La Petite Maison (The Little House)

LaPetiteMaisonBlogMy son loves Lego® and we build things a lot. I mean a lot. As an example, this week we built the Lego® Creator Transport Ferry #4997, (1279 pieces) [click here for a stop gap animation by Madaboutlego], the Lego® Creator Highway Transport #6753 (1294 pieces), and the smaller Lego® Creator Ferocious Creatures #5868 (416 pieces). This wouldn’t necessarily be a lot for an experienced builder, but my son is only 5 (as of the publishing of this post)!

After “shopping” (which is what he calls it when I help sort out the pieces for each step) so he can assemble, I get a little crazy and just want to have the satisfaction of putting a few pieces together myself! I didn’t ever get to play with Lego® as a child (I know, I was totally deprived!) but as an aesthetic child, the primary colors of red, blue and yellow, must not have called to me from the store shelves. So as a grown up, I decided to build my own model inspired by a vintage set (Lego 560 Town House) resurrected from my husband’s Lego® collection. Only, of course I had to redesign it to be more appealing to the little girl of long ago that liked more feminine colors.

VintageLegoThis project has taken a few months of the middle of the night hours. It was a bigger challenge than I anticipated, because I was building virtually and have no background in 3d software or code of any kind. I’m not gonna lie, the learning curve is not for the faint of heart!

Lego® has a section on their website that lets a novice user design their own creation by downloading their free Digital Designer software, but I soon discovered that you couldn’t control how your instructions were going to look, and were limited only to standard pieces that are available on their sight for the moment. So I researched other options and discovered LpubLdrawBricksmithLdGliteLDview, and Brickstore, all programs that could help me with the challenge at hand.

I should pause here to mention that there is a very large and brilliant Lego® community in this world, that I had never encountered before, and these devoted souls are creating amazing things, both in terms of models, and programs, and videos of their creations. My little 621 piece model with its step by step instruction book, and xml file that automatically fills your Lego® wish list at Bricklink is merely an attempt to put a little something within the reach of the girl who might enjoy building, but wouldn’t have considered it before.

I am excited to report that I was able to purchase most of the pieces from Lego® and the rest from Bricklink and build an actual physical model to test out the instructions. I have found that many people outside the serious Lego® community, are unaware of the Pick a Brick section on the Lego® website where you can individual pieces for your own building projects.

LaPetiteMaisonInstructionBookFor fun, a listing for a PDF of the Instructions, parts list with part numbers, color quantity and description, and a Bricklink XML file is available for purchase on, just in case someone else wants to build La Petite Maison. Interestingly, in January 2012, Lego® did finally introduce a line of product for girls!

Inspirational Scripture:
“For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.” Hebrews 3:4

Building a House

HouseBedFrontAngleWhen our son was just about to turn four, he was ready to graduate from his toddler bed to something larger. His room at the time was very small, so I wanted to come up with something that would maximize the available space, fit a twin size mattress, and double as a play area. When I discovered the company Tanglewood Design, I was thrilled to learn that in addition to selling kits, and ready made beds, they also sold the plans for the DIY family to customize and create their own masterpiece. I absolutely fell in love with their philosophy and designs, plus they were personable and helpful as well, so I highly recommend them!

HouseBed2UPMy husband agreed to take on the building project. In his spare time over the next few weeks he borrowed a friend’s wood-shop and tools. When he was done cutting out the pieces, he rented a truck and brought them home for me to paint. My original idea was to make a giant tree for the corner of the room, with a rounded door in the trunk, so that our son could go into the trunk to climb into his bed. I wanted LED lights to hang in branches over the roof line to twinkle as a nightlight, but I couldn’t find a tutorial anywhere to create such a thing, and as our budget and space were limited, that part didn’t come to fruition. However, months later, I stumbled on an article that featured just such a tree (albeit in a beautiful fairy tale girl’s room) designed by Kidtropolis. Feel free to check out their link so that you can imagine the complete concept!

Below is a view of the inside of the bed where our son sleeps. The brilliant part about this design is that the space under the bed is big enough for a double mattress, if a family has more than one child or prefers a bunk bed option. We elected to stage it as a little man cave, and set it up like a miniature living room. We added a door (not in the original design) so that we could close in the bookshelves, and keep the space from looking cluttered. Instead of a tree, in keeping with the play house theme, we had a steel plate made for an exterior park light (so that it can’t tip over).

HouseBedUpperOur son still absolutely loves his bed. I never tire of hearing him tell someone he meets for the first time, “I have a house bed that my dad and mom made…and I got to help!” My husband and I joke that we always wanted to build a house together someday. Now we can cross it off our “bucket list”.

Inspirational Scripture: Psalm 127 & Joshua 24:15

Technical Difficulties

Beginning this last week I have been experiencing a few technical difficulties with my computer randomly shutting off while I am performing the usual tasks required for preparing blog posts. (I know this is normal for all of you PC users, but I have been spoiled with a Mac for several years now, and it is unusual for me!) So have no fear, with a plethora of projects to share, they will be coming as soon as a work-around is discovered.

There are also a few things in the works that I can’t wait to share. I am just working on programming aspects that are way over my head. Sometimes “It’s just not right!” that I have to “do coding” in order to complete a project. My Bassett Hound would have better luck studying quantum physics! After all I prefer to just design and create. I am sooo not a programmer! But on the other hand, asking dumb questions of genius software designers that live overseas, is an exercise in humility. Combine that with stubborn determination, a creative type that doesn’t know any better even though she should, hours plugging in numbers randomly to see what happens to the code each time, and who knows what new creation will surface! If a completed project doesn’t show up each week, it may be because I am working on one of those 40 hour, or yes, even 80 hour projects.

In the mean time, (as my computer just crashed again) it is a perfect opportunity to ponder the deeper questions in life, and practice not “freaking out” about electronic circumstances, no matter how aggravating they may be. I am reminded daily (and sometimes hourly) how much I don’t have all the answers to life’s questions. Thankfully, God does and we can go to Him.

So if a “deep thoughts” post shows up; following is my disclaimer. If I get a glimpse of a corner OF a truth, that is sooo very different from claiming to have a corner ON the truth.  God often puts something in my heart that shocks my mind and I may initially want to reject it. But if it keeps coming back and feels like an “Ah-Ha!” moment, I am forced to consider it. When I attempt to share it, it can be miss-understood, and it is possible that I, myself miss-understood it to begin with. (i.e. That I am wrong.) The fear of being wrong or presumptuous would be a sorry excuse for never taking the risk to share something that could bring, life, hope, beauty, and truth to someone and thereby glory to my Heavenly Father. I refuse to be enslaved by fear. I wish it was possible to be “right” about things all the time, but I realize that that is impossible, because we only see part of the picture. So in all humility, I ask for grace, that we may anticipate and discover moments of beauty together!

Regarding wisdom & grace: James 1:5 & 1 Corinthians 1

Mirrored Moss

IronMirrorAt one time this piece was most likely a mirror. But with the glass missing, it was begging to once again frame beauty. It could have easily showcased a vintage portrait or a new piece of glass, yet it somehow called for something more.

Textural qualities, and wonderful color variances made moss a perfect choice. I find myself drawn to it in nature and awestruck when I consider all the life to which it is home. It presented the long-awaited solution to the mirror’s dilemma. Now it encourages one to change their focus and reflect upon the beauty and mystery found in life.

Inspirational Scripture:
“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

The Nature of Love


TheNatureofLoveThe Nature of Love
Think I perhaps too much of myself,
A glass full of love and not much more?
Is love even love kept unto itself
Or be it true only poured on the floor?
Surrendered would I be void of love’s wealth
Or giving life’s drink end thirst evermore?
© 2005 Jolene R. BalyeatThis image was created many years ago in response to a picture that came to mind when I was struggling with the concept of giving love, receiving love, surrendering to love, and whether it was possible to run out of love, be destroyed by it, or loose yourself in the midst of it. The art is very abstract, and doesn’t come close to capturing the image that flashed through my mind to illustrate the truth I believe God shared with me. Honestly, this piece doesn’t reflect my “style” or preferences in any way, but the point behind it valuable enough to risk criticism on its amateurish composition.

Because, I knew that love was an overwhelming force, I was worried that if I opened myself up to it I would be undone, emptied, and destroyed in the process. I was concerned that my feelings would be too great to control, and that I would shatter, and all that I was would spill out leaving nothing left.

In a momentary flash of revelation, I saw myself as a glass full of water, with the ground under me a parched dessert, thirsting for a drink that could restore life. I saw many other glasses, equally selfish, refusing to surrender life giving drink to a desperate world. Then I saw myself surrendering and an eternal supply of water from heaven, pouring on, in, over, around, and under me. Life sprung up wherever the water fell. A flower, representing fruit, joy, life, and beauty bloomed. I was not lost, or destroyed in the process at all…just surrendered and surrounded in God’s supply. Now it seems foolish to have been so afraid. But I was. I suppose I share this because in the picture there were other glasses too, not just mine. Some of these glasses are symbolic of people in churches, some may be people reading this blog. I don’t know. I do know this, the lesson I learned was: take the risk. It is worth it; and once one surrenders to love, one is not only open to give, but also to receive.

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14

For further reflection see: Revelation 22:1-2 & Psalm 145:16