Friday, September 30, 2016

The Man Cave project: update

I have to admit the Man Cave is looking better than the house put together.

Dennis recently added a tinted epoxy to the floor. It looks great, and really brings out the wood.

He even gave the old fridge a makeover.
Yep, covered that in wood too.

Now he can put meat and beer and whatever it is that Cavemen eat.
He was joking around about putting a TV in his Man Cave too. Or at least, I think he was joking. He knows that might be pushing it a bit.
But thinking a little bit more on it, I guess even though the thought of a TV being in the Man Cave makes me a little uncomfortable (wondering if he will always be in there and never come out again), it also makes me uncomfortable about being the one to object. Makes me feel like I'm his mother or something. I know I have to exercise a little bit of trust, and if he does end up spending too much time in there and not enough with his family, then I can speak up. Never stopped me before.
I've also been thinking that he just sold his boat to help things out here with the family. And though he keeps saying that it's ok, I know that there's some hurt there.
He has a birthday coming up...I bet you can't guess what I'm going to surprise him with.
I hope I don't regret it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Little things

I'm doing little things in preparation for the girls room. Normally I would blog about every little thing I do, but this time I'm doing it a little different. This time, I'm going to do it all at once and give them a big reveal. :-)

So far, we have a door for the girls room. I'm in the middle of painting it and I always chafe at how long it takes. (Paint one side, let dry, flip and paint the other side, let dry, repeat.) Then of course, there is the trim as well. The door isn't part of the big reveal though.

Dennis hung the door temporarily to get the frame in and we realized that the door was a little too long and wouldn't open and close properly. So for three days, the girls got to keep their door, even though it didn't yet have a doorknob and didn't close. But hey, at least it didn't have a hole in it!

Now the door is off the hinges while I paint it white and the girls are back to no door again. But it won't be for long.

I'm also painting the chair rail that was in their room with a fresh coat of white. This picture doesn't do it justice. It's covering up all the marks and dirty fingerprints.

The chair rail originally hung
Not much to celebrate, I know, but I have been excited to even get this far. Next week, I hope that the girls will at least have a functional door.

In the meantime, what I have gathered together so far:

A chalkboard that will hopefully be used as an organizer.

A mason jar and blue flower that will decorate their desk.

I plan to install a (high) shelf of these cute glass figurines. I got them at Hobby Lobby for 60% off. I should have gotten more but I was still questioning if I made the right move in buying something so fragile. I'm going to get a few more with the girls favorite animals. Dolphins are one of Lucy's favorites.

I love this sign, and it's true--about ten or twenty years down the road, haha.

Some Catholic "girl power" inspiration! I love St.Maria Goretti, and I hope one day the girls will too. I don't remember what website I got this from, but if you google St.Maria Goretti posters, you will find it.

One blue throw pillow. (I plan to get more in different colors.)

And last, but not least, purple tulle. I'm sure you are thinking that blue is the main color here, but it's not. The girls have chosen a dark purple as their room color, but because it would be too dark, I am painting only one wall dark purple and the rest white with a purple undertone. The curtains will be white as well, with the purple tulle as tie-backs.

And as you have now guessed, blue is the accent color--also one of Lucy's favorite colors, and Anna is devoted to pink and purple.

The girls know nothing of what I have bought and I'm not sure they would get too excited over it even if they saw it now. Once it's all together, hopefully it will make some sense.

Still to get:

desk chairs
and possible even a special light with a bit of glimmer to it! The girls are only little for so long, right?

I am so excited to give this to them. They have been very patient living in a room with no door, no privacy, stripped walls and drabbiness. It's taking me some time to get it all together but when it does..

it will be great.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We are going anyway

This past week has been a tough week. My husband sold his boat and our church canceled Family Adoration.

The boat thing--it is not mine but I am sad--so sad--to see it go. Those were family memories in that boat; fishing trips, Father's Days. It was Dennis way of getting out of the house, his source of "clean fun", a chance to get together with friends, taking family out on boat rides. I cried buckets of tears the day he sold his boat but I never let him see. I don't know why.

The same week, our church canceled Family Adoration.

This was the only program our church had for families. Of course, there are other programs--good programs too--but they aren't for families. It was the right decision because no one was going. No one but one family, and that was us.

When we first started going, there were a few families going faithfully. Then it dwindled down to two or three. Then just two, and finally one--ours. We went for a year, being the only ones to show up, and let me tell you, there is nothing more lonely than showing up to pray with others and no one is there. Ever.

Our priest knew it was important to me and the kids, and so we held out for a year. But it became pointless. Why bother the priest to come to the church for just one family?

A vote was taking among those who would come sporadically throughout the year and everyone voted to cancel family adoration. This too, I cried for a few days, but I didn't let anyone see. Have you ever hurt so bad that you don't want people to know? It's a strange thing. I think I was just worried that if someone misunderstood my fragile feelings and said the wrong thing that I just wouldn't be able to take it.

I won't lie, I am disappointed. I know there will be other programs, other boats, new chapters in our life. But it is hard waiting in the in-between times.

And then I found on Facebook this meme being passed around:

I wanted to pass this onto my priest and say, "See? We do need family adoration!" But that would be silly, because he kept it going as long as he could and it's not his fault that it died out.

It died out because people didn't want to come.

So we are going anyway. We discovered something good in family adoration; we discovered Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. My kids have made a connection between the Jesus that sits in the Monstrance and the Jesus that is risen high in the air for all to see at Mass. They have discovered a personal relationship through vocal prayer. Mental prayer in silence. Song out loud or in your hearts.

My church has adoration once a week and I won't let that die out too. We will at least go to that. We will go as a family and though we won't be able to talk out loud, we will pray together as we did before.

I have some consolation in knowing that Jesus never quits even if we do.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Onion Analogy

I'm sure you've  heard of the onion analogy. I use it often. I've sort of customized it in my own way, but it holds the same meaning.

Recently, I've had a deep disappointment (I will spare you the story). When I tried to confide in others about it, they failed to understand. Even the people who I was sure would understand, didn't. This, of course, just made it all the harder.

The people who didn't understand thought that they should demonstrate that they DID understand my disappointment by trying to reason me out of it. And yet, this was not what I needed at that time, and made me feel even worse.

You know what I'm talking about. We've all been there. We have all suffered misunderstanding and we've also contributed to the misunderstanding by trying to "fix it."

Hence, the onion analogy, in my own words:

When someone seems sad and you fail to understand why, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Is it so important that you understand why they are sad? Or is this just a desire inside to try to "fix it" for a little self-gratification??

It's an honest question that deserves an honest answer. I have done it--many times. How many times has my sister called crying about something, and instead of doing what I should have done--listened---I tried to reason her out of it by offering my "amazing" insights.

Most often, God asks us to take the humbler project: take a step back and look at the layers.

Like an onion, we also have multiple layers in our lives. Layers of pain, disappointment, rejection, insecurities. One minor disappointment to one person might be a devastation to another. We have no idea what roads each person has traveled, what hurts they've experienced, what has formed them to the person they are today. Why they have such a hard time with that disappointment, or that fear, or that rejection or that anger.

It really isn't up to us to be their therapist. We are usually only called to listen.

It's a hard thing to do because it appears to be the "lesser" of the two. It is not quite as glorifying. Not much to tell to others when we talk about how we helped someone.

When I had my heart attack and was having a hard time with the recovery, a lot of people wanted to help, which was great and I needed it. But when they asked me what they could do, what it was I really needed, I told them: "Play with the kids." That was all I wanted. In between visitors, Dennis struggled with the kids. I could hear them crying for me, and there was nothing I could do for them. Dennis is a great dad but had a very hard time with the stress of being a single parent for that month. He was emotionally spent and couldn't understand that their behavior came from their world being turned upside down, with their mother staying in bed all the time and strangers constantly coming in and out of the house.

And yet, when I asked people to just play with the kids, you know what they did? The dishes. The laundry. Anything that made them feel like they were "helping." I would come out of my room to find a very clean kitchen, but the kids in front of the TV. (Again.)

I know I sound a little bitter here but my point is that it really taught me a lesson of how we people tend to be. I remember this point every time someone fails to understand me, and I remember it again every time I fail to understand someone else.

When someone is suffering, don't worry about understanding the crux of the matter. Sometimes you will truly understand--if God wants it--and other times, He will ask you to help shoulder the load by simply understanding that they are suffering. It is not always necessary to understand why!

Go back to the onion and remember that we all have layers of why's and how's. We all have sad stories, and reasons why, and painful hurts. We aren't perfect people. We haven't always learned how to suffer with joy. Some people have never known love.

The other day, my mom saw a young woman who was crying and shaking. When she asked if she could help, the woman told her she wanted to light a candle for her boyfriend but the church was out of candles. She was nearly hysterical because of this. My mom didn't understand why.

But instead of trying to fix the problem and pat her on the back and assure her that eventually they would refill the candles, she stayed a little longer and listened. And eventually, this woman revealed her reason, layer by layer.

It was the one year anniversary of her boyfriends death. Her boyfriend had committed suicide right in front of her. While she was trying to talk him out of it, he jumped out anyway. Now she is filled with regret, guilt, and grief. She wanted to light a candle to pray for his soul. Lots of reasons to cry over a candle, but my mom never would have known this if she hadn't stayed (for two hours), listening.

She never tried to fix it. In fact, when she told me about this later, she said to me, "It's so sad that people don't know how to use their suffering for good." However, she never felt the need to teach this woman about suffering. Her job at that time, was only to listen. 

The onion analogy. The more you peel an onion, the more the tears tend to flow. The same with understanding. The more you understand the layers of pain, the more your tears will flow, layer by layer.

It may not seem much to us, but it is a heroic gesture to the person who felt they were understood.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Tin Wall

This post is short but noteworthy.

Dennis put up a wall full of tin as an accent wall. Again, I wasn't sure how it was going to look (it looked strange in my head) and even the picture doesn't do it justice. It looks real good--especially in person.

Again, remember this is a Man Cave. Very masculine with a mix of rustic and industrial.

I have to say, Dennis is making some good progress with his man cave. I wish our other projects have gone as fast.

The final wall will be done next week, and I have heard some talk about epoxying the floor...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dennis's Project: the Bunker

Last spring, I wrote about how Dennis wanted to convert the bunker into a "man cave." Well, because we were working on the patio project and the usual things that happen in life happened, it was put off. But thanks to finding some left over plank wood at work, he finally got it started.

He started off by tearing the Styrofoam ceiling down and painting the cement dark brown. He wanted to know what I thought of it,  but I thought it best to keep my opinions to myself for the time being.

"I'm looking forward to seeing what you're going to do next," I could say honestly.

Then he took all the extra wood from work and began to torch it. "It's going to be awful dark and dreary." I thought to myself.

Torching the wood
And then one day, after listening to endless hammering, he invited me to look at his Man Cave. I was surprised--and impressed. (And relieved.)

He changed the lighting to help brighten up the room a bit, and though it feels somewhat like the inside of a shed, it also has a very warm feeling to it.

Overall though, I really like what he's done. I love the torched wood and it's brought a real natural look to the place. I am still waiting for what he plans to do with the floor though, he decided not to go with the tile after all, so I guess I'm in for a wait for that too.

He also bought a mirror and framed it, and made a few shelves for his weights. Definitely a Man Cave!

In the meantime, I have not given up on the girls room. I have been secretly collecting and stashing things in preparation for their room for the "big reveal." The girls know nothing about what I have bought, but I have tried to keep it within their taste and hopefully they won't hate it.

We did however, get the girls a door finally! It has not been installed yet, but you have no idea how happy I will be to see a real door for their room. It just doesn't feel very motherly to not have a door for your child...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The beauty of falling down

Recently, I had a very humbling experience of getting upset with my neighbor. I will not go into details here, except to say that though I had some reason to be upset, my approach was all wrong. I stormed over there and really gave her a piece of my mind. And suddenly, in the heat of the moment, it suddenly hit me the way I was behaving. "What am I doing???"  I thought to myself.

I apologized profusely and my neighbor was good enough to let it go. Later, I wrote another letter of apology and delivered it to her mailbox before we left on our family vacation. At least I had a place to escape to!

I was mortified that I could act in such a way, and deeply humbled. I had fallen into a class of people that I had unconsciously labeled "One of them." One of "those people", the kind that loses their temper with anyone, the kind that talks down and condescends, the one that thinks they are better than everyone else. Me, a Christian, a good Catholic. This is how I normally would think of myself, if at all. And yet, I had stooped down to a level I couldn't believe existed within myself.

It took me a few days to get over this deep embarrassment. But God is so good and forgiving. While I come to Him, abashed and ashamed, embarrassed and babbling that I didn't know that I could ever behave in such a way, He says, "It's ok, Becky. I knew."

Whenever we think we are making some good success, God gives a little spiritual poke to let us know: "Don't celebrate yet. You've still got a lot of work to do!"
It is a hard thing to come to terms with, that we aren't perfect. It is a harder thing to realize that unconsciously, we thought we were.

Yes, we are "one of them." We are sinners and offenders, we are short on patience and love. We put ourselves before others without even realizing it. We are completely absorbed in self-love and obsessed with ourselves. Thank God for His spiritual pokes. Thank God He points out our flaws. It is spiritually humbling, but we are so much better for it.

And when someone has offended us, someone has fallen down, it is our job to lift them up again. God didn't place us there to remind them of their offenses, to reiterate what doesn't need reiterating. He has placed us there to lift them back up, to help them be on their way, lest they completely give up on themselves out of embarrassment and pride.

We sin, we repent, we move on. It has to be in that order. I tell my kids that this is what Confession is.  Literally a spiritual conveyer belt that forces you to keep going. "Go and sin no more." It is a relief to know that it ok to "go" and move on.

So if someone has offended you and repents, someone asks for your forgiveness, give it to them. Or God will remind you what it feels like to be the offender and not know the mercy of forgiveness.