Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A good thing

We were going to start school next week with a worked out plan, a project table, a completed school room and pencils sharpened. However, we couldn't wait. We started today. After play date friends left this morning, we pulled out books and pencils and camped on the floor for the fall's first lessons. Grateful for routines restored.

It wasn't a full load (yet), just enough to satisfy our craving.

Facebook is full of photos of children getting on buses. Our first day looks a little different.

Lanie starts third grade. Erin begins preschool.

We are not in a co-op this school year. I am taking on the load myself and looking forward to it. A homeschool mom writes encouragement about ART on her blog and I take it to heart.

Easing into first days, full load beginning next week (hopefully at a project table versus a picnic blanket!).

I love September.

Monday, August 29, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2171-2200)

2171. sitting with stuff instead of reacting
2172. a friend down the street for Lanie
2173. gifted mums
2174. cookies with sprinkles
2175. David asleep on a summer afternoon in my backyard

2176. Anita's smiles
2177. whimsical tiles
2178. pictures unpacked and waiting to be hung
2179. Linda over for dinner on a Friday night
2180. the night lights in the garden

2181. the broadening of a new circle: finding new stores and points of interest in a new town
2182. a chainsaw
2183. His steady hand on Shane when the earthquake hit
2184. a sunny day before the storm
2185. coffee in the house

2186. light rain on the walk to the church building
2187. worship
2188. familiar faces
2189. popcorn on a Saturday, a fun tradition resumed in a new location
2190. a solid house

2191. wind that sounded far off
2192. no serious damage after the storm
2193. phone calls checking on us from people I love
2194. bookshelves assembled in the school room
2195. leftover chocolate and peanut butter mousse bars in the fridge

2196. cupcake wine and DIY shows
2197. cool temps for raking up leaves from the storm
2198. the pull in my upper back--like years melting away
2199. dry mail
2200. their hugs goodnight

Friday, August 26, 2011

Special delivery

Rising above the tease of a sibling vs being overwhelmed by a spirit from God seem two ends of a spectrum, but regardless of the purpose (which we may never know) or the source (be it from our own interpretation of events or divine intervention) of a trial--aren't we still responsible for us? Isn't God still interested in our response whether we are under blessing or affliction?

Writing today at 66 Books

Monday, August 22, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2128-2170)

poison ivy on the other side of the fence

juicy plums
cookies in the freezer
getting back to church

friends visiting
lunch at Wegmans
cranberry juice
ice cream on a Saturday night
new shoes

Reggie's help in the front garden
a baby boy to cuddle
resting him in Erin's arms
her precious gaze into his face
fixed cable issues

banana chocolate chip bread
a new piano teacher for Lanie
a blue sky
shelter under the trees
a pool date with my sister-in-law

laundry caught up
a new bar of soap
a grocery store that's close to home
the deer running through the back yard
Joel's kind face

the DIY channel
music through cable
pretty yellow light from the chandelier over the kitchen table
a good man
flip-flop wine with the twisty cap

a princess dress and the little princess who pranced through town in it
a new library
a new library card
the difference "here" makes
a good night's sleep

clean floors
more boxes unpacked
two apple trees
walnut trees
life, rearranged

Friday, August 19, 2011

Time in a bottle

Holding Erin this morning.

"I wish no one had to die," she says. "I wish Rudy wouldn't die. I wish you wouldn't die. I wish everyone could be their age forever."

"I hope I live a long life," I said.

"Well, you're not. You're going to be a grandma soon."

I smile. She's four. Lanie is eight. "Why do you say that?"

"Because your hair is turning white."

"No it's not," I say, pointing to the roots. "I just touched up a few days ago."

Today, she is prancing around in a princess gown. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tick and mosquito repellent

Good to know. Sent to me by a friend. I haven't tried it yet, but wanted to write it down someplace to make in the future. I can't say there's any evidence this works, and I'm not a doctor. Just a former French major who homeschools and bakes really awesome chocolate chunk/white chip cookies. I make a pretty mean tapenade too. All this to say: try at your own risk.

2 teaspoons Sulphur
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar 
 Mix with 1 pint of honey

Eat 1 teaspoonful per day.

I rather like this one of taking a tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar. And that site has stuff about essential oils if you're into that kind of thing. 

Beauty and the beast

Like I mentioned, the former owners liked to garden. We have a big front garden, one alongside the house, one in the back against the patio, and one along a retaining wall. I was too caught up in interior details to really notice the yard stuff. And last fall when we walked in the yard, I was in love with fall and crunchy leaves and jackets and jeans.

Our agent asked me, "Do you like to garden?"

"I don't know," I replied. I had lived a spoiled life with an 8x8 raised bed. I pulled maybe five weeds a summer. I had healthy harvests with little effort. That was all about to change.

Shortly before settlement, I came by the property and visited a bit with the owner. She was weed pulling in one of the beds and I grabbed a broom to sweep alongside.

"How long would you say it takes you to maintain these gardens?" I asked naively.

"Years," she said.

Fear set in. At the end of our first week, Shane comes in and announces he wants to return the front bed to grass and my heart sank.

"We've only been here a week and I haven't even touched that garden yet. Give me a chance!" I pleaded. And on Sunday, after the morning rains, I set out.

And Monday. And today. Hours. The kids biked and scootered and I worked bent over or squatting, my eyes focused on a 2x2 area in front of me at a time. Luckily, Reggie popped by Monday to give me a hand and plenty of encouragement, "This place is magical. You can't turn it to grass. Let me know when you're working out in the garden."

That would be pretty much every day I can.

I look at the heart-shaped leaves of clover, now pulled by the hundreds in just a few days, laughing at how pretty and novel looking I thought they were back in field life. But the ache in my backside and legs feels good, the pull in my shoulders and arms. It's good work and I look forward to it again and again. Going to bed at night feeling spent--it's good.

I am determined to get this beast under control and make it beautiful again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2106-2127)

piles of pulled weeds
Dad and Linda over on a Sunday afternoon
more boxes unpacked
the ring of the captain's bell
fruit salad

internet, returned
cable music feed
a happy phone greeting
the light fixtures in the hallway
muffins with white chips and craisins

a friend's new son
how good a week feels
deep sink and interesting faucets
slate floors, however temporary
the garden weeding bench on wheels

ice cream in the freezer
a handmade blanket to wrap on shoulders
lights along a twisty, stone path
my dad's compliment
a week of friends, daily

dinner gifted, gratefully received
school books, ordered

Sunday, August 14, 2011

One week

We moved into the new place over just over a week ago. The kitchen and bedrooms are unpacked. The basement is set up, the pantry full. Christmas and fall decorations on storage shelves. The dining room and school room still to do.

While the kids scootered and biked and swept walkways, I spent an afternoon gardening for three hours. The former owners loved gardens and they are all over the place. Grateful that she left behind brooms, dust pans, wheelbarrows, and the little bench on wheels.

So many discoveries and details that make me smile deep down: the pencil sharpener affixed to the laundry room doorway, the antique hobnail lights in the upstairs hall, working fireplaces, how the Black-eyed Susans cheerily greet from the vase on the counter top (cookbook open in the stand, but instead of for show, for pleasure).

I had mentioned to her that I'd been looking at captain's bells online.

"We have one," she said. She pulled away the clematis to reveal the bell. And joy bubbled inside at all the little details that awaited us. Thank you, God.

A week at home and we have internet and cable and phone. And the house smells cozy (except for what Erin dubs "ugly" in the basement), and the wood floor tones are warming, and I catch myself saying frequently to Shane, "Can you believe we're here?"

One week in, and the captain's bell chimes in the back yard. Piano music fills the inside spaces. Little feet thump and scamper. And Lanie discards life jacket and water wings, slides fearlessly down the slide and goes under water in the pool. Confident.

There are loud night sounds, and cawing crows, and daddy long-legs everywhere. Deer hooves sounding in gallop as one leaps over our fence. Locust shells, spiders, and odd bugs we'd never seen in field life. Woods living is very different.

We've watched this house for over a year, and the story ends and begins anew with us here.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise

Mix tapes. Laura Story. Blessings. Writing at 66 Books.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2091-2105)

a place to call home
places to put things
clean toilets
black-eyed susans

a long driveway
a black squirrel
a captain's bell
a shower
our cat back home

Erin's new room
Lanie reading in the outside nook
a barrel full of weeds
friends visiting
and a friend who let me borrow her computer and wifi because my computer wouldn't connect at the grocery store

Friday, August 5, 2011


When people spoke of  a personal relationship with Christ, I wondered how I missed it. God seemed far, abstract, impersonal. I felt like an imposter Christian, a wannabe.

Writing today at 66 Books.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2063-2090)

pillows from home
a trip to the beach
late night at the amusement park

seeing beauty through a four-year-old
movies from the library
snacks in a cooler
hot sand under my feet
salty waves

sprinkles on ice cream
hot water for a shower
enough to eat, more than enough
friends at a birthday party
water slides

little hands to hold
cuddles in my lap
her squeezes as much as she loves
the in-between
a place for my cat

Barbies gifted
a comfy spot to read
a "quiet place" on a bench in the garden
first guests
clean clothes

snacks and pizza delivered
juicy, sweet plums
a lap blanket
endings and beginnings
sunny days