Eat your heart out, Pottery Barn.

Recently a  friend sent me a link to this song which, she wrote, reminds her of me.

I was touched. This song was a gift because I hadn’t really thought about myself as the person she sees in me. Not only was it a pleasant surprise, it was a huge encouragement.

Now that I think about it, this past year my life has looked nothing like it used to- and it’s felt far more like fun than like hard work, probably because of a ‘can-do’ attitude. It turns out that I can be a stay-at-home mom. I can wear silly hats and costumes and be a children’s worship leader/entertainer. I can navigate my way through a herd of water buffalo and highland cattle (?!) who are licking my car in a drive-thru safari park.  Yep, that happened.

It turns out, I can also dabble in furniture restoration.

One of the perks of my new-found autonomy is that I’ve allowed myself to go Pinterest crazy as we furnish our new home. So when someone was getting rid of this desk and asked if we wanted it, my answer was, ‘Yes, please!’

Desk Before


The desk was gouged, covered in water rings, and smelled a little funky. And there was bubblegum stuck on the bottom. But one thing I’ve learned in my web-surfing is that when upcycling furniture, go with things which you like the shape of and are in functional condition. Cosmetic problems like color, and shine, and (sometimes) smell can be fixed. Much like life, no?

It seemed like a good excuse to try making my own chalk paint. So I mustered up my courage and started sanding. I settled on the baking soda-based recipe after spending about five minutes- the current length of my attention span- unsuccessfully searching for plaster of paris and unsanded grout at the hardware store. As I sanded, slapped on the layers of paint, sanded again, varnished, and waxed I learned a few other things about myself:

  1. I should remember that I can more often. In reality this desk has been sitting, stained and smelly, in my house for about 8 months. Why on earth didn’t I do this sooner?
  2.  I probably need to work on this whole short attention span thing. Because the first layer of paint, where I estimated ratios and brushed away as quickly as I could, was not good.
  3.  I probably need to work on this whole short attention span thing because it turns out I’m a closet perfectionist. As I began to enjoy the project, I found myself actually wanting to go over every corner, sand down the rough spots again, apply another coat of paint or stain. I was having fun.
  4.  In the end, good enough is good enough. This desk was never going to be perfect, no matter how hard I sanded. Now when I look at it, I like it for its unique imperfections. It’s the same desk it always was- but some fresh air, a new color, and a little polish has given it a whole new outlook. Much like life, no?

Chalk paint desk

Not bad for $5 and a bit of elbow grease!

Ok, so it’s been a long time since we shared. What are you discovering you can do lately?


Throwback Thursday




I have no recollection of these pictures being taken.

This week I stumbled upon them while sifting through hundreds of photos which had been sitting on my camera collecting virtual dust.  Given the lack of, well, anything in the background I can conclude that they were taken this winter, and if pressed I could probably come up with a rough idea of precisely when- but it doesn’t really matter.  There’s a very good chance that I was actually present when these pictures were taken, but clearly I missed the moment.

What might be surprising to some is that I don’t really mind.  It was such a pleasant surprise to come across them this week, and to be let in on this special moment at all, that I’m more glad it happened than I am disappointed that I don’t remember it.  And I’m probably even a little proud that my girls could come up with such a creative method of entertaining themselves without my help… Yeah, they don’t stand a chance of running with the cool kids when they get to school.  

Today I looked around our home and realized that it has rapidly filled itself up.  The walls are no longer bare- in fact, there isn’t a corner in the whole place which doesn’t have some kind of arts and crafts displayed in it.  Our lives are filling up pretty quick too.  Earlier this year I came home to the realization that I had, in the space of a week, volunteered myself for no less than five different roles in our new church.  Yes, I would like to join the worship team.  And the choir.  And, you have an orchestra for major holidays too?  Sign me up!  And yes, I’ll help with VBS, and come to the BIble study, and the women’s circle, and I’d be more than happy to write for the newsletter… and, wait, you want to offer me a job??   (Yep, I am now employed!)  And now that it’s spring and we live in a place where the sun shines with some regularity, let’s go camping!  and ride bikes!  And lose weight, and grow our own vegetables and make our own soup and granola and…

What do you get when you find yourself in the rare position of having the time and resources to do all of the things that you want to?  Tired, that’s what.  

I am exhausted, but as I look around at the life we’ve managed to cobble together so far, I can’t help but feel content.  Our kids have had to do a lot of adapting over the past year, but is that such a bad thing if it means they learn to use their creativity and resources?  Every single object in our home holds a value, a purpose or a memory, or a memory for us.  All of the things we do or commit to are things we’re passionate about.  My problem, of course, is that perhaps I am passionate about way too many things.  Wait… is an abundance of passion a problem?  Answers on a postcard…

(By the way- it’s good to be back, friends.  I’ve missed you.)



Partying like it’s still 2013: A post-Advent reflection (…would that be an epiphany??)

“So are you doing the E-L-F on the S-H-E-L-F?” a fellow mom whispered to me, one morning in early December.  I had just discovered the (awesome) story time at our local library, and our kids were playing happily together- though clearly within enough earshot.  Clueless, I replied, “Isn’t that a book?”

“Oh no,” she reverently explained.  It turns out that for the low, low price of $29.95, He Who Must Not Be Named would show up on your doorstep complete with a list of ways to create mischief and keep parents up till the wee small hours nightly, creating such a frenzy of pre-Christmas excitement that the mere mention of our little friend could send children sky high.  “It’s just a fun way to make the holiday a little more special,” she beamed sleepily.

I smiled back and, I hope, said something polite.  But inwardly I was thinking, “Are you CRAZY?!  Not a chance!”  We were already behind on all three of our family advent calendars.  It sounded like a fun idea and my mind had begun reeling with the possibilities- but I knew we’d never be able to keep up.  And what’s more, I didn’t want to.

The following Sunday one of our pastors spoke about an encounter she’d had at a local charity which the church was supporting.  They were preparing holiday baskets for families in need, and she’d been given the daunting task of meeting with the families to assess whether or not they would qualify for one.  One of the interviews, our pastor recalled, was particularly uncomfortable.  The mother she met with was terse, silent, and not willing to meet her eye.  When they got to the question of what her children would like for Christmas, mom finally looked up.  “I don’t know what my kids like,” she said sadly.  “I work two jobs, and I only get to see them for 20 minutes a day.” That story still haunts me. We may have had some setbacks this year, but I’m pretty sure I have no idea what hard really is.

This year we had no photos with Santa, there was no elf wreaking havoc on our shelves, and Christmas came in January.  Thanks to the unusually early snow fall (and my three-week initiation to being a stay-at-home mom) we missed ALL of the holiday events and happenings in our new town.  But it didn’t take me long to figure out that, once again, by creating space in our lives God was giving us a gift.  We spent more time together than we possibly ever have.  We built snowmen and played with snow- indoors and out.  We made gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, gingerbread pudding, and gingerbread-scented play dough.  We discovered just how many hours a box of recycling, glitter glue, and a bit of imagination can keep you entertained.  We sang and danced and laughed.  Hands down, best holiday ever.

If there’s anything the past year has taught me, it’s to embrace the important things- to celebrate and savor traditions that give meaning to our life- and let go of those that don’t.  Being in a new place, being apart at times, constantly adjusting and re-adjusting our plans and goals- I could have let all these things get me down.  But a year of setting free both objects and expectations has ended up lifting an emotional weight in our lives.  Things will come, and things will go.  Sometimes relationships will too.  Holding on to frustration when things don’t turn out exactly the way we pictured them will just distract us from experiencing the unexpected blessings around us.  I’ve discovered that as people we are happiest when we simply focus on doing what we can, and celebrating what we’ve got.

Last week a lady stopped me and my daughter in the restroom at Target.  She had heard my ongoing monologue in the stall: “Do-you-need-a-wee-wee-are-you-sure-you-don’t-please-get-off-the-floor-no-don’t-touch-the-toilet-it’s-yucky-ok-all-finished-oh-NOW-you-need-a-wee-wee?!”  In a moment of peace as we were washing our hands, she smiled knowingly at us and said, “Enjoy every minute of it, because it doesn’t last long.”

Too right.

This year I hope we remember the lessons that 2013 taught us.  And to all of you who are reading (and, I hope, laughing) about our adventures-  I wish you a do-able new year.

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s still 2013

Ok. so. It’s been pretty quiet on the blog here lately. A couple of weeks ago, while I was in the midst of a sleep-deprived marathon-parenting stupor (more on that below), a well-meaning friend nearly called the police to check on me because she hadn’t heard from me in a couple of days. Please don’t do that too.

In our house, Christmas arrived on January 3rd. To cut a very long story short, husband was FINALLY given an interview date to apply for his visa at the American embassy in London… a week before Christmas. His visa was approved. And naturally, it took three weeks to arrive in the mail.

It didn’t feel right to celebrate Christmas without him. As we had been explaining to B, who is beginning to comprehend the meaning of giving and receiving gifts, the season is all about celebrating and showing love for the people in our lives. Going through the motions without one of the key members of our family unit would have been just plain confusing. So Father Christmas arrived when daddy did. To be honest, I kind-of liked the extra time. And buying stocking stuffers at 70% off.

After all of our wandering to and fro, starting a new home and settling into routines, and one looooong three-week stretch of parenting on my own, I’ve been pretty tired. In my head there are about five different blog posts jumbled up together. But instead I’ve felt the need to just step back, reflect, pray, and make sense of it all. Not a bad thing, really.

So I have a lot of feelings. And thoughts. I promise to share some of them soon. At the pace we’re moving in our house, we probably haven’t hit New Years yet anyway.