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. :)

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