Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Painty Fun

Isn't this just lovely?!? I've seen so many tutorials for ways you can transform "gems" like this into something cool for your wall.... I'd been on the lookout for something suitable, and once again I would like to pause and lament the lack of good thrifting in this area. I dream of transforming an old dresser into an amazing statement piece for our dining area, but apparently it's easier to find a chupacabra down here than cheap furniture. OK, taking a deep breath and moving on ;) Anyway, I finally found this picture at our local thrift shop two weeks ago; the frame is plastic, not even composite wood, and it was still priced at $3.98! Thankfully it was 50% off, and the shape worked for what I had in mind, so I forked over 2 bucks and brought it home.

I used this tutorial as my guide, so I didn't have to mess with cutting wood to fit the oval frame. I didn't have primer that was recommended for use on glass, but I did have glass etching spray, which is often recommended as a first step on other projects. It worked beautifully! It took three coats of chalkboard paint and you can still see some brushmarks (possibly because it was already 80 degrees?!?) but overall I really am happy with it. Love the fun turquoise - and see how it really pops against that yellow wall? (This happens to be the room immediately to the right as you enter the house, which the previous owners used as a formal dining room. I already have a a gallon of a pale gray paint on standby, but the arched doorway was not properly built up, and I'm waiting for hubby to rip that apart and reassemble it in a nice, boring rectangle before painting)

One last funny story: I was debating about what to write/draw, and decided to just make a simple tree based on some of the doodles here. Let's just say I need more practice ;) When our son saw it, his first question was, "Why did you make that pokey thing with circles all over it?" His second was, "Why do you put Bible verses on EVERYTHING?!"

What better words are there with which to surround our family?!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

So grateful for grace

What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn't deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God's action in them find that God's Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!

So don't you see that we don't owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!
Romans 7:15-8:17, The Message (added emphasis mine)

Our pastor spoke on this passage this morning (as part of the the "schism" series.) I need to put this passage on my "Must Read Monthly" list. What a great build-up for Easter, and the reminder of the awesome "resurrection life" that we've received!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Recommended Reading

Finding Inspiration - Pure. Gold.
I’ve found it helpful when I see an inspiring photo or read an inspiring post to ask myself what it was that I learned from what I saw or read. It helps me have a take away from what I’m reading and instead of focusing on the skills of others and lack of my own skills, I try to figure out what I can learn from them–it completely changes shopping and blog reading and pinterest lurking–it’s ok to make it about yourself and what you can learn and apply. It’s really the only way to not be wasting your precious time.
It's so easy to be overwhelmed with the ideas out there, and think we have to have certain things - not true!! It doesn't have to cost big bucks, but whether purchasing furniture, clothing, or even kitchen tools, stop to consider whether it's truly the right pick for you and your family rather than immediately settling for what's cheapest/easiest. I know I've mentioned before about trying to bump up my style factor a bit - I still love Shari Braendel, and I've also been browsing the fashion stuff on pinterest a bit. Yes, it's full of supermodels sporting strapless dresses and neon eyeshadow, but I specifically have been looking at the way outfits are styled. Sweater layered over a button down shirt and a belt over top: I'm pretty sure that we all have something in our closet that we can use to pull off that look ;) (funny story: I did exactly that for church a couple weeks ago, and was staring at the mirror, wondering if it looked OK. I felt a bit ridiculous because it was SO not something I'd normally do. As I entered the building, one of the high school girls saw me and immediately complimented me on my outfit. Trust me when I say that hadn't happened before! And I received compliments from several other ladies, too - it was unexpected and admittedly an ego boost) I also like checking out jewelry (what type of necklace with what neckline, colored cuff bracelet with a mostly-neutral outfit, etc). I still wear scarves a lot, and there are all sorts of ways to tie them. But back to the Nester's post: I like Lisa Leonard's style, but she uses lots of layers, which is simply not practical when I'm in 80+ temps for the majority of the year... my big takeaway from the posts was noticing how she has a very clear color palette for the clothing, so when she does purchase something new, she can easily mix & match with existing pieces. Definitely need to work on that!

Facing Challenges - "The Enemy wants us to over commit. He wants us to...fail and give up when we try to climb mountains too soon." Just.keep.going. Baby steps are better than nothing (or even worse, losing ground!)

Quotes to inspire me toward better home management - "If housework isn’t the definition of ‘service to others,’ I don’t know what is." !!!

Teaching Kids About Money - good stuff to think about, and some suggestions. Our son in particular is really interested in how much stuff costs right now, and we've already had numerous conversations about using money (i.e. go to the Dollar Store and buy a few things that will probably break in a week, or save up for the Lego set that he REALLY wants). We're still debating about just how much to share with the kids money-wise: I don't think they need to know exactly how much Daddy makes, for instance, but I DO think it's good for them to see exactly how much we spend on electricity every months. Anyone want to chime in with how they were raised, or what they're doing with their kiddos?

Creative Consequences
- this article may be geared toward tweens, but I found it helpful even though my kids are younger.

And just for fun: my brother is done here for work this week, and had dinner with us last night. The kids were disappointed that he didn't bring their cousins along to play with, but all was soon forgiven ;) And secondly, this is the inside of my junk drawer. I'm quite happy with the general function, and the white basket corrals the glue/tape. Our daughter had used the gluestick, and she did put it back in the drawer, but I nearly had an unfortunate incident when I reached for my lip stuff later in the day. May need to rethink that storage arrangement ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Break, day 1

We spent most of yesterday morning in the backyard, ripping out what I not-so-lovingly refer to as our "jungle vines." All sorts of interesting plants down here in our semi-tropical climate... Anyway, after those hours of hard labor, followed by lunch and showers, I set the kids loose with a bag of mini marshmallows (I even splurged on colored ones - thank you 99¢ store!) and toothpicks. They had a ball, and amazingly enough arguing was kept to a minimum. Now THAT'S what I call a successful project ;)

This afternoon I will cement my position as fun mama when I have them make these marshmallow poppers and send them outside. Fun fun fun!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

random catch-up, round 2

And now catching up with a few pics:
1 - For dinner Tuesday night, I was reheating some leftover peas, and as I pulled them out of the microwave to walk towards the table I had a little dropsy moment. Hubby was very quick to point out that I had pead all over the floor, which the kids thought was absolutely hysterical. When I shared this pic/story on facebook, a friend suggested that some grey poupon would round things out quite nicely. Seems we never outgrow our love of potty humor ;)
2 - TX Public Schools week means an excuse for the kids to dress up. When they initially brought the flyer home, our daughter was excitedly reading over the different themes, and wanted to know whether I would know how she should dress for Thursday's "Flashback to the 80s." Uh, yeah, I have some insight into that era. Sadly our son was already starting to feel pretty lousy that day, so he didn't want his hair spiked like we had originally planned, but we did get his collar up at least. And A? Well, she was a little confused about why I seemed to feel she needed two pairs of socks, all those bracelets and all that hair product -- she should just be thankful I let her wear capris rather than long pants folded over and rolled ;)
3 - Realizing I never shared a finished view of our living room. It's really hard to get a good pic, but this at least gives you an idea. I promise the wall in front of and behind the stairs are the same color, although the flash makes the back one seem much greener. I'm still moving little things around, but the overall layout is pretty set now. For as large as the room is, it's tough to fully utilize because of all the doorways and kitchen pass-through (you can see the countertop sticking out on the left side), not to mention the TV and the fact that we have 2 full-sized couches rather than a couch and a loveseat. I love the little spot behind the couch with a spare dining chair, pillow, and a stack of books on the side table. It's really hard to artfully arrange vignettes when there are two folks who frequently use the decor as either a backdrop for an epic Lego battle or a Polly Pocket party, but I am trying to get a bit more creative (as long as it's nothing too valuable or fragile!)

And last but not least, as I've been feeling less than stellar myself, I've been going through my old favorites on IE and starred items in google reader to get them all over on Pinterest. Yes, after repeatedly saying that I wasn't interested, I have been pinning like mad. TahDaah in case you want to check me out. I've even made several recipes that I had marked awhile ago but forgotten about: chicken with mustard mascarpone sauce, baked potato rounds with cheese and bacon, strawberry spinach salad with poppyseed vinaigrette, strawberry shortcake with homemade sweet biscuits, and lemon "brownies". I'm thinking we're going to try out the baked oatmeal and pizza muffins over Spring Break. Mmm Mmm Good!!

On that note, time to get back to "real" life. Will try to share some spring break updates when I get a chance.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

random catch-up

Much to catch up on, so I shall fall back on the good ol' bullet list
  • Son failed his hearing test at school back before Christmas. Followed up with our primary doctor and then off to the specialist, where we discovered that he had a cyst on his left ear drum. Scheduled for a CT scan and discussion about surgery (where they'd remove the cyst and patch the ear drum, but there was concern was that since he's had recurrent fluid issues he may end up blowing out the patch and there'd be scarring issues). Much prayer over the situation, and way more drainage than normal over the following week. CT scan a few weeks ago, and back to the specialist this week... where we found out that cyst was GONE. So very thankful for this amazing answer to prayer! He does have confirmed hearing loss in both ears for no apparent reason, and there's still some fluid built up so we're still dealing with some other minor things, but did I mention the cyst completely disappeared?!?
  • There is so much sickness going around. Strep and flu, mostly. Yesterday was the last day of school before spring break, and D woke up with a fever of 102.7. Delightful. He's better today, although still not 100%. Hubby and I are both a bit achy and congested. Happy spring break!
  • Speaking of spring break, we don't have any visitors this year. First time since we're been down here that this is the case. I'm planning to spend a day in each kids' room (purge/organize clothes since they both have this annoying habit of outgrowing their clothes, plus evaluation of toys and their storage situation). Thursday is supposed to be 86, so we're going to turn the heat on in the pool and have open swim time for our friends in the afternoon. Fun! We're also going to see Cirque du Soleil on Saturday. Hubby and I saw Alegria last year, and this year it's Dralion. I scored a major deal on the tickets way back on cyber Monday, so this time around the whole family is going -- I'm looking forward to seeing the kids' reactions. I'm not looking forward to seeing what their attempt at acrobatics will do to our already battered couches.
  • There was a kidnapping at our local McDonald's. The one right by our Wal-Mart, Target, Chick-Fil-A, etc. Talk about bursting one's "safe" bubble.
  • Our pastor's cousin is headed to the Olympics for shotput. Way cool!!
  • My craft pile is still, well, a pile. I plug away at portions of it, but then something else comes up and my "fun space" gets pushed back down on the priority list. The current plan is to attack it on the Mon-Tues after spring break.
  • Last weekend we bought not only a new lawnmower but also a toilet. Yeehaw. Our son is seriously excited to use HIS lawnmower, though. Here's hoping that excitement carries him for several years ;) I'm just excited to have a functional toilet upstairs again so I'm no longer being woken up in the middle of the night by the kids coming down to use ours.

And finally, as a reward for making it through all the drivel, I present the.most.annoying.song.in.the.world. You're very welcome.