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Monday, September 30, 2013

Easy Chalkboard Paint on the Cabinets

I am feeling organized today.  That doesn't always happen...okay, it happens a lot less than it should...

I have a son who thrives on organization, routine, and structure.  I try to accommodate both of our needs: his for schedule, mine for freedom and spontaneity.  Neither of us can function without some element of those complete opposites in our daily lives. 

Some time back I used some of the leftover paint we used to paint just about every surface in the house and made my own matching "chalkboard paint".  I painted two of our cabinets with it, thinking it would be a great place to leave notes, put up verses, write a menu, etc...

Today, I decided it was time to try and put some order into our extremely busy fall schedule and help Cainan have a visual that will give him some peace.  

I broke down each day of the week.  I included a verse each day that one of them is working on in Awana for the next week.  I added in their responsibilities after school, as well as the extracurriculars we have going on each day (the first three days of the week are super heavy!).  This crazy schedule will only go for the next 6-8 weeks but that's plenty!  

I also included the dinner plan for that day IF I have one.  This will help keep me a little more accountable, too when it comes to planning dinner.  Although, we love our spontaneous dinners out with the parents/friends/no-reason-except-mommy-doesn't-want-to-cook nights, too (even structured Cainan can roll with those).

If you want to make your own colored chalkboard paint, it's easy.  I used the recipe from this site:   She says to use acrylic paint but I just used our semi-gloss enamel and it worked just fine!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shaky Arms

My arms are shaky…really shaky.  In fact I’m not sure I can lift anything above my head.  Why is that?  Well there’s a couple of simple answers.  The most obvious one is that I just did a challenging crossfit workout that has left my muscles feeling like jelly.  But the less obvious and truer answer is because I am a rebel.
Our culture often celebrates the rebel spirit.  We root for the underdog.  When it comes to an oppressive government or corporate domination, there is good cause to celebrate the rebel.  But when it comes to rebelling against a loving, benevolent father who seeks the very best for us, then rebellion is just plain stupid and self-destructive.  Yes, admittedly and ashamedly, I am that kind of rebel.

I have depended on a need for control to bring me comfort in my life.  Unfortunately, control is an illusion.  Regardless of your faith beliefs, it isn’t too hard to argue that ultimately, you have no control of your future or circumstances.  No one knows when a heart attack may happen, a natural disaster, an act of terrorism or a random traffic accident.  We are not guaranteed the next day, the minute, the next second of our lives.  And yet so many of us thrive on planning, planning, planning…not just the planning, but the worrying of what if things do not go as planned.  

I realized many years ago the futility of believing I had control over my circumstances.  This does not usually scare me because my faith in the creator of all things, the God who was and is and is to come, the lover of my soul, and my saving grace gives me hope and peace in resting in his hands.  But understanding and accepting are two very different things and thus enters by rebellious nature.  While I know I have no control over what happens in this world, I know I have complete control in the choices I make.  Our decisions and actions are ours to control.  God has always granted us free will with the ultimate desire that we choose to follow him and love him (for our own good!!).  

A wise, knowledgeable person would seek to listen to and follow the one who has their best interests at the forefront.  So why don’t I?  Because I am a rebel.  My very nature is one of rebellion.  I want control.  I want to do what I want to do, even though I have proven over and over that my decisions are self-destructive and unwise.  And that brings me back, full-circle, to my shaky arms.

For years I have chosen to do what makes me feel good in the moment.  I eat food that pleases my taste buds, that gives me a visceral satisfaction for a short period, in quantities that make me feel ill at times.  I have chosen to sit on the couch, lay in bed and to lament this body that is full of aches and limitations.  Instead of thanking the God of the universe who knit me together in my mother’s womb for the miraculous vessel he has given me to reside in, I have railed against my limitations, cursed my chronic pain and shamefully complained about the limits of this body, while drinking a Coke and downing pizza. 

I am not saying all this to wallow in regret or self-hate.  I
have faced this realization and repented.  I mean only to illustrate the rebellious nature that drives me to abuse the freewill God has granted me and make my life harder, simply because I want to feel like I have control.  It’s ridiculous and stupid.  And so I am at a turning point. 

For the last six weeks I have been on a journey to lose weight and get healthier.  There are number of reasons to do this.  I want to feel better.  I want to be able to be active with my children and set a good example.  I want to relieve some of the pain I experience as a direct result of carrying around so much extra weight.  But ultimately, I want to be a good steward and grateful servant.  I want to do more than pay lip service to God when I say how grateful I am for all he has done for me.  I want to be able to submit to his desires for me, which are the very best!  I want to be able to use this body he has given me to its full efficiency, serving him with its strengths and glorifying him in its weaknesses.

It means facing my rebellious spirit straight on and seeking to be submissive.  It means accepting that having control over what I do with my body does not mean I should do whatever I want.  It means praying.  It means focusing on my relationship with my Savior.  It means being thankful, truly thankful, for my body with all of its abilities and disabilities.  It means choosing to eat things that make my body feel good, not just my taste buds.  It means submitting to pain and discomfort as I choose to get off the couch and out of bed to be active, to push muscles that have not been pushed in my entire life.  

My arms are shaky…really shaky.  Tomorrow I may not be able to lift them above my head.  Thank God that next week, they will be ready to be challenged again.  And in a few more weeks or months, maybe I’ll be able to do that illusive pushup that I’ve never been able to do, once, in my entire life.  Maybe in a few more weeks or months, I can look in the mirror and be even more thankful that God has granted me a body that is resilient and will see me through this life, especially when I make smart decisions—when I choose to be thankful and wise with the privilege of choice. 

I thank God for his love, grace, mercy…for free-will…and yes, for my shaky arms.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye to my Toddlers, Only Four Years Late

Joe and I have recently been discussing the possibility of hosting an exchange student.  Part of that discussion meant how to take the two rooms our boys currently use: their bedroom & playroom and consolidating them into one, so we have a guest room.  I've been busy searching and Pinning bunk bed design ideas (if you're one of my Pinterest followers, this is no surprise).  I'm so excited to have a design in mind and we are ready to completely redo the boys' room!

However, as I contemplated my first step, removing all the current wall decorations from their walls, I had a moment of utter sadness at a time gone by.  When we bought and began remodeling this house I was pregnant with Asher and Cainan was not even two.  When we decided we would keep this house for ourselves (instead of flipping it), my mother-in-law and I came together to create the bedroom for the boys.  

I had a very distinct idea of what I wanted: primary colored
stick figure characters and simply drawn backgrounds.  I wanted to use them as accents, either in a wallpaper border or prints, here and there.  For some reason, I couldn't find anything that fit the bill.  We found an artist, Todd Parr, who drew exactly the kind of characters I was looking for but not in any home decor lines.  We did find a whole bolt of fabric on clearance at Wal-mart that happened to have his characters on it.  Crazy!

My mother-in-law took the fabric and unbeknownst to me, cut out a ton of the characters, roads, houses and other bright color blocks to make her own buildings.  She showed up with a tub of wallpaper paste and proceeded to make amazing murals all over the freshly painted yellow walls.  What resulted was an incredible city of silly characters, headed to school, the airport, the police station; riding in cars, trains and planes.  She even spelled out Cainan's name in the same fabric.  The room was incredible and even better than I had envisioned.

As I walked into their room two days ago with the excitement of starting anew, I realized how sad I was at the prospect of seeing those silly characters gone.  They've been here nearly eight years now.  They are part of the only bedroom Asher has ever known and the only one Cainan can remember.

I decided to take pictures of everything.  Even though they've held up remarkably well for something my mother-in-law was just going to "experiment" with, some have begun to pull away from the wall.  Cainan's name is missing the "C" and a few roadways are starting to fray.  I know it's time for them to go.  I know my boys are seven and nine...Cainan would probably enjoy them for a while longer but Asher probably wouldn't like the childlike images much more than five minutes--that boys is growing up and maturing so fast it makes my head spin.  And that's probably part of my sadness in seeing them go.

I have loved every moment of watching my boys grow, mature, learn and develop into the amazing people they are.  I haven't looked back much with loss or grief over previous stages.  I do not wish my boys were babies again, or (God forbid) toddlers!  Those were worthwhile, joyous but obnoxiously HARD years.  I love the ages they are now.  But walking into their room with a sponge in hand to wipe away the characters that have been a part of their lives for most of their lives gave my heart a wrench.  

I'm going to miss those silly characters.  I'm going to miss the reminder, each time I walk in the room of being pregnant with my precious Asher, painting walls and going over decoration ideas with my mother-in-law; holding little Cainan in my arms and showing him all the silly faces, the
airport where Daddy worked and the police station where Mommy worked (that's why my MIL included those buildings in the Silly City!!).  I'm thinking I might even shed a tear as I finally do take a sponge to those walls and wipe it all away.

In a few days they will be all gone and I'll be painting the walls with a fresh coat of bright yellow paint (the boys chose yellow again).  Their new bunk beds that we're building are going to be spectacular!  The new design of their room (including a new vinyl window to replace the old metal single pane) will improve their comfort, create so much space and efficiency.  I'm excited to see it come together and once I get going I know the moment of hesitation and grief will pass.  I'm glad I took these last few pictures and took the time to reflect.

I'll be sharing pictures of the new room as soon as it's done.