notes on joy

Amidst tiredness, busy-ness, and my three crazy kiddos, it occurred to me today to review my notes from last year’s women’s retreat on joy.  Here are some gems for you …

  • joy has its source in the Lord … in the knowledge that we are loved by God … unlike happiness, which is fleeting, the presence of God is always with us.
  • we need to pray, we need silence [ha!  Silence with three kids in the house?!  Well, maybe go check out MC’s ninja tricks for prayer time], we need to remember the Lord’s great deeds, and we need to read Scripture … all ways to remain in the Lord’s presence.
  • What does joy look like when we don’t feel happy?  Knowledge that the Lord is with me.  Trust.  To the degree that we don’t know what to do, that’s the magnitude of the trust we can have in the Lord.  [this one really resonated with me today as I struggle on a very practical level with “what should I do” these days.  There is so much work to be done that I am often perplexed about what to do next, and worried that I will make the wrong choice.  Looks like I can get some great practice here in trusting the Lord …]
  • Joy does not happen to us, we need to choose it daily.
  • gratitude – be intentional about it – write it down.
  • Praise is a way to cultivate joy!
  • I am alive.  I was part of God’s plan from the beginning.  I was intended.  God wants me to be with him forever. [Gosh, it is good to step back sometimes and remember this!]
  • [this note is not from the retreat, but from about a month before it as I was thinking about joy] Maybe I need to stop chasing happiness and start chasing holiness and striving to love better.

I hope one or two of these notes will help put some joy in your day!  Busy-ness and distraction right now mean I am not revising this blog post or even finding a photo to go with it as I usually do.  I’m just throwing it out there.  But I think it was the Spirit who prompted me to review these notes, and I pray that the same Spirit will lead you, here or elsewhere, to some words that will bring you joy.  God bless you today!


Practical Tips for Wall and Ceiling Painting

Alternate title: “What Do You MEAN, ‘My Painting Pants from High School No Longer Fit???'”

Wear a dress instead. I didn’t shave, I didn’t shower, my hair was in the same bun for 3 straight days, then in another bun for 2-4 more days. We were in survival mode, so I don’t remember the details. I may have forgotten to wear deodorant. But I DID dress for the occasion! When it finally dawned on me that my trusty old painting pants were about 6 (yes SIX!) inches too slim, I just had to laugh. In my head, they have totally fit for over 17 years. In my storage bins, these lovely blue canvas pants have been waiting, longing, even, for the moment to be useful again. It never occurred to me that they would be too small! When I realized that this old fly-over state would be broiling hot during the busiest part of our project, I thought of an old sun dress that I love on my body more than those traitor pants. The dress was faded, and it fit. I wore it, and it is now my painting dress. I never knew it was 92 degrees with 60% humidity, and it felt a lot (okay, maybe only a little) less brutish to drop off my kids with sitters while wearing a modest, lovely sun dress, hairy legs and all. WP_20160614_008

Have trades people clean up their own tape. We are very happy with the work that our wall guys did. There were roughly 30 holes to fill due to some electrical work. It was way beyond the scope of our skill. They offered to leave up the protective tape (that blue stuff), and we accepted. I wish we had asked them to take it off, firstly because I prefer to cut in new paint without tape. For whatever reason, I just do a much better job. Secondly, it was time consuming to take the tape off, and when we did, there were some mistakes that we needed to take care of. It would have been part of our trades peoples’ normal clean-up process for them to do it, and would have saved us some time. Lastly, the longer that tape stays on woodwork, the more varnish comes with it when removed. We will have to do some unplanned varnish touch-up to complete the project.

How to pull tape: our contractors showed us that the best way to minimize lifting up varnish from woodwork is to peal at a 90 degree angle, or even wider. Basically, you are pulling it back on itself instead of yanking it at an angle where it can take any edges with it.

Contractor’s discount. Since this was all part of one project, we got the wall repair contractor’s discount for the paint. Score! The ceiling paint, particularly, was a steal at 75% under the retail price. The store guy explained to me that it is not a “DIY product”. I guess that means it’s not a DIY price. In any case, we wouldn’t have bought that paint if we had to pay full price. It was steep!

Paint Shiny-ness Matters. As you may be able to see in the photo, both the ceilings and the walls (the beige color is original), were done in glossy paint, or at least semi-gloss. In the photo some priming over repair work has been done in grey, and the edging in correct (flat) ceiling paint has been done, but you can still see the original finishes on both the wall and ceiling. Aside from the fact that the beige on the wall was too dark and didn’t play well with the natural features of our home, it was entirely too glossy. Our rooms are small, and when light reflects off shiny walls at night, they actually seem smaller. You want your light reflections to come from mirrors, not paint! If the color is egregious, then the wrong sheen is horrific. If color and sheen are playing well together (we chose flat for the ceilings and satin for the walls), the whole effect is heightened. I might add that they now are also much better friends with our varnished natural woodwork.

Caulk. This is by far my favorite time saver! On the recommendation of our contractors, we got white paint-able ceiling caulk from Sherwin Williams. It took time to apply and dry (kuddos to Honey for doing ALL of it!), but it made cutting in the ceiling paint, and then the wall paint that goes up against it, a real breeze. Both went faster and look a lot better than if we had free-handed the line without caulk. What the caulk does is soften the corner, and it seems to widen it too, so that there’s already a nice line/edge that’s made for  you. Also, it’s set into the corner. I didn’t have to worry about getting the ceiling paint right into that corner. This helps particularly with textured ceilings (ours are popcorn). See the photo above for what caulking looks like with only one coat of ceiling paint over it, and no painting yet on the walls.

Hope this helps! Let me know your best practices so that I can have another reason to finally paint the kitchen! …because I need another occasion for which to dress up… 🙂

PS: for what we learned while painting with toddlers, see this post.

do not be anxious … about the housework


My house is a mess these days.  Not always, but frequently.  I won’t bore you with all the details of why; suffice it to say, my children are 4 1/2, 2, and 6 months.

As last week wound down, my house was getting on my nerves.  The dirt, the clutter, the everlasting feeling of why do we have so much stuff combined with I can’t actually declutter because I barely have time to vacuum.  Meanwhile, Father’s Day was getting closer and I knew I’d be spending much of Friday making a cheesecake for my husband, because his love language is baked goods.  So when was I going to clean?  Well, maybe Saturday …

… but early Saturday morning as I nursed the baby and rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I knew the cleaning was not going to happen.  Our two-year-old was recovering from a cold again so I couldn’t have Pete take her to the gym with him, which is how I usually catch up on housework on Saturdays.  We hadn’t come up with another plan yet.  With the cleaning question turning over in my mind, I reached for my Kindle and started reading my morning devotional.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:25-34 NAB)

Of course I wasn’t worried about food or clothing, I was worried about the state of my living room, but I got the message.  Don’t worry.  I felt certain the Lord wanted me to hear those specific words and heed them.  So, I didn’t worry about the housework.

What did I do instead?

I did a photo shoot of all my kids, then Pete and I took them all to the Farmer’s Market.  Then we took them to the park and gave them a picnic lunch.  Then we put them down for naps and had our own (quiet, relaxed) lunch together.  I made him his favorite dinner, and as it simmered,  we played with the girls some more.  We feasted on dinner and cheesecake, and capped off the evening watching a movie together.

Then the next day, we took the kids to the beach.  When we got home we spent a couple hours hanging out on the back porch with the one kid who didn’t nap.  We sipped iced coffee and enjoyed our shady yard.  Then we did a rush job of straightening up and putting some burgers on the grill for Father’s Day dinner with my in-laws.

Did you see all the moments in that weekend when I could have been cleaning?  Oh man, there were tons.  Pete could have taken the kids to the Market or the park by himself while I cleaned.  I could have cleaned during naptime instead of having a relaxed lunch with him.  We could have gotten pizza or Chipotle so I could devote 90 minutes to cleaning instead of cooking.  I could have made a pretty convincing case that we couldn’t go to the beach because I needed to clean before having company over.

But that wasn’t what I needed or what my family needed.  We needed fun together, we needed togetherness.  My hardworking husband needed to be honored for Father’s Day.  I needed to get my mind off of the gosh-darn housework for a couple of days.

We had an amazing weekend, and then on Monday I just kept going.  Some friends had scheduled a super fun day trip to take with our kids, and I embraced it.  My kids loved it, I got to spend time with my girlfriends, it was a perfect trip.  Then I got home and …

… my house was a mess.  An absolutely crazy-making mess.  All the mess that had been there last week, plus some sand scattered all over the floor.  Meanwhile the kids’ naps had been messed up by car trips two days in a row, and they were going haywire.  The glow from my awesome weekend and awesome day trip started to fade as I really, really started to worry about the housework.

By Tuesday night I still hadn’t had time to clean.  I cooked, I did laundry, I took care of the crazy kids, but I just couldn’t find time for any serious cleaning.  I was getting desperate.  After dinner my husband took the kids out back to swing.  It was a beautiful evening, and all I wanted to do was … vacuum.

So I did.  Because I really do need to vacuum now and then.

But you know what I didn’t need to do?  Worry.  The vacuuming got done.  And the next day the kids surprised me by being peaceful and taking good naps, and I got a ton more cleaning done.  It all gets done eventually.  Maybe one of these days I will learn to stop worrying!  But for the moment, the Lord’s mercy prompted me to let go of worry for a good three days (OK, maybe two and a half), and I managed to fit a lot of great memories into those days.  Thank you Lord!

What We Learned while Painting with Toddlers


For over 2 weeks, we’ve been reviving the walls and ceilings in our living room and dining room. See the white splotches, above? That’s repair work that we hired out to professionals (Veteran Painting out of Shakopee, for those Twin-Citians interested).

We planned to do the actual painting ourselves to save some money. As per the usual, this project has dragged on far longer than we expected, and it’s still in progress. We’re still in the throes of it.  I do love that phrase “in progress”. Because of the word “in”. :p  No, actually, because of the word “progress”.  “Progress” is a lovely word.

Here’s what we’re learned along the way:

Let the kids be part of it. The disruption to routine and room(s) is inevitable,  and can lead to consternation and confusion from toddlers and parents alike. If everyone can be involved, then it tempers some of this. Continue reading

how to go to the beach

this pic is over a year old, and it’s not at the beach, but it does have a sun hat, so that works right?

Sometimes, in the face of some awesomely fun family activity, I become paralyzed by the thought of packing.  I’m not talking about packing for a week-long trip – I mean, like, packing to go to the park.  Do I have enough diapers in the diaper bag?  Does it make more sense to do cloth diapers or disposables on this trip?  Are the girls going to need snacks, sippy cups, rain jackets?  Do I need an emergency change of clothes for each kid or just for the baby?  Do we need sunscreen?  Should I bring the Ergo carrier?  … and on and on.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised this weekend when we took the three kids to the beach and it all went really smoothly!  We woke up, had some leisurely coffee & breakfast, decided to go to the beach, and BAM – we were on the road before 9 AM.  Once there, I had exactly zero moments of “shoot, I forgot to pack the –“.  Apparently, after four summers of taking babies to the beach, we actually know what we’re doing!  Amazing.

So, in case any of you also suffer from beach-prep anxiety, I thought I’d share how we do it … Continue reading

Room Re-arrangement of the Month Club, June


Ta – DAA!

I am really loving this new furniture arrangement in our living room. 😉

Actually, the above glamour shot reveals day one of wall repair, in anticipation of painting. There are 6 (yes, six) different gray paint colors on one wall. I still haven’t picked one, Lord help me!

I am short on time, so I will get straight to the moral of this story, from a mothering perspective: when met with such upheaval in life and home (we created further chaos by being out of town with the kids last weekend), stick to the routine as much as possible. Yesterday, I tried napping my kids at our friends house since the work was being done, which means, of course, that they didn’t nap. Kids that haven’t napped at home at least are still home, and to them, I think that really helps their sense of belonging. I wish I had tried naps at our home, like normal. I felt sorry for myself (needlessly!) and had some lovely wine and appetizers after the failed naps, also at my friend’s house. And because I did that, we had little to no time for the very necessary grocery shopping. Therefore, no apples are in sight. Wish I had gotten us out the door and out to our errands sooner! Then, at the store, dear husband calls and doesn’t want to put us through the chaos of wall repair that he is seeing at home, so suggests dinner out. This means that when they finally got home, they were exhausted and disoriented and needed to go straight to bed. Wish I had asked for more details, realized that the dining room, at least, was in no greater state of disorder than when we all left in the morning, and stuck with the plan to eat at home.

I am finding that taking the kids out of town to see grandparents is totally worth the upheaval and stress that it causes to us and them. However, it’s worth the stress to us, once home, to do some extra work (and sacrifice some wine consumption), in order that the daily routine can be maintained as much as possible. This mean that the menu may be frozen pizza in a semi-painted dining room – but our own! – for the foreseeable future.



Miss Mary Clare


We Made Cupcakes

Author’s note

Let me tell you  I have just  written  my first blog post  using  the WordPress app  and the voice to text feature  on my phone . I wrote this blog post while nursing a baby. Have mercy on me and ignore all typos

It was a morning that was not very typical for me. I decided not to go somewhere outside the house this particular morning. Instead I decided to have the baby take a good nap in his crib. The baby went down after two tries. I was pretty happy with this and then realized I had a decision to make at that moment. My three-year-old son I was anxiously awaiting me to return to the downstairs after putting his brother to sleep. I was tempted to immediately begin some housework. There was plenty to do. My options were endless. Dishes laundry cleaning picking up Etc. But I took a moment and realized this may be one of the Limited moments during the day when I can with him one-on-one. Instead of jumping in to the chores  the first thing that popped into my mind was to ask him a simple question. Do you want to play with me? Yes! He answered and said that he wanted to play trains. Just be honest with you I don’t like playing trains. So I made another suggestion let’s bake together. And so we did. We made yellow cake mix cupcakes cupcakes with pink frosting and some with green frosting. He loved it. And the funny thing was it seems like I got more chores done yesterday because I found ways for him to be involved. He sat on my bed and played while I folded clothes. I put away dishes while he ate lunch and he was very understanding. I managed to sneak in a load of laundry between nursing the baby. It was a fine day. Of course not perfect. But I won’t get into that part. My point is that all too many times I am so focused on what I have to get done that I miss what’s really going on in front of me. Theres 2 little brown haired boys who need me to be present to them today. I still remember my mother-in-law’s advice when I was expecting my first baby. She said number one  sleep when the baby sleeps and number 2 chores can wait. Unfortunately with two kids now I can’t sleep when the baby sleeps if my toddler isn’t sleeping too but the second one always applies. Chores can wait.