Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It's my 'blogoversary'.  (I wonder if I spelled that correctly, and if there is such an entry as 'blogoversary' in Merriam-Webster which would certainly be a reflection of our culture and time.)   As of late, I've been busy, distracted and haven't written as much as I thought I would.  A year ago, when I first started blogging, I had intended to write more about home schooling and to share observations from my thirteen year transition from public school teacher to mother, to homemaker, to homeschooler, and the sometimes shock of 'christian culture' that I encountered in that transition.  I had intended to do more curriculum sharing and unit study updates.  I still hope to.  :-)   

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Little Sojourn...

This morning I sprang out of bed, having overslept.  It is Saturday, a day for sleeping in, but this Saturday morning afforded me the opportunity to sojourn, early, to the regional teaching hospital with a few other women, where a Very Sick Friend had been taken the morning prior. I've written about this friend before--about a year ago she was the subject of my first ever blog post.  She has survived, to date, several crises surrounding her failing liver, and this most recent crisis involves her recently transplanted liver.  Her name is Grace, she is valiant, and she is well named.   

Despite the seriousness of our journey, there was laughter, fellowship, and very honest, probing conversation.  In many ways I was the benefactor of two women who felt pulled to travel two hours north and invited me along.  Those two hours were spent sharing, praying, discussing...singing.  I think the latter was the best of all, trying to remember stanzas of hymns, or any song three women from different faith communities shared in common.  We found common ground in the familiarity of 'It Is Well With My Soul'.  I thought for a moment of the story I have heard about the hymn's origin, and felt a gratefulness that one man's response to suffering was a song through which countless others have been bolstered up and encouraged. 
We arrived at the hospital to find Grace, amazingly, lucid and able to receive a few visitors. This was not necessarily our expectation, as we thought we might do nothing more than give Grace's husband an encouraging hug and then pray--in the waiting room.  I watched these two women attend to Grace, check on her husband's needs, so benevolent, so real.  We talked a bit about life, visitors, and songs.  Grace likes hymns.  Then, we sang.  We  sang 'It Is Well With My Soul', and this sweet, Very Sick, very yellow woman, Grace, sang along.  After a bit, we gathered a lunch for her husband, greeted Grace's out of town family members flocking to the hospital, and left. 

We were home before 4:00, and yet it was such a profound time.  I am blessed, humbled, and grieved by the whole experience of today, what has come before, and what may follow.  I am the benefactor of these women and their wisdom, perspective, benevolence, intuitiveness, and ability to balance self protection with reaching out.  Today I was the student on a field trip of life, and when I came home a bit raw and hopeful, this is what I found....   

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The $86 Remodel

Five and a half years ago, we bought our house.  It was ugly, neglected, repossessed, and had been empty for almost a year.  The roof leaked.  The bathroom floor was rotted and had to be rebuilt.  The story of Our House is a long story, one for which I am very thankful, but I'll stick to The Cinderella Room.....

Tucked down a hallway off the kitchen is, what we have referred to as, The Study.  AKA 'The Cinderella Room'.  It has been where all of the mismatched, odd furniture has been 'sent'.  You need it but don't really like it, so you have it go sit by the fireplace and be quiet.  :-)  This room has been our school room.  Two of the four walls had cedar paneling.  The kind that was glued on board by board.  Individually.  At one point we thought we would take it down, but arduous paneling removal was a low priority after reroofing, bathroom repair, window and door installation, exterior painting of the Rather Tall House, etc.  The Cinderella Room was a light sucking vortex with the only window being a large north-facing sliding door.  There was no overhead lighting.  The dark, cedar walls literally absorbed the indirect north sunlight and lamp light, even full spectrum lamp light.   El Professor, who believes that anything worth doing on the house should be 'done right', felt that we should sheet rock over the paneling, texture, and paint.  I knew that on the priority list of Necessary Projects,  this meant the light sucking vortex was going to remain as such.  

The summer before last I convinced El Professor, who believes that any work done on a house should be done right, that slathering light paint over the cedar paneling would create a light, barn board effect.  He was skeptical.  Cedar bleeds through paint and takes several coats to successfully cover.  We painted one cedar wall.  Several coats later, the room was lighter.  One wall remained.  

This fall, as my the-day-after-Christmas-birthday approached, I informed El Professor that I would simply LOVE, love, love a gallon of paint to tackle the one remaining, light sucking, very ugly, cedar paneled wall in The Study.  Maybe we could paint the fireplace, too.  I had this idea that the light-sucking-vortex effect could be conquered with  lighter 'barn wood' walls achieved by painting the cedar, and then hanging artful, old windows with glass that would reflect the meager light from the north facing window.  El Professor was open to the idea, and the $86 Remodel began. 
The fireplace was so ugly that I have never bothered to photograph the kids' Christmas stockings, which I lovingly sewed,  hanging up.  The whole thing was awful.  
The beginning of several coats of primer.  It took several coats before the cedar quit bleeding through.  
After the wall was sucessfully painted, El Professor put the awful, cedar beam/mantle back up. Awful.  This is where 'the accidental' part of the remodel began. I had been rallying for a total redo of the fireplace as a part of this wall painting project.  Initially, El Professor had simply set out to repaint the wall and humor me with the window hanging idea.  End of Project.  The cedar beam awfulness, however, convinced him that more needed to be done and he agreed to a fireplace redo as well. As a matter of fact, he decided the whole adventure could become his birthday present as well. ( His birthday is exactly a month after mine.)  We headed to our favorite recycled building materials mecca and began The Hunt for a new mantel.   The fun centered around redoing The Cinderella Room by hunting for fun salvage and keeping the cost to a minimum.
The recycled building materials covered area and lumber yard is a Treasure Trove.  The kids love it there. 
Old windows galore.....on the day I purchased these  they were two for the price of one. 
El Professor found this weathered beam chunk behind a stack of wood.  Cost of the new mantle--$8
I should have photographed the process....He had to bolt a 2"x4" to the wall and then carve/chisel a 2"x4" space in the backside of the mantle, ultimately mounting the mantle to the 2"x4" on the wall.  Impressive.  Even if it's salvage, he likes to do things right.  
Putting it all together....

Oh--the project would have come out for much less than $86 had we not had the CRAZY idea that we should, maybe,  paint the fireplace a color.  WHAT WERE WE THINKING?!  Enter, more paint costs to quickly cover up the evidence of a Very Bad Idea. 

Some good friends gave us a futon they no longer needed/wanted....that was the end of the mismatched furniture that had been sent to The Cinderella Room.  They even delivered  and installed it!  Such a blessing. 

A few months ago I posted that I wasn't sure we'd be able to pull the fireplace remodel 'out of the fire', but I'm pleased with the end result.  The room is light and inviting, and we had fun salvaging our way to an $86 Remodel Double Birthday Present.