Front Porch Update

When we last left off I had ambitiously decided to paint our front door and shutters on the new house within the first 2 weeks of moving in. Smart or dumb, you be the judge ;) 

First, here is my 5 year old's rendition of our house and the neighbor's house. This gives you a pretty good idea of what our driveway looks like, haha! 

Back to the project. 

I removed the storm door and painted our front door almost immediately. Somehow the maroon door was super offensive to me. It's just not my color I suppose and I wanted the house to look like ours as soon as possible to make up for having left our dream home 1 year ago to move out of state. 

So we had a painted front door and we pulled weeds, which helped. Plus we added St. Francis (Frank around here) and a doormat. Plus, apparently, some old muddy rainboots. I guess we're going for a quaint rural vibe. 

But those shutters were still driving me bonkers! They were still that awful, dark maroon color that the door had been and now that the door looked bright and fresh I wanted the rest of the house to match my vision as well. So I got to work and painted the shutters, only to have a storm come up suddenly and wash a good bit of my paint off and down the siding of the house. 


Good weather eventually came back and I was able to finish the shutters, get a second coat on, and remove the worst of the paint that had dripped down the siding. I will be totally honest and admit that there is some faint brown-gray paint smudged on the siding still. We're looking into the best ways to get rid of it without hurting the color of the siding. 

Now the shutters are a dark gray/brown and summer has been good to the bushes out front. We also transplanted the mums we bought last year into a new planter that is not broken. My husband also replaced the doorbell, which had been a dirty almond color and cracked as well. Nothing fancy, but just having a new and totally working doorbell is great! 

Want a good before/after? Cause I think this is a pretty good one. I'm amazed at what a difference a few very small changes and some weeding/mulching/mowing can do. A sunny, rainy summer season also helps of course ;)

When we moved in (May 2016) / Currently (August 2016)

Doing Things Badly

Do you ever have those times when several separate events or conversations all seem to turn around the same theme?

It seems the theme of the past few weeks for me has been that there are plenty of things I do badly.

An encouraging theme, right?

Perhaps not. But then there has also been a flip side to this topic. Over and over it's been affirmed to me that G.K. Chesterton was right when he said:
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Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

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Recently when talking with a friend about marriage and how difficult it can be and how to deal with those rough patches,  I realized something. I realized that somehow as we approach 10 years my own marriage is actually quite good. Like really, truly good. And while we've had good times over the past, we hadn't settled into a marriage that worked seamlessly the way you see with really good, successful couples until recently.

I wish I could say that I finally became the wonderful wife my husband deserves, or that he suddenly became an amazing, mind-reading husband, or that we both found some miracle solution to a happy marriage. But I cannot. There is no such miracle. I'm still not a wonderful wife and my husband isn't a perfect husband. Somehow that's okay now, simply because we've gotten better at being married to each other. Not through some awesome advice or an experience of conversion to self-sacrifice or even an improvement in communication.

The only thing I can attribute our marriage's goodness to is that we kept being married to one another even when we did it badly.

Not that we simply didn't give up and separate or something drastic....that would be a low bar to set indeed! No, what I mean is that we also didn't stop trying. We showed up and kept working together at our common goals even when we were doing a terrible job at it. When we disagreed we got up the next day and instead of running off to friends or work to escape we mentally stayed "in the game" of our family life.

I find that most things are similar.

Motherhood - How many times have I lost patience with the kids before I've learned to take a breath and think before reacting to whatever wall they colored on or object they broke?

Homemaking - How many dinners have I burned before figuring out how to make a few tasty and healthy meals for my family??

Faith - How many times am I back in the confessional with the same old stupid sins???

But I can never get better at those things unless I keep on trying. It is only by being willing to get in the kitchen and throw some food in the oven and try yet again to not forget the timer that I could learn the names of the different spices and eventually put together a decent dinner. It is only by being with my kids almost constantly and dealing with their mistakes and asking forgiveness for mine that I could even begin to understand them and myself enough to cope with those daily annoyances in a better way. And, finally, it is only by dragging my sorry butt to the confessional over and over that I can even begin to overcome those pesky pet sins.

And blogging, writing, taking photos, any art really, is much the same.

I used to think that I shouldn't bother blogging anymore because I was bad at it. In fact, I'd go long stretches without writing because I felt like everything I wrote was crap. And much of it really was! Honestly, it still is.

I didn't blog for about a year. I actually expected to be fine not blogging, and at first it was no big deal since I hadn't been posting frequently anyway. However, soon ideas and thoughts kept coming to me and I felt the need to write them down, to share them. I missed the sense of community that comes from reading and writing blogs. Most of all I felt the lack of a consistent record of our family life. I wanted a place to record and share the joys of the kids' milestones and fun events and outings. I wanted a place to keep track of our homeschooling life and things we'd achieved around the house or with crafting projects. I found that blogging had kept me accountable to myself for growth in my vocation and helped me notice the everyday beauty in my life.

So now, here I am again. Blogging badly. I am trying not to feel frustrated at my bad writing or iPhone photos or lack of direction (hello child-induced-adhd!). I am content to simply be here and write. To keep showing up and see what happens. Worst case I end up with a big collection of lame blog posts. Maybe my kids would find even those amusing and heartening when I get old and senile and can't remember their names (oh wait, that was yesterday!). Ha!

Yesterday I was blessed to spend the day with a whole group of women bloggers. We listened to several inspiring speakers: Kelly Mantoan, Mary Lenaburg, Jenny Ryan, and Elizabeth Foss. Each of their talks hit on different points in the full range from practical (who knew there was a newsfeed eradicator on Facebook??) to the inspiring and encouraging. One message I heard, in line with the conversations I'd been having with others this past month, was to live your own authentic life and write about it in your style and not worry about whether you're 'good' at it or how it to compares to what others are doing. I especially loved the quote Mary brought into her talk, from Mother Angelica:
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Let us not be confused by the talents and missions of other Saints. Let us be the kind of Saints we were created to be. 

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Hopefully we're all heading towards sainthood. And if we're not, then what is the point after all? It follows, then, that if that is our direction then any art, any writing or photography or work of any kind that we do must be aligned with our particular call to sainthood. Like anything else, of course, I have a feeling that sainthood is going to require a lot of living out the faith badly before the end! So who knows if writing has any role in what I'm being called to do. But as long as it's not in the way I think I'll just keep doing it badly along with all the other stuff I'm doing badly.

I'll leave you with this excellent, short piece from Ira Glass on creativity and being bad at art. My husband and I were talking about this exact quote in one of the conversations on this topic of doing things badly this month. I hope you find it encouraging or at least interesting.

Is there anything you do badly too? How do you keep motivated to persevere even when it seems your attempts fall short of your goal?