Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Practicing tracing and identifying shapes. Tracing and copying shape words ... square ... rectangle.

Erin sits on my lap, her hair still fragrant from spring-like breezes and sunshine. We had lunch at the picnic table in a sunny spot, checkered cloth covering, sandwiches in bags, chips, apples and pudding. Kids ran and played and I soaked in sun. It was only just minutes ago, and her hair retains this promising scent of spring and childhood. Wishing I could bottle it, infuse this delight of time, this vapor.

"Trace and color the rectangles," I read the directions. She sits in my lap and complies.

"Trace and copy the word 'rectangle'," I continue.

"Ok, but don't look," she tells. She likes to surprise with the finished product.

"Ok," I say. I close my eyes and lean in to breathe her hair.

"And no sniffing," she says. My jaw drops in amusement.

"And no kissing," she sums up.

"No fair," I tell her and laugh.

Do not forget five.

Hardwood, slate and tile

It was well over a month before my feet wouldn't ache and throb the second they hit the floor in the morning. Some mornings doing school with Lanie, feet in wool socks propped upon the table leg rest so they don't absorb the cold from a tile floor.

Yesterday, we three prepared to head out to a play date at a friend's house. I found myself secretly hoping they had carpet, so I could sink my feet into plush and padding.

"Mommy," Erin said. "I hope they have carpet."

I laughed at my mini-me.

Their home was wood floors and tile too. Luckily, I had wool socks on.

Monday, January 30, 2012

One thousand gifts and still counting (2592-2611)

2592. an unclogged sink
2593. mild temperatures
2594. Strawberry Shortcake bandaids
2595. the richness of second coats of paint
2596. hot bread out of the oven
2597. a new play date for Erin
2598. coconut scented shampoo
2599. how easily one forgets
2600. a woodpecker in the backyard at breakfast
2601. hot oatmeal in a mug
2602. flavored coffee
2603. sunflowers
2604. Friday night open door
2605. a table for twelve
2606. her excitement over dance
2607. another's morning cuddles
2608. hearts in a bag for a Valentine path
2609. olive oil and fresh pepper on a plate
2610. not caring who hears my song
2611. splintery wood on the hearth

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hock locks and other accoutrements

Winter is beef stew season. I finally wrote it into our weekly menu. Pulled out the crockpot and snagged the first recipe that showed up on Google. Dumped beef cubes, celery, carrots, onions, etc. into the pot, set in on high, and went about my day. Returned from errands to the most delightful scent, and happiness in my heart that I wouldn't be trying to squeeze in a dinner prep while scouting finds on Pinterest.

By 6:00 p.m., I was lifting the lid to add some cornstarch to thicken. A gentle stir revealed an unexpected ingredient: the absorbent pad that lines the meat pack.

I phoned a friend. I phoned the grocery store. I went online. Fortunately, I am not the first person this has happened to. The government even has a link about it. I tried to overlook the condescension of its opening: The absorbent pad is clearly not intended to be cooked ...


(For the record, I didn't see it go in the pot!)

While three out of four sources said to eat the food, we declined. Simmering plastic just didn't sound appetizing. Not even to the guy at the meat counter. We ate eggs instead.


How often do we want to write things off as coincidence? Sometimes God shows up in ways that are unmistakable. I think everyone's got a crazy fish story. What's yours? Leave it in comments over at 66 Books.

Writing today at my favorite place.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The before and after

This house is looking so different from when we first moved in. The woods. The dining room. The hallway. The kitchen is halfway repainted, white. I never thought I'd choose to paint a room white. We spent the warmer months getting a handle on the gardens and yard. David was a huge help this fall and winter by overseeing the clearing of the jungle underbrush. It looks so very different from when we moved in.

At some point, I'll have before and after pictures to show. But we're still working towards after. One thought that sticks with me in the preparation to sell our other house was how we painted rooms we'd never painted in ten years living there. An office. A laundry room. The girls' bathroom. They had all been white. And after we finished, we really enjoyed the look. We asked ourselves why didn't we do it sooner, and promised we wouldn't put it off at the next place. I think that's why we've worked so hard. (And now can you see the amusement of white walls?)

Other plans in the near future: transforming the front garden, remodeling the school room, updating the laundry room (paint, cabinets, storage). But what feels really good is the sense of progress and the enjoyment of the finished product, now instead of later.

I remember lying in bed one morning the first week here, soaring pines outside my bedroom window. A woods- and bed-n-breakfast-like feel. I wondered to myself, "What are we doing here? Is this even us?!" We were open floor plans, neat and tidy yard, open field. I had an 8x8 raised garden bed, manicured hands, and a place for everything. It seemed like culture shock. As much as this place had been on heart and horizon, waking up here was unsettling, at first.

Now we are cozy rooms, older home, slate floors ... woods and jungle, poison ivy, wild turkeys, deer and snakes. Now I am tired hands, woodsmoke, snake-stomper boots, do-rag. I find myself repurposing things, hunting treasure finds, skimming Pinterest for creative ideas that don't come quite naturally to me.

When one of the writers came to breakfast the other week, she admired the sky-scraping trees, the variety in the terrain.

"Your kids must love it here," she commented. They do.

So different from the before. All of it. All of us.

A new friend commented, "This place is you."

I laughed.

He didn't know us before. Didn't know who we thought we were--open fields, manicured hands, tidy lawn. But he sees us now in the becoming. Oh, the difference here makes. Inside and out. When I had made joy a focal point for this year, after years of the sometime-struggle, I see God at work still, from the prompting on our hearts for change--of who we were, of where we were--to the video message at a women's Bible study of the book of James and the deeper look at greetings (joy to you!) ... finding it in and after the trial, in the before and in the after.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ginger ale

Tummy bug. Again. This time, me. Couch all day. I asked Shane for some ginger ale. Wait, wait, wait. I go into the kitchen with a sad face. He's plugged into a webinar. Looks at me with realization. I get a glass. Reach for soda. Pour a glass full. "Now you have me wanting some too," he says. I laughed.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One thousand gifts and still counting (2572-2591)

Walking into a windy night, thoughts thick. Thankful.

2572. the breathtaking blanket of stars above the treetops
2573. an empty seat filled next to me at the Bible study
2574. a tissue passed down by sister hands
2575. a coffee delivery
2576. the luxurious heat pouring from the fireplace insert

2577. chocolate mousse moose peeps from Denise
2578. and chocolate Kisses "for my eyes only", frozen and shared
2579. a breakfast with url friends turned irl
2580. the little water pitcher on sale
2581. mismatched chairs around the table

2582. cupcake run with littles
2583. spring-like temps in January
2584. windchimes
2585. books in the mail
2586. the friendly honk hello by a neighbor

2587. strangers to talk to
2588. little ballet slippers
2589. the Beth Moore book of James study
2590. sassy pink leopard print slippers gifted
2591. a landscape changed by David, the mark of his love and friendship

Monday, January 16, 2012

Less than three equals love

I hosted a breakfast Saturday morning for the local writers on 66 Books. It was so much fun. I can't tell you how excited I get about having people over for food and hanging out. (My friend Kellie and I had both read a book about the five love languages. Hers was spending time with others. Mine was too. When she shared hers with me, I giggled, because in  many ways we are alike. I have to say, though, I think of food as a love language because I love to fix food for others or eat food with them.)

I went out Friday night, as I often do before having people over, looking for something special. This time it was white flowers. Stayed up late talking to Shane and then realized I had lots of prep to do and a few other things and it was already midnight. By the time I got to bed, I still couldn't sleep.

I told him afterwards how excited I had been Friday night that I couldn't sleep. He said he also had a hard time sleeping. He was still up when I came to bed around 1:30 a.m.

"Were you excited too?!" I joked.

French toast bake. Egg bake. Mini yogurt parfaits. Strawberry and blackberries in a bowl. Orange juice. Coffee, coffee, coffee. Donut holes.

Funny: one guy I'm writing with this year almost considered buying the house we are in when the owner first prepared to list it over two years ago. Several factors put him off.

"That's because it was meant for us," I said.

Funny because our girls are best friends, and I love his family, and he's writing on the blog--and I never imagined these little twists of fate. He thought it was funny too the very first time he turned onto our driveway.

The morning flew by. I loved every minute of it. Didn't snag nearly as many pictures as I would have liked.

Life is good in the sweet spot.

Friday, January 13, 2012

'Round here

It's been quiet on this blog. Getting back to school with Lanie, stomach bug with Erin and Shane, prepping for a luncheon that got canceled because of stomach bug, laundry and disinfecting, prepping for a breakfast tomorrow (66 Books local writers! I'm so excited! I love this!), a weekly evening book study, girls enrolled in dance (Erin in ballet, Lanie in modern), and lots to read because that appetite has picked up again.

Keeping home fires burning, winter slipping in with bluster and bite, home project to-do's waiting for the go (dining room is finished, moving into the front hallway and upstairs hall for painting after Shane sands down some patches--white and a color called kangaroo. The kitchen follows.), and a sunny sky that calls me out despite the windchill--I want to go walking in the woods. Reading a book on woodland health has me looking at trees in a completely different way. I saw an enormous hawk swooping through the front garden. Just magnificent.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Now on Thursdays

Looks can be deceiving. Sometimes the greener grass brings an unexpected neighbor, as Lot found out.

Writing Thursdays with a new reading plan and some new (and returning) writers over at 66 Books. Celebrating the start of a fourth year.

Two down, two to go?

Erin complained of not feeling well the other day. Woke from her sleep around 10 p.m. vomiting. I was up with her all night as she puked every 45 minutes. Sad, sad, sad. Personally, I'm not a fan of vomiting, but when it's happening to such a little one, something changes. So what if I had three loads of laundry to do, or spent the night with one ear and eye open to listen and watch for stirring so I could be ready to catch it, or cuddle close to her the entire time that even when I took the hit, it was just part of love.

Erin crashed early. 

By Friday, we thought the worst was over. She hadn't thrown up at all Thursday night or Friday. I disinfected the house from top to bottom. Oh, it smelled so lemony. But I awoke in the middle of the night, literally afraid, to horrid sounds. It was Shane. I laid in bed feeling bad for him, now both of us completely awake.

As he climbed back under covers, I said, at the risk of sounding completely selfish, "I'm just wondering when it's going to be my turn. Oh, I know it's coming."

He laughed. I had spent days holding the virus in my arms.

Canceled Sunday luncheon plans. Erin still not back to herself entirely, even after yesterday's promising energy. And I feel like I need to run out and complete all my errands today as I know there's a good possibility I'll be down for the count too.

She sat and cuddled in my arms on the couch this morning. Shane rested on the other one.

"How come no one cuddles me or gives me kisses?" he joked.

Unrelated: I lined the back of our glass cabinets with this paper. Changes things up a bit. We are preparing to paint the kitchen white. I never thought I would intentionally paint a room white.

Paper backing, test-driving the look.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


From the good folks at Smorestix who included some variations on a classic:

The Traditional: roasted marshmallow, 2 grahams, 1 piece of milk chocolate

The Frosty: roasted marshmallow, 2 grahams, 1 junior Peppermint Patty

The Hawaiian: roasted marshmallow, 2 grahams, white chocolate, a slice of pineapple

The Peanut Butter Dream: roasted marshmallow, 2 grahams, 1 peanut butter cup

Monday, January 2, 2012


Overheard while I was on the search for s'mores sticks.

"Lanie, if you are ever in jail, you can call me." This from Erin.


While I was painting the front hall and foyer, Erin walks by. I said, "Say goodbye to the yellow!"

"I'm not saying goodbye to it. I didn't like it anyway," she replied.


I remember last summer, moving our stuff in. Meeting with Cindy. I had a package of s'mores sticks. I remember showing it to her, and in that moment feeling silly that I purchased marshmallow roasting sticks when I was about to be living IN THE WOODS. I had a good laugh over that. But seeing how we came from a field, we never had dropped sticks to pick from to roast marshmallows, unless we wanted to cut healthy branches off our little trees.

I promised the kids we'd roast marshmallows in this house. Weeks turned to months. Mild temperatures lingered, but now entering a nice little cold snap it seemed a great day to start a fire. So we started two (one in the school room, one in the living room).

I pulled out the sticks.

Got the bag of marshmallows out and loaded them on.

Loved the feel of the heat. Loved sitting next to my kids who were THRILLED to be roasting a marshmallow. Loved that Shane jumped in on the action and roasted his own. And can I say, they were delicious! Nothing like a roasted marshmallow.

When I walked into the school room, it felt warm. But best of all, it smelled like woodsmoke. And I felt joy.