Monday, November 28, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2541-2561)

  • a big box of coffee delivered the day before Thanksgiving
  • a painted dining room
  • turkey plates, little cups and saucers, unpacked
  • happy faces at the table
  • icing on cupcakes, swirled high

  • the less-than-perfect, and learning to find peace in it
  • handmade potholders from my dad
  • that he was here to see his lights twinkling at night in the garden
  • dirty dishes on the counter for morning
  • an impromptu visit from David and Anita

  • her still-warm pumpkin bread, gifted
  • our first Thanksgiving here
  • mild weather with sunshine
  • the winding down of a third year on 66 Books
  • belly laughs from the best kids ever

  • the looking forward to holiday traditions
  • a glowing tree
  • raked leaves
  • photo cards in the mail
  • catching my husband eating pie from the dish the day after

  • and sunsets.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas ornaments

This year's tree; a pre-lit tree because Shane is done hanging lights. And my JOY reminder front and center, quite likely to be my 2012 focus word, if I do that kind of thing again.

Every year our family heads to a nearby nursery that is decked out with Christmas trees and ornaments. There, we select a new ornament each. I try to pick an ornament that is symbolic of something of the year. Like the first year of being a mom, I got a snowmama holding a snowbaby. Another year, per the (then) annual cookie swap, I selected a gingerbread man dressed in cook's clothing. Last year, the girls and I saw a lovely performance of The Nutcracker, so I chose an ornament of Clara holding a nutcracker.

The kids tend to get whatever is pretty or sparkly or catches their eye. This year, Lanie picked out a stained-glass cross. Erin got a Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, second year running.

I got a sock monkey. Which has nothing to do with anything, yet is somehow fitting.

We passed by a woodland section of ornaments and Shane and I shared a good laugh over spiders, squirrels, foxes, groundhogs, mice, and snakes.

"You have to get a mouse or a snake," I encouraged. He didn't pick one out, being our resident humbug. I'm half tempted to go back soon and get one for him.

The girls decorating the tree.

Friday, November 25, 2011

His and hers

Black Friday morning. Hum of heater. Warm covers. Sunlight streaming. Shane and I head downstairs for coffee--revving up for the day ... our annual trek to pick out an ornament for the tree and lunch at Wegmans. I peek into Lanie's room: bed made, everything tidy and ordered. Pillows centered, covers smoothed. I point into her room and Shane looks. He smiles.

"That's my girl," he says, and I know.

We look into Erin's room: pink lump under pink covers, tousled hair, toys strewn haphazardly across table, dresser and floor. We laugh. She's all mine.

Not into the hands of men

1 Chronicles 21 opens with Satan inciting, and he does it still today. He does it in communities, in homes, at holidays. He incites God-lovers to sin, and men to grudges, cruelty, hatred.

Writing today at 66 Books.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A room with a view

Before, the early mornings I'd get up and catch the sunrises. On Fridays, they were a colorful perk of a quiet start.

The woman who moved into that house saw them too. Me, here, in the after, acutely aware that I had no sunrise view. Her, there, telling me how beautiful the morning starts are.

I loved the sunrises too, I told her.

Me, here, getting used to where I put things, which light switches control which lights, season giving way to season. I soaked in fall's color palette. Luxuriated in the senses. Captivated by leaves falling, falling, falling ... their silent drift like snow, slow motion.

One evening, I sat in the dining room. Summer's lush and weeks of rain had hidden the view, now revealed. I looked out into the garden and the woods, tree silhouettes, all bare. I caught my breath. A frame of bay window aflame in spectacular--a sunset view that made me gasp and marvel, a cry of gratitude for beauty.

A room, with a view.

Monday, November 21, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2519-2540)

the smell of freshly painted walls
wood stacked

fancy Christmas dresses, one red and one purple with glitter
turquoise tulle for a winter wonderland themed tea party
baby blankets on a couch
a good homeschool review with the county
a turkey defrosting in the fridge

tears that come quickly
a Friday night sermon on the drive home
the miracle of here, God provides
antibiotics for a sinus infection
Girl Scout cookies hand delivered with a lunch--catching up with a bestie

bursting love and thankfulness I felt today: hot coffee in hand, breakfasting with my girls at Panera, a honey glow of pendant lighting against a drizzle gray sky, a hint of fog, my heart singing

an opening for a feverish four year old at the pediatrician's
how she slept in my arms in the waiting room
lollipops that bring smiles
a leaf banner across our mantel
silver glitter

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Get well soon, love Pottery Barn

So I'm on the fifth day of fever, aches, coughing, nausea. Oh, and the chills. Daily wearing several shirts, sometimes a jacket inside the house, socks on my feet. Bundled on the couch in the evening in baby blankets because I'm not sure where our throws are.

Pottery Barn sends me this.

It's like they knew I couldn't find our throws, and that I'm bundled in baby blankets and multiple shirts and sometimes a jacket just to ward off chills.

It's like they knew I've been eyeballing and mentally wish-listing the blue smoke cable throw that reminds me of Cindy's curtains I've been taking down in the living room. The throw with the fleecy looking other-side. The throw made to cover a grown-up. Who is sick. With chills.

Oh, they knew.

Well, I'm sure they knew because they often send me reminders of stuff I've looked at and walked away from. Like, "Hey, Courtney, you were just here. You forgot to buy this." Oh, their clever marketing. This time, they put it on sale. How they toy ...

(Am I the only one who sticks items in the online shopping cart and then waits on buying them because I don't really need the stuff but I want the stuff, and the need and want sides have to battle it out? Usually neither side wins ... because I wait so long that something is eventually no longer available.)

Alas, thank you Pottery Barn for your concern. But I hope my only purchases today are at the grocery store (we are almost out of bread and milk) and the library to pay the 5-day overdue fine on the Mayflower book.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2504-2518)

for a husband who still hugs me when I feel achy and chilly
and who doesn't mind being seen with me in public when I wear white socks with jeans and loafers

a child's kisses and hugs
horsey rides across a hardwood floor
a playdate for Erin
a quick hello with a friend that turned into an hour's chat
a cord of wood to be delivered

home warranties
a word for the year: worship
that he doesn't complain about three weeks of leaves on the ground
a dining room table for eight (or more!)
brave fronts

a visit from my sister-in-law

Friday, November 11, 2011


Stayed under covers too long. Later start to everything.

Erin breakfasting on frozen bread (and Nutella) because I forgot to take it out to thaw last night. Lanie across the table from me while I get a post ready.

"Today's 11/11/11," I tell her. She works on her math pages and looks up to smile ... things amusing to a nine year old and a forty-something mother.

None of this has anything to do with 66 Books.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Boots, shovel, book on snakes

Here's how it went down.

"Mommy! Mommy! There's a snake outside! There's a snake outside!" Lanie yells.

I go outside. And yes, there's a snake sunning itself on the sidewalk. I look at it closely, but still from a distance. If it was a black snake, I would have walked away. But this one was brown with markings, and I've been told copperheads are out here.

I call Joel and explain the situation. He asks lots of questions about the snake and its markings. He tells me what to do.

"I'll stay on the phone," he adds.

I can only imagine how much he heard and what he thought.

Slam! of shovel against concrete.

"Ahhh! Ahhh!" (that's me screaming)

Slam! Slam! Slam!

I get back on the phone.

"It didn't work," I said. "I just pissed him off." And, yes, that's the terminology that falls out of your face when you combine caffeine, a shovel and a snake.

For the record, snakes don't squish like a worm when you stun them with a shovel. They get really mad, coil up and hiss at you. I don't know why I thought they would squish ...

And as a follow-up on the snake, he slithered off with a bad attitude.

Lots to learn out here. When I thought our woodland wish list would consist of books on leaf identification, bird watching, shade gardens ... now I'm adding snakes to the list.

And a pair of boots.

And a better shovel.

"Mommy! Mommy!" Lanie comes running in this morning. "Did you see in the woods?! There are big deer out there with antlers!" Fingers splayed and hands up by her head for dramatic effect.

This is life in the woods.

Monday, November 7, 2011

One thousand gifts and still counting (2487-2503)

chocolate glazed donut coffee in the morning
curtains off the big bay window
light streaming in
a woodland view

Snicker bars in the freezer
how the leaves sound like waves crashing when I rake the big piles
black crows
getting caught grouchy
apology note

 sighting Joel
candle tarts in a bag
a cuddlebug back in the bed
playdate with a former neighbor
thick, green grass

Sunday morning paint run
color swatch on the wall, "Weimeraner"
green that goes white on the doors

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In a well-ventilated area

Pandora. Key word: The Cars.

"You're listening to The Cars?" he asked. "I hate The Cars."

The 80s were so much more than Madonna and Toni Basil.

Steve Winwood, Eddie Money, The Cars to name a few. Thank you, Pandora.

I crank up the volume and pull out the primer to paint over the doors leading into the dining room. Lots of home projects inside and out. The process of transformation, literally and figuratively.

"If we were on DIY, would we be Marriage Under Construction or DIY Nightmares?" I still have hopes of running into a Crasher at the hardware store. No such luck.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear, dear grace

Life feels fractured in a before and after of sorts. Life one way, then another. Before kids, after kids. Before the move, after the move. Before Jesus, after Jesus.

Writing today at 66 Books.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


A thump at the door and a dink of a ring as her finger presses the backdoor bell. Through the storm door she calls out loudly, "I LOVE YOU, MOMMY!"

I answer back, "I LOVE YOU TOO, BEAN!"

And I wonder how anyone could limit themselves to only one thanks per day in November.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The other firsts were woven together, a tight weave of life fabric. First home, first child, first Christmas. Years built upon them to the beat of the chugging time train. First steps, first teeth, first trick-or-treat. With card-flipping fast speed, my mind remembers. First pumpkin patch, first wagon rides, first friends. And many, many more firsts of that first real home.

And life feels splintered between them ... the former firsts, the new firsts. Things seem familiar, and different. Putting up balloons for Lanie's birthday, I remembered the years I celebrated her before--but this one stands out against the melded memory of others: our first one here.

My hand to paint brush, it had been so many years between Dr. Seuss (a first room for my first child) and Pink Singe (a first for my last).

Erin's first room. Her first night in her first bed of her very first space. She calls the bed rails "fences" and sometimes calls the bed her "cage."

New firsts.

First night. First swim. First friends over.

First boo boos. First autumn. First birthday celebration.

First dinner party. First trick-or-treat. First snow.

These new firsts stand in arrest against time. Because any other year, it would have been another party, another Halloween, another snow. But because we are here, and here makes all the difference, they stand out as firsts.

"Life feels fractured," I said to Shane. "I thought it might move seamlessly from one chapter to the next."

"It wasn't seamless," he said.

"No," I agreed.

The kids got suited up to play outside. Pure joy on their faces. I looked up at the tallest treetops and watched the snow fall.