Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adventures with Big Furniture

Many months ago, I don't remember exactly when, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for something for me at The Salvation Army.  There is a corner of uncontrollable clutter in our nursery that has been there since we converted it from an office over three years ago. The pile is half office crap and half baby crap.  On top of a random, cheasy old end table my husband had growing up. It's too embarrasing to share a picture of. It drives me CRAZY and I've wanted better storage there for a long time. So I told my mom I wanted something like a hutch or large shelving unit for storage. Well my mom never found anything before she quit that job a few weeks ago.

So I had a few minutes after grocery shopping last week Tuesday before I picked up my kids. (Yes, I am spoiled, my hubby's Gram watches my two oldest girls so I can shop in sanity every week.) I zipped into Sally's to scout out the furniture department and I was extatic to find something that I thought would work for my clutter corner. It would need new paint and hardware, but it had great potential and it was only $30 (marked down from $50)! I asked the lady behind the counter for a measuring tape and measured the unit. When I got home, I measured the spot in the room to see it if would fit. And it would! (Like a glove.)

The next day after lunch, I trekked back into Sally's with the kids to see if it was still there. I figured if it was still there, it was meant to be. And it was! So my challenge was how to get this beast of a piece of furniture and my kids back home, because both would not vit in my van at the same time. As it turns out, Gram happens to live around the corner so I called her up to see if she was available. And she was! My plan was to squeeze all three kids all in her backseat (if they all fit in my old Corolla they can fit in just about anything) so I could put all my van seats down to fit the shelving unit. Can I just say how much I LOVE MY VAN! (And Stow 'n Go!)

My next challenge was getting the beast into the van. Sally's doesn't promise they will help you load up. In fact, they have signs posted that you must bring your own help to load furniture. And Gram wasn't exactly going to be able to help with this enormous and heavy thing. I figured it couldn't hurt to ask the guy working in the back of the store if he knew of anyone that could help me...pretty please! And he did! He rounded up a kid from the Salvation Army program that isn't usually there but happend to be working there that day. So he and another girl helped wheel it out on a dolley. Between the three of us, we managed to squeeze the thing in. The widest section of the van's back door is the exact same length as the widest part of the furniture unit. It was a close call! So after blood, sweat, and tears (of joy), it was in tight, but the back door couldn't quite close all the way. It appeared to be staying down even though it was not latched so I decided to take the risk and drive like that. I'd come this far - a back door wasn't going to stand in my way!

So off I went with my "back door is open" indicator light flashing and signal beeping at me. Gram and all three girls pulled out behind me. Well, as soon as I picked up speed on the road, doesn't the back door swing right up, all the way open. I immediately pulled over and waved Gram on to keep going to my house. I'd figure this out. We always keep bungee cords in the car so I rigged up a few of those, starting from behind one tire, hooked in the side bumper, around the mostly shut door, and hooked around the other side bumper. It was tight. I was confident it would stay down this time. And it did! I pulled in my driveway only a few minutes after Gram. WOO HOO!!!

I unloaded the kids and their carseats, hugged, thanked and said bye to Gram, and went in to get kids down for naps. My next challenge was how to get the beast back OUT of the van so that I could take the kids to their AWANA program at church right after dinner. With two kids sleeping and the other in front of the TV, I headed out to the van with a Superwoman attitude. I decided to back the van up to my garage door and figured somehow I'd slide it out and get it in far enough to shut the garage door and deal with it later. After quite a while of pushing, shoving, and pulling, moving the van backwards and forwards a bunch of times, and a few close calls (including a painful jab in the ribs), I got the beast 95% of the way out by myself. As dark clouds loomed overhead, I was starting to get worried that it was really stuck where it was. That's when my neighbor came to the rescue. He had to have seen me out the window. The two of us managed to unwedge the top molding in order to slide it the rest of the way out, stand it up, and drag it into the garage just enough to shut the door.   AAAAhhhhh. The glorious feeling of victory.

So here is the big old beast, dusty and a little beat up, just waiting for a makeover...Which I can't imagine I'll get to until one nice spring weekend when my hubby is actually home to help move it and keep the kids out of the way. All of the shelves are permanently placed except one that is adjustable. I'll keep it in line with the same shelf on the other side so it is all even. The drawers are faux and the bottom cabinets open like two little french doors on both sides.

While I impatiently wait for my opportunity to paint, I'll keep an eye out for new hardware. My vision for the finished product is something along the lines of two thirds of this picture from Restoration Hardware's Baby and Child furniture line.

Of course the same amount of shelving from Restoration Hardware would cost me $1,800 plus shipping. Mine only cost me $30 plus whatever paint and hardware comes to. And a lot of my time and effort. But its soooo...worth it. And it was worth waiting to find too. Whenever I finally get around to completing the makeover, I'll be sure to post it here!

Oh yeah, and before I forget, I wanted to share one little treasure I found at Sally's when I was in line to pay for the furniture. They always have a little tablescape set up in the front of the store with merchandise from the store. That day it happened to be decorated with green stuff, in anticipation for St. Patrick's day. Well, didn't this little gravy boat just beckon me. And for $2.99 I said yes. I LOVE this color green. It coordinates with my china quite well. I'll probably put it out on display somewhere because I think its so pretty. It would also make a nice short vase for cut flowers or potted ivy. We'll see...I've got options.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time to Stand and Stare

A few weeks ago, I came across an inspiring poem in my reading called "Leisure" by William Henry Davies. It really struck me and I knew immediately that I would continue to think about it and probably write about it. (In fact, I just checked and I started the first draft for this post on January 28 and have been working on it ever since!)

Rather than type out the poem for you, I'm sharing this YouTube video I found that more creatively illustrates it:

I stumbled across that poem just days after my Bible study led me to a very convicting verse: 2 Thessalonians 3:11, "We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies."  And then the second half of verse 13: "...never tire of doing what is right."

How I use my time is something that's been on my mind a lot lately. If one end of the "how to use your time" spectrum is to be idle (lazy) and the other end is to be a busybody (wasteful), then somewhere in the middle must include time "to stand and stare" while being busy working hard at things that matter for eternity. That's where I want to be because those are things I really value - for myself, and for my kids.

Time to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 146:10). Time to soak in the beauty of His creation and how it reflects His character.

February skies...anticipating the spring we can already feel in the air!

Time with my kids to sing and dance.

A little long but I was too lazy to edit it shorter.
And apparently my kids didn't pick up any of the dance moves they learned fom X-Box!

Time to read . . . and be read to.

And to laugh at what you read, thanks to Dr. Seuss!

Time to impress God's Word upon our hearts. To talk about it with my kids when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up (Deuteronomy 6:7).

And when we walk through the woods.

Time to look not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).

The popular book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp has also sparked a lot of new convictions in the area of my time.

For a while, I had heard so many good things about this book from people I know but I hadn't actually picked it up myself yet. Then almost a month ago I was given the book to read and speak about in relation to the topic of "The Battle for the Mind" on a small panel with other woman for a women's brunch at my church.

I won't go into that topic much here but instead extend an open invitation for any ladies to come to "The Divine View" (as opposed to the lame T.V. show "The View") discussion and brunch. I promise you'll leave changed for the better! Saturday, February 25, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at North Uxbridge Baptist Church.

So I started reading One Thousand Gifts immediately. I still haven't gotten even half way through it but Chapter 4, called "a sanctuary of time" is what has hit home for me the most so far. Allow me to share some of my favorite quotes:

"Oh yes, I know you, the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life."

"From the time the alarm first rings and I stir on our pillows touching, stretch over bare back and check those relentless hands keeping time on that clock. The time, always the time, I'm an amateur trying to beat time. The six kids rouse. We race. The barn . . . and hurry.  The breakfast . . . and hurry. The books, the binders . . . and hurry! In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear. I have done it. I do it still. Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak, I am weary and I am the think clear skin, reflecting their fatigue, about to burst, my eyes glistening their same sheer pain. The hurry makes us hurt."

"Hurry always empties a soul."

"It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction."

I'm not as harried as I once was when I "juggled it all" with a full-time job, and commute, and daycare - when I was a hamster on its wheel. The Christian life is a race (1 Corinthians 8:24-27) but its not supposed to be a rat race! I can identify with the blurred moments, the pushing hard and the barking hard that Voskamp describes. I know, hurry does hurt!

I'm home now so the pace of life is sweetly slower. Yes, the doctor, dentist, and hair appointments always seem to fall in the same week as ministry meetings. And my few personal social activities are usually feast or famine. But I have made a conscious effort not to fill my calendar with a lot of weekly commitments. The thought of chauffeuring my kids to and from gymnastics and soccer and this club and that makes me dizzy. I've limited our activities to a few with the most value. So then, where do my days go? How can I be so busy yet look back on a week and realize I didn't take enough time to stand and stare? Or that I have nothing to show for my busyness? Or that I grew tired of doing what is right? Or that the busyness of life didn't leave time for the source of life (the Bread of Life - John 6:35, 48 & 51 and Living Water - John 4:10-11)? I hate it when my soul catches up with weeks or months of that!

Granted, being home with three young children does keep me legitimately busy with such noble and glorious tasks as making and feeding meals, changing diapers, wiping bums, nursing... And teaching. And planning for teaching. It it not ironic that one of my daily email devotionals last week was called "Let's Make Time"! Check it out! I am called to take quality time with and for my family, but I'm also called to more than that.

Most recently, my Bible study has led me to a few other verses and convicting questions. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 it tells me to let nothing move me and to always give myself fully to the work of the Lord. In Hebrews 12:1 it tells me to throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles. Will Jesus say to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant!"? (Matthew 25:21) Though I need to do these things well, He's talking about more than just cooking, cleaning, and child rearing.

When do I find that time... be still and know that He is God? soak in the beauty of His creation? sing and dance and read with my kids? impress God's Word upon my own heart and the hearts of my family and friends? look to the interests of others? serve whole-heartedly in my church ministries?

The time is there, but I'm either being idle and lazy with it or I'm being a busybody and wasting it. I need to make two concrete changes in my time management and both will be very difficult for me. I need the Holy Spirit's help and friends' accountability!

First, I need to be disciplined to get up earlier when the house is still quiet to shower, read my Bible, pray and plan my day/priorize my time.  I usually leave this all to the evening...if I do it. But that's also time for me and hubby to connect without distractions, so I want to protect that time. I am being idle when I sleep in until my kids wake me up. Which means I shouldn't stay up till the wee hours blogging! Eeek! Hey, that's why long breaks between posts are not so uncommon for me. It's not for lack of content, but when do I find time to blog too??!!

Second, I need to keep away from distractions on the computer. I hate how it sucks my time away without me realizing it! I've whittled down the sites and blogs I regularly read to just a select few - most to encourage and help me with with important goals and a couple just for fun. I never intend to just surf the web for entertainment. And I'm finally okay to go a day without checking my Facebook feed. But when I do plan to sit down for just five minutes to respond to some important emails, read a blog or quick check Facebook, something that is not-so-important always engages me (darn those digital marketing and content geniuses!). One interesting link leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another. And there goes a half hour. Or more. It could be great stuff. I've stumbled across lots of amazing resources that way. For instance, the other day one of these rediculous link trails led me to an interesting critique of the One Thousand Gifts book. (If you have or are planning on reading the book, I recommend reading that critique as well. I'm still digesting it.)  But usually that half hour or more is time that's completely wasted feeding that little materialistic devil sitting on one shoulder. :)  (Soo...I did officially start using Pinterest just to catalog things I happen to come across on the web...)  I need that half hour to stay busy doing what is right! Or I need that half hour to "stand and stare."

"A poor life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare." - W. H. Davies

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grocery Store Bouquets

Last week Friday, hubby took the girls on a much-anticipated "Special Day with Daddy." These special days out with just dad live long in my daughters' memories no matter what they end up doing. Don't laugh, but this special day began with redeeming a trunk full of bottles and cans. My girls love to feed those machines. As much as they love cashing in.

So before heading out to lunch, they unloaded the back of my minivan at the grocery store just down the street. They hadn't been gone all that long when I got a call from hubby, telling me they were pulling back into the driveway soon and that I should go outside to meet them in one minute. I asked twenty questions about why, for what, and what he was doing, but it was clear he wasn't going to tell me. So I threw on my jacket and shoes and headed out full of curiosity.

As I ran up to the van, hubby rolled down the window and the side door slid open. He handed me a bouquet of flowers and they girls announced with excitement from their seats in the way back that they used their money from the soda bottles to buy me flowers. "It was daddy's idea but we paid for it with our own money and we got to pick them out!!!"  Good hubby. Good dad. :)  Of course I gave them all hugs and kisses and told them how thoughtful and giving that was to spend their "hard earned" money on flowers for me.

I waved them off for the rest of their special day as I skipped back into the house to continue preparing for my oldest's birthday party that was to take place that evening. I filled one of my favorite vases with water and the flower food, took the cellophane off the flowers, and plopped the bouquet into the vase. With party preparations at the top of my list I didn't have time to do much else with the flowers...but I wanted to!

So the weekend came and went, including a birthday party, dinner and crafting with some of my best buds, and a day tending to and cleaning up after a pukey kid. Enter Monday. Of a brand new week with a wide open empty calendar. In other words, finally time to break down the bouquet into bud vases and place them around the house. Wheeee!!

First I pulled out all the little light pink roses and put them in a short white yard sale vase on the end table by "my side" of the couch.

Has anyone else read Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"? Since reading a critique, I now have mixed thoughts on it.
More of what I've gleamed from that book to come in a future post.
If my friend Angie is reading this, I hope she appreciates that this white vase that used to sit on my office desk year-round with fake tulips in it now holds fresh flowers. :)

Why couldn't my end table always look this uncluttered?
More on what is usually stacked high on on this table to come in a future post.

So after removing the roses from the bouquet, next I took out the chrysanthemums. Yes, they are died a bright pinkish red. Except one flower sort of missed most of the die. I cut these down short to put them in the Dugger family's toothbrush holder this vase scored for $1 at a yard sale this summer. I placed this in the middle of the buffet table in my kitchen.

Next I put two large pink carnations in a 10 cent green vase that I scored at the same yard sale as the yellow vase above. I placed these on my night stand beside my favorite little hobnail milk glass lamp - one of two I scored at a yard sale years ago for $5.

One carnation and one mum perfectly brighten up the bathroom in a vintage bottle behind the toilet.

And because my girls' favorite part of the bouquet they picked out was the tacky foam heart decoration, I placed that with the flowers that were left in another one of my favorite little green yard sale vases on the dining room table, where they will see it most.

Ain't nothin wrong with a grocery store bouquet for Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Congratulations, Mom!

I wondered if the day would ever actually come. And I think she was beginning to think the same thing. My mom quit her job at The Salvation Army. She is moving on to much bigger and better things, to the detriment of the rest of the family. I've posted here and here about how I've benefited from my mom being a Sally's "insider".

Gone are the days when I get the phone call from my mom when just what I've been looking for shows up in a box of donations. Gone are the days when mom stops by in the afternoon with a few "like new" posh boutique-style dresses for the girls that she paid a buck or two for at work. Gone are the Christmases where with every awesome item we pull out of our stocking we ask, "Mom, don't tell me you found this at Sally's?" and she nods with a smile. It was fun while it lasted. My mom didn't work at Sally's for the paycheck. She was in it for the treasures. (It's in my genes, you see?)

But I am so proud of her. She waited until her 50s to start a career she is truly passionate about. She spent the last three decades focused on her family, staying home to raise us kids, cook home made meals, and keep a clean house. For a long time she sacrificed "nice things" like owning a home, new cars and pretty much buying herself anything new so that we could have a private Christian education. It wasn't until the last one of us flew the cuckoo's nest that she finally went back to school to pursue her dream career in medical coding. She graduated from her program and became a certified medical coder in 2009. Little did she know just how bad the job market was.

For the last year and a half she has been actively searching for a job in a field where no one wants to hire someone without experience. It's been a long hard road full of frustration and disappointment. She's been tempted to just give up on her dream many times. But she hasn't. Application after application. Cover letter after cover letter. Phone call after phone call. She has persisted. And finally, in God's perfect timing, she's landed her first coding job. I pray that she finds it rewarding. I know that God will use her gifts and talents to improve her workplace and that she will be a light to her new coworkers.

There's a scripture that comes to mind when I think about my mother's work ethic. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Colossians 3:23

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