Thursday, February 28, 2013

Parsonage Kitchen {before}

The Parsonage kitchen remodel is officially underway.
(Let me tell you how I really feel: YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
We are 1 week in, the house is a wreck and there have been lots of little hiccups;
but we (mostly Bryce) are determined to make this happen.
I'm in charge of the painting, childcare, and food provision,
while Bryce is taking care of pretty much everything else.
He really is my hero....I'm amazed at what he's accomplished already.
But, enough sappiness.
It's time for the {before} pictures.
Just so we can truly appreciate the final reveal.

Here's the "way before" picture, taken not long after we moved in.
Before this remodel, we already put in the new flooring, new window blinds and a new light above the sink.
This is looking into the kitchen from the living room.
Please notice the "bulkhead" above the cabinets and the cream stove.
Just a slightly different view from the library doorway.
Please notice the small microwave on the counter, over on the left.

This is the view from the kitchen (standing in front of the stove) looking towards the dining room.
Please notice the unused wall space.

And here's the dining room view of the kitchen from the other side of the "window."
Please notice the yellow walls and insufficient lighting.

This is the opposite side of the kitchen looking into the library (left) and living room (right).
This view won't change much, except for the paint color and the artwork.
One more just for good measure. 
We've been dreaming about this project since we moved in three years ago.
Here we go!
Can't wait to post more pictures of all of the little details as we go along.
Update: Connect to posts from all six weeks:
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Week Six / Reveal!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

JD @ One Year

Justus Daniel is 1 already.
How in the world did he grow up so fast?
As you can tell from the memory-notes below, he's sure changing a lot.

* JD loves to wear hats. He'll walk around with one on for awhile, eventually pull it off, and then bring the hat to one of us to put it back on him.

* Walking! We have a walker! I think January 28 was the day it really clicked. He was so proud of himself. So adorable.

* JD now enjoys looking at books with us, when he isn't trying to chew on them. He'll watch as we turn the pages, and even help turn a few. There are definitely a few that he likes best and will look for specifically.

* Current food that he loves: craisins, oranges, and grapefruit (even really sour ones). He gets so excited when he sees any sort of tropical fruit.

* Four teeth are in, two top and two bottom. Two more are on the way on the top. It's so cute when he smiles now and the teeth definitely make him look older.

* The other week I realized that JD knows to stand at the breezeway door whenever I put his coat on. I thought maybe it was an accident the first time, but he does it every time now!

* JD loves to bother the dog: pull his tail, roll around on him, back up & sit on him, play with his mouth, play with his paws, etc. Thank goodness for a patient dog.

* Every morning we watch the school buses. When he hears the breaks squealing, JD will point and run (i.e. walk quickly and wobbly) to the library windows.

* There are small snatches of words--not terribly clear but they're there. Hi Dad. Dog. Hat. Ruff-ruff. Guitar. What's that?

* Still so much pointing. He'll point to his belly when I ask him where it is. Lots of grunting. And babbling, with lots of inflection. He makes this adorable sound by rolling his tongue--I'm really going to miss it when he doesn't do it anymore.

* Favorite toys that aren't toys: drumstick, headphones, plunger (it's clean!!!!...and a long story), empty cloth bags, rubber bracelets, and wooden clothespins, to name a few.

* JD will copy you if you shake your head "no" or "yes." And he'll wave sometimes, never on cue though.

* For the longest time JD couldn't stand up in the middle of the floor. If he fell down while walking, then he would quickly crawl to the nearest object for support to stand back up.

* On February 17 we hosted a family lunch for the January/February Langebartels' birthdays: Kristin, Justin, and Justus. We packed 29 people into our home and enjoyed the company while celebrating our little man turning 1!

Our Justus Daniel. So much personality. So much fun. Such joy he brings to our lives. What did we do without him. It's only been a year, but I can hardly imagine life without his sweet presence.


He makes a beeline for the fridge every time it's opened.

Playing in one of our new kitchen cabinets.

He was not a fan of Baby Cousin Liza, but we know they'll enjoy playing together in a few years.

"Facetiming" with Dad.

Mirror ceiling on an elevator.
I wasn't kidding about the plunger toy.


He got in there all by himself.
And then this happened.

A rare moment of sleeping in the car.

Twins! (this was on JD's birthday)

Loves, loves, loves! playing in the bathtub.

Trying strawberries for the first time. He loved them!

"Ah. That's much better."

Birthday cake!

JD & Mama.
Well, my monthly JD posts have come to an end. Don't worry--I'll still be writing about him but not on such a scheduled basis. Click here for all of his first year posts.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Recipe Roundup

Here are a few online recipes that we've liked lately!

Vegetable Minestrone Soup (I modified this one to cook in the crock-pot and it turned out great)

Lentil Soup

Zesty Crock-pot Shredded Chicken BBQ  (we've made this one twice already)

Oven-Baked Chicken Fajitas (this is one from my sister)

Monkey Bread (classic!)

Mexican Bean & Squash Soup (beware! the chipotle peppers make it super spicy)

One Minute Brownie Mug Cake

And one recipe from my recipe box:

Taco Soup

1 lb. group beef
1 lg onion, chopped
16-oz can Mexican-style tomatoes
16-oz can ranch-style beans
16-oz can whole-kernel corn, undrained
16-oz can kidney beans, undrained
16-oz can black beans, undrained
16-oz can jar picante sauce
Corn or tortilla chips
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese

Brown meat and onions in skillet. Drain.
Combine with all other vegetables and picante sauce in slow cooker.
Cover. Cook on Low 4-6 hours.

Serve with corn or tortilla chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese as toppings.

(Tips: I used dry refried beans instead of "ranch-style beans" and soaked them the night before. I used frozen corn and added it during the last hour of cooking. I added two cans of tomatoes. After mixing, I added water to desired consistency.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thoughts from Plato's Republic

I've finally finished reading Plato's Republic! Praise the Lord. It only took me 2+ months. Don't worry--I'm not going to get into the philosophical arguments (which I don't pretend to even begin to understand fully) but I do want to write a little bit about how I find God in secular literature. Parallels abound! And Plato doesn't even know it.

(For anyone who happens to read this and has studied the Republic extensively, or at all: my deepest apologies for what follows. I am not a philosopher. I simply read and try to understand to the best of my ability and to make connections to spiritual truths.)

In Book VII (he uses "books" instead of chapters), Plato talks about true philosophy, which in his view, put very simply, is when one turns toward the true light and looks at what is truly good, instead of merely looking at shadows.

In the knowable realm, the form of the good is the last thing to be seen, and it is reached only with difficulty. Once one has seen it, however, one must conclude that it is the cause of all that is correct and beautiful in anything, that it produces both light and its source in the visible realm, and that in the intelligible realm it controls and provides truth and understanding, so that anyone who is to act sensibly in private or in public must see it.

Now I know Plato is not meaning to talk about God, but a light came on in my head when I read that. He's so right! Little does he know how right he is! I immediately translated it to say this:

In the knowable realm, the form/Person of the Good is the last thing to be seen, and He is reached only with difficulty [i.e. surrender and humility]. Once one has seen it, however, one must conclude that He is the cause of all that is correct and beautiful in anything, that He produces both light [by which we see the world correctly] and IS it's Source in the visible realm, and that in the intelligible [spiritual/supernatural] realm He controls and provides truth and understanding, so that anyone who is to act sensibly in private or in public must see it [He and His Truth cannot be denied]. --my paraphrase

Do you see the spiritual parallels?!? Amazing. God's truth is always true. Even in ancient philosophy, written years before the birth of Jesus, around 380 B.C.!

Another example?

...shows that the power to learn is present in everyone's soul and that the instrument with which each learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body. This instrument cannot turn around from that which is coming into being without turning the whole soul until it is able to study that which is and the brightest thing that is, namely, the one we call the good.

My spiritual connection: God is the brightest light that Is; He is the only Good. And we must turn our whole souls to Him in repentance in order to truly see the Light. Do you see it? Do you see the truth embedded here?

Plato makes the argument that the ones who have seen the light and become true philosophers must return to those still living in shadow: But when they've made [the ascent] and looked sufficiently, we musn't allow them to do what they're allowed to do today. . . . To stay there and refuse to go down again to the prisoners in the cave and share their labors and honors, whether they are of less worth or of greater. . . . The law produces such people in the city, not in order to allow them to turn in whatever direction they want, but to make use of them to bind the city together.

My spiritual connection: God's perfect law of grace and freedom does not produce saved souls in order to allow us to "turn in whatever direction we want" but we are to return to those still in darkness, bringing the light and truth that we have seen.

Two more examples.

This seems to me to be a lovely description of those who are saved:
. . . people who are awake rather than dreaming.
And a description of the salvation process:
. . . turning a soul from a day that is a kind of night to the true day.

Chew on those for awhile.
I love discovering parallels and "buried" truth, hidden treasure.
This kind of reading gets me excited!
Who knew Plato's Republic could be so spiritually challenging!?!

Monday, February 11, 2013

On why I'm reading Plato's Republic

The other day Bryce asked me: "Why do you want to read Plato's Republic?" Or he said something along those lines, probably when I was moaning about how long the chapters are and how much it hurt my brain to work through the philosophical arguments. It made me think: why do I want to read it? Why am I putting myself through such a (sometimes) tedious goal? (Remember: I joined this online classical book club last September.)

So, after I pondered it for awhile, here are three reasons for making myself do it:

1. I want to "culture" myself. Even though I like to think of myself as a "reader," I've never done very well reading the classics. Preferring instead the easy reads. No philosophy or poetry for me (in the past). Don't get me wrong: I have read some classics but I want to read more. I guess I want to expand my reading preferences.

2. I want to make myself think. I don't want to always take the "easy road" when it comes to reading. Some reading I do is simply fun (i.e. The Hobbit or Real Simple magazine) but I also want to challenge my mind. I want to do something hard. And so I'm reading philosophy (which makes me go "ugh" sometimes, but it's good for me). Challenging and stretching my brain.

3. I want to find God in sometimes godless literature. I love it when God shows up in whatever I am reading. Sometimes the most nonspiritual read can have great spiritual impact for me. It's like a treasure-search, a game . . . finding Jesus where the author least expects Him to be found.

And so that's why I'm reading Plato's Republic and Virgil's The Aeneid (which I have no idea how to even pronounce).
Call me crazy (go ahead . . . sometimes I call myself Crazy).
But I'm loving it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

projects: beware, it's a dump!!!

It's a project dump----lots of little home updates to show you! (Small disclaimer: I didn't "stage" these photos at all and took quick shots with my phone so they're not very good quality, but you'll get the idea!)

I made this banner with thick paper, printed letters that I cut out, mod-podge and twine.

This is in the corner of our kitchen. The shutters I found at the Goodwill Outlet and painted green. The wooden plaque is from Ethiopia and the framed picture is a print from an artist I admire and whose blog I read regularly.

We hung a globe in the corner of the library. I just need to find 2 more smaller ones to complete the arrangement. (Excuse the crooked pictures in the background....I think I'll go fix them right now.)

Spices! I was tired of a messy spice cabinet so we got this at Ikea over the summer.

A fun scrapbook paper banner for JD's room. (I made it for decor for his soon-to-arrive cousin's shower, so it's extra special.)

We desperately needed another light for the living room, so I did a lamp and lamp-shade swap (from 3 different rooms in the house), stacked two crates that were catching cobwebs in the garage and called it "done!".
This was a Goodwill tray. I spray-painted it white and then free-handed the yellow stripes--just for fun.

I found the coat rack at an antique store in Grabill while I was shopping with my Mom after Christmas. It has a nice rustic look and works perfectly in our laundry room. Now we just need a bench (hint, hint, Bryce).
Picture collage in the living room....on one side of the window.....

......and the collage on the other side. Lots of family pictures and nature and some mod-podge.
I don't think I've posted pictures of the new couch yet. It's from Ikea. And I found the floor lamp hanging over the couch for $17 at Goodwill. I was so excited about that find!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ice Skating in January

Another one of my New Year's Resolutions was to go on a date with Bryce at least once a month. That may not sound like much to some of you (ahem....Jessica....) but that's a pretty good goal for us. And we actually had two dates in January!

For the "fun" date (as opposed to the budget/money talk date), we went ice skating downtown. It was an indoor rink but still pretty chilly. So fun! We haven't ice skated since the day before we got engaged four years ago, and I really do enjoy it. Medium-speed and no tricks is the way I like to do it, while Bryce goes quite a bit faster and is a little more of a dare-devil--no surprises there.

We finished up with drinks at Starbucks....the perfect way to end a cold day outing. So thankful for my wonderful husband! It was such a treat to spend a fun afternoon together, just the two of us.