Welcome to my home

Kitchen After

I’ve shown you around a bit over the years. We bought our house in 2012 (April 21, actually: HBD house!) and this past fall we completed our last over haul of a space inside. First we finished our basement and added a functional bathroom down there. Next we lived in the basement while the main floor was brought to the studs and rebuilt (save for the kitchen), lastly … we finished the kitchen and added a mudroom (which was originally a 3 season porch).

This is what I saw the first time I walked into our house when it was listed:
first showing

I loved it. There was counter space and for the age of the home – there was a lot of space. Sure there was carpet in what was supposed to be the dining room, and paneling every where. We had cedar shingles in. our. kitchen. And a hole in the roof that was once a skylight. And carpet on the walls, and no shower upstairs and, later we discovered that our master bedroom was the previous owners laundry room at one point … it had it’s quirks.

This is that same view from above.
Kitchen After
Kitchen After

It still has it’s quirks. We have plywood floors and an exposed beam in the middle of our house.

Kitchen After

Anyway – here’s some of the before and after shots of our main floor. Specifically our kitchen/living/dining area.

BEFORE: Entrance off the 3 season porch, built-in hutch, breakfast nook, this is what was supposed to be a dining room (we think) under the light fixture.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Entrance off the (now) mudroom, behind those hanging doors (painted with chalk paint) is our pantry and hidden toaster oven, our island with storage. We removed a large wall in the middle of this big room where our tiny little fridge was built in, otherwise it was closet space … makes the whole space feel more open.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking in FROM the entrance off the 3 season porch into the living room. A fireplace, skylight, lots of paneling and carpet and a wall dividing spaces.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Looking in FROM the entrance off the (now) mudroom into the living room. We replaced the fireplace with french doors leading out to a new deck off the house. Wall is gone, more open concept space. No more hole in the ceiling!

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into the kitchen you can see the breakfast nook, our fridge built into the wall and a hallway with lots of openings – looking towards our front door and the front room.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Looking into the kitchen, wall is gone and fridge is now next to the stove (we swapped the stove and dishwasher when we remodeled), no more little corridors as a hallway. We reconfigured the bathroom in size and a bit in location to make room for a closet in our master bedroom. We also exposed the chimney and made a doorway off of the “front room” (now office) to our bedroom. By doing this we eliminated wasted square footage that was just a labyrinth of walls and doors and passage ways.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into what WAS a second bedroom on the main floor in the original blueprints of the house (previous owners did an addition on the home and eliminated this bedroom as a part of that … it’s now part of our bathroom and part of our dining area) you see built-ins! So many, you guys. More doors and little hallways, and that wall we removed. Also, all the carpet.

progress shots of house May 2012

AFTER: Our dining area with a wine cabinet built-in with some shelves, no more wall! And less little doorways and hallways.

Kitchen After

Small pivot, same room:
Kitchen After

Different angle:
Kitchen After

And looking opposite into the space: You can see the french doors here.
Kitchen After

BEFORE: Looking into the wall that we removed.

Main floor living room

AFTER: Looking into the rest of the house once the wall was removed.

Kitchen After

BEFORE: Here’s a fun shot of after we painted the original cabinets and took the cedar shingles off the bulkhead. Baby-steps towards our finale. Looking from all those little doorway/hallways into the kitchen/would-be dining space and breakfast nook. Built-ins and all the carpet.

Kitchen

AFTER: Looking into the kitchen, hidden pantry behind chalkboard barn doors, and the island.

Kitchen After

This side of the island is exposed for cookbook and glassware/platter storage. I store props for photography here now but they double as usable items in my kitchen. This entire island is a constant work in progress as a storage solution.
Kitchen After

I think we covered all the major views of the kitchen, here’s a few detail shots and different angles of the space. We love it, I mean it’s a house and a kitchen but we live life around the table in community with each other and others so this space is our most used. It feels good to come home, just like it felt good to have one four years ago. I’m constantly thankful for the way this turned out. For the patience it took, for the planning and waiting.

Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
Kitchen After
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Kitchen After

Keepsakes, this ones for her.

It’s beginning to look a lot like summer …

Watermelon!
Watermelon!
Watermelon!
Watermelon!
Watermelon!

I took the kids to the store after school today to pick out a snack. This watermelon fell into my basket, too. While Oliver was outside playing with his neighborhood friends, Jessica and I got to work on cutting this beauty up. She likes the rinds and I love the therapy of chopping. Once we were done and I saw the discarded pile of scraps as we were both eagerly digging in to the fruit – I had to capture the color, the light, her little hand sneaking pieces.

I wasn’t very good at keeping baby books for my kids and I’m even worse at printing photos for keepsakes for them. But I remember each little flower, dandelion, weed she brings to me. And today she didn’t bring me anything but she has no idea that she gave me everything.

Our table is a sacred space for our family, as is our evenings – we are very protective over how we spend time away from the table. Because she’s 11. He’s almost eight. And when I wake up every morning the first image I see is of their 20 month old smiles waiting for me behind crib slats. That nano second before you’re lucid when you’re laying there, she giggles and asks for Daddy while he flirts and smiles and reaches for me.

It goes so fast, heartbreakingly fast. And today was the first watermelon of a beautiful new season.

Red light, Green light

I have .7345 minutes to get this out of my head and onto paper. So this will be quick.

Lately I feel as though all the anxiety I could experience about any given situation has woken up. As in, HI. I HAVE COME BACK, REMEMBER ME? The stuff of crippling ineptitude to move in any direction. I can’t even slenk backwards, I’m paralyzed with indecision so I stand still. And it’s not an active stop, where waiting is the active searching for the next step – it’s literally the halt.

Right there.

In your tracks.

No moving.

Freeze!

I find it interesting that this is where I am, no longer looking for certain purpose in my work or my time but instead divided by how to use my time WITH my purpose. I’m aware of distractions and oftentimes I’m trying to either quiet them or dislodge them so I can stay focused except for now. Right now. Now I can’t decide.

Have you ever felt this way? It’s not even a crossroads – it’s inevitable. Change, movement – it’s all coming. It is going to happen and I am aware of the shift but I can’t keep my feet on both sides of the fault line. I have to step firmly into the unknown. I have to let go of the comfort, embrace the out of control, and often awkwardness of the search within the journey, and I have to feel like an adolescent who hasn’t grown into their limbs just yet. Proof that I will one day be able to use them to their full potential.

It’s just the in-between of learning how to run while clumsily shuffling through the hallways seems to be the only way to cross said line. And I keep looking down to make sure my shoes are tied so I won’t trip.

Learning to tie.

But I keep falling anyways.

I don’t want to ever forget this

On the way to youth group this week Jessica says, Someone got their period at school today.

And ok, I know this isn’t what you’ve come to expect here. It’s just, the things they say! Also, parenting.

I let her talk and Oliver got more and more curious. “What’s that?” I let him know it’s something called puberty and it happens to boys and girls, at different ages and in different ways. That was enough for him until he asked for more. “What’s a period, exactly, Mom?”

“When a girl releases an egg. It happens once a month.” (Keeping the nitty gritty out of it, because, 7 year old.) Which automatically led to: GIRLS LAY EGGS?

And you guys, there was no stopping it.

We had the sex talk.

I said things like, you know how you have those two balls under your penis? Girls have two sacks inside their bodies that hold all the eggs! And the boy has to give the girl a “seed”.

He is staring blankly at me at this point. And I’m running with the garden theory because my mouth keeps opening and words keep falling out of it.

He stops me and says, I don’t really understand what you’re telling me. How does a boy give a girl a seed for a garden?

AND OH MY GOSH I TOLD HIM BOYS HAVE TO PUT THEIR PENIS INSIDE THE GIRL TO LET THE SEED OUT.

I have undone all coherent parenting up until this point.

I keep digging the hole, trying to explain my way around this conversation without Aaron. Somehow the explanation came to a conclusion and he just looked at me and said … “ok.”

Complete silence follows.

I am freaking out. I said things like, this is probably weird to think about now but some day you’ll enjoy this thing called Sex and it’s not just for making babies or “gardens” to grow … it’s for fun! And it’s beautiful. And and and……

He scrunched his face up and looked at me, “I didn’t understand anything you told me” and “That’s just really awkward to think about.” He was mortified. I talked about God’s plan and how our bodies were made. I did all the things while still trying to interject that our bodies are so cool! And someday you’ll understand! Also, sex is neat!

But currently I think he’s internalizing how to get over the fact that if he wants to be a dad someday (and he very much does) that he’ll have to use his penis and those magic little balls to build a garden out of invisible seed and somehow he’ll have to transplant that garden to a floating, microscopic egg that just happens to be inside a girl.

And can we really get on board with that?

No. No we cannot.

Clearly I’m done here. #dropsmic

(PS. Hey buddy. Someday when you read this you will be embarrassed that I wrote this and then published it on the Internet. I apologize. You are a class act. I just remember how different this conversation was with Jessica. How prepared dad and I were to sit down and talk about this. We practiced saying words like vagina and penis and sperm and then vagina some more so it would be natural, like we were talking about arms and legs. Just a piece of our bodies! Nothing shameful or weird to see here. We still don’t know what we’re doing as parents. This situation is proof positive that we’re trying our hardest to give you the information you not only need and want; but also to arm you with the correct information for you (and Jessica) to be able to make important decisions about your bodies and love and relationships. And mainly, about respecting yourself while also respecting other people at the same time. Clearly you’re both too young for such decisions, but you also live in a world where you, especially, are bombarded with images and expectations of what love should look like, act like, feel like. The horror of it all (for me) is that mostly you’re being told that love and sex and our bodies are commodities that we can freely exchange for empty feelings with no consequences.

When you were 3 you stuffed a sticker in your ear and it got stuck (sticky side in) to your ear drum. We had to take you in to the ENT and we had one last try to get it out before they were going to have to put you under. Dad and I were with you, you were afraid. We held your hands and I put my face right next to yours so I could hear what you were trying to say. There were these huge crocodile tears sitting in your eyes that you wouldn’t let go of and when I bent down to listen you were saying, over and over again, But I’m not brave! I’m not brave!

You were terrified and in pain and your mom and dad were there to protect you and keep you safe and in all of that, you refused to cry because somewhere along the line you picked up that you needed to be strong (and not cry or be afraid) in order to be brave. You were three. I was already crying but I started sobbing then, right there with the ENT, as he pulled the sticker out of your ear. As your dad held your little hand and cried too. And I wasn’t crying because I was afraid. I was crying because my beautiful son, who was nothing but brave in my eyes, who was vibrant and such an open little soul, who was strong and surprisingly intelligent, thought he had something to prove as a three-year old laying on an out-patient operating table with lights beaming down on him and all kinds of scary and new things going on.

I wanted to take you away from this world where you weren’t allowed to be honest with your feelings or curious about how they worked. I wanted to protect you from ever feeling less than brave and strong and mighty. I wanted to give you the confidence I saw in you and I wanted to keep you little so I would always be there to help you feel brave when you didn’t know how.

Every night when I put you to bed I started telling you, “I love your brave heart, your kind hands, and your beautiful mind”, like a lullaby of wishes to wash over you. If I believed it and whispered it in your ear enough, maybe when the time came you would believe it, too.

Sex is brave. Respecting sex is brave. Someday, you’re going to have to be brave like this. You’re going to have to make counter-intuitive decisions and more than anything I know you’re this brand of brave.

I want you to have the logistical facts but I also want you to be informed about the choices you have. This is touchy for me because of how I approached sex and my body, with amazing fear and complete condemnation. There are certain risks involved, and it is better to wait for a committed relationship (I’ll go ahead and say it: marriage) but you know what? Our bodies are human too. So here’s the facts … no matter what I love your brave heart, your kind hands, and your beautiful mind.

Love,
Mom)

I hope you’re not looking at me

I’ve learned that I let fear control a lot of what I allow myself to do. My expectations always over-promise and under-deliver, so I stay little. Quiet. I stay silent, mostly.

Chicago Feb 2016

I used to think I took too many photos; why was I creating such a large footprint of things that would otherwise be forgotten, un-tagged, never recognizable?

Chicago Feb 2016

I sometimes feel like a voyerisitic photographer, wanting to capture facial expressions that aren’t saying ‘cheese’, and hands working without anyone noticing. There’s a poetry in the motion of the way we work that I can’t look away from.

Chicago Feb 2016

Chicago Feb 2016

Chicago Feb 2016

Chicago Feb 2016

Chicago Feb 2016

I found a way to keep a record of how I see the world, of how I want to remember it. Daring and with more than meets the eye. Reckless, seductive, deeply meaningful, breathtakingly beautiful. Quiet and still. Safe.

Chicago Feb 2016

Chicago Feb 2016

I’ve been embarrassed about this (you see if fear is controlling me, embarrassment is harassing me).

Chicago Feb 2016

So, I hope you’re not looking at me.
Because I can see right through you.