Sunday, July 28, 2013

Painting: ya win some, ya lose some…

At the beginning of the summer when I surveyed the weeks ahead they divided logically into 4 parts:

  • 1.5 weeks in Utah
  • 5.5 weeks at home
  • 2 weeks in Utah
  • 2.5 weeks with Jason

From the beginning I targeted the time at home in the middle for some hard, hard work.  Essentially the rest of the moving that we could never manage when we moved into our house during the school year.  My fantasy all along was that if I accomplished enough (unpacking boxes, organizing the sewing room, etc) during the first 4 weeks then while the girls were at camp during the 5th week I would paint their room.  Happily I was able to pretty much stick to my planned schedule and this was the week to paint.  In addition to the girl’s room I needed to paint the entry where the walls had to be repaired and retextured after the mirrors came down and the half bath which also had newly textured walls, and I wanted to paint the laundry room which was a dark reddish/terra cotta color. 

Here are my projects, from least to most successful.


First up: the half bathroom (or as the realtor called it, the powder room)

In North Carolina I had the most beautiful bathroom ever.  My super talented sister Laila had painted it to look like the view from our favorite NC beachhouse on the most beautiful day ever.  And then she added a lighthouse behind the door just for fun.  We LOVED it.  Everyone did.  Needing to use the bathroom was never such a good experience as in our beach bathroom.  I think it broke our painter friend’s heart just a little bit to paint over it when we were getting ready to sell the house.  (It’s really hard to take a picture in such a tiny space so please bear with my patchwork effort.)


Laila has promised that one day when she don’t have twin toddlers anymore she will come to Oregon and paint a new bathroom for me.  But in the meantime I’m on my own.  I had dreamed the idea of a gradual color change on my bathroom walls and I searched and found an idea that looked good on the internet. 

I am very sad to say…after spending hours painting primer on to the highly textured walls, when I tried the technique from the internet the results were less than pleasing.  In fact it made me claustrophobic when I walked into the bathroom.


And of course this was the room with the most edges—it’s shaped like half of an H and has a dropped ceiling in one section.  It was a total pain.  In the end I was so distressed by what I had created that I primed and then painted white over the middle part.


Later I will change the bottom paint color just a little and I think I might put a narrow chair rail between the blue & white.  But for now…it will just have to stay strange. 

(When I listen to something while working on a project I have very strong associations afterwards.  In fact once I made these cute outfits for Cindy Lynn and Jason when they were little and every time I ever put them in those clothes I remembered the scary book on tape I had listened to!  This bathroom will forever more be the Steve Jobs bathroom because I listened to a documentary about him while painting.  Fascinating guy.)


Next up: the laundry room

Originally the laundry room was a color I didn’t care for…quite a bit darker than this picture shows and very blah.


It is small enough that I thought I could paint it fairly easily.  First I painted on 2 layers of primer—figuring if I covered up that dark color better my paint would go on better.


Once again I decided to try a ombre painting technique I saw on the internet.  At first I was distressed that it wasn’t going to work, but after tweaking the technique a little I ended up with something I can live with.  In retrospect I wish I’d gone with a palette that was more blue than green…and I reserve the right to change it one day if I want. 


(the laundry room’s audio memory will be the recent church leadership broadcast about missionary work…not a bad memory to have every time I go in the laundry room!)


First project & definitely the best

When I decided that I wanted to paint the girl’s room I realized that their comforters were really old and had been washed a few times too often.  We searched frantically for a few days and finally found some on that were cute, affordable, and had good reviews.  I ordered them a few weeks ago so that we could talk paint colors. 

The girls decided that they wanted their previously tan walls to be lime green, raspberry, and aqua.  Not kidding.  So we moved everything into the center of the room and as soon as they were out the door to girl’s camp I went to work.  When I was done painting I decided that we were going to unbunk the beds just to see if they really wanted it that way.  I put all of their stuff in a laundry basket and then made the beds with the new bedding & arranged everything nice & neat(ish).


When the girls got home and went upstairs I heard shrieks of surprise and delight. 

We’re still not sure about some of the furniture in there, but for the time being this is how we’re going to leave it.  It makes me happy to have such a fun room for my almost teenage girls!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


One of our favorite things about the girl’s best friend Olivia is that her dad is a pilot.  Which means that he can fly with her out here to Oregon for a visit from time to time.  We were lucky enough to have her come for 10 days before the girls left for girls camp this summer.  The girls spent their days taking walks, playing tennis, and laughing a lot. 


One afternoon I took them to Sky High where they had a lot of fun photo-bombing when I tried to take pictures.


We convinced the girls that we needed to take Olivia to the coast one day so that she could say she’d seen it.  It was in the 80’s in Hillsboro, but when we pulled into Canon Beach it was only 61 degrees!  Jacket weather for sure!


We were there at the perfect time of day and were so lucky to see lots and lots of sea life.DSC_7765DSC_7685DSC_7722DSC_7729DSC_7756DSC_7716

It was a perfect afternoon, even if it was a little chilly.


The girls were all so sad when it was time for Olivia to fly back to North Carolina!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Mortal Overlay
(more thoughts on "the right light")

Many years ago (when I was 15 weeks pregnant with the triplets, to be exact) I went out to Utah for girl's night and to go to the BYU Women's Conference.  The speaker I was most excited to hear at the women's conference was Stephen Robinson, the author of "Believing Christ," a book that had been important in my life.  I was so determined to hear Br. Robinson speak that my sister Margaret and I sat in the lobby (on the floor--ouch!) through the class beforehand to be sure that we would be able to get into the auditorium where Br. Robinson would be speaking.

The format of most classes at the BYU Women's Conference is that there are 2 speakers in every one hour session.  Usually they are speaking on the same or similar topics, but (as we were to find out) their approach is usually different.

Br. Robinson was the 2nd speaker in this hour.  The first speaker was a woman a background in some kind of social work or psychiatry.  I have no idea.  I wasn't too interested in what she had to say because as far as I was concerned, she was just filling time until the main (Stephen Robinson) event. 

Stephen Robinson was really wonderful.  He spoke about the Savior's determination to save us and our need to use his help instead of doing it on our own.  If I remember correctly, he said that this life is like we've fallen into a deep well and the Savior is the ladder that is the only way we can get out--that we can't do it on our own, or even do most of it on our own and then turn to the Savior for help.

That's about all I remember of Stephen Robinson 13 years later--vague and hazy in my mind.

But I have never forgotten something the other speaker said. 

She taught about something called the "mortal overlay."  She said that each of us have a spirit that is bright & clear, like a brilliant light bulb.  She explained that the experiences of mortality sometimes put a covering like a lamp shade over part of our bright light.  Different experiences each contribute their part of the cover.  In my mind I remember thinking--oh, it's like a Tiffany lamp shade.  In some places we have a dark overlay over our light, in other places a lighter one. These pieces obscure our real self and let only a part of us shine through.

I can't tell you how many times I've thought about the concept of the mortal overlay in the intervening years.  (How ironic!) I have needed that reminder that underneath each mortal overlay is a child of God, of infinite worth and beauty.  I have not always done a good job of honoring that understanding.  I have come to understand that some issues (traumatic life experiences, mental challenges) hide a person's light more thoroughly than others, that some lights peek through dimly while others shine more freely.  I try to remember that what I see is not all that is there. And it is definitely a work in progress...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Growing Up


A few weeks ago Jared went to scout camp.  A very cool camp on the Puget Sound where they got to go rowing and jump off a 20 foot high dock. 

scout camp

It was strange to have him gone for a whole week—he has a definite role in our home and it was different without him.  He said he was a little bit homesick.  I missed him too.

scout camp 3

This morning at 8:00 (ok, pretty soon after 8:00) I took my girls over to the church, helped them unload their stuff, hugged them goodbye and told them to have fun at girl’s camp, then drove away.  My house will be quieter without them this week.  I worry about sending them off.  Will they have fun?  Will they be kind to each other?  Will other people be kind to them?  Will they make more/better friends? 


I’m getting all of these little messages all of the time that things are changing.  We’re on the verge of a whole new time in our lives.  We have kids who don’t need us all the time.  Kids who want to do their own thing just as often as they want to hang out with us.  (Kids that are frequently hormonal.)


These three have been such a delight for the last 9.5 years.  Hopefully that part won’t change.  But I think a lot of other things will…


PS—I’m super thankful that we took our awesome trip together last year…I have the feeling that this year wouldn’t be the same.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Currently blooming in my yard

We are enjoying the fact that there is such a long flowering season here in Oregon—starting with the bulbs in the early spring, still going strong with the roses and various annuals & perennials now.  Here’s a sampling of what’s blooming in our yard right now.  (Besides tomato & squash blossoms.)


And here’s a funny one.  I promise—I planted the plant from one pot here.  But this is what’s grown.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

The right light


[All pictures real and completely unenhanced except for cropping.]


I’ve noticed something interesting as I’ve tried to take pictures of hummingbirds at the feeder outside my bedroom. 

Sometimes a hummingbird will look all normal and mostly brown.


But then, if he turns just right and the sun peeks out from behind the clouds a little, you see that you were wrong and he is not mostly brown.  There is something kind of interesting and cool about him.


Do you see that?  Parts of him are bright red!  And immediately he becomes far more interesting because you have seen this coloration.

And then, just as you’re becoming used to the idea of him as not just your run of the mill plain regular hummingbird, he turns just right, and the sun shines just right, and


Holy Cow!  Hummingbird on Fire!!

And you wonder how it was that you could have not seen that before, how you ever could have missed that brilliance and thought of him as plain and regular.

You come to the conclusion that it must be something about the light shining just right on him that enables you to see his true beauty, and you feel blessed to have seen it.


It occurred to me this morning as I was sitting here watching another hummingbird, noticing that I could see bright glints of color around his neck even though I don’t have  my glasses on and can’t see really clearly, that this is very much like real life.  How many times do I see a person and think they are ‘just’ normal and plain, mostly brown.  But the truth of the matter is, and I know this in my soul but sometimes it has a hard time registering in my brain, that there are no ‘just normal’ people.  Everyone is magnificent and brilliant in some way…even if the sun isn’t shining on them perfectly so that I can see it right now.  

The challenge for me is to do a better job being true to this knowledge as I interact with people every day…

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship… All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal…
          C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Change of Venue

In the last couple of months I have developed the habit of reading my scriptures each morning in my bedroom, sitting comfortably in the corner on my favorite blue chair.  (Just barely seen in the picture below…but I am too lazy to go take another picture even though I should because Jenna washed the doors.)  I love the serenity of my bedroom, the light coming in from the french doors, the birds cautiously feeding from the circle feeder, the bamboo above the fence, and most of all the occasional hummingbird that stops by for a sip of sugar water.


What I haven’t loved about it is that if I spend any length of time at all on my scriptures, that added to my other daily chores (make bed, work on laundry, shower, etc) means that I am spending a good chunk of time away from the center of our house & my kids.  Yesterday as I was sitting comfortably after my scripture study was done another thought occurred to me.

I know what I’m doing in my bedroom.  I’m reading & studying the scriptures, writing down the thoughts that the spirit brings to my mind.  But I realized that my kids don’t really know what I’m doing, or they know it in only some abstract kind of way.

You know how you hear those stories of kids walking into their parent’s bedrooms and finding one of their parents on their knees praying?  Well…I don’t know that that has ever happened in our home.  But I would love for our kids have a similar experience seeing that I don’t just tell them to read the scriptures, but that I spend a significant (though variable) amount of time reading my own. 

I decided that in order for my kids to internalize more deeply “my mother loved to study the scriptures” they need to see that more regularly.  And I declared a change of venue.

I’m moving from the cushy corner of my bedroom to the dining room table.  Out in the middle of whatever is going on, out where I can be seen.


I’ll be able to enjoy the view of what I call the “tomato forest” just outside the dining room windows.


And I will still be able to see hummingbirds.


Perhaps best of all…Tiger won’t sit at my door begging to be let in…



PS—If you are thinking that you aren’t seeing a set of the LDS scriptures in that picture above, you are right.  Much of the time I do my Book of Mormon study using the fabulous & amazing “Readers Edition of the Book of Mormon” complied by Grant Hardy and available here.  It has truly changed my comprehension to be able to read the words of the Book of Mormon in paragraphs instead of in block sentences.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I told you so!

It is not very often that I get the satisfaction of saying I Told You So.  Especially not so quickly.  But seriously, people, I TOLD YOU SO!

Remember when I said that I was concerned about my neighbor’s bamboo, worried that it would come into my back yard? 


Not only did Josh have to dig out another bamboo shoot with it’s own rhizome (this makes 4 separate rhizomes coming under that corner of the garage), something else happened. 

Josh has been scraping the fence, trying to get rid of the bubbled or peeling paint so that he can repaint and protect the wood from the fierce ravages of 8 months of rain in our not-too-distant-future. 


He was showing me what he had done, and I saw something that didn’t look right. 


So I looked closer.


Do you see what I see?  That new bamboo shoot is growing THROUGH the fence.  From the other side.

Now—I saw our neighbor Scott out in the driveway the next day washing one of his fleet of sports cars.  (I am not kidding.  He just bought a new corvette.  He has a vintage Porsche in the garage.  And he has several more in storage.  Though he did decide to sell one now that he bought the new corvette.  But I digress.)  I told him about the fence busting bamboo and he invited me into his backyard to see what was going on.  But we could see nothing.

These fences are double sided fences.  His side looks just like mine (except that it’s not the same color as mine, which is the same color as my house) and there is apparently a small amount of space between them.

Space that is now occupied by an entire bamboo shoot.

Which as of this morning is now taller than the bamboo that was already there—meaning that it has grown at least 2 feet since July 12th when I took those pictures.  Time to figure out how to get rid of that shoot!

(Evidence that the fence was shoot free on June 26th right here.)