Thursday, December 27, 2012

On Joy

"What brings you the most joy these days?"

It's a beautiful question, I think.

Perhaps you've heard or read about people who keep Gratitude lists - lists of all the things, people, and moments for which they are thankful.  Thankfulness and gratefulness are good things, but more often than not, they need words.  It's hard to be thankful for something without consciously naming it.  On the other hand, for me at least, joy needs no words.  

Joy is that heart-full feeling when rays of sunshine streak through the clouds; it's that gladness when I witness a sweet self-sacrifice from one of my children for another's benefit.  Joy is that wordless praise that fills my heart when no words are possible.  Joy is the ability to sing at the top of my lungs the words of the song "Glory to God" along with Handel's Young Messiah...while tears are streaming down my face and I'm choking on sobs.

"What brings you the most joy these days?"

It was a question asked in a not-very-joyful situation, from a father in rapidly failing health to his daughter shortly before he died.  Although her blog post about his rapid decline and death is four years old, I read the story again a few days ago with new eyes and a new understanding, and that question has been with me ever since.

"What brings you the most joy these days?"

Two Saturdays before Christmas, my dad was admitted to the hospital.  He was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a cancer of the bones' plasma cells) in August 2010, and the most recent round of aggressive chemotherapy has been harder on his body than any of us expected.  He's still in the hospital, and the end of his stay is not yet in sight.

We are thankful that he's being cared for by the professionals.
We are grateful that it's not worse than it is.
But there's nothing that can top the joy of knowing that God is in control.

No matter what.


...Once we give ourselves up to God, shall we attempt to get hold
of what can never belong to us -- tomorrow? Our lives are His,
our times in His hand, He is Lord over what will happen,
never mind what may happen...

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business.

-- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep A Quiet Heart

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


(I crack myself up...Nut2012shell = 2012 in a nutshell...Get it?!?  Alright.  Moving on.)

There are at least 476 reasons why I have fallen off the blogging wagon, posting pictures infrequently and writing thoughtful, even more infrequently.  I won't bother listing all my reasons for you because they'll bore you and exhaust me; I'll just give you a quick peek into the last year and pretend I've stayed caught up all along.

In February, we visited both sets of grandparents.

March saw a major increase in our "pet count" when we got chickens!  We started with 15, and we're down to 13...and holding steady.

In April we started work on the chicken coop and run.  That was back-breaking work, and I'm tired all over again just thinking about it.  Sometime in April (or was it earlier?), all three girls started riding horses once a week through a program at our local Christian Camp.

Projects outside around the property kept us busy for most of May, along with a memorable trip to the dentist. 

With the girls' Horse Encounters taking a break over the summer, June and July were packed full of flag football practices and games for Isaak.  (HE can't wait until football season comes around again this year.  ME, not so much.)  And all four kids are looking forward to a repeat next July of a week of Day Camp, also at our local Christian Camp. 

Also in July, we started the monstrous project that was (and is) refinishing, resealing, and cleaning up the outside of the log house.  THAT only kept us busy for part of July, all of August and September, and most of October.

We started our new school year in first year of (formally) teaching all four kids, and in October all three girls started piano lessons weekly and Horse Encounters again every other week.

November was full of visits to and from family and friends, and December flew by.  I'm not even really sure where it went!

And now I'll do my best to crawl back onto the blogging wagon...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reading Record: November

It wasn't a very productive month, but 
Northanger Abbey was entertaining,
The 13 Clocks was cleverly funny,
and Made in America was intriguing, although from a liberal, evolutionary point of view (but was not a keeper).
I enjoyed reading Joni again,
Ten Tortured Words was an interesting read,
Friend Within the Gates proved Edith Cavell both human and worthy of admiration,
and The Father Brown Omnibus...well, I love Chesterton's writing, I love his Father Brown, and I learn something new every time I read these stories.

Friday, December 7, 2012

An Empty Living Room

After three straight weekends filled with guests, our living room is looking (and feeling) a little empty today.

Our first weekend guest of the month didn't do much to fill our living room,
but he helped fill the house with music!
(He's a drummer...)

Our second set of guests in November didn't take up much room either, 
but we loved having Mike's parents here with us over Thanksgiving weekend.

Our third wave of company finally made our living room feel full almost to overflowing.
My parents came up from Oregon, and my brother's family drove over from Montana.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a good enough hiding place for them, so my brother and his wife took my adorable nephews home with them.

I'm sure I'll forgive them someday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reading Record: October

It was a very GOOD month.

Yes, there are 15 books in that pile, which is fun, but I'm calling it a good month because I really enjoyed every single book in the pile.

Even though I cried my way through four of them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Chicken Whisperer...With A Side of Ham

The chickens love this girl! 

They run to her...

...and will follow her anywhere!

Welcoming Fall In My Entryway

I bought this (cheap but sturdy) cabinet at Goodwill this summer so we could have a place next to the front door for sitting to pull on boots.  The doors hide grown-up work boots and off-season throw blankets.

For the summer months, I piled my Peruvian bright striped pillows in front.

 We call this the "boot basket", although it holds the kids' tennis shoes too.
I thought the basket looked summery enough on its own, so we left it bare.

The trees are finally starting to change colors around us, and the Fall weather has started,
so we started bringing Fall inside too.

My only rule for decorating as the seasons change:
"Use only what we already have around the house" ...
aka "Spend no money."

I wrapped the boot basket with a textured piece of fabric
and secured it with two pieces of twill tape tied together. 

I moved the bright striped pillows to the back and covered them with another piece of fabric, then piled the brown pillows in front with a green wool one that I borrowed from my bedroom.  Isaak helped me choose some branches off a tree in our front yard, and we stuck them in a bottle that we rescued from the recycle bin.

And my pumpkin pillow?
Why, yes, it is just an old orange cashmere sweater stuffed with a pillow!  

I tied the sleeves together at the top and stuffed the ends inside, then wrapped a brown washcloth around the knot for a stem.  Then I borrowed a scrap of felted green cashmere from my daughters' craft supplies, tucked it in next to the knot, and called it a leaf.

Fall has officially arrived in my entryway!

Not-So-School Desks

Months ago (and months and months...) I picked up these two mis-matched old school desks at a thrift store.  I brought them home with the idea that they would get incorporated into a really neat little area in our attic; a writing nook with bookshelves and cozy reading spots.

Unfortunately, that area still only exists in my imagination, so they moved from the truck straight into the garage.

And sat there for months.

Then one day last month, since I was already wearing painting clothes, I dragged them out of the garage, cleaned them off, and prepped the one I wanted to paint.

I papered and taped all the wood to protect it from over-spray, shooed away the cats and the kids, and went to work.

One can of black spray paint and a few minutes later, I had an almost matching set of desks!

When the paint was dry, the desks moved...

back into the garage.

Last week, I finally had a chance to work inside, and I created a spot for them on our landing.
My two oldest daughters promptly claimed them and filled them with paper, notebooks, pencils, and dozens of unfinished stories.

It's not the cozy little nook in the attic that I'd imagined,
but it'll do for now!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Almost...But Not Quite...Done!

Not so very long ago (although it sure feels like it!), 
our house looked like this:
It was less "log house" and more of a "brown-house-with-bumpy-walls" kind of look.

Now, after a very busy, labor intensive summer,
it looks more like this:
A lot more of an "Oh look, a log house!" kind of look.

Although it looks done, it's not really, because I'm still spending insane amounts of time doing this:
masking and then sealing the checks in the logs.

But we're almost...just not quite...done!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

And Then...

 While Mike sealed around the windows and doors,

and put up trim,

 I went around behind him masking and caulking all the trim,

 and then I stained and sealed it.

Tomorrow I will finish sealing the last of the logs and trim along the front of the house, 
and then I can concentrate on sealing more checks.

(Not to mention all the other big projects that are left on the list...sigh.)

Just for fun:

This is what you get when you give Macey a camera and ask her to try to get a picture of the paintbrush in action.
Not exactly what I had in mind, but artistic, nonetheless!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Last Week

After the borate solution dried, we washed the logs to prep them for staining,

Mike got the staining done on three sides of the house
(he's still working on the front because we had to order more stain),

the log ends were sealed,

we applied sealer over the stain,

I filled in and sealed all of the butt joints,

and for the rest of my life a few more weeks I will be filling in checks (aka cracks) in the logs.

If you don't hear from me for a while, either my fingers are covered in goop and I can't type or I'm curled up in a chair with aching muscles and can't get up...except to go to bed!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Last Five Weeks

Since July 24 we've been doing a lot of:

trim board removal
(and old nest removal from behind them...birds, bees, yellow jackets, and mice),

paint stripper application,

pressure washing
(aka paint and old finish removal),


(application of borate solution using a sprayer...that's borating, right?),

and the never-ending chore of removing old caulking from between the logs.

Wait, did I mention the never-ending chore of removing old caulking from between the logs?
Oh, I did?

Never mind then, I won't mention it again.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

W.A.R. Has Been Declared

I've been doing some rearranging around here lately, so I set my Scrabble letter "WELCOME" sign in the laundry room so it wouldn't get lost in the shuffle.  

A few days later I noticed that the "M" had disappeared.
I thought it had just gotten bumped, and that it would turn up in a laundry basket or something.

I held on to my delusions until we found a partially eaten tomato on our kitchen counter...which led to the discovery that the "E" and the "C" were missing from my kitchen "RECIPES" display.

Do the missing letters spell for you what they spell for me?

So I bought these: 

The first night I set three traps, and two were...effective, to put it politely.
But I still kept a close eye on that letter "I" in the kitchen (and a baited trap nearby), just in case the intelligent speller had not been caught in a trap already.

Apparently I was watching the "I" too closely, because last night the rest of my "WELCOME" letters disappeared.

(I checked with the humans in the household, just in case someone was playing a joke on me.
They weren't.)

I'm baiting the rest of the traps, and I'm wondering if I should stick with peanut butter for bait, or if maybe I should switch to this:

Think it would work?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

For the Love of Eggs: Part 5

The chicken coop, as it was, wasn't quite how we imagined a chicken coop should look.
So after some research Mike built some nest boxes, (which we call the Chicken Hotel),

and he added a few places for the chickens to roost.

This week, after all the time and money we've spent caring for the chickens, they finally started earning their keep!

On Monday, we found three eggs.
Tuesday, we got one more.
So far today, we've found two.

And all but one of them have been found on a shelf in the barn on a pile of plastic bags.

 Silly chickens.
(Glass eggs to plant in the nesting boxes have been added to my shopping list...)