Friday, March 29, 2013

Love at home

I can't stop looking at this picture:

Pope Francis kisses the foot of a prisoner at the Casal Del Marmo Youth Detention Center during the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday, March 28 in Rome.

{image from CNN}

For anyone who doesn't know the story - Part of the Holy Thursday liturgy is the humble act of the washing of the feet (just as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper).  Pope Francis chose to go to a juvenile detention facility and wash - and kiss - the kids' feet.


Talk about living our faith, and about an example of love!

What does this have to do with home renovation?  Well, you already know that I've been focusing on not just the physical characteristics of our home.  Tonight at Mass, as I was praying, the phrase "show her love" became forefront in my mind - a message, I believe ties to my primary role as a mother.  To show Anna love - both by loving her directly, and by showing her what loving others looks like.  True, humble, selfless love. I certainly have a ways to go, but I am so inspired by Pope Francis' loving example, and desire to show this love here within our home and to the world!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quick takes: trial run

1. I'm writing this in list format, similar to the "7 Quick Takes" that many bloggers do each Friday.  Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary hosts a link-up of everyone who is writing quick takes.   Since this is Tuesday, I'm not going to actually post mine on her page (you can see it here, though if you're interested - there's lots of great bloggers out there!), but I liked the format today for my many varied thoughts, and perhaps this trial run will prepare me to be a bona fide Quick Takes participant next time around.

2. I'm excited that my resurgence of blog energy seems to be sticking around - I've posted more this week than (I think) any week before!  As I've said before, I've given up on placing expectations on myself about when or how often I'm writing, and I'm simply enjoying the ride.  The real bonus is that the blog is also serving its purpose of connecting me to you - far away family & friends.  I've gotten messages, comments, and emails from several people after they've read my posts, and I really have enjoyed it!  Keep your comments coming!  If you aren't sure how to post a comment, I created a tutorial that you can access HERE.  I'm hoping that my 'real' comments can surpass the number of spam comments I've been getting :)

3. Did you notice that I've added another line to my header?  Now we're not just "recovering the beauty in a tired old home," we're also "seeking authentic joy for the family who lives within it."  I think this pretty accurately sums up what I'm trying to do - both with our life and with this blog.

4. Speaking of this "mission," I was recently looking at my "Who Am I & What Do I Hope to Find" section. I need to update it a bit to reflect our current status (the house is "done," and Anna's here!), but I did like this overview I had written way back when:

And so, project by project, we seek to
find the former glory.

Glory not only in new paint and new fixtures and new furnishings of a house,
but glory in the love and comfort and happiness of a home.

A place where the simple comforts of this life
bring peace and joy to all who enter
and an earthly reflection of our Heavenly home.

I've been thinking that - as I seek to create the type of home I describe - I'd like to make a list of what makes an ideal home & a joyful family so that we have a concrete list to strive for and grow towards.  I welcome your suggestions of things to add to that list.  What positive characteristics of a home or family stick out to you?

5. I'm getting pretty excited for the next few days.  Holy Week is my favorite time of the year, hands down.  I've also always appreciated that there are concrete traditions that help us to bring our faith beyond just a Sunday morning thing.  I like that we go to Mass on Thursday evening to celebrate Jesus' Last Supper (which was really the First Supper if you think of it in terms of the Eucharist), that we go again Friday to remember His Passion, that we have the coolest liturgy of the year on Saturday night, and that we get to cap it off with Alleluias and true joy on Easter morning.  In between, we have fasting, prayers, and traditions to round out the days.  Anna is too small to understand what's going on this year (although I suspect she may be tipped off that something's different when we go to church at night - she's starting to give us confused looks if we get off routine with things like bath time), but I'm looking forward to finding ways to share this season with her as she grows.

6. In terms of getting ready for Easter, check out my sewing table:

The lavender on the right is Anna's (40% (?)) finished Easter dress.  The green on the left is my (0%) finished Easter dress.  I decided a while ago that I'd like to have a tradition of making my daughter(s) dresses for each Christmas & Easter.  I broke down and bought her one for Christmas when I found the perfect one on the Carter's website, but I've kicked off my initiative for Easter.  Naturally, I decided to heap more projects on my plate and decided - oh, yesterday, I think - that I should also sew something for myself.  The scrap-fabric trial run fit me pretty well, so I have high hopes, although I haven't successfully sewn (non-maternity) clothes in years

7.  Can you guess where I'm headed momentarily?  See #6 ;)  Oh, and don't forget about #2 - I'd love to hear your comments!

Job title

I'm 100% happy with my decision to stay home full-time with Anna.  I don't feel that I personally could do a good job at balancing parenting with a full-time job (kudos to those who can!), not to mention all the other home stuff that I need/want to get done.  I'm thankful that this arrangement is possible for us.

I do have to admit, that every time I have to fill out a form with "occupation" it gets me.  I have a love-hate relationship with my title, I suppose.  I mean, I have a whole blog devoted to making our home, so I'm obviously excited about being a "homemaker."  There's just something, though, about being reduced to that single word that can be a bit grating, and in a bureaucratic form-filling way, makes me feel like I'm not worth a whole lot.  [Side note: now that I think about it, even when I was a "consultant," which sounds much fancier & more important than "homemaker" I didn't like being just that.  Perhaps the problem is more with being reduced to just one title.  Anyway.]  When I'm not filling out government forms, I like to refer to myself as COO (Chief Operating Officer) of our family, a role which includes all of the responsibilities of the homemaker, plus the power suits (loosely interpreted here to mean sweat pants).

All of that was a lot of rambling as an introduction to my point for the day.  I was writing an email to a friend, and elaborating on Anna's recent mobility.  After I typed the paragraph, I realized I liked the way I told it (you may disagree), and I also thought this was a snapshot of our lives I'd most likely want to remember.  

Anna is in fact rolling, and only a few days (we suspect) from crawling.  This mobility has added an important job duty to my daily life: furniture licking police.  Apparently Anna is developmentally primed to discover the world with her tongue.  Including the legs of all furniture she can roll towards (and man, is she fast).  We're trying to baby-proof the house as best we can, but there's only so much we can do (and she still likes to lick the baseboards).  Sometimes I just have to stop and laugh at myself for the number of times in the day I say, "we don't lick ____" and "_____ isn't for eating!" and move her back to the center of the room.

The practicality of this house with a rolling/licking/soon-to-be-crawling baby is the one of the only consolations to the fact that we'll most likely be moving next year when Justin finishes his degree.  I have a lot to say (and a lot of tears to cry) about leaving Ithaca and this house, but I can save that for another day.  For now, I try to be content in knowing that we'll be able to make another home somewhere.  After all, making homes is what I do.  That, and policing the furniture licking.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stepping it up

Every time I get back on a blog kick, I realize the many things that I never took the time to post.  This is particularly evident if you look at the House Tour page, which still sports a healthy number of "coming soon" lines in regards to the current photos.  Actually, many of the "current" photos make me cringe, too, because we've come a long way from there.  Now that I've resolved myself that the blog is more for us to remember than for any external audience (although you guys are great, too!), I wanted to make sure things are a bit more up to date.

I'm going to start stepping up my act with...the stairwell.  As renovations go, it wasn't that exciting.  There's not a whole lot you can do with stairs (particularly steep, narrow ones like ours), and there's not furnishings or even a lot of decor to put in the "after."

Here's how it looked when we bought the house:

Then I got the brilliant idea that we should refinish the wood stairs instead of redoing the carpet.  I owe my sister big time for the amount of time she spent scraping those steps.

Eventually, I came to my senses, and we had it carpeted along with the rest of the upstairs.  We painted the walls & ceilings and painted the hand rail.  Some of the paint is chipping on the railing, so I'd like to redo it in some of the darker brown we have left from the front door.  When I originally did it, I used the chocolate brown from the den, as I didn't find it worth buying new paint for such a small job!

Given Anna's super-rolling talents, we now also have a gate at the top of the stairs.  I'm very happy with it thus far, as you don't need a mechanical engineering degree to get it open, and there's no bar at the bottom to make you trip.

The picture at the bottom of the stairs says "My home will have no windows, doors, or floors, nor bricks or mortar.  My only home is in your arms and no where else."

In other stair news, as I mentioned I'm working (when not derailed by leaking ceilings) on finishing the basement stairwell to make it less ugly and a bit more functional.  Here's how it looked when we moved in - and it's not much different now (except that there's a bunch of our stuff haphazardly stuck there!)

Stay tuned for that update...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Lack of ongoing renovation," she says wryly

Yesterday, when I said that we didn't have much ongoing renovation, I wasn't TRYING to look for more projects.  The "luck of the Irish" expired though, and when I came downstairs, our good friends (who spent the night with us since their house is currently being packed for their move) said "...hate to be the bearer of bad news, but did you know you had a leak in the ceiling?"

I immediately thought of the rough patch of drywall that still needs to be finished, and hoped that maybe (despite the 50+ times they'd seen it before) they somehow confused that with a leak.


(It didn't look quite as bad initially; this is after Justin cut a bit away to help with the drainage of the puddle in the ceiling)

A few lessons:

1) Don't announce on the Internet that you don't have any renovation projects left to do
2) Two years of renovation can immensely improve your reaction to discovering leaking ceilings at 8 AM.
3) Two years of renovation can immensely improve your relationship & ability to civilly discuss a leaking ceiling at 8 AM.
4) If you own a bumGenius diaper sprayer to spray your daughter's dirty cloth diapers, do NOT under any circumstances ignore the written warnings about turning it off when not in use.  Do NOT forget which way is off on the handle.  Do NOT leave pressure in the hose.  Do NOT give your husband any room to gently point out the number of times he gave you the aforementioned reminders!

On another note, at least I'll have a bigger reason to finally fix the ceiling & we won't have the other rough patch any longer!  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Luck of the Irish

For any die-hard fans left (I think maybe even my parents jumped ship after this 3 month absence...) hoping I'd post on the blog, today is your lucky day!  As I've written before, I gave up on letting the blog stress me out, and I don't have any expectations for myself in terms of when or how often I post.  I'd pretty much given up on things since we don't have a lot of renovations going on (or even left to do - yay!) and I wasn't sure if I wanted to totally change the blog topic.  I also - on a kick of reading about saints and their writings - wasn't sure that the only written documentation I wanted to create was about the purely material things like what color we painted rooms!

Then, last night, I happened to click over and read my old posts.  I had forgotten about so many things I talked about, and I loved being drawn into different moments in our life - finding out Anna was a girl, waiting for her to be born, reflecting on life with a newborn.  Although I've been decent (not great) at keeping her photo album and baby book updated, there were little things I remembered last night that I would have completely forgotten if it hadn't been for the blog.  So, I decided that I want to post little things (perhaps frequently, perhaps not) - if for no other reason than to remember them ourselves.

Given the aforementioned lack of ongoing renovation (although I am currently painting the yucky basement stairwell!), there may not be a lot of "finding former glory" in terms of the house, but I feel that in some way we're still "finding former glory" of authentic, simple family life.  Our culture is too busy and in so many sad cases, too broken to enjoy the simple celebrations together with family.  The modern world devalues the traditional family - and I don't just mean a political argument.  It's not "cool" to enjoy hanging out with your family.  Justin and I are intentionally trying to build a home that bucks that culture, so that our kids grow up enjoying joys here at home that satisfy them in ways that prevents them seeking fulfillment in the world's empty promises.  This doesn't mean to say we want to isolate ourselves from the world - just build a strong foundation that borrows the good things from our culture and resists the negative.  Granted, we certainly don't have it all together.  That's why we're still finding former glory - haven't reached it yet.

This weekend, my family visited from Pennsylvania, and we decided to have a St. Patrick's Day party!  In addition to my parents & siblings, my aunt & cousins drove up for the day.  We all sported as much green as we could find, and I made an Irish-inspired meal with a roast, cabbage mashed potatoes, carrots, and salad - and green lemonade!  My mom brought shamrocks for everyone to wear, and made delicious Irish soda bread.  Pandora radio (and my brother's talent on the recorder) provided the Irish jigs.