Posts filed under ‘Home’

Orison Loves All Things Christmas

Our five-year-old is in love with Christmas. I know he’s not alone, all kids like Christmas. But I realized that his obsession excitement is helping me love Christmas more.

Not that I didn’t love Christmas before, it’s just that it becomes new and fresh and wonderful when you experience it through the excited and eager eyes of a child. That sounded really cheesy, but it’s true.

Last night my mother-in-law lovingly babysat our kids. One thing you should know about my mother-in-law: she has the most Christmas decorations of anyone I know. It’s like a Christmas Spectacular over there. And as you can imagine, for Orison, it’s a-ma-zing!

There are nativity sets from all over the world, lights in the windows, and even a life-size manger for re-enacting.

Orison told my mother-in-law that he was being Joseph and he was taking care of baby Jesus. She wrote a sweet and beautiful post reflecting on that idea.

Most days you can find him playing with his Playmobil Nativity set or with this magnetic doodad he got from… can you guess? His grandmama (the above-mentioned fellow Christmas fan)! He used this magnetic set to do Sunday School lessons for me and Abraham the other day.

He also loves to sing. There have been lots of traditional carols and some non-traditional ones he writes himself:

So if you’re needing a little shot in the arm of Christmas spirit, let us know! Orison would be more than happy to accomodate. He’s got enough to go around!

December 7, 2009 at 12:22 am 16 comments

Laundry Anxiety

I don’t know about you all (that’s y’all for my Southern peeps), but I didn’t do much laundry this weekend.

And now, I pay the price. Folding party at my house tonight! It’ll be fun… really.

Doesn’t she look like she’s having fun???

I realized that my anxiety about starting the laundry is two-fold:

  1. The sheer volume. Heavens to Murgatroyd, we dirty a lot of clothes. (By the way, I think I’m gonna name the lady in the photo Murgatroyd.)
  2. Not wanting to start and then find that I missed something.

I suffer more with the second one. I hate when I try to wash every last stitch of dirty laundry in our house, and then, as if from nowhere, a random dirty sock will appear. When that happens, it feels like it was all for naught.

And then, inevitably… the end of the day comes and there will be more dirty clothes, thus confirming the maddening phenomenon that is the laundry.

You know, you hear about postal workers going insane because “The mail never stops.” But I think more wives and moms would be justified to go similarly batty by the same token.

Okay, gotta go start this exercise in futility. I’ve put it off long enough by:

  1. Pondering.
  2. Posting.

So if you’re slogging through piles of laundry today, you’re not alone. And just remember Murgatroyd. She’s having so much FUN!!! (insert insane laughter).

November 30, 2009 at 12:10 pm 58 comments

Movin’ on up!

Last Sunday, just one week ago, we slept in our attic for the first time!!!

Our project is now complete!

I promise, promise, promise that I’ll post pics or a video this week. I’ve been trying to get all our stuff situated. Finding a home for everything is what takes the longest. And with a 13-month-old in tow, things seem to take 13x as long.

We still have some paint touch-up to do. Kelly@LoveWell shared an awesome tip for ongoing paint touch-up that I plan to put into place.

We’re feeling very satisfied with the end product (actually thrilled). Just to have a legitimate bedroom with a door that closes… it’s amazing.

As the project neared completion, I was actually feeling worried about having too much space. But God gave us a sweet confirmation about how to use our space the other night.

A fellow blogger and Twitter friend, Zach Nielsen, tweeted the other night that he and his wife were likely going to be stuck in the Minneapolis airport overnight on their way to the Together for Adoption Conference.

Abraham tweeted him back and said, “If you end up needing a place to stay, call me.” (We’ve met Zach in person before and we share a lot of mutual friends—we don’t necessarily invite any old stranger to spend the night.)

A few minutes later we got a phone call, Abraham left for the airport, and we had our first house guests in the newly-purposed guest room!

We have lots of decorating to do, but that’s easy work in comparison with what we’ve been doing. Most of all, we’re just happy to have all the major decisions made, the heavy stuff moved, and two healthy kids sleeping deeply in their new room.

October 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm 10 comments

Our home renovations (read: What we’ve done all summer)

For those of you newer to this blog, you might not know that we’ve been in the throes of remodeling our home for the last year. Here’s the timeline.

Summer 2008
Found out the duplex next door to our house was being foreclosed on, and got interested in buying it.

July 2008
Bought the duplex. Began the process of getting the tenants out (they were not appealing tenants).

August 2008
What I like to call Phase One began: ripped out and installed a new IKEA kitchen in the rental unit (downstairs unit). Had hardwood floors redone. 4 tons of painting. 16 tons of cleaning. It was seriously horrifying that people choose to live in such conditions. And believe me, in this case, it was a choice.

September 2008
Had tenants—nice ones—move into the downstairs unit. Began Phase Two: kitchen remodel for our unit (upstairs).

December 2008
Moved into the upstairs unit of duplex with our kitchen remodel complete.

A rabbit trail of explanation:
Part of what we did to remodel our kitchen was to knock out a wall between the former kitchen and the 2nd bedroom in the unit. We made the 2nd bedroom into our eat-in area. Let’s do the math, shall we?

2 bedrooms – 1 bedroom = 1 bedroom.

That’s right, folks, one bedroom for four people.

We decided to give the kids the bedroom and put our bed in a little foyer/boot room at the front of the house. Our bed and side tables fit perfectly (seriously, there’s not an inch to spare), and if you shimmy around the end of the bed you can get to the closet. Or if you’re Abraham, you can just throw all your clothes in the living room.

Okay, back on track…

June 2009
Phase Three began: renovations of the attic/3rd floor, where we had designed for there to be 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a little family room.

Thankfully we weren’t doing that work ourselves. Abraham’s brother is a general contractor and owns a company called Piper Construction. He’s pretty much amazing. He has one employee named Phil, who happens to be one of our closest friends. It’s been awesome entrusting our project to them.

The final house breakdown: apartment on the first floor, our family on floors 2 & 3.

September 2009
This has been a full year of renovations. Needless to say, I’m sick of renovations excited to be done.

Right now we’re in the final stages. We’re painting—A LOT. It all began last week when Abraham and I tried our hand at a paint sprayer for the first time. It was our first time in full Hazmat gear.


Lookin’ good, huh?

We’ve moved onto the edging, and there’s a ton of stuff still left to do. That’ll be our Labor Day—laboring for our current and future family.

Thought I’d catch you all up on how we’ve spent our summer. What about you? Done anything insane fun?

September 6, 2009 at 8:34 pm 20 comments

The best Christmas present I ever got.

We had a nice Christmas yesterday, very full of family and food. I was thrilled by my husband, who is a tremendous gift-giver, with my first iPod!

But the best Christmas present I ever got from him came four years ago.

Picture it—Christmas 2004…

I was a new mother, just six weeks out from the delivery of my own firstborn son.


I was a new stay-at-home mom, which was definitely a shock to the system. I never realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in getting dressed in the morning, getting the things done in my day that I wanted to do, sitting down to eat meals instead of grabbing whatever I could get my hands on by 11am, getting to wear my Speech Language Pathologist hat five days a week, etc.

I was enjoying our son, don’t get me wrong, but it was definitely a process where God was remaking me and changing who I was and how I viewed myself.

That Christmas, we had very little money. We had just bought our first house and those mortgage payments were definitely daunting with one income. So Abraham and I decided not to buy gifts for each other that year.

I didn’t obey. I felt horrible not having something for him to open on Christmas morning. I don’t even remember what I bought him—probably something like a shirt or tie—nothing that required too much thought. I just couldn’t deprogram myself from the materialistic aspect of Christmas.

Abraham obeyed. He didn’t buy me anything. On Christmas morning he had me play Hot and Cold. You know, the game. So the game sent me up our staircase (getting warmer and warmer) and into Orison’s bedroom.

By now, I was hot!

As I walked over to the dresser/changing table I was BURNING!! Perplexed, I looked at him and he handed me a simple slip of paper printed from the computer. It said:

When I’m home, I’ll change the diapers.

I remember being glad and thinking, “Aw, that’s really sweet.”

But the magnitude of the gift really hit me as the months and months went on through 2005, when he’d come home at 5pm and, never complaining or shirking, give to me over and over.

I tried not to take advantage of the gift, like letting Orison stay in that messy diaper for just 10 more minutes until the clock struck 5!

I can’t tell you how much that gift changed my experience of being a stay-at-home mom. I was energized by that gift, knowing that Abraham was seeing that there were aspects of my new career that were taking some getting used to. He saw into my struggle and gave me a beautiful gift, from his heart.

Now that he works from home, I don’t hold him to the same standard—the man has to work sometimes! But he still changes more than his fair share. It’s a habit he’s gotten into gladly and it continues to this day.

I know it’s too late for you husband readers to do it for this Christmas, but keep it in your bag of tricks for next year! Or… think of another task you could do for your wife that would bless her socks off. It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

December 26, 2008 at 9:08 pm 26 comments

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet: A Video Tutorial

It wasn’t until I was about twenty-eight years old that my friend Shannon taught me how to fold a fitted sheet. I was over at her house when she was folding and I made a comment about how I hate folding fitted sheets. Mine always ended up looking like a balled-up mess.

She promptly passed on her sheet-folding wisdom, changing my experience forever. Now I look forward to the fitted sheets!

If I only I could figure out a trick for flat sheets. Aside from getting extendable arms, I’m not sure there’s really a solution.

December 9, 2008 at 10:24 am 73 comments

We’re landlords…kind of.

Some of you already know about this, to others it will be a surprise—we bought a duplex!

I’ve read some of Amy’s scary posts on owning properties, but feel that our situation is truly different for a number of reasons:

1. It’s next door to our current house.
2. It’s half a mile from our large church, and many people are looking to rent in this neighborhood to be close to the church.
3. We’re going to be living in it.

That’s right, sometime in the early fall we will be moving next door! It really was a cool opportunity for us. Basically here’s the deal: We live in a house that is about 1400 square feet. Not bad for our needs. However, the layout is just not going to work for the long term.

We have three bedrooms, but one of them is on the first floor. Not that that’s a bad thing, but we live in a pretty urban area, where it would not be sensible for anyone to live on the first floor except the parents. However, the room is pretty small and would make it difficult for us to have even a dresser in there if we had a bed. And it might mean we’d have to go down to a full-size bed, which we could do, but going down a size would be really hard. (I am not a snuggler.)

Honestly, I love my current house so much. I’ve said repeatedly, “If there we some way to make three bedrooms on the second floor, I’d stay here the rest of my life.”

Anyway, we found out the duplex next door was being foreclosed on, and it’s a very nice place. It has some aesthetic things to take care of, but nothing major. The previous owners put new siding on last summer, had all the trim painted, got new furnaces for both units, had a new fence put up, had concrete sidewalks poured, and all new windows put in throughout.

Here’s our plan: There’s a really huge third floor that is currently unfinished. We will move into the second floor apartment and finish the third floor with three bedrooms (all on one level-yes!) and a bathroom. Plus on our main level we’ll have a guest bedroom. And then we’ll have the first-floor unit to rent!

It’s going to be a crazy time of transition, but we’re really excited for it. This was basically the only way we could get more house for our family (which we pray will grow through the years) without making a bigger mortgage payment (which would cost too much).

I look forward to updating you on our life changes.

The current tenants leave at the beginning of August. Can’t wait to show it to you!

July 22, 2008 at 12:46 am 20 comments

A Mother of a Birthday

Or maybe, “A Birthday of a Mother?” 😉

My 29th birthday was on Friday. I think I was able to handle the passage of time a little better since the day was so full. I had to work during the day, so I was automatically gone from 8-4:30pm.

Then Abraham and Orison picked me up from work and took me on a “surprise shopping binge,” which turned out to be at a nursery/gardening store that I’d never been to but everyone always tells me about and says is awesome. Well everyone, you’re right. Gerten’s is amazing/overwhelming. If you live in MN, you simply must go. Orison’s favorite part was running around by the fountains and looking at the “huge” fish!

I have a garden plan that my dear friend Mary, who is a professional gardener, drew up for me a couple years ago. There was one tree on there that I was hoping to get in the ground this year, but for some reason the breed of tree has been discontinued. So Abraham was in secret contact with Mary & her husband last week to get their suggestions of what tree would be a good replacement, considering size, resistance to disease, hardiness for our climate, etc. Well, Mary & Carl actually went to Gerten’s earlier in the day and hand-selected the perfect tree for my yard, an Adams Crabapple.

Then I picked out annuals for my pots. Those are getting done TODAY!

We stopped for sandwiches at Potbelly’s (one of my faves if you want fast), and proceeded home. When we got to the garage I got to see another one of my presents—a basket for the front of my bike! We are trying to bike as much as possible this summer (thus saving gas) and I think this basket will be so helpful!

Orison was busting at the seams at this point because he had made “ice cream cake” for me that day with Abraham’s help. Basically, Abraham put scoops of the ice cream we had in the house into little bowls and Orison used a spoon to push it down into the bowls and then refroze them. Anyway, he ran to the house in a flash and was getting things out of the freezer and getting spoons and doing it all—he was so excited, which made it so adorable to watch. They sang “Happy Birthday” and I blew out my candle and we ate the cake, the whole time with Orison smiling with pride. It was perfect.

We’ve been doing progressive celebrating all weekend. On Saturday Abraham helped me plant my tree, Orison went away to the grandparents for few hours so we could have a “home date.” It’s so amazing to be at home together with no child/children. Try it sometime—find a sitter and then go home! We worked in the yard, we grilled a delicious lunch, we enjoyed the silence… it was a beautiful thing. After church that night, we went to DQ and got a different ice cream cake (a tradition from my family) and sang and ate cake AGAIN!

Sunday was a picnic with Abraham’s family and our dear friends the Livingston’s. It was a beautiful day (finally in the 80s) and the kids had a great day of running in the yard and eventually swimming. There was one “kid” they hadn’t bargained on, though!

We will have a quiet-ish Memorial Day today, but we’re celebrating Day #4 of my birthday! Today it meant that Orison & Abraham did my “morning jobs” this morning, emptying the dishwasher and loading the breakfast dishes.

And to close, here is a picture of our family on our bikes (already putting my basket to good use)! And to make us even more dorky, I have a bell on my bike too!

May 26, 2008 at 2:59 pm 15 comments

Tasks for Tots: What are good jobs around the house for kids?

What age were your kids when you started giving them daily/weekly chores?

What jobs did you start with?

Any tips for keeping it fun and motivating?

At three and a half, O thinks that doing jobs is really great, but he’s not that good at it. His idea of dusting is taking a rag and wiping in one little area many times and then moving on.

I want to teach responsibility and a good work ethic to him, but sometimes it just goes so much faster to do it myself! But that’s what my mom did, and thus I didn’t know how to do laundry until I went to college. That was totally not cool.

May 15, 2008 at 9:18 am 32 comments

“Safe” Cosmetics

Lately I’ve been thinking about more natural ways of living, more simple ways of living, etc. I hesitate to say “going green” because that means so many different things to so many different people. One area I’ve been researching a bit is safer cosmetics.

Some of what I’ve found is alarming. Some of what I’ve found is overwhelming. I simply don’t know how far to go with this stuff. Do we only put natural, “safe” cosmetics on our skin to prevent things like cancer, neurological disorders, and reproductive damage? Or do we live with what the cosmetics industry gives us and trust that they are going to do the right thing by the human race in general? Or is there a middle ground?

Most of my internet research has been at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. On this site, they identify companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

Part of why I feel like I just want to give up on this whole issue is that there is so much information to know, so many products to avoid, so many more dollars to spend on “safe” products. I’m just overwhelmed.

Here’s the tension:

  • I want to be responsible with my body and the bodies that God has entrusted to me as a caregiver.
  • I also want to be financially responsible with the resources God has given me. I simply cannot afford to go out and buy all new stuff and experiment with the hundreds of brands out there until I find one I like.
  • As a Christian, how “safe” can I be in this world? I read one verse like this: Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe,” and I question the issue as a whole.

If any of you out there have committed to safer cosmetics, or have been researching and are farther along than me, I would love your advice and feedback. For others, what do you think about this issue in general? Obviously I haven’t made a decision either way, so I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on the matter.

May 12, 2008 at 8:53 am 40 comments

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