J&E’s Style Cure

Shift of plans!  The kids’ shared room is now the focus of our truncated November Style Cure.

The truth is that we are good at starting projects and not so good at finishing them.  It’s an unfortunate dynamic that leads to lots of frustration, and I’m glad for a plan like the Style Cure to coach us to the finish.

We return, then, to square 1, the Style Cure Interview for J&E:

E’s Favorites:

  1. Actor/actress: R2-D2, Princess Leia, Queen Amadala, Aviva, Chris, Martin, Henry and Jonah
  2. Art/Artist:  Collage, Mom, paint
  3. Writer/Book:  Fancy Nancy, Jane O’Connor
  4. Music:  Rachel Zylstra, Ingrid Michaelson
  5. Restaurant:  IHOP, Culvers, McDonalds, Noodles & Co
  6. Automobile:  Sienna minivan, light neon pink convertible
  7. Movie/TV Show:  Wild Kratts and Frozen and Star Wars, Peg + Cat
  8. Clothing:  Flower girl dress
  9. Furniture:  The white chair in the living room

Three words to describe your personal style:  Pretty, between beautiful and fancy

Favorite room in our house:  The family room (because the tv, my desk, the playroom and a comfy couch are there, and mom and dad’s bedroom with their cozy bed is around the corner.)

Favorite room somewhere else:  My room

Who is your role model and what do you admire?  Mom: pretty, help daddy cook breakfast; Dad: cooks breakfast

What parts of our house do you think are beautiful or just right?  My desk.

How would you like people to describe your room?  Pretty, amazing, nice, awesome, cool, great.

J’s Favorites:

  1. Actor/actress: R2-D2
  2. Art/Artist:  Eric Carle
  3. Writer/Book:  Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, Mo Williams (esp the Piggy and Elephant books)
  4. Music:  Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, Pink
  5. Restaurant:  McDonalds, IHOP, Culvers
  6. Automobile:  bright lime green convertible
  7. Movie/TV Show:  Star Wars, Wild Kratts, Peg + Cat
  8. Clothing:  My Mine Craft Star Wars t-shirt
  9. Furniture:  “A spinning, rolling, rocking lazy person whatever it is”

Three words to describe your personal style:  Star Wars, computer playing

Favorite room in our house: Playroom (because of “all the legos scattered around on the floor and that 2 days after I clean it it’s a mess again”).  He can be free and creative there and it’s nice and cool there.

Favorite room somewhere else:  Public Museum space room

Who is your role model and what do you admire?  S.  He’s a comedian.  He makes people laugh.

What parts of our house do you think are beautiful or just right?  The globe, the family.

How would you like people to describe your room: Messy, just right.

As I reflect on their answers a few common themes emerge:

First, they both like their own space.  Eden likes the desk she has taken over in the family room. She does her work there and “organizes” it to her own standards.  Jonah likes the playroom where he can make his own creative mess.  This revelation shows me that they need to have their own carved out space in their room.

Second, they both like comfortable spaces.  We got new comfy comforters for their beds, so I think we’re on the right track there.  I’ll consider ways to enhance the maximize the comfy factor as we go on.

Third, they both pointed out an affection for our family, and they liked the idea of having family photos in their room.

Other points of intersection include a love of collage or Eric Carle, all things Star Wars including R2-D2.

While they both mentioned things that blend gender aesthetics, Eden has a penchant for the slightly more feminine (“between beautiful and fancy) with an appreciation for pink, and Jonah responds to a techy vibe.  His favorite color is green.


Interview Conclusions: Style Cure the Family Room!

Reflecting on the style cure interview, a couple themes strike me: the intersection of public or community life and pop culture, practical family friendliness, and an admiration of nature.  Are these too many themes?  Quite possibly, but they might intersect perfectly to help me overcome a creativity block in finishing our family room.

All the better, designating the family room as our priority for the style cure will prepare us to host family for Thanksgiving.  We don’t have one large room in which all the family can gather easily, but we can create cozy, inviting spaces for relaxation or conversation, game playing or screen time, lego building or tea parties, reading or drawing.  This clarity is energizing!

At this point, my only concrete idea for Style Cure: The Family Room is this.  I hope Apartment Therapy will post a calendar of the upcoming assignments so I can think about what’s coming.  If possible, I’d like to tackle other unfinished projects painting J & E’s room and hanging bulletin boards and calendars for our morning routine, after school routine and bedtime routine.  I’m collecting ideas for our October Style Cure here.

Pre-holiday Style Cure

I don’t know why I feel self-conscious about things, but I feel a little self-conscious about some things.  Right now, I feel self-conscious that I’m writing this public (if anyone were to find it) blog about my real-life participation in the event of a virtual community.

Eh.  Whatever.  I also want to do something creative, generative, and Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure seems like a way, both practical and aesthetic, to work it out.

So, first, yesterday’s assignment to know my(our)self.


M: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Coach and Mrs. Taylor on Friday Night Lights; Diebenkorn and other 20th century artists, local artists that help me feel connected to place, community, to their stories (including my children); non-fiction authors, journalists; Patty Griffin, Fun., Avett Brothers, Elizabeth Mitchell, Janelle Monae; Brick Road Pizza; Prius; Friends, Family Ties, Parks and Rec, Project Runway; Banana Republic, Lands End, J.Crew, leggings, sweaters, skirts and fit/flare dresses, contrasting colors, solids or bold patterns; Ikea, C&B, StonesThrow, West Elm.

N: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jennifer Garner; C.S. Lewis, Wangari Maathai; Vampire Weekend, Propaganda; Marie Catribs; {right about here someone fell asleep, so liberties may be taken}  Prius; SNL, Modern Family; Gap & company, polo shirts and sweaters, sweaters with ties, blazer and pants, slip on shoes; C&B, StonesThrow.

Personal style:

M: Modern, comfortable, energetic.

N: Understated, simple, natural.

Favorite rooms:

M: my childhood bedroom, full of collected images, collage, art, color; current living room, inspired by the bright blue and green of summer with an energetic neutral foundation (orange-toned wood walls, textured beige couch, white and black Stockholm rug)

N: tbd at a later date, perhaps.

Role model:

M: Engaged, creative, committed women (colleagues, my kids’ teachers, women from church, my mom, my mother-in-law, my grandma. Hillary Frank, Cokie Roberts, women in local politics, the aforementioned Tina Fey & Amy Poehler); savvy community organizer friends; any one who faithfully fights for community’s rights.  –> tenacity, belief, commitment.

N: Wangari Maathai; self-aware white men, prophets.  –> faithful, shalom-seekers, committed.

Just right:

M: Eden’s desk; apples overflowing in the white bowl on the table; Eden’s drawing hanging from a clipboard in Sam’s room.

N: tbd

A month from now:

M: Inviting, cozy, personal, comfortable

N: tbd.



I’ve been feeling the pull to write lately.  Life has been full of challenges, stretching challenges this fall, and perhaps there is a need to process in more careful ways than during more steady seasons.

One of the lessons of this season has been the realization that joy and frustration, thankfulness and stress can be present at the same time.  It’s okay.  I remind myself to breathe into the tension, as if my life were a yoga routine.

Escapism happens, of course.  Too much screen time.  I felt convicted by this headline alone, deeper so by reading the text.  Nonetheless, I have appreciated the resonance, the connection to others’ similar experiences (ooo!  A new podcast posted overnight!), the ability to bring others into my experience through various media.

Our escape of choice lately has been Friday Night Lights.  In fact, I think we watched FOUR EPISODES last night.  We usually pace ourselves and try to protect our own bedtime.   Last night the kids went to bed  beautifully early (or on time?), so we indulged.  I’ve loved the moments of levity in a show with serious story lines, and the relationship between the Taylors is as nuanced and true a marriage relationship depicted in television as I can recall.

Sad: the internet doesn’t seem to have a quickly linkable clip of Riggins and his brother playing with Coach’s wife’s breast pump in her office.


Tina and Amy

Tina and Amy

This is what I’ve been obsessed with for the last 24 hours.  Last night, watching the Tina and Amy playlist led me to youtubing the original Katie Couric/Sarah Palin interviews.  This morning, I’m listening to all the NPR stories about Tina Fey and the end of 30 Rock. This has been a good little education.  I didn’t catch all of those interviews when they aired, and I haven’t watched a ton of 30 Rock, and the truth is I often like listening to pop culture crit as much as watching the stuff itself.

Remember this?

Well, I’m not thirty any more.  But I never concluded this list, so I thought, hey, I’m supposed to be writing a midterm, so this would be a perfect time to wrap up that sucker.


1.    Watch 1 movie a month with Noah.  I’ve forsaken movies for readily available tv on the internet or dvds.  He jokes that I’m not the same woman he married (the woman who made copious bucket lists of classic movies to watch).  I might argue that television was my first media love, but who could argue with a cute boy who wants to cuddle on the couch for a couple hours?

I probably did not accomplish this.  We have watched several movies together recently, and I’ve enjoyed it.

2.    Finish 9 (more) credits towards my masters degree.

Check!  I’ve now finished 21 credits with 6 more in the works.

3.    Actually apply to be admitted to the masters program, as I’m currently enrolled as a non-degree seeking student.


4.    Apply for 3 scholarships.

This did not happen.  I remain grateful, however, for my employer’s assistance with tuition.

5.    Don’t get pregnant.


6.    Plant wild strawberries as ground cover in the front yard.

Done, but the results have not been fabulous.  Hoping for a better season next year.

7.    Visit the Galapagos Islands.


8.    Blog a couple of times a month about life and living in Grand Rapids, including at least one house tour.  (8a. Purchase a camera to make this possible!)

Nope.  Nope.  Yes.

9.    Send 1000 people into the city for a one-day service-learning project.

Yes!  Heck, I’ve don this TWICE since I set the goal.

10.  Go camping with our little family for the first time.  …and maybe the second time as well, as talk of spending time with family and friends this summer has two different camping trips on the table.

That happened.

11.   Take a stab at caring for my body with weight watchers and/or exercise classes offered at work.

I have taken a stab at it…perhaps next time I make one of these lists I’ll be more specific, hehe.

12.   Go on one date with Noah each month.

Ah, sadly, this probably has not happened.  If I were writing this list again, I’d up the anty and suggest that we send the kiddos to the grandparents for a weekend, and not for work, which is usually the reason for our kids to spend weekends with grandparents.

13.   Finish my edits for our church’s website.

I think this did not happen. uclh.  Since I’m taking a nonprofit technology class now, I’m having huge guilt about it. 

14.   Make thank you gifts for Jonah’s Children’s Church teachers.

Ah, this is another source of guilt: not done.

15.   Start a toddler art group: plan the first few meetings ahead of time; using free or very cheap materials; bringing different parent-friends together.

Hm.  Nope.  Next time around.

16.   Clean the basement.

Uchg.  No.

17.   Organize the garage.  Isn’t this a dreamy plan? http://makingitlovely.com/2010/03/10/ideas-for-an-organized-garage/ Did you even know a dreamy garage was possible?

I think this happened, but it surely isn’t dreamy.

18.   Read a book of my own choosing (not tied to obligations of school or work).

Yes!  I’ve read lots of non-school/work books, actually.  I’ve maybe gotten too good at this.

19.   Visit a town in Michigan I’ve never been before.

hmmmmm.  I went to Saugutuck in the summer of 2011.  Does that count?

20.   Back up the files on our computer.

Ha!  I just bought an external harddrive!  …but I haven’t done anythign with it yet.

21.   Make something for mothers’ day and fathers’ day…and deliver the things to the mothers and fathers.  ;)


22.  Get a new doctor and visit the new doctor.

No.  Sad.

23.   Make a playlist of songs that bring me delight.

Oh, thank you, Spotify.  I have a zillion playlists now.

24.   Host a summer party.

I do not think this happened.  (See above, 21 credits for grad school: finished.)

25.   Frame the last 3 photos for the gallery wall.


26.   Eat local during the summer months, hopefully through membership in one of greater Grand Rapids’ CSAs.

My, oh, my, I have never eaten so local.  I love you, New City Urban Farm.

27.   Teach kiddos more songs.  One of my greatest joys this week has been Babycakes singing along to this album: http://www.youaremyflower.org/home.html.

Oh, hearing E sing is still a great joy.  Most recently it’s Ingrid Michaelson’s Everybody in the car.  I’d like to be more intentional, especially with church songs so that they are more inclined to participate in worship.

28.   Figure out my sewing machine and sew a table-cloth.

Nope.  Gotta get that sucker fixed.

29.   Make artwork for Jonah’s room and Eden’s room to fit frames we already have.

oh, my.  They’re rooms have exploded with their artwork.  We desparately need to contain it somehow….

30.   Get my pearl earrings fixed.

Dear Noah fixed them for me and the broke again soon after.  😦


Well, honestly, I accomplished more of those than I’d expected when I set out to update this list.  I can deal with it. 

on expectations

“Expectations–they’re hard to define until they’re not met, and then we finally realize what we’d been hoping for in the first place.”

So wrote a student–oh, dear insightful student!–in a written reflection to me.

Oh!  How I have mourned expectations unmet, both my own expectations and those of people for whom I feel responsible.  I have labored through discussions of expectations at the beginning of new experiences so as to prepare, to anticipate, to respect, to protect.  But I cannot perfectly craft an experience, neither my own nor others’.

“We concluded…that we would shed all expectations…other than the expectation that God would show up.  And with God come blessings; we prayed that he would both bless us and bless others through us.”

Dear Lord God, meet me here.  Meet me in Baltimore.  Meet me in my office.  Bless me.  Bless through me. 

Ah, and how I have been blessed.

Forgive me!  Forgive me, God, for allowing my disappointment to eclipse an encounter with the living God!