Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lydia's Little Room

Our house has four bedrooms. I took the only one with an attached full bathroom. It was also my choice because it was separate from all the other bedrooms. Momma needs her space sometimes. I gave the boys the largest bedroom because they will share when Kellen is home from college. Then I braced myself for what I was sure would be a cat fight between the girls about the remaining bedrooms.

One is decent size and attached to a 1/2 bath that is also open to the living area. The other is tiny. I think it will be a perfect laundry room for me when the kids are gone. The previous owners used it as a sitting room. It had a love seat and  TV which was mounted to the wall. It seemed crowded even then. I didn't think either girl would choose that room.

I was wrong. Lydia was quick to grab it up, saying, "I don't even care. I just want my own room. It will be cozy." In West Virginia the girls shared a fairly small room. Lydia likes peace, quiet, and alone time. Vivian wants to talk constantly, ask a million questions, and always be right there. I think it is pretty easy to see the kind of drama we had at a constant simmer in that house.

Lydia's little room does have a couple of nice perks. It has a good sized closet with shelving. It is over a stairwell where previous owners built steps that serve as shelves too.

The room also has a lighted nook. I'm not sure what the original intent of that nook was, but for Lydia it is a reading corner. She put a bean bag there, and can hide away for hours reading. You can't even see her in there when you poke your head in her room.

Lydia and I searched Pinterest for space saving ideas. One you can see by her book nook, floating book shelves. (Oops looks like she needs to fix the back cover on that one.) These are super cool. She chose her "pretty books" to put on these shelves. Functional and decorative, that is how we roll. Of course that wasn't enough book room for her. There is another book shelf in there too.

The other idea we got from Pinterest was to make a platform bed from a dresser. This project cost less than $50. Lydia and Kellen completed this project. We had to buy a sheet of plywood and we got new drawer pulls for the dresser. We used a dresser we already had, paint left from another room we painted before we moved in, and 2x4 and other hardware we had on hand.

Lydia removed two doors from the piece to leave open shelving. She painted the dresser. We hadn't figured out the homemade chalk paint yet, but she lightly sanded the dresser, used Kilz and then two coats of paint on it.

The dresser isn't quite long enough. She used another small set of drawers we've had forever (seriously I had this piece in my room in high school, painted black) to fill the gap. The dresser isn't wide enough for the mattress. Kellen attached a 2x4 to the wall behind, and then ripped the plywood to be twin size. The plywood rests on the dresser and the 2x4, and of course the mattress on top. This creates a gap which Lydia uses as extra storage, and the cats use as a hiding place.

The room is small, but it doesn't feel crowded at all. She has plenty of storage space, a sitting area, and most importantly room for all her books.

She is happy in there. Vivian is happy in her larger room. I am happy that they are happy, that the little room is very functional on the cheap, and that the drama in the house has been knocked down a level. It is a win all the way around.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Good Dirt

Since moving, I've been at a loss with what to do with our food scraps. If you've saved your food scraps for over ten years to feed to chickens, it feels like sacrilege to throw them in the garbage. I hoped to make a nice compost area, you know with a fence and all, but I just wasn't getting to that project. I would cringe every time I threw food scraps away, and finally decided I'd just make a compost pile until I got something better in place. The previous owners piled their fall leaves under some of the large pines. That seemed like a good place to start.

I don't know how long they were piling them there. The yard has roughly a dozen large maples, so I imagine (and will soon experience) the fall leaves are abundant. I just threw the scraps on top. After a few days of this, flies found the pile, and I decided I should turn the pile over some. I got a nice surprise. The top maybe three feet is pretty much leaves that have barely begun to break down, but under that was beautiful rich soil.

I miss my garden. I have enjoyed shopping at our local farmers market, but it just isn't the same (although a lot less work) as putting the seeds into good dirt, tending them, and watching them produce. I relish the fruit of my garden, but I've come to understand that although it is work and sometimes frustrating work, I really do enjoy the process.

In the last few weeks in my reading, in small groups, at the church I attend, and even in one I recently visited the comparison of faith and life in Christ to the gardening process has come up over and over again. Our faith is often referred to as a small seed. It needs good dirt. It needs nurturing. It needs protecting. It will grow. It will produce fruit, but it is a process.

I've been impatient with the process. The verse that has been on my mind the last couple weeks is James 5:7-8.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Before I probably would have read the "coming of the Lord" as the second coming, but now I am seeing that to be more of the coming of the Lord in my heart. I can't make the tiny seed of faith in my heart grow, but I can nurture it while I wait patiently for it to grow and produce fruit. Like gardening it may be hard, painful, and sometimes frustrating, but it is a beautiful process.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

One Year

One year.  As with so many other life events, it seems like another life time while it seems like yesterday. This life moves on. It doesn't allow us to hold onto what is gone. Kids grow up. Things change. You learn to function in the new and unfamiliar.

But I still miss us.

I wake up many mornings with Tim on my mind. I wish I woke with happy memories, but my mind seems stuck on those last few days. It almost makes me angry. Over twenty years of memories to pull from, but I can't get the worst of our days from the forefront of my thoughts.

Looking back I realize how much denial we were in those last few weeks. I wish we had realized the point we were at much sooner.

I look back on those last days and true to my personality, I was busy taking care of the practical and neglected the things of the heart, Tim's heart, my heart, and the kids. Though I know there is no sense dwelling on any of that, my mind goes there unbidden. It is almost like I dream about it before I wake.

Our life in the last year has changed dramatically, yet in many ways things don't change. Moving to a new place with old friends has been an incredible blessing. I am so thankful for our new home and fellowship. You may remember I did a lot of second guessing about the move. I can say I have no regrets about the move. It has been good for all of us.

There is still laughter. Kids still bicker. We have fun times. Sometimes things are difficult and frustrating. This life moves on, and keeps changing but as a family it seems to move on off balance, sometimes slightly, other times grossly so.  I think we will always feel off balance without Tim.

We have learned to function as a family of five. We are pretty good at the practical things, but I worry that we aren't very good at heart matters. I wonder if I should do more for the kids there, but don't even know how to.

A year later, the grief is less acute. At times it hits me like a wall, but mostly it is just a constant undercurrent to our lives. That undercurrent is what pulls us off balance.

A year without Tim. . .

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Worth It

For the past couple of weeks I've had words swirling in my head. Words I was sure would come out in a blog post titled, "This is the Hardest Time of Parenting." This time is hard. Watching older children become adults struggling with things you can't help with, making decisions you question, and trying to decide when or if you should say anything is so difficult. Mix in Mr. Middle School, Miss Preteen, and of course doing this solo, and yes, this is a very challenging time in the parenting journey.

But aren't they all?

I was reminded of that today at Goodwill of all places. I went alone. (Going places alone is one aspect of this time of parenting that I must say is GLORIOUS!) I was trying on some things and there was a woman next to me with several young children in the fitting room with her. (Later I saw there were four girls roughly 3 to 10.)

It started rather calmly. It sounded like they were all trying things on, but of course every child was talking to mom and each other all at the same time in that tiny room.

I remember the days of shopping with four children. It was simply overwhelming. Sensory overload is the best way I can describe it. You are trying to think, accomplish a task, and manage four little ones who are fighting, asking you to buy things, running away from you, and sometimes just simply talking to you.

You could hear the noise level escalate. The mother's hushes got more annoyed. The oldest child tried to help with the youngest to no avail. The mother's frustration grew until she finally bursts out with, "Will you just shut up for a minute?!" Then the youngest child started crying. Oh, I have been there.

And it made me laugh, to myself of course.

I wasn't laughing at her, and I guess I wasn't laughing with her either. She surely wasn't laughing. I guess I was laughing at myself for forgetting that stage of parenting. It was the hardest time of parenting, in a different way from this time.

I remember fussy babies, non stop nursing, and no sleep. I remember stopping at every public restroom in sight during potty training. I remember trying to teach a kid to read while the toddler tore apart the house. I remember (and am still living) kids going through puberty, hurt feelings, attitudes, and becoming a taxi service for children. You know what? Every last stinking minute of it was the hardest time ever, and it was the most wonderful time ever.

These four, they are the best things Tim and I ever did, and every stage of parenting came with challenges, but it also came with many joys. These four are worth it!