Monday, March 21, 2016

Sometimes life takes a wild turn.

There was a little commotion at the front door on Thursday at suppertime, and, busy at the sink, I assumed that it was my dear husband coming in with his arms full after a long day at work. Amy looked in the direction of the door and cried, "What?? What is this?" And I thought maybe Mr. Diamonds was hauling in the biggest ever bouquet of roses. I turned to see, and no, it was a sight much lovelier than roses! Alison, our daughter whom I just told you would not be home until next Christmas, had waltzed through the door ahead of her dad! We girls all had a happy and teary reunion! It is so wonderful to have Alie home, even if it's just for a very few days. ♥♥♥

Help Me Remodel.

So we now have a parsonage to paint and do magic remodeling tricks on. Anyone care to offer suggestions for this east-facing kitchen? I think we'll be putting in some darkish wood-looking floor surface, something not shiny. What would that be? What's like laminate, but not shiny? And not expensive? Someone said we could paint the kitchen cupboards with chalk paint. I like that idea--there's very little prep work involved and the paint goes on easily, so they say, but I've never done it. Also need an idea for a light fixture replacement. And what about that part of the wall/ceiling above the cupboards? Do we paint that a different color? Do we paint the ceiling? What should I do with the window?

I'd love to pull out that bank of glass door cupboards and possibly the counter and cabinets underneath, for more flow into the living area, and replace them with a big island with storage and stools. This is just not my thing. I want a professional to come do it all, but that's not going to happen, so I'm relying on you all. Make it pretty, please.

And what about this living room? It faces east and south. What's a good color in that sort of lighting? I'm thinking something neutral but warmish, and NOT yellow-to-gold. There's enough of that in the church building. Window coverings? Do we paint all the trim white (what a job)? Or leave it? This area will have the dark flooring, too, and we will need a way to break up the crazy visual length of the house. Area rug?

So there you have it. Please submit your ideas in the comments. Lots of them, please. If I use your idea, I'll take you to Caribou and buy you a coffee. :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Years in Review

Hello. My name is Sally. Remember me? Back in the days when I had a brain and a measure of creativity, I used to write here, back when we used to live in the desert, where everything was a novelty to us. You know, all the extremes. Extremely hot. Extremely windy. Extremely dry. Extremely different from what we were used to. Extremely fun to brag about. There was a lot of blog fodder in our previous locale.

Then we moved to the Midwest. This place has its own extremes. It's extremely friendly. Extremely do-gooder-ish. Extremely traditional. Extremely homey. We love it here. But somehow I lost my ability to write about it. My family has missed nearly four years of mom's blog escapades, and I feel as if I have let everyone down.

Where do I begin with The Years in Review? Those of you who used to follow me (when I was going somewhere) will remember that I used to regularly post the Month in Review. The last time I did that was in... 2012. So let's see, that would be 48 months to make up... it's a lost cause. (Yes, I know no one subscribes to this blog any more. This is just for posterity.)  Here's the more recent summary of our lives:

Mr. Diamonds is busy busy, being a husband and dad, pastoring our small church family, and driving hither, thither, and yon for a courier delivery company. He needs a break, but that is not likely to happen soon. Even our vacations are mostly ministry-oriented and require unpaid time off work and rushing home to return to said work. I would like to kidnap him and take him away somewhere where he could focus all of his attention on ME. :)  It has been fun to watch the Lord work in his life and force him to grow in areas I never thought would change. I hope he can say the same for me. The Lord has given me a good man. Not a day goes by that I don't feel grateful for his character.

Alison is away at school and loving every moment of class, ministry, music, Bible instruction, and fellowship. Proud mom moment: She made the school record high score on a 167-question Bible knowledge test. That kind of knowledge is gained by reading the Book over and over again, and I'm so grateful for that good foundational habit in her life. She's teaching women in the prison, playing her violin, singing in an advanced choral ensemble, and being big sister to her dorm mates. I miss her like crazy and can't wait to go out for coffee again with my adult daughter friend. Alison will be accompanying a music group on tour in the South this summer, so we won't see her at home again until next winter. Boo hoo.

Amy is spread thinly among four or five families, one of them being her own. We do see her occasionally... She has a new PCA charge (not the kid in the photo) and is learning all sorts of things about autism, special needs kids, and large family logistics. She will never lack for work, as there is a list of moms who would pay dearly to have her help. Amy is our church piano player, sound man, janitor, and kitchen coordinator. It is a blessing to have kids who know they are an important part of the ministry. Amy's calendar is full of remodels, play dates, overnight babysitting escapades, homeschool co-op classes, visits with loved ones in other states, and get-togethers with friends. Amy's somewhat recent gluten and dairy intolerance combined with my new eating strategy is a serious challenge to a mom who never makes a meal plan.

Elisabeth (but we call her Betz) is a diligent, hard-working student in our homeschool co-op. She meets deadlines, gives complete, educated-sounding answers, and strives for 100% or better. She is a principled young woman with some strong opinions and some rigid self-expectations. More introspective than her sisters, Betz thinks harder and writes more than the rest of us combined. Her new blog, which I'm not sure I've been cleared to share here, is a window into her soul. She has no use at all for literary analysis or geometry but thinks chemistry is easy. I'm thinking her talent with office applications and her love for old folks may have her instructing them in the world of technology someday(?). Betz has a spirit of adventure and she has enjoyed some new outdoor experiences this year. A big one coming up is a camping and canoe trip in the BWCA with the girls in her chem class. Hopefully the mosquitoes won't carry them away. These days I really enjoy our mostly grown-up discussions centering on principles, paradoxes, and personalities.

Emily is almost a teenager. (Can that be right?) Because she has had no good friends in the neighborhood, I am grateful for some of the great families in our co-op. Em spends as much time as she possibly can with her friend Winter, and she even agreed to clean house with her once a week in order to spend more time together. The offer of a wage helps, too. :) Her environmental science class has challenged her in some good ways this year, and we have seen great strides in maturity. She loves on our old people at church and takes care of the young'uns, too. Em is excelling like crazy at the piano; just think how far she'd be if she actually practiced! She loves to cook and create in the kitchen. A good gift idea for her would be a Ninja blender, since she is wearing out my cheap smoothie maker. She is looking forward to family camp and all of the excitement that the early summer promises for our family.


Shortly we will begin updating the parsonage that the Lord gave us with our new church building. Since we will no longer live two minutes from Walmart (we call it home), I am going to have to learn to do meal planning. House cleaning will be a new thing too, since we will be likely to receive more surprise visitors than we currently do. ...I've heard that a house building or remodeling project is one of the events most likely to destroy a marriage and family, and when we all walked through the house last week to make a list of all the needed upgrades, I realized that rumor may be true. Our marriage survived the first onslaught of polar opposite opinions (and exasperation between one party who has strong opinions and one who has none at all), but the parent/children relationship may have suffered a bit that day. I resolved on the long drive home that I would firmly choose my paint colors and then stay out of the rest of it. The girls are anxious to make choices and get started and create something. They are not at all interested in planning carefully or counting the cost; their parents think MUCH too slowly for their liking. However it turns out will be fine; I've lived in an apartment over a storefront, an old mousy farmstead, a too-small travel trailer, and in a house with NO built-in storage, and I survived. I will make do. Having my druthers may never happen this side of heaven, and that's okay. Sometimes I don't even know what my druthers are. I will have a roof over my head and the people I love close by.

 More to follow, and that's a promise. For someday. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Generation Abyss

Welcome me to the 21st century! I finally got a touch-screen phone. My "old fashioned" Walmart Trac-Fone was an embarrassment to my children. While I am really happy now to have something that doesn't make a beep every time I touch a key and can supposedly text photos (so far it doesn't), I do find myself in yet another steep learning curve. Is any other human being mocked, as a mother is, for her technological ignorance?

Daughter #3: "Mom, you hold your phone like an old person. Teens hold it like THIS."
(Mother meekly adopts more youthful phone handling technique.)

Daughter #2: "Mom are you seriously texting me from the bathroom?? You act just like a teen!" (Yes, I was texting her from the bathroom. I'm finding that sending my kid a text is a really good way to get her attention.)

Hey. Am I supposed to text like a teen or not??

*   *   *

I find myself behaving just like I did when we first got an email account, checking for mail every three minutes. The phone is with me at all times, and if it hasn't notified me in a while, I turn the screen on just to be sure I haven't missed a text or anything.

*   *   *

I'd very much like to go back to the day when all you had to do to contact someone was pick the telephone receiver up from the wall phone and dial. Now you have to remember which of your friends still answer the phone, which ones only text, which friends can only be contacted via Facebook, which ones still actually read email, and which of them are likely to have lost their phone entirely.

*   *   *

Via Google, I did come across a helpful list of texting shortcuts for old people:  
ATD - At the Doctor's
BFF - Best Friends Funeral
DWI - Driving While Incontinent
FWIW - Forgot Where I Was
LOL - Living on Lipitor
OMSG - Oh My! Sorry, Gas
WAITT - Who Am I Talking To?  

Google is awesome. Google knows everything, even how to find the elusive emoticons on my particular phone. Google plus daughter #3, that is. Me having a new techie gizmo and expecting to make sense of it by myself is a lot like moving to a new planet and trying to communicate vital info to aliens. I'm totally helpless--totally and insufferably helpless. **Feels steam building...**

*   *   *

Yes, I must admit my fault, this new phone does gives me "moments" (ref. Moms' Night Out).  That is why I bought that cute and happy protective case. I hope it will be strong enough to keep my phone from being damaged in the event I should throw it against the wall. Because I've been really tempted to do just that.

*   *   *

The attitude here will probably improve a little bit when the sun comes out or when I am surprised by a clean kitchen or someone takes the trash out without being asked. ...Now that I found my emoticons, because I need at least the happy and sad smileys and one heart, I am feeling a little bit better. Still can't text a photo, though... and would I care if the phone wasn't supposed to text photos? No. But it is. I think you should get what you pay for. ...Which is probably exactly what I got!

First world problems...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Signs of Spring

EVEN THOUGH it is only about 42 degrees out this morning, my heart is happy.

The sun is shining, there are birds singing, there is a soft strong breeze in the air. The pollywogs have become frogs hopping across the roads at night. A little haze of green is beginning to appear over the top of the lawn. And we had our first thunderstorm yesterday, complete with pouring rain, shocking lightning, and BOOMING thunder.

Big smile.

Spring is good for many reasons, but today it's good because of what it does to my soul. I've been set free from the prison of winter!


Thank you, God.

One of these spring days my Fair One is going to call me away...

*     *     *     *     *

My beloved spake, and said unto me, 
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; 
the time of the singing of birds is come, 
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, 
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. 
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Amazing Mom

After living in this home for nearly four years, I am finally putting stuff on the walls. My mom's stuff. Someday she is going to be famous, and I don't want to be one of those people who has had famous people's stuff stashed in the attic for decades and it goes to Goodwill by accident, and some smart thrift shopper recognizes it as a masterpiece and buys it for $5.

(Thanks, Mom! It's starting to look like a home in here!)

If you're in the SoCal area, see her work at the huge South Bay Lexus Service Center,
or visit Tustin in April to see her work in the Chemers Gallery/TAFCA 8th Annual Juried Exhibit. :)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Can I Just Say...


Other than a pair of white go-go boots that I had in 6th grade, 2014 winter was the first time I ever wore boots as shoes. I mean real boots, boots that are not clunky Sorrel snow boots.Yes, despite my having lived for more than twenty years in northern climes, this is true. I just always put off buying them. Last fall I bought a second pair of real boots, combining all my Kohls coupons and deals, for $6 and no guilt.

About this time last year I lamented the return of warm weather for this reason only: I had to find something else to wear on my feet. I must have managed, but I don't remember how I solved my dilemma.

This year, what shall I do, what shall I do? I'm beyond wearing tennies with everything, as I did when I was a young (and not-so-young) mom, too tired and frumpy to care about fashion sense. Now that I'm one of the older women who are supposed to be teaching younger women "good things" a la Titus 2, I'm trying not to be quite so frumpy.

To go from boots to sandals means wearing boots until at least June, or wearing flip flops while the temperature is still only 45. Is there something in between? Something that looks okay with a skirt? And that is comfortable but not frumpy? And that can be worn with bare legs?

Speaking of bare legs, there's another reason I love boots.



Sunday, March 15, 2015

Most Awesome Kid Award

This is my Amy, whom I've neglected on this blog ever since she graduated from high school and deserved her own personal blog post about all her awesome accomplishments in her short life. I am going to fix that right here.

This kid is the one who sees something around here needing to be done, and she does it. That is, in between doing things for OTHER people, when she is home long enough. I know it looks like she is doing some serious spelunking in this photo, and she kind of is. She is actually under the stairs, which, she says, is slightly less exciting than a cave, but almost as messy. I reluctantly gave her permission to clean out under there and throw away anything I haven't looked at in four years. It was hard to let her do that. I might need something, like a nutcracker or a roll of heavy brown paper. Anyway, a couple hours later she emerged with two rotten bed pillows, three large empty totes, a box of forgotten stuffed animals, the decorative pillows that came with our comforter set and were carefully arranged on our bed for about three days, and seven ancient, mostly empty buckets of latex paint, which all went out to the garage for the trash pickup. I can actually see to the back of the stairwell now.

This is the kid who has a waiting list of mom employers who want her services. She cleans, cooks, changes diapers, herds large groups of children, cleans up vomit and poop and spilled milk, and loves on babies. She treats moms to good coffee and adult conversation. She teaches 'tween girls how to be a blessing to others and makes everyone feel special. She gives weary moms a rest from screaming babies, laundry, climbing stairs, mopping floors, and needy toddlers. Her vehicle of choice, when she has the money to buy her own, is a 12- or 15-passenger van. She will taxi small people to the park, the skating rink, to Culvers, or to the lake with a trailer full of kayaks. Maybe she will even bring a bunch of kids to church. :)

This is the kid everybody loves, the one whose absence her sisters mourn and whose company is sought out by kids all over town, as well as by her real and virtual adult friends.  

This is the kid who does dishes mostly without being asked. I did ask her to do them last night because I was feeling rotten, and because she is the one I can always count on to answer, "Sure, Mom!" with a happy heart. This is a kid I can trust to make good choices about her companions and her entertainment. 

This kid is a BLESSING.

This is not the kid I raised.

The kid I raised made me pull my hair out in frustration! How many times I cried to the Lord, "WHAT WILL I DO WITH THIS CHILD?!?!?!" If I had only known that Jesus had her in his hands and that he was actively ordering her life, I might have been able to relax. (More likely I would have asked the Lord if he was sure he knew what he was doing.) The kid I raised was boldly rebellious. Immediately after telling her to sit still in church, she would stand up backwards in the pew with a big grin, and wave at all the people. The kid I raised screamed about her school work and raised fits over what was on her dinner plate. The kid I raised put a big hole in her bedroom door. (She just now admitted it.) Her rebellion was all right out in front. At least a parent couldn't be fooled. The hard part was consistently doing something about it.

No, this isn't the kid I raised.

This kid I have now is the kid Jesus raised.

Amy trusted Jesus Christ as her Saviour. At the end of that summer, I had a different child. God took the child I raised and made her a new creature with a new heart. I didn't deserve to get her back like this, but here she is, a kid who loves God and his word. A kid who gives generously of her treasure and her time, her talents and passions. A kid who daily blesses her family and everyone else in town.

I love you, Amy. Today you are my favorite kid. ♥ (Well, one of them.)

And thank you, Jesus.

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