first seem obvious.  I needed to shuffle a few eye and dentist appointments, send regrets for a baby shower and first birthday party, and figure out what to do about school.  However, Glenn was very encouraging and he really felt I should go – and that I should take Alix and Kate with me.  He knew it was an opportunity for memory-making that doesn’t happen often. 

And he was right.

It was one of the most memorable times I’ve had with my sister since we’ve been wives and mothers.  We laughed almost every day – most days at least once until we cried.  What was so hilarious about sanding and painting cabinets, organizing drawers, and moving furniture in several rooms of her house?  I can’t even tell you.  It wasn’t one thing, it was a myriad of things – playful looks we gave each other and our kids, comments the kids made, funny little accidents like painting a few doors the wrong color, jokes about aches and pains and cankles. 

We worked almost nonstop from Friday through Thursday evening of the next week.  Although  Alix and Kate and I took Wednesday morning to visit the Museum of Natural History in D.C., and eat lunch *in* the Taco Bell, we spent the days hard at work.  Even the day we went to the museum, I put a quick coat of paint on the barstools while in my pajamas before breakfast.  Alix and Kate spent time with their cousins, Cameron (11), Jordan (almost 10), and Caleb (7) and I think Cameron especially was glad to have some girl time with her cousins.

So here’s the result of that week of fun, hard work, and laughter. 






Minda’s cabinets were red oak – and she wanted white.  Because her counters and appliances are also white, we thought it would be good to have a contrast color for the island.  This light gray went very nicely with the flooring and wall color, which she didn’t want to change.



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We found a couple of lamps from other places in her house (mostly her closet I think) and put them on the counters to add warmth and coziness.


I spray painted all the knobs – who knows how many? – in Krylon’s oil-rubbed bronze, after first priming them with a spray primer.  It would have been faster to use a spray polyurethane to seal them, but we already had a quart of Polycrylic.  So I painted two coats on very carefully with a paint brush, making sure not to let it glob up in drips which would easily chip off later.


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The little wire basket had been on top of her upper cabinets with some dried flowers in it.  They looked a little sad, so we pitched them, but Alix used a degreaser on the little basket and it looked very cute on the island with some napkins and fruit.


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We pulled a few of her hardbound cookbooks out of another cabinet and set them next to a sweet wooden recipe box.  Next to that we set a plate rack with some pretty dishes on it. 

We swapped out the old dark rug for a new, neutral-colored one.


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From the front door, the kitchen looks inviting and draws you back into it.


Although I didn’t get a great before shot of the light fixture over the sink, believe me, it was somewhat tired-looking with the new white cabinets.  So we picked out a new shade and a pendant kit and I replaced the old with new.  I write that very calmly, but I have to say I was so thrilled when I was able to get the wiring right on it and realize that I changed a light fixture all by myself! 

(Thanks to Glenn for showing me how to do it last year. Winking smile)


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Minda also found a tablecloth (maybe in her closet?) which was just the color she wanted to include in the kitchen.  We just draped it over the existing rod.


This is the best “before” I have of the opposite side of the kitchen.


On this side, we decided to paint the pantry door with chalkboard paint.  More for the contrast it would provide, rather than necessity.  We loved it!  We only painted the outside of the door and the edge which shows when it is opened.


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That second picture helps you see what that wall looks like in its entirety, with the hallway leading to the front door. It also shows our creative way to store all the pencils that had been falling out of the little letter holder. 

A crystal vase!

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I also screwed little cup hooks under the upper cabinets in a few spots around the kitchen, to get the black wires up and out of the way.


On this wall is the chalkboard I made for Minda last year from a calendar frame we found at Goodwill.  It looked a little lonely next to the thermostat, so I asked her if she had anything black and white to add to the space.  Of course she did!  I think she needs to sell admission to her closet for those of us looking to shop our house.  She has a goldmine in there!


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On the counter, we put a few things to add interest and texture, like the wooden mouse cutting board, a container of flowers made from wood shavings, a vase for her wooden spoons, and a little basket for coffee things next to the coffee maker. She already had all these things, they just needed to be pulled out of hiding and admired in new places.

The bar stools were dark cherry wood, so they didn’t look right in this new white kitchen.  I simply unscrewed the rush seats, sanded the stools, primed, and then painted a coat of gray paint, with two white coats on top.  I lightly distressed them so the gray would peek through.  And there they were – *new* bar stools which looked great at the island.

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One more look at the difference!





Since we were there and doing all that painting, we went ahead and did the cabinets in both upstairs bathrooms as well.  I’m sorry I don’t have *before* shots – we were *busy*!  Smile  But just imagine the same red oak cabinets as the kitchen. 


We chose white for the kids’ bath, which brightened up the whole room considerably!

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I painted these knobs, too.  They used to be wood with brass rims.

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And then dark gray, Benjamin Moore’s “Dolphin” for the master bath.

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I wish I had taken a picture of the vanity side a few days after we took this one.  While Minda was gone with the boys one evening, I hung pictures and pulled out the wicker hamper to a new spot, plus put a little white lamp with a wicker shade on the vanity counter.  They looked homey – and she liked it.  Smile


Throughout the week, I was literally everywhere in the house - at her request -  changing things, moving stuff and organizing as I went along.  I had a blast!


Again – no *before* for this room, but we switched places between the large white hutch and the sofa, brought up the “coffee table” and basket from the basement, pulled in the standing lamp from the adjacent dining room, rearranged the small side table and the things on it, and created a gallery wall with pictures Minda already had in frames.

This room became so much more cozy by the changes!

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And that’s it!  A kitchen reveal and a little extry!  Winking smile




I’m sharing with these two fun ladies

Monday, August 4, 2014



From a young age, Alix has enjoyed writing down the events of her days.  Like most people, she often wrote in spurts, and then got busy with life and forgot about the journals for periods of time.

A few months ago, she picked up one of the journals she had kept as a girl.  This particular journal covered an entire year, with gaps of time here and there throughout. 

She brought the journal to me that day  and suggested I read it, saying she thought I would enjoy it.

That night, after climbing into bed, I opened the journal and began to read.

The pages were filled with stories of her days.  Stories about games she played with the other kids, gifts she had given them and that they gave to her, and details of a typical day in her life.  On some of the pages, she drew pictures.  Pictures of beautiful ladies, mermaids brushing their hair, and a pony named Samwise, which she sometimes rode at that time.




And as I read her words, something surprising began to dawn on me.  She talked about the events and happenings in her days, including things about her interactions with her sisters and brothers, with Glenn and me.   Things we all did together, like school and trips and church and friends over for meals.  And most of those things I remembered, too. 

But she also wrote about books she read, conversations with Kate or Luke, games she played with the little girls or books she read to them, and playing with her cousins or friends.  Things I hadn’t done with her.

And I realized that although she was living life in the same house as me, at the same time as me, often she was doing one thing and I was doing something else. And even when we were doing things together, one thing we weren’t sharing was perspective.  

We were living life together, yet with different eyes. With a different perspective.

This may sound obvious and unexciting to you.  But to me, it was like an epiphany.


It made me realize that for the most part,  I have seen our family life so subjectively that often, I have not remembered that although the kids were children, they had their own, equally subjective, viewpoint.  Which means that although as their mom, I have been the Director of their days, ordering most of their time – like school and meals and naps and play – they have not been without their own individual and unique thoughts about those events.  Their own individual perspectives. Even when they were very young.

And I suppose the most significant impact of realizing this, was realizing that the way I asked them, or told them, to do things they needed to do, wasn’t being received by someone who felt the same way I did about those things.  That my tone, my facial expressions, my emotions about things were being received by them, and they had their own inner response to all of it, even if they gave no outward indication.

Does that make sense?

They weren’t just my children – who needed to be taught so many things, who needed to be disciplined when they disobeyed, to whom I read books, hugged throughout a day, became impatient with, laughed with or talked with, fed meals to…they were people.  Growing, learning, changing, wanting to please, needing love and encouragement, as well as discipline and correction, and thinking.  About all sorts of things.  Things they shared with me and things they thought to themselves.

And I thought about the times I didn’t remember their frames.  When I didn’t remember that they are little people.  Times I was harsh or demanding or I didn’t consider how my words and actions affected them in ways they weren’t able to express back to me. 

And I felt incredibly thankful for Alix’s journal.  Thankful for the Lord reminding me, through her eyes, that in addition to all the things they really do need to learn in school and in relationships and at church and in society, that they need to be listened to.  And that even when they are very young, they need me to remember they also have a perspective.  That my words – encouraging and discouraging are being heard by little people who love me and want to please me.   And that remembering their perspective, whether they can voice it nor not, would help me be a better mother, and as they grow older – a better friend to them.

Suddenly the passage from Colossians 3:21 became a lot more clear to me

“Fathers (and mothers), do not provoke your children lest they become discouraged.”


Maybe you have already realized this and are wondering what took me so long.   Smile