Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Week Two Edition

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Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life
Every Thursday at
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Week Two at The Vicarage and all is...well?  Yeah, I think so.  Pretty much.  For the most part.

The dog is regressing in ways that don't bear repeating.  Let's just say she is now spending her days in doggy prison, tied to a tree, and there's a large metal crate coming that is going to change her life and ours.  She seems to have forgotten all of the house training she's ever learned and is blissful in her belief that the entire house is her lavatory.

I guess it does bear repeating.  Sorry.  Just be glad you're not here.

Also, we discovered last night that we have bats.  Actually, I discovered it when one fluttered PAST MY HEAD while I was playing Lego Lord of the Rings on the Wii in the basement last night.  I am not afraid of bats but I did scream like the girl I am when I saw it flying past me.  I thought it was a moth with glandular problem at first.  And, weirdly enough, that thought scared me more than it being a bat!

But enough complaining!  This is a post about contentment!  Let's be content!


And Happy!  After a recent conversation with a friend concerning the wonders of soft boiled eggs (due in part to the necessitous use of egg cups, which, let's face it, are inherently adorable) I nearly tripped over these in HomeGoods.  A set of six for $3!  Tell me that wasn't Providential!  Aren't they adorable?

It made me even more happy when Calvin saw them and said, "Oh, cool!  Egg cups! Just like Poirot!"  Did I tell you that Hercule Poirot is one of his heroes?  He was tied with Sherlock Holmes for a while but then Calvin found out about Mr. Holmes' drug problem and he dropped him flat in favor of M. Poirot and his aperitifs and tisanes.

Now this, this is the perfect soft-boiled egg, n'est-ce pas?  Is it not pretty?  But of course!

Coincidentally (or, rather, also Providentially), I wandered into TJ Maxx this week looking for a shower curtain when I stumbled across a small display of Le Creuset, my latest fixation.  This visit was a revelation to me as 1) I had never actually been in a TJ Maxx before (I thought they only sold clothing) 2) I did not know they sold Le Creuset at discounted prices.  I snapped up this little darling at 50% off!  I've already made cottage pie and roast asparagus in her (not at the same time--ew)!

She joins the Dutch oven I got for my birthday last year and the kettle I got for Christmas.  For some reason, we've begun naming the Le Creuset.  I don't really know why.  Redheaded Snippet started it when she spontaneously christened the Dutch Oven, "Leslie."  Then the kettle became, "Leticia."  We haven't named the casserole because I think we've realized we're reaching levels of crazy that make even us think twice.


This is a (poor) photo of our new library.  It's a hard room to photograph.  Especially when you're trying to avoid the considerable pile of boxes in the corner and the bad dog lounging on the carpet.

It's taken us a little while to figure out what to call this room.  We tried "office," and "spare room," but neither stuck and since it has the built in shelves and we're used to having a room we call "the library" as that's what we called the tiny, glorified landing in the old house that we used as a classroom and inadequate study room, The Library it is.  What makes me happy about it, aside from the fact that it's an additional room in which to keep the computer, desk, all of our household files, books, games, photo albums, AND a daybed for guests, is that the bottom shelves hold my Grandfather's entire record collection.

Grandaddy was a classical music buff.  He gave me my first introduction to good music and in addition to taking me to Philly to hear symphonies, operettas and recitals, he would play his records for me.  He would tell me about each piece and its composer and, as a younger child, I didn't really listen.  But as I got older and began my musical training and developing a love for it myself, we would discuss music a bit.

He died when I was fifteen.  Before I entered college as a music student and before I began my operatic vocal training.  He never got to hear me sing the soprano aria in The Messiah or the part of Yum-Yum in The Mikado (two of his favourites).  But I was thinking of him the entire time I sang them.  In fact, almost every time I sing, I think of him.

He was meticulous about his records.  No one was allowed to be walking around when the record player was in use.  He wouldn't even take a record off of the shelf until everyone was seated and still.  No one was allowed to touch them.  He never even touched them, at least not bare-handed!  He had a special cloth that he used and wiped each record down before and after he played it.  And he handled them like they were made of glass.  It was rather funny and irritating when I was a kid but now those records are in excellent condition and I was so excited when I acquired them almost 15 years ago.

Sadly, I never had room to display them so they ignominiously stashed in plastic bins in our basement.  I hated them being down there.  A few years ago, The Vicar got a record player for Christmas (a fancy one that not only plays your records but also converts them to some kind of computer file--he knows, I don't).  He began bringing the bins up, one at a time, and playing them while converting the files so we did get to enjoy some of them, but I wanted them to be on display.

And now they are!  I was so excited when I discovered that there was just enough room for all of the records!  There's actually a little room leftover!  Once I get things a lot more settled around here I intend to categorize and organize them so they're easier to use  but that is indeed a project for another day.  For now, it's enough that they're out in the open once again.  I think Grandaddy would be so pleased.


This is the new faucet I chose for the new kitchen.  I figured if I couldn't go retro, I may as well go commercial.  I actually love it.  I'm not sure that bar is intended as a dish-towel rack, but that's how I use it!  But that's not what's funny about this photo.  Look a little, I'll help...

Yes, that is the disembodied head of Dwight Shrute.  This was in a box of "stuff" The Vicar brought home when he cleaned out his desk at his old job.  I don't know the office hijinks surrounding it, but Calvin found that it fits perfectly on the faucet handle.  And there it remains.  We may leave it there forever, I don't know.  It amuses the menfolk and I do like to have little jolts of unexpected whimsy here and there.


And, finally, a shot of Real.  We've made rather good progress on every other room in the house except for the living room, the most formal room in the house and the first one you see when you walk in the door!  And it still looks a mess! my defense...we are waiting for new furniture and a rug.  We have a set coming from The Vicar's parents and I can't go and pick out a rug until I see the colors and decide on window treatments and figure out end tables and on and on and on.  We are slowly unpacking or moving boxes out of this room, but many of them are full of things that are supposed to go in this room so there's only so much we can do.

*Sigh*  Oh well, I guess it's to be expected two weeks after a move.  I just wish we had some way to hide it or could speed the process up a bit.  But all in all, I'd say we are very happy in the new house and are more than contented.

Have you found contentment this week?  Why don't you link up and join us?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Stellar First Week (and by "stellar" I mean in that way that could only happen to me)!

Happy Snowy Monday, everyone!

Is it snowing where you are?  If you're in the upper part of the US, either it is or it just has, apparently.  It's snowing here and, for once, I'm not entirely thrilled about it.

Don't get me wrong, I still love snow, but I had made my peace with the fact that we just were not going to have a lovely, halting snowstorm this Winter.  I had accepted it and had moved on, ready to welcome Spring with her warm (but not too warm) sunshine, green grass, flowers and breezes through windows.  I even dug out my springtime decor and made a mental note to pack away the flannels next week.

And now it's snowing.  That tree stands just outside the library window.  It it covered with pretty, little, pink buds.  Just yesterday I was sighing with anticipation, imagining how beautiful it's going to look in a few weeks.  I hope this weather doesn't ruin it.


Anyway, the desperate need for a mammoth laundry endeavor has made itself known today and, here in The Vicarage, the laundry room is right next to the library where we have the computer so I can easily blog or troll Pinterest or harass various sisters on Facebook while waiting for the machines to cycle.

And so I will tell you about our first full week in The Vicarage.  In short, it has been generally wonderful with a smattering of annoyance and, yes, even embarrassment.  Things are going so well and we are enjoying living here so much we've taken to calling this place The Magic House.  Not very imaginative, I know, but I've found it's hard to be imaginative when you are exhausted and sore.  For, despite its wonders and blessings, this week has felt a bit like a sentence to a week's hard labor.  I don't think I have ever worked so hard in my life, both mentally and physically.

I don't know what their problem is, they've hardly done anything!  On a side note, I had always thought I would hate having a carpet this color.  I always imagined it would always look filthy, no matter how clean it was.  Perversely, I have found the opposite to be true.  This is the only carpeted room in The Vicarage and it always (so far, in just a week's time) looks cleaner than any of the hardwood or tile floors elsewhere.  I guess it helps having a carpet that is the exact same color as the copious amounts of hair your dog sheds when she's blowing coat.

And there's my decorating tip of the year: buy carpets to match your pets.  And then never walk around in socks.  TRUST ME.

But, like I said, this week has been good.  As you can see from the photo above, of Redheaded Snippet's pretty (and not at all blinding as I had feared) aqua room still burdened with boxes, we're still unpacking.  We're still having those moments of, "Where's the dustpan/alarm clock/salad spinner/dish towels?"  We're still using paper plates and plastic cups occasionally.  And I'm still arranging and rearranging my kitchen for maximum efficiency.

Ta-Da!  My shocking green bathroom!  Trust me, this photo by no means does justice to how startling this color is.  The first time anyone sees it (including each one of us), the first reaction is, simply, "Whoa."  But then everyone seems to like it.  At least we all do and perhaps everyone else is just lying to us.  Calvin calls it Wake-Up Green.  I've got great plans for toile window treatments and black hand towels and blahdiblahdiblah.

But I've promised you highlights.  And highlights you shall have.

First: I can safely tell you, now that the problem has been resolved, that Calvin has had trouble falling asleep in a room by himself for quite a while now.  He was embarrassed to have such an issue, being the big boy that he is, but he doesn't come by it strangely.  Both my mother and I have battled insomnia and fear of falling asleep for years.  We just kept praying for him and with him and assuring him God would help him find a way to cope with it.

From the first night in The Magic House, Calvin has slept in his own room.  He hasn't always slept well or long, but he's been in his own room without complaining.  And we didn't even have to coax him to do it.  I'm sure it is largely attributed to the fact that we decided to allow Nutmeg to sleep in his room.  But I don't care.  He feels so grown up and mature and I, for one, completely agree with him!

Second, we've been enjoying the proximity to the church that living in The Vicarage allows.  We were somewhat apprehensive about that and I'm sure that, at some point down the road, it will be a nuisance at times.  But, for now, it's been delightful.  We have several friends in our church and it's been nice to have them stop in here and there when they've had to be at the church anyway.  And we're very much enjoying spending more time with our new "neighbors," our friends, the youth pastor and his wife, who live on the property on the other side of the church building.

Third, lastly, and humorously, the thing we will probably remember most vividly about this first week is Nutmeg's Palm Sunday shenanigans.  She has had a bit of a harder time adjusting to the move.  Which is understandable, I suppose.  In her bewilderment, she has become a lot more attached to The Vicar.  In her eyes, the sun has always risen and set on him but, lately, she's been anxious whenever he's not around.

She has always done this weird thing whenever anyone in the family leaves the house by any means other than a car.  If any one of us (well, maybe not me, as I don't think she's particularly attached to me personally and I rarely do what I'm about to describe) goes for a walk or bike ride, she goes berserk.  If The Vicar or the kids leave in a car, she's fine.  But if they walk away, she whines and cries at the windows, or at the fence if she's outside, until they come back.

(Stay with me here, this has a point) Now, being that The Vicarage is literally, though barely, attached to the church building, on Sunday we simply walk out the door and walk to church.  Yesterday, The Vicar departed first for the early service and Nutmeg commenced her usual "HE WALKED AWAY WHERE IS HE GOING I DON'T UNDERSTAND" histrionics.  I asked Calvin to take her out on the leash in hopes of lessening our risk of an out-of-control "potty" accident and went back to getting ready for church.

It wasn't until the last song of the late service was about to begin that Calvin leaned over and whispered to me that Nutmeg had gotten away from him during walkies.  I rolled my eyes.  And then he added that she had pooped on the sidewalk!  Right in front of the church entrance!  Right before the start of the most crowded service!  On Palm Sunday!  AND HE HAD NOT CLEANED IT UP!

So then, of course, our fellow congregants, in addition to having to step over a pile of dog doo when they were entering church, were treated, when they exited the church, to the sight of the new Music Pastor's son bent over in front of the entrance with napkins and a ziptop bag, gingerly picking up aforementioned doo.  Not the spectacle they expected to witness in front of the church on Palm Sunday, I can tell you!  I bet they can't wait to see what we scare up for Easter! My sister, Dharma, is betting it's a mangled ground hog in a puddle of vomit.  Happy Easter!

Thus ends our First Week.  And hopefully things will calm down enough so that we can focus on Holy Week.  I confess, I've been shamefully distracted and keep forgetting about Lent.  I think this is where Lenten observances become more difficult when you're doing it on your own and not corporately (our church does not observe Lent formally--to my disappointment).  But, I keep reminding myself of my mother's saying: "God is always more interested in the motives of your heart than in your actions."  And I find that especially comforting and humbling during Lent.

A blessed Holy Week to you all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real (ok, really, just Pretty and Happy): Bundle of Joy Edition!

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life
Every Thursday at
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Greetings from The Vicarage!

That's right, we're all moved in!  Not all unpacked, mind, but moved in.  It's been exhausting, to say the least, but it really has gone as smoothly as could be expected!

I had a special Vicarage Debut edition planned for today but our computer connection is one thing that is not running smoothly.  We're having all kinds of issues that I cannot understand.  All I know is I have limited access and so the debut will have to wait.


I've got something even better to show you!

Are you ready?

For cuteness and joy?


Pretty Happy!
Meet my new niece, Dharma and Vance's third miracle baby!  She doesn't have a nickname yet as I have yet to meet her in person (BOO).  But she was born on Saturday and by all accounts is the sweetest little thing.

The proud Biggest Sister!  Mom said she kept repeating, "I know this isn't a dream!"  She's just in awe of her and I'm sure will be a big, big help to her mama.

Rosebud is now a Big Sister, too!  I hear she was reluctant to hold her new baby sister at first, but with Papa's help, she came around.  Look at that smile!

Perhaps you don't know that Dharma and Vance suffered through years of childlessness and tragic loss before God began blessing them with the children they have now.  We see all of our babies as miracles, but their three are even more so because the best scientific and medical minds told them they would never have them.  What a beautiful statement of God's sovereignty, grace, mercy and power!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Cottage Farewell Edition

round button chicken
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life
Every Thursday at Like Mother, Like Daughter

This has been the week of lasts.  We're moving on Saturday (IN TWO DAYS) and so we've been painfully aware of all we are leaving behind and ticking off the last things as they fly by.

The last birthday party.
The last family dinner.
The last sleepover.
The last lullabye of the tree frogs.
The last swing on the rope swing.
The last arrival of the daffodils.

And as the time narrows down, things like the last load of laundry, the last use of the oven (sob--oh Mrs. C!), the last stripping of the beds, the last changing of the toilet paper roll...

We're even mourning things we didn't even particularly like.  The last run to our particular grocery store.  The last trash night.  The last Saturday morning being awoken by the incessant barking of the dog down the street.  The last scrubbing of the toilets.

But, getting back to the point: this is the last time I will be blogging from The Cottage at Wits' End.  Next time we meet, I will be a vicar's wife, blogging from Wits' End Vicarage.  Who knows when that will even be?  We're planning on changing from our ancient PC to a laptop so who knows how long that transition will take?  Then there's getting things unpacked and the desk set up...sigh...the tasks ahead seem monumental.

I'm keeping the address here.  At least for now.  I don't think I have enough traffic to warrant tackling that just yet.  Maybe if things take off after we're settled and I finally have time to get back to my old blogging schedule, but for now I'll just leave things as they are for the most part.

That being said, I've managed to find some contentment midst the chaos and tears this week.


With all the packing going on, pretty has been a little difficult to come by.  But this is the color of the bathroom in the new house.  I feel like I should be focusing on the cottage for this last PHFR and thus feel like I'm being a bit unfaithful by posting this.  But all of the changes we've made to the cottage have been or the benefit of our tenants and are just so hopelessly beige.  I can't in good conscience post pictures of all of the beige and try to pass them off as pretty.  It just isn't in me.


Meet Calvin's birthday present.  He turned 12 last week (and I didn't even create a blog post celebrating him or anything--bad Mommy) and got what he declared his best present ever, a guinea pig of his very own to moosh and pinch and love.  This is Isabella Poopenschmirtz.  If you know Phineas and Ferb, you probably know where her name comes from.  Calvin is a big, big fan (as you can probably tell).

Izzy is our second pig.  Redheaded Snippet already has her sweet Bessie Moo and the two of them have already provided hours of entertainment and affection.  They're becoming known as Messie Bessie and Dizzy Izzy.  Guinea pigs are surprisingly (at least to me) nice pets.  They're docile and playful (at least the ones we have) and are more interactive and social than other rodents.  The pigs will sit on your chest and nuzzle you or take a little nap and they seem to know their owners.  Rats, mice, hamsters or gerbils don't usually do that.  And maybe my kids are just really on the ball about cleaning their cages or something but the mess and smell really are negligible.  These pets are Mom Approved.


Calvin strikes again.  He got ANOTHER Lego kit for his birthday--Star Wars this time.  One of the things he loves doing is completely ignoring the instructions and striking out on his own, making modifications and improvements.  For example, this is Anakin's hair on Ben Kenobi.  And, apparently, that makes CHUCK NORRIS.


Our house is looking more and more bare as we have the luxury of being able to move things into the vicarage whenever we can get a load together.  And the dining room has becoming the main transporter room.  What you see here is the last of the boxes waiting to go before we begin transporting furniture.  And poor Redheaded Snippet who still has to do homework even though her world is turning upside down.  This is right after she had finished sorting and packing her entire life into boxes.  Inexplicably, her room was the first to be finished.

Well, that's all from the Cottage.  Here's to years of happy blogging from the Vicarage!

Until then...