dancin' in the light of the shed

this weekend jesse finished the shed that he and his dad built last summer. for months it has been a dark cube of space that was both helpful and terrifying.

but NOW, after jesse wired it for electricity (all by HIMSELF!!!!), added a workbench, and brilliantly enlisted my old sewing space shelf castoffs, it is such a happy space of outdoorganization (eh, eh?). 

the way he was maximizing vertical space in there with stuff we already had around the house was almost indecent. he really knows how to push my buttons, lemme tell ya. there is now a place for EVERYTHING. dog food, fertilizer, saws, hammers, wood, everything. 

and what better place for a princess dance recital than an enclosed shed filled with blades, chemicals, and raw lumber?

i'm just as thrilled as layla because now jesse WANTS to be back there working on projects and building things. pinterest and i are willing and able to help him in that department.


on vulnerability

it's amazing to see how all-in kids are. how wholeheartedly they live. if we discipline layla, she immediately says, "you huht mah feelins!" its precious and humbling to know we have that power and to see her hand it over to us so readily.

but oh how quickly they learn. how quickly this effed up world teaches us to harden our hearts. judah, at almost 4, has already learned to put on armor and not show "weakness." if we spank him (because, yes, we spank) he has started to go, "that didnt hurt me," even if i can see that his little lip is trembling from the guilt and conflict.

i can remember learning the elementary school lessons of never let them see you cry, and just pretend like it doesnt bother you. granted, if someone calls you a doo-doo face, this is a pretty expedient way of dealing with the dummy booger head. i dont fault the teachers and parents who taught me these things at all and i know that those lessons will probably be part of our parenting in some form too--just to get our kids through those magical doo-doo face years.

and it makes sense. this world is not a safe place for a tender, innocent heart. but i wonder if this is one of those things-that-dont-make-sense that jesus wants to call our hearts to. 

but as i have grown and matured, i have regretted this lifelong practice--which has now become an instinct--of putting on emotional armor. it took several years of back-and-heart-breaking work in my marriage to realize that i wasnt actually a crazed rageaholic-anger-monster after all, but that anger had become the armor i used to hide the fact that jesse's actions or words hurt me. 

telling someone that they have hurt you gives them power. plain and simple. this is the essence of vulnerability. you are exposed because they now know HOW to hurt you. uh-doy. 

i had to learn that i can trust jesse 100%. when i hand him my squishy, fragile heart, he does actually have the power to squash it and pulverize me. but, yall he never ever does. because a broken and hurting wife is about 50 million times easier to love like christ does than a snarling rage-demon. uh-doy

here is how an interaction would go:

1. jesse would say or do something that would hurt my feelings (unintentionally because he's a boy, uh-doy), but INSTANTLY (before i even acknowledged in my own brain, "ouch that hurt") i would get angry. anger was my armor. 

2. in my head he would become the playground bully, so i couldnt give him the power of knowing that he had/could hurt me, so through my anger, i would  now have the upper hand by being the aggressor first.

3. my anger would catch him off guard and he would immediately throw up his own walls to protect himself from my salvo.

4. this defensiveness would seem to justify my anger (if he's defending he MUST be guilty) and we would carry on fighting about the aggression/defensiveness for hours and completely miss the little sneaky heart issue that sparked it all off. 

this method of escalation is insane and frustrating beyond belief and never (or only after 3 hours of teeth-gnashing and crying) gets to the heart of the matter...which IS the heart.

as i learned to slow down ask myself the question, "why the crap did that make me so angry?" i began to realize that it was HURT that i was really feeling, and not the ensuing anger. i had learned in my first 20 years to hide hurt so it had become a knee-jerk thing: feel hurt-->get angry. 

so i decided to slow down the process, to cut the fuse between the teensy spark and the powder keg. i told jesus that i had no hope of doing this through my own efforts and told him to step up and please make it happen in me (obviously he loves a good pep talk).

the first time i tried this with jesse was terrifying. saying "you hurt me" in a darwinian sense is stupid and a great way to not get your DNA passed on. animals come with all sorts of camouflage, behaviors and instincts to AVOID letting predators see their weak spots, and here i was broadcasting mine. soft white underbelly has never been such an apt phrase...

but jesse isnt a predator, he's a knight in shining armor. so instead of his walls going up to protect himself from the she-dragon, when he saw that i was actually a damsel in distress he immediately threw down the drawbridge and came riding out to rescue me.  it was tender yall. AND SO EFFECTIVE. and more than a little bit Aragorn Sexypants.

rather than talking about himself--the way you do when you are defending--he was able to come to where i was, address my wounds, and say, "oh my gosh, i hate that you are hurting, i completely didnt mean for that to happen. i am so sorry."  this was great because it always made me SO mad that he wasnt hearing MY problem first and addressing it before moving on to his stuff (his stuff being, "I DONT KNOW WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT!"). 

so thats where we've been for the past few years. it doesnt always go perfectly like that because there are scars and hurt on both sides of this marriage (jesus is like deep tissue massage a lot of times and he softens you by letting you be hurt and tended to by him), but it has brought us to SUCH a deep and real place where we dont feel like we have to walk around in a full set of plate and mail all the time, waiting for the other one to thrust and parry. (i read game of thrones...and i had coffee...sorry)

taking off armor has started to feel much more like taking off chains. living with my whole heart has made me so much less cold and shut down. dropping my pride and the facade of being bulletproof has been beautifully humbling and freeing.

since it worked so well in marriage, i have started trying to apply it to almost all of my relationships. observation #1: SCARY! holy moly. i know jesse dukes' entire story and trust him with my life...branching out to people who arent this intimate (even closest friends) is straight harrowing because they've probably never taken a vow to love and protect me the way that my husband has.

observation #2:  being vulnerable with unhealthy people (aka anyone, but specifically people who dont value maturity or chirst-like living) can be DANGEROUS. truth: i have gotten stomped a few times by doing this. and it hurt

but ever since i stopped making my priority "dont let them (or yourself) see your hurt" it's okay. crying stinks. and getting your heart broken is almost the worst. but at least i get to walk away from those moments knowing that i shared my real self and my real heart. RATHER than those interactions where youre like acting all cool and collected and just passive aggressively trying to back door zing one another. no one wins after those and you just walk away harboring poison for the other person that will eat you right up.

no matter how unhealthy the person i am dealing with, i am betting there are very few relationships where the other person cares so little for me that hearing, "i am feeling hurt by something you said/did" makes them salivate and want to go in for the kill. observation #3: if you hand someone your gelatinous, helpless heart and they--fully knowing that they can--stomp it, that is probably a relationship to get away from for now.

*disclaimer: there is a middle ground between "oh i never wanted you to be hurt," and "AVAST YE! I KILL YOU AND YOUR HEART!" where even well-intentioned, mature, jesus-loving people might not be ready to receive your vulnerability. in these instances, i just try to power through with, "i want you to hear me...this isnt about you, i am not saying you did something wrong, i am only talking about me and wanting to share with you where i am." it gets hard not to escalate or jump aboard the anger expressway when they dont get it immediately. stick with it. like playing dead with a grizzly. when they see youre not trying to fight, they usually stop trying to defend. either way...its not their fault.*

one of the first times that i decided to be vulnerable in a situation where i WANTED to be angry (outside of my marriage) was with one of my BFFs raechel. yes, it is weird at age 30 to be getting into "fights" with your friends (especially those that you met on the internet), but people are people and we are complex and i dont think there is anything to be ashamed of.

aaaaaanyway, we had been through some conversations where we both left feeling dinged up and un-cared for. my instinct was to just come after her and show her all the ways that she had done things wrong. but instead, we both decided to go to that mushy place and just share our hearts and where we were hurting.

it was HARD and it was pretty awkward at first, but it was AWESOME (that's what she said!...coffee). 

rather than one of us having to be declared wrong against some outside standard of right/wrong/rude we just got to care about each other. i decided to put my stuff down and really care for my hurting friend, and she did the same. it came to a point where arguing about the facts of what happened or what was said was irrelevant. because in the end, even if raechel 100% hallucinated it all (she didnt), she had still been hurt.

i had to decide that i cared way more about her heart (and sharing mine) than about being right. period (underlined, italicized and bolded...because yeah).

and thats really where i've landed on this thing. my whole life i have been fighting tooth and nail (and brass knuckles and sawed off shotgun) to be right. to feel vindicated and to feel justified. and it got me nowhere but stressed and frustrated and ANGRY.  when i stopped trying to be enough in some way where the judge in the courtroom rules in MY favor over others, i was able to just say, "here's where i am. how i'm broken. where i need love."  somehow me being up front with how jacked up and broken and breakable i am has given me the ability to love others and help them in their brokenness better. and the ability to say, "i probably did hurt you! i'm an emotional hot mess, after all!" 

its beautiful, but it makes no sense. it's backward jesus magic.

i'll never prove my way into god's grace by being more right than jesse or raechel or anyone. but i have his grace poured out and lavished on me when i say, "i am broken. i am hurting. i need to hand my heart over to YOU."

jesus is the model. he didnt care about being right. in fact, to the letter of the law, it often looked like he was wrong a lot of the time. he said again and again, "yall are missing it. its not about living up to some standard or being right. it's about your heart." he did the greatest thing in the history of all the things when he lost his trial, was declared wrong and then unhesitatingly gave us all his very heart. 

that's where i win. that's the only victory i am supposed to boast in or seek after. and it's his.  so is my heart, and he wants me to give it away no matter how it hurts. i'm working on it.


making room(s) volume two: when 1 becomes 3

i really wanted to wait until i had the entire project finished and looking sparkly before i posted this. but since we know dukes project completion timelines occur in either rightnowthisinstant or mostlyprobablynever categories, i figured it was safer to go ahead and reveal the room rather than waiting until it's perfect because no one may care by then and the internet might not even exist at that point. 

but youre not allowed to judge the incompleteness. that's my one demand for showing you this. i know it looks like that and will get to it. just give me grace and let me show you how it works before i make it pretty. mmkay?


-the problem: we have a tiny 3 bedroom house. these bedrooms consist of the master bedroom, judah's room, and layla's nursery.

-the breakfast area (ersatz dining room) was taken over by me as a sewing space when my business starting growing/paying the bills.

-the living room then by default became the play room, family room, AND dining room.

-i took over layla's nursery in february and made it our office space/studio and then added a mind-blowing accent wall.

that may seem like a lot of information, but it still left one vital piece out and many of you were pretty concerned that poor layla was out on the streets. rest assured, she is safe and sound, and snuggled happily in the pin that started our house-wide rearrangement.

for mostly all of 2012 we were feeling pretty bummed about our house. despite pouring a lot of DIY love into it and making huge improvements, we still felt we had outgrown our space. i was lustfully trolling zillow for bigger homes while knowing we could never sell our house in this market (note: this is unhealthy and leads to more house-hatred).

with all of the above mentioned space quandaries, it seemed like our options were to upgrade (fairly impossible), add on (financially implausible), or deal with it (yeah...thats what we did).

and then i spotted a pin from my friend kate (who needs space-saving ideas as she and her husband are missionaries living in a tiny flat in scotland) that changed everything. in that one instant i knew it was the key to getting  years more HAPPY use out of our little gem of a home until we move or expand.

it was like i had been playing Tetris for the past 2 years and my blocks had all piled up and were a wonky mess. and then, from on high, descends a new, never before seen piece that fits my pile of impossible JUST RIGHT and it solves everything.

i give you my tetris piece in pin form:

 this is a picture of the original pin

built-in bunk beds IN A CLOSET SPACE!

so you take two bedrooms worth of sleeping kids and sleeping furniture and you put them into one single closet.

in our case this was an unused and DETESTED closet that we never used because of its weird layout. it has one single door that opens (into the room, mind you, taking up floor space) onto a shallow (like 2 ft) wide space which is simultaneously about 8 feet wide. 

the 8 feet part sound awesome, but since you cant even access it due to the small opening and the shallow depth, it's kind of useless.

this was how we had it set up before judah was born. and after rescuing useful items from its depths when we realized its dysfunctionality we mostly just abandoned this space for his entire life.


SO the thought that this nightmare closet could become our saving grace was a little mind-boggling. but then again, "the stone the builders have rejected has become the capstone." yeah, the psalmist was mostly referring to jesus here, but maybe a little bit to this DIY project too? or is that blasphemy. if so, strike it from the record, please. i'm just saying...

i pitched the idea to jesse and he was instantly on board. that almost never happens, but the glaringly obvious utility and simplicity of the idea cannot be denied. even by husbands terrified of pinterest-wielding wives.

after about $30 worth of wood and maybe 2 hours of jesse tinkering, measuring, planning and building, it was done! (not like pretty and photo-worthy done, but functional and life-saving done...seriously dont judge the form, just the function)

OUR take on the pin. my feng shui lifesaver 

at first i was a little nervous about shoving my kids into coffin shaped sleeping quarters...would they feel degraded or abused? would people think i was awful? and then i remembered what it was like to be a kid and how much fun small, enclosed spaces are for them. especially ones that grownups cannot easily get into. 

a freaking NOOK was what i lived for as a little kid and this is what we have given them. as predicted, their tiny minds were blown.

we removed the door and chucked it in the attic because, you know, i dont need to be tempted to close off the 6th side of their nooks...ever...i just dont (i wouldnt sew the top of their sleeping bags closed, right?).  and unlike the original, we didnt have the width of double doors to utilize as a place to put a ladder. we didnt want to do any demo and widen the door at all, so to accommodate a climbing device we pushed the two sleeping platforms higher and built handholds into the weird triangular space on the far right at the foot of their beds to use as climbing aids.

so the kids get in their beds (judah is in the penthouse because of birthright, sexism...) by scurrying under the bottom bunk and over to the right, where their mattress platforms end and the handholds are secured to the walls. they climb up until they reach their desired level.

again...dont judge the unfinished-ness. but you CAN judge the fact that one of these was what judah cut himself on (shown in this post) because we didnt sand or paint these. lesson learned.

layla went straight from her crib into her custom made bed, so she got a guardrail. this makes tucking her in super uncomfy for us, but lord have mercy, if that's the worst part of all this, it's still so very worth it.

the "mattresses" are actually leftover foam from a cushion project we did. it fits snug as a bug and made me so happy to use "waste" in such a useful way.

so with both kids sleeping in the closet, the rest of the room was free of most of your typical bedroom furniture (except the one dresser that they share for their clothes which starred in this horrifying episode) and was wide open to become their play space!

all their toys, their craft table, their treehouse, their play kitchen...EVERYTHING kid-ish that drove me out of my mind sitting in and scattered around our otherwise grown-up living room is now contained in here. and it is magical.

its not the prettiest playroom or shared kids room ever...not yet. i will get to a place where the patched walls, old paint and non-decor bother me. that makeover and reveal will come. but i am not there yet. i am just reveling in and enjoying the mess out of the function of this room and the balance it has restored to our house.

heck, i bet we could even fit another kid in there. triple stack anyone?

just one tiny pin and we were able to make a girl's bedroom, and boy's bedroom and a playroom out of ONE existing room. 

i am so happy. call off the search for layla's sleeping quarters.

*i know i have left out something about these tricky tetris moves. feel free to ask any questions about the where/how/"but what did you do with the...?" aspects that i have forgotten in my bliss.


story time

do you like surprise endings? well, read on, because this story has a good one.

this is a true story. 

its the 80's: boy meets girl. they both love jesus. they are cute (well, 80's cute) and charming and they fall in love.

who ate sushi in the 80's!?!?! only the coolest of cats, yall (look at all the differnt button styles on that ONE shirt!)

they get married.

a tiny-waisted stevie nicks lookalike and her bearded groom!

two years after graduating college they have their first child--a boy-- in 1987. a little girl comes along two years later followed by a surprise baby boy 18 months after that.

necklaces are worn outside of turtlenecks and there are un-ironic mustaches. it was a different time.

a four year old rocking the turtleneck/blazer combo. swagger.

in the next 22 years this family raises these 3 kids. they model a christ-centered marriage and a kingdom life. they serve, they go, they give, they do, they serve some more, THEY LOVE. 

and then the kids all turn blonde spontaneously.

the family has their struggles but they all come out on the other side loving jesus and each other more.

yikes. awkward tween years are a perfect example of what this family has overcome (no worries- they all end up quite handsome)

told ya.

the oldest son graduates from college, marries a perfect ballerina and they have a little girl, the first grandchild, 2 years later.

this little branched-off family loves jesus madly.

i mean...

um, hi, are you kidding me? grandparents are NOT allowed to look like this.

the middle child, the girl, grows into a beautiful, magnetic, passionate young woman. she graduates college and decides to become children's minister. she meets the boy of her dreams. he is handsome and funny (and mind-bogglingly good at Ruzzle, dangit) and he loves jesus. they get married.

more proof that awkward teens make GORGEOUS adults.

at this couple's wedding, their parents get a spontaneous STANDING OVATION upon leaving the ceremony from all of the wedding guests because it is so clear the model they have laid down for this couple and how deeply rooted the new bride and groom are in christ already. (has that ever happened before in the history of the world!?!? )

this january, the surprise baby boy that our couple had back in 1991 turns 22. he is graduating from college and becoming a teacher. oh yeah, he loves jesus too.

still looking for that special lady...any takers? (hahaha sorry nick, this was the most representative picture)

these parents have raised their flock to adulthood. 

they have stewarded the hearts of the children that jesus entrusted to them and they have done a beautiful job. 

their kids' faiths have strong, independent legs that will stand wherever they go.  this family is rock solid and is one that we can all look up to and learn from.

on their recent 28th wedding anniversary.  and they lived happily ever after. their hard work of parenting is over...right?

by almost any standards of "good parenting", our couple should get a "great work! you did it. now go enjoy YOUR time!"

the end...
roll credits

except--bonus footage TWIST!--this couple gave their entire lives to jesus a long time ago, not just their 20's, 30's and 40's. so as long as they are living they are listening for his voice and following him. 

turns out when you follow jesus, he leads you straight to his children.

right around new years, this couple began to understand the next chapter jesus was leading them towards and they obeyed.

are you ready for this?

jesus told them that they had 3 more kids. 3 teenage kids currently living in an orphanage in the Ukraine.

these three kids:

sophia, natasha and ura

they are now deep into the process of adopting all three kids and becoming their forever parents.

do you get that? at 50, with 3 amazing adult children freshly raised, they are expecting again! 3 kidsteenagers! who dont speak any english!!

you may be tempted (by the minions of lord voldemort himself) to think, "so what? they already did 3 kids, what's 3 more?"

to you, dear lunatic, i say *face slap* because you are clearly a hysterical drunk who doesnt realize how hard parenting even ONE child is, and the relief that comes with getting each child to a new level of independence and the sheer terror of going BACK and giving up a single fingernail of freedom that you have fought for (do you sense my personal feelings coming through?).

these two people, ann and greg creighton, are mentors to me and jesse. they are ministers, caretakers and idols to our kids. they are our close friends and they are our brother and sister in christ.

yall, they are my heroes (despite their unfortunate collegiate affiliations).

so here's where we get to be a part of this story. 

as probably everyone knows, any adoption (or parenting venture!) is expensive and scary. it can be overwhelming and filled with pitfalls and brokenness.

now multiply that by three.

as their friends and as fellow members of the creighton's chuch (church with a little c, as in the building we meet in) we are standing behind them and this path jesus has called them to. we are saying "you are not alone" and promising to walk the road with them.

but we the Church (capital C...as in the body of christ) can help on a way bigger scale. because jesus was pretty clear about taking care of orphans, and this is a beautiful way to be his hands and feet rightnowtoday (even if youre not sure about jesus yet...i think we can agree that a loving family and home is preferable to an orphanage).

here are 3 things you can be a part of:

1. PRAY. for the creightons, for natasha, ura (pronounced yuri) and sophia.  for the paperwork, the hearts, the communities. PRAY. you can learn more about the specific needs of everyone and updates on the creighton's adoption blog and their twitter account.

2. make a donation right now! towards the out-of-pocket-costs of the adoption (over $40,000!). no limits, no strings, and 97.1% of the donation goes to the adoption (the other 2.9% goes to paypal).

3. come out and meet the family at a special fundraiser concert that jesse is leading! it is this saturday and you can donate and buy shirts that evening.

4. buy an adoption t-shirt!  SOLD OUT! you guys, i designed these (braggy, yes) and for only the second time in my life didnt use microsoft word as my design platform. for such an idiot, i think they're kind of spiffy sweet.

the design is the word LOVE superimposed over a map of the Ukraine with its flag colors. there is also a tiny heart over the city where the kids' orphanage is (Kherson). the back is an acrostic of the word LOVE inside of a bible verse (idea stolen --in love--from this family's adoption shirt).

 modeled by the big sister to be!

the shirts are the softee cotton blend type that are all the rage (NOT the ultra thick beefy tees) and are a beautiful charcoal grey. 

i know internet stuff can be sketchy...so let me say loud and clear that i put my name, my blog and my own integrity behind the legitimacy of this adoption, this family and this fundraiser.

i have given to adoption fund raisers in the past through weird bloggy friend-of-friend connections, to strangers or even just to be entered in a giveaway. no matter how "random" the family was when i first learned of them, i still feel connected to these families and those adopted children in a really special way that i never expected-- even years later. 

i hope you will choose to support the creightons and be blessed by a similar connection!

under normal circumstances i would not advocate trusting people in a picture like this. but in this case, i can personally vouch for (and make fun of) them.

feel free to tweet, facebook, pin, share, carrier pigeon or just yell about this adoption/post/funraiser/family. the louder the better.

let's bring the rest of this family HOME!

because we were orphans too when He adopted us.  and because with jesus, happily ever after becomes happier ever after.

any further questions about this process, the shirts, etc. can be directed to me or stephanie (the kids' future big sister, our children's minister, and a BFF of mine)  at putapuredukes (at) gmail (dot) com or stephanieanndavis20 (at) gmail (dot) com.


you are more beautiful than you think

i needed this today.

these past 2 days i have felt like i was being crushed under a two-ton pile of stinking garbage telling me how not good enough i am.

in my job, as a wife, as a mom, as a friend, on the scale and in the mirror. 

and then my friend emily posts this on facebook.

and of course my heart takes it even farther to what jesus' description of me might sound like.

what a beautiful illustration from dove of how brutal we are to ourselves as women. on the lies we've been told and sold.


gone but not forgotten...

...as in me from my blog but hopefully not your hearts?

just popping in super speedylike to 'splain myself and my absence.

here is my 5-pronged excuse for my blog silence this entire week.

i have been:

1. being inspired by the spring  like BANANASFOSTERTHECRAZYPEOPLE. yall the projects abound. sometimes i have to give myself a timeout to breathe and make a list because i will just start spinning in dizzying circles of creativity and end up making an immediate transition to the astral plane.

new firepit! the old one was our first ever pin project but we were sad to realize that the stones we got had a lip and therefore didnt lay flush. this was not pleasing to my OCD brain. well this year we cannibalized the firepit for a garden wall and got new flat stones that are gray and so lovely it's criminal

2. taking care of this chick. she has had 4 or 5 ear infections in the past 3 months. we are probably going to be getting her tubes. the thought of that is dizzying in a whole other way. my baby in a tiny hospital gown (albeit for a miraculous and pretty harmless procedure)?!?! i cant even cope.

 also: a mega black eye from her big brother swinging a plastic 9-iron. sweet lil bruiser looks so tough with this

3. getting a spray tan from mother nature. unfortunately, instead of "sunkissed" she set her nozzle to "jaundiced" instead because the yellow is inescapable. it's beyond gross, even if you dont have the allergies that come with the pollen (i do). i mean do the trees think that my sinuses/cars/patio/life  are ovulating so they need to spray as much of their reproductive material in and on them as possible to ensure the proliferation of their species?!?! why are they so spermy!?!?!

i had thrown a doormat onto our walkway to sweep and when i moved it 2 days later this was the difference:

so much yellow. the good news: it just vigorously downpoured and i got to watch the rain wash a lot of it away.

4. getting ready to host these jokers!
 it's a RaeKeightion!...plus kids and husbands. so excited to have these pretty faces in my clutches...or something less threatening.

5. aaaaand laughing nonstop at this little gem. i love him just so much.

i hope these reasons are somewhat palliative to whatever angst (doubt it) youve been experiencing due to my absence.


p.s. one last chance to enter for a $100 visa card! here


the bone i picked

the wall project in the office that i teased you with a glimspe of is all finished (actually it has been for about 2 months...i am forgetful and a poor sharer! forgive me?) and i am in hard luuuuurve with it.

so now i give you my sexagonal, vaulted-ceiling, herringbone accent wall of glory:

it makes me happy-happy with a hint of dizzy too. so glad we chose the wall that our backs face while we are sewing/working. your brain tends to try to slip into crosseyed-ville if you look at it too long.

i need to get some stuff on the wall to break up the mind-swirl that it is now. a chic, sexy, perfect mind-swirl...but nevertheless. needs stuff.

 so much tape was used to create these ladders climbing up to graphic heaven.

 this was ALL the paint i had left over. a quart was perfect.

pulling off tape is always very pleasurable. but with this mammoth project, this last pull deserved its own photo. the feeling i had here was nothing short of sublime.

 did i just give you vertigo? sharing the wealth, yall.

i am a happy girl.

as you can see in the margins above, we still havent done much of anything to the other 3 walls. right now i am thinking a cool mint or a cheery coral...but i just dont know.  

also wondering if these pics are enough or if a real tutorial is needed on how we did this.

i saw herring fish fillets at the store the other day and i reached down and thanked the little guys for their anatomical inspiration. 

in conclusion: schwing.

dont forget to enter the boudreaux giveaway. somebody is getting a $100 visa giftcard soon!


backyard birdwatching

my favorite species to spy in their natural habitats are these two strange birds

only truly enlightened pirates understand the importance of lawn maintenance

judah shows the octopus who is boss (10>8) but he feels conflicted about it


change of plan(t)s...

naturally, we managed to fail before we even started.

i'm referring to the garden. you know, the one where all we have planted so far is delusions.

well after a thoroughly charming tsunami of impulsivity and sunk costs, i spiraled into sickening regret and denial.

we were NOT going to be able to do this.

the fencing-in of an area to keep the garden safe from the dogs alone was going to be a HUGE undertaking. and that didnt even address the garden itself and all the awesome points yall brought up last time about soil and toil and money and HARD and such.

as i sat dejectedly pouting at my hubris jesse came to the rescue. let's keep in mind that he begs me not to do these things. he sees this coming. but i am like a hopeless addict when one of these inspiration attacks grabs hold of me. i cant hear my sweet husband pleading for rationality and patience and i plunge forward.

(jesus is working on this with me.)

so jesse gets one million gold doubloons for being the agent of my rescue when he could totally choose to just be captain of the USS I Told You So.

he said: lets just do a few raised beds instead.

ahhhhhhh, sweet relief. and like a kid who hasnt planned adequately on his magna-doodle, my downward spiral immediately hit a wall and was finished prematurely.

so on with his day off my husband (while fasting for easter!) built us 4 beautiful raised beds on the humans-only side of the fence. it is in a totally unused,neglected, and raw area of the yard.

when i got home we set about the toil of weed protecting them and filling them up with nice dirt.

not everyone's attitude was immediately eased by the new plan

 layla and chopper look on in concern as judah amps up the drama

 oh the injustice...of something.

oh its funny now...

i call this face "im trying to still be upset but my heart isnt in it."

 meanwhile layla uses the ladderballs to choreograph her circus routine. like you do...

 *insert circus music here* 

dee dee deedle deedle dee dee dee dee...

polka dot, polka dot, polka dot afro!

 layla in her element (as in the element from captain planet..earth!)  as clifford snuggles chopper's hindquarters.

 as you may have noticed, judah's mood is inversely related to the amount of clothing he is wearing. a quick recovery was on hand when we let him go nakie-digging

 all the best summiting moments in history involve underoos

we attempted to leverage their willingness to work in the dirt and have them haul their wagon along with our wheelbarrow:

 this lasted about one half of a wagonfull before they got wise and returned to progress-blocking.

at about 8 pm i finally felt the crushing hunger and decided we were too dirty to go inside to eat and too hungry to cook ourselves. we opted for a pizza picnic which was beyond sublime 
...except for that moment when i said to jesse as i opened the steaming box, "is there anything better than hot fresh pizza when youre starving?" and he replied, "um, being able to eat it would be nice." i had forgotten his fast. oh, but i felt bad, yall.

 here's someone who has never fasted, i assure you. couldnotlovehermore

and here's some awesome progress on the sprouts i bought WAAAAAAAAy too early:

yeah. i'm awesome.

so it snowed one day last week and the day before i was being a good plant mommy and covered up the seedlings with black plastic. well i forgot to remove it the next (sunny) day and even though it was freezing, the sun still scorched the mess out of EVERYTHING above the soil. je deteste myself.

hopefully, since the roots were nice and un-singed, these will grow new healthy leaves (somebody tell me if that is likely or not) if i keep watering and sunning them appropriately. 

so here we are. about 160 sq feet of raised beds in 4 little rectangles, weed-shielded and filled with high quality soil.

we nixed a few of the plants we had planned for that are super cheap in the store (carrots, corn, onions, watermelon) and focused more on those that we eat a lot and can get pricey (tomatoes, okra, peppers)

we added in sunflowers, bay laurel, marigolds and cucumbers as well. 

is this right? my planting robot does not tell me how much of anything to expect upon harvest (assuming everything turns out) and i dont know if i am going to literally end up with ONE cucumber or what.  the triangular parts point northeast, for the record. and every square is one square foot. 

what's my most important next step? 

you people were RIGHT ON with all of your attempts to talk me off the ledge (ever so gently) before and hearing your words in my ears did eventually manage to rein this in before it got completely out of hand, so i am turning to you now for more wisdom.

this is hard.