Monday, March 11, 2019

grace in these weary days

My children and I have been sick, in alternating days and weeks, for nearly four weeks straight.

The winter began with the usual colds and then lingering coughs,  but then about a month ago the kids came down with fevers and deeper coughs, upset tummies, etc.  Soon I too was shivering under piled blankets, sinuses hurting, body aching to the depths of my bones.  Struggling to keep the basic necessities done to care for the kids while fighting a virus of my own.  A {very long} week later we were all on the upswing, only to have the eldest and youngest get fevers again a few days later.  A visit to the doctor's office to rule out secondary infections like pneumonia or ear infections yielded a positive flu swab for Nell.  {If this was the flu what had we had before?!}  Another rough week was underway.  We survived it with lots of snuggles and audiobooks and Mr. Rogers, vitamin C and elderberry syrup and my favorite thing when I'm sick and nothing sounds good - sprouted grain sourdough toast spread with manuka honey and cinnamon.  And just when we thought all that was winding down, that we were finally turning a corner, Molly turned two and got a nasty case of conjunctivitis for her birthday over the past weekend.  And Mama got a bad cold.

My feelings exactly, Molly.  My feelings exactly.
As any parent knows {and I've written about before}, caring for sick children takes what I call the usual "busy monotony" of caring for little ones to new heights.  The days are reduced to blowing noses, washing hands, soothing hot foreheads, doing extra loads of laundry, making meals palatable to sick children to whom nothing sounds very good, refilling water glasses and humidifiers, applying lip balm to cracked lips.  Sometimes emptying bowls filled with the contents of someone's stomach.

It's exhausting, and it's frustrating at times, and it's not very glamorous, but I've been pondering lately that I'm actually--


What a gift it is to me to be able to do these things for my kids.

What could be more important?  It's not just that I'm smoothing their sheets, tidying their rooms for them and providing a moment of company while they rest in bed.  It's not just that I'm making a fruit smoothie or sourdough toast or refilling a glass of water.  I get the incredible responsibility to show them a moment of grace.  To show them... the way grace can seep through every crevice in life when we least expect it.  It's in the extra snuggles and reading chapter and chapter together.  A gentle hand on your brow, a mother bathing you and rubbing lotion into your tired, aching body.  Mama finding it in her weary throat to read another book aloud.  Sharing a soft blanket.  Grace in the midst of misery.  What more do I want my kids to know in their hearts and feel in their bones but this -- that there is grace in the hard moments, beauty to be found even in and through suffering, hope and love and meaning in all of it.  Even when it's hard.  Even when it's miserable.  Even when it feels endless.

So these are my moments, my chances.  Will I show them glimpses of Jesus and love and grace in these mundane and miserable moments?

May it be so, God help me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Reeisms, Vol. 6

Ree is only a few months away from turning five!  How is that possible?

She's uncannily perceptive for a four-year-old, in my {none-too-objective, perhaps} opinion.  Her teachers at church and other adults who spend time with her have sometimes commented on her fine motor skills, her understanding, and her ability with language being surprising for her age.  I don't have another four-year-old in the house to compare her to at the moment, but I can definitively say that sometimes she blows me out of the water simply in the way that nothing seems to get past this girl.  For example, earlier this week she wanted cheerios and milk for breakfast, and was tearfully protesting when I responded that we were having eggs.  Frustrated, she declared,

"Nobody ever gives me what I want!  They give me what they want me to have, and then teach me to be polite about it."

I mean, that's pretty perceptive for a four-year-old, right?!  I had a hard time keeping a straight face!

She calls the Hershey's Kiss Nell brings home from choir rehearsal every week a "Wooshey Kiss," and mis-pronounces the word "handicapped" as "candycapped," which if we're honest, sounds kind of delicious.  She calls armpits "ticklepits," and still calls pistachios "spasmashios."  I'm enjoying these last lingering little mispronounced words while they last.

The queen of silly faces just as she's always been, Ree has been realizing that her facial expressions don't always default to the most appropriate or expected reaction in a given situation.  Recently, as Nell was throwing up during a brief virus, Ree covered her own face with her hands and wailed, "I don't know how to make the right faces because I know it's sad that she's sick but I can't stop smiling!"

And that actually paled in comparison to the time that Nell was coughing, and Ree said sweetly, "Ohhhh Nell, I'm soooooo sorry you're sick!" But then turned to me, mere inches away, and said matter-of-factly, laughing a little, "Of course I'm just saying that.  I don't even love her."

I think I just sat there and blinked at her for a full five seconds at that one.

Boy, does this kid know how to calculate her words for full impact and reaction!  She's really smart!  I mean... Usually I think I'm a step ahead of the game, but sometimes I have moments where I think... what if she's the one who's a step ahead?  What if she's running this whole show?  And if she's like this at four, what will the future bring?!

{Oh, and I've googled for signs that your child might be a sociopath a time or two.  I'm 99% certain we're in the clear.  ;-) }

Ree doesn't love going to bed alone, and is always looking for someone willing to snuggle with her.  She recently told me, "I feel like I'm going to die.  And also I'm worried our house is going to be on fire."  My heart!  Poor sweet girlie.  {See!  She does have feelings.}  So of course, we try to snuggle with her whenever we possibly can.  And hey, the bedtime snuggle times almost always provide some pretty good Reeisms in the course of our conversations!

Pontificating on theology at bedtime:

Ree: "I don’t like dying and sometimes I think about it and I don’t like it."
Me: "Oh darling, you aren’t going to die for a very long time.  You get to be a kid for a very long time first, and then a grown up, and then maybe someday a mom and then a grandma.  And when you do die, you get to be with Jesus."
Ree: "I know but then we'll just be in a world with no food and I don't like that.  There's no food with Jesus really."
Me: "Why don't you think there's food with Jesus?"
Ree: "Because they only had bread and wine remember?  That's all they had at the dinner.  And some kinds of wine I don't really like.  Some kinds of wine I do like though I guess.  And I like bread. So maybe it will be okay."
Me: {explanation of how we don't know what the feast will be like but it will be far grander than the Last Supper, and exceed our imaginations in every way}
Ree {grinning}: "OH so Jesus would have grapes for me?!"
Me: "Yes."
Ree: "Oh yeah!  God can make everything because God made everything.  Well, with Jesus.  Jesus maked things too with God even before he was a baby."

{I love hearing her little mind work.  And notice how she's got that whole "all things were made through him" thing understood?}

Looking at a map, and studying detached, floating Alaska, set apart from everything else on the U.S. map with particular interest:

"Is that the God area? Is that where God lives?"

* * *

"Mama's big and strong and SO HEAVY!"
{Thank you.  Thank you so much.  #blessed.}

* * *

Half asleep one night, driving home in the dark:
"It’s mine. It’s mine! The moon is mine."

* * *

Playing in her play kitchen:
"I’m gonna have a french fry sandwich!"

* * *

"I’m going to make up a song on my violin about the shepherds of the sky."

* * *

A distinctly unexplainable one:
"Sometimes bugs come into my eyes and they don’t try to bite me they just snuggle in my eyes. They think it’s their couch."

(No, she doesn't really have bugs in her eyes!)

"But Mama, why don’t some families have any girls?  Because... girls are so good and so fun! So why don't some families have any?"

* * *

Uttering a long, dramatic sigh while engaged in the apparently exhausting task of eating dinner:
"I’m tired of feeding myself every day and night!"

* * *

Outside last summer, playing with Nell:
"We like dandelions.  We like to pick them and blow them up to God."

* * *

"When I grow up I’m going to have a feast of chocolate. Chocolate for breakfast, chocolate for lunch, chocolate for dinner."

* * *

Ree: "What’s for breakfast?"
Mama: "Toasted rice cakes, and a smoothie."
Ree: "Wow!  Wow!  I wanted it to be chocolate and gummy bears but it turned out to be something even yummier!"
{I don't even know how she knows what a gummy bear is!  But pretty pleased she knows a smoothie is preferable, ha!}

* * *

After being sick recently, she woke one morning and croaked:
"I’m all better except my voice is a little smudged up."

* * *

Descending the stairs at 9 pm (two hours after she'd gone to bed):
"Mommy, I need to draw a picture. Of a cloud. Right now."

* * *

After giving away a few bags of donations of things we no longer needed:
"YAY!  Now our house is cleaner and their house is gonna be so messy!"

Watching the King's College choir singing, and quite enamored with the sheer number of boys:
"Mama, how do their mom and dad fit so many children in their car?!"

* * *

Running down the stairs from the bathroom, wearing a dress-up scarf and smiling suspiciously:
Me: "Ree, have you done anything naughty?"
Ree: "I just put spit on my eyelids like makeup.  And then I put water on the spit.  Like makeup."
Me: "Of course."

* * *

"God is in my bones, right Mama?"

* * *

Nathan: "Ree, did you ever move any of my records? I can’t find the one I'm looking for."
Ree: "No. I didn't and I know that I didn’t because I was watching myself every day."

* * *

Handing me a lucky penny she found:
"Here Mama.  I was going to keep it for myself but then I thought, I love Mama even more than I love myself, so I want you to have it."

* * *

Running her mouth across a piece of dental floss over and over:
"I like licking all the mint off because it’s yummy."

* * *

In church, after the priest said, "All things are yours, oh Lord, and of your own have we given you," Ree asked a whispered question about that.  I replied, "Yes, all we have belongs to God.  Did you know that?"  And she replied, "Even our poop?  I don't think our poop belongs to God."  Well... maybe God doesn't want our poop.  Valid point.

Looking at the sky one evening:
"One of the colors in the sunset tonight is black. No no no that’s not pretty at all."

* * *

Curiously feeling the perimeter of her eyes with her fingertips:
"Hey, is this thing just a round ball in there??"

* * *

Me: "Did you know you fell asleep in the car?"
Ree: "I wasn't asleep."
Me: "You were!"
Ree: "Oh!  Well, I didn't see myself sleeping so I didn't know!"

* * *

Singing a hymn together at bedtime:
"God set the stars to give light to the world..."
Ree: "Can we sing the word 'earth' instead of 'world' because I can't say 'world' very well but I can say 'earth' really well."

{both she and Nell sort of pronounce 'world' like... 'wouwd'.  That rl sound together is tricky!}

* * *

Out of the blue, at 5:34 one evening:
"It’s eleven o’clock! Time for me to clean up!"

* * *

In the bathtub:
Ree: "I can hold my breath for maybe thirty-nine-twenty-six minutes."
Nell: "Ok, go."
Ree: "No, Nell, I can't do it because it would take too long! It would take every single day until we die!"
Nell: "Yeah, see, you couldn't do it."
Ree {sighing exasperatedly}: No, Nell, I can do it but I don't have time to do it."

Describing someone to me: "She had a crumbled face."

* * *

"Oh Mama, I love your necklace. Can you get me a fancy necklace? Or just take somebody else’s to give me?"

* * *

Ree: "Mama, when you were a little kid what did you call Daddy?"
Me: "Well, I didn’t even know Daddy yet."
Ree: "Ohhhhh. And Nell and me weren’t even born. We weren’t even in your tummy. I was still a tincey little drop of rain."

{where does she come up with this stuff?!}

* * *

Singing an elaborate and very long improvisation recently, she concluded with this bit of made-up lyrics:
"Get that axis out of your head! Get that axis out of your head!  And leave that special ice.... cream..... iiiiiiiiinnnnnnn!"

* * *

Ree: "When is the person gonna die who is really old like maybe 20 or 69? The lady with a crumbled face. She goes to our church."

Me: "I don’t know. Only God really knows when someone is going to die."
Ree {matter-of-factly}: "I guess when we don’t see her anymore then she’ll be dead."

{I don't think young children are very good at tact.  Or subtlety.  Or social niceties.  But I remember Nell going through a big phase of talking about death a lot too around this age, so maybe it's normal?}

* * *

We were watching a YouTube video of a violin song Nell is working on over lunch one day, and Ree just kept shaking her head.  Finally she said, "It’s so weird because a girl is playing the piano and a boy is playing the violin. Isn't that so weird?!"

{In our household, the boy plays the piano and all the girls play the violin!  How could it be otherwise?!}

* * *

"I want to be the bestest of all the entire world.  That's what I want to be when I grow up."

* * *

"I'm gonna be the goodest and nicest violinist in the whole entire world.  Well, earth.  Because I can't say world.  Can you teach me to say world?"

{because, as mentioned above, world comes out "wouwd" every time, which is actually pretty cute.}

On a day when Nathan took Nell in to work with him for a bit, and Ree was quite sad to be home without Nell to play with, we found that we could watch footage of the Prix de Lausanne online thanks to a tip from a friend, and this cheered Ree up immensely.  Watching the skilled dancers, she kept proclaiming confidently, "I can do that.   I can do that too.  I can do all the things that dancer is doing."

* * *

Watching a male dancer compete:
"This one is not so fancy. I mean I do like boys but... I like fancy boys."

* * *

"How can I stop my toots from coming so I can be a real ballerina?"

And maybe my favorite one ever:

Molly went up the stairs, and I called up after her to check on things:
Me: "Ree? What’s Molly doing up there?"

Ree: "She’s just coming into my room and happying me."


"It means she makes me feel happy."

You'll never stop happying us around here, Ree.  We love you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kids' Book Club: Heidi

Towards the beginning of this school year {this school year!  oh yes!  we are homeschooling and I've been meaning to post something here for posterity about it for months now but haven't done so!} my friend Jackie spearheaded putting together a children's literature club which has turned into a tremendous success already and has been such fun for kids and parents alike.  Jackie hosted the first two meetings, for which we read first The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and then The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin.  

We had offered to host this month's meeting, and the book was Heidi, which is a great favorite of Nell's already.  She had been eagerly anticipating this day for several weeks now. I think about nine families participated this time in reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri and coming to today's book club meeting.  So many people brought a little something to add to the festivities and altogether we had quite a luncheon spread followed by some fun activities.  

First, the girls wanted to dress for the occasion.  We are tremendously lucky to already have in our possession two beautiful dirndls that fit them nicely and seemed eminently appropriate for the occasion.  These were a thoughtful gift from a woman who knows my love of vintage and classic girls' clothing; they used to be her girls' dresses and my girls are quite lucky to be their new owners.  Molly's little dress was a thrift store find from years ago which seemed to fit the occasion.  And Ree's hat, made in Switzerland, was another thrift store find from some time ago.

And they were not the only ones in costume -- quite a few other Heidis soon arrived, as well as several Peters, a Brigida (Peter's mother), a baby goat, and even the dreaded Miss Rottenmeier!  

I put on a youtube playlist of Alpine music with accordions and yodeling -- it is perhaps a little-known fact about me that I have a disturbing obsession with yodeling, so this was sort of a highlight of the experience for me.  Any excuse to listen to yodeling!  

If you've read Heidi, you know that the main meals consist of bread, and cheese, and goat's milk, and more cheese, and more goat's milk, and more bread.  So naturally, we needed to have these things in abundance.

I baked some fresh loaves of sourdough bread.

{And then Rebekah brought some of hers too, so there was plenty to go around!}

And thanks to Trader Joe's, we had a variety of cheeses in abundance.  I looked for raclette but failing to find it went with a Swiss gruyere, a goat's milk gouda, and a raw goat's milk cheddar.  {The gouda even had this cute rind!}

We sliced up sourdough and topped it with cheese slices and broiled them like an open-faced grilled cheese of sorts.  I was inspired by Heidi's grandfather toasting cheese over an open fire on a fork and then spreading it on bread.  I figured with 24 small children in the house we'd do well to avoid open flames but a bit of broiled melty cheese on bread could lend a similar experience.

A couple of families brought delicious salamis to add to the spread, and we had dried apricots and fresh clementines and fresh strawberries, too, which didn't make it into the picture but were quickly devoured.  Did I mention there were {if I recall correctly} 24 children here?  Did you know that 24 children can pack away a lot of food at an unbelievably fast pace?  Another mom brought Swedish sweet rolls with raisins in them as well -- delicious!  And yet another brought goat's milk for all the children to try.  

Kerrie brought a butter churn and cream and the kids went to work on that -- I only got a very blurry picture but a good time was had.

Quite a few of the kids did illustrations of their own to bring and share, and we went around and shared some of our favorite moments from the story.

Christina brought a little hymn to sing all together, in keeping with Peter's grandmother's beloved hymn book and with the theme of flocks {of goats}!

Charity brought a bouquet of flowers so the children could "pick" a wildflower {despite it being January} and take it home with them.  Some of the little girls tucked them straight into their braids today, and my girls put theirs into a glass of water on my kitchen windowsill. 

And finally, although Heidi doesn't make mention of any chocolate even in the "glittering cage" of her time in Frankfurt, it seemed fitting to hand out bits of Swiss chocolate as the book club gathering drew to a close.  

What a fun gathering it was.  I thought of the grandmother's hymn, with a verse that reads:

God's handiwork
Is seen around,
Things great and small
To His praise abound-
Where are the signs of His love not found?

And indeed, in this little gathering of friends with a shared love for a good book, there was many a sign in the things great and small we enjoyed together.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Dreams of a Kitchen Renovation

The other day I found myself with an exceptionally rare late afternoon entirely to myself, as Nathan took the kids on an extensive errand -- his method of compensating for outings ranging from the bizarre to the ridiculous is, naturally, to offer to take the children with him for a nice "outing" with Daddy.  And of course, it works.  Not only because what child doesn't want to drive over an hour so that Daddy can acquire for himself a new power tool he found on Craigslist for a mere song, but moreso, because what mother doesn't relish the idea of curling up on her couch with a soft blanket by the light of the Christmas tree to the blissful sound of silence?

I told Nathan I'd either use the time to look at ideas for a kitchen remodel, or to clean our master bedroom.  He admonished me to most definitely sit on the couch and look at kitchen ideas on my laptop, and so I did so out of a sense of duty.

We are tossing around the idea, rather seriously actually, of re-doing our kitchen during the coming year.


Because my formica countertops are peeling and cracking, my recently re-caulked old drop-in sink is already black around the edges and gross again, the faux brick on the walls is chipping off {and was ugly to begin with}, the windowsill above the sink needs to be repainted yet again at the very least, the footprint is all wrong for a family that cooks and bakes as much as we do, and also, why not?  We like nice things.  As it turns out, we like things far nicer than we deserve to like or can afford to like, but so it goes.  We can also be quite happy with less-than-nice things if necessary.


What would you expect of a musician employed by a church married to another musician?  Over-the-top-wealth is what you get.  Okay, that was a joke, but we do think if we finagle things just right we could manage to renovate our kitchen sooner rather than later, and thus have more years ahead of us to enjoy it with our children rather than waiting until everyone is grown and gone and we are sad and lonely // calm and happy {depending how that all plays out}.


Soon.  But not too soon.  Not before we have a plan in place.  Because whereas Nathan thrives on mental planning ahead without actually putting things into place too much, I think I would thrive if the kitchen didn't turn into a two-year project that involved myself cooking over a camping stove for that length of time.  {Two-year project?!  I'm looking at you, downstairs bathroom.}

So, when?

Oh, yeah, we should finish the downstairs bathroom first.  So, soon, but not too soon, but after we finish the bathroom.

What will it look like?

I mean, it will probably look pretty much like this:

Image result for officine gullo

Ha.  Ha.  Okay, that was a joke because we aren't independently wealthy.

Anyway, here's where it gets tricky.

Too much large stainless steel in a small-ish space just sort of looks grim to me.  And/or industrial rather than home-y.  But have you noticed it's hard to find alternatives in a reasonable price range?  Black?  No thank you.  White?  Well, maybe.  Some white I like.  But don't try to narrow it down by going to look at appliances in person, because they only have stainless steel options in showrooms.  Very un-helpful, if you ask me.

Now, if you know us at all you know that Nathan and I love nothing more than to marinate in ideas of perfection and then allow ourselves to sink slowly into a depressive state of misery when we cannot achieve said perfection.  I mean, we don't actually love it but it does appear to be our calling card.  We like nicer things than we can afford, I guess.  We have good taste?  But a bank account considerably smaller than our taste.  It's not even that we like extravagant things or McMansions {we don't}; it's just that we like classic things and enduring things and beautiful things over say, formica and pre-fabbed things that all look the same and IKEA {but nothing against IKEA; we actually love IKEA in the right time and place}.

But in all seriousness--

I am really excited about this whole process.  And while it probably looks easy enough to find some images of perfection, and sit around looking at pretty pictures while waiting for Nathan to do the work, this is only partly true.

Did you know it's weirdly hard to find pictures of beautifully-simple-yet-fancy-and-perfect kitchens that strike the perfect balance of all things good, true, and beautiful in my convoluted mind?  If you do a google image search for "the fanciest kitchen in the world," you have to scroll for a shockingly long time before you find a single image that is even remotely acceptable.  Modify the search to "the nicest kitchen in the world" and the results are similarly disappointing.  If you try "the most perfect kitchen in the world" you will at least get some decent results within the first page.  Like, one or two decent ones.  I can only conclude that Google has poor taste, or the entire world does, except for myself and Nathan.

So, in the process of dreaming about redesigning your kitchen, here's a little step-by-step tutorial from a pro interior designer possibly insane individual:

ONE) The very first thing you must do is to read John Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture.  It's available online for free, so you have no excuse not to read it.  It is unparalleled.  Well, actually, I haven't finished it yet.  It's a slow read.  But read this paragraph {regarding the building of churches} and tell me you don't want to go read it all!  Marinate in it!
I have said for every town: I do not want a marble[Pg 25] church for every village; nay, I do not want marble churches at all for their own sake, but for the sake of the spirit that would build them. The church has no need of any visible splendors; her power is independent of them, her purity is in some degree opposed to them. The simplicity of a pastoral sanctuary is lovelier than the majesty of an urban temple; and it may be more than questioned whether, to the people, such majesty has ever been the source of any increase of effective piety; but to the builders it has been, and must ever be. It is not the church we want, but the sacrifice; not the emotion of admiration, but the act of adoration: not the gift, but the giving. 
TWO) The very next thing to do, after giving considerably towards the building of a church you love, is to use what is left over to build a kitchen that looks like this.  Here I will share two pictures that sum up my long-time dream kitchen of all time, which I have drooled over for literally years. Somewhere between these two pictures lies perfection incarnate, probably.

Planning our DIY kitchen remodel… here is the explanation of how we chose cabinets; I wanted custom, inset cabinets! But we are choosing overlay, semi custom.

Martha Stewart Living editor in chief Pilar Guzman; her husband, Chris Mitchell; and their two boys, Willem and Henry, gather in the kitchen of their Brooklyn brownstone. "We spend about 80 percent of our time here," Pilar says. The couple retrofitted the room, which was originally a formal parlor, as a kitchen; former closets house appliances and dishes, and a marble-top island was built by designer Tyler Hays.

THREE) The next thing you must do is to look at other beautiful possibilities until your eyes nearly glaze over.  For example, while the above kitchens are the perfect kitchens, also acceptable in lieu of the open shelving in the first picture would be something like this:

Or this:

Luigi Fragola Architects:  S. Monaca townhouse, Florence, Italy

Nathan, can you photo-shop the above images together and then build me a kitchen that looks like that?  Yes?  Thank you.

It is also very important that it contain some element of this timeless beauty, this utmost perfection:

Inspiration for our old-house, DIY kitchen remodel… I love the idea of using salvaged or repurposed materials in place of a traditional kitchen cabinets.

I can find very few objections to this:

light blue kitchen cabinets, black countertop, tile floor, brass flush fixtures + range

While we're at it, I would like one of these:

And something kind of like this.
Image result for antique butler's pantry

Basically, I told Nathan, I've been wanting you to buy me The Crane Estate and you haven't done it, but this is your chance for redemption.  As long as I can have all the things in this theoretically renovated kitchen, with ample space for sourdough bread baking and kombucha fizzing and doing all the other things Nathan hates {like making food that contains vegetables}, I will be happy, no purchase of the entire Crane Estate necessary.  I would, however, like library ladders that slide along the walls and lead to my highest cabinets.  Our kitchen ceilings are only about eight feet tall, but never mind that, because maybe we can just borrow the space from the second floor bathroom, and like, raise the floor a little higher.  Or drop the kitchen floor lower and lower the basement ceiling.  I'm flexible with the options like that.

I'm flexible on the details, like I said.  But I definitively must have a butler's pantry.  

Don't you have a butler pining for a pantry?  {We don't yet, but I'm planning to get one when we remodel the kitchen.}

Yes, I realize that my taste for the finer things far exceeds our station in life, and I'm more likely to BE the butler than to have one.  Nevertheless, this knowledge does little to curtail my enthusiasm for all things beautiful and kitchen-related.  What can I say? Coastal elitism.  It's a thing, and it appears to have seeped into my veins after living in New England for over a decade.

FOUR) Eventually you will have to un-glaze your eyes and begin to consider the practical, nitty-gritty stuff like appliances.

I will now confess that I have an appliance problem.   But {don't hate me} I think most appliances are ugly.  And as Victoria Elizabeth Barnes would say, "Bring me fancy or get out!"  I know -- most people have appliances.  So by saying that I find them unattractive I am likely offending approximately 100% of the people I know.  But there you have it.  I do not love the look of most of them.  And while I understand that their primary function isn't to be looked at, I also find it hard to cook with my eyes closed.

As standard appliances go, I have so far found one option that could be a possibility in terms of aesthetic.  They are highly reviewed for function, too!  These are the GE Cafe line of appliances, which offers various styles of slide in ranges, standalone ranges, and even a wall oven that opens with french doors!  You get to customize your trim metal, which of course is everything.

Cafe 36 Inch Freestanding Gas Range Matte White CGY366P4MW2

GE Cafe 30" Built-In Double Convection Wall Oven with Top French Door in Matte White and Brushed Bronze Handles

Now, if you have a small fortune lying around, the thing to do is to go immediately and acquire one of these ranges:

Image result for lacanche range

Oh my. Copper pots and white Lacanche range .

Why are you still here reading this blog?  Go get a Lacanche range already!  These thing are beauties and in my opinion it's just undeniable that I should have one.  I would sacrifice buying groceries for a year to justify the cost.  I would consider selling a kidney on the black market.  I would love it and cherish it and design my whole kitchen around it as a thing of beauty.

The other main appliance to be considered is, of course, the refrigerator.  I asked Nathan if we could just keep ours in the basement, and he laughed at me.  I asked him if he could build me a pantry-like cabinet to put it inside, and he laughed at me again.  "You mean like a panel-front refrigerator?" he asked.  "No, because those look weird and imposing and slightly awkward sometimes.  It needs to be better than that."  At which point he immediately promised to procure for me a panel-front or integrated refrigerator and then make sure it was not ugly or awkward looking.  Yay!  Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, of course, has some good ideas.

This could work:

As could this:

Custom panels help this built-in refrigerator melt into the surrounding all-white kitchen.

And this!  This! I mean, I'm assuming one of those is a fridge but it's anybody's guess.  All of them fridges for a very large family?  A fridge beside a pantry?  Who knows?  Either way, they look like cabinets instead of mortuary coolers so I'm willing to consider it.
Amy Zantziger's #farmhouse kitchen.  When the refrigerator and the cookbook cabinet doors are closed, the room appears elegant and uncluttered.

FIVE) Track down other tidbits of finery:

Have you seen the Rev-a-Shelf website?  There is a bread drawer option.  Need I say more?

...And without too much effort you can go way down that rabbit hole.

For example: We should obviously have a hot water tap to eliminate the need to ever boil water again.  And maybe a filtered drinking water faucet water beside the main kitchen tap.

And furthermore: Not even optional but absolutely required is an ice machine that makes that soft kind of nugget-sized ice because I love it more than anything, so much so that I periodically consider getting myself hospitalized so that I can have cupfuls of it because that's the main place I know of that has it - the hospital.  But what if I could have it in my own kitchen?  Then I wouldn't need to be hospitalized.  Problem solved!

Also!  We could turn an antique piece of furniture into a kitchen island for some historic charm in this old house of ours {but naturally topped with a reclaimed marble slab for all my makings of pie crusts and quiche crusts and other necessities}.

Love all of these unique kitchen island ideas including this antique chest of drawers!

SIX) Try to agree on at least one element so you have a valid starting point that lies somewhere within the realm of reality. Nathan thinks that 50% of what I say {at a minimum} lies within the realm of the ridiculous, but we have both agreed for several years now that when and if we redo the kitchen, we would love to do soapstone for the counters!  

Honed Virginia Jet Mist Granite.  The look of soapstone but not the maintenance or price

The cabinets are still undecided - white or maybe a light blue or gray?  But we have a starting point of agreement.

Except that as of yesterday Nathan is thinking about scrapping the whole project, selling the house, and buying a fixer upper of incomparable proportions (both in terms of current dismal-ness and future potential).  So instead of doing a kitchen renovation we could dream of renovating a{nother} entire house, while living in a ... tent?  The details of the hare-brained scheme are fuzzy at this point.  

In conclusion:

Nell was listening to me blather on about kitchens the other day, and this conversation transpired--

Nell: Mama, wouldn't you like to have a kitchen with a marble countertop?
Me: Yes, I suppose I would.
Nell: Well then you shall have one for Christmas!
Me: This Christmas, or next Christmas?
Nell: Well, probably next Christmas.  Because it's going to take some time.

Okay, then!  If time is all it takes, I've got time!

* * *

Want to live vicariously through me as I live vicariously through others?  Check out my pinterest board on kitchens!  And check out my other kitchen pinterest board here, where I specifically saved some things pertaining to the particular vintage of our 1917 house.  This is also a good way to track down all these image sources, since clearly I've been way too lazy to link them for you -- but most of them are on my pinterest somewhere!  If not, you can do a reverse image search and then pat yourself on the back for being less lazy than I am.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pondering God the Father

A not-altogether-uncommon scenario had me recently pondering God the Father in light of my own internal emotional failings as a mother.

Back in September or October, with the academic year newly underway, we were all a bit tired and being struck down one by one with colds.  I was filled with a dual sort of dread: so early in the fall, and already we were being struck down with illness; and also, it would just have to be that particular week, when I had three rehearsals and two concerts and would be getting very little sleep.

I was trying to catch a nap alongside Molly one day, the girls having been duly instructed to stay in their rooms and play quietly during their usual quiet time. Things began to unravel, as I was awakened a few moments after dozing off to the sounds of the two older girls squabbling loudly about something insignificant.

My first hazy thought as I was jolted awake?: "I'm about ready to kill them."

Then: "Is this how God feels?  When we're down here running around on earth just being wretched all the time?"

Oh wait.  No.  Quite the opposite, I guess.

I'm about ready to die for them.

But I really read them the riot act before quiet time!  I reminded them what was expected...!  I told them it was important!

Oh, you mean like the Ten Commandments?  Some basic rules?  Not too many but not too few?  Just a doable amount of rules?

But I really condensed it to just two things.  Stay in your rooms.  Play quietly.  Lots of freedom within that.  So much freedom!

Ah, two things.  Like love God and love your neighbor, for example?  How's that going down there?

Oh.  Right.  Good point.

Well, shoot then.

So there I was, and here I am, knee deep in this weird mixture of chaos and frustration and love.  Knee deep in my own sanctification.  I maintain that if I hadn't had children I might have labored under the illusion that I was an OK person.

How humbling it is to realize that not only have I not loved my neighbor as myself, but I have not even loved my own children as well as I ought.

She doesn't always sleep, but when she does, she's awfully cute.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Wendy, Peter Pan, & Tinker Bell

Well, Halloween 2018 is in the books, leaving me with a poignantly thematic sense that indeed, "All children, except one, grow up."

The older two girls have been much enamored with Peter Pan ever since seeing a family friend and babysitter starring as Wendy in her school production last year, and I am currently reading the book aloud to them, which they are loving.  It seemed a foregone conclusion since months ago when they first began dreaming about this Halloween, that a family of Peter Pan costumes was in order.  Daddy could be Captain Hook, of course!  And as for Mama, she had a rehearsal on the night in question, so it was a good thing that we had the essential characters of the story covered without me needing to be terribly involved.  All that was necessary was for me to acquire and/or make costumes for the little Darlings, so to speak.

Nell's costume consisted of a beautiful vintage dress and shoes that were gifted to us, Molly's was a second-hand costume I acquired, and Ree's was a shirt from Savers I embellished with felt leaves, an old belt of mine, a felt hat complete with requisite feather I made for her (she sat in my lap and helped me sew on the machine).  Her fabulous dagger was constructed for her by a friend at her request, and she was quite pleased with the outcome.  {Thanks, Patrick!}

{The Tink topknot was just slaying me with cuteness.}

“Forget them, Wendy. Forget them all. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again.” 

"I can't fly."
"I'll teach you."
"Oh, how lovely to fly."
"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go."
"Oo!" she exclaimed rapturously.
"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."

"How sweet!" cried Wendy.
"Yes, I'm sweet, oh, I am sweet!" said Peter, forgetting his manners again.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”

“Tink was not all bad... on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time."

"Wendy... Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys."

“Proud and insolent youth,” said Hook, “prepare to meet thy doom.” 

“Dark and sinister man,” Peter answered, “have at thee.” 

“Pan, who and what art thou?" 

"I'm youth, I'm joy," Peter answered at a venture, "I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg."

"Now Wendy was every inch a woman, though there were not very many inches..."

"Second to the right," said Peter, "and then straight on till morning."

“Come on, Tink,” he cried, with a frightful sneer at the laws of nature; “we don't want any silly mothers!”

“Keep back, lady, no one is going to catch me and make me a man.”

“Would you like an adventure now, or would like to have your tea first?”

In the end, the best laid plans were slightly thwarted, but adventure did indeed win out and a sprinkling of fairy dust and magic prevailed despite it all.  Nathan, who was slated to be Captain Hook in my inevitable absence and to take the kids trick-or-treating, was delayed in getting home thanks to unusual amounts of traffic on the commuter rail coming out of the city.  I had hoped he'd be home in time for me to at least do a portion of the neighborhood rounds with them all, but he arrived barely in time for me to snap a quick picture of them all together and dash out the door to my gig.  

I do believe that it was all "an awfully big adventure" for them, and a good time was had by all.

And I'm left with the sense that: "I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us."