Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Little Hacks

After the coldest, rainiest spring in years, today is sunny and mild. The perfect setting to show off my much-needed new sofa. *squeal!*
Of course, Betsy remains the loveliest thing in the house. 

design blog I read described how to make your own version of something pricey from the Pottery Barn catalog, so I thought I'd share some of my own cheapo hacks. I snapped the pictures without fluffing pillows or picking up the random detritus. Think of it as a game: Can you find the wet wipes, a work glove, a John Deere quillow, a Croatian Power button?

This magnetic memento board is copied straight from an old PB catalog. I asked Mark to make it for me as a present. He built a wooden frame with furring strips and L joints, then Gorilla-glued a sheet of metal over the top. We wrapped the whole thing in a piece of linen from my fabric stash and staple-gunned it to the back.

 I use it to display old family photos, inspirational messages, and anything else cute.

Right now it's a newborn gallery so the kids can try to guess who was who. (Levi top right, Betsy on bottom.)

Recently I devised this cheap way to fill another big open wall. I bought a world map from amazon for something like $8. I knew the kids would poke at it, so I wanted to make it indestructible. We glued the map to a thin sheet of plywood, mod-podged the whole thing, then screwed it straight into the wall.

This one was my solution to fill this awkward piece of wall between two levels of the house. I bought 12x12 stretched canvases from a craft store and used spray adhesive to cover them with 12x12 pieces of scrapbook paper. I've done similar things using wallpaper samples instead of scrapbook paper.

This one might be my favorite. I devised this method for hanging jewelry, and convinced Mark to make it for me as a Christmas present. It's another sheet of plywood with that same linen stapled around it (and a thin layer of quilt batting underneath for body). Mark screwed teacup hooks into a grid.

What are you favorite little hacks?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A lame post is better than nothing

Goodness, I'm behind on blogging. Here's Levi at his end-of-year piano recital. He played "Indian Song," which you may have played at your first piano recital too.

 My brother Josh came to visit. He's a very handsome fellow under that hair. I love my baby bro. And now he loves my baby Betsy.
 Aunt Ruth came to visit and ran the school Fun Run 5K with Levi.
 Actually, he left her in the dust and won first place for his grade.
And a bit o Betsy:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Yesterday Jesse came home from preschool with a note from his teacher on cheery yellow paper. A note telling us about a man seen lurking in our neighborhood, peeping in windows, and even entering a home. I forwarded the message around the neighborhood yesterday afternoon and brushed up on safety protocols with the kids at Family Home Evening, but didn't feel too concerned until today.

Suddenly my quiet morning at home with two little children felt kind of menacing. I was literally looking over my shoulder and walking around with the phone in my pocket. I've always been cavalier about things like locking doors. I figure I don't want to live in a world where we give in to the few bad apples by barricading ourselves behind safety measures. I refuse to recognize that evil has any power over me. But you better believe my doors were locked today. I was grateful when the kids came home from school to break the ominous silence and fill the empty hallways.

Then tonight my email account was hacked. The email account I've used almost daily since something like 1997. (Shouldn't there be an award for longest-standing email account?) The tide of filth of the modern world has encroached on my life of willful naivete. I've been sullied. So sorry to all you who received my spam. Don't open it.


On a happier note, Levi just came into my room and threw a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at me. "Done," he said, and walked back to bed. This is his kind of charming, kind of destructive, kind of get-your-bootie-back-to-bed way of bragging about his mad reading skillz.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yoga Reflections

I was lucky enough to make it to my Saturday morning yoga class today. After abdicating my body to Betsy for so long, it feels so good to be reclaiming it for my own purposes. I can feel muscles, organs, and ribs pulling back into their proper locations.

But for the most part, what I reclaim a healthy body for is to better serve my family. Adding Betsy to the mix of resumes, callings, carpools, housework, and behavior modification makes things full indeed. My nights could be a whole lot worse—but they could also be a whole lot better. The waves of demands on me overlap. I need to work, but Betsy is crying. Someone needs to be picked up or dropped off, but dinner is on the stove. Three people have a question at the same time. I need to eat dinner, but Betsy needs to eat as well. People need printer cartridges, snacks, socks, shin guards, baths, diapers, counsel, discipline, dinner.

In yoga, the teacher introduces a pose and your first reaction is, “My body can’t do that!” But you engage your core, focus on a still point, and next thing you know, you've floated into position. You find that, yes, your body can. You hold a pose and your muscles rebel and you think, “I cannot hold this any longer.” But you pull in your core, breathe deep, and find that, yes, you can go on. Your pose may not be as deep as your teacher’s or as graceful as your neighbor’s, but you let go of competition, judgment, and expectation and accept that all you can do is sufficient.

Yesterday afternoon I was so tired I felt dizzy. Betsy skipped her morning nap, putting me even further behind schedule in getting clients’ resumes to them. Jesse threw fits all afternoon. Logan argued about homework. A quick trip to Target got hung up at the pharmacy. The house began to look like a tornado aftermath as packs of kids blew in one way and out the other.

And it’ll get worse before it gets better. In a few weeks, everyone will be on summer break, eliminating all hope of any kid-free time to run my business, get my housework done, or even shave my legs. My first reaction is, “I can’t do that!” But I’m scheming to renew my spiritual devotions and devise some schedules and systems--and I believe I’ll find that I can.

There will be rough edges. My house won’t be as graceful as my neighbor’s. I’ll feel frenzied and frazzled sometimes. I’ll let go of the expectation of a peaceful, smooth ride. I’ll excuse myself from competition and judgment.

When we look back, we’ll forget or laugh about the quarrels and messes. We’ll remember Betsy’s first summer and how wonderful it was that all six kids were home.

Friday, May 6, 2011

2 Months

This week Miss Elizabeth turns 2 months old. She has lost that mystical newborn aura in favor of a much more engaged demeanor. She loves to look at faces, and if you're lucky you'll get a smile and a coo.
Late one night, Mark and I sat on the couch gazing at her. "Is she our sweetest baby ever?" Mark asked. I had been thinking just the same thing.

 We're trying to savor every moment. But it's all kind of a blur of feedings and awakenings and carpools.
Mark and I agree that heaven only makes sense if it includes the opportunity to watch home videos of every good, sweet moment.
This week I taught Logan this trick for helping a baby who wants to go to sleep but can't quite manage it. Stroke down from their forehead to the tip of their nose, like you're petting a horse. It makes their eyes naturally close long enough for them to settle to sleep.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Kneading tonight's dinner rolls, I look out my back window and see one of Logan's friends across the empty lot over our back fence. He's whacking weeds aimlessly. Sometimes as I wait to pick up Logan from school, this boy hops in my car, unannounced, for a ride home. Later, he comes by the jump on the tramp. Jesse joins in.
A map of yesterday's neighborhood flow.
After dropping a neighborhood boy off from afternoon carpool, I went inside to talk to his dad about his new Primary calling. On the way back home I stopped the car to chat with another neighbor on the curb. I watched my kids, and hers, and another neighbors' run back and forth from house to house as they figured out who was done with homework and who would will play where.

Depending on the ebb and flow, it's not uncommon for me to be left with only a kid or two at home. Or for there to be 10 kids here.

In our neighborhood, friends know no age discrimination. The rule is that if you come to my house, you're here to play with all the kids. Jesse and his little buddy often seek out one of Logan's friends. That same buddy sometimes shows up on our doorstep to ask Levi to "wrestle." If I stand on my front steps, and his mom stands on her back steps, we can watch our little boys' safe progress from house to house.