The Table That Friendship Built

I built a table.  And when I say "I", know that I really mean "we".  The "we" I am referring to are my sweet friends.  Said friends have completed numerous wood working projects together and are still married to tell the tale.  In fact they work really well together.  On countless occasions I have shared my love for the table with them and made off handed comments about wanting to build a bigger table.  I wanted to be able to accommodate more people, make more space for story telling, more prayers, more toasts.  See where I'm headed with this?  They told me to find plans for the table and we could build it together.  What the what?!  

Let me share a little story so you are able to completely understand my participation in the actual building process.  When our family was here in June I told them of our table building idea.  Bigger, better, more chairs, maybe even a bench.  It all sounded super.  Until Husband Jared began asking questions.  How big? Have you taken measurements?  Exactly how will we bring said project into our town home with three flights of stairs and some unforgiving angles?  I laughed it off and referred to the answers to his questions as minor details.  And then my father in law, builder extraordinaire, started asking the same questions.  I will admit I hadn't given it a second thought, until then.  I wanted a new table and I had a more than willing partnership to bring this dream to fruition.  In my mind that was more than enough planning.  That my friends is how I operate.  Not in the details apparently.  Thankfully Daniel does understand that space so when I sent him a few of the plans I was considering he looked them over, measurements and all and chose the best one.  He even shopped for the lumber and had it cut to size.  Whew, no measuring twice or five times for me.  Husband Jared could be confident that our table would at the very least be sized appropriately and accurately.
 Now we were on our way!  

The day we started this event was the day after Husband Jared's wrist surgery.  Needless to say he was our supervisor.  Sitting in his chair, cold beverage in hand and offering endless amounts of encouragement and humor.  Daniel and Minette had completed most of the actual building before we arrived.  Spanish cedar was the lumber choice and it was absolutely beautiful, not to mention it smelled delicious.  Our table was in two pieces, the base and the table top itself.  Both raw in form and waiting to be sanded, stained and sealed.  Decisions needed to be made regarding all that so Minette and I took a trip to the hardware store for some insight, and to purchase my very own hand sander.  The situation was getting real people.  I had never before owned my own power tool.  I was official.  Or at least I felt that way.  We then decided on the stain, actually a weathering process we were going to try with steel wool and vinegar.  You break apart steel wool pads and allow them to dissolve in vinegar over a few days.  Once they do, simply brush on the solution and watch the magic happen.  I wish now that I would have been better at taking photos along the way.  It was incredible to witness each stage as the wood morphed into a functional piece of furniture and art piece all at once.  Many days later and quite a few sanding lessons later both the base and top were sanded.  Then began the weathering and sealing.  The tools and experts resided at the Martin household and working around our family's schedules made the experience even more interesting.  About two weeks from our start date the table was complete and being assembled in our dining room.


First time with a hand sander, eventually I got the hang of it.  That is after every noise or mishap stopped intimidating me.


Somewhere during the sanding stages.  Look at our smiles, I think it would be safe to assume we were having some fun!

One last tid bit I'd like to share with you, an aha moment I experienced just as I was finishing sanding the table top.  Almost as if the notion had escaped my logic.  Eventually, there would actually be people sitting around this table.  Friends and family, strangers even, gathered in the space I've created.  And thus began the prayers.  With every brush stroke and rag applied poly coat I prayed.  For all those people, known and unknown that will meet us around this table.  For friends that help create and laugh with you along the way.  For space to tell stories, to make mistakes, for time to listen and really hear, for laughter and games and spilled drinks, for crumbs in the cracks and splinters where I didn't sand, for candle wax dripping and heads resting on folded arms, for map games and highs and lows, for prayers said and recited, Bible stories read and love outpoured in the in-between.  For the beautiful and messy, for grace and for the food, for dessert and full bellies, for empty ones that come hungry for more.  For the sacred.

So when I say that this is the table that friendship built, it truly is.  Without Daniel and Minette I'm not so sure my table dream would be a real thing residing in our family's dining room right this very minute.  Not only that but throughout the process we spent time together.  Our families ate impromptu meals together.  Home made slip n slides were built, smoke bombs created, there were walks to the park and there was much laughter.  Always laughter. I learned a new skill or two and I had the privilege of doing so surrounded by people I love.  What a gift.  Thank you friends for building something much bigger than a table with me.

Here's an open invitation to our table; Join us and when you do be prepared to add some art to our table.  Sharpies are at the ready for your signature or tag, a favorite quote or character.  I can't wait!

The finished product!










Fourth of July and Beyond

Again this will be another post filled with photos and published for family memory's sake.  With Husband Jared and Thing 1 out of the country exploring Israel for almost two weeks and Thing 3 still in Costa Rica the remaining Things and I had decided that we would have our own little get away down South.  Not to mention we did need to return Madison to her family eventually as well.  Anyhow, it was the road trip of the summer and my first time taking on the fourteen hour plus drive myself.  I know, I know, I had two drivers with their learners permits in the vehicle with me but trust me when I say that would not have been good for any of us.  Ok, mostly me and my blood pressure, but that is entirely beside the point.  We hit the road and 15 hours later we arrived at dog camp, our fourth of July destination and the place our superb hosts call home.  Of course there were the usual stops, coffee, potty breaks and ooey gooey butter bars.  You get the picture.  

All smiles to have a respite from Sven! (that's our Volvo's name, because everybody needs a Sven)

The weekend's festivities began with  a cousin night swim and reluctant bed time following, only because the next day was sure to be filled to the brim with excitement.  And that included breakfast at Monell's.  Oh, Southern food how I have missed you.  After eating our weight in fried chicken and the like we rolled our way back to dog camp to prepare in proper fourth of July attire.  Thank you Aunt Natalie for the inspiration.  Then it was on to swimming, gardening, more swimming, eating watermelon, fireworks in the driveway, volleyball in the pool and the grand finale fireworks show as orchestrated by Thing 4 and Uncle Jeff.  It was a grand day celebrating our freedom!

Our breakfast table!

Poolside with Natalie.

Kiddie fireworks prep.

Autumn and her watermelon.

The fam bam and our impromptu watermelon picnic.

I can not even begin to tell you how long we waited for Thing 4 to actually attempt a back flip.  He didn't in the end but it was quite entertaining listening to him walk himself through the steps.

What Fourth of July would be complete without ribs and corn on the cob? 

BFF's waiting for the show!

Autumn all bundled up and ready for fireworks!

Just the beginning of the spectacular light display!  Way to go Uncle Jeff and Thing 4!

Madison and Thing 2 had some fun with sparklers when the rain subsided.  They're so artsy!

We watched a terrible dance movie the night before this photo was taken and Aunt Natalie just had to  show the girls her epic hair styling skills, side braids and diagonal part, courtesy of the 90's.  

Before we left Pappo had an art lesson with all the girls in his studio.  We love to paint!

So we left dog camp after two extremely full days, a stormy night, too much food and loads of fun.  We met the Durbins and reluctantly returned Madison to them after spending two and a half hours catching up in the Target parking lot.  True friends people, and honestly more like family.  We are so grateful for them. Then it was on to Franklin.  Thing 4 had gone to Fairview with Gpa and Mema on 4th of July to spend a few days helping Gpa with work.  From what I gathered, there was some work done, a long motorcycle ride taken, a pocket knife purchased and a couple rather large catfish caught.  Sounds like it was a great week for Thing 4.  Meanwhile, Thing 2 and I were in Franklin where we both were catching up with old friends and we were all enjoying the summer nights together. 

Summer night in Franklin, sprinklers, a slide, the sun and friends!

Thing 2 with Reilly and Caroline.  I love those smiles.  And I was able to spend an entire day with their Mama and another dear friend.  Smiles for everyone!  

Autumn, Gemma and I spent the next morning together exploring.  We started with breakfast and coffee for me of course, a trip to the park, a trip to the bookstore where animals were read to, a Spanish book was requested and trains were played with.  Home for a carpet picnic and an afternoon catch up with a dear friend of mine.  

Sisters.  Waiting "patiently" for Auntie Leanna to finish her coffee.

The boy's first pocket knife, a momentous occasion!

Catfish #1!  Never mind that he caught it trolling the pole immediately after the catfish food had been thrown out into the pond.  It is still a catch to be proud of.

Seven hours on the bike this day.  Quite a feat for my little man.

Thing 2 and I managed to catch an afternoon together to do some exploring in our favorite little downtown.  We had biscuits at Loveless with the family and then headed into Franklin for the rest of our day.  This fun antique shop caught our eye and with all the letters and animals everywhere we couldn't help but stop.  The girl spotted Krispy Kreme and insisted I buy her a donut. And then in the evening we all walked to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and live music on the square.  There was twirling and running and playing and laughing and singing and then ice-cream on the way home.  

Something to look at everywhere!

We love donuts!

Our next adventure was canoeing on the Duck River.  Thing 4 and his best buddy Blake joined us for the day and provided much entertainment for us all.  And by entertainment I mean they managed to flip their canoe just fifteen minutes into our float down the river and this Mama was scrambling to the shore to get it right before it filled with water and sunk, all while Thing 2 was pushed into spider webs and ants.  Yes, good times people.  If only it was captured on video.  After that excitement it was mostly smooth canoeing.  We found a rope swing and rocks to jump off, Thing 2 and I turned ourselves backwards a few times and in the end fun was had by all!  The boys left us for Blake's house and to ready themselves for the lake the next day.  Sven also decided to have some issues this day so he spent the next two days with Uncle Jeff's mechanic being fitted for a new alternator and a few new belts.  Thankfully that happened while we were in Franklin and not in the middle of nowhere Iowa.  Needless to say our trip was prolonged a few days and none of us were too upset about it.  Oh, the day didn't end there.  Thing 2 and I had our noses pierced and we had dinner at La Ha with our friends, laughing late into the night with one of their daughters who just graduated college.  Which is wild because just yesterday she was babysitting all the Things and making funny movies with them.  Sweet memories with even sweeter friends.

Blake, Thing 4 and Autumn.  She loves her cousin and his friend!

Celebrating our piercing with ice-cream of course!

Thing 2 and Abigail, on the Natchez Bridge.  Another sweet friend Thing 2 spent time with while we were in Franklin.  

The following day the Horel family left for a camping trip in the Smoky mountains, Thing 4 was on his way to Pickwick Lake with Blake and his family, Thing 2 was out with her friend, I had lunch with the Things former footie trainer and then I was home alone on a Friday night.  So I watched Netflix and watched the sunset and was ever so grateful for the week that we had been given.  Saturday Thing 2 had requested a trip into downtown Nashville, reminding me that she had not ever been.  You know, except that one time with Poppi and Nani when she was nine years old.  Tragic, I tell you.  Wink, wink.  I obliged and we spent the next few hours walking in an area I had only ran through during the Country Music half marathon and immediately was swooney over.  There was a quaint little farmer's market, little cafes and restaurants, ice cream shops, historic homes and The Peach Truck.  Yes please.  We purchased a bag of peach goodness that I had read about and set to planning what we would make with them.  From there we went downtown and drooled over all the cowboy boots, heard country music pouring out from all the honkey tonics and filling the sidewalks with a sweet twang and then headed out to Gpa and Mema's to cook dinner for them.  It was a good night sitting out on the dock, playing cards and listening to the sounds of nature. We rounded out our weekend with church on Sunday morning and family dinner and movie night with the Horels before we packed up the car to head North early Monday morning.  Taking with us more memories than I can count and a heaping dose of gratitude for all that He provided us with over the week.  Which in this case, as is the usual with us, meant time with family and friends and good food to share with them all.  

Thing 2 found this mural and we had the perfect photo op!

Our peaches.  You must get yourself some of these if ever you have the chance.  Really.  

A grilling lesson with Mema.


Our drive home.  This is what my co-pilots looked like a majority of the way home.  I'd say they were tuckered out from all the fun.  Me too.  Why is it that the drive home seems twice as long as the drive said destination?  

That concludes our summer road trip edition 2015...at least for now.  

Chicago for Our 18th!

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary, our family's birthday.  A friend of mine recently referred to the day as such and I suppose I liked it.  It was the official date we became a family and added to our numbers but the reality is that began long before the ceremony.  August 2nd is a special day no doubt and we will mark it with celebratory pause because it is the day where we made public our covenant with God and one another.  At our young ages I am fairly certain that neither of us truly understood the scope of such a commitment.  And maybe even to do this day we don't.  I do know we are learning, more every day about how to have a servant's heart for each other, what this four letter word LOVE really means, especially in the mundane, uphill battles, and the valleys of life, how to lose ourselves and just how to be the bridegroom of Christ before everything else.  Y'all, this marriage business is hard but it is so very worth it.  

So on this day I will wish Husband Jared a happy anniversary.  I will pick him up from the airport and hold his hand while he is driving us home where our Things will be making us breakfast with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.  They told me so last night and I can hardly wait.  We'll be together, the six of us and whatever we decide to do this day will be cause for rejoicing.  
We made it, another year!



To commemorate that year we snuck away for a night in Chicago last weekend, just the two of us.  It all worked out perfectly.  Thing 3 was flying in to O'Hare the next evening and there was no footie, no commitments and some hotel points waiting to be used!  Man oh man was it fun, albeit less than twenty four hours alone!  To begin with we had a six hour drive with no interruptions, other than our frequent potty stops, ahem, where we discussed each one of the Things, work, life, home, travel, politics, you get the idea!  We quickly changed and ran to dinner at Rick Bayless' Topolobampo where we were told it was going to be a two hour wait.  No thank you.  Next door is his Fronterra restaurant and to our surprise there were two open seats at the bar and that is where we ate the best ceviche we've ever had.    Yes indeed, well other than the ceviche Husband Jared made with fresh red snapper he had caught the day before while we were sea side on the Gulf coast.  Other than that.  The next day was spent wandering around the city, taking in the sights, smells and sounds that is Chicago in the summer.  


Chicago skyline, well part of it anyway and a summer storm approaching.

You know I have to tell about our breakfast meal because it was our first time visiting The Little Goat Diner and I think I could have moved in there.  Eclectic and darling, every last detail, even the cloth napkins rolled with a goat stamped brown paper seal.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  So much to look at and take in and wouldn't you know it, we were able to dine at the bar facing the kitchen.  It was Disneyland for me.  I could even hear the chefs and line cooks in the back, watch the expediter and see all the food before it was whisked away to the tables.  Not to mention the coffee shop/bakery that is attached has an open window to the actual bakery.  I watched them roll out scones before I even had my first sip of coffee.  That my friends is an excellent way to start the day.


My view at breakfast.


Just look at that, bakery bliss.

Back to our walking, there was architecture to gawk at every which way, live music in Millennium Park where we had a fine view of The Bean, a water feature overflowing with laughing children, soaked from head to toe and then a fine Irish pub to watch Manchester United face Barcelona and where I was watching the clock because once the match was over that meant we would be on our way to see our Thing 3, who we had been without for five weeks!

The Bean.


Splash pad in the city.

Time away with him is always the best and I am grateful for our less than twenty four hours together, alone.  Happy anniversary Husband Jared, here's to us!



A Birthday, Father's Day and all the Camps

Promptly after our very last airport drop off for all the celebrations and house guests at the Hanson B&B, let me know if you're interested in reservations, Husband Jared and I began his birthday-Father's day festivities.  Mind you, we had indulged the extended family while they were here with birthday cake and the like but we do enjoy maximizing the opportunity to celebrate just as long as we can.  And since we had not had more than a few minutes alone for the past month we went out, just the two of us, for the kick off!  Pig Ate My Pizza is another restaurant owned and operated by some of our very favorite Minneapolis chefs.  Their specialty, you guessed it, pizza!  The atmosphere is casual, unpretentious and the entire staff seems as though they are in their realm.  I love it!  As if you couldn't tell.  We sampled a few different pizzas, maybe a craft brew and dessert.  Oh man the dessert.  A mini chess pie in it's very own baby cast iron skillet.  I might have exclaimed out loud that this was the very best chess pie I had ever eaten.  Yes indeed!  I think the smile on the birthday boy's face says it all.  

The Birthday Boy!

Piggy Pie, my favorite.  Brioche crust with sausage and homemade sauce.

The very next day was Husband Jared's actual 40th birthday and since we were celebrating him once again we let him choose everything we did that day.  Pool time, relaxing and watching footie and a family outing to Tin Fish, complete with a walk around the lake.  Home for a one of a kind cake creation by our resident baker, Thing 3, and more of us.  Does it get any better than that?  Our Things know how to make someone feel special and they did a fine job that day of showing Husband Jared their love.  They're the best to celebrate with!  

Pool time per Dad's request.

Free birthday coffee at the Bou!  (not pictured: Thing 4, he had training)

 Linner at Tin Fish!  

The master baker at work for her Daddy.

The finished product, hill with a falling down man and a tombstone- it doesn't get much more morbid than that.  Happy 40th!


Make a wish!

The next week was filled with camp preparations and Royal Servant check lists.  Thing 1 was scheduled to go to day camp for work, Things 2 and 4 would be at Jam Camp for a week and Thing 3 would be at training camp for a week and then off to Costa Rica for four weeks, not returning until late July.  I have mentioned her missions trip on the blog before but the reality truly set in as I sat in the room with her and rolled t-shirts, checked medicine bottles, stuffed lavender scented dryer sheets into all the zippies, labeled everything and watched her face light up as she was doing it all.  It was quite the week of packing, shopping for last minute supplies and making every attempt to savor these summer days together.  

Preparing for Royal Servants.  All the zippies and dryer sheets.

Husband Jared, Thing 3 and myself all made the trip to training camp for the drop off.  Not until we had her favorite meal and family time around the table of course; A tradition of sorts for the night before any trip.  Pardeeville, WI was the destination for this version of tent city and the place where Thing 3 would meet her traveling family.  We unpacked her box into a large bag that she would be living out of for the next 5 weeks, rolled out her sleeping mat and sleeping bag in her tent and watched her step into the unknown with a confidence that could have only been given to her by the Holy Spirit.  This Mama was so proud.  As she walked away from us, knowing I would maybe receive only a few emails and not hear her voice for the next month I promptly ran to the car and held in my tears just as long as I could.  Such a strange feeling to be witnessing the beginning of your child's independence into adulthood and yet still feel like they are just babies.  Enough on that.  I will have a separate blog post dedicated to Thing 3's trip soon.  So much to say, so many stories and so many photos.  The next morning the three that were left woke to make Father's day breakfast for the very best Dad.  We sat around the table and shared the love and celebrated Husband Jared once again, this time for the father that he is.  Then it was time to send two more off to camp.  And off they went, laughing, waving goodbye, not having a care in the world.  JAM camp is one of the best weeks of the year according to my four.  I have one photo of the two that were there, courtesy of Thing 2's photo folder.  Thing 2 was their as a camp counselor for the first time and Thing 4 a camper.  So much fun!  Thing 1 was an only child for the week and it began with a trip to German Fest and dinner at Surly, per her Dad's request for his Father's day.  Our week with just the three of us was not much different, late night walks, dinners out and too much quiet in the house.  Thing 1 even had a sushi date with Husband Jared and I.  We might have made up grand stories about all the people around us too.  It was most certainly a fun night!  Then before we knew it, our next house guest, Madison had arrived and we were picking the JAM campers up from church.  Another week or so full and complete.  
Thankfully much more summer fun was on it's way!  

Training Camp drop off.  


Two JAM Camp buddies!


Father's day in front of the Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul