....please read! Kristen.
....please read! Kristen.
I'm sitting here at my cool roll top desk (Mom and Dad didn't have a spot for it, so it came to live at my house. It has little secret drawers and a zillion cubbies. I love it.), listening to the fire crackle and the girls getting bundled up to go out and play in the snow for a while before tackling their afternoon on their own assignments.
The house smells super wood-smoky, which is a nice smell. At least it is now. Earlier this morning? Not so much.
I had such a vision of school by the fireplace in the living room, the girls in the window seat, me in my comfy chair. (We usually do school at the kitchen table and in the family room that joins the breakfast nook.)
So I built a fire.
And the house filled with smoke.
And we opened ALL the doors and the windows.
(Did I mention it was 14 degrees?)
And then we could see our breath in the house.
Until the smoke alarm went off--REALLY REALLY LOUD!--and scared the breath clean out of us.
When the smoke cleared--and we stopped coughing and our eyes stopped burning and stinging and tearing like mad--we shut the house again and stood shivering by the roaring fire.
And then the house filled with smoke again.
And we opened ALL the doors and the windows.
Yep, still 14 degrees.
And we could see our breath in the house.
And then the smoke alarm went off AGAIN. Yep, REALLY REALLY LOUD.
And then I called Toben.
And he asked if I'd opened the flue.
"Of course I opened the flue!" I said. I'm not that dumb.
Except that I am.
Note to self: The flue is open when the little handle thing-y is pulled toward you. It's shut when pushed back.
Now I can search my blog for the keyword "flue" and not do this again. Because let me tell you, cleaning the stone around the fireplace is not going to be much fun.
And we did have a nice morning of school by the fireplace in the living room, girls in the window seat, me in my comfy chair. We just started an hour and a half later than usual.
Oh, and roasted marshmallow s'mores at 3 o'clock for anyone who wants to come over. I have a lovely fire going.
The calendar says Monday, but it feels like Saturday. Mondays that start of a week of vacation should get a name all their own, don't you think? Any ideas?
I went ahead and got up sorta early so I could enjoy my quiet time by the light of the Thanksgiving Tree and review the week's homework for Bible study. The gals are all coming over here tonight and I'm super excited.
Bible study! At my house! By the light of the Thanksgiving Tree!
(Can you tell I'm excited about the tree? I'll try to stop mentioning it for a while.)
I love having people over. I'm having lunch company today too, to talk homeschooling with a mom who has some questions. Instead of chatting over Facebook or email, it seemed like getting together in person would work better. And be lots more fun.
(Long pause for almost two hours to meet with Toben for our usual morning half-hour meeting, notice that half of one of my strands of lights is out ::grrrr!::, bundle up for my run, and run my four miles. And see that it was 24 degrees out when I left. ::brrrr!::)
Okay, I'm back.
I love having company scheduled and I also love it when friends just stop by. It's one of my favorite things. So if you know where I live, here's your invite to stop by any time.
What about you? Do you like having people drop in, or do you prefer to schedule it? Or would you rather go to someone else's house? Do tell--inquiring minds want to know!
So that's my Monday. We're taking a break from school this whole week, so we'll just be reviewing what we've learned so far in Philippians 2 for Memory Monday. Still come to an absolute standstill after "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus"--how I want that to be true of me!
If you're learning something this week, feel free to leave a link and a comment. And as always, if you don't have a blog, you can type out your verse directly in the comments. And then tell me how you feel about company.
Happy Happyday, Quietday, Lovelyday, Vacationday, Firstdayofvacationday!
And I'm listening to Christmas music, which you can't really fault me for since Toben bought me the Glee Christmas album. If you have it, I'll bet you a dollar you're listening to it already too.
Anyway, Emma asked me yesterday afternoon, "Can we put the tree up?" To which I said, "YES!" without really stopping to think about the calendar. (Not that that's an excuse really--I've been pretty up front here, there, and everywhere about how badly I want to put up the tree.)
So we got it up and promptly realized that most of the pre-lit lights weren't working. I can't remember if I put it away two years ago not working or not--perhaps they revolted after not being lit for Christmas last year. Who really knows what goes on in the mind of a Christmas tree stuck in a box in the basement?
Two hours later, we were done unclipping (who puts tree lights on with those dumb clips, anyway?!) and unwinding all the lights. And we'd stopped bleeding and smoothed all the fingernails we broke. And now on Sunday afternoon, the tree is relit. Or will be when Toben gets home from Target with more Christmas lights.
Note to self: More lights are always better. Get way more than you think you need.
In my defense, the tree won't be all Christmas-ed until Friday. In the meantime, I just repurposed some of my fall decorations and made my tree a Thanksgiving tree rather than a Christmas tree.
A new tradition has most definitely been born around here. AND I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE IT!
No angel at the top. Just a turkey!
So really, I didn't jump the gun at all. And next year? The Thanksgiving Tree will be going up on November 1.
Just got back from my run this morning--made a new playlist with "Ring the Bells" by Travis Cottrell as the first song. Which I listened to twice in a row. And may have waved my arms around to like a conductor while I ran down the road. Maybe.
And now I want to decorate for Christmas.
But I need to get in the shower and get our school day going and study my Greek vocabulary cards and brush up on reflexive pronouns. So I won't be decorating for Christmas today.
But I'm tempted.
I've never put up the tree earlier than Thanksgiving. But Monday is looking pretty good. I love, love, love having my quiet time each morning by the light of the Christmas tree and I'm getting antsy.
See? I want to make it look this this. NOW. TODAY. THIS MINUTE!
And I'm extra antsy (can you tell?!) when I stop and remember that I didn't even have a Christmas tree last year. Not a branch, not a cone. It was pretty sad.
What about you? When do you decorate for Christmas?
Okay, really must get my rear in gear and get going for the day. Not to mention eat breakfast. Can you hear my tummy growling? ::grrrwwwrrrrllllllrrrr:: But first, one more cup of coffee...
We went to the library this afternoon and came home with a TON of books. Nearly too many for my library tote. Which isn't unusual for me.
After all, they are books. And they are free. What's not to love? And what's to stop me from thinking This one looks good! and tossing it into my bursting at the seams bag?
Got books today on making paper books, on knitting, on decorating. On sewing, on Christmas, on vintage treasure hunting, on crafty making goodness.
I love the library.
(One of my first jobs ever was working--for free--at the library at Menwith Hill across the street from our house on base and upstairs from the BX and the Bop Shop and base bowling alley. I shelved books and stamped--yes, no computers!--those cards in the pockets with due dates and put on those plastic clear covers to protect dust jackets.)
This is the window box/seat in the family room--a perfect place to keep all of my library books so I always know where they are. This is actually not all of them, but most of them--because now that I think about it, there's a stack behind me on the couch that I've been flipping through this afternoon.
Where do you keep your library books?
Emma and I spent the morning cleaning house and doing laundry yesterday. Friday is our new cleaning day, which means coming into the weekend with everything fresh and clean. I like it so much better than doing it all on Mondays.
And as we cleaned I realized that we have a cleaning theme--baking soda.
It's an ingredient in the laundry detergent I make. Here's a list of a bunch of different recipes.
I sprinkle it in the sinks, tubs, and toilets before spraying with the cleaner I use.
I use it when washing dishes that are especially hard to clean.
I even wash my hair with it (I have a love affair with hairspray and baking soda plus shampoo removes all the buildup) and my face (added to the cleanser I use it exfoliates gently). And from time to time I brush my teeth with it.
And let's not forget to mention how inexpensive baking soda is--much cheaper than most cleaning products out there.
Do you have a secret cleaning weapon? A cheap product you can't live without? Do share!
So my new running route takes me on a trail where I can peek into people's backyards. And as I ran past one the other morning, I couldn't tell if the sprinklers were on high, or if it was a pond. No matter, I had a yard epiphany.
So yesterday I dug a pond.
This bed off the deck is big--and I want it to be super-duper full of flowers. Which, if you've looked at the price of plants lately, is not cheap. The space is so big and square and felt overwhelming. But, I thought, if I put in a pond, there'd be less space to fill with flowers. Not to mention the sound of water burbling in the background.
So, many, many, MANY wheelbarrows full of dirt later...
I really had envisioned a small pond. Somehow it's bigger than I thought it would be. Which doesn't make sense since I'm the one who dug it.
Anyone else out there a bit of an over-doer?
We do eat in our dining room--though not as much as we used to. That's because we have a sturdier table in the breakfast nook these days, so we can cut our steak without the whole table swaying back and forth!
Since we're eating in the breakfast nook more than we used to--and since Mom bought me the coolest red school bench for my early Christmas present!--I just staged the dining room table. Not as conducive to eating there, but so pretty to look at!
I made a fitted burlap tablecloth the other day--the dining room is all hard surfaces and no fabric except for the curtains. And it just needed some more fabric and texture. Plus the bench needed to sit on something with more contrast.
(I do love the benches, though I had a vision the other day of mismatched upholstered arm chairs!)
The school bench runs down the middle of the table like a runner and sits about 12 inches tall. Too tall to look over when you're eating, but it'll be easy enough to just lift the whole thing off the table. Emma helped me fill the old strawberry baskets with all kinds of things, and we used stacks of cookbooks to add some height.
As soon as it's time to decorate for fall, I'll be adding pumpkins to the mix. I love pumpkins!
Picture rails from IKEA over the sideboard hold family pictures, and since only the shelves are nailed to the wall, it's easy to move pictures around.
That's our framed wedding invitation, and the picture of the little girl is my mother; the other woman pictured is my grandmother.
These demitasse cups are fun for little girl tea parties. The wardrobe in the top picture holds the regular-sized ones. And all my china and party plates and such. I keep napkins and candles and stuff like that in the drawers.
Hmm...now that I'm looking at the pictures, I'm wondering too about a rug under the table. I'll add it to my ongoing wish list...
Here's a peek at our room--much the same as it used to be, but with the addition of our big, comfy chairs and a desk for Toben since he gave up his office for a guest room. (Thanks, babe!)
Miss Millie (oh how I missed her last year--she was the first thing I brought up from the basement) lives here, along with the trunk that belonged to Toben's grandmother. The wardrobe was mine from when we lived in England, the window over the bed was such a deal ($10 at the Paris Street Market in Littleton--saw one just like it the other day for big, big bucks).
The fireplace is an electric one we found at Home Depot on a massive sale--and the best part is the remote so you can turn it on without getting out of bed.
Hmm...there are big floor to ceiling windows in our room, but somehow I didn't get a picture of them.
And the desk? It belonged to my grandparents and Toben and I refinished it the summer before we got married. It had been painted with a zillion coats of white paint and we used toothpicks and toothbrushes to strip the braid around the top. I have a picture somewhere in the basement. (Let me go see if I can find it!)
NO WAY! Found the picture. And in the background was my car from high school. I so loved my Fiero! Found a picture of it too. The photos are a lot blurry--sorry. Took pictures of the snapshots with my phone and then emailed them to myself. Too lazy to go back downstairs to scan them!
Welcome to the summers of 1990 and 1991!
I loved having my friend Ali come visit from Arizona at the end of July. And I'm so excited for my friend Christy to come at the end of September. It's important to me that my friends can picture where I am. Plus, I want my Arizona friends to see what my home REALLY looks like when it's mine. Our house in Arizona never really felt like home.
So here's a peek at home here. It's just a glimpse really, because even having seen pictures, things always look different in real life.
This is where the cats nap, all the chickens live, the quilts made by my great grandmothers are on display, the library books stay together, the set of Happy Hollister books are kept, we watch the rabbits out in the yard (that's Peanut Butter in the picture; his twin sister is Jelly and their mom is Francesca) out the window.
This is also where we'd sit and visit if you came over for a visit.
So while I love to wander antique stores, I typically don't have much luck when it comes to finding bargains at thrift shops, used clothing stores, or places like Goodwill. But the tide may be turning...
Goodwill treasures! Look at these darling paintings I picked up for 99 cents each. I love them!
I used some of the 3M picture hanging velcro strip things (Have you seen these? They are amazing!) to hang them on the side of my kitchen hutch.
I also found a box of dominoes and a whole box of never-been-used vocabulary cards for 99 cents each.
I found a new rolling pin. It was a whopping $2.99. The red handles called my name!
It was a good Goodwill day!
Not to mention the new used clothing store near my neighborhood (Uptown Cheapskate on Quebec next to Hobby Lobby at County Line). Found Audrey a winter coat, a couple of dress shirts for Toben, and some camping pants for me. Not to mention...
Frye boots! My size, a little scuffed, but with like-new soles and polished by Toben and Emma to look like new. I LOVE THESE BOOTS! And I loved them even more when Toben saw them at Nordstrom--the same exact pair!--for $327.95. Especially since I only paid $32.99.
See? (I think it's blurry because he was so excited for me when he took the picture!)
So, you found any amazing and thrifty treasures lately? Do share...
(All my photos seem blurry. Think I need to stop relying on my phone so much and get out my camera!)
I spent most of the day on Thursday down in the basement. Ironing, mending, organizing, looking at books of inspiration, being crafty, altering some dresses (one too long, the other too big).
And my shower curtain got a make-over. See?
The new ruffle includes fabrics from the quilt at the bottom of my bed (which is folded and not spread out like the picture in the link). It makes me think of Little House on the Prairie. The fabrics and ruffle and ribbons all make me want to call my shower curtain Laura. Not sure I've ever named a shower curtain before, but somehow it pops into my head every time I walk in the door.
Oh well. Laura it is! Isn't she lovely?
Toben hung the swings the other day and it just makes the yard seem complete. The girls made these swings with their Papa a few years ago and still spend hours back and forth-ing and spinning in circles.
I love to swing just as much as they do. The branches these are hung on aren't quite strong enough for me to do much more than sit on them. But I run past the neighborhood school every morning and often stop to swing at the playground a while.
There's nothing quite like a perfect flying dismount to start your day. (The key is to bend your knees and really stick the landing. And, yes, you have to put your arms in the air like an Olympic gymnast if you want the highest score possible!)
"A very happy Thursday to you," as Winnie the Pooh would say. Or was it Piglet? It's been a while since I read The House at Pooh Corner, but I know it's in there somewhere and it was one of them. I know for sure it wasn't Eeyore.
So we've been here a week. And except for a stack of pictures upstairs on the dresser in the library and a pile of sweats on the floor in my room that don't fit and two bins of miscellaneous stuff in Audrey's room and my toolbox on the kitchen counter, everything is put away.
Not counting the garage (which has a pile of stuff still to be sorted like bulletin boards and cleaning stuff) and the basement (which is filled with craft and school stuff and is getting organized very s l o w l y.)
I had thought to have the girls work on the basement some this morning sorting markers and crayons and pencils and such, but they're off with Toben to pick up Ava (my five-year-old niece) to come back and play awhile this morning. That's much more important. We're going to have a tea party for lunch (ham and cucumber tea sandwiches and cookies and m&ms on china) and I think we just may paint our toenails.
This week has flown by. And yet at the same time, it feels like we've been here forever. I was standing at the sink washing dishes yesterday and had that surreal feeling that last year was just a dream and didn't really happen.
But then I think of all the desert lessons learned and I know it did. I'm not the same girl I was a year ago. Not sure how to put it to words quite yet; it's something I'm working out in the pages of my journal.
Been reading a great book too and have more to share about that soon, but wanted to pop by and say hello. The internet man rang the doorbell at 7:15 this morning--luckily I had on cute pjs!--and so I'm no longer using the pirated network that worked only upstairs in our room. So I'm sitting at my desk and feeling like it's time to get caught on my inbox.
I'm anxious to show you what's back to the way it was and what's new, but I have yet to discover the cord that connects my camera to my computer. Plenty more blogging coming now that I'm all set up and good to go.
Have a super day!
P.S. It's fall-like here in Denver today. I have on jeans! and a sweater! A light cardigan, but a sweater nonetheless. Loving it.
We made it! Sorry to leave you hanging so long. But when I'm moving I tend to put my head down and not look up until we're all settled. I'm sitting in my big comfy chair in my room--it's the only place I get internet connection since I'm piggy backing on someone's network and if I try to go anywhere else in the house it drops.
Of course, we're not quite all settled, but I really needed a break from going up and down two big flights of stairs carrying heavy boxes of books. Been organizing the library this morning, putting all of our books into sections and then alphabetizing them by author. I know. But that's just how I do it.
And as I said on Twitter just a minute ago, we don't need any more books. Unless, of course someone wants to fill in all of my missing Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldens. It makes my heart so happy to see them all again.
I'm excited to finish getting everything up and out of the basement that's been stored there for the past year so I can get my mad workshop craft space all set up again. A year of not crafting was hard and I'm so excited to putter and touch fabric and look at zippers and buttons and such. That may not sound like fun to some of you, but others of you know exactly what I mean. :)
There's so much I want to tell you, so it's going to have to be a list if I'm going to get it all down.
1. Between the family who was living here and my sweet mama, my fridge, freezer, and pantry are stocked.
2. We've had dinner with family every night since we arrived in Denver. And lunch a couple of days too. :)
3. I love sleeping with the windows open!
4. Toben and my dad have flipped our deck, turning all the warped boards over and screwing them back down. They'll sand and seal it next weekend. Or maybe tomorrow. I'm pretty sure my love language is house projects.
5. I love spray paint. Already painted a lamp, a basket, and something for Emma's door. If you don't have one of those trigger handles and you spray paint ever, go get one.
6. My house feels huge. And we have so much stuff! And that's after purging a year ago. Hello Craigslist--just as soon as I'm done sorting it all.
7. For the first time in seven years, we have a guest room. And company lined up! Toben gave up his office for it. And we moved a desk into our room. (Our room is big and Toben is really, really neat, so it works.) So if you're ever in Denver and need a place to stay, give a holler.
8. Our first day here was super social. The doorbell kept ringing, which was fun. Thanks, Holly for the muffins and coffee, and Wendy for the latte. And Pam, for stopping by twice. You're welcome to swing by if you know where we are. We'll be here getting settled. But I'm still in my nightgown, so wait a while today! ;)
9. I love our yard! The grass is soft and green, the trees are huge and leafy, and the whole yard is so lovely and shady and cool. We had a picnic for lunch yesterday--can't wait to do it again.
10. Happy Fourth! We're headed to Mom and Dad's for a barbecue later this afternoon and then to the park for whatever's going on there and fireworks. My sister and her family are coming too.
Being home feels like unwinding, like exhaling, like I had been holding my breath and feeling confined. My heart aches when I think of the people I love in Arizona, yet being here feels right. And back to #7...you know who you are, so come visit!
More soon...time to tote some more boxes. I'll post pictures soon. My sis wants to do some home styling photography at some point in her career, so I think I'll let her practice a magazine-like spread on my house. ::wink, wink::
I'm feeling homesick. I miss Colorado, my parents, my sister and her family, friends there, summer at our neighborhood pool, our house, the yard full of green grass, the big trees and the girls' swings hanging from them, flower beds filled with impatiens, my garden overflowing with way too many zucchini, the craft room in the basement.
Sometimes I just want to go home.
Yes, I'm home here. But I'm home there too. Yes, I'm lucky to have two places I feel at home. But some days it just feels like being pulled in two.
I've mentioned before that we are staying here in Arizona for another year. What was a one year commitment is now two, and we're excited. Yes, we miss Denver (though not the snow they're getting today; we much prefer the pool!), but we feel very much at home here in Gilbert. Thanks to our church and some amazing friends.
One of the questions that's come up is this: Do we stay in this house? Or do we look for a different house to rent?
I have not been a fan of this house. Or, I should say, I wasn't a fan of this house until January, when we brought back more of our stuff.
LESSON: Even if you're moving for just a short time, take the stuff you love!
I didn't, and so I didn't feel at home for the first six months we lived here. I just felt like I was staying awhile and waiting for something else. It was awful.
After Christmas, I brought back more of my treasures and we put some attention into the house--a few new pieces of furniture (like a game/work table for the corner that adds some height to the room and big leather chairs for our room) and window (mis)treatments. I started feeling more at home.
I suspect that if we were to bring even more of the stuff that makes our house our home--all those little treasures that don't do much beyond make us happy and feel like we belong (which is really a lot just in and of itself when you stop to think about it)--then we'd feel even more at home in this house.
Things like all my roosters. And Miss Millie, my vintage dress form. And my big dining room table. And some old window frames for the walls. And some vintage aprons for a kitchen window treatment. And some more books. And a few quilts. And the chicken lamp.
Moving would mean a bigger (possibly) house with more room for our stuff. But it would also mean moving. And more rent. And more $$ toward the air conditioning bill. And maybe a pool! But then $$ to the pool man. And possibly giving up our neighborhood clubhouse and all of its amenities--which is like a resort and we use it all the time.
I strongly suspect I'm starting to ramble.
And I strongly suspect we'll be staying in this house. And adding to the TO BRING BACK FROM DENVER list that's on a huge posterboard and stapled to the wall in the kitchen. And getting fuller by the day.
Hmm...wonder if the landlady would be up for new carpet? And removing some of the goofy build-ins that limit the amount of furniture we can have in the house? And maybe some better landscaping? And paint? What about paint?
Think it's time for a THINGS TO ASK THE LANDLADY list.
Never thought it would happen, but I'm beginning to like the desert. Literally, metaphorically. Who'd a thunk it?
Living in the desert for this season has also been living in the desert for this season. I've found that I can relate so much to what we see in the pages of Scripture as the people of Israel were led through the desert.
Daily manna to go out and gather. Complaining. Temporary housing (at least I'm not in a tent!). Unexpected oases. God's tangible presence. Temptation. Community. Heat. Choosing to learn to obey.
I'd always assumed that the desert wasn't a good place to be. But it was necessary for the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land, and necessary for me too in my journey. They learned so much there. So much that they needed before heading into the promised land--a spacious place to spread out.
In the desert they found their identity. They worshipped. They learned to obey God. They became a people with new traditions. They learned to rely on God for the very basics of life itself as well as for direction and guidance and for him to keep his promises. They learned to follow his leading, to stop when he said to stop.
There's beauty here.
What I really wanted to show you were some pictures from my yard. My deserty, rocky, what I've called really, really ugly yard. But look! Beauty among the rocks and thorns.
Bouganvillea (can NEVER spell that right!) in the cactus. Just look at that color!
Doves are building a nest in this cactus. Toben and I sat and watched for a while yesterday morning. I love the orange bouganvillea.
Those big cactus are blooming. A bloom opens in the morning and is done about mid-day, it seems. Luckily there are a number of blooms on it.
This pink loveliness is from the neighbor's yard, spilling over the wall. It's what is filling the dining room window view right now.
This giant and totally terrifying cactus is by the front door. We're all a little scared of it--just look at those needles! It made the girls cry when we first moved in because they hated it so much. (And I can relate. As a little girl I was terrified of birds of paradise. Somehow I thought they could chomp down and bite you, and I remember running past them as fast as I could so they couldn't get me. And when we moved to San Diego and had them in our yard, I took them out!)
(And we are scared of this cactus with good reason. Let me just say I've accidentally backed into it and had to pull hard to get those thorns out of my backside after they stuck through my jeans and into me. Ouch.)
But the other day I noticed this bloom beginning.
I mentioned a while back that the girls are sharing a room again. As we talked about this homeschool thing and what works well and what doesn't work so well, space is an issue.
For the bulk of this year, we've been doing school at the dining room table. It works. It's big and there's plenty of space to spread out. But it means getting everything out, putting it away. It meant that school stuff was in the living room (we have a living/dining room combo kind of a set up) and that school was always present.
We live in a small house. We have three bedrooms, a living/dining room, and a kitchen. Add the two bathrooms and that's it. There's not extra space.
The girls have shared a room in the past, but it's been a while. In San Diego, they shared a room in order to have a room set aside for play. And now they're sharing a room again--in order to have a room set aside for school.
I won't lie--it's had some challenges. They--like most kids, like most everyone actually--love being able to have something be all "MINE!" And sharing doesn't always come naturally. But for the most part, it's working well.
Here's a peek at THEIR room these days:
I'll get some pictures of the classroom up soon. But I just looked at the clock and need to leave for church in an hour. And I'm still in my jammies, eating breakfast as I type this. Gotta fly!
Have a terrific day!
Have to say, we're celebrating this one to beat the band.
Last Thursday, the girls and I spent the day at IKEA with Mom and Dad--always a fun day. Bought some cactus (I know--but look how cute they are!) and some window panels to make some mistreatments (which still make me squeal when I walk in the door--they warm up the house so much.)
So. Here's the deal. I really, really do not like the cactus in my front yard. It's truly scary. But look at these! The ones on the left look like little Christmas trees. That God made these kinds of things AND peonies is incredible to me!
(These are held together with straight pins!)
Then Mom and Dad took us to dinner at the Rustler's Rooste--so yummy and so much fun. You enter the restaurant through a mine, then can take the stairs or the slide down to your table. (No need to hesitate for a second in guessing which I took!) We ate barbecue and steak and fry bread and the whole restaurant sang to me. The balloon man made me a wrist corsage and the waitress gave me a cowboy hat.
On Friday, Mom and Audrey and I went to Target and I found a dress for $6.38. Happy birthday to me! Then we had dinner at Joe's Farm Grill. Which wasn't really part of my birthday, but super yummy anyway.
Mom and Dad left on Saturday, which was sad. But Audrey and I went to Anthropologie to spend my birthday gift card, which was happy. (And that running is paying off!)
Sunday was church, doing a temporary dye job for the bowling party Audrey went to, then birthday dinner with our dear, dear friends, the Halls. They sang me the most off-key, loud, and obnoxious birthday song ever and I loved it like crazy.
Yesterday, Toben and Audrey and Emma gave me this beautiful necklace (how I love EVERYTHING at Anthropologie!) and Emma decorated the box just for me. I love it as much as I love the necklace.
We did school, I went to work at church in the afternoon, made Thai food for dinner, dyed Audrey's hair semi-permanently, and ate a birthday Blizzard from DQ that Toben brought home (Heath bar crunch--the ONLY kind of Blizzard as far as I'm concerned).
And yesterday also held more Facebook, email, text, phone call, bloggy birthday love than I ever expected or deserve. I am overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you.
Tonight, my friend Ali and I are having girls' night. Nail polish, girl movies, popcorn, jammies, and no kids. And Zac Ephron--can't forget him!
A few more pictures...
After all the map wonderfulness at Anthropologie last fall, I wanted some. And said so to my bloggy turned in-real-life last September friend Rachel. (If you don't know her, go meet her. She is terrific!) Wanna know what we did? Went to Anthropologie, for one! She said she had a bunch of maps in a box and would mail some to me. And she did!
They're stapled onto what was a big, blank, empty, blah wall, giving us something fun and colorful to look at. I love maps and could spend hours looking through an atlas. My grandmother loved maps too and they always make me think of her!
This picture is kind of dark and I tried to lighten it and now it's washed out. But you get the picture. We've added some lamps to the house, which means turning off the overhead ceiling fan light that shines like the sun, casting huge shadows on your face. The house looks better, I look better!
Brought back my stool from Denver, topped it with my new clock, and added a handful of pens. Call me crazy, but I have an obsessive love of Bic crystals. They are everywhere in our house, and may be worthy of a post all their own.
Lastly, here's a close-up of my mailbox by the front door. Isn't the writing on the card wonderful? I buy vintage postcards whenever I can find them--and ones that were actually mailed are my favorites. Makes me wonder who Nettie Hickman in Dana, Indiana was, what she was like, what she thought about and dreamed about.
While we were in Denver for Christmas, we visited our house there and dug through our stuff stored in the basement. I had some very specific ideas of what I was looking for--some of which I found, some of which was so far buried I had to give up.
The goal was to find some things that make me happy and bring them back to Arizona. Yes, I know that it's just stuff and I can live without it. But after six months of living without those little touches and treasures, it was time to bring some home to make this house feel more like home.
I'd been telling myself these things were just things, with no real purpose. But the more I thought about it, I realize that their purpose is just to make me happy. To cause me to smile when I see them. To give me something interesting to look at. And that's a good purpose.
Stuff is not the most important thing, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is important.
Nuf said. On with the pictures!
The vintage books in the rack came from Toben's mom. "Our Button Book" from my mom. And things like old jacks, scrabble letters, bingo pieces, and dominoes just make me happy. The girls do love to play with them, and use them for counters in math. And they're just so fun to look at!
Hmm...kinda blurry. Oh well, squint a little!
I've been doing my best to add more color around here. Vintage books on the shelves, our old quilt over the back of the couch, the Chinese checker board from my mom for the girls. (Why not hang it on the wall? We just pull it down when we're ready to play and hang it back up when we're done.)
The picnic basket was a score from shopping with my mom while we were in Denver. Here's a peek at what came inside, along with my new kitchen clock!
I have no idea what the original purpose of this piece of furniture was. But its job now is to hold all kinds of random treasures--porcelain door knobs, rooster-shaped candy molds and cookie cutters, birds' nests and wooden eggs, old sprinkler heads, tiny terracotta pots, Jello molds, Kristen's old jump rope with wooden handles, a railroad spike, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
There have been a few other fun changes, like my mailbox hanging by the door with lovely vintage postcard hanging out (I love old postcards--especially ones with writing on them!), but that's another post since I'd have to go take pictures in the dark.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!
P.S. In case you're wondering about the photos... Took them on my iPhone using Shake It Photo. My sister recommended the app, and if anyone would know about photo stuff it's her. It takes a picture, makes a noise like a Polaroid, and then you shake it to develop the picture. Not sure what it does to the color--saturation, cross processing--but it makes pictures look so cool!
I have to confess that I've done a whole lotta complainin' 'bout the house we're living in. A whole lotta complainin'. I've even said "I hate it!" a time or two or twenty. I've thought of it as temporary.
But home cannot be temporary if home is our family, God's presence in a house with us, the place we are together. Haven't I said--told others even?!--that home is wherever you are? Yes, ma'am.
We came back from our weekend in the mountains last month and transformed our bedroom in two days flat--together. It's the room I hated the most, the one that felt most temporary. And, yes, it reflected a lot of other things too, as was so clearly pointed out to me while we were away.
Wanna see what we did?
(Hmm...thought I had more than just ONE picture.)
We bought each other chairs for Christmas! And we haven't bought each other Christmas presents in forever. These sit in the corner of our room and we have our "morning meeting" (a whole 'nother post) there every day. And, yep, they recline. (And though you can't see it, they have really big stitching that remind me of True Religion jeans.)
We got new bedding too--super soft jersey sheets (red!) and you can just see a corner of the comforter in the picture. (Found at Walmart of all places! And 100 percent cotton and so soft!)
There's another new lamp on the dresser at the foot of the bed, some new candles that smell oh-so-yummy, and we're on the hunt for something to go on the wall over the bed.
And guess what? What was my least favorite room in the house went to being my favorite room in the house! (And, yep, that reflects a lot of other things too!)
When we moved to Phoenix, we fit everything we brought into a 6 x 6 x 12 U-haul trailer. Most of what we own is still in Denver, packed in boxes, stored in the basement.
Things like Christmas decorations.
It's hard not to think that if we were in Denver, I'd be sitting in my big comfy chair, having my quiet time by the lights on the Christmas tree I'd have put up yesterday. The house would smell like cinnamon candles and little bits of Christmas cheer would be tucked here and there among my favorite treasures that make a house a home.
Instead, the house looks the same as it has since the day we moved in and the sum total of my Christmas decorations are two latte mugs I bought at Walmart the other day for a grand total of $4.
Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and I'm feeling unsettled this year. Advent begins tomorrow and I don't have my Advent treasure boxes (scroll through to see all the treasures that go in the boxes), an Advent calendar like this one or these, or even a Christmas tree.
I do have some books. Which I will begin tomorrow. And maybe I'll include the rest of the family in those devotions that are usually mine alone.
This is just one more piece of this year in the desert. A harder piece than others. But a piece of the whole. And so, somehow, without this piece of it, the picture wouldn't be complete.
I've been thinking a lot about Providence (hello, Esther gals!). And choosing to believe that nothing happens by chance. God has us here in this place at this time for a purpose. To teach us, to grow us, to prepare us, to shape us, to test us, to define us. For his glory and for our good.
When we were in San Diego last month, Aunt Susan told me she had something for my mom, something she'd pulled out of the dumpster and stored out back for her.
This, to be exact:
A custom-made wooden slalem ski. Isn't the logo amazing?
We cleaned it up and hung it on the wall. It's not like we could send it in the mail, so we might as well enjoy it. I've told Mom that it's waiting for her if she wants it, but Toben loves it and has declared she's gonna have to fight him for it. Indian leg wrestling maybe?
Why a water ski for my mom?
Susan knows how much we love to ski every summer at the lake (of the Ozarks in Missouri, that is--Osage Beach, to be exact) and that my mother is a fabulous skier. (Kristen and I are sure it's in the genes, since we aren't too bad either and always get up on the first try.)
Mom learned on the bayou in Louisiana when she was a kid, so she had to good. In my mind, she learned to ski fast and well and not fall down so she wouldn't be eaten by the 'gators I imagine were here, there, and everywhere just waiting to eat her for lunch.
"Home again, home again, jiggity jig."
I can't help it, it just comes out of my mouth without thinking when I come home again after being gone awhile. This is the first time I've "come home" to Arizona since we moved, and I have to say it did feel like coming home. I didn't realize I wasn't sure about it until we hit the outskirts of Phoenix, but then I started feeling excited about the familiar sights and happy when the garage door went up.
Today's full of unpacking and laundry, catching up on school work (didn't quite do as much as I thought we would!), mopping the floor, and loving on our kitties who stayed home by themselves for the past five days. And Bible study tonight--have I mentioned how much I love this Esther study? (Beth, Melissa, and Amanda: You done GOOD on this one!)
Toben's headed to Denver this afternoon until tomorrow night--he gets to stay with my parents tonight. Lucky. And freeze. Since it's snowing there. Crazy.
Spiritual Mothering gals--I'm LOVING your posts and comments and working my way through them. And I especially love seeing that you're commenting to each other before I can. Makes me so happy to see my friends be friends with each other! (There's still time to join in--it's not too late!)
There's a million random-y random things I want to tell you (like why did the trash man seem to skip my house? did he just not get to my side of the street yet? is it because there's a huge box sticking out the top of the trash can?), but I need to get moving this morning.
See? You're secretly relieved I have to get going!
Happy Wednesday, everyone,
We've talked about this year in Phoenix as being set apart, a gift, an opportunity to do some things differently in our family. Celebrating biblical holidays, homeschooling, unplugging the television. (More on that here.)
And I mentioned that I'd thought about unplugging the television, but didn't say anything out loud for fear that my family would run for the hills and leave me behind in the dust. When Toben brought it up, I about fell over.
So here we are--three weeks into life without television. And it's good. Really, really good.
(If you asked the girls about it, they'd complain and moan and tell you it's horrible, awful, terrible, torture. But in the day to day, they don't talk about, don't mention it, don't seem to miss it at all!)
No TV means we could arrange our living room with conversation and people being the focus, not being able to see the television. And the room feels much bigger arranged that way. There's space to sit and talk and even lots of floor space to play.
No TV means our home is quiet. We do have music playing from time to time, but for the most part, it's just quiet. Calm. Peaceful. Restful. Toben comments on it at least once every couple of days.
No TV means more reading. More games. More playing with the few toys we brought. It means listening to books on tape (we've listened to all the AG Felicity books as well as Harriet the Spy so far and have some new ones from the library in the line-up).
No TV means that we're all together more, rather than some of us watching one television and others watching something else on another computer. It means finding something to do, rather than flipping it on just because.
The girls and I went to Hobby Lobby the other day and all their garden stuff was 80 percent off. So when I saw these crosses, they just had to come home with me.
So if my sad little Indian isn't enough, we have some otters living in the backyard. Otters? In the desert? (Oops--typed "dessert" the first time. Must be hungry!)
This is our front door and it totally makes me laugh every time I walk up to it because IT IS SO NOT ME. But he's growing on me in a funny sort of way.
While we are all unpacked and settled, there are a few projects I'd still like to get done around the house--pillows for the couch, a few curtain panels to hide some things on the shelves, and such. And I am wishing that I brought more of my treasures to scatter around.
After 11 hours and 40 minutes of straight driving from Osage Beach, Missouri to Centennial, Colorado, we're back home in our little house, bellies full of bowls of spaghetti, and getting ready to jump in the shower until the hot water runs out. And then crawl between the clean sheets in MY bed with MY pillow. Heaven...
Some of you may remember reading something in Living Simply about needs vs. wants. And about how Emma yelled for me one day to come watch an infomericial for some spinny kitchen storage stuff that she was certain we NEEDED. And how I kind of mocked it.
I love the color red. It's not a color I can wear particularly well (though I do anyway), but I love it. And so just about every room in my house has a touch of red.
I've seen these paper flowers from Martha Stewart at Michael's in the past, but when I saw them in Ava's room (my cutie patootie niece) I knew I needed to be a copycat. So we got some for Emma for her birthday and put them up this past weekend.
Isn't it funny how sometimes the smallest projects take the longest to actually do?
The girls and I made some homemade ice cream yesterday--WOW. You have to go get this recipe--the cards to download are just darling and the ice cream was out of this world. Really. Go download the recipe now, buy some ice, and get crankin'. I may even have some for breakfast.
That's the term Toben came up with the other day for that weird thing we do--wait forever to do a project we think will be a drag, but is never as bad/expensive/time-consuming as we expected.
My house is a pit.
The floors under the table are crumb-y, the kitchen floor has spills that have left spots, the bottom of my shower is grimy, the dust-bunnies along the edges of the rooms and under the couch are mating and reproducing like--well, rabbits. There's laundry neatly folded in the basket that's been waiting to be put away since Monday, the bathroom mirrors are splotchy with water marks, the windows have puppy nose prints and the sliding glass door has little girl hand prints. The kitchen counter is crumb-y and even sticky in places. The TV is dusty, there's litter on the floor outside the litter box.
In short, it's a disaster.
Confession number two? I'm not going to do a thing about it today.
Audrey is home sick with a sore throat, sniffly nose, and feeling tired and worn out. And I'm going to hang with her and work on her costume for the play that I've been promising to start for the past ten days.
So I'm not sure if that was good for my soul, but here's to keeping it real!
You may sew or crochet or embroider or knit.
You may patch, darn, or mend—or just chatter and sit.
You may sew a fine seam or make a dress fit.
Whatever you do, please come and do it.
Wednesday, February 27
If you would like to learn to knit, you will need to bring:
Size 15 straight knitting needles
1 skein of Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Yarn
A name I'm partial to since she's the main character in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, my all-time favorite movie. This Miss Millie is a little more substantial than the Millie in the movie, but she and Adam planned to have a whole passel of younguns and you know what that can do to a girl!
Miss Millie has been quite the inspiration around here these past few days. This is now hanging up in my room where I can see it everyday when I get dressed:
So, Miss Susan...from Millie and me you'll be receiving a copy too--as well as a few other goodies!
Friday evening: Oh my goodness...so many great suggestions that I'm having a hard time deciding. I'm going to have to sleep on it and announce her name tomorrow. So if any of you haven't left a suggestion, go ahead. I'll close the comments once I pick.
I'm off to pop some popcorn for Family Movie Night: Night at the Museum is showing here at the Heim house!
I've wanted an antique dress form for the longest time.
And just look who came home with me today! Isn't she just gorgeous?!
Some of you will think I'm crazy and not get why I love this...if that's you, just ignore me and come back tomorrow!
For those of you who do get it, I need your help. She needs a name.
So let's have a little competition. Leave a comment with the name you think I should give her. On Friday night, I'll pick my favorite and mail a prize (to be determined when creative inspiration strikes) to the winner.
(Just have to say, pearls really do go with anything, don't they?!)
P.S. Hey all you lurkers--yes, I mean you, Brenda!--isn't this the perfect opportunity to leave a comment?