Sunday, September 23, 2012

so you buy a fixer-upper

I need one of those meme generators for the following photos; maybe you can just imagine it.

What people think you do when you buy investment properties:
{followed by a light lunch at Salvatore's across the street}
It isn't glamorous and it isn't easy and it most certainly isn't like BH&G TV. 
First of all you quake in your boots with the $ signs attached, even if you get great deals.
Then you crab at each other because the whole process is so stinkin' stressful.
Next, you drive up to your new income generator  paycheck sucker and let me assure you that the thrill of the great deal feels quite different when the keys are in your own trembling fingers.
This is one of the two houses that my land shark hubby just acquired.

I forgot to take pictures of the other house (I will) but this one is more fun because it's just so shockingly awful.  I can't wait to get the after pictures.  Well, really I just can't wait for the after.
So at this point you've already assembled a massive list of what needs to happen to make the place inhabitable, but the fine tuning and arranging of this list begins to sound like an adult version of 
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
First of all we need to roof,
and then we need to side, 
the porches need to be torn off and rebuilt, but that actually needs to happen before the siding.
The windows can be ordered,
and then the doors.
Oh, no, the doors before the siding.
If we do doors before the siding, though, let's convert from 32" to 36" doorways.
After that the electrical guys can come get this ancient wiring up to code and 200 amp service, but that's after we do our own trenching
after we rent a trencher
but before we tear up the back sidewalk. . .
did I mention gutters?
That's just the outside.
Are you tired yet? No?  Good, come have a look at this lovely kitchen.
Please do plug your nostrils.
Who puts carpet in kitchens?  Why?  I will never understand that one.
While I was saying "we'll haul the stove out"  I flipped the burner on and lo and behold it worked, and so did the other three.  So did the oven.  The lights even work.  The photo doesn't do justice to the absolute filth of it. . .  as I cleaned it this week, I convinced myself that I was making $100 an hour since keeping the stove would save us the cost of buying one.
Later, only half joking,  I told Daniel that I didn't want to know how much meth I cleaned off the stove.  He laughed and informed me that meth isn't cooked on stoves, rather in plastic bottles and crock pots.  There, you've always wanted to know that, right? 
Here's a little sample of one of the bedrooms:

There is even a little customized hiding spot in the floor. {need a sarcasm font}

So although this room really isn't that bad,  nothing can be done to it until the roof is repaired and then the ceiling.  That's why the flow chart lists are so important. . . at this point it's totally pointless to even sweep the floor.
Here's a peek at the living room through the front hallway.  You can see into the awful kitchen from here, too. 
How about that light hanging from a cord?  It literally fell out of the ceiling, hanging by the proverbial thread.  Er, wire. 
I am actually doing a lot of grey in this house,  a little bored with my standard beige Cottonwood color, so the grey wall color will sort of stay.  In a way.  Not really, though.  It will be magnificently cleaner and a Benjamin Moore-ish grey, not filthy and dingy and Wal-Mart mis-tint grey.
You prioritize and crunch numbers and order supplies and work your tail off and show houses to endless streams of people and run background checks and mow and in between one of us works his real job and the other of us works her real job.
You forget to eat dinner and you worry that you're living life out of balance. 
You thrill with the joy of making beauty and order out of chaos and with the financial benefit that comes from hard work.
Then after the exhaustion of working every spare minute all week you give yourself a little mental break and  enjoy a Saturday with the kids
plan a wedding shower
clean like a crazy lady to be sure that your own house never becomes like the one you've been slaving at all week
make pies for the weekend + Daniel & the guys at Station #2.
Just a tiny little peek into the fixer-upper side of life.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

why motherhood can be like pinterest

***updated:  if you're reading in a reader, part of this post will be difficult to see. . . the web version should be fine, sorry for the hassle.   {oh the joys of not being a techie!!}

Two weeks ago I opened my inbox to and my stomach lurched a little. . . can you give a devotion for Miranda's baby shower?

You have to be scraping at the bottom of the barrel to ask me to give a devotion or do any sort of public speaking, but besides the obvious lack of skill in elocution, my main great weakness is the inability to say no. 

So anyway, I said yes,  really because this idea flashed into my head that I could use.

I'm sharing it here just in case there is someone out there like me who somehow gets roped into giving a little talk. . . I think you could pretty easily adapt the idea to marriage, too.  As I covered a subject, I pinned a little scrap of magazine (PB Kids had great backgrounds) to a canvas board.  It kept me on track and away from my famous rambling. See Figure 1.

And can I just say that I can't wait to see my sweet friend be a mom to her little punkin' . . . it has been so fun to watch Weston and Miranda as they have married, built a home, served and served cheerfully and faithfully.  They are such great examples. . . my kids love them and it is a privilege to call them friends.

{just copied and pasted my notes in here. . . please forgive the wildness of the structure}

Deep Breath.

Oh Miranda.

Being a mom is so fun.

you’re in that dim little hospital room, just you and that little baby, adrenalin pumping and sleep far, far away, kissing that fuzzy head and breathing in that baby skin- 

And you’re like I did this!!!  I can’t believe it!! I am superwoman!

(And then you have to go to the bathroom and have to push the nurse button for help.)

Welcome to the paradox of having your heart burst with pride and having no pride left at all.

And I know I do have pride left, but not much.  If I pretend that I have it together right now during this little talk, my kids' teachers sitting here are going to stand up and start telling you stories.  Almost every mother here has a child whom Jacob bit,  my middle child is still sucking her thumb and my youngest at eleven months is just beginning to think about sleeping through the night.  So these aren’t thoughts from a supermom.  And they certainly aren’t thoughts from someone with perfect children.  Rather they are a collection of the most important mom advice that others have told me.

I just want to explain why I think that motherhood can be just a little bit like Pinterest.

First of all having a child can be like having this huge blank board.  (draw ? )

They are young.  they are impressionable.  The whole world is open to them.

It is your job to pin things to this board.  IE  raise this child.


Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.[NIV says impress, English Standard says teach diligently,

Isaiah 38:19 The living, the living--they praise you, as I am doing today; fathers tell their children about your faithfulness.

These all demonstrate a theme of shaping and molding your child’s direction..

Your child is a blank slate with a sin nature and There are going to be many, many forces and influences vying for opportunity to write on the walls of his heart.  Guard it!

You have the privilege of being the board administrator.  You get to say what goes on the board.

Proverbs 13 20 says that he who walks with the wise will be wise and so just like pinterest has that little box  that says ://repins from ://with 3 little slots for their names, so parenting can have that box too


1.  Look at parents whose children are just a bit older than yours.  Look at what you like.  Go ask questions.  There is great value in having people in your life who are just one step ahead of you because they have the issues that you are dealing with fresh on their minds.


2. People whose children are grown.  Your issues may not be as fresh but they have perspective on the years your’re facing. And clarity to tell you what to sweat and what not to sweat.


3. Then people whose children are grandparents. Here is where the real wisdom is.  They have not only raised their own children, but have watched their children raise theirs.  They have a pretty good idea of what they regret and what they don’t regret and they have humble, gentle advice to share. So sit at their feet and listen.


Moving on to pinning.


Respect for their daddy.  1. Remembering that your relationship with Weston is for life;  your relationship with your child is too, but you are probably not going to be living with your child for longer than 18 years.  However you are going to be with Weston for the rest of your life. Your child needs to see the priority you place on your marriage; a 100% child-centered mom is going to be raising a child whose world is a little askew and will have a husband who doesn’t know where he fits in to this new picture. [see fig. 2]  
This priority traces itself back to Genesis and God’s design for the home beginning with Adam and Eve.  Their little family was complete with each other;  Children are an additional blessing to that home.  God blesses with children usually, but it is important to note that a marriage is a separate entity, not hinging on the babies.  The benefits of treating your husband like he’s still the most important person to you will spill over onto your child.

2. Let your husband help. Over and over the Bible says “listen to the the instruction of your father and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”  It does not say “listen to your mom and disregard what dad says.”  This can start really really young.  Moms have such a tendency to just overwhelm the new dad with advice:  no, don’t hold him like that.  Oh, he likes his bottle this way.  You’re putting the pacifier in the wrong way.  Oh, you can’t put the pacifier back in without triple washing it! In most cases you are going to be the primary caregiver and you are going to have ample time to “do it right”—encourage daddy involvement by not being critical when he helps out. This will set the stage for an easy transition when your sweet angelic baby reached the terrible twos and you are desperate for your husband’s input.  He will already be involved and won’t have to start from scratch in relating to his own child.


Saturate your child with the Word of God. Deuteronomy 6:7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Look for ways to speak Scripture into your child’s heart and there are so many ways to do this.



Reading the Word

Literally writing it on your child’s walls

This kind of goes without saying, but you need to be in the Word in order to have your child be in the word.


Put Kind words into your child’s life.   Psalm 19:14 (Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight.) Kind words to your baby are going to come easily at first.  But they won’t always. It starts that first night the baby has cried and cried and cried and you don’t know what to do and even though you wouldn’t think of being cross with your precious punkin, when Weston rolls over and says “I’m trying to sleep.” . . . kind words typically don’t spring to your mind. The habit of kind words doesn’t usually start easily, but it is a beautiful thing to cultivate. Sleep deprivation and the weariness that comes from pouring yourself out for your child can result in emptiness and cross words spring from an empty heart. Notice the Psalmist didn’t say The words of my mouth ARE acceptable.  He asked that they be acceptable.  Ask God for kind words . Ask God to fill your heart-  He will.

Put fun into your child’s life. Pr. 17:22A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

Put GRACE in your child’s life.  You are going to fail.  He is going to fail. Ephesians says not to exasperate your child, but to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  This is a process and a process take time, not finger snapping.  Grace, grace, grace.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  .  .And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. From John 1 

Pin Compassion.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.

 Don’t pin COMPARISON.  Your child is going to be this amazing, unique person.  Let him be! Paul said we do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are not wise.  Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love.

Pin Individuality! Train up a child in the way HE should go. (from Brown's Concordance)  Or, according to the tenor of his way, i. e., the path especially belonging to, especially fitted for, the individuals character. The proverb enjoins the closest possible study of each child's temperament and the adaptation of "his way of life" to that.

Pin instruction! Clarke’s Commentary- Train up a child in the way he should go - The Hebrew of this clause is curious: חנך לנער על פי דרכו chanoch lannaar al pi darco, "Initiate/educate the child at the opening (the mouth) of his path." When he comes to the opening of the way of life, being able to walk alone, and to choose; stop at this entrance, and begin a series of instructions, how he is to conduct himself in every step he takes. Show him the duties, the dangers, and the blessings of the path; give him directions how to perform the duties, how to escape the dangers, and how to secure the blessings, which all lie before him.

Limits are important.  This really begins with babyhood.  You can set loving limits even for a tiny little one.  Dr. Adrian Rogers said this:  
 Children will tell you that they don't want limits.  Don't believe them.  If you don't set limits, a child unconsciously feels rejected.  Even in the Garden of Eden, God set limits - not to dampen the spirits of Adam and Eve, but to show His wise provision for all that they needed. 
And keep in mind that children will push against limits.  If you give in, then the boundary collapses and security is lost.  Giving children limits helps them learn that the world has consequences.

A biblical perspective of the earth.The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Psalm 24:1

This verse covers a lot.  Stewardship, resourcefulness, respect for all nationalities and a realization that we all bleed red. Give your child an awareness of a world bigger than his four walls, or even hometown.

Good pride. I have great confidence in you. I take great pride in you.  I am greatly encouraged.  In all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds. II CO. 7:3

Pin LOVE.   It can be tempting, much like Pinterest, to just idealize, reading all the great parenting books, talking about being a good mom and dreaming about the perfect child.  At the end of the day, though, thinking about ideas and mothering and great plans and dreaming isn’t enough.  You just have to jump in and do it. Above all, put on love which is the bond of peace.

Fig. 1
a dad brings a lot of balance to the following scenario:
Fig. 2

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

It's that time of year when I'm reminded why I love the midwest so much. . .

There is nothing  like the sounds and smells of autumn. 

My sister has this great rule about autumn baking and despite all of the pumpkin love, I follow it:  apple before pumpkin.

So we've been eating lots of apple stuff; the kids and I invented these  yummies yesterday.

Did you know you can make cinnamon rolls out of regular bread dough?  It's so easy. . . and if you don't make bread you can use Rhodes frozen dough.

Anyway, we used a loaf portion of whole wheat bread dough, rolled it out and added caramel apple stuff.  (recipe follows.)
(There aren't any left.)

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

One loaf portion bread dough, rolled into 12 x 18 rectangle

2 T. butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 T. cinnamon

1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped fine

4 T. caramel dip (like T. Marzetti's)

for frosting:  I just use canned cream cheese frosting

Spread butter on dough, sprinkle on the following ingredients in order, dropping the caramel dip in dollops.  Roll up jelly roll style, pinching the edges to seal.  Cut with thread into slices and let rise in 9" round buttered pan. 

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool for ten minutes and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

tempatation is a yellow school bus

[Cambria and one of her friends]
Was it only a week ago that I was with Daniel celebrating nine years of marriage?

Um. . . no, that was a lifetime ago. 
Whew!  What a week. 
Did my last post really say I feel very very ready to start on Monday?
ha ha ha ha ha ha.  (I'm not really laughing.)
It's still a privilege, but I am stretched and pulled in so many directions and I am trying to wear the mom hat and the wife hat and the momma-to-toddler hat and the teacher hat too. 
To be honest, I like the teacher hat.  That part is really fun and extremely rewarding.  The kicker is that I have to be the parent too.  The option of sending a note home to the parents is not available. 
(Although - I could email Daniel. . . hmmm. . .)
So we had tears this week and we had frustration;  we also had some pretty high highs.
The main high point makes me feel a little dumb to report-  because I can't believe I didn't realize it sooner -  but my little kindergartner can read!  I was so shocked and proud of her!  I will never forget those shrieking giggles as she read through four little readers in one sitting.  I can read it, Mom! 

If I said it once this week I said it one hundred times. . .

Nothing worth doing is easy.  Things that have value must be earned.  School is not going to be easy. 

And when temptation to choose the seemingly easier road shows itself in the form of the rumbling yellow school bus, then I need to heed my own advice: 

It's not going to be easy.

Is anything about parenting easy?

No, I don't think so, no matter your chosen style of education.

Things {and people} of value take time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

preparing for school & pouring out

Daniel took the kids out this afternoon I turned up the music

and worked on this all afternoon.

I feel ready, very ready to start on Monday.

Do you ever feel ready to take your children's education into your own wavering hands?

Well, no. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity, this overwhelming, exhausting opportunity to pour into their little lives.

Yesterday was their first library class and before we left the house I said:

You guys need to--- actually, you know what is required of you, so I'm not going to tell you. What would you tell your kids if you were sending them off to a class?

They loved this brave new approach and told me:

sit quietly


be respectful

raise your hand if you have a question

{Well, this should be an uneventful class.}

When will I learn that my children don't DO uneventful?

The first thing I noticed upon JD's departure from the class were the Crayola marker tattoos upon his arms.  He even had one peeking out of his sleeve, fd style. 

Tattoos are just not my hill to die on; however I am quite sure that the literary class on peace was not the place for body artwork.  I filed it under the address later section of my brain.

Cambria tattled as soon as we got in the van.  Jacob drew on himself, Mo-om.

I'll talk to him later, Cambria, but this is not really your business.

I do believe Jacob blinked in surprise that I wasn't going to ream him immediately for the misbehavior.

Before later came, he brought up the subject himself, alone in the van with me and Eli.

Mom, I shouldn't have done that at the library.

Me:  Well, Jacob, that just wasn't the place.  The artwork was supposed to be happening on paper, not your arms.  [internal struggle to keep my words brief] [i do wayyyyyy too much talking]


Huummmmm. And we drive on.  End of story.

Well, not quite the end, because the next time I saw him, he'd carefully washed all the marker off. 

That is the end. 

Why do I overthink stuff with him?  I overcomplicate almost everything.  But those days when there are just simple, calm fixes to the issues. . . I wanna dissect every part of the experience and figure out what worked and copy it again!

This is the part of teaching that I dread, the constant barrage of training and counsel and pouring in (from my broken leaking pitcher).

This is why I need to fill my mind with the truth of the Word, the knowledge and wisdom of others and encouragement to keep going.

If I'm empty I don't have anything to pour.

God, please fill my heart.

Monday, September 3, 2012

i wish for a weekend that lasts forever.


Sitting in my living room sipping on my midnight Starbucks. . .

So reluctant to say goodbye to this whirlwind weekend.

It started on Thursday with a visit to my precious friend Mrs. A.  You know how sometimes life is just too hard to sort out on your own?  Well, then it's time to seek out someone who is a bit wiser than you.  I treasure this woman and her ability to speak the truth in love into my life.  She is priceless to me.  I would wish her counsel on anyone and if you don't have someone like that in your life. . . look!

Another high point event on Thursday was realizing once again that I don't have parenting under control at all.

This always happens to me when I am on top of the world, feeling like I'm the mommy of the year.  You may be familiar with the phrase pride goes before a fall;  pretty sure that was written for me.

So I'm on the phone with my sister, sitting down on a park bench to wait for Cambria's soccer practice to finish.  Jacob had asked to go play on the park because one of his friends was waiting, too, and he scampered off happily. I've been feeling pretty good about the toddler advice I've been giving to my sister.  I've been relishing the role of the encourager;  it feels so good to be out of the terrible two stage of life, you know. 

So nice to just sit on a park bench under the tree, chatting with my sister, the breeze blowing and the sounds of . . .

well, the sounds of. . .


in the background.

My eyes and ears focus and I realize that a man is yelling on the playground. 

He's actually yelling at my son.

you punched him, you punched him. where's your mom, where's your mom?!

I hung up the phone with my sister and tried to stay calm and rational.

There is a little boy crying; Jacob's face is white and he is literally shaking in fear, which is definitely a new look on him. He is looking at me wild eyed, saying Mom, I didn't punch him, I didn't!

I used lots of "sirs" and tried to communicate that I was sorry my son had hurt the little weeping fella and that I would get to the bottom of the story.

So much for peaceful breeze and bench time.

We eventually came to the conclusion that although the reaction didn't match the actual offense, JD could still apologize for bumping into the weeping dude in the playground  tunnel and steer a clear path  around him the rest of the time.

But isn't that the way of motherhood?  Just when you think ahh, I'm done. . .  there will be something else. 

I think the exhausting thing about being a mom is that your mind doesn't get a vaca.  You must be constantly engaged.

Moving on. . . .

blissful weekend spent at my family's. {about the only place I can let my mind have a vaca}

It was so great.




waterslide for the cousins

go-kart rides

cooking together

coffee & ice trips

/someone/ may be a bit tired because we were up til 2am sprawled all over the porch swing bed last night catching up on al the girl talk that we've all missed out on. 

{Dad must be getting to be quite the softy.  My sisters must have a steady stream of  projects that they pitch to him, because everytime I come to their house, there is something different and fascinating that they found on Pinterest and begged Dad to make.}

Sisters!  There is just no substitute!