Monday, December 31, 2012

this year and the next

Thankful for a very good year.

In the tradition of many great bloggers (like Ann and Casey and many others) I'm choosing a word and naming this new year; naming it in a way that directs and inspires and shapes decisions and choices. 

2013 will be the year of STILL (don't laugh, I realize I live with a toddler who is anything BUT still). Psalm 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God." That's my prayer for this year. I'm so very prone to keeping too busy, rushing, trying to do "it all" (whatever that means); just filling my time with stuff and silence with noise. So, this year will be the year of STILL, of quieting, of knowing that God is God and taking comfort in that truth and everything that entails. I read somewhere that "knowing God's past provides us calm for our future". I need to dwell on that more. And for the dwelling, I think I need more silence and more still.

Perhaps a few less podcasts? Less doing four things at once? Less media? Less talking, more listening? Less abandoning the book on the shelf that holds they key to real and abundant life? I don't exactly know what this will all look like, but I look forward to finding out.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

a guest post on a Sunday..and snow.

Mom came over for some Levi-time so my Mr. and I just walked through the newly fallen snow to our neighborhood coffee shop to sip some java, relax and *maybe* do a little lesson planning. I don't usually post on a Sunday but I felt compelled to share this powerful advent reflection written by a very dear friend. These words are worth considering...

I Heard the Bells 
Kristin Gelinas

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, 
good-will to men!

'Tis the season for carols and bells, and tidings of comfort and joy. It's supposedly the most wonderful time of the year. But each time the Advent season rolls around I'm struck anew by the reality that no one hits the pause button on suffering and sickness and death and evil, just so that we can all have a holly, jolly Christmas. 

Just days ago, the seemingly unthinkable took place in Newtown, CT, shattering the lives of 27 families and the sense of security and justice in an entire nation.

Every weekday my friend's father has radiation and chemotherapy treatments invading his body in an attempt to destroy the cancer that is threatening to destroy his body. 

Last week I sent my pastor friend and his wife home to spend Christmas with their family in Nigeria, knowing that they face certain persecution and even possible death because of their faith in Christ. 

And each day I wrestle with the sickness and sin that are my ever-constant companions. 

That hymn, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, originated from a poem penned by New England poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day, 1863. He was a man familiar with suffering. His first wife, Mary, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances, died as a result of injuries sustained when her dress caught on fire in 1861. Two years later, in early December of 1863, Longfellow received news that his eldest son, Charley, had been severely injured (nearly paralyzed) by a gunshot wound fighting for the Union in the Civil War. It is on the heels of this news, and in the context of a lifetime of suffering, that Longfellow wrote this poem that juxtaposes the Christmas tidings of peace and the tumultuous ways of this world. The dissonance reaches its climax with these words:

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"         

And many days it would seem that way. It would appear that the world makes a mockery of our God. For if He has come to bring peace, why is there still such evil and violence pervading our world? If He can save and heal and redeem, why are we all so lost and broken and dying? 

Longfellow's lament has been echoed through the ages, from the cries of Job, to the psalms of David, to the questions of the disciples after the crucifixion, to the doubts in the hearts of a nation in the wake of a tragedy like Newtown. In despair we bow our heads. 

In the allegory series, Tales of the Kingdom, the faithful Rangers often send out a greeting: "How goes the world?"

And the same cry always comes back: "The world goes not well, but the Kingdom comes!"

Since first hearing that cry nearly 15 years ago, it has continued to reverberate in my soul. It is practically a paraphrase of Jesus’ words in John 16:33 where he promises us that we will have trouble in this world, but that he has overcome the world. In one very real sense, there is no peace on earth. The world goes not well. 

But in Longfellow’s words, here is the message of Christmas:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!" 

Can you hear it? The bells are ringing. They are announcing the birth of the King. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David 
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

The King has already come. And His Kingdom is already coming. Indeed, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. The reign of the Prince of Peace has already begun and of its increase there will be no end. And he shall reign forever and ever. 

How goes the world? The world goes not well.

But glory to God in the highest – for unto us a Savior has been born. The world goes not well, but the kingdom comes!


amen and amen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Outside my window... remnants of a very windy and very rainy winter storm (that I secretly not so secretly wish was snow..I can barely wait to take Levi sledding!)
I am thankful... for these slow and restful vacation days, for family get togethers, dates and lots of eager babysitters, for time to putter around the house, watch movies, read, knit and play.
I am thinking... about starting a painting or two in the morning  
In the kitchen...there is way too much candy. 
I am wearing...a new sweater from Kimmie, my Mom-made wedding quilt and a new haircut.
I am creating...a second go at this scarf, because I just LOVE it (with less itchy yarn!)
I am to be a firm and loving's getting to be that time. Heaven, help me.
I am reading... ok, let's be honest, I'm reading "Cat in the Hat", "The Foot Book", "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb" and "Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site"...impressive, I know.
I am hoping (and praying)... that Dad's daily treatments are successful with few side effects, for full healing, that God would be glorified in this suffering

I am looking forward to...getting a tax refund (i think?) and taking a continuing ed course in February at a nearby art school; learning some new techniques, especially working with encaustics.  and spring. I'm definitely looking forward to spring. 
I am hearing...the sweet sound of strumming and the writing of a new song
Around the house...the christmas project tornado is mostly tidied, dishes and laundry are finally getting done, and of course some new fun toys and gadgets are sprinkled around the Kettle

I am pondering... which new warm and hearty crockpot recipe to cook tomorrow
A few plans for the rest of the week...
- a giant grocery run, the cupboards are bare
- experimenting with some new camera equipment, making a DIY soft box
- dinner and perhaps a settlers match with my BFF and Co.
- craft/art room organization
- thinking about new church art for our new space, make plans for an arts festival this spring
- starting a new (more grown-up) book
- January lesson plans

Goodnight friends, I'll be back on Monday with a week chock full of project posts! 

(prompts from The Simple Woman's Daybook) 

Christmas was

Christmas was well-spoken kids proclaiming the gospel, carols led by Mom and Brian, singing in a two-family choir led by Dad, Levi in his suspenders eating way too many cookies, matching sister ear warmers; it was a Mexican feast, a rousing game of "Cat and Mouse" (yes, Nana with a plunger!), Splickety Lick, a sappy Christmas movie, a giant family sleepover; it was the last of 12 daily letters from my beloved recounting our story, a perfect Christmas morning snow flurry, it was hot chocolate and stockings, an abundance of thoughtful gifts, a happy little boy soaking up love and lots of new things to read and learn and play with; it was a lasagna dinner, dancing to festive music and a Levi-sized disco ball, a philosophical arts debate, more "Cat and Mouse" and even more presents. This Christmas was love, family, music, joy, warmth, togetherness..a fitting celebration of the giver of all of these good gifts.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mary's Song

...older than eternity, 
now He is new...

Now native to earth as I am,
nailed to my poor planet,
caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know
my darkness ended.

Brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
And for him to see me mended,
I must see him torn.

(from "Mary's Song" by L. Shaw, tucked inside a Christmas card from some dear and far-away friends; art by B. Moser)

Whatever joys or troubles this season may hold,
know that this baby was born that you might be new-born, mended and free.

Wishing you a very merry and peaceful Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

merry christmas to us!

At a family Christmas party on Sunday, my great Aunt mentioned that her friend was looking to get rid of a piano...and did anyone want it? Like, for free? ..Um, YES! 

The 96 year old woman is moving on January 1st and needed it out asap, so we quickly juggled around some furniture and gathered strong and willing men of the family for the big move...and by Monday night, we had ourselves a piano. Not only did we acquire a beautiful piano in great shape and recently tuned, but also a lovely hand-stitched piano bench, a lamp with a handmade lampshade and a large pile of vintage piano books.

I do not think she could not have given this instrument to a more appreciative family. We've barely stopped play her.  It's the very first thing Levi wants to do when he wakes up; I've been slowly dusting off my chops and muddling through the Christmas carol book; Brian's been practicing Bach's Invention #1 after Levi goes down for bed(show-off.); even Dmitri enjoys sitting on his new perch.

My mom is a pianist and my siblings and I all played, so growing up my house was always filled with piano music. I'm so very happy that Sea Kettle will sound the same. And perhaps Grammy will give Levi some lessons in the not too distant future? 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

the new kid

One day last week Levi's usual caregiver was home sick with her son so Levi ended up being a last minute special guest in my middle school art class.  He was perfect; sat in a highchair reading, coloring, giving his neighbor crayons and nodding when anyone asked if he liked their artwork. Sweet boy. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


There are plans in the works to start 3 new big paintings after Christmas (two wedding gifts and a commission) but in the meantime, I've found a bit of time here and there to do a couple of quick little pieces for pre-Christmas gift swaps.

1. Derby Wharf lighthouse (just down the street) for an ornament exchange. Painted on a small piece of round wood, small hole drilled (by the Mr. - thank you, Mr.) and a ribbon.

2. Two kitties in a sink, painted for a student on a 3"x3" canvas and given at my middle school art classes' secret Santa gift exchange.

Monday, December 17, 2012

with those

Still thankful for multitudes of blessings, big and small
...but today, I mourn with those who mourn. 

    "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit." 
    Psalm 34:18

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sea Kettle Club

just try to imagine a pumping arab dance beat 
inspired by a funny Levi noise and you'll get the picture

(this all started when Levi decided kitchen pestles make excellent microphones..Papa clearly agreed.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

this and that

just a little bit of this and a little bit of that...

- I was going to say something like "it's that time of year again when I can't tell you what I'm working on and project posts are on hiatus" but then I realized they've pretty much been on hiatus since August of last year. So, I guess no apology needed?  All of this to say, January will be fun! Lots of projects are filling my nights and nap times.

- My hands are notoriously cold, almost any time of the year.  Recently, I've noticed that the touch pad on my Mac has a very hard time registering my fingers when my hands are especially I'm pretty sure it doesn't recognize me as warm and living human being! For the record, Brian thinks I'm crazy and that I should just go to the Mac store and get my computer fixed. I think he should buy me a space heater.

- I tend to put Levi on the papasan chair when he is having a time out since he has a harder time getting out of it. Now, if he ever sits there (NOT during a time out) he says "no nononono" and then kisses me and says "sorry". 

- I knew my husband for quite a while before we got married (high school sweethearts, baby!). Not too many things surprised me and I pretty much felt like I knew what I was getting myself into. BUT, after 4 years of dating and 6 years of marriage, he has indeed surprised me! I never thought of him as the type of guy that liked to/could fix things. I figured that when we owned a house, we'd call my brother or one of our fathers to help us out when we needed it, or worst case, call a professional. And I was fine with that, you can't win them all, right? Well, it turns out that I did indeed win. :) For some reason in the last few months everything in our house broke. Everything. BUT Brian James managed to fix them all! I have to give some props to youtube and google, but who knew the poet/musician could also do a little plumbing? He's fixed a garbage disposal, "water hammer" in the water pipes, the washer, the dryer, and the dishwasher (this one with the help of a brother and father), among other funny little things. What a guy. 

- I apologize if you are my FB friend and already saw this gem of a Levi-ism.. Yesterday I asked Levi if he wanted a hotdog.  He smiled, nodding emphatically and said "woof woof!"

- I also owe you an update on my Dad. He's been recovering very well from his surgery and waiting to hear about whether or not his cancer is a recurrance or not. For some reason they are having a really hard time figuring it out so they are treating him as if it is. His treatment is starting on Monday(at least 6 weeks of chemo and radiation). Pray for strength, perserverance and healing!

- On a lighter note, Levi is saying more and more words everyday. It is amazing and adorable. I love listening to him talk all day long. Some I understand, a lot I don't. It's hard to show a photograph of this phenomenon so lo and behold...I think this is the first video to grace Sea Kettle Diaries! It's gets a little wonky at the end, the audio and video don't match up quite right, but you get the idea and you can hear his beautiful voice, which is all that counts. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

a favorite

Levi loves hiding and playing in little secret spaces; under blankets, behind curtains, under the table..for his first birthday we got him a set of fold away tents (2 tents and a tunnel, to be exact). He gets so hyper and giggly when he's in it and it's fun to see him start to imaginary play; and we have the greatest games of peek-a-boo with this thing. Definitely a favorite activity during these mostly "inside" days. 

(and can you even stand that adorable little belly?)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

let it snow (in the art room)

After studying snow photographer/scientist, William Bentley;
 intricate snowflakes inspired by his photographs;
created by printing found objects. 
(pieces of cardboard, foam shapes and wooden sticks) 

Grades 2-5, 
white acrylic on black paper, 

Monday, December 10, 2012

cheer our spirits by Thine advent

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Giving thanks, for...

- One who disperses gloomy clouds of night
- daily bread, a warm house, a loving family
- a newly placed painting
- students' intricate snowflake prints
- lots of fun Christmas parties on the horizon
- Christmas lights in a dark living room
- long baby naps
- advent activities and advent quiet
- a special Christmas book done and ordered
- french toast and berries with Jon, Sarah and Chris
- movie night with the creative arts group
- last minute play dates
- funny Levi dances, songs and his love for brushing his teeth
- playgroup Christmas celebration
- Highrock town hall meeting; covenants, new developments, excitement.
- a substantial (for Levi) bit of hair growing!

Friday, December 7, 2012

pucker up papa

right now he thinks it's very funny to kiss his Papa right on the lips. 
He'll lay on a juicy one, 
run around the living room giggling in delight, 
then promptly go back for another. 
And repeat.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

morning train-ing

Social media has its pros and cons, but one of the things that it certainly has going for it is the fact that a someone can post "Hey, anyone want to go and play with trains with us?" (paraphrased) at 8am and by 10am a small group of mamas and littles can be happily playing, catching up and watching model trains circle the tracks at the Wenham MuseumI've been wanting to take Levi there for a while now, so a last-minute meet up with friends sounded too good to pass up.

This small town museum is awesome for many reasons but its crowning glory is the extensive collection of working model trains and the ever-changing playroom with a plethora of creative interactive toys and activities.

Locals, you should totally pick up a library pass and go.  And I'd recommend bringing a kid or'll be their favorite. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

a very Sea Kettle Christmas

Sea Kettle is donned in reds and greens all year long so it doesn't take much to make it look like Christmas.  We went relatively simple this year; a table victrola-top tree with just our very favorite ornaments, the nativity, lots of candles, mistletoe, an advent wreath, boughs of greenery here and there and stockings on the fireplace. The Christmas books are out and there may be an elf or two hanging around just for kicks.

Still on my to-do list (that very well may never get done) is a little something for the front door and winter greenery to spruce up the window boxes.  But I'm in no hurry..for now we are quite enjoying our warm little cocoon in all its festive glory.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Friend Retreat 2012

Despite a variety of obstacles (far away friends, low budgets, time constraints, preparations to move across the globe!), we managed to plan and execute Friends Retreat 2012.  It was a little more low-key than last year(Friend Retreat 2011), but all you really need for a Friend Retreat is good old friends, a warm cozy space and a bit of sustenance and we had an over-abundance of all of those things.  

Our weekend was spent nearby at the Bjork's place;  cooking, feasting, lounging, chatting, playing games and music, laughing, loving on Levi, hiking, gallery-walking, worshipping together, photo-shooting, praying around the fire and of course thinking of those who were missing. It was a wonderful weekend with our nearest and dearest and we're already looking forward to next year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

strength and consolation

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
-C. Wesley

Thankful, for..

- fears and sins released, found rest, our strength and consolation, our hope, our desire, our joy. 
- donning the kettle in Christmas cheer
- pumpkin bread
- craft time with Evan
- a surprise in the mail
- a last minute, but wonderful Miro-inspired lesson
- church advent shopping with Kirsten
- playdates with Ariel and Elsie
- ladies group chats
- reenvisioning with the arts group
- the prayers of friends
- warm drinks, fleece blankets, my heating pod
- The first Sunday of advent at Highrock, festive decor, a row of friends, a new Brian song, Pastor Coleman preaching.
- "guilt taken away and sin atoned for" (Isaiah 6:7) 
- Friend Retreat 2012! (more on that later..)