January, 2003 Contest: How do you intend to refine the interior of your home in 2003?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Lara Carter of Richmond, KY

I am weary in this, our 11th year in this home – I moved here a shy young woman – I live here an empowered mother, enamored wife, and recognized writer. Into this home we brought three children who have grown (and well, in many respects, wreaked havoc) on the framework of the “house” that we now, with much love, call home. We need new basics – new carpets, counters in the kitchen, flooring here and there, major furnishings, but most of all we need to reflect a sense of who we are as a family. We are not a “mish mash of inherited items scattered aimlessly about” which, until recently, has been my “sort of” decorating scheme. I have abandoned my need to carry on the dreams of others, and have decided to make dreams of our own. Those precious objects we have inherited are now packed away so very carefully in layers of soft paper, neatly labeled, and easily at hand should we, or anyone else, come calling for them. But we, our family; we are so much more – all visual, creative thinkers, really rooted in our past, in love with our genealogy, enamored of the historic ground on which our property sprawls, in love with the uniqueness of each other, supportive of the surprises that define us. We want to turn the interior of our home into a direct reflection of who we are:

My husband, the quasi-southern-patriarch, Civil-War-enthusiast who happens to come from a southern line, (but to hear him tell it would have had to turn tail and go north to keep his conscience about him) an analytical electrical engineer (who balances such “blandness” with a dash of Emeril spice thrown in, all in “good taste” of course, while “kicking EVERYTHING up a notch” unfortunately making him the undisputed “king” of the kitchen)

And me, a much too sentimental writer/chaplain, in love with words, constantly singing silly songs to her three children, and hoping to inspire the youngest generations toward new hope and trust in the Lord, while easing our older ones into a new, and more intimate relationship with Him, but most of all a mother building a nest in which to nurture, love, support, and raise (and oh, yes, boot out of when the time comes) those she treasures the most:

The oldest girl, the young biologist, doing her best to save the planet, one species at a time (by no means forgetting the mold life-forms growing in the cups of abandoned kool-aid in her bedroom) constantly looking at ways to preserve the wetlands, the drylands, (even the damplands, moderately dry and slightly-moistlands) – the native trees, and wildlife surrounding her. She is the child who sleeps surrounded by the stuffed images of the Giant Pandas that inspire her to lobby for cleaner roadsides, waterways, and city streets here in suburban Kentucky, so far away from the bamboo fields of China and the “Panda Exhibit” at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. that one wonders if her “mascot” may need some updating.

Then there is the middle child. The second daughter, born to have emotional difficulties just because she was born in the middle, right? HA! She is our deep thinker and poet, who always looks for the beauty in everyone and everything, who wouldn’t know a protest if she was in the middle of one with her activist sister. She embraces the sprites that jump from lily to lily in the dew of the early morning – when no one else can see them. She smiles at voices the rest of us do not hear, with her head turned slightly downward, to capture the winsome echoes of those too fragile for most of us to acknowledge. She dreams in bright colors, but thinks in concrete terms. She knows that clouds are not just water, she knows that beneath the grass there is more than soil. She is the magic child, the one who loves her God with all her heart and mind, and receives each moment with all the beauty and wonder He has placed before her; and then there is the boy-child. The baby. It gives me pause to think of what to say of him! Sometimes I think he’s half-wild, but then he falls asleep against my heart and breathes his deep and trusting sighs warm upon my skin. He moves so fast, takes so much in, and finally collapses in the evening by my side, a book just barely started before nodding off to sleep. A five-year old – but my baby – the last I’ll ever have. A boy, to teach me (in case I didn’t know) that girls and boys are NOT the same, have nothing, in fact, in common, except, perhaps their parents.

Within these walls sleep my life and my hope. My loves – in husband, daughters, son – and even dogs and cats. We want our home to reflect who we are: eclectic; no doubt, expressive; of course. But with touches of compassion, concern, curiosity, amazement, activism, abandonment, and fun – that make our family, and we hope, our home, unique.