Archive | June, 2014

The Real Meaning of Home

26 Jun

Since our lives for the past 4-5 months have revolved around houses, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of what it means to be “home”. Not having our own house for 3 months has shown me how much of my comfort and ease in life is derived from having a place to call home – and it makes me more appreciative for how Jesus not only gave up His earthly home during His ministry, but also gave up His heavenly home to come to earth for us. Having a home is a precious thing.

But for us Christians, our home is not here on earth. Second Corinthians 5:1-10 are some of my favorite verses, and I have thought about them a lot lately. “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Jesus has promised us a heavenly home with Him: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

So our ultimate hope for a home is in heaven. But here on earth, a lot of us are also called to have earthly homes. If everyone were nomads or missionaries, society would not function! For those of us called to stay (in our current season at least), what should we do with our earthly homes?

This is what God has been teaching me lately: A house is a tool. It’s a means, not an end. It’s meant to be used to rejuvenate those who live there, to entertain and host friends and family, and to make memories in. It is fun to decorate and paint, but those also are just a means of creating an inviting and relaxing atmosphere, not an end in itself.

So what does this mean for me in practical terms? It means having people over and not worrying about tracking dirt on the carpet. It means hosting play dates and not overreacting if something gets broken or colored on. It means letting God lead us to use our house in the ways He sees fit, and not staking our claim to our “own territory”.

It also means keeping practicality and functionality in mind. With 2 dogs and young kids running around, a brown couch is much more practical than a white one. I plan to decorate and organize in a way that allows Emma to reach the stuff she can have and nothing more, so I don’t have to be constantly telling her no. If we can find something that fits the bill of what we would like for a certain use in a thrift store or on Craigslist, we buy that instead of something brand-new or name-brand.

For me, it also means valuing gifts and things with sentimental value. That’s the problem with trying to make a room look like the ones in a catalog: it would often require getting rid of things I’ve been given, because they don’t “go with the decor” or “aren’t my style.” This is something I’ve learned from my paternal grandmother: Cherish gifts. A home is more about memories than picture-perfect decorating. And soon, Emma will be painting “beautiful” pictures for us to hang on the walls!

I read Luke 12:23 yesterday – “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” – and it made me think, “For life is more than decorating, and a home more than furnishing.”

It’s easy for me to get so focused on decorating and re-creating Pinterest rooms that I forget: A home is a means, not an end. It’s not a competition to have the cutest house. Beautiful decorating means nothing to kids.

I’ll close with this excerpt from one of my previous blog entries:

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

I am praying that God uses our new house for His purposes, and that we embrace those purposes whole-heartedly.

Our New House – Projects Part 1

25 Jun

Hi friends! I am busy packing and waxing our refinished furniture but thought I’d share some (marginal) pics of our new house. I’ll be honest and say that I was too lazy to take pictures of the whole house. And I’d rather post pictures of the finished product…

We painted 2 rooms – Emma’s and a couple walls in the living room / entryway.

BEFORE

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These pictures were taken after we had already removed a wallpaper border.

AFTER

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We used Rolling Pebble from Behr. LOVE how it turned out!

BEFORE

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I’ve not a huge fan of alternating colors. Or this green.

AFTER

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We went with a yellow that was almost identical to her original nursery. This one is Buttercup by Glidden. It took 3 coats of paint + primer to cover the green. I would definitely pay the extra for quality paint next time.

A few other pics:

Looking from hallway through living room to kitchen

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Upstairs living room

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Book nook upstairs (future nursery)

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Master bed and bath

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Kitchen

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And that’s all I got for now! The big move is this coming weekend. I plan to blog more regularly once things settle down… and my laziness wears off.

Chairs, New House and Favorite Workouts {Randomness}

19 Jun

Between the thoughts about moving, decorating, family reunions, furniture refinishing, book writing, grocery budgeting, eating healthy and working out, this poor blog has fallen down on the priority list. So I’m here with another list of random thoughts for ya.

1. We have 2 chairs out of 6 for our kitchen table officially refinished. The table and 1 other chair are just waiting for wax (we ran out). The other 3 chairs are in various stages because we ran out of the white milk paint and bonding agent. We ordered more, so hopefully we’ll be able to finish the rest next week. I can’t wait to show you the finished product! Here’s a sneak peek:

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2. After my premature Father’s Day celebration, the real Father’s Day was pretty lowkey. We went out to dinner in Nevis at the Iron Horse on Saturday night. Sunday, I let Travis sleep in, we went to church, worked on our chairs during Emma’s nap and then just bummed out at the house. We grilled chicken and veggies for dinner, and watched Catching Fire after Emma went to bed.

FathersDay 0033. There’s something I find very satisfying about mowing the lawn. I think it’s because you can clearly see the progress you’re making, and the grass looks so good afterward. And with a push mower, it’s a decent workout too. I was exhausted yesterday after mowing Travis’ parents’ yard!

4. Emma can totally walk but chooses not to. Yesterday, she walked across her room several times, and once from the stairs to the couch while carrying my shoes. She’s just being timid I think, so she still resorts to crawling 97% of the time. Apparently, she wants to prove everyone wrong who says “One of these days, she’s just going to take off!” by increasing her steps by just a few each day.

5. For our “Superheroes” family reunion, the 3 of us have decided to dress up as Incredible Hulk, and call ourselves The Incredible Hulks. Now I just need to find purple shorts! Who knew that could be so difficult?

6. I’ve finally gotten into a routine with doing my workout and quiet time during Emma’s first nap… just in time for us to move.

7. Speaking of which, we close on our new house tomorrow! We’re driving down to Brainerd first thing. My dad will watch Emma while we close and then we’ll spend the rest of the weekend painting and doing other random house projects. My mom is planning to drive up tomorrow night.

8. I took last week off from my Tone It Up workouts since I was in Rochester with my parents. I’d rather hang out than work out. 😉 But we did go on a few nice walks up a big hill so I wasn’t a total bum. I got back at it this week and have really enjoyed them. Two of my favorite workouts so far were this HIIT tabata workout and this beach yoga routine. They’re free and only 20 minutes long! (I tell you this only because I really enjoyed them, not because I am compensated in any way.) I was pretty sore after the tabata routine.

And that’s all I got! Have a great weekend. I’ll be back next week with pics of our new house! Yay!

P.S. Bonus points to whoever noticed that even the way I label my posts about randomness are random.

 

 

Beach Day

17 Jun

After almost nonstop rain for days, today was gorgeous. So Emma and I went to the beach in Nevis – her first time at any beach! I think she enjoyed it.

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The water wasn’t incredibly warm but Emma was brave and waded in up to her waist. She also enjoyed splashing her feet in the water as I held her on my lap.

It still amazes me what a difference humidity makes. It is only about 80 degrees today but it feels much warmer. In Colorado, 80 would feel a little too cool for the beach!

I’m Losing My Mind: Monday Randomness

9 Jun

1) Proof that I’m losing my mind: I was convinced that yesterday was Father’s Day. I brought Travis breakfast in bed (eggs, bacon, toast and coffee), gave him his present (the book Lone Survivor, some gum and hand sanitizer – an inside joke), and let him sleep in both Saturday and Sunday until 8:30. I didn’t discover that it wasn’t Father’s Day until I told Trav’s dad Al Happy Father’s Day and he looked at me weird. Well crap.

2) I’m blaming the above on the fact that I went to bed at 11 pm every night this past week, which is 1-2 hours later than I normally do. After Emma went to bed, we used milk paint to refinish the hand-me-down table and chairs we received. They look awesome! We have 2 chairs left to sand and paint, but the rest are ready for distressing and waxing. We’re pumped about them. I have pictures, but I’m going to save them for a separate post. 😉

3) Even though my hair is still shorter than I’d like for putting up in a ponytail, it is the perfect length for air drying. My hair is naturally stick-straight but at this length, it flips out at the bottom when I let it air dry. So I haven’t used my hairdryer in over a month! Love it.

4) I was inspired by the writer/blogger/runner I met at the Park Rapids church several weeks ago to blow the proverbial dust off my book manuscript and start working on it again during Emma’s naptimes. It has been so enjoyable and I’ve made quite a bit of progress on it. It’s still too rough-draft for me to have any idea of a timeline on publishing, but I’m very excited to have a contact who has “been there, done there” with self-publishing and now with a publishing house. This is my dream!

5) The power cord for the baby monitor we got when I was pregnant broke so I bought a cheapy $25 set of baby monitors at Babies R Us to replace them (for some reason, they don’t sell just power cords.) Save your money. It’s the biggest piece of crap ever. We didn’t have the cadillac of monitors before either (maybe $50-60) but this one is horrible. We’d like to buy a video monitor when we have another baby so we were trying to hold out until then, but maybe we just need to break down and get one now. Any recommendations?

6) My mom’s side of the family has a reunion every 4th of July and this summer, the theme is Super Heroes. Emma is going to be dressed as the Incredible Hulk, but named Destructobaby. I’m thinking about going as a spinoff of Wonder Woman, but instead being called Wonder Mommy or Wonder Runner. I’d be making my own costume so it could really be anything.I also thought about going as Catwoman, as a joke since Travis is allergic to cats. Any other ideas? 

7) Emma and I are heading down to Pine City and then Rochester today to spend the week with my parents. I’m excited! But

Well, that’s all the randomness I have for today.

Emma Grace: 14 Months

7 Jun

Emma is 14 months, going on 2 years. I mean, holy tantrums batman! Ugh. I’m really hoping that these episodes are just caused by her getting 5 teeth at once (3 of which are molars) and not just Emma’s new normal. Things that now anger Emma: getting her diaper changed, getting dressed, having doors closed to rooms that are off limits, not being able to go outside, not getting to play in the water (pool or bucket),  not being able to lift something that’s way too heavy for her, getting her hand or body stuck in a space that’s too small for her and sometimes, having to sit in her highchair or carseat. I now totally understand why some toddlers run around with no clothes on. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight.

20140520_084524On that note, we are starting to learn how to pick our battles. It seems that Emma is going to be a very strong-willed child. While I don’t think she should get to have or do everything she wants, I do try to find a way to reasonably accommodate her desires most of the time. For example, if she wants to play in the pool but it’s too cold, I let her play outside with a bucket of warm water while she’s clothed. She of course ends up getting wet still but less so.

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Though Emma has been frustrating at times this past month, she’s also been very fun in other ways. She can now do peekaboo, “so big!”, pattycake and wave bye bye when asked 80% of the time. She is becoming more of a cuddler – when we’re playing with toys, she’ll crawl over to me and give me a hug and kiss. One of my favorite things to do is snuggle and tickle her. She loves it and giggles a ton! She is still totally a momma’s girl, though she really likes Grandma Beth (Trav’s mom) too.

20140604_072543Emma still isn’t walking, but has taken a few steps between furniture, and likes to walk along walls. She is doing pretty good standing up by herself – at the cabin on Memorial Day weekend, she could stand up on the bed without holding on. She still loses her balance every once in a while but I’m sure she’ll start walking within the next couple of months – though she doesn’t seem to be in that much of a hurry! She likes to climb on things that are at her height, and loves to crawl through tables and small spaces.

20140604_185557Emma had her first mild injury this week. She’s bumped her head on things too many times to count, but this week, she pulled a small plant table and table fan over on herself. I’m very thankful that the table was tall enough that the fan went over her head and only one small part of the table hit her. I actually didn’t even realize that she had gotten that hurt until later (she hadn’t cried more than with previous bumps and bruises). She got a slight black eye and apparently bit her tongue because it’s black and blue in one spot. Poor Emma. She didn’t seem fazed by it though and the next morning, it looked much better.

This update is a little bit different than normal, but Emma’s size and sleep are pretty much unchanged from last month. She’s still wearing 12-18 month clothes, solidly taking 2 naps a day and sleeping through the night. Her naps did get knocked a little off kilter when she first started getting her 5 new teeth, but they’re back to normal now. Her nighttime sleep didn’t really change at all, except that it was a little harder to get her to sleep. Advil and teething gel to the rescue!

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Whenever I hold her for a nap, she always wakes up in a panic, like she doesn’t know where she is. This was her “I just woke up” face.

Her eating habits are also pretty much the same – I’ve been giving her 4 bottles a day (24-26 ounces total), plus 3 meals and sometimes 1 snack. I’ve tried decreasing the amount of milk Emma drinks but the girl loves her bottles! Right now, she gets a bottle when she wakes up, eats breakfast 1.5 hours later, drinks a bottle before her 1st nap, eats lunch when she wakes up, bottle before or after her 2nd nap, eats dinner around 5:30/6 and gets a bottle right before bed.

I’m planning to talk to the pediatrician at Emma’s 15-month checkup about any issues with her drinking so much milk (she still eats plenty of table food in my opinion) but I do think I’m going to try altering her feeding schedule a bit to look like: Eat breakfast with milk in a sippy cup right when she gets up, drink a bottle an hour or so later, skip the bottle before her 1st nap, feed her lunch with milk when she wakes up, bottle sometime before 2nd nap, dinner with milk, then bedtime bottle. I have switched the order for a few meals and she drinks less milk when she’s eaten a meal beforehand. If and when that works, then we’ll focus on phasing out the bottles.

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That’s her getting ready to rip her bib off. She doesn’t like wearing them very much.

Like I mentioned above, Emma’s new favorite thing is playing in water. Buckets, pool, dog dish, cup, you name it – she’s all over it. I change her outfit 1-2 times a day because of her being wet. I’m ready for the lakes to warm up so we can go to the beach!

20140523_135801At times, it seems like Emma says “Dawdies” in reference to the dogs, but she says it about other things too so who knows?

20140520_111643Travis is the king of nicknames, spinoffs and abbreviations, so in addition to the original ‘Biscuit’, we’ve started calling Emma these nicknames:

  • Bisky
  • Em-diggity
  • Emmalicious
  • Emma McCracken (used when she’s starting to get crabby)
  • Bisky McBiskerton
  • The Quick
  • Quicky McQuickerton
  • Destructobaby

We probably call her Bisky 90% of the time. I joke that she’s not going to know what her name is, since we call her so many different things. But we do still use Emma when referring to her possessions (Emma’s shoes), body (Emma’s belly), and asking her questions (Emma, can you do peekaboo?).

Well, that’s Emma at 14 months!

14 Months Later…

4 Jun

Emma will be 14 months this Saturday and I am just now getting the motivation to really resume the healthy lifestyle I had pre-pregnancy. Even though I trained for and ran a 15k, I have done really nothing at all in the toning department. My core grew stronger through running but it is still pretty weak and squishy.

Likewise, my eating habits used to be fairly buttoned up, but ever since pregnancy, they’ve been looser. For example, I used to hardly ever order value meals at fast food restaurants, but now I barely think twice. Bleh.

So.

I do best with some kind of plan to follow, and want to do more toning than cardio, so I decided to follow the Bikini Body Plan from Tone It Up. I will only be doing 1 workout a day (sometimes they list more than that) and they will be short enough to fit in during one of Emma’s naps. I’ll most likely take 2 rest days a week. But I’m excited about it! I am not into hardcore strength stuff, so I like that their strength routines aren’t anything too crazy, but still get results.

As far as eating goes, I know that if I go too crazy with calorie counting or cutting out carbs or anything, I get obsessed. So I’m just going to focus on:

  1. Eating whole, nutritional foods – which includes switching out Coffeemate creamer for half & half
  2. Limiting alcohol to 1-2 drinks a week, and coffee to 2 cups a day
  3. Drinking at least 32 oz of water a day from my Nalgene, plus water at meals

I want to just start small with the things I know need tweaking, and once those become a habit again, go from there. Too much change at once = FAIL. My family has a reunion on the 4th of July so even though I know this is really a lifestyle change, I’m using that as inspiration to stick with it for the next month.

On the bright side, I have been eating quite a bit healthier here in Minnesota than I was in Colorado. My love for spinach has returned (after disappearing during pregnancy) so I’ve been having big salads for lunch. Dinners are usually a lean meat, vegetable and grain, or a vegetarian dish with lots of veggies!