Sunday, August 23, 2015

shutter removal

this weekend i removed the shutters from the windows above my kitchen sink.

unscrewed the hinges and yanked those suckers right out of there.
bingo-bango. now banned to the basement storage room.
i've got a little patching and touch up painting to do, but, immediately, i knew i liked the result of my removal.

who knew all this sunshine and greenery (and flower boxes) was hiding behind those heavy shutters.

sometimes, home -- and self -- improvement happens when we add things. and sometimes, when we take things away.

this little kitchen window project, it got me thinking about the heavy shutters in my own life.
the things which get in the way and even block out God's goodness.
where do i need to scale down, cut back, or, yes, even flat out remove?

what is it that keeps me too busy or too blind to see the sunshine and greenery God's got waiting for me?

what do i need to take out of my days in order to take in more of His design?

"now i will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away." ~ nahum 1:13

this verse might seem a little intense for a blog post about shutter removal -- all that breaking and tearing away and all. (you wouldn't think so if you saw me perched over my sink this weekend with a screwdriver and crowbar. never pretty).
i realize nahum is prophetically writing about the destruction of the wicked city, nineveh, not kitchen design.
and, surely, we aren't in need of an overhaul like nineveh.
surely, what distracts and shutters and shackles us is not THAT bad.

maybe the stuff in our lives doesn't look like wicked-city stuff. it's probably a lot prettier, softer, more subtle. but let's make no mistake, ANYTHING which keep us from God and His goodness is something we probably need to put on our demo list.

the shutters weren't so bad. and some people would suggest i now need to hurry-up-quick and do something else on that big, wide open window ... maybe or maybe not. not sure yet.

shutters and window treatments and, even sunshine, are all items of opinion and personal taste. but what God has waiting for us on the other side of our removals ... well, regardless of our decorating bend, that is always something beautiful.

Monday, August 17, 2015

DIY or not ...

she knows i'd give her the shirt off my back ... or at least the family room rug out from underneath our feet.

uh-huh. that's right. she returned to college this weekend and took with her the family room rug. 

she knew i was already kind of on the hunt for a new one and she played that card well:
"mom, what do you think about caroline and i 'borrowing' the family room rug for our dorm? oh mom, can we have it? it 's the right size and it's neutral and it will look perfect in our room! oh, mom, puhleasse." 

and i said maybe and her daddy said yes and off it went.

our family room rug is now gracing her 3rd floor bedroom in a sorority house.

i mean, who allows their family room rug to be yanked out from under them?
who gives away a rug just like that?

parents --- that's who.

we want to give and help and come alongside our kids. we do. right away, we find out it's some kind of intrinsic wiring within us. from the time they enter this world bawling and baby-ing to the time they leave home, cool and (sorta) in control -- we can't help ourselves.
(and i have a hunch that might continue even after they are gone. i don't know, i haven't gotten that far yet. i'll keep you posted).

but seriously, parents ...
we are givers. caretakers. contributors. providers ... and, yes, sometimes, even rescuers. 

and we do things, like give them the shirts off our backs and the last piece of chicken ... and, yes, maybe even the rugs right out of our family rooms.

we do that, and sometimes, more.

in fact, that's only the tip of the iceberg for em and i this past week. i probably did give her more than just a well-worn rug. i gave her the lion's share of my time and energy. we ran errands, went shopping, checked off lists and completed projects like two wild women -- decorating divas unleashed!

the last few days found us quite busy getting our oldest ready to head off to her second year at samford university. there's a lot to do! and, what's more, i enjoyed helping her with all the details, especially her dorm room decor. yes, i had other things to do getting her four siblings back to school last monday, but still we found time.
after all, who doesn't love to be in hot pursuit of the perfect throw pillow?

we made headboards and bedskirts and dug out some paint for a piece of furniture. somehow we found some time to knock out a few projects. and i'm so glad we did. when i left birmingham saturday night, her room looked great, she looked ready, and my mama heart beat happily.

but as i drove away, i began to question myself: do i sometimes do too much for my daughter? 
for any of my kids?

see, way back when --- before i had my own children, i taught high school. this allowed me a front row seat to some pretty intense "helpful parents." AKA helicopter-parents. you know the kind where the mom or dad (regularly) swoops in and saves the day. i.e., brings the forgotten homework to the child, cleans the messy room for the child, rewrites the horribly written paper without the child ... yeah, that.

and even then, before kids, i swore i wouldn't be That Kind of Mom.
no. no. no ---
i'd let my kids fight their own battles.
i'd allow them to learn from their mistakes.
i'd make sure they could do things for themselves.
i'd insist on early independence and self-sufficiency.

and, for the most part, that's been true in our parenting. if not by desire than certainly by design. because, as you can imagine, with five kids, "swooping in" doesn't always work so well. they simply HAVE to do more for themselves --- or else go naked and starve.

but 2 kids or 20, we've always tried to embrace the great parenting adage:  prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.
... and all that jazz.

because we really do believe that is best.

so when they finally do get to college and beyond -- they are ready!

but sometimes the line is a little fuzzy.
like ... what about helping out my college girl the week before she leaves? where does that fit? how much should or shouldn't i do for her?

friday, she still hadn't figured out what to do about the bedskirts in her dorm room. yes, you're right, not the biggest issue for a college student. i mean, after all, they are journeying this road of higher education for academics, not for aesthetically pleasing dorm decor.

but still ... academics aside (for the moment), i know a peaceful environment is important to my daughter. i understand that because it's pretty important to me too. i function better in a well-ordered, well-designed (i.e. pretty) space.

and though mama standing in the kitchen with a hot glue gun making bedskirts on the friday night before departure might look to some like helicopter-parenting, i'm choosing to see it as helpful-parenting. i wasn't swooping in to save the day, but, instead, coming alongside to encourage my girl.

because i can.

because i know i won't always have this kind of opportunity.

she won't always need me ... or even, (sniff, sniff) want me.

yes, i insisted she tie her own shoes at an early age and learn to put away her laundry and clean up  after herself in the kitchen (we are still working on that one).
yes, she had to pack her own lunches, do her own homework and keep up with her own schedule.

that was all fine and good ... and, truly, important.

but now, she's 19. and though she's perfectly capable of putting together her own dorm room, she wanted me to be involved and, y'all, i don't care what anyone says, it was a pleasure!

before leaving saturday, she told me how much she appreciated our help (i assure you, her dad worked his ba-hookie off too)! she thanked us and hugged us and thanked us again ... and then even that night when we got back home, she sent another text thanking us one more time.

i suppose this might be different if she wasn't grateful or didn't care. i suppose if she was a slacker in her studies or spent the summer working on nothing but her tan i might have to try a different tactic.

but how sweet it is to have a child who appreciates what we give and what we do.

(side note: parents if, right now, your child is slightly less than appreciative, don't be discouraged. emily wasn't always this generous with her thanksgiving. i'm a firm believer that kids can grow into a sense of gratitude. you've probably noticed, it isn't always their most natural response).

but this balance between helicopter-parenting and helpful-parenting ... it's a fine line, right?
and it's a line which only the parent can truly determine. some kids need a little more "coming alongside" ... some need less. some need it for a season and some need it for a reason.
as moms and dads, i guess it's kind of our job to figure that out --- how much? how little?

over the years, i'm sure i've been unfairly judged and, i am even more sure, i have judged others unfairly. it is easy to do when we watch someone else operate. we don't always understand. and that's why it's a situation best left up to each parent.
it is important for us to keep in mind the overall goal --- raising kid who can be independent and self-sufficient, yet know they have a parent's unconditional love and support.

we love our kids.
and sometimes loving them means saying, "darling, do it yourself."
and sometimes it means saying, "here, let me help you with that."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

and for those of you who love the DIY world, here are a couple of the projects ...


this was emily's brainchild.
after researching a little on pinterest ...
she had some plywood cut at home depot and then to make it somewhat soft, she covered it with a few layers of batting.
you might also have a piece of foam cut from the fabric store -- probably a little less expensive than the batting.
she then covered the front in material and used a staple gun to attach it on the backside.
super easy and it really did make a difference in the girls' room.
instead of purchasing material, we picked up a cute shower curtain from tj maxx and used that to cover the boards.
she was able to make two headboards out of one curtain.

her dad attached them to the wall with wire, screws and some kind of velcro tape.


the girls raise their beds with risers, or as i like to call them "cone-things." (purchased at bed, bath and beyond). it gives them a few more inches of space underneath and they can fit their crates, dressers and refrigerator. all of which ends up looking pretty messy jammed in there.
so the bedskirts basically are hung up to hide all of that stuff. i guess that's what bedskirts do for all of us, right?

anyway, it was the one item we just hadn't thought much about. but the day before leaving, emily decided she really did want them, but wasn't sure what to do. bedskirts don't come 5 feet in length! 
and this is where i (haha) got to "swoop in." 
the cheaper material at fabric stores mostly runs 44 inches in width. she needed at least 56 inches. to purchase the wider design material would have cost a good bit of money ... so, it was off to home depot! we bought four (2 for each bed) painter's drop cloths -- yes, right out of the painting aisle. they were long enough and wide enough and neutral enough!
adding a little burlap ribbon helped too.

key: no sewing ... just hot glue!

we had planned to attached them to the springs of the girls' beds, but when we just tucked them up underneath we found out they were actually secure without anything more.
voila! bedskirts!

and after all that helping and swooping and hot-gluing and packing and college-kid-leaving ... a glass of wine was definitely in order!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

from delicate dandelion to majestic mountain

home from our trip out west.
people, they don't call it the "red-eye" for nothin!

sitting here monday morning, still kinda fuzzy, and knowing that school begins in exactly one week. one week and i haven't done a single thing or opened a single school email or printed a single attachment. one week to get everything done and ready and all set. one week which also includes one more trip away from home for the funeral of rick's dad.

i could choose overwhelmed this morning, but instead, i'm choosing gratitude.

we entered summer with grand plans. plans to improve our math skills, our reading, our running and all matter of what-not. plans to catch up and catch on. plans to be fully prepared for this next school year. but, (surprise, surprise) we are not. we did not do quite enough or accomplish quite enough or organize quite enough. we have only one more week and i know we still have many holes and hot spots in need of attention.

i could choose overwhelmed this morning, but instead, i'm choosing gratitude.

so we didn't accomplish everything on my "fix it list" for summer, but we had some fun, made some memories and took a few more deep breaths in ordinary pauses, as well as in extraordinary places.
in these past couple of months, we also learned some lessons which weren't on my list. mostly, that not only is summer short, but life is -- losing rick's parents within six months of each other. and this week preparing for a funeral and grieving another grandparent gone. not our plan. throw into that mix my mom diagnosed with cancer this summer, i assure you --- not my plan.
hard lessons learned even in losing our sweet dog a few weeks ago.

i could choose overwhelmed, but instead choose gratitude for the time we had.

this picture of bella holding a dandelion (or "salsify" if you want the correct term -- thank you to my sister, nicole).
a small breath and it's gone. a slight breeze and it's over. but, oh, just look at that mountain behind her ... solid. strong. steadfast.
summer is short. life is shorter. love it well, but hold it loosely.

from the delicate dandelion to the majestic mountains, pretend as we may, ONLY GOD is author of it all. and though life is short, His love is long and deep and wide ... and forever.
more, even, than those mighty mountains.
and though we didn't do enough and we aren't enough and we can never be enough, He Always Is.

"He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals His thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth --- the Lord God Almighty is His name." ~ amos 4:13