Oh, it’s been a good week! A busy, fun-filled week!

It started out last Friday with a weekend getaway with my husband and me – something we haven’t done in far. too. long! A weekend with no schedules, no deadlines, no responsibilities, no children… Those kinds of weekends are every-few-years kinds of weekends! Just so fun!

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[front door wreath]

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[front porch table]

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We returned home on Sunday, and some dear friends from Ohio stayed with us for a few days. We all enjoyed our “COM-pa-nee” [Zoe’s term of endearment for them) so very much. You know how some people you just love hosting and some people you just can’t wait for them to leave [though you’d never say it aloud]? Well, these were definitely the stay-as-long-as-you-want-cuz-we-couldn’t-get-tired-of-you kind of friends…

And now, it’s just our little family, soaking up the 70′ weather. Yep, that’s s.e.v.e.n.t.y. degree weather. We had a cold spell the beginning of this week, but that didn’t stick around long… I’m already seeing visions of the air conditioner running on Christmas Day, and I can’t say I’m too thrilled with that idea. I’ve been going back in the photo archives [definitely glad I paid an arm and leg to rescue pictures] and just gazing at snow pictures from a trip up north last winter. I just feel a little snow deprived right now! :)

[music room mantel]

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So, about looking like Christmas… The house is all decorated, the fireplace has been keeping us cozy if we’re in the living room on chilly days [which is needed, because the term “drafty old house” has definitely taken on new meaning since we live in the Cottage].

[the little tree in the girls’ bedroom]

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But somehow, I was telling my husband last week, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas. I was explaining to him how the whole month of December normally has this aura about it – a festive feeling the whole month long, just a happiness. It just, well, feels like Christmas. And somehow, this year, it doesn’t.

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He kinda chuckled when I was finished with my long explanation, and I looked at him extremely puzzled. “You’re just so funny,” he began [which I’m glad he didn’t end there, because wives don’t like to be told they’re funny if they’re disturbed about something], “you’re all about the Christmas spirit for weeks and weeks, and me? Well, I just like to get together with family on Christmas Day. That’s all I care about.”

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At least I understood where he was coming from. Maybe my expectations are still that of a little kid. Christmas was my most favorite time of the year as a child – not that we even received a lot of gifts, but we did all kinds of fun things, went to lots of Christmas plays and programs and concerts, baked dozens of cookies, visited elderly people… Maybe I’m just expecting a childhood Christmas even now that I’m an adult?!

Or maybe I’m expecting a perfect world, like my world felt when I was a child? And right now I am very aware of an imperfect world.

Yes, in some ways I feel incredibly blessed, and in other areas I have such a longing for Heaven for when everything will be absolutely perfect. No pain, no sadness, no separation in death or relationships.

[Christmas carolers, minus poor little brother who has only shoes]

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So last week we invited an older man to eat supper with us, someone who has lived a very sad story of a life. He’s someone Ben and I want to especially care about this Christmas, in different ways. And I think we need to do more of that kind of thing – to not just interact with people who have happy stories and have something to give me in return. For me to realize that Christmas isn’t just about festivities, but about Jesus coming to save the world… And for me to brighten my little corner of the world…

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Because, you know, Christmas isn’t about me and my childhood memories, however delightful they are.

[pillows I made for the living room, inspired by Pottery Barn]

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Christmas is about Jesus,
and sharing Jesus with people who don’t know Him…

It’s about getting to know HIM –
whether He chooses to reveal Himself as
Savior,
Sovereign God,
Holy Father,
Redeemer…

‘Sovereign God’ is how I am learning to know Him right now.

Some years it feels like the ‘Sweet Baby Jesus’ learning center.
Now it’s about His Sovereignty.

   _________________________________________________________________

Along with that, I love to decorate the house for Christmas. This year it didn’t seem to “flow” like it did sometimes, but still, fun. I should have gotten pictures of the girls diving into my boxes, and the disaster for half a day – a whole day?? – before we finally got a bit of order. Because these pictures show everything once it’s in place, and well, it doesn’t really look that way for long around here. Two little girls, a father, and mother, make a house look very “lived in” quite quickly. :)

I was reading somewhere about adding Christmasy touches in unexpected places, like the kitchen, or the bathroom. I liked that idea, and added just a few simple things…

I mostly decorate with greenery – cedar and pine. It makes a mess by January but I LOVE how it smells and it makes everything seem so cozy!

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[this makes me go, “EEEEeeee, too much bling-bling.” But it stays nonetheless.]

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The dining room:

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I made a mini-garland for the curtain rods, with hanging ornaments. These almost blend into the wall too much, but it sparkles and adds just a bit without overpowering.

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girls bathroom:

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This was inspired by my friend, Bethany, who is an amazing floral designer. She just goes outdoors and finds all sorts of nature and brings them indoors. This is bark with dried moss that I found around our property that I just loved!

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Master bath:

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Master Bedroom:

little snips of greenery…

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A Christmas stocking hanging on a coat rack, now turned hat rack. I have a fetish for hats.

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Living Room:

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The nativity set. Within eye-sight of the girls. I must say too, Mary and the wise men have quite the conversations, courtesy of Zoe’ and her wild imagination.

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This is the only snow found in the state of ________, unless someone else uses faux snow. :) Zoe’ thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. :)

Pottery Barn sells it for $12.99 for a bag. Target sells is for $1.99 for the same size bag. Just in case someone else wants some – don’t want you to be ripped off like I almost was! :) You know, fellow bargain-seeker here…

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Did you notice that I now have a mantel for the living room here?? Very simple and rustic, but definitely easier to place things on the shelf without my items feeling very precarious.

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[yes, that is a c.a.t. in the house. he normally stays outside, but it was so cold the beginning of the week we felt so sorry for him… and he gladly took up the offer]

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And that’s a little house tour for ya!

Enjoy your Christmas, but most of all,
enjoy JESUS…

love,
clarita

 

 

 

Lest you think I dropped off the face of the planet, well, I almost did.

A week with no internet in today’s cyber world feels like falling off the planet. :)

I actually kind of enjoyed it though. And was amazed at how much time I had! I read a whole book, and am partially through two others. That usually takes me a month. That was a rather sobering thought for me though, and now that I have the computer back I’m determined to gage my time better online… I want my children to remember me for fun things (reading books to them and me, baking, playing…), not for sitting in front of the computer…

But our computer got MORE viruses (yes, we did have anti-virus protection that we actually paid a lot of money for, thus all the more frustrating), and after a week I went in to receive an overhauled computer. I walked in, handed him an enormous wad of cash (he only takes cash, smart guy) and said, “Here’s our life savings.”

See, the week before when the computer got viruses, it was a simple matter. A hundred dollars, but still, simple. And I did back up alllllllmost all the pictures the very minute of opening the screen. Except a few. The few that wouldn’t fit on my memory stick. But I thought I at least had a week to get a new stick. Bad thought.

This is one of the pictures I would have lost, and it was just too much. So, you could say, this is my
$400 picture of  Olivia at the Zoo.

[unedited, since I haven’t loaded that program back on yet]

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Everyone probably wonders why I didn’t just let the pictures go into the lost world of cyber space, but this day at the zoo was just too fun. I’m too sentimental, I know, but the sight in my memory of a little girl toddling around with two little piggies, a monkey backpack (please don’t call it a leash), saying, “UH! GOOK (look)!!” all day was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

And I could not bear for the actual pictures to be lost. I think I’ll learn my lesson now about backing pictures up… :(

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So, that, and a week in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving is why I seem to have vanished.

[Zoe seems to take nice photos… :)]

for audrey

Today is a lazy morning… I woke up to a fire that my husband built in the living room before he left for work at 6AM (!!), and to me, that is one of the very nicest things he could ever do for me.

If you’d come to my door now (yes, it’s lunchtime) you’d think we all just woke up, because we’re still in jammies, every one of us girls. :) But that’s the fun of Mondays, right? :)

And after we get dressed, we’ll head out the door to the country and the Christmas tree place to gather greenery to finish up the Christmas decor… And I’m happy it’s actually COLD this week. There is something about 70 degree weather, barefeet, and open doors that don’t really feel that Christmas-y! :)

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And  a happy start to a week to you all! May Jesus walk with you through every moment…

~clarita

 

 

This is a post that dwells on the delightfulness of my children. :) Little snippets of life over the past few weeks. It’s not all catastrophic. :)
Sometimes I have to remember that!

[the most colorful tree is all the county is in our front yard]

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You know, there are some weeks where I look back at journal entries I’ve written about my children… and just smile to myself…

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Such as this one from a few weeks ago:

“I am absolutely LOVING the stages right now with my girls. They play together so well most of the time… ” [!!!!]

And then the opposite not too many days later:

“Zoe’s question to me yesterday: ‘Why are you not happy, mommy?’ I had been impatient with her last night, and honestly, quite a bit yesterday. It my paint day to finish up some things, and she wanted to be omnipresent, right there all the time, sticking fingers into everything. I became easily frustrated. Thus was her comment to me after she asked the zillionth question of the day. I had also just said I had a headache, and she kept on talking… ‘Why do you have a hea-gache? Maybe you have a hea-gache because you weren’t nice to me. Sometimes *I* get hea-gaches when I’m not nice to people.’ I sat there wincing. Ouch, ouch, ouch…”

Children are ever so extremely convicting.

[most of the fall/autumn scape is only brown.]

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And a few days later:

“And my girls… I am just having love fits over them! They’re soooo CUTE!! Yes, they do have their fighting episodes… but right now they’re both SINGING at the top of their lungs – madeup songs by Zoe, while Olivia belts along with her. Off-key, of course [Olivia], but precious as can be! Life is good, life is sweet. Very, very sweet.”

It’s the life of a mother…
Learning to run to Jesus at all moments –
the happy ones,
the ones that feel like we can’t make it through,
the ordinary moments,
the exciting moments.

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It’s a good life. It’s a sweet life. Very, very sweet. :)

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The vocabulary of a three year old. It’s delightful.
It’s confusing.
It’s creative.
It keeps me laughing. :)

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This was the “chump,” “ponk,” “tingernails,” and “little mommy” that my title says. Yes, I’m getting to it eventually! :)

According to Zoe’s usage of these words, here are the definitions:

Chump” – to cut up in little pieces, or to flatten something with repeated motion
         example:  “I want to chump that egg in the pan.” [to flatten the yoke with tiny pricks]

Ponk” – to poke at, to prod with a finger
         “I ponked the kitty when I was outside.”

Tingernails” – a combination of fingernails and toenails
          “I want to paint my tingernails.” [hey, saves time smooshing them into one word!]

Little Mommy” – her phrase when referring to or talking to me
         “Don’t worry, Little Mommy. I’ll take care of it!” [when I spilled chicken and juice all over the kitchen floor]
     or
          “Little Mommys, like you, really, really, really, love Jesus…” [she told me at naptime, and melted me in a puddle, because I feel like the past few weeks I’ve been an epic disaster as a mother. somehow she sees Jesus in all that?! it must be only God!]

When I was big and you were little…”
           After noticing a ruffly shirt I wore one day, “Ooooh, that’s sooooo cute! [pondering a moment] When I was big and you were little, I made that shirt for you!”

There are many times when she refers back to “when I was big and you were little”… There are times when we are almost worried about her living in an imaginary land, but you know what? She’s three, and she has a great imagination. If she’s 8, or 10, or 15, and still lives in an imaginary world, THEN I might be worried. But now, I just love the imagination. Hey, it keeps me laughing!

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Her little baby doll is also part of the imaginary world. Or no, let me re-phrase that: her baby doll is actually part of the real world. Truly, her baby is so real to her, it tickles me to death…

One evening we were entertaining guests, and they wanted to look around the house a bit while dinner was being finished up. I suddenly heard Zoe’ just waaaaaaaiiiiiiiiilling and she can running full-tilt into my arms, sobbing so hard she could hardly talk. I finally got her to calm down and she told me, “My baby is sleeping in your bedroom, and there are people going in there and I don’t want her to wake up!!!!!!!”

And the other evening we were driving down the road with the kids. An exasperated Zoe’ handed her baby to me over the seat, saying, “She’s SOOOO WIGGLY!” :)

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And after a great Sunday afternoon and evening at home, playing memory together, a fire in the fireplace, reading books, she prayed,

“Dear God,
thank you for this
very very very very very
SPLENDID day…”

Melt me in a puddle. That’s what really matters to a child.
Time. Love. Enjoyment of each other…

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Zoe’s stack is the biggest. Yes, she won.
If you can call peeking-at-6-cards-during-one-turn winning. :)

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She was quite pleased.
And I shan’t tell who those other respective stacks belonged to.
Because of all due respect, of course. :)

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If I thought last week was falling down around my ears, this week was catastrophy.com. For those of you who have facebook, you may have seen my agitated and distraught post one day this week.

Monday morning started out with my camera sitting on the floor awaiting the weekend’s pictures to be uploaded to the computer. Olivia walked by, picked up the camera, and threw it on the hardwood floor. Cameras are no-no to begin with, and throwing cameras? Most definitely a no-no. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized my best camera lense was completely broken in half. It’s my 50mm lense. No, not professional, I’m not professional, but it’s my favorite one to use when I’m taking pictures. I went into the bathroom and locked the door before I said or did anything unkind to my semi-innocent 17 month old daughter! It seems as though the camera lense is ruined. I’m still going to check with a camera shop to make sure that they can’t repair it, but there are broken pieces and I’m very doubtful of recovery.

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Monday night I was working on editing Christmas pictures on the computer. After I was finished, I turned off the computer for the night and went to bed. The next morning I turned the computer back on, and the wallpaper was different. I was going online to print out coupons before going shopping (yeah, trying to get back into that again!), and noticed all my favorites in my favorites tab were gone.

To remove several unneeded paragraphs, my computer looked wiped clean – everything from favorites to files to documents to pictures. It was unbelievable.

After calling Husband, we both agreed that a computer repair shop was in order. After running into the bathroom, shedding a few tears, and putting on my face, I immediately ran over to the smokiest, stinkiest, dirtiest computer shop in town. After describing to the tech what had happened, I told told him I need a miracle worker.

I awaited in great suspense throughout the next 24 hours until the much-longed-for phone call. I had approximately 80-90% of my pictures backed up, but nothing since August, which is really really bad. And no files backed up for the Bible Study I’m doing. I was thankful I had backed up as much as I had, but the remaining 20% was enough to send me for counseling if it wouldn’t be able to be recovered!!

Throughout the next day before the phone call, I kept talking to God about this…
Telling Him how sacred my pictures are to me. That other than people, they mean more to me than almost anything else because they hold so many memories. That I don’t want the last 3 months of my children’s lives to be lost just because I didn’t back up my pictures.

And also telling Him that I don’t want my pictures to be my idol. And that somehow, if He chooses to allow all those to be erased, that He will get me through it. Without a mental breakdown. He will still be good. Wow, how my heart was tested as I thought of all this, and pledged Him my love regardless.

And finally the call came. Talk about stomach-churning when I realized who the call was from. After great gulps of air, I talked to Mr. Smiley (really) and he told me the amazing news that everything was INTACT; what had happened was that our computer had gotten 2 viruses that had moved and hid all the files/documents/pictures, but everything was still there.

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I could not get done voicing my gratitude. The dirtiest, smokiest, dingiest computer shop in town was also the most wonderful, in my opinion. I didn’t know how to thank him enough!

He could not get done exclaiming how many pictures I had. “You have an astronimal amount of photos on your computer!” he said on the phone. And when I picked up the computer,  he told me I have the most pictures he’s ever seen on a computer.

Which really made me chuckle to myself, and think what a small town I must live in. And that he must never have worked on a real photographer’s computer, like Marylou’s. :) And that most people in this town really must not take a lot of pictures. Just really tickled me.

So, the first thing I did upon opening up my computer at home, was insert my memory card and SAVE ALL PICTURES. That’s right. I think I’m going to be OCD about that from now on. I do need to get another card, because I wasn’t able to get quite all of them on…

So that was my scare and my happiness for the week…

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After my previous post of talking about mothing, I’d like to say thank you for the comments and support! I think there are so many intentional mothers in my life right now, and I can’t even describe how encouraging that is.

Sure, we ALL have our bad days, with babies playing in toilets, where the house looks like a hurricane hit it, where it seems children cannot get along – you name it! We’ve all got our own nerve-racker, I’m sure! But what I want to hear from other moms is not, “My kids are driving me crazy!!!” [even if we wonder if we are about to lose it sometimes.]

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Rather, I want to hear an honest, yes, this may be a really bad day, and this is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, and I might have been crying over the plate of oatmeal that Olivia threw on the kitchen floor TWICE this morning, and the cup of coffee that she dumped over the jute rug in the living room yesterday,
 [yes, some of last week’s catastrophes continue on] 
but it’s also the most wonderful work we’ve ever been given,
and that we’re going to encourage each other and we’re going to make it.

[little charmer who is so precious and so naughty [without realizing it] these days…]

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We’re going to stand together, we’re going to run to God for ourselves, and for each other. We may have days where we feel like we completely blow it as a mother, but we’re not going to end on that note.  We’re going to get on our knees, beg God for fresh mercy and strength, and try again. These may be some of the more weary years of our lives, but we’re going to take a day at a time, or sometimes one moment at a time, and try to find joy and delight in these days.

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I love to hear from older mothers, those women who have done this before, and are willing to take the time to encourage us younger moms. Women who are humble and yet strong enough to admit their mistakes, and share those with us so that we don’t have to make the same ones. Women who have families I would like to be like when I grow up :) and who are humble and yet strong enough to walk alongside of those just beginning their own families.

Sometimes I wonder why a Ph.D. isn’t required before one begins the career of a parent. Because truly, it is a 24/7 job like none other on the planet.

There is no getting off of work,
there is no calling in sick,
there is no vacation time stacked up,
there are no paid holidays
.

It’s an always and forever job. And we have zero experience upon entering this career. Sure, we may have grown up in a family with a sibling or two or five or ten, which definitely cushions entering the field, and perhaps makes one feel more comfortable initially. But having a sibling, or being a nanny, or working in a child care center, is not even remotely like having your very own child.

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But, I think the reason God allows us into it so green is so we seek Him above all else in raising our families. To where we don’t go to a manuel – we go to God. To where we don’t depend on logic – we depend on God. It really all comes back to God.

 I read a book by Dan Allender a year or so ago, entitled, “How Children Raise Parents.” It sounds like a strange title but it’s an excellent book. His main point was that God uses children to point parents to God like nothing else can.

S. Gingerich said one time [not exact quote, but general idea], “Isn’t it crazy how a two-year old can get a full grown adult to completely lose their temper? How can a little child do that? Who really is the strong one in that situation?” Saying that most adults don’t know how to control themselves in the face of a child who needs discipline, much less control the child, and they’re respond in anger instead.

I’ve been there.

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I look back at my initial theories of child-rearing as an older teenager and even as a young married women. “If they’re good, you kiss them! If they’re bad, you spank them!” Of course I had more ideals than that, but it was basically summed up in those two theories. Let me just say, I wasn’t into motherhood long before I realized this was something much bigger than me! Sometimes when a child is grouchy, what she needs is not a spanking, but a snack, or a nap, or a diaper change, or some tylenol, or a hug, or a story read, or….. I still haven’t exhausted the exception clauses.

But I still stick to my theory that when they’re good, you kiss them. :) And hug them, and love on them, and tell them how happy you are that they’re yours, and rub noses with them, and look in their eyes and say you’re proud of them.

So thank you, my own dear mother, my old friends from way back, my new friends from recent years, my online friends whom I’ve ever met but have been so encouraged from – you all bless me!! THANK YOU. Truly, we need each other. *I* need other women!

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And perhaps one of these days I’ll have a very short and sweet post again. :)

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~clarita

 

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It’s been quite the week at the Cottage @ 341 South.

This time change on Sunday sure seemed to affect us greatly all week, and in not so good ways. The girls are waking up at very early hours, somehow not aware of the blessed time change. This was always the time change I looked forward to all year!

And somehow this is the week for them to spill everything – candle wax all over the floor, an entire glass of milk at a friend’s house, and entire glass of milk at our house. And I KNOW, it’s just milk, for crying out loud.  But somehow milk is not my friend this week. Let’s stick with solids from now on. But then solids crumble in a million pieces, so what’s worse? And then Zoe came running to me this morning telling me Olivia is playing in the toilet with her hands. And Zoe’s been having allergies, which swell her sinuses, which make her semi-deaf to where I feel like I either repeat myself a hundred times to answer her question or else talk LOUD just so she can hear.

I told my husband last night that I think I should just come to expect catastrophes all day with children. Then I won’t be so worked up when it seems like that’s all that happens…

We haven’t had a busy schedule. In fact, I told a friend this week that I’ve been “hermit-ing” after all the busyness of the past few months. So there is really no explanation for a week that feels a bit over the top…

I’ve thought so often of a quote I read on this site several weeks ago. When I read it, it hit me in the depths of my heart and I felt like God was speaking Truth to my heart. Truth that I have had a hard time accepting before this, perhaps. This is the quote:

“I don’t know if most women have given themselves totally to motherhood,
understanding that it will take their all –
their time, body, life, moments, rights, everything really,
to build a godly legacy.
It seems they think their children are “taking up their time”
without realizing that God gave them children in order to provide them
with an eternal work to do –
that it is their best way to influence eternity,
that it is the most strategic work of their lives and will outlive them.”
[Sally Clarkson]

Giving myself totally to motherhood…
Understanding that it will take my all…

I want well-behaved children that are always obedient and never play in toilets and spill candle wax or milk and that play nicely together all the time and that don’t get allergies and are essentially deaf for several weeks a year because of it and that don’t unravel toilet paper for miles and where a potty-trained girl doesn’t still pee herself and another little girl doesn’t eat catfood every chance she gets and where she doesn’t tear pages out of books…

But is that really the full extent of what I want? Is that all? Well behaved children? Is that the epitomy of life?

Elizabeth wrote a beautiful post about children, about what is really important. And it blessed my heart beyond words. It’s worth your time to go read and comment!

And a quote I heard while listening to a sermon from Eric Ludy yesterday while knitting…

“Dependence [upon God] proves it is GRACE that truly saves.”

Because being a mother has made me feel weaker than I ever have in my entire life.
Never have I felt such utter dependence upon God. As in, I will not make it if God doesn’t come through. As in, I can’t do this on my own.
Never have I felt like my own sin shows so blaringly clear.
Never have I felt like I fail so much.
Never have I had to ask for forgiveness so often.
Never have I needed God so much.

And really, I think this is right where God wants me. Where I am desperate for Him. Where He is my life-line, and nothing else comes close to Him. It’s a hard, helpless place to be. And yet somehow I’m believing [or to be perfectly honest, WANT to believe] that it’s a good place to be.

In our weakness, that is when God is strong. Because then God is glorified, not our perfect mothering…

Audrey also wrote a beautiful post about this…

I really wasn’t intending to go into all that, but this has been OnE oF tHoSe WeEkS and my heart is full…

But I feel His Spirit breathing Life into my heart, giving me Grace. And Love in the midst of the mini-catastrophes.

And that is all that I need.
Him. Just Him.

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And on to what I was originally posting about! How these women can think about many things at once…

Quite a few people have asked me about the tissue paper balls, after seeing them on my dining room post.

I work best when seeing things visually, so what follows is a tutorial on making tissue paper balls.

By doing this, I very humbly acknowledge that this is in NO way original to me. This goes way back, probably to my grandparents’ era or older, so I am only passing along information that I learned elsewhere.

When people have asked about how to make the balls, the second question I almost always get is “Is it hard to make them?”

Let me answer that question right off the bat and say that these are so super easy and FUN to make. There are unlimited styles and colors and sizes you can make. I’ve love to see some of your projects!

This girl has made a lot of flowers with the same idea, that are just gorgeous.

And I came across another site one day with some cool ideas as well but can’t find it today. Big help that is, I know…

I love this, because you can use your imagination and just create away!

The Tutorial:

Since I work best with pictures, I’ll show the steps with pictures to show my description.

#1.  Choose a pack of tissue paper that you like, in your preferred color.

tissue paper ball 11

#2. Take a stack of about 10 sheets.
[if it’s square, make it rectangular shaped; square will not work]
Fold, beginning on the shortest side, accordian-style, in about 1-2″ folds, until the entire stack is folded.

tissue paper ball 10

#3. Secure in the middle with a thin wire.

tissue paper ball 9

This is what you’ll have.

tissue paper ball 8

#4. Trim the ends into a round shape or a > shape.

tissue paper ball 7

#5. Beginning on one end, separate each paper from the stack, like so:

tissue paper ball 5

Continue to separate each paper, pulling very gently so it won’t tear.

tissue paper ball 4

If you want a flower, end here.

If you want a ball, keep doing the same thing on the other side, and you’ll have this:

tissue paper ball 3

Super super easy, and it doesn’t take long at all!

The larger your sheets of tissue paper, the larger your ball. And vice versa.

Combine several different sizes like this:

Dining Room7

or different colors and sizes like this:

tissue paper ball 12

tissue paper ball 1

And put large flowers in groupings on your wall,

or hang them from the ceiling (which I’m very extremely doing all over my house)

tissue paper ball 14

in your nursery.

tissue paper ball 13

And that’s it!

Happy crafting!

I’d love to see what you’ve done! Leave me a little linky so I can see your project!

~clarita

 

This was a truly beautiful weekend.

[mosquito-bitten feet in cozy slippers]

autumn 6

The first Saturday home as a family in two months.

[my latest read: The Scottish Chiefs]

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The first fire in the fireplace.

[apparently not too far into my book.
and just in case these pictures speak “perfect day” let me just say this:
it was a truly beautiful day,
but
I had literally 5 minutes of time alone Sunday afternoon
in which everyone was napping at the same time
in which I documented it with pictures.
rare things mean picture documentation.
as much as I would like to say it was a3 hour stretch, I can’t say it was.]

autumn 4

A surprise package in the mail from a sister. ♥

Biscotti baking and pumpkin roll baking.

[my mantel-less living mantel, with teetering decor balancing on the edge]

autumn 7

Time change, which gave us an extra hour Sunday morning
[definitely a good thing. Sunday mornings can be rather harried here].

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[this picture looks very strange to me.
yes, i’m in the south.
sweet tea,
woolly slippers,
and a fire in the fireplace, thank you.]

Happy little girls who were delighted with have several days with their daddy at home.

[headless child pausing a rare, brief instant to allow me snap a picture of her tights]

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Ben’s parents and siblings at home that came for Sunday lunch of a Belizian meal.

Creative little minds who pretend they are making oatmeal on a Monday morning…

Autumn 2

[little bed-heads whose mother failed to comb them]

Autumn 3 Autumn 1

I just want to re-live it again.

Please?

~clarita

 

 

Since My Faire Lady and her two festivals are now over [we did a second with a bit more success than the first – yay!], I have a million projects running through my mind for my house. Okay, so not a million. That sounds juvenile. :)

But a lot. As in, I lie in bed at night,  before I sleep, there visions of interior design projects that run through my mind.  I would love to be an interior designer. At least, that’s what I think from this side. But I’ve never had any formal training other than what I read and observe on my own. So perhaps it’s not as glamorous on the other side as what it seems to be, because I’ve heard interior design is hard work. But I just think it would be so fun to go into someone’s home and beautify it for them.

The thing of finding beauty has been something God has been teaching me, especially the past four years. My years before that were spent in a geographically gorgeous area; the past four years are really not what one would call gardens of any kind. Sure, there are pockets of geographically beautiful land scattered here and there, but one has to look for it. This subject was just brought up to me again within the past few weeks with a few friends and sisters, the subject of finding beauty.

I’ve grown up with an appreciation for beauty – whether it’s architecture [my father is a real estate agent, and as a child I remember driving around dramatic neighborhoods admiring the roof pitch, the color scheme chosen, the angles, the details], landscape, wardrobe/accessories, interior design, floral design… And it seemed that I was simply immersed in beauty for much of my life. I have an uncle who is a phenomenal artist who resides in New York City, I have relatives who are so incredibly gifted in creating beautiful atmospheres and homes and dinners…

Four years ago, when my husband and I moved 800 miles south, I wasn’t prepared for the geographical difference. Where is the beauty?? I would moan to myself. And sometimes I still long for the four dramatic seasons, for an autumn where there is a glorious changing of color, where there is crisp weather for hay rides and barn parties as in my youth. Somehow the 90′ weather of today doesn’t seem too much like autumn. And I really don’t want to run the air conditioner on Christmas day. I really really don’t.

And yet, God is showing me that there is beauty to be found. Granted, it must be searched for. And no, it wouldn’t win world awards or anything like that. Down by the islands, yes indeed.

But even more than that, I often think of the quote by Amy Carmichael, who said,

In acceptance lieth peace.”

It is true, that as long as we are fighting the place that God has put us in, we will not see the beauty. But in the acceptance of His will, there is rest of heart and soul, and there are new eyes to see beauty around us. There is something about that soul peace, that quietness and rest within the depths of who we are, knowing that we are right with God and that we are surrendered to Him.

And also, in the seeking of God Himself, it seems that there are windows and doors that open within us and rivers that flow out of our very soul – expressing His beauty within our lives, and in the way we live our lives. I think this looks different in every person. For some, it’s pursuing dreams, for others, it could be as varied [but not limited to] as: teaching, MOPS groups, photography, orphan ministry, leading women’s ministry groups, interior design, culinary skills, a heart that always seems to notice when someone needs help and knowing how to practically meet that need, people that care well for others, inner city missions and ministries, children’s clubs and ministries, moms meeting together to pray for their public high school children, people who speak words of encouragement… There is an endless list, really. But it seems that is all flows out of a heart who is surrendered and at peace with God. It flows – it is not forced, and it brings blessing… It springs from a heart who is first seeking God; not seeking to be great at any of the above mentioned [and not mentioned] things.

All that to say, I am realizing that as I come to deeper places of surrender with God, that He places a fuller dimension of Himself within me. And it will always continue to be so – there will always be more places of surrender, and until Heaven, I will not experience and know Him perfectly. I wish, but I won’t. That’s one of the many things to look forward to about Heaven!

I think the giftings within us tend to simply flow out of us the more we learn to know God more. I loved this quote by A. W. Tozer that I read the other morning, speaking of that issue:

“Our gifts and talents should be recognized for what they are,
God’s loan to us,
and should never be considered in any sense our own.”
We have no more right to claim credit for special abilities
than for blue eyes and strong muscles.”

I LOVED this quote. Because there are soooo many varied giftings within every person. No two are exactly alike; not one is better than another. But they are all loans from God, to showcase Himself to the people and the world around us. That means EVERYONE has something to offer, no matter what the gifts. If they are from God, they are unique, they are of incredible worth, and they are given for a purpose of showcasing God. Not for any personal credit or discredit.

Those are just a few of my thoughts today…

———————————————————————————————-

And a project…

My husband called me on his way home yesterday…

I said, Um, I was working on a project today.
He said, Okay, what was it?
I said, Uhh, it’s a secret.
He said, Oh really? So what is it?
I said, It’s a secret. But I really hope you like it, because this is irreversible.
He said, Irreversible, huh? So did you paint the piano? Tear out drywall? Paint the ceiling?
I said, Oh no no no, nothing that drastic. But still, rather hard to undo.
He was nervous.

I’m telling you. This husband of mine is a brave one. And he’s really good about letting me act upon my ideas. Even though sometimes he won’t tell me for years later that he really didn’t like that curtain the hallway, and I wonder why he didn’t tell me because it really wasn’t a big deal!

This was my brewing Project Irreversible:

My music tree. I’ve been dreaming of it for months. I needed something beside my mantel and behind the baby grand. And I wanted a tree.

But not a wallwords tree, not a fabric tree, not a painted tree. I wanted something unique. And because this is the music room, and because I dreamt of majoring in music once upon a time…

A very sweet friend sent me a beautifully ancient book of antiqued brown sheet music, and I bought a few more music books off of ebay for a few dollars, thus varying the page shades.

A MUSIC TREE.

projects - oct. 2010 018-1

[I do think I need to move that center bird cage… It hides her too much. And I need to move the paper balls. Leftovers from My Faire Lady that I don’t know what to do with.]

Now that she’s up, I’m not sure I’m quite as in love with her as I thought. [I call the tree a “she” because she is too delicate and fine to be called an “it”].

I’m rather afraid she looks like a giant spider spread across the wall behind my baby grand in the music room. Does she??

She sure was fun to make though. It only look me about two hours.

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But like I told Husband, It’s irreversible. She GLUED to the wall. Taking her off would be a bit difficult.

I do like her. But I know what she is, a musical tree. I just really hope is that a spider on the wall doesn’t pop into people’s minds when they see her.

And directly opposite of her, above the desk is this…

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Husband thinks it’s a slightly an overkill on the whole music idea. Too much of a good thing is too much, that  reasoning? He is probably right. But he is very willing to bear with his impulsive wife. :)

 This wall is just little strips of tape holding these sheets up. I rather like them. As for the desk underneath it, well, that best remains hidden at this point. Too much stuff to clear off of it for a picture. :)

And another little project yesterday: a halter-style kitchen apron. For sale on My Faire Lady on facebook. :)

projects - oct. 2010 003

 

And that’s all for now!

A lovely autumn weekend to you!

Camping is involved in our weekend plans. Wish me forbearance.
Rustic camping isn’t my forte. :)
But happy company is, so that compensates!

~clarita

 

 

This house has been a dream come true for me. After renting a rather dark and what felt like gloomy house for almost four years, I have been so delighted to actually have our own little home! Yes, it’s little. Only two bedrooms, about 1500 square feet altogether. It’s little. But it’s oh, so cozy. And so full of natural light! I LOVE that.  And there is no landlord that says what we can or can’t do. :) Poor husband, now that his wife is let loose!

I felt really stifled in that rental, but you know, I think it was really good for me. For one, it makes our own house so much more special. And two, I think I learned creativity and contentment in a whole new way at the rental house. It wasn’t a natural cute house, so it took a lot of effort to make it cute, without pointing out all the unattractive things about the house. It was a real stretch especially in being content. I can’t say that I mastered that area, but I do feel like the Lord really helped me grow in that. And I keep growing even now.

I think the kitchen in our new house is one of my very favorite rooms. Yeah, well, they’re ALL my favorite. :) But this is especially a favorite. A lot because our rental house had a very very tiny galley kitchen in the middle of the house – no windows, only an overhead florescent light, and if more than two people were in the kitchen it felt overwhelming.

My new kitchen still isn’t large, but most standards. But to me, coming from a teeny kitchen previously, it feels HUGE!

First impressions, though, weren’t very pretty. It was almost the exact colors that were in our rental. Yuck!

BEFORE:

In the middle of January, in 30′ weather, this was very depressing. I had a hard time seeing potential in this place!

Kitchen before 3

Kitchen before 2

Kitchen before 1

Kitchen 38

Brown and yellow put together may come back one day, but I dare say it will not be for me.

We tore out some walls in between the kitchen and dining room and living room. It made the front of the house seem twice as big, and so roomy and spacious. The kitchen was probably the most work out of any other room in the house.

THIS was my kitchen inspiration photo. I think it came from Better Homes & Gardens. My colors and basic theme came from this.

Kitchen inspiration

Of course there are differences   that and MY kitchen – they are two totally different houses! So here’s my version… That cool flooring went in a bathroom instead of the kitchen.

So this is AFTER!

Entering the kitchen from the living room and dining room… Ben added these beams, which came from an old house locally.

Kitchen 6

The hardwoods were refinished, along with the rest of the house. I love the painted floor look too, but it wouldn’t have worked well with our open floor plan.

I made these 12 X 12 burlap squares, thinking they would go by a fireplace, but they seemed to fit here. These are words that describe what I want our home to be like: lots of love and affirmation, peace and comfort and rest, and lots of fun and joy.

Kitchen 35

The chalkboard in the kitchen was an idea I had wanted since years ago – partly for looks, because I think chalkboards are awesome, despite their ever-growing popularity, and partly because supper time can often be a crazy time of day at our house, and I thought this would keep the girls entertained instead of following me around every inch of the kitchen.

If you look on the first picture, it says, “Let’s celebrate Ben!”, from his party back in August. (see how long ago I shot these pictures?) But it’s covered in little scribbles. So yay, my hopes for this area being child entertainment are fulfilled!

Plus, it’s one of the first things you see upon entering the front door, so it makes a fun way to welcome guests!

kitchen 1

For the top of the chalkboard, I dry-brush painted two metal grates that I had found at an antique shop years ago, then tied jute string from one end of the other and clipped pictures of our friends onto it, wash-line style.

Kitchen 5

Entering the kitchen a bit more… Having a window above my sink is dreamy!

And can you believe that Mr. Husband surprised me with this apron-front sink?? I could scarcely believe it when he told me. This is what I really wanted in here, but gracious, they’re expensive. So this is my birthday and Christmas and birthday and Christmas and birthday and Christmas gift for the next decade. :) We tried to justify the $$ because we really didn’t spend that much on the rest of the kitchen. :)

Ben added crown molding on the ceiling, and also on the top of the cabinets to make it look like staggered heights. This side is existing cabinetry, with the doors removed on the top half. We did order all new doors for the kitchen. [side note: we ordered them online instead of in-person, and they were way too “fussy” in real life. I would have preferred something a bit simpler had I known].

The chandelier was a $7 auction find.

Kitchen 7

A close-up of the apron-front. I love this baby! Not only does she look lovely and old and vintage-y…

Kitchen 33

… and fit so well with the butcher block counter top that Ben made out of old 2×4’s out of walls torn out of the house [isn’t that just precious??]…

Kitchen 34

… but it was perfect for bathing little children before the tub was hooked up…

Kitchen 36

… and it’s a perfect height for a little girl who loves to wash lettuce and is always asking to help in the kitchen.

Kitchen 37

One more peek at her. :)

Kitchen 17

Quite frankly, there is nothing I don’t love about this sink!

I chose the rainy-day blue color because I wanted a cool-feeling kitchen. The color is “Kittery Blue” in eggshell finish from Benjamin Moore, but we mixed pure white with it as well to soften it – the color was too bright blue for me.

It is so hot so much of the year where we live, and i didn’t want a “hot” color to where i’d feel like i was roasting along with my dinner. I think this is the reason I chose cooler colors throughout most of the house, which is quite unlike me, really. I have always loved COLOR. And now I still like color, but more splashes of color than rooms of color. Even though I still people’s bright colors and think to myself how lovely it looks and perhaps i should have done that too… :)

Details in the window cupboards… Wanting it to feel cozy, not sterile (though definitely clean!).

I love my open cabinets. It feels so comfortable. Not sure why, but it does. And guests know where my glasses and everything are. No opening five cupboard doors before finding the right one!

My open cabinets were inspired by The Lettered Cottage and A Country Farmhouse in particular, and a few other magazine sources.

Kitchen 13

I had so many white/silver/glass dishes, so I didn’t go out and buy many at all. I did add a few little things I found for a dollar or two at junk shops.

Kitchen 12

Fun little cups I picked up at my favorite little junk shop. These are our chocolate milk glasses. :)

Kitchen 4

These are my fave. So sweet and cute.

Kitchen 23

This mirror was randomly placed here soon after we moved, when we tried to clean up the house one day to get ready for guests. And what do you know, but I really liked it there. So it stays! I dry-brush painted this gold frame, and I love how it made the molding stand out. This is also my little picture board while I’m washing dishes. Seeing happy faces while I’m cleaning up seems to make the job happier!

Kitchen 15

Kitchen 3

This reads, “peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” [unknown] I so often need this reminder!

A container [found at Goodwill – does anyone even know how much I love Goodwill??] filled with glass vases. Sometimes this is emptied out and used at a salad bowl for company. And sometimes the vases are gone and scattered all over the house, holding various flower arrangements and buds.

Kitchen 29

And the third fireplace of the house is in the kitchen. Believe it or not. I can’t wait to use it in the winter! I think I will actually like cooking and baking then!

Kitchen 11

Little girl who follows me around the house while I shoot pictures. :)

Kitchen 10

Kitchen 9

And another look I’ve had on this mantel. It’s fun to change it around a bit, but I know I will not be one of those people who changes their mantels every single season. Because, with 5 fireplaces, that would be 20 different mantel-scapes, and I know is not going to happen here!

Kitchen 31

Kitchen 32

My baking corner. Pretty much all I need to bake with (pans, mixing bowls, ingredients, beaters, refrigerator) is within arms reach.

Before & After 033

Ben also made this concrete counter top. Yeah, he can do pretty much anything he sets his mind to. It all started when we began pricing new counter tops, and were blown away with how expensive they are! My ever-frugal husband began thinking of alternatives to the classic counter tops, and decided to experiment with this. The only cost was a few boards to frame up the counter top and the concrete to pour in it. Very very inexpensive.

People that make concrete counter tops as a business must have formulas and things for different colors. We didn’t, so it was pure experimentation. He added some black dye in the concrete when he first made it, but it only turned it a light grey, and we both wanted a charcoal color. So he rubbed ebony wood stain on top after it was dry, and then sealed it. It turned to the perfect color. I think he’s a genius. :)

Now that we’ve lived with it for a while, I still LOVE it. However, we would go with grout sand rather than concrete sand. It would make a smoother finish.

We searched online for “DIY concrete countertops” and found various blogs and tutorials.

I love the practicality of it as well – my pans can come directly out of the oven and be set on the counter.

Kitchen 25

Ben took away the old yellow vinyl and replaced it with beadboard. I really like this look.

Bamboo and white tongs in one jar, black and stainless steel in another. I’m funny about that.

Kitchen 28

A flat-top stove! Very, very exciting after my vintage model at our rental. :) I kept trying to tell myself that “Hey, vintage is cool!” but I wasn’t able to convince myself. A flat-top feels so clean and I have been loving it! We did get all new appliances in the kitchen.

Kitchen 8

Can you believe that my dear friend Linda found this at a yard sale for TWO DOLLARS, and GAVE it to me?? I couldn’t believe that she didn’t keep it for herself!

Kitchen 2

And now after seeing my perfectly clean kitchen, looking like it’s never used, I’ll clear up that illusion and tell you that this is what it looks like quite often. Almost daily, in fact. Except without the cookies.

Ben made these cabinets on this side, but we ordered doors.

Kitchen 18

And now you know that I live in a real world. :) Yes, I realize it does not look safe for my children to be on the counter. But if you only knew how happy they are to be up there with me, you’d allow it too. And yes, I do stay close by. Except when taking pictures. :)

Once more, before:

Kitchen before 3 Kitchen before 2

And

After!

Kitchen 24

[I think a round jute rug would look so very cozy right in the center of the kitchen, but where do I find one for super cheap??]

Kitchen 7

Kitchen 34

Thanks for taking my little long tour!

~clarita

Sources:
Farmhouse Sink: signaturehardware.com


Blue wall color: Kittery Blue; Benjamin Moore, in eggshell, mixed half/half with pure white trim paint [edit: this is discontinued. the closest thing I could find was ‘Harbor Fog’ by Benjamin Moore.
This Harbor Fog would not need to be diluted or altered; it’s the closest match to the finished wall color that I could find.]


Butcher Block Color:   Waterlox (a food-grade sealer), multiple coats, no poly

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the butcher block countertop through messages, so I’ll answer a bit here:

The kitchen butcher block countertops are made from reclaimed Antique Southern Pine. We then used only Waterlox, multiple layers (like 4-6!) because poly isn’t food-grade safe. The Waterlox does give a water-proof sealant, and also a bit of natural color although it’s not considered a stain. We didn’t use any color/stain on the countertops. The amber color came because of the Antique Pine and combination of Waterlox.


Cabinet color: Dove White, by Sherwin Williams


Floor Stain: Dark Walnut; Minwax


Cabinet doors: cabinet door world