On Finding Our Foundation

May 12 2016

My foundations are a little shaky these days. A little crumbly and in need of shoring up. Or in need of discarding, maybe; in need of abandoning as foundations at all and building anew, since I feel like I’m mixing sand and mud into concrete as fast as I can and throwing the muddled mess at the foundations of my politics… and the foundations of my religion… and the foundations of my religious politics… and it’s not sticking like I’d hoped.

Yes; my foundations are a little shaky these days. A little crumbly and in need of reconsideration, because, I suspect, they were built on shifting ground. Or over moving water. Or smack dab on a sinkhole, and WHOOSH, one day the ground moved. Trembled. Dropped out from underneath me. So I wondered where I’d built my life and how to find stability. How to be sure of my footing. Where I might find a solid base.

It’s just… they seemed like such good foundations. America! The Church! They said such pretty things. And they meant well. I just know they did. I was told they were worthy of my trust, and they sure seemed to be. They worked so well for so long. Or they didn’t, but I didn’t notice because I believed what they said about themselves, which amounted to the same thing for me.

Give us your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you;
you shall love the foreigner as yourself, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Please understand I feel ridiculous saying this, but the whole Donald Trump thing had me feeling adrift and bewildered, a little hopeless and kind of unnerved, not to mention weary and wary and afraid. Not because of Mr. Trump himself, necessarily. Not really. Even Optimistic, Pollyanna, “Practice Gratitude” Me understands there are Trumps in this world who will make false promises, bully and belittle the marginalized, take advantage of people who are hurt and angry, and then use those emotions to rally vocal masses to spread hatred and exclusion as though those are solutions and not the Very Core of the Original Problem. Yes, I know there are people like Trump in this world and in our country; there always have been and always will be and they will try forever to find public footing and to be in fashion. So no, it’s not Trump himself who made me feel jittery and queasy and on edge. It’s the fact that I thought America was better than this. More open. More welcoming. More likely to Triumph over Terror than to buy into it. More interested in extending a hand than closing the golden door. More eager to seek solutions based on loving our neighbors as ourselves and more likely to understand, in the end, that everyone is our neighbor.

My foundations are a little shaky these days. A little crumbly and in need of shoring up. And I’m embarrassed to admit that one of my foundations was apparently the Way I Perceived America to Be. To be shaken by a Trump type, after all, makes this Uncomfortable Truth clear; I built a part of my life and a part of my understanding and a part of my world on the idea that America is on a constant, upward trajectory toward Inclusion and Equality and Justice for All — and that even the leaders I disagree with are at least well intentioned — instead of accepting and practicing my responsibility to Beckon the Huddled Masses and Practice Global Citizenship, to Welcome the Stranger and move us on that trajectory with whatever Small Engine I possess.

America as a Savior! America as a Redeemer! America as a Comforter and Healer, I thought. Maybe not consciously, but thought it, I did.

I was wrong.

In God we trust, we say, but it was America herself in whom I trusted.

Instead of Love.

And I was wrong.

Yes, my foundations are a little shaky these days. A little crumbly and in need of a fresh start. Everything is a jumble and a mix and a muddle, and I’ve had a little trouble knowing where, exactly, to plant my stakes and my feet. Turns out, it’s not politics or nationalism. That’s not the foundation. And it disappoints me to tell you as a Good Christian Girl it’s not the Church, either.

No, it’s not.

Sadly, the foundation isn’t the Church; though, as someone who loves Jesus, I once thought it was, and I idolized her in the manner I was taught. Worshiped the Church. Believed everything she told me, including that she should be my ultimate authority and I subject to her each and every whim, whether or not it matched what Love Incarnate had lived and breathed and etched on my heart.

The Church, though, is made of humans. And humans are made of mud and broken ribs and divinity and magic and mess. We are quick to anger and slow to forgive and unspeakably kind and generous. We are transcendent and terrible. Shaky and stable. As likely to be territorial and vicious as we are to be welcoming and warm, and God knows we’re unlikely to tell you truthfully which we’ll be on any given day since we don’t always know ourselves.

The Church, it turns out, is like a family. Some of us have great ones. Unbelievable! Wonderful! We couldn’t imagine life without them! And some of us have to escape horrific abuse. Most of us live somewhere in the middle where our churches and families are filled to the brim with people who mean well and don’t, who are charitable and cruel, sometimes simultaneously because they’re complex and complicated and unfathomable in method and motive, and beautiful and brutal, too.

And so the Church cannot be our foundation. It simply can’t. There are too many shifting tides and moving trajectories and muddy motives. Too much determining Who’s In and Who’s Out, as it’s always been for time immemorial. Too many endorsements of the Crusaders and the Trump types. Too much focus on yoga pants. Like any structure that wields power, we can participate in it; we can value beautiful bits and precious pieces; we can allow that it’s worthy of our time and investment because, when used well, it spreads compassion and kindness. And it’s still not foundational. Which means when it Screws Up Royally, it doesn’t need to shake us. Because our foundation comes from someplace deeper. Someplace stronger. Someplace less likely to pulse and sway and collapse with every tremor, every storm.

It’s true that my foundations have been a little shaky these days. A little crumbly and in need of reevaluation.

And the more I live with that, the more I think… isn’t this great, friends? ISN’T THIS FANTASTIC? To learn that our foundations are crumbly and broken? To learn in time to build someplace stronger? THIS IS WONDERFUL. This is AMAZING. That we have this chance to discard the chaff and grasp the wheat; to let go of what does us No Good and find Sustenance.

We get to dig deeper. We get to find truer truth. We get to suss out what Makes Us Real like the Velveteen Rabbit before us. We get to look for Kindness, and learn Gentleness, and seek Faithfulness, and practice Patience (which is the worst), and learn to our bones that, at the end, these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But, friends, the greatest of these is love. The greatest of these is Love.

This is our foundation. That we love each other. Deeply. Wildly. Wonderfully. Well. Love made flesh and dwelling, still, among us.

I am neither leaving America nor the Church. I am simply recognizing they are no longer my foundations. They are no longer my sources. They are no longer my idols, worthy of worship or blinding loyalty, and I will push them and question them and challenge them as such, standing on a firmer, deeper, broader foundation which is all that’s left when the other foundations fall.

My foundation is Love. My foundation is in the God who goes by the same name. My foundation is in loving my neighbors as myself, and recognizing that everyone is my neighbor. My foundation lies in sitting in the mud. My foundation lies in living honestly. My foundation lies in waving in the dark. And in holding hands when we’re lost and alone and cold and afraid. And my foundation lies in waiting for the dawn with you. Waiting, always, for the dawn which is coming which is the same to me as Love itself.

Sending love to you, friends, from the new foundation, firmer and free,



Hold Everything! (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 6)

May 4 2016

Regarding the range hood, HOLD EVERYTHING, friends.

Our friend, Katherine, just sent us this picture, and I suspect it’s the Perfect Thing.


That’s a “Vintage Hood” made to order by the folks at Antique Vintage Appliances. They can make it in any color and any size with several trims. So all the advantages of a modern hood, all the lovely of vintage. Here’s their shtick:

We manufacture range hoods patterned after a classic stove hood built in the 1940’s through the early 1950’s. We have updated the fan section with a Broan insert with variable speed blowers, removable filters and a two position light switch. A mounting bracket will be provided for easy installation. This bracket creates a 1/4” space on the wall so you can install a painted, tiled or stainless backsplash of your choice with a finished edge. These are manufactured in widths of 30” to 60” and can be painted to match any decor. The trim pieces and logo can be plated in copper, nickel, chrome or brass.

Questions for the Team:

  1. I assume if this doesn’t cost one thousand million ka-jillion dollars, we must have it as it is the perfect hat for Betty. Correct?? << This is the part where you weigh in quickly because I’m Mostly Sold already, so if this isn’t the thing, you must talk me down. If you need tips for talking me down, Greg can provide you with details, though, as an overview, you can try distracting me (food, blood and nudity are most effective) or looking like you ate something rancid and, when I ask what’s wrong with your face, saying, “Your life choices, Beth; your life choices are what is wrong with my face.”
  2. I further assume we shall order this in white with chrome trim because that’s what Betty’s wearing, and every lady from the 1950’s knows your hat must coordinate with your shoes and handbag.

The only downside I can see here is the fact that it reinforces it’s worth it to wait for the Right Thing rather than Rush the Job. As a lifelong fan of Rushing the Job, I’m afraid this is the kind of thing that will force me to reevaluate my priorities, and that kind of bites.

Thoughts, friends? Do share!

With bated breath,





P.S. I emailed the Vintage Hood people 2 whole hours ago and have heard NOTHING yet. I suggest we all call them and kindly note that I need an answer. ASAP. Because I’m Very Bad at Waiting. I’m sure they’ll understand. Their number is 1-520-326-6849.

P.P.S. Here’s a pic of Betty with the Vintage Hood pic, too:


I think they might be soulmates.

Several Problems with the Kitchen Remodel, Mostly Emotional (A Group Remodeling Project: Part 5)

May 3 2016

Friends! GOOD NEWS! Greg and I fought about the kitchen!

This means he’s not being crafty or wily or luring us into complacency before he springs his trap to derail us.

Unless he’s being crafty and wily by arguing to throw us off the crafty and wily scent. He IS better at chess than me. Probably. I’ve never played chess with him, but I assume, based on his passion for mathematics and strategy, and my inability to sit at a table for longer than two minutes before feeling jittery and panicky and like there are twelve other things I should be doing with my time, that he’s better at chess than me. Greg’s definitely better at Scrabble, though, so I feel like we can extrapolate. He takes five hundred thousand million years to take his turn so he can graph every possible letter combination and permutation and the trajectory of their positions on the board, and then he gets crabby when I poke him in the shoulder and say, “Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg, Greg. Are you going to go now? How ’bout now? Now? How ’bout now?”

The point being, Greg takes the EXCRUCIATINGLY LONG view of things so he could be throwing us off by arguing with us about the kitchen.

But I don’t think so. I think we’re in the clear. I think he’s genuinely disgruntled about a couple things, so WE’RE BACK ON TRACK and all’s good! We can proceed as NORMAL.

Which leads me to the problems we’re having with the kitchen remodel, none of which have to do with the remodel and all of which have to do with the counseling, encouragement and tough love you’re going to need to provide if we’re going to get anywhere. 

Specifically, our problems are as follows:

  1. Greg is Having an Issue with the chimney range hood concept (option 1 from the previous post). He does not like it. Does Not. Unequivocally. He only likes the idea of a cabinet and under-cabinet mount (which was option 2). Now, obviously this should not be a problem because Greg is entitled to have an opinion, I said I like both, and most of Us are all, “Meh. Whatever. No super strong opinion.” So whatever, right? I believe my exact words were, “I tend to like both and can easily be talked into either.” What I meant was I can easily be talked into either by YOU. Not by Greg. There is nothing — nothing — more likely to sway me toward pizza than Greg saying he absolutely MUST have a burger. So I found I NEEDED the chimney range hood, after all, and did NOT want — in fact, COULD NOT TOLERATE — the cabinet there. See how this complication is all Greg’s fault? Me, neither. 🙁 I came around. Eventual Maturity, I call it. I’d prefer just Maturity, but I’m not always issued that in my personality tool box.
  2. Greg is ALSO Having an Issue with placing the dishwasher further to the right of the sink than immediately next to it. I considered making this decision harder than it had to be, like I did with the range hood, but, since Greg does more dishes than me, he gets to pick. Me = Problem Solver! Also, Me = Dishes Avoider!
  3. But the Main Problem is we are officially 8 days into this project, and I would like to quit now. It’s not that I’ve suddenly decided I like starting my stove with an ice pick. The problem is I cannot sustain this much interest in myself or my house over the long term. This is the part where you say, “But, Beth, you are a BLOGGER. It’s your literal JOB to sustain this much interest in yourself.” And that’s when I’ll answer, “This is why I’m So Bad at Things; I do them wrong. CONSTANTLY,” and often on purpose. For example, I read articles that tell me my blog posts MUST be shorter — 500-800 words is “optimal length” — and I IMMEDIATELY sit down and write 1200 words as rebellion because No One Can Tell Me What to Do.

Now, I’m not rebelling against the remodel. I want to do it. It makes sense to do it. It’s just — it’s been 8 days — and I’d like to be done now because I’m driving Me crazy pestering myself with kitchen questions. It’s like one half of my brain is Me playing Scrabble, making hasty decisions and plunking down letters and Getting on with Life because there are More Important Things than Thinking Decisions Through and Being SURE About Them, and the other half of me is Greg playing Scrabble, talking through Every Possible Permutation. The Greg half is all, “Wait! I have to think of ALL THE THINGS,” and the Beth half is all, “Beth, Beth, Beth, Beth, Beth, Beth, Beth. Are you done yet? Can you go now? How ’bout now? How ’bout now?” until I WANT TO SLAP ME.

You guys. You guys. There are Serious Things Happening in the Real World. Trump is the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican Party; THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS HAPPENING. We should all be laying on the floor like Nancy Kerrigan when she got her knee beat to crap during the Olympic ice skating trials — laying there yelling Why? Why? WHY? And we are talking about a KITCHEN REMODEL, instead.

Which, I suppose, is exactly why we MUST talk about a kitchen remodel, yes? BECAUSE WE WILL SING WHILE THE SHIP GOES DOWN.


In conclusion, if anyone has any free counseling to offer, or encouragement, or pats on the head, or “there, there, sweet bunnies,” or kicks in the rear to offer, we’re at your disposal.

In the meantime, I’m sending love and waving in the dark,





IMG_9476P.S. We DID have our contractor friends in to bid on the cabinet work. We’re waiting that to see whether there’s much of a cost difference in the range hoods/cabinet options, and we’ll tell you more when we know more.

P.P.S. Please do not be too worried about Future Arguments. I have explained to Greg that arguing with me in the future is actually arguing with All of Us as the Kitchen Remodel Collective. I helped him understand that we are the Borg, we will assimilate him, and resistance is futile. He took it well.



Under Cabinet or Wall-Mount Range Hood? (Where You Tell Me How to Improve My House: Part 4)

May 1 2016

Alright, folks; we have a winner!


84% of us voted to put Betty against the wall between the fridge and the sink. Whether we were motivated by the desire not to obstruct the window or because we want to jump naked out of a cake for Greg remains unclear and is, frankly, irrelevant.

Our conclusions are clear:

  1. Betty goes against the wall between the fridge and the sink,
  2. I’ll have to move the dishwasher further to the right so it’s not too close to the sink, and…
  3. We need to buy a really, really big, hollow cake, approximately the size of Rhoad Island so a) we all fit and b) Greg becomes too distracted to check our bank account ever, ever again. I just want to clarify that we are very egalitarian in these parts so the naked cake-jumping is not limited to a single gender; please begin mentally preparing yourselves now for close, sweaty, naked quarters inside the cake cave and to champion all body types, because we will shame no one for skinny or fluffy bodies, and to explain to your well-meaning friends and relatives that just because we’re sans-clothes together does not imply anything sexual or untoward. This is simply the World’s Best Distraction technique which is required in order to serve a Higher Purpose; namely, Helping Greg Through a Very Difficult Time because we care about him to the moon, and we don’t want him to have a heart attack. So really what we’re doing is Heart Attack Prevention, and when they ask if you’re crazy, you should ask if THEY’RE crazy for wanting people to die of heart attacks.

Incidentally, the other 16% of us aren’t necessarily opposed to putting Betty against the wall. We just wanted to be sure we’d explored all the options first. Some of our ideas included building Betty an island, putting Betty where the hutch or fridge are, or keeping Betty in the current stove spot but using a retractable hood or downdraft vent. These are all technically possible, but, in the end, there are various reasons I rejected them: the bulkiness of a downdraft unit, the fact that Betty’s high back would block its effectiveness, my dislike of a heat-sucking downdraft next to a stove, my adoration of our farm table, the desire to stay married to Greg and not drive him away with a full kitchen remodel, and, ultimately, the appeal of leaving the window totally unobstructed by Betty’s back or a pull-down hood. Those factors combined with a whopping 86% in favor of the move make the choice straight forward. But I like the creative way we think! We are going to need to keep this up as we go forward.

So we have a decision! Hooray!

What we do NOT have is Greg freaking out.

To emphasize, Greg knows what our decision is, and he is not looking nauseated or sighing excessively or curling his lip in that particular Beth Insists on Using an iPhone Even Though I TELL Her and TELL Her an Android Is Cheaper look of disdain.

This is the same man who wasn’t sure we needed to purchase a $30 Ikea laminate bookshelf because he had a few leftover 2x4s and some scrap plywood in the garage, so he thought we could put some combination of that on the wall, instead. Hahahahaha! No. Nope. No. Looking back, Greg and I should’ve known that bookshelf was a Slippery Slope to other Big Ideas. Greg must have had an inkling, though; you’ve never seen a man fight so hard not to spend $30.

This current Not Freaking Out behavior is, in other words, very, very strange and obviously due to one of two things. Either:

  1. Greg watched your comments come in, knew which way the wind is blowing, and these two factors somehow magically bypassed his usual response to my Grand Schemes, which is the same as the 5 Stages of Grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, OR, and this is my big fear…
  2. HE’S BEING WILY and TRYING TO FAKE US OUT and we must be very, very wary, friends. On the lookout for sabotage. Watching our backs.

Although I suspect the reason for the Non-Freakout is #2 because Greg is getting Very Crafty in his older age, if the reason turns out to be #1, and you have Magic Powers, we will heretofore be making ALL life choices together. Consider yourselves warned, friends.

And, with that warning that we’ve gotta be on our game, it’s time to move to our Next Decision.

The Next Decision – HOORAY! – which is this:

The Range Hood

Since Ms. Betty is going against the wall, we must decide what range hood will go above her. It feels important to note at this juncture I am thinking we will most likely cover our exposed kitchen walls (not a lot of space, actually) with white subway tiles. This is something you will rubber stamp for me later or force me to change my mind, but I’ve been in love with the look forever, it adds to the farmhouse industrial thing we’ve got going on, and my friend Emily says it’s inexpensive to do. So you’d have to present me with some compelling information (like you did about putting Betty in front of a window) to change my mind.

What I’m primarily after with the range hood decision is the BEST FRAME FOR BETTY. We have tons of cupboard space in the kitchen. You can’t see the double pantry around the corner past the hutch, but it’s floor to 9′ ceiling, 64″ wide and 24″ deep. Tons and tons of space. Even with losing the upper cabinet above Ms. Betty’s new location, we’re fine on space. So what I really need to know as you look at this is which looks better; option 1 or option 2?

Given that info on white tiled walls and the what’s-prettier parameters, I’ve pulled some pics from the internets to show our range hood options, as follows.

ONE: A wall-mounted range hood, left plain without cupboards above, which might look something like this…

RangeHood1Photo Source: maybe Michael Robinson Photography – that’s as far as I could track the pic 

RangeHood2Photo Source: unknown — let me know if you find out so I can properly credit this

RangeHood3Photo Source: A Diary of Lovely

*ahem* Note the stove faucet on that last pic. SO unnecessary with Betty next to the sink, but SO lovely I think we should consider it anyway.

TWO: An under-cabinet range hood which might look something like this…


Photo Source: Birmingham Home and Garden


Photo Source: unknown — let me know if you find out so I can properly credit this

Back to you!

Which of these options — #1 Wall-Mounted Range Hood WITHOUT Cabinetry OR #1 Under Cabinet Range Hood will look better with Ms. Betty? 

AND — follow-up question — HOW MUCH do you care? I tend to like both and can easily be talked into either, but if we find out one option is significantly less expensive than the other, can we make this decision based on cost? Cheaper wins? This might assuage Greg’s future freak-out (which may never come because of Magical YOU) and give us some street cred to use later when Things Cost More Than We Anticipated, which is inevitable, though we should never tell Greg we admitted that aloud.

I love you very much for not making me do this alone. WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER, VILLAGE.





P.S. Speaking of being naked, which we haven’t spoken of since the beginning of this post, paragraphs and paragraphs ago, but I’m bringing up again now anyway… I dreamt last night I got my hair cut at a new salon full of naked male hairdressers. Not, like, the cultural definition of HOT naked males or anything sexy, you understand. Just ordinary dudes with sparse body hair in strange patches and paunches and dangly bits, which was strangely hot because these men OWNED IT. They were all, We are naked male hairdressers. What are YOU staring at? Like my staring was my problem and not theirs, which was kind of rad, actually, and felt like the most true part of the dream. Long story short, I got my hair cut while babysitting my hairdresser’s toddler because he couldn’t find a sitter, and my hair looked GOOD. The End.

The Stove Has a Name, I Took Better Pics, and I Need Your Opinions Again (Where You Tell Me How to Improve My House: Part 3)

Apr 29 2016

Back to Important Things instead of that detour we took yesterday to talk about feelings, and doing the Right Thing, and Making Mistakes, and working, always, on Listening and Loving Well . Back to Important Work on the Kitchen Remodel now. Because PRIORITIES, FRIENDS. Priorities.

We have results from our recent poll on What to Do With the Stove and How to Approach the Remodel. And, of course, we have New Decisions to make. 

But first, I have received a few emails like this:

Dear Beth,

I say this in love.

You are an adorable, sweet, darling woman, and I care for you deeply, but you CANNOT ask us to make INFORMED design decisions with crappy photos. You’re going to need to give us better pictures so we know what in the world we’re talking about.

You asked for help and WE ARE HERE FOR YOU; give us what we need so we can do our damn job, lady. 

The Designers Among Us

So, fine. I get it. As Carrie Fisher said in When Harry Met Sally when Sally told Carrie the married man she was dating was never going to leave his wife, not ever,  “You’re right. You’re right. I know you’re right.”

You’re right, friends. You’re right. know you’re right. I can’t expect you to give me the Very Best Advice while I’m providing you with Substandard Tools. And, since the Whole Point of asking you for help is to AVOID the Substandard, I have done the unthinkable and cleaned my kitchen and walked all the way upstairs to get the good camera and took these new and improved pics for you.

The Whole Kitchen
taken from the living room perspective:IMG_9466-001

The Affected Corner of the Kitchen:IMG_9467

The Stove Area:IMG_9469-002

Better, yes?


Now we can see what we’re working with.

Unfortunately, I have also just proven we Woolseys can technically clean up after ourselves if we would just get our butts in gear. That’s sad, but we shall ignore that bit of news like we’ve been doing for years and move swiftly on.

Here are our results.


  1. We are overwhelmingly pro-window. I have tallied Team Beth’s opinions on Options 1 and 2, as follows: 73% of us chose Option #1 (keep the window and put the oven and range hood in front of it), 14% of us chose Option #2 (remove the window and construct a wall in its place with smaller windows on either side so the hood isn’t awkwardly in front of the window), and 13% of us chose Option #3 (both of the options suck, so can we please find any other way to keep the window and not obstruct it??)
  2. As a result, we have made ONE IMPORTANT DECISION, based on 86% of the vote. We will NOT be getting rid of the window. 
  3. HOWEVER, we have not decided it’s best to obstruct the window, either. There was Very Much Concern over this, so we must discuss.


  1. The 1950’s stove was the most awesome idea ever. Yes! Yes, she was! And thank you!
  2. She should have a name, though.
  3. Jessie suggested we name her Betty, and since a) Betty was my grandmother’s name (until she named herself after me), and b) my grandmother had an abiding fancy streak and zero budget, and c) “a Betty” is synonymous with a gorgeous, super hot lady, we agree with Jessie. Betty is perfect. Problem solved. Case closed. Betty is our stove’s name.
  4. Can we just not install a range hood? Leave it off entirely? Maybe install just the stove in front of the window and no silly hood, thus solving the window obstruction issue? The answer, friends, sadly, is no. Oregon law requires an exhaust system, not just ventilation, so we must have a hood. I know, I know; boo.
  5. If we must have a hood, is there anywhere else we can put Betty so she’s not blocking the window? Blocking the window will drive us CRAZY. The answer is… actually, maybe we can. Maybe we can put Betty against a wall and not the window. Let’s chat. 

Which bring us to…


The Decision, Round 2, is where we operate within the parameters already decided, which are 1) we’re keeping Betty, 2) we’re keeping the window as is.

That leaves us with either of the following:

ONE: A NEW idea… we put Betty against the same wall as the fridge, sort of like this:


You may have to zoom in on the photo to see where Betty, the hood, the dishwasher and cabinets might go.

This is the more expensive of the two options because we would have to restub the gas line, move the dishwasher to the right of the sink, and do a fairly extensive cabinet remodel.

Please note: our neighbors just had their gas line moved, and they say it’s not too expensive. However, these same neighbors keep their house clean and purchase certain items like clothes and shoes and the occasional electronic device motivated by Investing Wisely in Things That Will Bring Pleasure for the Long Term and NOT motivated by DEAR GOD OF COURSE I HAVE TO HAVE THAT BECAUSE IT COSTS $0, so they’re not exactly reliable sources of “not too expensive.” They BUY THINGS, you guys. With MONEY. Like some things are Worth Paying For! I’m just saying we should take their advice with a grain of salt, you know?

On the other hand, if we bite the bullet and swallow the expense, Betty would be closer to the fridge and sink, which is far more convenient for cooking, and would have cabinets above, which I’ve missed, actually, quite a lot since we’ve lived in this house.

For another view of Option #1, here’s where the dishwasher would move and how cabinets would be positioned in the former stove location:IMG_9469-002

TWO: Or, Option 2, we put Betty in nearly the same location as the current stove and suck it up on window obstruction, kind of like this:IMG_9469-001

This option is clearly MUCH cheaper than the first option because it would require very little remodeling of cabinets, no restubbing of the gas line, and no moving the dishwasher. The reason I haven’t shown it centered in the window is because many of you pointed out it would be too close to the sink to be practical, and my friend, Emily came over and verified. We could move it to the right a little, but we run into a similar issue with being too close to the door. Centering it between the sink and the door seems to be the best place if we choose this option.

So, friends? Considering these newest developments what’s your verdict?

Option #1 (Betty goes against the wall) or Option #2 (Betty goes in front of the window)? I’ll tally every opinion and give you the results soon!

Also, GOD BLESS YOU for not making me do this alone.

With love,





P.S. Here’s the Pinterest Board Rachel put together for us. WOOHOO, RACHEL! She has titled it “Beth’s ‘We aren’t being cheap like Greg anymore’ House Idea Board,” so we can rest assured she gets us.

P.P.S. If we decide on Option #1, which is the way I’m leaning, we need to think of creative ways to explain the added expense to Greg. I’m thinking maybe popping naked out of a cake. Thoughts and suggestions appreciated.

I Let My Kid Quit Mid-Season and I Would Do It Again

Apr 28 2016

We had a Situation last week.

One of those Situations that arise in parenting from time to time.

One of those Situations that seem Very Simple and Very Straight Forward with a Correct Path all lined out.

WOOHOO, in other words. A Situation with a Solution!

That is AWESOME. It’s the Best Kind of Situation to have! I mean, I’ve been doing this parenting gig a while now, and it’s Not Always that we’re handed the Right Thing to Do simultaneously with the Problem, you know?

So we had a Situation, AND I KNEW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT, so we moved quickly forward. Doing the Right Thing! Banner held high! Nobly pursuing our parenting goals!

Except I kept getting this squirmy feeling in my gut because every time I reminded myself that the Solution was clear and obvious, my heart said, “Yeah, but…”

It’s OK, though. DO NOT PANIC, friends. I shut those feelings down.

I obeyed the Right Way.



Until I didn’t.


Here’s what happened:

My kid is 9, and he’s asked all year to play lacrosse. We, being good and involved parents, managed not to miss the sign-up deadline like we did with soccer and swimming, so he was assigned a team. #ForTheParentingWin!

We bought All the Equipment as inexpensively as possible which still cost a few hundred dollars and made me want to gag. Still, the child was all padded up and was going to run around a field and whack other kids with a stick, so it felt kind of worth it. I come from the Scottish people, after all, inventors of golf and caber tossing and bar brawls, so the idea of a sport that combines chasing a small, white ball around a field while carrying a stick for hitting your opponents makes strange, beautiful sense to me.

We paid the the sign-up fees and the jersey fees, the registration fees and the official “U.S. Lacrosse” fees. We paid the We Forgot to Make Dinner in Time So Now We Have to Drive Through and Get You Crappy Food Before Practice fees, and we attended the practices and the jamborees and the clinics and the games.

Unfortunately, by week two, this child of mine started not wanting to attend practice or games, after all. I assumed he was bored or it was hard and uncomfortable, like learning any sport, so I said the Things You Say to Children Who Want to Give Up but Need to Learn the Importance of Follow-Through.

Buck upI said.

And you made a commitment.

And you know what we Woolseys do? WE FOLLOW THROUGH. Which isn’t necessarily true but feels like an essential fiction to sell my children, like “we clean up after ourselves” and “there are no stupid questions.” Lies, but good ones, you know?

I made him keep playing and ignored the uneasiness I felt.


On Saturday, I made him leave a birthday party early to attend his game. He was not happy with me, of course, but he lived, just as I predicted, and then, in the car on the way home, he said again, “I do not want to play lacrosse anymore, Mom. Please, please, please don’t make me go back.”

I don’t know what was different that time. I’m not really sure I can fully explain. I just felt like maybe I should shush on the Follow-Through Lecture and the Team Sports Are Good for You Diatribe and maybe, I dunno, listen to my kid. So I sat still and I said, “Why? Can you tell me why you don’t want to play the sport you really wanted to play a few weeks ago?”

Which is when he burst into tears, and so did his brother who’s on the same team, and I glanced and them in the rear view mirror, and they looked at each other like Do You Want to Tell Her, or Should I? and I thought, Uh oh. And then my kid told me he’s tired of being called stupid by another kid on the team, and tired of having that kid secretly push him when the coach isn’t looking, and tired of being told he’s the worst player ever, and he sucks and is also ugly and dumb and to shut up and get off the damn field.

Oh, I thought.



And his brother told me that was, in fact, what had happened. He corroborated the stories. He’d witnessed the small physical attacks and the large emotional and verbal ones. He’d told the kid to stop, a number of times, as had the kid who’d experienced them, and they were both just tired of handling it.



Over struggling with it.

I said all the right things. I swear. Like Thank You for Telling Me. And You Can ALWAYS Tell Me These Things. And I Will Talk to Your Coach.

And when my child begged again not to go back, I said We Will See What We Can Do. And We Don’t Just Let the Bullies Win. And This Isn’t a Reason to Quit Necessarily. And There Are Steps We Must Take. And You Will Learn Essential Life Lessons by Seeing This Through.

But my heart response kept getting louder.

Louder than my head response.

And I started to wonder why I was so invested in my boy continuing to play.

I went over all the conventional Head Reasons:

  1. We have to teach our kids follow-through.
  2. We have to teach our kids never to quit.
  3. Everyone knows team sports are THE KEY to learning cooperation and camaraderie and working together.
  4. WORK ETHIC. Hello!
  5. Get back on the horse, kid! There will always be bullies. Always. We cannot let them dictate our moves.
  6. If our kids don’t learn these lessons now, when the pressures are relatively small and short lived, they will think they can quit anything uncomfortable, for the rest of their lives, and their entire adulthood will be ruined.

Then I told those reasons to take a back seat for a minute so I could listen to the heart, which is, of course, when it all fell apart, because Oh, the Heart, friends. She had Things to Say. Things like:

  1. You tell your kids they can tell you anything, any time, and bring their hurts to you to hold gently and carefully, but do you to plan to honor what they say by listening deep and long and hard without pre-drawn conclusions?
  2. You tell your kids they are brilliant, and they can solve problems. Do you plan to insist on your solutions? Or consider theirs?
  3. Are you going to build trust with your kid and teach him that we are here for each other in this family? Or are you going to sell him the usual cultural lie that Being Independent and Following Through and Never Quitting and are more important than Community and Grace and the Reality that we all Try and Quit and Somehow, Eventually, Miraculously Try Again which is the Magic in this Mess and the Miracle, always.
  4. You tell your kids that Kindness and Goodness, Gentleness and Faithfulness, and Loving Their Neighbors as Themselves are more important than Anything Else, including Achievement and Popularity and Winning and Grades — because if you have Success but have failed to Love, what is the worth in any of your “achievements?” — but you’re kind of worshiping at the Altar of Athletics on this one, Beth, and at the Altar of Bucking Up. Is that where you were hoping to go with this?
  5. And even though team sports are a fantastic way to learn to cooperate and work together, do you really think that a kid who has 4 siblings and who navigates playgrounds and school and church and has no other opportunities to learn them?
  6. He’s nine. Nine, Mama. Nine years old. Give him a break.

I spent some time considering.

I weighed the Head and the Heart.

I contacted the coach – thanking him for his volunteer service because no teacher or coach who gives and gives and gives to our kids deserves to have his ass handed to him — and recognized that Handling Bullying is a real bummer part of the job, but noting he needed to know anyway.

And then I laid it all out for the boys. All of it. What I thought I was supposed to say, and why I was uncomfortable with that simplistic answer. What the Head said, and what the Heart said. And I asked them to collaborate with me. To experiment — because it’s always a grand experiment anyway — in Listening and Loving each other well.

They heard me out.

I heard them out.

They still wanted to quit.

And I decided to respect their choice to no longer subject themselves to that situation.

To respect their senses of self and boundaries, and, well, camaraderie, working together, and follow-through on quitting the heck out of lacrosse.

The Head is somewhat bewildered by this whole decision.

The Heart, though, is glad.

The boys listened to a Brand New Lecture: “Do not get too excited, gentlemen. Sometimes we are going Make a Parenting Call You DO NOT LIKE, you know. This is INEVITABLE. What’s more, is we’re going to Make a Parenting Call You Do Not Like AND sometimes we are going to be Very Wrong AND you will still have to Abide by It. That is going to SUCK. But we will try to Listen First and Love Well, OK? That is our promise to you. Our commitment. Listen. Love. And get it Right. And Fail Utterly. And Try Again. Eventually. Which is Magic and Mess and Grace and Grime and Weird and Wild and aren’t we lucky we get to live it? Aren’t we the luckiest to live this human, divine life together?”

Am I confident I made the right decision? I AM NOT. Complete confidence in parenting — or in life — is for people who are delusional. But I am confident I’ve made the best decision I know how to make in this situation with the information I have right now. With the well-being of my child at heart. With the utmost I can do for his spirit in both the short and long terms. And that, my friends, is all any of us can honestly do. Listen and Love. Succeed and Fail. And Try Again, Always. Eventually. But Always. Which is the Miracle.

With love,


The First Decision (Where You Tell Me How to Improve My House: Part 2)

Apr 27 2016

If you haven’t read Part 1, please go there first. None of this will make sense without it. Particularly when you wonder why I don’t just Pay Money and Make My Own Decisions like a Normal Person without needing the Internets to Assist. Part 1 will help explain. I swear.


FIRST OF ALL, thank you for your responses both here and on the Face Book. Clearly, we are a team, and we shall prevail, and Greg doesn’t stand a chance, although we adore his sweet, cheap heart to pieces.

SECOND OF ALL, I apologize that I had to put my children to bed and couldn’t Reveal to You What I Have Already Done so you can Congratulate Me on my Fine Thinking. It hurt me more than it hurt you, and may the Lord sincerely bless you for not mentioning to me that it didn’t, in fact, hurt you at all, and you don’t give a flying fig what I do with my kitchen as long as I clean it so you don’t have to report me to Child Protective Services for Filth and Squalor. You’re the sweetest.

THIRD OF ALL, here’s the current state of the kitchen. I DID think about cleaning and decluttering it before I took these blurry, poorly lit pics on my phone, but, since we all know it’s the Thought That Counts and not the Actual Doing of the Thing, it’s in exactly the same state as I found it AND I still get credit for the thinking. #winning

IMG_9441IMG_9444IMG_9445(If you’ve ever wondered why this isn’t a photography blog,
these pics should clear that confusion right up.)

FOURTH, in case I haven’t made it clear already, our first project is, officially, A Stove I Don’t Have to Start With an Ice Pick.

FIFTH, I should never have started numbering these paragraphs because I can’t keep up with that kind of commitment. It’s too much, and I’m going to stop now. And this should serve as a helpful reminder, Team, for how quickly I give up. We can let me give up on the numbering, but we should be very cautious moving forward about letting me give up on Big Ideas and Making Quality Choices. I promise you, I will try at some point to give those things up. I will grow weary and I will attempt to Half-Ass the Things. WE CANNOT LET ME DO THIS, because this will be how Team Greg wins in the end. He is counting on it. Let’s not let this happen. OK? OK.

Moving on.

Clearly, the stove was not ever positioned well in this house. It’s off center from the window and, to put it bluntly, weird.


At the time we designed the kitchen, my primary thoughts were a) IT MUST BE CHEAP and b) I’d like to see my children playing peacefully in the backyard while I cook nutritious meals they will love and remember. These included, in my mind, chicken pot pie and whole wheat bread and creamy vegetable lasagna. Now I realize that playing in the backyard is more pummeling than peaceful and that my children really only want to eat chicken nuggets. I DID, however, succeed in my first goal, which was to buy a cheap stove. It crapped out about 8 years later, and we’ve been hobbling by, using the ice pick to start the oven for the last 6.

THE PROBLEM with replacing it is this: that stove runs on gas, which I love, and has a downdraft, which I hate. To replace it with something similar is a minimum $1,800. Which, in a word, HAHAHAHAHAHA! And, in another word, NO. No. Nope. No. I am NOT, in fact, going to pony up $1,800 for the base model of something I don’t like and never worked well and is in a bizarre spot so it can crap out in another 8 years.

A regular gas stove is cheaper than $1,800. An electric downdraft stove is cheaper than $1,800. It’s the combo that gets us.

CONCLUSION: We have to Do Something Else.

THE NEXT PROBLEM is this: Since I’m not giving up the gas part, Doing Something Else means an option OTHER than a downdraft.

And THE NEXT PROBLEM: Which means we have to install a range hood.

And THE NEXT PROBLEM: Which means the current window/stove configuration — off center and poorly aligned — isn’t going to work. I mean, it worked fine while Cheap was my only method of analysis, but now that I have Big Ideas like Not Crap and Kind of Pretty and Also Functional, we have a problem.

As I said in the previous post, I have made one key decision without you.

Which I’m about to show you.

Please understand that we are keeping this, so your response can be a) THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME IDEA EVER because you feel that’s true, or b) THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME IDEA EVER because you hate it and feel it’s going to fail miserably and Why, Oh WHY, Beth Would You Get an EVEN OLDER Thing to Replace the Broken Newer Thing… but you recognize that There Is No Moving Me on This, and so you will smile and lie.

Do you have your response ready?


Here it is:



Yes, I did.


She has lovely white enamel tops that aren’t pictured, but you get the idea, right?

Here’s what happened: I got to thinking. My stove sucks. It’s New and Cheap and Crap. But you know what didn’t suck? Things Made in the Olden Days, that’s what! And then I thought it’s too bad we can’t buy a brand new 1950’s stove these days. THAT would work. THAT would be rad. No bells and whistles. Just a stove that works. And a stove that works for decades. And a stove that’s white enamel and Not an Eye Sore. I did some research, and, sure enough, these stoves work forever. On the down side, a refurbished 1950’s stove can run — *ahem* — $3,000 and up, up, UP.

IMG_9439But then guess what? GUESS WHAT, YOU GUYS?

I found this pretty, pretty baby on Craigslist.



Apparently, upon learning her husband was going to relocate their family in 1956 from Ohio to Oregon, a young woman ordered it from the Sears catalog to be delivered to her new home… where she discovered the house didn’t have gas hook-ups. And so it sat, covered in her garage, for the past 60 years.

With all of its parts.

And its original manual.

And her kids found it recently while cleaning out the house. And they put it up on Craigslist for $1,200… or best offer. And I contact them in secret so Greg would not know I had lost my mind, and I offered $700. Not because I don’t think it’s worth more, but because I felt like that’s all I can afford right now. And I said, “I TOTALLY understand if you can’t sell it for that,” and “I COMPLETELY get it that you have to take a higher offer if you get it,” and “but if you sell it to me, I will LOVE it and ADORE it and SING IT TO SLEEP every night with soft lullabies, I swear.”


I cannot even TELL you how ECSTATIC I was. And how much I was DREADING telling Greg he was going to have to drive to another state to pick up an ancient stove he hadn’t approved that would cost $700 we didn’t really have and would Solve All Our Stove Problems except for Martial Communication, which, let’s be honest, is not going to be solved in our lifetime anyway.


And Greg, in fact, did NOT believe what I’d found. Or believe he was going to drive with my dad for a full day round-trip to get it. Or believe that we were shelling out $700 for it. Or understand that, when you find the perfect thingmeasurements are not important.

“You know that it’s 36″ wide, right?” he said.

“YES, I KNOW. Bigger for our family! WITH AN EXTRA BURNER.” Which is not technically needed to make our 6 billionth pot of macaroni and cheese, but who cares? We are American! Bigger and More = Always BETTER.

“And you know that we do not currently have a 36″ opening in our kitchen, right?”


“And that we will have to put in a range hood.”


“And that these things will cost even more money.”


“And that this will destroy our counter tops, so we will need to replace them, too.”


And that’s when Greg collapsed and died. Minus the collapsing and dying. Physically. But plus the collapsing and dying emotionally and spiritually. In other words, WORTH IT.

So we have the stove, and she is awesome and perfect, and we’ve had her officially examined and tuned up by the Certified, Old Appliances guy, and that’s why she’s sitting on a dolly in our garage where I caress her and love her and tell her her time to shine is almost upon us.

Which brings me to the ENTIRE POINT of this post:

How are we going to remodel that area to allow for the stove and the range hood?

Listen; I am NOT making ANY further decisions without you, so I’m going to need you to speak up here and share your opinions. Everything to the right of the sink is fair game, and the way I see it, we have two choices at this stage, as follows:

ONE: We can center our 1956 oven range under the middle of the window, and install a ceiling-mount range hood in front of the window. It might look something like this:

RangeHoodInFrontOfWindowPhoto Source: I have no idea, but happy to link if someone can find it.

I mean, it might look something like that if my house was clean and if we had pretty subway tiles running to the ceiling (I’m in) with lovely molding (we will talk about this) and contrasting drawer pulls (yes, please) and counter tops that coordinate (gonna need SERIOUS help for figuring that out). We already have a dark wood floor I like, so I *think* we could get this type of look in a fairly straight-forward manner.

It’s important to note that the new oven is only a few inches wider than the one that’s there now, so centering it under the window will not make it too close to the sink. There will still be some counter space between the sink and range in that scenario, with a longer counter space to the right.

The major benefit of this scenario is the fact that we would not need to redo a wall or window, thus keeping the cost WAY down. HOWEVER, I do NOT want to cheap out and do it that way if you think it’s NOT a good (or pretty) long term solution.

Which brings us to option #2…

TWO: We can remove the window in that back wall and create a space for the oven with a wall above it, a wall-mount range, and two smaller windows on either side. Perhaps something like this:

dn-CharmeanNeithartInteriorsKitchen002Photo Source: Charmean Neithart Interiors

This scenario will cost SIGNIFICANTLY more money with window and construction costs, but must be considered if it’s the only way to make the remodel look like an Authentically Pretty Solution rather than Readjusted Crappiness.

Because I’m me and I come from a lifelong bent toward LESS EXPENSIVE = BETTER, I lean toward Option #1. However, because I’m me and choose things like orange counters, I think we’re all clear that I’m Not to Be Trusted, which is where you come in.

SO — I need your thoughts, friends. Please tell me:

  1. How incredibly rad and worth it the new stove is, AND
  2. Which of the two above options is best, all things considered, OR
  3. If you have a third option I should consider.


With love,





P.S. We’re also going to need to figure out how to include this bottle opener in our design, because, even though I asked for it for my birthday and Christmas, and it costs $39.99 plus shipping, and no one bought it for me, I’m sure someone will soon and it’s only a matter of time. It’s by Planet Dork on Etsy, and we’re going to need to talk about how to mount it on a kitchen wall. Clearly.


P.P.S. This is JUST a post script to the person out there who’s been thinking about coming to the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat or the Grace in the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat with me in June but has been afraid and nervous but keeps thinking about taking the HUGE RISK of going someplace with strangers because What If It Changes Everything? You know who you are. Email me. We need to talk. The rest of you can ignore this and have a lovely day!