Monday, May 23, 2016

Room makeover

Better late than never.  We celebrated my Dad's birthday and Mother's Day a few weeks late over a round of mini golf at the Indianapolis Art Museum.

Each hole had a Hoosier connection.  The boys found the course to be fascinating, and the play was fun for all ages.

I was sitting in the room that our relator labeled the "sunroom."  Although the room is flanked with windows, I doubt many would refer to it as a sunroom.  As I scanned the room, I remembered that this room is what sold me on the house.

Eleven years ago, when we were searching for a home to accommodate our growing family, we walked into our current house.  This "sunroom" set off the main living room.  The former owners housed exercise equipment in the room.  Immediately, I knew how we would use the space.

At the time, we had a two-year-old and a baby.  Toys, books, and exersaucers littered our home.  We couldn't walk from the kitchen sink to the couch without sidestepping a dozen items.  When I eyed that sunroom, I envisioned a home for the trains, cars, and stuffed animals.

When we purchased the home, those items took up residence in the sunroom.  It was the perfect spot.  The kids could play among their things while I cooked dinner and folded laundry nearby.

As the kids grew, the boys could play independently without me worrying that they would swallow a Lego piece or a HotWheels part.  The toys moved into the basement.  We then transformed that space into a TV room.  The boys spent many a weekend night entranced with the latest Disney movie and a big bowl of popcorn.

Now, they've arrived at the age where they want to watch movies with their friends...alone.  They grab the popcorn bowl and travel down to the basement.  They enjoy the latest action or superhero flick with a handful of friends.

Thus, this space is undergoing a renovation....again.  I've placed my Grandmother's piano within the room.  Two older couches rest under the windows with bright blue pillows adorning their cushions.  My freshly painted armoire sits along the corner.  The room has a sophisticated, serene look.

It's hard to believe over the course of eleven years in the home, this room has undergone so much transition.  Then again, the room is mirroring the transformation with our kids.  They have grown from infants to teens in the blink of an eye.  And like the house, I've had to remake my mothering to fit their growth.

As I look around the room, I realize how much I enjoy the space now.  It's clean and well-dressed.  But, there's a little part of me that misses the toys, books, and the infants who used to roam around the room.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Whitewater rafting

Enjoyed dinner out celebrating my in-laws' (aka weekend babysitters) 45th wedding anniversary.

My dear friend Claudia wanted to celebrate her daughter's 13th birthday with a memorable celebration.  She landed on a whitewater rafting excursion in West Virginia, and Claudia asked us to join in the festivities.  I've never been whitewater rafting, but I knew enough to be excited over the prospective of a day spent on the water.

In the days leading up to our trip, I casually slid my upcoming trip into conversations.  Most of my listeners retorted with whitewater rafting horror stories.  After they would share about a friend who ended up in traction and in a neck brace, they'd finish with "but it will be great!"

I began to wonder if a trip to the ER was a standard pairing with a whitewater rafting trip.

On Friday night, we arrived in West Virginia.  I had visions that we would be staying on the set of Deliverance; I was pleasantly surprised that our accommodations included a nice family facility with a comfy cabin.

Saturday we awoke early and headed to the rapids.  The weather wouldn't warm.  It was 50s (barely) with rain.  In a decision that I will firmly put within the top ten best decisions of my life, we all rented wetsuits.  Thank you Jesus for wetsuits; they prevented us all from experiencing a nasty dose of hypothermia.

Before we ventured into the rapids, we filled out release forms.  It listed about 205 possible complications we could experience while whitewater rafting.  I vividly remember decapitation and snake bites included among the list.  My whitewater rafting momentum began to wane.

On the bus ride over the rapids, our guide Trevor offered up the safety talk.  Possible scenarios we could experience included being trapped in an underwater cave or stuck under a rock.  Trevor was quickly deflating our excitement.

But the time I stepped into the boat, I was terrified.  Did I just step into my death, I wondered?  As we paddled off shore, we hit our first rapid.  It was exciting and exhilarating.  But death defying?  No.  We were on the family rapids.  It was the It's a Small World rapids (while other were more Space Mountain rapids).  And for first time rafters, this course was a fit.

For the next five hours, we meandered down the river.  We hit patches of rapids and spaces with smooth currents.  The West Virginia mountains flanked the river and set up the most amazing backdrop to our day.  

Lunch was a buffet that our guides set up amid the trees.  As I munched on pasta salad, a train cut through the forest.  The whole scene was like that in a book, and the joy was that I was experiencing with friends and family.

Within minutes left in the ride, the boys' raft capsized.  My boys popped back up to the surface.  Cooper appeared energized.  Caleb looked less than thrilled.  But, they made it back into their boats with their own "horror story" in a tamer version to tell friends back home.

I walked away from the day as a whitewater rafting convert and evangelist.  In a heartbeat, I would return to the rapids, but only the ones made for nervous mothers and risk-adverse folk.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Contentment and Joy Despite Circumstances

Yesterday, I visited my Grandmother in the nursing home.  It's sad to see my once spry Grandmother confined to a wheelchair.  In some ways, I think it's a blessing that her stroke jumbled her mind. If she was clear thinking, her placement in the nursing home would be devastating.

Her facility does its best to raise the residents' spirits.  They have parties, musical performances, and lots of other fun events.  But, it doesn't hinder the feeling of sadness and mortality that lingers over the place.    

As I was pushing Grandmother along in her hallway, we happened upon fellow resident Mary perched in her wheelchair.  She wore a lovely smile with glistening eyes to match. And her bright attire, paired with a colorful scarf, added to her radiance.  

She stopped us and made introductions.

Grandmother, whose visions was whipped by the stroke, perked up at the sound of Mary's voice.

"When your Grandmother gets sad and cries," Mary whispered.  "I go over and cheer her up."

Sweet Mary.  Her words brought tears to my eyes.

Mary had 1,001 reasons to be miserable.  She had every reason to be spread doom and gloom.  Yet, she was a bright light in a space that needed to be illuminated.  Not only was she finding joy and contentment where she was living, but she was also actively looking to love on others.

Those we look up to come in many different forms.  For my boys, they want to emulate famous sports heroes.  Many are great role models.  But for me, I want to be like Mary.  I want to be filled with a contentment and joy that is not dependent on my circumstance.  And, I want to be actively searching to share those feelings with others who may need that boost.

Grandma said to Mary, "I want to go home."

Mary smiled.  

She replied, "We can't go home.  They need to take care of us; this is our home."

I think God has a reason this is Mary's home.  I'm so grateful she shares a home with my Grandmother.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Things That Make a House Feel Homey

The last several weekends have been spent sidelines on the soccer fields.  Rain or shine, they play.

Rain or shine, I cheer them on:)

And if games happen to cancel, we go to the movies with friends.

May brings all the end of the year programs.

And Little League

This picture makes me swoon over this precious son.

May also brings our 15 year anniversary.

And Mother's Day.

My furniture paint tutor and friend Kara pitched in to transform this armoire into...

The final product.

Before kids, I prided myself on cleanliness and order.  I devoted a few hours a week to cleaning.  And, everything from socks to CDs had a home.

Then, I had four boys.

As one can imagine, cleanliness and order fell victim to my own self-preservation.  I ditched the dust rag for the diaper pail.  I devoted my days to keeping four children alive and fed which left little time for keeping a tidy home.

Now that the kids have blossomed into teens and tweens (and Chris and I have stepped into our 40s), we're no longer interested in living in dorm-like conditions.  We want a grown-up, nicely-kept pad.  We want to reclaim our house.

It started out with the idea to repaint the interior of the house.  I solicited advice from my Joanna Gaines-like friend Melinda.  In a nanosecond, she selected a paint color for our walls.  And once applied, the grayish color ushered in a calmer vibe within the house.

Like the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, painting the wall led to about 55 other projects and updates.  For the last month, we've cleaned, replaced, adhered, painted, and rearranged.  Spaces that used to look like youth hostiles now ooze warmth, comfort, and welcomeness.  We are giddy over the results.

I used to think things didn't matter.  I prided myself on steering clear of materialism.  And, now I'm sitting among a bunch of things that I love.

I don't think it's the things that I love.  It matters little whether these items came from Restoration Hardware or Home Goods (most came from the latter).  But, it's the feeling these things are adding to our home.

Now, when I'm at home, I feel at home.  And I want to welcome others into our space filled with peacefulness and joy.

And for that, I am grateful for the things that made our house a home.