Starting Fresh

After sporadic blogging over the past couple of years, I found myself avoiding my blog altogether.  Often out of being tired enough that I wasn’t sure I could string coherent sentences together, but more so because I’ve just let life crowd out my enjoyment of writing.

So I’m starting over, kind of.  I want to breathe fresh life into this blog.  Really, it needs to be resuscitated– quite possibly with an AED as well as CPR.  So after choosing a new name and a new look, I’m ready to give writing some time again.

I hesitated in picking the word “mundane” to use as in my new title.  While my life is often somewhat repetitive and by most definitions, not super exciting, I don’t exactly consider it dull or lacking interest.  But it does fit in the sense that my life is often that of the everyday, the ordinary.   And then there is the fact that the word “mundane” is becoming more commonly used in many circles, especially it seems, in mommy/women bloggers.  So there’s that.

Oh, and the dancing.  Yeah, that’s not really my gift.  I have decent musicality, I love music and I love to move, but I do not qualify as a “dancer”.  So given all of this, titling this blog “Dancing in the Mundane” may seem a little off.  But to me, it’s perfect. Life isn’t clearly defined by set terms, at least, mine certainly isn’t.  And when this blog title popped into my head, it felt right because it wasn’t a 100% perfect description.   It traces the lines of my life without filling them in, and I find comfort in that.  My ordinary, everyday life is sometimes tedious, often repetitive, and with three children 6 and under, frequently tiresome!  I stay home with my children, which I sincerely love, and on top of that I homeschool, which I also love.  Most days.  And of course, being home with young children does allow for some mundane to creep in.  But I want to dance through it.  Crazy, goofy, sometimes graceful, aspiringly joyful dancing right through the routine diaper changes, the stereotypical-for-a-reason never-ending laundry, the shouts of both frustration and joy when learning something new, and the little arms thrown around me for a hug that can make all the hard stuff worth it.

That is the life I want.  A life that offers praise to God through every bit of it- whether dancing with arms open wide or teeth clenched tight.  And ironically, as I did look up the word mundane with the help of ever-present Google, I learned something else about it.  A secondary definition of mundane is “of or relating to this world or earth as contrasted with heaven”.  One of the first things I hope anyone will realize about me is that I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, so the idea of this world here being mundane speaks to me in a deeper way.  It’s not our ideal, it’s not our final home.  I want to dance through it in anticipation of what is to come, making the most of what CS Lewis called “the Shadowlands” and knowing there is ever more color ahead. I want to redefine a life mundane into a life extraordinary.  Not due to a change in circumstances but due to a change in perspective, in vision, in attitude.  Because, really, life is extraordinary, and those mundane moments are what define it.

Even when I have a toddler that likes to wipe his nose on my shirt.  A lot.

My guest post on Organizing A Homeschool Space

I’ve decided it’s time to start blogging again.  I am nowhere near having this mother of three thing down yet, but I think I can safely squeeze some writing time in more frequently than once every five months or so.  I actually started back a couple of weeks ago when a friend of mine (who is also a professional organizer) asked me to do a guest post on her blog about organizing a homeschool space.  If you are interested in checking out her site and want to find out why I laughed when she first asked, here’s the link! http://getsimplespaces.com/guest-blogger-homeschool-organizing/

 

Holiday Traditions- Part 2

I decided to blog on holiday traditions after our MOPs group came up with a wonderful list of ideas to inspire anyone looking for some traditions to throw into their holiday fun.  They are great ways to make memories and bless your family!

For anyone who is interested and missed Part 1, you can find it here.  Part 1 focused on Thanksgiving traditions- now we are moving onto Christmas!

1) Ornament exchanges.  If you do a Christmas tree, one memorable thing to do is to exchange ornaments each year.  I grew up with my parents exchanging with each other and my brother and I exchanging.  We typically did it Christmas Eve and an added benefit of this as little ones was that it always gave us one gift to open early.  An added bonus of this idea is that when we were both older and starting our own families, we already had a wonderful collection of ornaments to decorate our first “grown-up” trees with!

2) Reading Luke’s account of the birth of Christ on Christmas Eve.  There are tons of variations on this- some families tie this to setting out their nativity set (adding in a new figure as they get to that part of the story).  Another option is to set up the nativity set on Christmas morning- have family members look at the nativity set on Christmas morning before eating or opening gifts as a parent reads Christmas story in Luke. However it is done, it is a great way to keep our focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas.

3) Making Jesus a birthday cake.  We started doing this once we began having children, and it is one of my favorite traditions.  It is a terrific, concrete, and enticing way to help children grasp the reason for Christmas!

4) Speaking of sweet things, one way to bless others is to make an abundance of Christmas cookies, fudge, etc and deliver to neighbors, various local ministries, local law enforcement, and friends.  We like to make cinnamon rolls and share them with others.

5) Getting hot chocolate and riding around to look at Christmas lights.  Or a twist on this…Living by the Light, where one evening, choose to do everything by candlelight.  Talk about the verse 1 John 1:5 “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”  Talk about what life would be like without light, and what life would be like without the light of Christ.  Then get in the car and go look at Christmas lights!

6)  Another one we personally incorporate is giving three gifts per child, to symbolize the three gifts given to Christ by the Magi.  Not only does this also relate directly to why we celebrate Christmas (even though the Magi didn’t visit Christ until he was a couple of years older), but it helps keep the craziness of commercialism down a bit!  There are also variations on this idea (you could do something like a gift to wear, a gift to read, and a gift to play with; or one family does a play off the gold/frankincense/myrrh idea- gold is something to give that is valuable, so something that the child really wants, their heart’s desire; frankincense was a spice used in the temple during prayer and fasting, so this gift could draw the child closer to God- a Bible, a Noah’s ark toy, etc.- myrrh was a fluid used upon death that covered the whole body, so perhaps something like pajamas, a sweater, jeans, etc.). Another idea with gift-giving is to give gifts to various ministries in the name of a loved one- World Vision has a great catalog that explains how you can bless families living in poverty with a goat or cow to provide milk, or hens to lay eggs.

7)  I can’t wait to start this one this year!  25 Names of Jesus for 25 days of ornaments- 1 to hang each day.  The idea is that you either take ornaments and write 25 names that are used for Christ, ie Wonderful Counselor, Alpha and Omega, Rock of Ages, etc.  You can make your own or use store-bought.  I came across this idea at http://www.iammommahearmeroar.net/2011/11/christmas-kojo-designs.html and think it is fabulous!

8) Christmas movie traditions.  This is a common one, as many people and/or families may choose to have certain movies they watch annually, like It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, and so forth. 🙂

9) Another one I hope to start incorporating is that of Christmas Mail: sometime a few weeks before Christmas, family members write letters to each other and use stockings as mailboxes.  Family members read their letters quietly at the same time on Christmas Eve.  Obviously with really young ones this could be tricky, but pictures can be drawn or short letters can be dictated also.

10) For those that are fans of crafting or baking, one tradition that could be fun are incorporating parties with friends as you make handmade gifts.  Bring potluck and enjoy time together while preparing gifts.  Cookie swaps can fall into this category.

And as always, there are many ways to serve others with the love of Christ- mentioned above are giving gifts through groups like World Vision and making baked goods or items to serve to others.  As in the Thanksgiving post, you can invite others to share a Christmas meal with you.  You can visit nursing homes and pass out handmade cards or sing some Christmas songs.  There is such wonderful joy in giving to others, especially to glorify the One who gave all for us.  My family is trying to do a better job of remembering this and putting it into practice!

I’ll stop there to prevent this from becoming way too long! If you want more ideas, a great resource is this site, which has a list of 50 Christmas ideas (some from this site are in my list above): http://www.defrumpme.com/2011/11/50-things-to-do-at-christmas-25-days-of.html

And feel free to share any of your traditions in the comments below!

Our Living Room Project

My husband and I recently decided that while the painting we had had for over 7 years hanging over the couch in our various living rooms was beautiful, it didn’t really reflect our family.  We wanted something with a sense of fun that was also wonderful to look at and something we would truly enjoy seeing on our wall multiple times a day.

As a pinterest fan, I tend to save DIY projects and recipes the most frequently, and I strive to actually do them.  Well, I strive to do some of them- I am fully aware that some of those will never happen. 🙂  One project I did want to tackle can be found here.

I’ve always liked the photo canvas look but never quite could digest the price- or when I did find a good deal, I often didn’t have a great quality picture to upload because so many of the pictures I take are from my phone and the resolution is too low.  When I saw the link on pinterest to Girl in Air’s blog tutorial about her 4×3 art work that cost under $10 to make, I was intrigued and determined to try it!

Knowing that Staples provides 4 x 3 black and white engineering prints for only $4.99 definitely took the pressure off of needing perfect picture quality.  We had gone to the beach recently and had a picture of the kids running towards the waves with that amazing child-like abandon they possess, and I knew that was the picture I wanted for our wall.  Not only does it put a smile on my face every time I look at it, but it reminds me to let go and not be uptight and anxious about things, as I have a tendency to do sometimes.

After picking up our print from Staples, we made sure I had the other supplies we would need like spray adhesive (Loctite), the foam insulation board from Lowes, black craft paint, and the sealant to apply after we had attached the print to the board (Krylon’s “Preserve It”).

Once the kids were in bed and presumably out for the night, Will and I got to work.  The foam board was certainly the most expensive cost of the project (Girl in Air already had the board and we had to purchase ours, so it made our cost go up a bit).  The nice thing about the board is that when you buy a sheet of it you end up with enough to do two “canvases” if you like.  Anyway, Will cut the foam board down to the right size using a razor blade and we then sprayed it down with the adhesive.  (In hindsight, we should have peeled the plastic off the foam board as it makes for a cleaner finish around the edges, but it works with it on also.)

We then CAREFULLY laid the print down onto the adhesive-laden board.  I didn’t have a flour separator handy to use to smooth out the wrinkles so I used my Pampered Chef scraper :).   I can’t remember what random item Will was using in the picture below.

So after smoothing out any wrinkles to our best ability with our random smoothing items, it was time to make the picture look even more like a canvas with a bit of a vintage-y feel by emulating the treatment Girl in Air did and applying black craft paint to the perimeter.  I did this while Will used a roller on the sides to make it all uniform.

After letting the paint dry, our final step was to spray the whole thing down with the sealant we had bought.  Don’t do what we do and skim the directions- really read them! 🙂  This way you will know to hold the picture upright when you spray it rather than laying it down to spray it.  Apparently laying it flat can result in a few water spots.  This was no problem for our picture, as since it is a beach picture, it looks like there was water on the lens and I like the effect!  Anyway, here’s the final product hanging on our wall…

I love how it turned out!

Next on the list is to track down some pretty pillows for our new-to-us sleeper sofa off Craigslist that we got for a great deal and maybe doing a refinish on our floor lamp. Now that the canvas is on the wall, I’m thinking the lamp would look nice with a different metal finish… oh well, one thing at a time! 🙂

Finally! The post about our “new” headboard and other fun things.

Approximately 12 months ago, I began my quest to replace our headboard (the one that I had had from middle through high school) with something more grown-up and, for my husband’s sake, less feminine.  I had started a list of fun headboard ideas in my mind and started at the top.  First up was a fireplace mantle (I wanted an older one big enough to serve as a queen headboard).  I learned over time that finding one that was both big enough and the style I wanted would be too expensive for our budget (which, on a scale of 0-100, was on this side of zero).  Next up was creating a fabric-upholstered headboard.  As I thought about what I wanted our bedroom to look like down the road, I realized this wasn’t exactly the look I wanted.  Third on my list was finding an antique or vintage door that could serve as a headboard.  Given that this search started a year ago and that we actually implemented our plan months ago (ahem, beginning of September), it is a bit embarrassing to just now be getting around to writing this post.  It appears I am not so good at remember to upload pictures, hence the wait…but better late than never!  And I had promised many of my friends that I would do a post on it when it was done.  Or close to done, in our case.

This is the before (please ignore my little boy fast asleep and his little belly)…

I’m sorry I couldn’t find a better before picture of the headboard, but this gives you the idea!  I loved it in middle and high school, because it was unique and pretty.  Will, however, was ready to move on. And having had it for so long, I was as well.

And here is the after…

I looked at a couple of flea markets and couldn’t find the door I envisioned for the right price. I ended up checking out our local Habitat for Humanity and found it.  It was simple with clean lines, and while it wasn’t as old as I had hoped for, I figured with some distressing it would be perfect.  After my husband sawed it down a bit to just the right size, I cleaned it up and decided to go ahead and put it on the wall.  I’m very visual when it comes to DIY projects and wanted to really picture it before we did any more to it.

As I looked at it up there on the wall, I discovered that I didn’t want to distress it any more after all.  A few coats of on of my favorite paint colors (Laura Ashley’s Ivory Glow) and it would be perfect.  Well, that and I’m still looking for the vintage doorknob I have in my mind.

Since getting the headboard up, we’ve gotten some other projects checked off the list as well.  My definite favorite is the project above the headboard.  Will and I debated over what we should put in the empty spot above our bed, discussing framed pictures of landscapes from trips we’ve taken to one big piece of artwork, but we couldn’t quite decide on something.  I’ve been a sucker for vintage windows for awhile now, and had already worked on one that is in our living room.  When a good friend called me and said she had gotten some extra windows and would I like some, I jumped on the offer (thanks again Margaret!).  I had various ideas bouncing around in my mind, but what I wanted to do most was convert it into a mirror.  I wasn’t sure of the best way to go about it and explored how to get glass fitted to the individual panes.  It was then that I discovered this…

Krylon Looking Glass spray paint.  This stuff is great.  If you are looking for a perfectly clear, looks-just-like-a mirror surface, then you may not want to go with this.  But the slightly hazy appearance it gives was perfect for our vintage window.  I love the way it turned out, and as a bonus, the mirror really adds a lot of reflected light and makes our small bedroom look bigger.

Our most recent project then became our curtains.  Oh, sometime I need to blog on our curtain story- craziness (and thanks again Kristy!).  When we first bought this house, I purchased many of our curtains at World Market during a great sale they were having on window coverings.  For our bedroom, we went with some ivory burnout drapes in a jacquard pattern, which were light and pretty and would go with a variety of colors.

This is what they look like:

As time went on, we discovered two minor issues: 1) they let in a LOT of light and 2) we need more color in our bedroom as we also had ivory colored bedding.  We decided to move those over to our office/extra room and after looking for quite a while for some that were both affordable and fit with the warm spice color of our bedroom walls, we ended up getting some gorgeous floral/tree of life patterned ones that add some wonderful color to our room.

So here is our room currently:

I still have some other projects I want to tackle- the doorknob for the headboard, painting our nightstands a matching color (I found our current ones at a consignment shop and liked the fact that they were similar but weren’t identical) and putting a long shelf up between the headboard and our window mirror.  I’m thinking of some whitewashed reclaimed wood on wrought iron brackets.  Something like this

but a bit more simple and spray-painted white.  A shelf would allow me space for books, pictures, or other fun things.

Anyway, there it is.  I enjoy changing things a little at a time and have come to really love filling our home with things that we love and doing so on a budget.  It is stretching my creativity and allows me to dream a bit more than I may otherwise!

Bad mom moment

I totally forgot to mention Asher turned 2 last month (during the blur of the part-time work phase)!  I pledge to blog on this later 1) so that I can record his birthday as all modern day mommy bloggers do, on the Internet of course (note to self- pull out baby book ASAP); 2) so I can share the joy of Asher’s birthday with others, and 3) to assuage my mommy guilt.

Stirring up and settling in…

God has been working on me.  A lot.  I could almost stop this post right there.  (Ha, some of you would probably like that!).  Anyway,  I have been blogging off and on about our adventure in listing our house for sale and our subsequent discovery of a beautiful, run-down and worn-out pre-foreclosure that my heart has been longing for ever since I laid eyes on it.  And, therein has been the problem.  I think my heart started longing for it a bit too much.

When we listed our house, it was entirely on a whim.  I have a crazy habit of scrolling through realtor.com to look at what is out there, especially as I have been bitten by the DIY/decorating bug in the past couple of years.  We noticed that there were some homes that were larger than ours for the same amount of money (or a little bit less) thanks to the sadly booming short sale/foreclosure market.  Will and I did put some prayer into it and felt like we should just give it a shot and see what God does- a couple of days later we talked with the agent whom we worked with on selling our last home and voila!, we had entered MLS territory.

What started as an informal adventure grew into an ache and desire to somehow acquire this home that Will and I both felt was like our dream home.  It wasn’t normally what I would have pictured for myself, and it needs an incredible amount of work, but the potential is enormous and the location would be perfect for our family.  Since it is located in a neighborhood across the street from our church, we would often go by and pray over the house and for whomever is meant to live there, be it us or another family. I had it planned out in my mind’s eye- the front and back yards, the beautiful front room with the two bay windows, a room for homeschooling…knowing how attached I was becoming to the house, I also began praying that God would help me keep my desires in check and remove them altogether if need be.

All that to say– one day, six and a half months into the process of having our home listed, I was outside pushing my 1 1/2 year old in the swing under our big, beautiful old oak tree in the backyard.  My 3 1/2 year old was sitting on the bench swinging her legs and waiting for her turn.  I drank in the moment with all five of my senses and felt contentment wash over me.  I felt something lift inside, and knew then and there that God has answered my prayer.  Not in the way I wanted, but in the way I needed.  While I still love the house that we had been praying over and I would still love to live there, my overwhelming desire for it is gone.

It’s ironic, because before we started this process, I was reading Max Lucado’s Cure for the Common Life– I even wrote a post on it here.  There was an anecdote he shared that has stuck with me, and I remember thinking about it after we listed our house and vowing to keep it in mind.  It was the story of a farmer who decided to put his farm up for sale.  After he wrote out the ad describing his property, he sat for a moment, realizing that he already had everything he was looking for.

When we bought our current home, we were aware that it wasn’t in the middle of town. We knew that sometimes the 20 minutes down I-40 to get to town would feel inconvenient and longer than it really is, especially with two young children.  And we knew that there were things we would someday want to change about the house- like adding on a sunroom or screened porch, adding on more square footage for our bedroom and bathroom, and so forth.  But, we also knew we loved our lot- it is surrounded by old oak trees, other hardwoods, a very nice size, not too close to neighbors, and our house is situated on a small, pretty hill.  We can easily see the stars and it is quiet enough that I can hear the orchestra of a myriad of creatures at night.  It is a small neighborhood with just one street that ends with a cul-de-sac.  The house is quite pretty, isn’t cookie-cutter, and is certainly large enough for our needs, especially with our current family of 4, and will be large enough whenever we grow to five (God-willing).

So yes, it is still for sale, for another month or so.  But I’ve settled into it in a whole new way, and more importantly, this process has helped me settle into God’s will in a whole new way as well.  It’s been painful at times, but He’s using it for good.