Learning to make some pretty sweet lemonade...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You Oughta Be in Pictures

I finally got around to taking some pictures.  They are not award-winning, magazine-worthy, but I hope they will give you a little idea of what the house is shaping up to be.  

This is a peek at our dining room through the side porch.  I love my orb o' flowers.  I've been waiting almost a year to see it up!

 Here's another shot of the dining room from the living room.  

The kitchen from the back entryway.  Charlie managed to find his way in most of my shots.  He's nervous.  It's raining and thundering outside.  

Kitchen view from the front entry hall.

Kitchen view from the dining room.  The black rectangle is the dishwasher that is awaiting it's panel and handle so it will match the rest of the kitchen.  

Can you believe these floors?  They were topped with tons of glue, black glue, and linoleum.  I can't believe they can sand all of that off!  This is the original hutch.  The wall you see between it and the fridge is what's left of the original wall that separated the kitchen and eating space.

The living room view from the side porch.  It's not completely settled, but it's getting there.

The living room from the other side.  I'm still editing the bookshelves. They are so hard to get just right.

You know, I have found out a lot about myself in this process.  It's not our first move, by any means.  In fact, this is our seventh move in 12 years.  You'd think I would have it down to a science.  I do, in some ways, but I have discovered that moving into this particular house has changed the game.  In the past, we get a house, then move in.  Our stuff has to fit, and we just get it in there and start living, knowing that we will move on eventually.  Not so here.  This is the house where we will settle when Craig retires.  I want it to be perfect.  And that's impossible.  To expect each room to look like the magazine pictures that I have poured over for the last 9 years since we've owned this home, is an impossible expectation and heaps unnecessary pressure on an already stressful situation.  But I want that, at least for a few minutes.  Just let me get the room how I want it, let me sit in it, walk out of the room and come in again and enjoy it, then we can commence to living.   As you can see, it's not there yet.   And that's okay.  I'm coming to terms with it.  Somewhat.  

It's not unlike Christianity.  And I say Christianity, as opposed to a relationship with Jesus on purpose, because they really are two different plights.  Christianity holds an expectation, both from the Christian and those around who are involved with said Christian.  Many times, we come to the Christianity table with the misconception that life is going to be a magazine spread of happiness and good times.  Then reality hits.  Life, like houses, gets messy.  There are chips in the new paint, scratches on the floor, unexpected leaks and obstacles, and basically, life is moving on around us.  That's where the relationship part comes in.  The only expectation is to live in Christ.  He doesn't tell us to cast all our cares on Him because He wants us to be happy.  He wants to help us shoulder our burdens.  He doesn't say come, all who are perfect and carefree and I will give you wealth and happiness beyond compare.  He says come, all who are weary and heavy laden and He will give us rest.  Sometimes we just have to get beyond the clutter, the mess, the "rooms" that still need a lot of work, and go answer the door when He comes knocking.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Plate...It is Full

I'm not too pleased with myself that my last post was Dec. 11th of last year.  My apologies.  You see, I, like many of you, am a professional plate handler.  Some of you may wear different hats, you might even juggle.  It's all the same, really.  Pick your poison, it's all a balancing act, trying to keep it all going.  And yes, that's me, in the middle.  I look a little Asian, don't let it alarm you.  And those are all my little trainees.

Isn't that the truth, though?  I only have two children, but aren't they essentially my trainees?  Aren't they watching what I do in order to one day try and balance their own lives?  Scary, on many, many levels.  

Right now, however, in this stage of our life in the Navy, it is necessary to not only balance the current plates, but add some to those large platters up there on my partner's feet.  It's crazy how I can balance not only the plates in my hands, but another human being with her own plates and a couple of pupu platters.   Thus, the plate is quickly getting full, and according to, it means:  "to be very busy with many different activities".  


We are getting ready to move.  It's been on the horizon, and now it is quickly approaching with no hope of slowing down.  And lately, the closer it has become, the harder the poop-storm wages, if you know what I mean.  

There are obviously things on our plate that are not necessary, like garnish.  My garnish is typically things I worry about that I really have no control over.  But I like to feel like I have control over them, so I just throw them on with the other things, just in case.  This is not a Navy move, so we are doing it ourselves.  Craig is staying in VA to complete his time on the ship.  It was a really difficult decision to make, but it's the right thing.  He will never be home.  He already is not home much as it is.  But it's going to get worse.  If we are not here, it actually takes quite a lot off of his plate.  He doesn't have to worry about spending time with us, or the lack of time he'll get to spend.  He won't have to worry about us when the weather doesn't cooperate, when we get sick, if he's not here and we have an emergency, whatever might arise in the coming year.  And though it is the right decision for us and our family, it does not by any means make it easy.

In the midst of this impending move, unexpected things have been put on the plate by the Chef.  He knows the purpose of these things, and how they will eventually compliment the other items.  We just have to "taste and see that the Lord is good".  Some of you know that we have been reluctantly pursuing a medical path with Carter, stemming from a strange bald spot that appeared around Thanksgiving, and after some doctor visits and blood tests have revealed a positive result regarding the presence of antinuclear antibodies, typically indicating an autoimmune issue.  We went in wondering about alopecia and its derivatives and came out with a referral to a children's rheumatologist.  It could be something, it could be nothing...

Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, because it's just not something you wear on your lapel or put on your facebook status, I have had some health issues that are going to result in a partial hysterectomy for me.   We are complete as a family, but it is always unnerving to have a part of you removed, but it is a necessary thing.  But I can't pursue this until we are settled and I find a doctor, who hopefully will pick up where we have unfortunately had to leave off here.  Thus, there is concern we will have to start all over and I will live with this a little longer than I would prefer.  

The transition from one place to another is not foreign to many, especially those of us in the military community.  Sometimes the moves are easier than others.  This one is so bittersweet.  We have really enjoyed our time here...we have a great church family, have many wonderful, true friends, but we have been away from "home" for almost thirteen years now.  It will be nice to finally settle and have family with us, even though we are without Craig for a while.  I feel like we are now living in a state of flux, and it's not my favorite place to be.  I get antsy, full of nervous energy.  I can only pack so much before it's time to really pack. 

We are taking the kids and the dog to my parents' so we can come back and pack up the house and load the truck.  Carter doesn't remember our last move, as he was only 13 months when we moved here.  He doesn't understand how this is all going to go down, what will stay, what will go, why is someone else going to live here.  Will they keep his stuff?  All the worries of a five-year-old.  Kids are resilient, though, and it will soon be a distant memory...for us all.

It's just a lot.  And I know it's all under control, the right control, and that this post is just shy of morose, but it's where we are right now.  It is, however, only a season, and we know that there is a season:

 A Time for Everything

1There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9What does the worker gain from his toil? 10I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him."  
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14

If that doesn't pertain completely to this post, then nothing does.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Valley Girl

Valley Song - Jars of Clay
"I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy"

Mountain of God - Third Day
"Even though the journey's long,
and I know the road is hard.
Well the one who's gone before me,
He will help me carry on.
And after all that I've been through,
now I realize the truth
that I must go through the valley
to stand upon the Mountain of God."

Psalm 23: 1-4
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

I was reading a friend's blog the other day.  She mentioned in the first paragraph of her post that she had been in a bit of a valley as of late, and needed to make the long trudge up the mountain.  I haven't been able to get that statement out of my mind since I read it.

You know, Christians have a language all their own.  And the funny thing is, we think everyone speaks it.  I mean, let's be real, if we really stepped back and listened to ourselves, we sound like a cult.  Maybe we're not as creepy, but think of what it sounds like when we're all amening and singing about the blood.

So what does it mean to you if you hear someone talking about "going through a valley" or "being in the valley", even, how about this one, "I'm just between mountain tops"?  Typically, when I hear these things, I immediately think that person is going through a bit of a rough patch.  I've even said it myself to signal that things aren't as I think they should be, or I'm not feeling it, if you know what I mean.  Let's even go here:  If you've ever been to youth camp, you come back on the mountain top!  You have seen the face of God and lived to tell about it!  And in about 3 months, right about the time school starts again, you're back in the valley.

We are accustomed to the gloom of the valley, so to speak, automatically associating it with a time of trial, or lack of joy, or zeal.  The two songs and the Psalm above reference this, as well.  So I started looking at the various references to valleys in the Bible.  There are many, to be sure.  But what I found went far beyond what I thought.  Up until this point, I had really only thought of a valley in two ways, the Christian distress signal, and something likened to the picture above.  Funny enough, that valley is in Pakistan.  Doesn't look to distressing, does it?

I found that throughout the Bible, the term valley was used mainly in reference to a specific valley.  Each valley mentioned had a specific purpose.  Some were locations of battles, or preparations for battle.  They were places known for their fertile soils and ample water supplies, perfect for growth, prosperity, and settlement.  They were even, at times, places where the Lord required a period of waiting.  Valleys eventually turned into places of idol worship and pagan ritual toward the latter books of the Old Testament.  That's interesting, because it seems typical that prosperity leads to idolatry.  The final mention of the word was in the book of John.  There was much mention in the prophecies of the Old Testament of the valleys being raised and the high places, or mountains, being leveled, and that the Lord will sit on the Throne of Judgment to judge all nations.

It is really notable that in John 18:1, Jesus walked through the Valley of Kidron, also thought to be the Valley of Jehoshaphat.  This Valley is believed, although controversially, of course,  to be where God will judge the nations.  "When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley.  On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it."  I find it significant that Jesus walked the path of His own judgment, knowing He would return to judge the living and the dead.  (I Peter 4:5)

I have walked through my own valley in recent days, but I have seen that valley differently this time, all because of a friend's statement about her own feelings.  I have tried to take the opportunity to rest, to grow, to refresh, to wait, to examine myself and my motives, and to prepare for the battle I will most certainly face.  

And the best part?  Right here, in Zephaniah 3:17 

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  
He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, 
he will rejoice over you with singing."  

He goes before me.  He goes beside me.  He carries me.  And He sings, all the while.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The One You've Been Waiting For...

Turn off the player to your right on this one.  The singers just can't compete with this one...Might need to put on some country music.  Just a suggestion.

I didn't think it proper to title this post "Truck Balls", just in case there were Googlers out there thinking this was the place for them.  But, I know that topic #5 from a previous post was what you all are waiting for, so instead of boring you with other things, let's just dive in.

I can't remember the first time I saw them, but I will say my reaction was epic.  It was a mess of a small gag, a "What in the world?!?!", an "Are you kidding me?!?!", and then a "Where does one go to get a set of those?"

Seriously, I like to crawl into the minds of others.  Case in point:  We had just gotten back into VA from a summer in AR...

Shall we pause here?  Who summers in AR?  We do, apparently.  Maybe when we finally settle there, we'll summer elsewhere.

So, anyway, we were back in VA and we were headed to Walmart, because that's where you have to go when you return from an extended stay and your home is devoid of creature comforts, like food and toilet paper.  As we passed the bus stop, I found myself feeling the overwhelming need to crawl in the lady's mind that was standing there so fabulously waiting for her coach.  She was a lovely black woman with some serious curly extensions (loved them!).  She was dressed to the nines, tight white tank, layers of gold jewelry around her neck and wrists, and zebra pants, or were they leggings?  And you couldn't tell where the pants ended and the shoes began.  That's just awesomeness!  I mean, it's Saturday night and girl is going OUT!  But what I want to know is where you get an outfit like that?   And what goes through one's mind when you take that up to the counter to pay for it?  Do you buy the shoes and pants at the same time?  Buy the shoes first and take them to match the pants?  These are important queries!

And that brings us full circle to these:  I even hesitate to put a picture on here, so I chose one that was a little easier on the eyes than the full-on picture.  I mean, have you seen these?  I really would like to meet the people who think that their truck needs genitalia!  Doesn't the size, height of the truck, along with the vicious roll bars and the fact that this was probably taken in the South speak loud enough?

Where would you even go to purchase these?  I know, you can Google it and find a bevy of websites.  But let's go back further.  Where does the thought even enter your mind?  Do you go into a truck stop for a beverage and a Ding Dong and think, "Yep, it's time I bought some of those balls for my truck!"  What is the mentality of walking up to the cashier and slapping those babies up on the counter and looking that person straight in the eye as they ask you, "Is that all for ya?"

"Is that ALL?", you say.  "These are legendary!  These are the things stories are made of!  I will be respected in this town!  And if you ever want to know what gender my truck is, make no mistake, you will KNOW!"  Chest bump, high five, fist bump and explosion sound, with a big spit of chaw on the side!  That's what I'm talkin' about, y'all!!!

It doesn't look good for the Southern folk, I'm telling you.

But for the Southern gentleman, I present these...

Sadly enough, I found them while looking at a top so-many list of gifts for men this Christmas season.  

Really?  Is there no end to a man's obsession?  Do I even need to post pictures of some of our monuments?  Of the weapons at Yorktown to which I was exposed whilst on tour with my husband and his youngest brother?  Let's just say it's clear who's heading up the design process.  

Not sure I'll ever understand the male mind...either one of them...I just thought this all should be addressed, and yet, we are nowhere.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Into Darkness...

(Before you go any further, go to the right of the page and click on "What Do I Know of Holy" by Addison Road...I didn't realize it until I previewed this post, but this song is perfect!)

I've been sitting here for an hour now, putting off writing this post.  I've actually been pushing it all aside for about three weeks now.  Do you ever do that?  You know the Lord has something to say, something to reveal, yet you push it back, cover up the opportunity, out of fear, maybe?  I have drowned out His voice the past few nights with noise.  Senseless noise.  Surrounding my senses with those on display, those who make me seem not-so-bad, not-so-lost, not-so-helpless.  The hoarders, the fighters, the entitled, the misfortuned, the lost...

I used to go with a friend to hear a band at a local church.  Their music was so powerful, the Living God was so present that it actually frightened me.  I wouldn't go back for weeks.  There have been times that I am fervently in the Word, hearing the voice, the will, the direction of Him, and then I slam the Book shut, shelf it.  And I stay away.

Why am I so afraid of what He has to say?  Why am I so untrusting and stained with unbelief that I fear the darkness?  It's been so long since I've been in this place that I hardly know what to do, how to handle it, how to give it over, how to just be still.

A friend led me not only to a verse, but to a characteristic of God that I, frankly, had never thought about.  She said,

"He is with you in the dark.
He is a God of darkness:

Psalm 97:2
"dark clouds surround Him.
Righteousness and justice are the
foundation of His throne."

He will surround you, though dark.
His Righteousness will under gird you - His justice will teach you -
And you will rest in His Abba lap
on His throne."

I've never thought of God as a God of darkness.  It sounds so, well, evil, and dark.  If you Google "darkness" in an image search, you really will find that evil, lurid and terrifying graphic that most people would associate with the word.  When I think of darkness, I think of not only evil, but the absence of light.  

The absence of light.  It's scary.  It's unnerving.  It's vulnerable.  It's seemingly solitary.

But I was reminded as I reread chapter 8 in "1000 Gifts" that God hid Moses in darkness so that He could show him His glory.  I needed that reminder, so I went to Exodus to search further.

Moses approached the Lord so boldly.  In our casual world, we approach the throne many times with such frivolity, treating the Creator of the Universe like a magic 8 ball, or genie, or  even a marketplace vendor, "I'll give you this for that, nothing more, nothing less", and we demean the very character of God.  Our boldness is more that of audacity than fervency.

Exodus chapter 33, verse 11 tells us that "the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend."  Verse 17 tells us that the Lord was pleased with Moses and He knew him by name.  

Personal, intimate, relationship.

And Moses asked for it.  He asked for the glory of God to be revealed in his presence, and the Lord granted his request.

But...He put Moses in the cleft of the rock and covered him with his hand (v 22).  It makes me sing the hymn just reading those words: 

"He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand."

 He plunged Moses into darkness to protect him, to reveal Himself to him, and to show him where He had been.  And He is plunging me into darkness right now.  Moses embraced the darkness because he knew that's where he would see God. (20:21; 24:18).

The details of my darkness are not necessary to this post, and may never be, and that's okay.  That's between me and God.  I just know that in the end, there will be light, because the Lord is in the habit of turning darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29, Psalm 18:28, Isaiah 42:16, John 1:5)  So I will embrace this time, this season, this darkness, knowing that I will soon see His back, knowing He has passed by and knowing that in all things, He is faithful.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Transformation

For my friends that have seen the house already, this is nothing new.  But this is a bit of a before and after.  Can I just say that I am a little sad that this paper is gone?  Just a little.  It might have been nice in a much lesser quantity than from the entry foyer up and over the ceiling to the upstairs hallway.  All things in moderation, I guess.

This is how I remember this house for most of my life.  It never bothered me until it became my own.  It is a bit on the dark, bordello side.

This is a view from the landing.  Still dark.

And this is what was underneath the red.  Doesn't Turner look little here?

This is the state in which we left it last summer.  Primed and ready to paint.  I'm so glad we waited so I could really mull over my paint choices.  

This is the dormer window in the upstairs hallway before:

You never know what you're going to find around the house these days!

Hallway dormer window after:  We really wanted to try and make the benches look like they have been there since the house was built.  I think the guys did a great job.  And it's a fun hiding place, unless you're in it and someone is sitting there.  Somehow that scenario didn't cross my mind until it happened.  I had to threaten to add locks!  Fortunately, we have 3 benches, one for each kid, since we had them put in Turner's room, too.

Here's another shot of the hallway after the floors were refinished.  We had our contractor add a sconce and the lantern is actually an outdoor light from Lowes.  We wanted something different than the norm and really like the rustic feel of the outdoor lighting.  Plus, it was nice to find something to offset the cost of our fan.

This fan.  It's pretty amazing, though.  The foyer has no ventilation through the central air, so it gets pretty hot up there.  This fan spins around and then you can also adjust the speed and angle of the cage fans.  It makes a world of difference!

 Another shot of the fan.  I just love it.  If you want one for your home:  Lighting Direct  has the best prices around, plus free shipping.  This particular fan is the Minka Gyro fan in antiqued bronze.

I took the opportunity to add a punch of color up here.  There is no other color in the hallway, besides the zebra print runner that will go on the stairs.  Plus, I have orange no other place in the house, so this is the perfect opportunity to do something fun, and the grey in the paisley design will tie in with the zebra and the paint color.  

I love the way it's coming together, and I hope I don't ruin it when I move in.  It's just so nice and clean and empty right now.  

Next up:  the upstairs bath.  Ooooooo!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Chandelier Redo

I just can't seem to blog.  It's not that I don't have the time. I just don't have the want to, I guess.  But, I thought I would share this one because, well, it would just be horrible to not share it.  Some of you might have a brassy chandelier.  Some of you may like said brassy chandelier.  But if you fall in the "don't like" camp, this post is for you.

I'm not the first person to paint a brass chandelier.  I know this.  That's not the good part anyway.  My chandelier came from my gramma's house in all it's brassy glory.  And here's how it went down.

I hung it out on the clothesline, because that's what it's for, right?  I spray primed that baby, then sprayed it with a high gloss black.

While it was drying, I started thinking about those candle covers.  There just had to be something out there besides white or off-white.  Boring.  So, I Googled it, and a few minutes of searching later found the kaarskoker site.  Now, I know that my chandelier only has five arms, but they are sold in pairs, go figure, and though some of them were on sale, the ones I liked were $16 a pair.  Spending around $60 for a tiny upgrade for my chandelier didn't seem to cost-effective to me.

So, here's what I came up with, after bouncing ideas off of my parents, who are my creative cohorts.

Duck tape.  It comes in so many fun patterns and colors, y'all!  And it looks great.  $4.00 upgrade.  Hello, Mrs. Frugal McFrugalton!  Then, when I'm over the zebra, it's an easy change.  I can always go back to white, right?

This is in our main bathroom, and do you know that the hardest thing about hanging this piece was getting it high enough that Craig wouldn't smack his head every time he walked in, and keeping it from looking stupid hanging so high.  I think we got it.  Here are a few more pics of that bath:

This is a jelly cabinet that was in my parents' garage.  Gotta love their penchant for junking, because this is a great piece!  It fits right behind our bathroom door for a little extra storage.  It's waiting on a new bottom for the drawer and I sprayed the hardware black.  Can you believe that tile on the floor?

I know what you're thinking: a.  this girl is nuts for taking a picture of the doorknobs; b. look at the paint that she apparently missed on the hardware; or c. can you believe the carpet in that hall and foyer?  Well, I took a picture of the doorknobs to show the attention to detail that went into this house when it was built.  The knob is silver on the bathroom side because all of the fixtures are silver, and then the brass side matches the rest of the hardware throughout.  I would have never thought of this if building from the ground up.  I have so much to learn.

This is one side of the built-in cabinets that flank the sink.  It's hard to tell, but I painted them the darker of my two shades of "putty", and added the black hardware.  

You can't beat the vintage sink and tile in this room!  You'd pay out the nose to have it done now.  We love it, right down to the double stack of soap in the holder and the soap pump on the sink.  Hey!  Remodeling is a dirty business!


I took this shot whilst on the toilet.  You know, when you take a window treatment down, you should have something on hand to put back up.  Since we obviously didn't think that far in advance, I just went ahead and did my biz and periodically I would wave, and sometimes point and wave, just in case someone could actually see me.  That's my parents' house you see right there.  They're used to it, or they will be soon!

Don't hate on the boombox on the floor.  A girl needs her work tunes.  Here's another thing I found out, just so you know the ins and outs when you come to stay at Chez Tec...if you are sitting on the toilet, you can look to your left and when those double doors are open, waaaaaaay on the other side of the living room, you can wave at the neighbors across the street.  Moral?  Shut the door, keep out the devil, people!

I'm sorry I don't have a shot of the tub and shower.  The tub area is to the right of my radio and it is really something.  It's set back into a little alcove with a curved ceiling, then we have a separate shower.    Hopefully my picture taking abilities will improve.  Until then, you'll just have to wing it.