Monday, July 29, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4462-4480)

our house guest, Daisy
dogs at my feet when I sit, when I stand, when I walk
butterflies like grace through air onto echinacea
a clean swept patio

the sweet fragrance of cut grass
the way the leaves rustle in late summer breezes
the autumnal warning of honking geese
the smell of a neighbor's woodsmoke in chilly morning air
coffee with milk and sugar

a friend's heart transformation during an overseas trip
how it spoke to me--on anger, forgiveness and healing
FB chats with Cindy
how special she and Joel are in my life
Erin and Lanie jumping in sync into the pool, again and again and again

blue water that reminds me of Jello
chairs paired together at Home Goods
so that we could sit and chat
pizza in the freezer
a new day

Monday, July 22, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4437-4461)

purple cone flower in the garden
welcome words in the mail
a school book shipment at the door
a great week at VBS

old roads
my kids calling out greetings to a former home
peaches at the pick-your-own
and a black cherry soda
hanging out with Pete at Calvary

a phone call with Denise
sweetest plums
and ice cream sandwiches on sale
for a crowd at our house
a bit of levity with two goofy women

a full dinner table
stormy wind gusts
and a great morning for yard work
Shane's awesome attitude
that You put us together

a good read in the car
and the three hours for five days to read, nap, shop, chat and visit
hand towels for the guest bathroom
yard gloves
and bug repellent 

a quick hello at Lowes with dear neighbors

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Six point five

Lanie went to a birthday party sleepover last night, so it was just me and Erin for a bit. She has a very good friend with a birthday coming up too, so I took her to a mall to get a gift. I think Erin's love language is gifts. She puts a lot of thought into getting someone a gift, and even wants a part of selecting the tissue paper to go with it. We had a fun time out together and Erin was chatty up to the time I got her home, settled in bed, and put the hall light on.

When we were heading out, though, I was waiting to make a left-hand turn onto a road and a motorcycle went past. Two riders were on the motorcycle.

"I will never go on a motorcycle," Erin said.

"I probably won't either," I said.

"They look really dangerous," she said. "And I would never sit on the back of one (as in--the second rider). I wouldn't want to sit in the back of anything, unless it was a car."

I made the turn.

"Or unless it was a flying unicorn with wings. I would sit on the back then, and if I fell off I'd just land on the ground."

Unicorn with wings? I'm driving and her total sweetness makes my heart swell. Insight into the imagination of a six-point-five year old.

"I could just grab on the unicorn's tail and pull it down with me ..."

Monday, July 15, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4411-4436)

rainy day fabric shopping with Anita
lunch across the table from her with the kids
new wiper blades
and a good man like David
the things he remembers

camera 3
talks about friendship with Lanie
Lisa at the table
strawberry jam
a fig from Wasil's tree

a visit at David's
cookies for the kids at their house
flowers in a coffee pot vase
daisies and black-eyed Susans in a vase on my counter
Linda over for dinner

cushions to be recovered by Anita
her hugs and kisses in the driveway
a beautiful role model
clean water on ice
letters from Hobby Lobby for Cindy (H O M E)

a week of VBS
old roads to travel
a lunch date with Beckie
and Lanie and Olivia
ice cream under awning after church

the change in us

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Prayer glasses

Erin got a pair of prayer glasses in church. They are paper glasses that remind me of 3-d glasses, except, the eye part is paper with no cut out.

Here is a picture:

Shane is hiding behind his computer so I don't get him in the photo
I stopped the car at the end of our driveway to grab the mail. I hear my family's happy chatter and the music playing on the radio. "Child of the one true king ...."

I get in the car and hand the mail to Shane. I shut the car door. He is putting on Erin's prayer glasses just as I put my foot on the brake to put the car in gear. Suddenly ...

"AHHHH!!! AHHHH!!! AHHHH!" these screams from the back seat. I'm looking in the rear view mirror to see what's going on. I'm expecting a prehistoric wasp is terrorizing the girls and repeatedly stinging them.

Shane, in the dark of the prayer glasses, is calling out, "What?! WHAT?! WHAT?!"

He pulls off the glasses. Erin is near tears. The kids are screaming, "IT'S A BUG!"

At that point, I see it.

A gnat.

Really. Maybe it was big enough to be a little mosquito. I usher it out of the car.

Shane reenacts the expression of horror on Lanie's face. I just remember Erin straining against the seat belts in terror. And then he tells me how he couldn't see anything because he had the prayer glasses on. That's when I lost it.

a selfie as I reenact

Full belly laughs the ride down the driveway. Gasping for air walking into the garage. This image of Shane with the glasses, the kids screaming, the gnat ... never a dull moment with this crew. Lanie swears it was a dragonfly. For the record, it wasn't.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The difference here makes

It's hard to believe that we're approaching our second year anniversary here.

It's felt like so much longer, life before like another lifetime. Erin was three when she first staked claim to her room, four when she moved here, and celebrated five and six in this house with song and cake. She's on her way to seven.

Lanie learned to swim here. She climbed fences and trees (including the pines), rode her bike down the steep hill, and found freedom to be (we all did).

In life before, it took us ten years to get some things done (mostly trim and painting). But in two years here we have:

  • demolished a dog kennel/fencing and cement pad
  • demolished an outdoor brick grill
  • felled five pines

  • added a play set with border and wood chips 

  • removed a section of fencing
  • thinned out and cleaned up the woods in front and side yards (gifted by David)
  •  began redesigning the front garden with border shrubs, stepping stones, and boundary stones

  • replaced front outdoor lights
  • installed an invisible fence 
  • installed a gate
  • installed garage doors (this weekend)
  • demolished wood panel, blue tile floor, ceiling and beams in the school room

  • put up drywall, wood floor, new ceiling and recessed lights in the school room
  • painted our former kitchen table

  • painted school room, kitchen, powder room, dining room, living room, lower and upper hallway, Erin's room

  • removed living room, dining room and school room curtains (and put up new curtains in living room and, soon, school room)
  • hung pictures (this is actually meaningful for me, as silly and small as it seems)
There's a lot to do, and to keep costs low, we have done the grunt work, installation, and hauling ourselves. Sweat is free. We've watched tons of hours of DIY programming, and now I'm planning next to-do's.

Shane caught my enthusiasm that day when I said, "Let's do the school room!" For a planner like him, that was unexpected. He's not as eager to tackle the kitchen just yet. I'm more like, "Just give me a tape measure and a sledgehammer." You never finish if you never start.

We got a set of Ikea chairs for the school room and I decided to put them together myself. Shane has enough to do! The girls stayed nearby and Lanie said, "Why can't you be like other moms?" And not in approval (not in approval of me). I laughed out loud.


I laughed because I never imagined half of this stuff for myself. I laughed because (before) I didn't know what poison ivy looked like or that snakes can hurl their bodies 1 1/2 times their length or even how to drive a tractor. I laughed because (before) Shane always assembled stuff and painted walls and maintained the yard. And really, it's not about something as trivial as putting together a chair. I never imagined that a decision to move would change everything. It changed my friendships. It changed my marriage. It changed my focus. It changed my children. It changed Shane. It changed me.

I've written a lot about the move and the difference here makes, mostly because it turned out to be a bigger event than I ever imagined. My special thanks to anyone who's read along and tolerated my ramblings on move and change and all that. (I'm sure I'll squeeze in a post or two in the future.) Even deeper gratitude for anyone who has prayed for us, walked with us, caught tears, or sat across from me at Panera and held my hand.

Monday, July 8, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4389-4410)

bluest skies
black-eyed Susans blossoming

David and Anita
chocolate cake
roller skating rink minutes away
and 2 10-year-olds camped out in the basement

cookies warm from the oven
and glasses of milk
a comfy bed
friends at the pool
good reads

and learning to be free from all that
decaf with Julie
the 66 Books community
sweet watermelon

Lanie harmonizing to music on the radio
Erin swimming across the pool for the first time
a ballerina book, gifted to Erin
from Linda
kids like magnets on Shane in the pool

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I tried my hand at recreating a Panera souffle. I got some crescent roll dough (seamless) and sliced it into squares, pressing into muffin tins and topping with a quickie filling of eggs, cheddar cheese, cooked bacon, salt, pepper, and onion powder (I would have used the real thing, but you'll get why in a minute).

Lanie hovers over me as I'm whisking the filling.

"Are there eggs in that?" she asks.

"Yes, there are in quiche," I say. Now usually I try to prepare most foods out of her sight. She's usually pretty good about eating the end product, but doesn't like watching it being thrown together. She loves chicken penne pasta (as do we all), but one day noticed the amount of chopped mushrooms I put in, commenting on the mushrooms--in turn, turning Erin off to ever eating it again. And up to that point, she was eating it.


"Does it go on top?" she asks.


I put it all together and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Lanie loves quiche--but mostly because I found a recipe that calls for beating the eggs with cream cheese, so she doesn't really notice the egg part if I'm quick about adding them. It also seems to have a slightly higher cheese to egg ratio. This breakfast was mostly eggs.

She watches the timer. Done.

"Which one do you want?" I ask. She picks the one that looks like a bow-tie.

We eat. It's good, but I felt like there was too much roll, and I should use a bigger muffin cup next time. I mention too much roll.

"No!" Lanie says. "I wouldn't eat it if there wasn't this much roll."

"I get this," Shane says. "I had to have my eggs a certain way when I was her age."

And the whole time I'm thinking stop saying eggs stop saying eggs stop saying eggs. This is the keyword that's the deal breaker for her.

Luckily, she ate it all. They were good, and I'd definitely make them again.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

This side of heaven

After days in a row of rain, today was a gorgeous sunny day. I saddled up the tractor and started cutting the front and back yard. Cut lines across the yard, while butterflies darted and dashed in front of me. Grabbed hold of the push mower and cut within the pool area and along the hill slope. Worked up such a crazy sweat, walked over and stuck my feet in the pool. Shane was there working on cleaning it and said, "You should just jump in."

So I did. How decadent.

We had a lot of catching up around the place to do today, and still tried to make it over to see David and Anita for a visit. Erin taught herself how to swim at their house. She could make it halfway across the pool and we cheered and clapped for her. She cut herself a piece of chocolate cake nearly 1/3 the size of the entire cake and I laughed and scaled it back for her. (Wouldn't you know, Gramma 'Nita would package up the rest of that slice to send home with Erin!)

I sat next to Anita poolside while Erin swam, and I told her how much she means to us. I told her how grateful we are for their love and inclusion. I want her to always know how much they mean to us.

When it was time to head home, I know I kissed David at least three different times, looked into his eyes and squeezed his hand. I told him I love him. And he remembered with me, back to my wedding day, how I introduced him as "my best guy" much to the surprise of someone who challenged that Shane was my best guy. Shane understands. He's not jealous.

On the drive home, I thought about how David has taken us into his family, remembers us and celebrates us. Thought about how he engages with us, kisses me hello and goodbye and never misses the moment to tell me he loves me. I will never, ever wonder where I stand with him. He calls me daughter.

And I think on how it feels to be wanted and included in a family like I belong, and I can't help but think of God and his love for me--adopting me as his own and I can call him Father. God, my Father, who sings over me and delights in me. He calls me daughter, too.

I'm so grateful God has given me a friend like David, who loves me as his own, and that I can know that kind of love this side of heaven.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


The kids wanted to get their hair cut today, and since the afternoon was clear, we went.

Erin got her usual cut. Super cute.

Lanie decided she wanted to go shorter, above her shoulders shorter. The hair stylist asked if we'd like to do Locks of Love.

"Is there enough hair to do that?" I asked. She nodded. So we did.

sneaked a shot with the phone
I thought for sure Lanie would cry when it was done. Instead, I'm the one who got choked up. I love this kid!

They got their lollipops afterwards and we walked out to the car. That's when I said to Lanie, "I really like your hair cut. I know you don't like people drawing attention to you, but I just wanted to let you know you look really cute."

"I don't like it when people draw attention to me," she confirmed. "It makes me burn with anger forever."

"Well, that's fierce," I said, slightly amused.

The woman parked next to our car laughed at our conversation. I chuckled too. And Lanie sat in the back seat putting her hair up in a bitty ponytail. I knew she liked it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4375-4388)

the splash of Lanie jumping into the deep end

sun trails across the bridges of sweet noses
later nights with VBS
how he still makes me laugh so hard
the way the house smells when I walk upstairs

petunias in window boxes
friends who gather around a sister during an unexpected loss
last days with Julie
catching lightning bugs with Erin
a big raft and rocking my kids off it in the pool to "Rock-a-bye Baby"

their howls of laughter and "do it again!"
a red gate
a weekend with no plans