Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Turning House Into Home

After almost two weeks in our new home, this was the extent of my decor. :-)

And it was up because we really needed a safe place for the keys, wallet, etc., in the chaos of unpacking. I don't know about you, but for me decorating is purposeful. And sometimes it's downright confusing.

When we remodeled our first home, it had a very country flavor, and I purchased new decor and curtains for almost every room of the house. I never was crazy about how the master bedroom turned out (it never felt finished), but the rest of the house fit together so well. Then we moved from the cape cod back to a ranch. Knowing that most of the window treatments wouldn't work in the ranch, we sold them with the house. The ranch didn't have the country feel of the cape cod, so I leaned a little more with my primitive preference, and after 6 years it felt comfortable. I wasn't crazy about every detail, but the family liked it.

Now here we are again: back to the cape cod feel, which I love. Our family agrees that this house is so much more cozy than the ranch, and it's my job to accent and enhance its coziness and beauty with minimal expense. Fortunately, the decor from the ranch will work much better in this style of house, but proper placement is important. Many of the walls are plaster, meaning there isn't much room for trial and error. I really want to get this done so that I can feel more confident when having guests, but I know that staring at the walls won't give them the motivation to dress themselves.  :-)

Sometimes I just have to clear my head and bring myself back to the basics of decorating our home.  And there are a few key things that I have to remember:
  • From the blog of a friend, decorate for us, not for others.  Unless my decor would be offensive or uncomfortable for guests, I should go for what we like.  In these days of blogs and Pinterest, it can be so easy to decorate to impress others when our real goal should be to provide an environment that feels comfortable to our family.
  • Avoid clutter.  I'm not big on knick-knacks (which often end up looking like clutter), but I have to be careful because primitive decorators love to sell them, and although they are very enticing to me in the boutiques, I don't have time to dust and arrange stuff.  And our family prefers the look of less.  Sort of helps one to breathe better.  :-)
  • Functionality is key.  How many times have I arranged and rearranged in my mind, simply because I want the spaces in my home to be functional.  After living in a place for just a few days, one can see placements that make things more difficult.  So we move them, and then we spend another week getting used to where things are now.  :-)  Balancing visual appeal with functionality isn't always easy, but it's worth the effort.
  • Incorporate sentimental pieces into decor.  This is something I have done minimally, but would like to do more.  When we remodeled the first house, we had the windows replaced.  I kept one of the old windows to use as decor, and whenever I see it I'm reminded of not only the work that we accomplished together, but of the really great times that we had when we lived in that home.  I have several keepsakes that I would like to weave into displays, and I'm anxious to see how that turns out. 
The atmosphere in our homes is created by a combination of aesthetics and values, but overall, there are several characteristics that I want my home to generate:
  • Wholesome purity
  • Calm
  • Warmth
  • Welcome

Monday, October 29, 2012

I've Found My Closet!

And I'm not talking about the one that has been stacked high with boxes, bags, or piles of random stuff that didn't have another home! 

All of my life I've heard spiritual people talk about the importance of a 'prayer closet,' which is in essence a 'place' that I consistently spend time alone with God.  All of my life I've been confused about whether this was mandatory or even possible.  Every time I would hear someone mention a 'prayer closet,' my mind would begin to spin again, thinking about a place that I could possibly designate as my 'closet.'  It always seemed that it would have to be a place that only I would go, and that there would need to be some sacredness about it.  Needless to say, I just continued to pray here, there, and everywhere. 

The night before we moved, I was in the shower, thinking about my last time in different areas of the house: our last meal in the dining room, my last night to tuck the girls in their bed in the only room Allison has ever known, etc., and the weirdest thing hit me.  I realized that for months and years, that shower had been my prayer closet!  I began to cry as I thought about all of the times that my soul had cried out to God in that very place.  Sometimes my shower prayers consisted of praying for a specific burden, sometimes they were me pouring out grief, pain, and questions.  And then there were those wonderful times where God's presence poured out upon my soul  just like the water from the shower poured onto my body. 

Now, you might be thinking that it's just a little odd to have such a prayer closet, but I can give you five good reasons why it's a great place:
  1. The door has a lock.
  2. Between the fan and the running water, you can count on being able to talk to God without everyone hearing your conversation
  3. Showering is consistent, so that makes praying consistent.
  4. Multitasking is smart.
  5. A warm (scalding hot for me) shower is a relaxing experience which typically allows one to release the cares of the day.  It is much easier to focus in prayer and hear God's voice when the mind is clear, the body is relaxed, and the spirit feels refreshed. 
Although every person in my house uses the shower, and it's definitely not what most would consider "holy ground," it's a place where I meet God and He meets me. 

How 'bout you?  Where is your favorite place to pray?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Just Do It


A few weeks back, a popular blogger was running a series of posts about personal discipline (a subject in which I could use some help). I was surprised when one of the topics focused on the blogger's struggle with getting dressed each day. The temptation was for her to get busy and stay in pj's or work out clothes all day, and then feel like a frump when her husband came home from work. Given her stellar example in business and homemaking, this was a bit of a shock to me.

Even more surprising was that there were hundreds of comments from women who identified with the blogger. Many of them were validating (or just excusing) her struggle, and I was completely taken back by the amount of women who feel that it is acceptable for them (and their kids) to - on a regular basis - nix getting dressed. "It saves on laundry when we all stay in our pj's," was mentioned several times. It was apparent by many of the responses that there were a lot of women who were trying to convince themselves and others that the behavior was acceptable. Of course, I typically visualize everything I read, and the images of smelly moms with stinky breath and grungy hair greeting their hardworking husbands at the end of the day just didn't strike me as excusable. Not to mention passing along this lifestyle to the houseful of kids they are raising...you get the idea.

Now it's probably not all that terrible to stay in our pj's once in awhile, especially if we're sick or have other circumstances, but it did occur to me that in the amount of time it took for the commenters to read and then comment, they could have been fully dressed and ready to greet the day with a certain amount of class and dignity. :-)

But it also occurred to me that while I was judging this group of people for their seeming lack of motivation to just "get up and do it," there are so many topics on which I am continually reading or studying, when I actually have all of the information I need. The big inhibitor is myself, and my own lack of motivation.

You've probably heard it said that it's not so much what we don't know that hurts us; it's what we do know and aren't practicing.   I've been thinking about that a lot lately, and wondering how much better my life would be for myself and for my family, if I would just act on every single discipline that I know.  If I would just force myself to do all the things that I detest, rather than ignoring even just one, how much of a difference would it make?  Hmmm...something to think about.  But then again, I need to quit thinking and start acting.  :-)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mentor. Nurture. Grow.

Every week I have the opportunity to talk with women who are on a unique journey.  A journey that is all their own.  Some are single, others are married.  Some are widowed, others are divorced.  Some have a house full of kids, others are childless.  Some are ministry women, others work in secular employment.  Some are stay-at-home moms who send the kids off to school, others are stay-at-home moms that gather the kids around the table and do the hard but rewarding task of being the teacher.   Some live here in the USA, others have made the sacrifice to live in another culture and shine Christ's love in a remote area of spiritual darkness.  Some are outgoing, others are quiet.  Some are Christians, others are not.  And the differences go much further than these.  Each woman is her own combination her genetics, her upbringing, and every influence that has brought her to this point.

Although women are unique, there is one certain commonality: women need each other.  I can hear a few sighs at this point, but I have no doubt that it is true.  Sure, some personalities are wired to enjoy social activities more than others, but even introverted women also need other women.  I once talked with a woman who is very melancholy, and she told me that most of the time she has to force herself to go out and participate in events because even though her personality screams at her to stay home and be alone, she knows that she needs the support, accountability, and fellowship of other women.  She also knows that God wants to use her to bless others, and in order to do that she must deny herself and leave her "safe" zone.  I admire this friend very much because I know that she gives of herself in many ways, and one of those is by simply "showing up."

Because of the need for a strong women's fellowship/mentoring group in our conservative holiness circles, Women of Worth/IHC came into existence several years ago.  The Interchurch Holiness Convention (IHC) is a three day conference in Dayton that occurs early in the spring of each year, and Women of Worth/IHC is a ministry of that large interdenominational group.  Our Lima WOW Chapter celebrated its 10th anniversary in May of this year.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity for women to gather in our local area. 

Our monthly meeting was held last Monday night, and the theme was Women's Health Issues.  Obviously, this is a complex subject that would require days to cover, but the focus was specifically on breast health since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I wasn't able to stay for the entire event, but it was a very informative time.  A physician, as well as the oncology coordinator, for the Lima Memorial Hospital Women's Health Center came to lecture on breast health.  They brought silicone models so that our women could feel them and detect problem areas, explained exactly how to do a self-exam, types of mammography, types of breast cancer, types of treatments, and stepped the group through exactly what would happen if a diagnosis was given.  They brought two packets for each woman (one for the woman and one for her to share), and did an amazing job of communicating to our women about breast health.  All of this, and they didn't charge a dime.  They considered it an honor to be able to share. 

Ladies arriving at the Commons for the WOW session. 
The decor was so pretty, and most of the women wore pink.

My mom has been our chapter
leader for 10 years.

Dr. Weyer giving useful information
and demonstrations

The lady on the right wrote a grant last
year that resulted in Lima's women's center
being awarded  $60,000 + from the
Komen Foundation.

I should have taken this at the beginning...when the food was
a little less picked over!  It was so pretty and sooo good!
Through the years, we have have a ton of fun, informative, spiritually nourishing themes and topics put together by our local WOW committee which is made up of three ladies.  They have always done such a great job!

Back in the early spring, I was asked to serve as an advisory member of the National WOW/IHC Committee.   When the request came, I was a little conflicted because I didn't want to add too much to what I felt was an already overflowing list of responsibilities.  In my mind, I decided to give it a year to see how demanding it would be and how it would flow with my personal and family goals.
Last weekend, I was able to attend my first committee meeting.  All but one of the eight members was able to be there, and after spending time with these ladies, hearing and feeling their passion and their hearts, I knew that I was a part of something that was well worth any energy I could give.  So...I'm excited to be on a team that is continuing with the original WOW/IHC vision, and making positive, forward movement to improve an already outstanding women's ministry. 

Now and then I talk to women who are reaching out for a tool like this.  Something that will bring them together and encourage them through fellowship, accountability, and mentoring.  If you are one of those, I would love to hear from you via email at repstephanie@yahoo.com.  There are WOW-IHC groups set up in various places throughout the US as well as internationally, and if you aren't near enough to connect with one of them, you could consider becoming a chapter leader and hosting a group of your very own.

For centuries, women have depended upon one another for help, advice, and support.  In a modern era of independence, something valuable has been {for the most part} lost.   Wherever you are in life, you have something to give and you have a need to receive.  Be sure to make time to develop and nurture those connections that are so beneficial.  It is worth the effort.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 1

I must have been off a day (imagine that) cause Friday was the day we handed the keys to the new owners. Greg met them after work and did a walk through with them to make sure everything was satisfactory. It makes us feel good to know that they are excited about the house. Selling without a broker wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined, and it was a good experience overall (not to mention that we saved 6%).

This day was full. As soon as we finished all the business and hunted down clothes to pack our suitcases, we hit the road for MI to visit with family. So...the mess awaits. :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Day 3

The kids are loving their new home and preferred to stay there while Greg and I completed the task of cleaning the old place. It was a relief to finally box the last item, clean the floors and appliances, and be done with it. That feeling outweighed the twinge of sadness that otherwise would have overwhelmed me.

I can definitely see a light at the end of this tunnel! :-)

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 4

I was up and at em by about 5:45 cause our school staff atteneded CEC in Columbus. I usually enjoy these times immensely, but I was so tired this year that I just wanted it to be overwith! That sounds really bad. I did get some excellent helps from the conference, and of course enjoyed spending time with some of the best people on the planet. Poor Greg had to do a lot more packing and cleaning while I was away, and we hauled yet another load of JUNK away to the new garage. :-)

Day 5

So...on day 5 my sister showed up to get fitted for a bridesmaid's dress for a very special wedding that is upcoming. It was fun to get to be with she and the girls and Amy for awhile. Although my mom and brother were working, the rest of us had a little Skyline time! :-) It just happened to be Kid's Night, so that helped the 6 little girls and one little Will to be occupied a little better.

As for progress, Greg and I were able to box up more junk (at this point, that's what is left...lol), and after showing all the family through the new place, transported it to the new garage. I'm wishing there were enough warmth left this fall to do a big garage sale...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 6

After school, we went straight home to Cridersville to empty the shed, the attic, and my curio cabinet. There are a few odds and ends left to move, and some cleaning which will have to be done yet this week. On the "new" homefront, while I was at Women of Worth, my hubs and dad were able to install the microwave and stove, and they straightened up the deck and garage. Both are large areas, and the clutter was getting a little overwhelming. :-)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 8

Moving Day!  Greg had a mandatory meeting for work (wouldn't ya know it!) down in Sidney, OH, so I left the kids relaxing at home and went on over to get a head start and tie up a few of the many loose ends.  Panera's Pumpkin Spice Latte made the morning a little more fun (why must my taste buds be so attached to my emotions?).  After a few minutes, there was a knock on the door, and it was my neighbor...exchanging her dishes from the previous night's dinner for this...

I didn't rotate the pic, but that
didn't change the flavor!  :-)
The new house was in chaos for the whole day.  Our friend Steve continued to work on wiring every outlet, exhanging the switches and plates, and helping put in some lights.  Rob Cantrell helped Greg move furniture.  Wendy stopped by my house, loaded her car with boxes and odds and ends, and Stephanie helped her unload. My parents continued to make trips to Lowes and Menards for supplies, they brought dinner, did laundry, bathed the kids, and helped to keep things organized as much as possible.  Everyone's help was appreciated so much!  Lots of people had offered to help, but not knowing exactly when things were going to roll, we couldn't really schedule it.  Everything was very spontaneous, to say the least.

By the time we fell into bed Sunday night, this was the view
from the front door.  It drove me nuts, but short of staying
up all night, there wasn't a thing I could do about it!
View from the kitchen - not getting any better, is it?!  :-)

Part of our bedroom
Fortunately, it's a big bedroom, and this was the only part
we even cared to see by that point in the day!
THIS is a lovely sight.  :-)
So Day 8 was pretty productive.  Stay tuned for updates which I will post randomly as we make progress! 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 9

My "boss" unexpectedly covered for me for the afternoon, so I was able to get into my paint clothes a little earlier than planned.  Yay for me - just love those paint clothes {please sense the sarcasm}.
Friday's work made me feel like an old woman.  Not sure why all of the sudden every part of me ached like I had been beaten, but 4 ibuprofen were a necessity, that's for sure!  :-)

Our neighbor and friend, Stephanie Cantrell, brought us dinner on Friday.  Thank you, Stephanie, for your thoughfulness!  I'm sure McDonald's missed us, but we sure didn't miss them!  :-)

Stew and rice

Homemade cornbread (huge hit!)
I painted most of the dining room and touched up parts of the living room.  Didn't seem like I accomplished much, but it took hours and I finally wrapped it up and went home at about midnight.

I will miss my inset porch.  The privacy made it a nice
place to relax - when we actually had time to sit there.  :-)
I didn't decorate much outdoors because
of the move, but I love the color of
the mums this year.  So vibrant!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 10

This was my last requested day off, so after treating myself to a Hazelnut Mocha {super and hot :-)} at Biggby {as well as dropping one of to my mom at work - something I rarely get to do!}, I started packing dishes and making trips across town. 

Starting to feel like a home as opposed to
an ugly, dirty, smelly building.  :-)

Living room ceiling painted -
Greg also applied 2nd coat of sealant
to living room/hall hardwood.

Kitchen floor done
On Day 10, Greg and I are hosting a table at a fundraiser dinner for our local Christian crisis pregnancy center, Heartbeat of Lima.  We have six guests joining us at our table, and I was amazed to hear that there are 70 tables being hosted and 560 guests coming to the dinner!  I will share photos and tell you about the guest speaker at gsrek.blogspot.com in a couple of days.  In the meantime, I'll be back here to let you know how Days 9 and 8 go by Saturday night or Sunday.  We actually hope to be moved in by then.  :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 11

Carpet is in!

Girls' bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bedroom
Boys' bedroom upstairs (room opens up on far end giving them
lots of space)

Small room off of boys' room,
we will use as play room for the girls.
It actually has two lights, but I couldn't get
a decent angle on the camera.

Upstairs from opposite end - lots of closet space up there.

And the dining room floor is finished (just not very tidy)!

Finally - after smashed thumbs and sore knees!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 12...

I did nothing more at the house (other than to haul a load of stuff over) because the carpet crew was there and then Greg was working on flooring in the only room I have left to paint.  I was excited to see that the two bedrooms on the first floor are all carpeted, and it is looking much more like a home.

By the end of the day, almost all of the kitchen/dining room laminate was laid, except for a stubborn area in front of the sink and dishwasher.  That should be completed on Day 12, and I plan to paint the dining room on Day 12. 

I forgot to take a pic of the carpeted rooms, but I'll leave you with one of the things I'll miss most when we move:

A mantle the entire width of the living room - although
I will admit that other than fall and winter, I do have
difficulty decorating it!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 14

The boys and I were away, but Greg still accomplished a lot!

1. Carpet tack strips installed where needed.

2. Rooms prepared for carpet.

3. Living room floor stained and sealed with 1st coat!

Love how this looks!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 15


Our kids have reached the point of boredom and exhaustion with the remodel process, so I took them home from school on Day 15 and let them just enjoy being home for a couple of hours.  Dad and Greg were working on a stubborn area of the dining room floor (laying laminate on a surface that isn't perfectly level is frustrating and time consuming), and I knew they could use the peace and quiet.  :-)

I enjoyed those hours immensely...just getting order back into the house, organizing a few things, and packing a couple of boxes.  The weather outside was crisp, and the warmth of home and a pumpkin/vanilla candle gave me a happy feeling.

Later in the evening, my dad took the two boys with him to Illinois, and I went with mom and the girls to pick out stain for the living room floor.  Mom and I had planned to leave for Sandusky, OH for the Women of Worth Retreat, but decided to wait until morning and save ourselves the hassle of packing for the night, driving in the rain, and staying in a motel in an unfamiliar town.

My fingers are crossed that the stain we chose works well!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 16...

The other day, a friend asked if there was any one thing about this remodel process that ended up being bigger deal than expected.   I've thought about that a lot in the last few days because I tend to be the type to visualize a challenge without factoring in all the circumstances. 

When we made this decision 8 months ago, we knew it would be a big job.  The kitchen and bathrooms had been remodeled, but due to neglect and pure filth, one of the bathrooms had to have a lot of work.  The kitchen and other bath just needed a real good cleaning.  Other than that, lots of nasty carpet had to be ripped out, all the walls had to be repainted, a doorway had to be restructured, a ceiling needed replaced, and a room needed drywall due to holes punched into the paneling.  The home already had new siding, windows, etc., and was in good shape structurally.  Two new sump pumps had already been put into the basement, and the basement walls had been professionally redone.  So this is one of those homes that could be salvaged with moderate skill level, lots of "elbow grease," and lots of patience.

My parents closed on the rental the day that my grandma went into the hospital in April.  She died ten days later, and the emotion and busyness continued through the month.  Then into summer...needless to say, we didn't get started on the house in earnest until August.  Our house sold and closed two weeks ago.  Once an offer was made, that process went much more quickly than we intended, and we started the countdown. 

As it stands now, the only things we didn't intend to do were to rip out the kitchen and bathroom floors.  The kitchen flows into the dining room, and the previous owners had carpet in the dining room.  Ugh.  Greg is installing one floor that will bring continuity to those rooms.  I think I underestimated how many times I would paint the same walls.  We used the best paint with the best coverage, but don't be fooled...one coat coverage is not really achievable.  :-)

Day 16 - 1. The upstairs is done!  (And, for the record, I hate painting ceilings!)
               2. Another layer of flooring comes up in the dining room to make it level with the kitchen.

Wow - doncha love that look?  :-)

               3. Bathroom #1 scrubbed (Thanks, Mom!)

The entire dining room (including newly drywalled ceiling) needs to be painted before I leave for the conference this weekend.  Greg intends to finish the flooring in there, as well as stain and do the 1st seal on the living room hardwood by Saturday.  Carpet is being installed Monday and Tuesday, and then we begin moving furniture (if the hardwood floors are completely done and dry).

 By the time I get all of the paint out of my hair, I probably really will be turning gray.  :-)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 17...

1.  Painted half of upstairs ceiling. 

2. Greg laid bathroom floor and installed medicine cabinet, toilet, and sink base.

3. Our electrician friend has been busy changing out all of the outlets and switches.  There are an insane amount of both in this house!

Today is Wednesday, so we're cutting it short to squeeze in a counseling session and prayer meeting at church.

Day 18...

Assessed a friend's child for her after my school day, so that put me off to a late start.  Spent a little time at Lowe's, and was pretty disappointed to find that the choices for incandescent lighting are so limited. So, I came away with a nice kitchen faucet, but no dining room lighting. 

Greg sanded the dining room ceiling.  One of those jobs that never seems to end.  :-)

Day 19...

1. Patched dining room ceiling

2. Painted playroom 

No pictures to prove it.  :-)

Day 21...

Took a lil trip with my neighbor friend to a flower farm...
came back with some loot!  :-)

Hanging drywall in dining room.

Arms burning, tempers flaring...watch out - it's drywall time. 

Wish I had a video - it was hilarious!

Another job done.  Yeah!
The ugly blue bathroom is G.O.N.E.!

Thankful that Day 20 is a day of rest.  :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 22...

Friday evening was very successful!
Changing the bright blue to a nice tan via Kilz

Gottal love a moldy shower ceiling - ugh!

New door installed in master bedroom

Sanding the hardwood in the living room

Can't wait to see the beauty in these floors!