Monday, April 27, 2009

Things I'm Loving

:: the prospect of planting all these lovelies today

:: the new blue in the office (/sewing room)

:: homeschool

:: discovering the trunk of a once shrub-inhibited tree

:: a freshly planted seed bed

:: new drapes for the bedroom - at long last

:: the sight of a weeded bed (now for edging, planting, and mulching)

:: lesson plans

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thirty Somethings

I love being a thirty something. I loved being thirty the minute it happened, although I was not prepared for the drama that would ensue. Everyone has a different story, but it seems to follow the same basic plot line: mini mid-life crisis. I share this post in the hopes that all of us early-thirty-somethings will find some solace in knowing that we are not alone as we find ourselves suddenly trying to figure out who we are, and then decide if we still want to be the person that we were, or someone new entirely.

When I turned thirty I expected to have it all together, after all, I was an adult - a real adult. I think most of us remember our parents in their thirties. They represented stability and comfort and wisdom. I think that I thought I would suddenly be all of those things when I hit the third decade of my life. To my shock and surprise, I was even more confused about everything than I normally am because there was this sudden pressure to be all put "together".

After a solid year of soul searching I figured out I was just fine to begin with, but now I need to put on a touch more blush (why does the color leave our cheeks???), and start thinking about preventative maintenance for my crow's feet. After talking to girlfriends and following a few good blogs, I realized this "thirty freak out phase" is just a little chapter in a woman's life (particularly full-time homemaking mommies who are desperately seeking validation for the past seven-plus years of diaper changing and piles of laundry that have only gotten larger and more frequent over the years).

Here are the good things that have come from my mini-mid-life crisis:
1. I dress better (no more looking like a sleep-deprived college student who is just trying to make it to her lab on time).
2. The chance to seriously self-reflect and figure out who I really am and who I really want to be.
3. FRIENDS! Why does it feel like I never had them before?
4. I have learned the power of honesty with others - I don't have to be perfect - in fact nobody likes perfect people (hence the discovery of point #3, I think).
5. I like me - even with all of my imperfections. They make me who I am and give me a starting point for all that I want to become.

Those are powerful gifts and, believe me, I have paid a dear price. The happy thought is that we are all in this together (do I hear High School Musical in the background?). I guess I just want to assure each of you that you are not alone (do I hear a Michael McLean song in the background?). This process can be hard and lonely, but it can be the greatest stepping stone if you choose to make the most of it, and not simply try to wait it out. Discover yourself and all that you can be (do I hear an Army recruiting song in the background?). (Oh, my, make me stop!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Power of A Dream

If you haven't seen this, you have got to check it out. Anything I say will pale in comparison to simply experiencing this video.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Decorating Woes

Our new house is finally starting to feel like home (thank goodness). But I am running into a few, serious problems. They are related to decorating. You see, I have spent the past 10 years occupying a modest-sized square footage. Suddenly, we are in a much larger home that requires much larger things to make it look like everything is in scale. Case in point: The photo below is of our previous home. Due to size, ceilings lines and walls, the pictures going up the staircase filled the wall in a lovely manner (you must look beyond Djeryd's Christmas-morning smile).

In our new house the entire staircase is visible upon entry into the house. The ceilings are extremely vaulted, and there are actually more stairs in the staircase itself. Suddenly my once opulent-feeling (at least to me) framed photos look like tiny squares on an immense, blank checkerboard. So it's off to the store to buy larger frames, and off to Costco to get all the prints blown up bigger.

The entire house is like this - bigger. My tables look small, my vases and mirrors and general decor look small. I resent the idea of purchasing items simply to be big space fillers. I really like the furniture we have carried around from house to house over the past decade and I don't want to part with most of it, but it looks silly in its miniature-ness.

Now you have all seen a little peek into the real me. The me who has a brand new, beautiful, huge house, and blessings pouring over her head; yet spends all of her time complaining that her stuff just doesn't "look right" anymore. In the book, The Millionaire Next Door (an excellent book - I highly recommend it), they discuss this phenomenon and how it effects an individual's ability to acquire wealth. If you buy a gorgeous new rug for the living room, suddenly all of the surrounding furniture looks pretty crummy - so you buy new furniture for the living room, and then the dining room looks crummy. Before you know it you've bought a house you can't afford in the Hamptons to hold all of your impressive belongings, that then have to be re-updated because now you are living in the Hamptons.

I'm certain most people would not care if their picture frames and end tables looked strangely out of scale. They would either not notice, or decide they don't care. Not me. I have the care-too-much-about-things-being-beautiful gene. And it drives me crazy every time I stare at one of my new walls. But, of course, it's not polite to stare.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventures in Painting

A picture is worth a thousand words. What do you think of the one above? Let's just say Anna and Grandpa Wilcox got a little out of hand horsing around Saturday night. Anna fell - splat! - right into a full paint pan. She was dripping with paint, so Daddy decided to make the most of it - all over the dining room wall. Ah, memories. ;>

Here is the first of many "Before and After" photos of our new home. Above is a corner of the family room. Below is the finished corner, painted a beautiful butter yellow. It is like walking through sunshine.

And here is our beautiful Annabelle in her new pink Easter dress in our new yellow entry hall (consider it the second "before and after").

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Lesson in Washing

Today marked a special first in the lives of my young children. Today was our first combined homeschool day with their cousins. Once a week (so goes the plan) we get all of our kids together for their homeschool lessons. This is the day we do science experiments and book reviews and dramatization and things that are just more fun with more kids. I feel so blessed to live close enough to my sister, and to finally have all of our kids in homeschool (at the same time), to be able to do this for my children and hers.

One of the highlights today was Erik's hand washing experiment. I encourage you to do it with your children sometime, especially if they are insistent on using cold water (and cold water only) to wash their little fingers.

First Erik instructed his two volunteers to cover their hands in shortening to represent the naturally occurring oils on their hands. Next, he sprinkled nutmeg over their hands to represent germs and had them rub their hands together until they were full of brown speckles.

Step three was the girls washing their hands - Emma in cold water; Alena in warm water with soap.

The last step was to wipe their hands off onto a clean, dry paper towel. The results (and contrast) were obvious. An interesting observation was that "germs" that were on Emma's towel could easily be wiped off onto Alena's clean hands. Hence it is important that all family members learn to wash their hands properly and towels are laundered often (the environmentalist in me cannot justify the excessive, wastefulness of using paper towels every time one washes their hands - save the planet!). Three cheers for science! Now, go wash your hands.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Screamin' Family Night

I scream, you scream! We all scream for ice cream! Three cheers for the most glorious weather we have experienced in six months!!! Monday was an absolutely gorgeous day over here in the Pacific Northwest. I donned a skirt and spent most of the day wandering barefoot around my newly acquired yard. The kids played outside almost the entire day. It was seventy-five with clear, blue skies, and completely beautiful.

Sean called me at about three in the afternoon and said he wanted to eat dinner outside. Wahoo!! Djeryd and I drug out the dining room table (I am seriously amazed we did not break a leg off trying to turn it on its side, and then back upright). I pulled out tables linens and beautiful dishes and porcelain pitchers, and laid a lovely table in the bright sunshine for all the soccer players to see (I'm actually sort of getting used to the countless people staring into our yard and home from the fields behind our house - yikes!).

We had our Family Night lesson around the table, and played soccer once the city teams cleared out of "our" backyard. Graham cracker ice cream sandwiches seemed the perfect accompaniment for this most perfect of evenings. Look at the blue of that sky. Money can't buy an evening like that.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Little Loves

My dear, little nieces came to play the other day and wound up laboring beside their mother and I in painting my bedroom. They worked so hard and were very eager to show off their paint roller skills. They entertained me with stories and songs and just their sweet company. I am such a lucky aunt (and my sister is such a good mama in raising these wonderful girls).

The heat went out a whole five days into our living in our new house. Thank goodness we have a gas fireplace and the house is well insulated. Djeryd curled up under a blanket by the fire to do his school work that day. I love observing him absorbed in a task.

And Mister Energy Erik came bounding downstairs this morning looking to help me make breakfast for the family (a weekend luxury in this house). He did everything I asked and stayed on task with a bright, beautiful smile on his face. Could I possibly ask for more?

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Things I'm Grateful For:

:: Life cereal
:: the fabric store - with my sister
:: good health
:: a red bedroom - once again
:: a nice, new toilet
:: Sean
:: a paintbrush - actually lots of them
:: homeschool
:: dentists
:: cook books - good ones
:: General Conference
:: faith
:: and hope
:: and charity

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Where I've Been

Several months ago, Sean and I reserved a beach house for a week in March. Little did we know when we made that reservation it would be the calm before the storm - of moving, that is. It was very restful. Thankfully the rain stopped for a day and we actually got down to the beach to explore and take some beautiful pictures. So that's where I was two (or was it three?) weeks ago.

Then we spent an entire week preparing our new house for moving into. The following Saturday was a whirlwind and much longer than I remembered our last move to be (could it be the entire week prior to moving day on top of moving day?). Because my mother-in-law was moving the same day and my sister had her wisdom teeth pulled two days before, my mother was my one solace throughout the tumultuous day. She was an anchor of support and love and I dread the thought of living that day without her. (You see, Sean was busy moving both us and his parents.) By the end of the day we had the kitchen mostly assembled and dinner bubbling on the stove (we have had spaghetti for our first meal in every house we've lived in so far, complete coincidence). My dad brought pie and ice cream, and we had a ray of sunshine and hope as the sun was setting.

Of course everything needs to be painted and decorated. Boxes need to be opened and purged, and what's left needs to be fit into the space in a beautiful, orderly manner. We are taking it a day, a room, a box at a time.

What you see below is my favorite paint in the whole world - may it cover my home! I will be posting little room-by-room makeovers (because stuff like that makes me happy). Stay tuned. . . . Oh! And it's good to be back.

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