I Know How She Does It

One week ago today I woke up and decided to try and solve a problem of mine. Books. More specifically, the abundance of books. We have a lot of them. When we moved into this house I decided to name my front room "the library" and put all my books in one room. They were regulated to 5 different bookshelves, none of which matched. 

After 5 years in this house, we've added a family member and more interests of budding readers. And we home school. In short, we've outgrown our bookshelves. Unable to bring myself to buy an additional shelf and bring the number of mismatched shelves to a total of six, I began to think. 

The solution I came up with? Get rid of the bookshelves and build a wall of shelves in my entryway to house ALL of the books. 

After discussing options and budget with Jimmy we came up with a plan. (Although I had to spend all of the first day painting the entry since it had never been done since we moved in.  Painting. It's never done. Onward.)

After a fresh coat of paint we headed out to buy the supplies. Our van has carried many, many things. Though we always seem to be able to close the back door somehow, we found the limit- seven 12 foot by 10 inch pieces of pine. So this time I had to climb in the back, tie it closed, and then enjoy the ride home. 

We spread out the planks and I invited the kids to distress the wood, since that seems to be all the rage, and also because making something messy on purpose seems to be the order of the day at this stage in my life. We used hammers, nails, chain, and other various tools. Someone asked what we were doing and someone else answered, "we're stressing the wood out." Then, "Mom, why do we have to stress the wood out?" What do you say to this? "Because it's cool!" ?? I think in reality I didn't answer because I was too busy hitting the wood with my huge chain.  Eventually I told them it's "distressing" the wood, but don't worry kids. If anyone can stress wood out, it's you guys. 

I got zero photos of the stressing out of the wood because it was just a little chaotic. That night after bedtime I poured a little coffee (on the wood, come on, I don't drink coffee) and began to sand and stain the wood. 

And here is where the real work begins. In mind and body. When you do meanial,  repetitive work with your hands, there is something that happens. You begin to access a part of your brain that may otherwise lie dormant. You begin to be consumed with what you're doing while ignoring it at the exact same time. After doing a little research on making new wood look old, I did it my way. And guess what? I skipped a few of the recommended steps. Because if there is anything you learn how to do when you're living with six kids and a dog, it's leave out stuff. 

So of course, the sanding, cleaning, staining, and waxing of this wood became a metaphor for my daily life. It's full of scratches, dents, and holes, but it's beautiful. And the very action of the work I did was a picture of how I always function. Isn't there even a movie titled, "I Don't Know How She Does It?" And believe me I get asked that. And you know what? I know how she does it. At least I know how I do it. I skip stuff. Yes, I probably could have sanded it better. It probably could have used another coat of stain. But this is how we do it. We get the whole lot of us involved, we batter and bruise the situation, but it all comes out beautiful somehow in the end. (And we do it in two days because we can't stand the chaos. And we had company coming!)

After all was said and done and we got the shelves hung, it was time to fill them up! Libby was suuuper excited to help and kept asking when it would be time. But in the end the whole family got involved (we missed Cash, he was at a sleepover) and we got those mismatched bookshelves emptied and new shelves filled up in just a few hours. The kids really took ownership of it. Who doesn't like to see your kids excited about books?

Here are girls late at night as we were in progress. There were some books that are tied to our curriculum that I had the kids place tiny colored dots on the bottom of the spine.

And then, later, this scary book zombie came out! Ah!

I don't have great photos, I'm not quite done yet...but we are all enjoying our shelves and even though I enjoyed the work, my arm is enjoying the rest!


My Family is NOT a Reality Show

We spent last weekend at my parent's house to celebrate 4th of July.  My sisters and I and our families try to all be there at the same time this one weekend of the summer.

And guess what?  Nothing exciting happened.  There were no fights, no drama, no hurt feelings, and no stress.  It was awesome.

It just occurred to me, afterward, that we live in a world that presents all of the above as a good thing.  That if your family has drama and dysfunction, you're normal.  Everyone deals with it.

Let me tell you, not everyone does.  We love being together and we have an ease with each other that is a gift.  I pray that Jimmy and I can also raise a loving family as free from issues as possible.  By God's grace.

Happy Birthday America!  Though you're not exactly free from drama and dysfunction, we still love and celebrate you!

On Avacados and Growing Older

Lately the Jim Gaffigan bit about "Sometimes I just throw out my avacados at the grocery store..." has been running through my head.  It's funny of course because there is such a small window for avacados to be ripe enough but not too ripe and before you know it, they're yucky.  Even though this has never happened to me--they are too expensive and I love guacamole too much to let them pass me by-- I still find it funny.  It's funny also, of course, because it's delivered by Jim Gaffigan and he certainly can't find it in himself to pay attention to the ripeness of avacados.  Not while he's busy taking naps and eating donuts.

We can all relate to life moving so fast that before we know it, things are over ripe.  We're too busy to babysit avacados.  Jim's point is, "Why even buy them?  I'm just going to throw them out in a few days."  You stare at them and you think, "How did this happen??  How are they already gross?"

This is how I feel about getting older.  All of a sudden, though I was just at perfect ripeness not so long ago, I'm now quickly approaching middle age and the downhill to, well, death.  It's hard not to feel like I'm the avacado you squeeze in the grocery store and then put back to look for a bit more firm, less bruised one.

I have tennis elbow.  But let's be clear, it's certainly not because I exercise.  I'm pretty sure it's more like photographer's elbow.

I have a child who will start driving in a few months.  If this doesn't signify that I'm no longer young and hip, I don't know what does.

Pregnancy is a part of my past.  Enough said.

I'm starting to feel the need for reading glasses.  At least to wear while I try to pluck out my gray hair.

Those are just some of my realities.  But I don't want to come across as negative.  I'm not sour or bitter about getting older.  It's just that there is definitely a coming to grips with it going on in my mind.

I plan to decide some things.  I decide first and most importantly to have a heavenly perspective.  I know that though outwardly I'm wasting away, inwardly I'm being renewed day by day.  I'm getting younger, really.  And though I might be halfway to death, I'm not actually going to DIE.  I will live forever with Jesus.  So, there's that.

Because my human faith in the above can waver, I try to bolster it by deciding some things.  I want to be resolved.  I will decide to be excited about all that is to come in my life here on earth.  I will decide to not look so far ahead, and not to look too far behind.  To focus on today.  To rejoice and be glad in it.

And I decide, if I do look back, not to long for those younger days, but to find joy in them.  I have gained wisdom and experience that allows me to speak into the lives of others who are younger.

Sometimes I use soft avacados with bruises.  And you know what?  They still make a mean guacamole.  A few bruises never hurt anyone.  I'm certainly not going to throw myself out at the grocery store.  Even though I spend enough time there, trying to keep these kids fed!