reading round-up (3.28.14)

Max and I are making the most of a few days on our own while Aaron has meetings a few states south of here. It is very Always-Winter-Never-Christmas-ish outside, so I am trying not to be jealous of his travels. I have plenty of wool socks and a cute puppy to keep me warm, which remind me not to complain about the otherwise minor annoyance of not seeing leaf buds or blades of grass even though it is April next week.

image (11)

Despite my constant care and affection (and occasional rule-bending) throughout the week, little Max definitely likes Aaron best and mopes around when he reaches bedtime without SpaceDad’s return. We still call him “Little Max” all the time even though he has clearly outgrown his nickname. We might be yelling it out the backyard next year even if he’s 100 pounds by then.

depressed max

I had a marvelous list of links to share, which I have been saving up as I find them… and they are lost somewhere in the great blue yonder because my phone is smarter than my computer. Bummer. Here’s a few things I can remember from that list all for your reading pleasure. Enjoy, and happy weekend!

I especially love reading blogs written by people I actually know, and this series on Fashion & the Gospel from Emily is really encouraging. Although I’m aiming to get by spending less than $50 on maternity clothes (a wild success so far with gifts, sacrificing older stretchy clothes for the cause, borrowing from friends, and GoodWill!) so I’m not exactly highly fashionable these days, she offers a lot of food for thought, particularly in the original purpose of clothes: “to cover, and in so doing, reveal God’s grace…”

One of the other benefits of having awesome friends is that they also have other awesome friends you can meet.  Amanda, who is funny, loves great stories, and has a too-adorable red-haired toddler who could easily be mistaken for a little dolly, is friends with one of my old college room-mates. She wrote some great thoughts on my all-time favorite reality TV show enterprise – MTV’s “16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom” – and I’m really challenged to think about ways we might “step up” to support younger parents like the ones documented in those shows in the coming months and years.

The shared level of frugal sense in our marriage is extremely high. Every family expresses this differently, but we were raised with very similar senses about how lifestyle should relate to income. This has come in very handy since basically NOTHING IN LIFE has turned out like we planned during our engagement, including grad school, jobs, etc., so we’ve been rocking out the not-quite-Dave-Ramsey-style rice and beans life for several years and will continue to do so for at least the foreseeable future. We’ll be fine. The only thing that has been really annoying to me? The pressure to use coupons. I know they can save you big money. I tried being a “couponer” for two weeks and spent my entire weekend running around to different stores. I ended up with two years worth of razors, three tubes of toothpaste for the price of one, shampoo that smelled funny, and a shelf full of cereal we don’t like. I didn’t spend more than usual, but that’s two weekends of my life I will never get back. Articles about keeping up couponing momentum make me want to break out in hives. But… I have discovered this marvelous couponing app called Snip-Snap and now I can save money (yes!) while mooching off other people’s coupon-clipping (yes!). I can quickly browse through the multi-use coupons other users have uploaded in search of only stores I visit or items I need, and I just show the barcode on my phone’s screen at the store to SAVE. Worth checking out, for sure!

I thought this article about how badly kids need “wildness” in their upbringing was really fabulous. We have always said we want to be parents who aren’t all, “Stay on the side of the playground where I can see you, don’t go outside because there are BUGS OUT THERE, keep yourself off that thing because you might fall and get bruised,” and it’s encouraging to see we are not crazy in wanting kids to experience a little grit and risk. We’ll see how this works out in real life, but we do actually have a firepit in the backyard here…

It’s been hard to know how to handle talking and sharing about the coming baby. If it had been up to me, I might… I don’t know… never have said anything, to anyone, at any time, about being pregnant until the baby was born. This is the custom in some cultures, and I totally get it. Sometimes I wish it was like that here, too. I still remember (most vividly) how awful it felt to navigate pregnancy announcements, baby talk, and pictures of bellies. Too many years of frustration, never knowing if it would provoke some hard reaction even when I didn’t want it to happen. Way too many women I love are still in that angst, so I’m not going to be doing much “pregnancy progress updating” or “picture posting,” (a great post on that is already written by Housewifespice!). But we obviously can’t ignore that this seems to be happening, and Aaron is good to remind me that the point of it all isn’t me, it’s the baby. And so, I’ll pop this one up here to celebrate the gift that is our daughter — yep! — coming this summer.


there are two girls in this picture!

[linking up this week with 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!]







reading round-up (11/08/13)

Well — life has been exciting around here lately. There is a new home for us with a very exciting story coming. There is also the tiny detail of, oh, having a Doctor around all the time now, which is relieving and exciting  after  five-and-a-half years of slaving.
For some reads to tide you over until I can think coherently enough to finish other posts  soon…

Many of my friends blog and I just can’t get over how awesome it is to read something that makes me think, “I wish I knew them!”  when I actually do know the person. Reading this post on housekeeping from my friend Bethany provided one of those moments this week.

“Whether you are home during the day or not, we are all home-makers. …Adults do chores. End of story.” 

Amen. If you need me, I’ll be Pledge-ing in my kitchen.

I had some Bad Experiences with theological debate in high school and sometimes shy away from talking about theology because I don’t feel like it’s worth stirring controversy, but I was so excited reading this post describing how the Cross is not the whole sum of the Gospel. It was like reading a secret journal entry I haven’t writen yet. (It made me think of this clip from The Office.)  Back on topic – the fact that scripture starts off with “There was evening and then there was morning,” and takes us all the way to “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” leads me to believe that God points us not just to the cross, but to a different (though very closely related) event as the crescendo of salvation and history.  The salvation story doesn’t end at the cross, and we shouldn’t talk about the gospel as though it did.  The crucifixion and Good Friday are only “good” through the lens of Easter Sunday. Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead!

You can count me a huge fan of Wendy Alsup’s blog, and I really appreciated her post about growing hard-hearted in suffering. I have often said (complained) to my husband that this a very poor season to be wrestling with fresh grief again. Not that true grief ever really goes away, but a fresh heap put on top seems excessive, and this encouragement is timely.

On that note, I loved this description of grief as an air horn.

Finishing out as we started, with talk of homemaking, preparing for a new house means digging around for some extra decor/DIY inspiration. I’ve been enjoying a few ideas from Liz Marie, Remodelaholic, and some Apartment Therapy home tours like this one with cool built-in storage (be warned – sketchy items in their “decor”).

to laugh or cry?

Before I share the following snippets of life in the past few weeks, I must note that while Scripture doesn’t explicitly teach that God has a sense of humor, I feel like it’s an undeniable truth.

As an expression of jealousy that the bigger chickens have successfully laid eggs for several weeks, Snowflake saw an opportunity to fly-hop herself out of the coop and decided to do a little free-ranging in the back yard. Oops. I eventually scooted the other chickens to their roost and created a Hansel-and-Gretel style trail of scratch and watermelon rinds for her to follow into the coop of her own volition. It worked. Considering that I will probably eat her someday when she has given me all the eggs her body will produce, it’s disturbing to see I am fitting into the role of the fairy-tale witch pretty well here.
downsize (8)

Though I have been mercifully spared from any additional medical catastrophes accompanying our recent miscarriage, I am obediently taking quite a bit of physician-recommended ibuprofen. I find this warning most …ironic, I suppose.
ibuprofenI found out Walgreens has been selling a generic product that makes a very, very bold claim. (I considered rubbing it all over my tummy just in case.)
downsize (7)Apparently the shower needed some ultimate healing, too, because the caulk mysteriously peeled itself up, so we were without a shower for a while until I VERY CAREFULLY cleaned it out and applied the new caulk. Then we waited even longer than label directions indicated before testing it out, just in case.0813131624In that process, I scratched my eye, which was depleted of it’s natural defense mechanism (tears) due to excessive crying jaunts,  and then ended up in severe pain with symptoms of infection that necessitated more visits to the Doctor’s office and a very expensive bottle of antibiotic drops, which made me gasp even after my insurance kicked in their share.
downsize (9)When I say this corneal abrasion caused “severe pain,” I really mean that THERE ARE NO WORDS to describe it, which is saying a lot coming from me. All is mostly well now, I’m just overly sensitive to bright lights yet and wearing sunglasses most of the time.

In every one of these little situations, I haven’t know whether to laugh or cry in response… but there has been plenty of both of those happening at our house, sometimes even at the same time. I think this is healthy. I have learned it is possible to be so overwhelmed by emotion that you are laughing and crying simultaneously, which happened when I was telling Aaron the only thing I wanted in life was to become hermits, get a dog, and hike the Grand Canyon until we died of old age, and I was suddenly struck with the inspiration to name the dog “Burro.” It is more awkward when one person is in agony, as I was during my opthalmological issues, and another unnamed individual is laughing, saying things like, “It seems you are a picture of perpetual misery.”

Other than all this, I snuck in another  summer road-trip to Michigan. Crazy? Yes, but it means I spent a weekend on the beach with some of the best girls in the world AND got to see almost everyone on both sides of our family for a few hours when we weren’t immediately setting up for a wedding, which is rare for us.beach weekendPlenty of laughter and crying happened during that trip, too, in addition to several stops at the same family-style diner for breakfast several days in a row, because that’s how we do things. This unpredictable mix of joy and sadness is all as it should be for now, I think.

heroine chic

My dear friend Bethany stopped by for a bit over the Fourth of July weekend! We first bonded during a Bible Study at college… not just through the themes and application of 1st and 2nd Peter, but the extraneous discussion of silverware and Martha Stewart’s complicated but reliable recipes. When she first got here, we devoured a delicious dinner on the patio of a local restaurant and walked it off at the trails around our “fake lake,” enjoying conversation and pretty flowers.  We both try to be brave women who are also pretty fashionable, so during this weekend we termed ourselves “heroine chic” and referred to that phrase often!

at Ada Hayden park before sunset

orange flowers around the trails

Instead of making 7 batches of fruit jam like we did last time she was in town, we baked strawberry-rhubarb crisp.

strawberry-rhubarb crisp!

I loved introducing Bethany to two sets of Iowa friends for holiday cookouts, one of which included lots of time with our two favorite sorts of people: babies and hilarious children. My little friend E, who is almost five, caught a particularly friendly lightning bug and named him “Farley McFirefly.”

Farley McFirefly

We spent the rest of the time knitting blankets for pregnant friends and family members (love the Log Cabin and Basketweave patterns from Purl Bee!) while watching several episodes of the ridiculous-yet-addicting show Pregnant in Heels. While I don’t envy Bethany’s daunting task of moving from Boston to Colorado Springs, I’m glad she could stop and stay a while with us in the middle of her journey!

gift of self (kitchen, pt 4)

We made quite a bit of kitchen progress this weekend. The internet may not have enough room for me to write everything that happened at the Hummel house during those few short days, but we have the highlights here. If you are bored and only care about my kitchen progress, just scan down and watch the video at the end.

Of first importance, our lovely friend Jenny came. Taking extra time off of her job at Hillsdale, she drove hours and hours alone to help me with hard manual labor for the whole weekend. When we first met in a freshman dorm, Jenny and I knew we were kindred spirits because we both grew up helping our dads build things. Our friendship deepened on a ride to Wal-Mart where we discovered other mutual passions like hot tea, well-raised children and traditional hymns. From there we led a small group Bible study together and served on a Christian students leadership team before living in the same dormpartment for senior year. So yes, we dissected various aspects of the royal wedding (the folds in her skirt extending to the train of the dress! trees in the church! such a tasteful bouquet!) and chatted about life and love while sharing deep thoughts and feelings during our visit, but we both have know-how when it comes to things like hammers, circular saws and power sanders so we made the most of our unusual similarities with my kitchen project. I don’t know many women who would take time off from work and spend a full day driving to help a friend demo and rebuild part of her kitchen! Jenny is truly one in a million.

Our first adventure included a trip to Lowes on Friday night… Finally! After  six years of friendship we could do a project together! All the male employees asking if we needed assistance as we filled the cart with materials needed for our weekend plans. I suppose it’s not every day they see two giggling girls loading a cart with porcelain tile and comparing circular saws, so we can’t blame them for offering to help.

having the time of our lives

We bought everything we needed for installing my tile backsplash. There were a few things that needed to happen before the tile could go up, but these challenges seemed more exciting than insurmountable.
The old countertop? Oh, we’ll rip that bad boy out, easy.
The sink? It gets a little tricky, but Aaron can help us.
What else could stand in our way?
Please, try to stifle your laughter.  We were doing the best we could and our first evening of ignorance was blissful.

It was pretty easy to remove the laminate from the countertop, which made the kitchen look like this:

so easy! I could demo kitchens for a living!

Then we had to start pulling the wood countertop off the cabinets. This was more difficult than the ease with which we pried off the laminate cover. There was a little swearing (all me) and for a time I tried to convince myself I could leave the counter as-is, add some oil and call it butcher block. But the lovely faux-granite counter was already sitting in the basement and we were at the point of no return, so somehow we managed to press ahead with the demolition. The wood was secured with glue and finish nails, so Jenny dug around with one of my little tools and got the practically-headless nails removed… What a woman.

nails in the counter

After the nails were out, it was time to remove the pink sink (oh happy day!) and get the counter up and out. We were planning to use my car jack to get extra leverage since the counter was so heavy and long. Aaron customized the length of an old, splintered axe handle for this undertaking.

look at him go

He wanted to hold it while watching hockey. Perhaps it felt like a stick in his hands, making the game all the more real to him.

Aaron watching hockey

So with Aaron’s help we disconnected the plumbing, ripped out the sink, and then we were able to pry up the old counter. I’m not going to lie, it was a difficult and crazy job. Jenny was a demolition beast. She has such a way with crowbars.

What a classy lady

You will see behind her the jack from my car. We used this to pry the counter up and it was amazing. We used the custom-length axe handle and got it right up under the edge of the counter. Twist, twist, twist, pop! The counter creaked off and we were able to take the whole thing out to the backyard in one piece. I imagined this process taking fifteen minutes. It actually took a whole day.

this was an excellent trick!

It was a very busy weekend, but we were so blessed to have Jenny with us. We are so grateful for the self-gift that she was to us during the quick trip. There are very few things as precious as time spent with a dear friend!
Overall the weekend included:
lots of splinters
3 trips to Lowes
2 trips to Ace Hardware
2 trips to grocery stores
2 hockey games

I will have more pictures of the finished counter and tile backsplash soon! I pity the fool who tries to take off the counter we so laboriously installed!

Here is the basic gist of this post in video format. I love how Aaron turns on the circular saw as if on cue when I’m talking about the support and shims he was cutting. There is also a preview of the tile we chose, and I mention that Aaron found our sink on the side of the road. That’s right folks, somewhere in the UP of Michigan, he got this baby for fa-REE.  We are unashamedly frugal. Unashamed!

partakers together of (hard) grace

It’s Thursday and I’m still exhausted from my crazy weekend. My dear friend from college, Esther, came out to visit. She drove across 3 states to spend a few days with me and we definitely made the most of the time! As usual, she beat me on our runs despite my significant height advantage and longer leg strides, she overhauled my whole wardrobe with a fashion makeover and we stayed up past the middle of the night talking about the wildest things… just like when we were room-mates at Hillsdale. Except that back then we thought we knew everything. Ha! Thankfully, we have become much wiser and humbler since then.

It’s almost three years since our graduation, and in our grown up lives we have each partaken of so much painful and beautiful grace. I am very grateful for the mutual comfort and encouragement of a friend who is my true partner in accepting and rejoicing in this life of grace, no matter how hard it is or how ungracious I feel.

we both turn twenty-five this spring...whew. what a ride!

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
– Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak.

Esther passed on the book “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” by Ann Voskamp, who blogs at

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

So much of our weekend was full of discussing what Ann says in this book, that our call as Christians is to live in thanksgiving; that all experiences, even the awful and sad ones, are opportunities to draw closer to God; that we miss communion and growth if we ignore our sorrow, but miss beauty and goodness if we think that is all there is; and that we can choose to live a life of full grace, full of gratefulness and in doing so we are blessed.

“I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…” (Philippians 1:7, esv)