Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pep Talk

Last night I didn't want to make dinner.  Not a new phenomenon in my life but none the less I didn't want to do it.  Since my new resolve to make dinner at home every night I am learning to force myself to get up and do it anyway.

Most mornings I wake up not wanting to exercise.  I tell myself I don't have to go work out.  I can skip today.  I love how I feel after a workout but I would just really like to be fit while sitting on my butt doing as little as possible.  Usually I get dressed and walk out the door at the last minute.

Sometimes I don't want to clean the house, keep track of our money or any number of other activities and duties in my life.  Sometimes people ask me to rise above, to plan events at church or lead ministries.  Recently I agreed to be one of the speakers at our women's retreat.  I often wonder why I do these things and feel I am not competent for the tasks before me.

I tell John when I don't want to do something, share all my crazy insecurities.  He is used to it.  He listens and encourages me.  I also have learned to tell myself I can do it, so sometimes all he has to do is listen and validate my own pep talk to myself.

Other times John expresses his insecurities or doubts about his ability to perform whatever task is before him and I get to give him a pep talk.  We are there for each other.

Inevitably at some point in the pep talk one of us wil begin the positive self talk, "I can do it", "it is all good", etc.  and from there it never fails to step right into an old SNL sketch of Stuart Smalley saying, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"  Often we mess up the quote, I am famous for mis-quoting songs and movies, but it doesn't matter because it always makes us laugh and gives us just the energy we need to keep moving forward.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fixing the Fleet

So there we are in the midst of a minor financial crisis.  We are trusting God to provide the next job and keep us within the confines of our current budgetary constraints.  I pray that God will give my husband, who is feeling the stress a little more than I, a little sign of hope that we will make it through.  How does God answer this?  With the simultaneous break down of all 3 of our vehicles during the 2-1/2 weeks of financial famine. 

First our little blue car, the extra car we keep asking ourselves why we own but with months left until Jake drives is seeming like more of a neccesity every day, begins to grind the brakes.  Still works fine but clearly should not be driven until John can replace the brake pads.  No problem we have 2 more.  Then John's work van suddenly starts acting up using an entire tank of gas every day.  It is decided that fixing his work van will be cheaper than a tank of gas per day and so he does a small repair to keep it running with another repair needed in the future.  My van had developed a little shake in January which we were sure was the result of the tires so February was supposed to be a new tire month for the van.  I keep driving while waiting for the next job, in the mean time the shake gets so bad I am no longer feel safe driving.  John decides to put the spare on the van.  He discovers that the tread had pulled away from the tire and I was sliding back and forth on the loose tread as I drove.  I experience a transformation in my driving experience that lasts exactly 1 day.  My wonderful girlfriends drag me out of the house on a Monday night and treat me to dinner and a movie.  I am leaving the mall after close and as I get to my van the front tire is completely flat.  Now I have a flat and no spare tire.  I run across the mall to catch a friend who drives me home.

Tuesday I wake up feeling certain that today John will get the job we have been waiting for.  We learn later that my gut was right and go to bed feeling very happy and relieved.  However leading up to that experience we have to solve the van problem.  We drive the brake grinding blue car over to the mall where John pumps up the tire with the compressor and manages to drive the 5 miles home just before it goes flat again.  I continue on with the brake grinder out to my parents home.  They are in Florida for the winter and so I trade our car for "jer's pt".  My dad's red pt cruiser with vanity plates.  I feel so cool. 

The entire time I am switching cars Isabelle is freaking out that I am getting rid of the blue car, telling me she hates the red car and then begins to list all the places she will not go in the red car.  I also got stuck momentarily on their unplowed driveway and banged my head on the side of the car so hard I lost the back of my earring.  As we drove home I finally told Isabelle I didn't like the red car either but life was not fair and she needed to STOP TALKING!  She wisely sat silently the rest of the way home and surprisingly didn't complain once the entire week.  And I must confess I sort of enjoyed driving Jer's PT, a little car with much better pick up than our old van.

Once John got a job we decided priority one would be fixing up the fleet.  Saturday was the day to do the work and it couldn't have gone better.  He pumped the tire up again on the van and drove it to a used tire store we go to.  They had tires that fit our van for way less than I thought we would pay.  And while he waited John was able to walk next door and pick up the brakes he needed for the blue car.  He had planned to drive out with Jers pt, change the brakes and come home with the fleet intact but got distracted with picking up part of Isabelle's birthday present. 

Isabelle is getting a "big girl bed" for her birthday.  We had everything but the mattress and a can of paint to match the bed to the rest of her furniture.  I had been on craig's list wanting to spend under $100 for a twin mattress and finding several good looking ones that we were going to check out that afternoon.  Then John remembered a buddy of his mentioning getting their teenager a new bed.  He called to see what they did with the mattress and they guy GAVE us their old mattress.  So after putting much cheaper than expected tires on the van he went to pick up Isabelle's new MUCH cheaper than expected mattress.

Feeling so accomplished already at only 1pm we decided to relax and do the blue car after church.  Although it wasn't quite as smooth, John made the 20 minute drive out to my parents house without the keys to the blue car causing him to take and 1-1/2 hours to do something that should have taken less than an hour.  Back home with his tools he got the part off but then ended up running around in the cold a little more than usual to find a car parts store that would turn the roters for him just before closing on a Sunday night but now the brakes are changed and our fleet is back in service.  Friday John will have a friend make the final repairs on his work van and we will be ready to go wherever the road leads us.

Is it weird that I have more than one post with the label "car troubles"?  What does that say about me?  Are we really back in the car repair stage of our lives again?  Oh well, it was fun the first time and with so much added wisdom in our lives it has been fun the second time as well.  So far...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mama said there'd be days like this...

Boy you wake up one day and realize it has been 11 days since your last blog post.  Life goes pretty fast at times.

Although it has been a stressful couple weeks at our house we also got the chance to really see God at work in our lives in amazing ways.  Since John is self employed we are at the whim of his work schedule when it comes to our income.  Good sometimes, not so good other times.  Although he had lots of potential work in front of him this month began in limbo, completing one job without having yet signed a new job.  We had made the decision last fall to no longer rely on our credit line when this happened and so this was our first test of that resolve waiting and trusting God to bring us one of those jobs.  It turned out to be such a great 2-1/2 weeks of learning and growing.  Wondering at times if God really understood the situation and marveling at other times how perfectly he provides.

One thing that I really apprecited and learned about was saving, both money and stuff.  I have been sort of dabbling in stocking up on food the past month or two when I see something we eat on sale.  Although my pantry wasn't exactly bursting I did have several meats in the freezer to eat and a few other things.  In the course of 3 weeks I spent less than $100/week for our family of 4.  Imagine what I could do if I had been stocked up on other things like noodles and canned goods.  We are definately considering buying a freezer for the basement.  I could even stock up on bread if I had a freezer.  My resolve to continue learning to be a savy shopper has definately grown through this experience.

I also am thankful for the emergency fund we created being good students of Dave Ramsey.  It allowed us to keep going and keep current on most of our bills.  What we did learn is that being self employed we probably need more than the $1000 that Dave suggests before we begin paying off debt so as we begin rebuilding we are changing our focus to boosting that fund instead of paying down debt.  I love it when we have a plan. :-)

Tuesday afternoon in the midst of a crazy and slightly stressful day John called to tell me one of his jobs went through and he would he would be picking up a check in the morning.  Relief to know that we will continue to pay our bills, send our son on that youth group retreat, and save for the spring break trip we hope to take.  Thankful to God for all he taught us, how he provided and the people around us that supported and encouraged us in our time of need.

What is funny about self employment is that John has so gotten so many calls and so much interest for the spring that I may not see him again until summer!  Self employment seems to be about feast and famine.  My plan is that by the time the next famine hits I will be prepared, money saved, pantry full.  It reminds me of Joseph in the bible who told the Pharaoh of the upcoming famine and then helped the Egyptians set aside food during the good years so they would be not be in need during the famine.  Or like the woman for Proverbs 31, "when it snows, she has no fear for her household", "her lamp does not go out at night". Hey, most people in the bible were in fact self employed.  Not many got a paycheck every other week come rain or shine.  We are certainly in good company.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Soaking it up

For the past few days I have looked out my back door to see this:

Today I was rumbling around the house and something felt...different.  I couldn't quite place it but then I looked out the window and saw this:

That's right.  Blue sky.  Sun. 

It was 3 in the afternoon when I realized this.  The best sun in my house seems to be around 2pm but I still had a little left so I stopped everything to do this:
Push my favorite chair in the sun, sit down and relax with my new issue of Martha.  As the sun beat on my face I am sure I could feel my whole body relax while sucking up the vitamin D.

Maybe tomorrow I will worry about the ice dams forming on my roof.  Or maybe I will just enjoy the decorative feel of sparkling ice hanging from my roof.

Mork and Mindy Buy a Fan

While I was having some Africa pictures framed I decided to do something I have been wanting to do for YEARS, I brought an antique fan I have in to be framed as well. It turned out beyond my wildest dreams...
Although it certainly could fit in with my "things I love" theme I hung it over our bed so I can look at it every day. And really that is prefect since it hung on my wall throughout my childhood simply pinned in place with a couple tacks. Oh how I wish I had brought it to be framed before all the fabric crumbled but it is still beautiful, don't you think.

So where did I get this you may wonder. Great question. Great story. I have loved fans since I was a little girl and had a wall full of fans in my room growing up. Most of them cheap paper fans from souvenier shops. Somehow a girl in my 4th grade class found out I loved fans. She also knew I had something she really wanted, Mork and Mindy stickers. Now in 4th grade stickers were the ruling power and Mork and Mindy stickers were not to be found everywhere so I definately had some leverage. In she brings this beautiful fan and trades me for my Stickers. If I recall correctly I only traded one sheet not even the whole pack. She told me it had belonged to her grandmother when she was a teenager. Assuming her Grandmother was about the same age as mine that would make this fan 80-90 years old. The entire rest of the school year I kept waiting for her mom to find out what she did and demand the fan back. She never called and I have long forgotten who I traded with but I have always treasured my beautiful fan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Marvelous Mondays

“How could he have considered taking Monday off? Monday was the diving board poised over the rest of the week. One walked out on the board, reviewed the situation, planned one’s strategy, bounced a few times to get the feel of things, and then made a clean dive. Without Monday, one simply bombed into the water, belly first, and hoped for the best.”

--Father Timothy from "At Home in Mitford"

Oh how I love Mondays.  They are life's fresh start.  No matter how bad the week before was, no matter how miserably you failed at something, come Monday you can start fresh and succeed.

Monday is the day you look at the week consider all the possibilities and make your plan.  What will I do?  What do I want to accomplish?  What commitments have I made?  And even better, make lists off all those things!  Compose a strategy and set off on the perfect week.

Monday is the day you get up early and do those devotions, get in that run and shower before your children even get out of bed.

Of course I don't always follow through on everything on my list.  And certainly by Wednesday I am bored with my energetic approach to the week but whatever falls by the wayside on Thursday and Friday will be waiting fresh the following Monday for my enthusiastic belief that this will be a great week and I will get it all done.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Things I like

I thought I would share a little of my decorating in progress.  I have noted that others like to wait for completed projects to share but if I waited that long I may never actually share anything.  What is a completed project?  You still wouldn't have seen the wall in my kitchen if we were waiting for that.  I mean the trim now has one coat but there are a dozen little projects still to be done, on top of another coat of paint on the trim.  It is the joy of being a home owner and living on a budget and having a husband that works in construction and doesn't always want to spend his evenings and weekends working in his own home.

ANYWAY...Our family room has been the bane of my decorating existance since we moved in.  I just don't know what I am doing down there.  I have considered several themes but get bored with them long before I get around to acting on the thought.  Well finally a very undefined theme that I am calling "put what I like down there" is forming in my mind. The biggest issue will be painting the walls but I have decided to definately hire someone to choose paint colors for me.  I am ready to paint a few other rooms as well and am saving up all my paint color plans for a 1 hour consultation.  Worth every penny in my opinion.  Actually I heard recently that Home Depot will send someone out for free to give you a color palate.  I might check them out...In the mean time here are a few pictures of where I am going.

Believe it or not John got this great cabinet out of someone's kitchen when they were remodeling.  The plan is to paint it black and put shelves on either side and crown molding along the top to create a nice built in.  I gave up my bookshelf last year to Isabelle's toys and now have my books stored in strange places all over the house.  When I am looking for a book I really miss them.  Would love to see this project happen soon but realistically it will look like this for another year.

I did decide to start my "things I like/Family history" theme with some items I brought back from Kenya.

Now keep in mind this is a work in progress.  I love the Lesos on either side of the fireplace but I realize they are too close and the one is a little crooked. (and they both need to be washed and ironed desperately.)  I had the map of Kenya and the painting I bought at the Nairobi market both framed and love them.  The question you like them together on the mantle like that?  I will probably hang the smaller picture up a little higher if I decide to do it but since it is brick don't want to do anything until I am ready to commit.  Actually don't know how I will hang it on brick when I do decide to commit so sugestions for that welcome as well.

So then this is my favorite part.  I have been thinking about a wall of family pictures for the past year and picked up some random frames at our church sale last spring.  Then I started second guessing myself thinking they wouldn't work because none of them match.  But since I can do anything I want in this new decor style I decided to bring them all down and lay them out around this big picture we have of John rock climbing back in his hey day.  It looked great.  Then I realized I had 2 other frames with pictures I didn't really have a use for inside them and they were both the same size.  So I put them on the end and voila...I am a genius.
(John did the math to hang them perfectly.  I am only about the concept not the details.)

So there you have my perfectly hung family photo wall but not with family photos in any of the frames. I had initially planned to pick up a mat for the two end frames with random openings to give that collage look but as I was going through Kenya pictures spreading them on the floor I really liked how they were looking laying there. I decided to simply open up the frames and glue the pictures to the back of the pictures already in there and pop them back in. They turned out great..

...if I do say so myself.

So now all the big frames are filled and I just need to order a few 8x10's and 5x7's to fill in the other frames.  While I love seeing all our Africa memories I do want the family room to represent more than this one event in our lives so I a going to try to choose a variety of other photos of our family to fill in the gaps.  It is so exciting to see it all come together.  Now I just need to figure out what to put on the existing shelves in the entertainment center.  I guess the answer is to look around and see what I love and what is part of the history of our family.