Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Tribute

May 2003 - Look at those cute little arms!

Saying goodbye... it's hard to do.

In an effort to declutter our garage, I begged the kids to say goodbye to the cozy coupe. I've been asking for permission to move it to the curb with a 'FREE' sign for a couple years now. What is it about that toy? I'm not sure, but it's hands down the best money spent on a toy to date. Yesterday, they caved.

November 2009

I cannot tell you how many hours each of them have spent with that little coupe. Sometimes as a car, but mostly as a prop in some lavish imaginary world. Never mind all that, space is what we needed. Am I awful?


Before I rolled it to the curb, they said their goodbyes. It spent exactly 3 minutes sitting there before it found a new owner.


As for the tile decision, this is how desperate things have become...
I have an 8-year-old boy consulting me on very boring beige tile.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


We are in a little home improvement spurt. I wish I could tell you we are doing all the work ourselves, but we're not. We saved our pennies so we could get capable and talented professionals to do it all. It's better that way, trust me.

First it was replacing the front wood railings with iron railings. That's been on the to-do list for, uh, six years.

Then we replaced the back door. Again, a must-do since we moved in.

Next, the white kitchen back splash. It is such a huge boost for the kitchen, and so easy and affordable... not really sure why we waited so long on this one.

Now we move to this - the tiny powder room. I couldn't get in here fast enough today to get a 'before' photo, but just take my word for it - it was interesting. The previous owner had built a sort of vanity, the bottom was plywood (I covered it with a fabric skirt)... it needed *lots* of help.
There will be a pedestal sink, a new mirror and light fixture (and toilet, of course). Oh, and the red will be replaced by something much, much better... just don't know what it is yet.

I really love this tile, but now that it is lying on the floor I'm feeling a pretty nervous it's not going to work. That rug in the foyer is not helping matters either. These kinds of things make me avoid projects - projects that cost money and have a certain permanence to them. Deep breath. And another.

Thank you to my friend Jessica for talking me through the drama.

Now to make me feel better I will focus on this soothing space.

Yep, it's the hall linen closet that I cleaned and organized today. I was going to take a 'before' photo, but I just couldn't. It was really, really ugly. Funny, there are very few actual linens in this closet. We don't have a lot of extras around here. The extra towels were in the wash, but there are only two, and the guest stuff is all in the basement. When I wash sheets and towels they go right back on the beds and towel bars. This closet is more of a medicine cabinet - boxes hold extra toiletries, nail polish... you know. The really exciting part of this project was what I found! You see that top left box - it's full of sunscreen and pool toys that *I* dumped out of the pool bag at the end of the summer. Well, in all that I found my husband's missing sunglasses! I'm pretty sure I had a comment about how he always loses things when they went missing... probably accompanied my a big annoyed sigh, too. Oops.

Monday, February 20, 2012

February Thanks : 1000 Gifts

Combing back over my past days and scribbling down a few of the countless gifts...
balm for the soul.

My list continues...

The Psalms.

Valentine Chocolate in abundance.

A violin prelude to help us prepare.

Gathering around the grieving. Witnessing sweet support.


Deep inhale of cold night air.

A sunny little daffodil in February.

Lungs, legs, knees, and feet that keep going. Cold sunrise training runs.

My new bright and clean and long-awaited kitchen backsplash.

Reading and learning about some amazing women... Katharina von Bora Luther and so many other
women of the Reformation.

Finding a spot of warm sun to sit.

Hearing the voice of a faraway friend, soon to be here again.

A family valentine dinner out.

Our marriage. So, so thankful.

Sundays. Morning worship followed by an afternoon enjoying a neighbor's hospitality followed by evening worship.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My 21-Day Challenge

Right after Christmas it all started to get to me. Those areas of the house that are neglected week after week because they're not a part of the regular cleaning schedule were becoming harder to ignore. There is the cluttered bookshelf, the sloppy linen closet, the crumbs in the corners of the kitchen drawers, the out-of-control junk drawer, and many other "areas" that would benefit from a few minutes of attention.

So, I made a list. I walked around the house and wrote down every place that needed to be weeded/organized/cleaned. Figuring about 30-45 minutes for each area, it worked about to be 21 tasks. And February has 21 weekdays. Perfect.

For those who know me, you are likely not surprised that I am LOVING this 21-day event. My idea of a perfect lazy day at home is organizing a closet. Thankfully, I have a family that keeps me balanced and encourages me often to engage in "normal" family fun activities.

There have been a few unexpected projects and just plain busy days so far this month, and a few days have not met the 'challenge.' But I'm hopeful the list will still be complete by the end of the month.

The List:
  1. the secretary desk - clean out and organize
  2. school room bookshelves - weed and organize
  3. desk drawers
  4. school room cabinets (left)
  5. school room cabinets (right)
  6. kitchen drawers - weed and organize, wipe clean... maybe vacuum those corners?
  7. kitchen cabinets - weed and organize, wipe clean
  8. kitchen cabinet doors - wipe clean
  9. fridge - weed and clean, all shelves and drawers
  10. TV cabinet - organize and weed DVDs
  11. Hannah's closet (with her help)
  12. Will and Peter's closets (with their help)
  13. medicine cabinets - clean shelves, weed, organize
  14. master bedroom closets
  15. hall linen closet - linens
  16. hall linen closet - toiletries
  17. cleaning supplies - weed and organize
  18. basement homeschool storage - what to keep?
  19. basement craft cabinet - seriously weed and organize
  20. basement home decor cabinets (vases, candles, etc) - weed and organize
  21. basement extras - bed/bath/table linens - weed and organize
Oh, and there is an added rule to this list. I will not go to The Container Store and buy stuff to organize my stuff. I will make due and be resourceful. No excuses.

Both my husband and I don't hold on to much (our basement would tell you otherwise), and we are keen on simplifying and controlling the clutter before it enters the house. Somehow it still gathers... and multiplies. I think I'll do this 'challenge' or something like it regularly - maybe twice a year - just to keep things under control. And, let's be honest, because I love it.

A couple before and after shots. I wish I had taken a picture of all that was thrown away!

before: the desk drawers
This is embarrassing. And why in the world do I have so many Sharpie markers? I found a separate box for them. So many of these items have no business being in these drawers.

after: the desk drawers

I found a few box tops in the basement to use as organizers. Yes, that is my old school address book with a rubber band holding all the stuff inside. For me, that book is simpler than entering hundreds of contacts onto the computer.

total time: 35 minutes

before: the secretary desk (by the door catch-all)
Not too bad, but again so much of that stuff doesn't belong there. And so much of it is trash.

after: the secretary desk

That's better.

total time: about 20 minutes

I'll let you know how it all ends and take a few more before and after shots (they do provide a lot of encouragement!).

Want to join me?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Photo Dump

My mom and I had a nice little chat last night. And then, as we were saying goodbye, she mildly scolded me for not posting here recently. Sorry, Mom.

It's just been a busy couple of weeks with a few house projects in process. And I haven't forgotten to share my 21-day challenge. I will. Maybe tomorrow. But tonight, I need to get some photos up here - however random - before I get call from Mom.

Confession: Yesterday (Valentine's Day) I didn't take a single photo. None of the lovely treats we made. None of their little class parties. None of our family dinner out. Nothing. I'm really slipping here.

Here is a (very) little of what we've been doing....

We took the kids ice skating a couple times. I sat in the stands with a book. The last time I skated was probably 11 years ago. And it really didn't end well. Maybe next time I'll get out there. Or maybe I'll save the $9 and go to Starbucks instead.

Hannah and Will caught on quickly. Peter was happy to find those walker-looking supports. Yes, this was their first time. Somehow I missed (maybe avoided) having them learn this very important childhood skill.

Will's class celebrated the end of their unit on modern Japan with a Japan Day Celebration. His teacher had a kimono for each of them. Here they are singing to us in Japanese.

The feast was impressive. Will's favorite food is sushi, so he was in heaven.

Will and Peter's classes celebrated the 100th day of school last Friday. Peter needed to bring in a project made with a hundred of something. He chose marshmallows, and then suggested we make a hundred snowmen. We settled on fifty - using a hundred marshmallows.

Will needed to decorate a shirt with a hundred of something. Was there any doubt what he would chose?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

'Round Here

Forgive me, but I've been soaking up the spring weather were having in DC. Daffodils are coming up in my yard. Seriously.

Blogger is telling me this is my 500th post! That's just crazy.

Um, there is just not much to report. So, here's a catch-up post about nothing in particular.

On my to-do list...

I think we may cancel cable. I've been trying to figure it all out... Roku, digital antennas, Netflix and Hulu on the TV. I am positive we are paying too much and we. never. watch. it. The reason we keep cable: Sports - football and soccer mainly. Pretty sure there is another way to get those games, I just don't know what it is yet. The only show we watch is Downton Abbey (you watch it, too, yes???) and it's on for a few weeks on PBS. PBS... why again do we have cable? Oh, and I have big concerns about no cable and the upcoming Summer Olympics. Anyone care to help me figure this out? Have you made the switch?

Also, I have picked up the phone four times to dial The Washington Post and cancel our subscription, only to lose my nerve and put the phone down. I can't let go. My husband has switched to reading the news online and keeps urging me to do the same. There is just something about having the paper on the counter every morning. Never mind the fact that I often have to keep it face down because the front page photo is so gruesome or just plain frightening. Oh, and there is that I only very occasionally read more than the front page headlines. Sigh... I really should just cancel it.

I've created a little 21-day challenge for myself. Today marked the first day. It's all about cleaning out and getting organized. It's embarrassing how much I love things like this. Stay tuned... I'll post more details soon.

AND I'm in the process of renewing my passport! My wonderful husband is whisking me away to Italy for our 15th anniversary! Just bought the tickets! Romanticismo!

What we're reading...

Just finished Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld. It was a library copy and I was tortured by not being able to write in it. I buying my own copy. Great, insightful read with many practical helps.

I'm reading Pinocchio to the kids at night. So there has been lots of laughter and "Please, just one more chapter!"

On my nightstand... an old, beautiful copy of Smoky House by Elizabeth Goudge and Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Mahaney and Whitacre (I can't believe I'm starting to read books like this!).

In the Word... personal - Judges (instead of a daily reading plan this year, I decided to go straight to the books I feel I know the least), for my women's group study - The Gospel-Centered Life.

Spelling Bee lists! My word-loving fourth grader is preparing to compete in the school bee. She is truly in heaven studying all these words. And I'm so very thankful for the dictionary/pronunciation app on my phone (which I have to pull out more than I care to admit while quizzing her).

Lastly, have you read this Newsweek article? Good stuff.

Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education


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