30.7.14

Family Portrait 07




Photo by: Allison Reeves
Location: Linville Falls
Date: 7/4/2014
Same photo as in our Linville post but I wanted to officially mark it as our July portrait.

28.7.14

A Letter to my Brother || Rutledge [on his wedding day]

Rutledge: Christmas 2013
Dear Rutledge,

Age and time dictate so much in our lives. You've often preceded me- in driving, in leaving home, in discovery of new bands, authors, movies. You warned me "being older is not easier" but I thought you were plying for sympathy.

I beat you in one thing, brother. I left the country before you; I even beat Andrew by one week to his eternal chagrin. And I understand now, because of my one first, that going first also means forging the path. It means standing alone at the edge of everything and not backing down. It means falling hard, marking the spot in warning for others and then carrying on. It means walking through times of glory and moments of hell.

I know you felt alone in your journey but I was right there too. I was watching and following and cheering. As you explored and questioned and dreamed, you were showing me how to do the same. As you yourself were finding your way, you were encouraging me to find mine. You've reached back and pulled me along without even knowing it because that is who you are. You're a leader and a friend and a compassionate man.

We all dream of home, brother, not Chestnut or the Hamlet or Peaceful Way. We dream of a place of friendship, laughter and love, a haven of safety and rest. And because this wouldn't be a letter from one wannabe Inkling to another without a Lewis quote, I'll remind you now you are never too old to dream a new dream. I see the dreams in your eyes and I whisper up the path "keep going; home is surely around the next bend."

Happy wedding day, Rutledge.

- your little sister

PS- You will forever be my favorite "silkie".


Read the rest of this series here.

24.7.14

Capture the Day Session: Summer 2014


A personal goal of mine is to do quarterly #capturetheday sessions each year. On July 17th, a Thursday, I picked up my camera and pen to document and detail our day together. Here is our ordinary and extraordinary day in the Summer of 2014:

5:50 am
August wakes crying loudly; I go in and he settles back to sleep immediately. I hold and rock him for 30 minutes longer since he so rarely sleeps on me. Brandon gets up to take over for a bit, but by 7am, we are all awake. 

7 am
August plays in our bed between us. We give him the remote for the overhead street lights and he sort of snuggles with us. After he throws the remote behind the bed, we show him pictures and videos on our phone camera roll. Once he is too antsy for snuggles, we put him on the floor and let him roam the upstairs. He takes the giant Chick-fil-A cup from my nightstand and drinks all my water. What he doesn't drink, he dumps out when he uses the cup as a sword by grabbing the straw.


8 am
We are out of prepped oatmeal so August snacks raisins, Cheerios and milk as I prepare more of our tried-and-true oatmeal recipe.
Boil water. Peel and cut the fruit (apple, banana, peach). Boil the fruit. Add cinnamon and old-fashioned oats: whole and milled. Boil until soft. Cool and serve. 
Brandon comes downstairs to make his lunch and coffee for work. He will be gone by 8:30 so we try to enjoy our time with him. After he leaves we eat breakfast, August and I. Cereal and coffee for me; oatmeal with blueberries for August. It's been blueberries or strawberries all summer long.
9 am
I light a candle and play worship music for calm serenity. We play with blocks on the living room floor. August normally hands them to me, I build a tower and he knocks it down. He spreads out while playing and makes a much larger mess than he did a month ago. I consider walking down to the park but it's already 90 and very humid. 
When August needs a new diaper we go upstairs to get ready for the day. I grab my phone and coffee and camera since I'm taking pictures today. I walk slowly behind August as he crawls up, up, up. We read books and play with Tonka trucks. August sets his jaw and tucks a stuffed animal tightly under his chin.

10 am
We share pre-nap snuggles in the chair to calm August's system. Set the room to "nap mode": Curtains closed. Both sound machines on- yes, two. Fan on high. Sneezy the Panda, Owlie the Owl, water cup and book in the crib. I continue to rock in the chair for a few minutes since he's extra cuddly. Reluctantly, I put August in his crib and go downstairs to work on Spice research. My desk requires a candle, coffee, water and two computers to aid the speed of research. 

11 am
August fussed after sleeping for half an hour but then settled again. I take a short coffee break to stretch when my dad calls to cancel tomorrow's lunch. Back to more Spice work until August wakes at ten til noon.




12 pm
We walk to visit with Mum who is working at Rutledge's house around the corner. August walks the entire way and even turns up the right path to his uncle's front door. I help Mum shift some boxes on the third floor and laugh at old, childhood memories. August meets my bear, Bubblegum Pink (nn Pinky) and the peg cobbler toy. We stay until our stomachs begin to growl.

1:30 pm
Mum joins us for lunch of last night's leftovers: Greek chicken on pita with cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. 

2 pm 
We dessert on iced coffee and visit for a bit while August plays with blocks and his spaceship. Mum brought pictures of August on the MG so we look and talk about her upcoming trip to New York for Rutledge's wedding. He gets cranky for a nap. 

3 pm
Nap time for August and Mumma. To unwind, I grab the iPad to read blogs and the news but learn of the Malaysian flight crash. 298 people. Gone. Torn apart in a Ukrainian field. For a long time, I sit and stare and pray. I eventually read Swistle to calm my nerves and doze off for 15 minutes. 

4:15 pm
August wakes after 30 minutes asleep. He's snuggly and wanting to be close. I give him two crackers and milk and pull the bread dough from the bowl. I've let it sit for 24 hours- I hope it still turns out nicely.
Oven on, pot in oven. Counter floured and doughed.
Waiting on the oven and snuggling on the couch with my favorite little man. He's been into the really soft things lately so he loves being on the couch and pretending to sleep. Why do kids find that hilarious? 

5 pm
Bread in the oven and dishes cleaned up from the day. August plays with his Tonka truck and our World Cup balloons. He watches on tiptoes as the neighbors splash in their kiddie pool next door. Brandon is home by 5:30; they play together while I bring in the diapers, boil pasta and set the table. 

6 pm
Dinner. August gets stripped to his diaper since we're having spaghetti for dinner. We all devour the homemade bread and fresh butter from Happy Cow Creamery. I sip a glass of wine because pasta calls for it. We discuss future travel plans, Brandon's work and August's big adventurous walk to Uncle Rutledge's today. We wipe August's hands, peel the spaghetti off his belly and the boys go upstairs for bath time. August crawls up slowly but happily. I clean the dishes, wipe the counters and sweep the floors. 

7 pm
After filling August's water cup, I grab a banana and head upstairs for stories. I meant to deliver the banana during bath time. We read stories and play a bit longer than usual. August is so joyful and thrives when both Brandon and I are around. Hugs and bed for August who continues to play in his crib for some time.


8 pm
After August is in bed, I try not to look at the clock until I am headed to bed. The rest of my day is so timed and monitored, it's lovely having chunks of time at the end of the day to lose track of. 8 pm until bed is an unmonitored mixup of exercise videos, blog posting, shower, laundry and reading. I'm in bed with my book by 11:30 pm.

View our other Capture the Day sessions here.

23.7.14

A Letter to my Brother || Abram

Abram & Me in Ikea 2010

Dear Abram,

It's 5 am and I'm rocking August to sleep. You are probably awake too- reading, playing a video game, laughing with Dayne. I love that. 

I want you to know that I love you and the man you're becoming. Since middle school I've loved talking literature and film with you. I see that you are kind and gentle for all of your lumbering height over my 5 feet negligible inches. Your humor often surprises me and your creativity is compelling. 

You were always a boys' boy and never seemed too interested in your girly sister. But I have a few poignant memories from our childhood. Especially sledding down a two and a half foot hill behind the gas station. From swimming games at Chestnut to bike rides and jousting at Leaky Creek to screaming my guts out at your basketball game when you made the last second 3 point shot for the win- I've loved every minute of being your sister. 

I have a secret to tell you... We're all still lost and searching. But you will learn, if you haven't already, that when the small things click, you follow them and slowly a path is revealed. You'll find your way, Abe. Just remember to say yes. Opportunities don't come up more than once. 

August has a good uncle in you. I love that you play crazy games with your niece and nephews. Just wait until they're big enough to tackle YOU. 

You'll always have my love,

Claire

Ps- I always liked your name best. 

21.7.14

Checking in on The List: Two Months Left

If you have been reading for a while, you might recall that I made a list of 30 things I want to do while I am 30 years old. I have made better progress than I thought but still have some major activities to check off. Here is how I am doing:
  1. Read 3 classics [Things Fall Apart, Tale of Two Cities; one to go]
  2. Make out at the drive in
  3. Visit a battlefield
  4. Hike to a waterfall [done]
  5. Find my signature drink [Mojito or Salty Dog (made with vodka)]
  6. Go swimming after midnight [done]
  7. Memorize 3 chapters of Scripture [I've done a lot of individual verses this year but no consecutive verses]
  8. Sit on our roof [done: New Year's Eve for fireworks and our 5 year anniversary]
  9. Ride a Ferris wheel [I have not even been near one but I may end up in Myrtle Beach in a few weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to ride the new ferris wheel there.]
  10. Catch fireflies [done: caught and released]
  11. Write a letter to each of my brothers [Woah. I wrote Abram. One down. 5 to go]
  12. Read. Read. Read. To August. [done, done and done]
  13. Run a 5k [NOT gonna happen- maybe I'll bump it to 31... need to invest in a jogging stroller]
  14. Pick wild flowers for vase at home [done]
  15. See the sunrise 
  16. Go skinny dipping [done]
  17. Write in August's daily journal consistently [done!]
  18. Get a massage [done! Thanks B]
  19. Blog 50 things [I didn't finish this but my goal was to blog more, which I have done. I'm calling it done. You can read the few I did here.]
  20. Do quarterly Capture the Day sessions [two done (December and March) need to get cracking on the others]
  21. Drink a mimosa at brunch [done]
  22. Continue monthly photo sessions with August [done until 1 year old; see some here]
  23. Catch up on family photo albums 2011-2013 (in time for mid-summer free pages sale 2014) [still need to do 2011 and 2012]
  24. Cook a month of meals with no repeats [done: I meal plan monthly and don't make the same meal twice although we certainly eat leftovers a few times]
  25. Eat risotto [done: yum!]
  26. Learn one new feature of Lightroom, completely
  27. Sit by a campfire
  28. Start my potager
  29. Hang wall art of family photos [done]
  30. Learn how to bake bread [I can make the "no knead bread" like a champ and a honey whole wheat sandwich bread; still working on the other kinds]

18.7.14

DIY Painted Silhouettes on Wood

With Father's Day approaching last month, I knew I wanted to give my dad something classic. He does not like a lot of stuff but does enjoy pictures from his childhood and of the grandchildren; I also wanted to create something unimposing that fit within my mum's decor style. Silhouettes capture childhood innocence in a traditional art format- exactly the balance I was searching for. 

Here is how I created and mounted the silhouettes on wood:

Supplies:
paper (preferably cardstock or heavier-than-normal printer paper; I used resume paper)

black paint
white paint
Mod Podge or other adhesive
wooden board

Tools:
foam brush

old paint brush (for Mod Podge application)
printer

1. Make the silhouette

a. Print a photo of your subject on paper (not photo paper). Be sure to size the image to the desired size for your board before printing.
b. Use an x-acto knife to cut out the subject. Be careful around the face.
c. Grab your foam brush and brush paint onto the surface of your paper. Cover the entire paper. Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat.

2. Paint the board
Take your wooden board and paint the front, back and sides. You may need more than one coat. 
*Because I wanted a smooth surface, I bought my wooden board at a thrift store instead of using my stash of reclaimed wood. The board had a country feel: a scene of some ducks and a quote about home. I was attracted to the nice edge of the board. You can use any wood for this just be sure the surface is smooth. 

3. Adhere the silhouette
Allow the paint on the silhouette and the board to dry completely
a. Paint the back of your silhouette with a thin layer Mod Podge, making sure you hit the edges. 
b. Adhere the silhouette to the board carefully. Using firm pressure, wipe your fingers towards the edges to be sure you eliminate any bubbles that have formed. (I ended up with a few because I was not working fast enough.) Allow to dry.
c. Write the name of your subject and sign your art
d. Apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the entire wooden board, painting over the silhouette. This seals the silhouette from damage. Be sure to apply it to the entire board as this will sightly alter the final color of your background. 
*If the Mod Podge discolors your silhouette, use a thin paintbrush to apply black paint on the silhouette. 



Silhouettes are so simple and easily adaptable. Make these more contemporary by changing up the paint colors to fit your style. Swap out the black paint for gold or the white paint for grey. Try bright colors for a children's room. Pick your subject and paint colors and start painting.




16.7.14

the islands || the sea 05

In my very first blog post, I wrote, I keep searching for the islands in the sea to bring life to these hours. To harken back to this idea, I will periodically post examples of current islands and sea in my life. The islands are the inspirations, the joys, the overwhelming blessings of light that restores my soul. The sea represents the brokenness of this world that I am currently wrestling with. It is not the negative; it is that which pulls deep and heavy on my heart.

the sea

wrestling deep in my spirit for Israel and Palestine; I don't know how to pray or what to hope for but I know that I must beseech the Lord for peace

sitting under the freedom that Christ is everything (Romans 11:36): our only hope

waiting for direction for our little family as gradually our way opens

asking for a straight path and wide doors for friends on a road towards adoption

wondering at a forgiveness that can inoculate


the islands

obsessing over baby names and this list from Nameberry


hiding from the afternoon heat with a stack of board books in August's bedroom under our newly-installed ceiling fan

considering efficient, practical ways to capture the daily moments ("In ten years’ time, I don’t want to only have a record of events like birthdays or holidays, I want to have something like this so that I can remember those little moments and what our day-to-day life actually looked like." -Ronnie)

loving this shirt and wondering if I can steal the phrase for some home-art

dreaming up new minty cocktail recipes to combat the mint invasion and to celebrate summer properly

wondering which door you are most tempted to enter