Monday, September 30, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4789-4812)

leaves that rain down like confetti on the trail
gifts in a bag

the awesome bike shirt, to match hers!
18 miles
a hair cut
a great week
nights without much sleep

and more than enough energy to fuel the days
two posts, back to back
a breakthrough day
texts with a neighbor
and the good that God will bring from it

lots of laughs with Erica
free Clif bars
a visit with Jackie
mums for sale
fast days

cold water
Anita on the phone
peanut butter buttercream
a pumpkin spice latte
painted nails

a new necklace
happiness here
the metamorphosis of the caterpillar on the bookshelf habitat
seashells in the back seat
1325 people

this life, these years
how You've wired me to serve You

Monday, September 23, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4764-4788)

sunny skies
ice cream on the boardwalk

with friends
a mini getaway
with my favorite people
putt-putt golf
Grotto Pizza

last bite at Grotto

delicious coffee at breakfast
his smile and laugh
safe travels
and a happiness to be home
Sunday worship at church

running into friends

bagel sandwiches
and an impromptu bike ride

her birthday bike ride, and she wears a do-rag too

on her birthday
that I would get prime time on her day

14 miles
her kind words
her prayers for me
stumbling blocks, as long as they force me to keep looking at You
clean water

my own bed
woodsmoke smells to greet me
a waggy dog back home

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I think it's his favorite place in the world: a beach.

Any beach.

While I'm happy to be tucked away in the woods, he likes salty air and waves and sunshine.

We got away for a very quick trip this weekend. It was one blur, but packed with smiles: a nap in the sand, waves knocking kids over, laughter and smiles, kids running and digging in sand, shell treasures, seagulls, pool swimming, ice cream, pizza, mini golf, boardwalk, shopping, running into friends.

goofing off

she got it down in no time


biggest cheerleaders

A picture of Shane's finger that I happened to photo bomb

the bunny at mini golf

vanilla, vanilla, vanilla
My favorite pizza ever

Erin took this one
And this one too
I have a to-do list whenever we go--and it's all about food. My itinerary looks like this: Dumser's Ice Cream, Fishtales, Tequila Mockingbird, Dough Rollers (for pancakes) and Grotto Pizza. Grotto Pizza is my favorite from childhood, and I'm not sure if it's that connection or that the pizza is really that good, but it's what I often ask Shane to get for my birthday dinner (he never does because it's so far away!). We drove up the coast to Rehobeth Beach and I recognized the place where my parents would stay. There was a Grotto Pizza within walking distance of the hotel (and that's the location we'd always eat at when I was a kid--the one my family goes to is further south). 

"The spring before my mom died, my dad took her here for a last vacation. It was their favorite place to go," I mentioned. I felt teary, wondering what that last getaway held. Did they talk about her dying? Did they reminisce of family vacations? Did they drink coffee and watch sunrises? Did they grab a bite to eat at the pizza place (it was her favorite too)? When my parents got back home, I remember my mom saying she wished it didn't have to end.

Shane tried to find a parking place so we could eat, but it was packed with circling cars and lots of folks--so we just drove to our regular spot. 

The weekend weather was perfect (back home it was raining). We all got our share of sunshine. And we were together. So thankful.

As we pulled into the driveway last night Erin cheered, "We're home!"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Something about chilly days that makes the woodsmoke smells seep fresh from the stoves. Christmas Cookie candle burning on the stove top. Cindy's recipe for apple pie in my hands, for tonight's dessert (and Lanie's breakfast tomorrow--she loves pie nights for breakfast mornings).

12:15 p.m. Timer's counting an hour for a lunch and play break before we get back to school. Papers dated and stacked for filing. List items getting crossed off. Laundry tumbling in the dryer. Floors swept. It's chilly in the house, and I'm still in capris--summer holdout.

Thinking about stumbling blocks. A discussion with Lanie this morning over stumbling blocks, those stones in my path I need to remove more regularly than I'd like to admit. I think of stone throwers and my smile, forced, in public places, but inside I wonder: why do you throw blocks in my path? So I will stumble? So I will wound? So you can get ahead? Is this a race against each other?

I move the stone away again, and wonder if it will ever really be gone.

Laundry tumbles in the room next to me. Soon Cindy's apple pie fragrance will fill the rooms of this house again, and I'm happy she lives here still, so to speak, and has become part of my family's history. Lanie will always remember cold apple pie at breakfast. And I will always serve it warm at my table for Thanksgiving.

I talk to Lanie about stumbling blocks and sisters and sisters-in-Christ, and it's a begging born from experiences I'd sometimes rather forget: please don't put those blocks in a sister's way. Be it bloodline or in Christ, don't wound and target and hurl those blocks so that a sister spends her life pushing away memories, struggling to forgive, stumbling to move past.

I don't know if she gets it, how deeply I mean it.

3:30 p.m. It's time to make a pie. Fall-like weather outside my windows. Music playing throughout the house, and a school space, now clean and tidied for the next time we gather. My house smells cozy and sweet from the candle. 

Today, for now, I drop the weight of blocks outnumbered by abundance of blessing.

I keep my eyes on Jesus, and run.

Monday, September 16, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4721-4763)

that Shane grabbed a googly-eyed water from the fridge
and didn't notice its eyes until later in the day
and laughed when he saw it
chats in the laundry room
a great first day of school for all of us

high school Bible
garage doors up
and belt on the tractor
a phone call from a sister

for verses remembered
and promises kept
that You are faithful
really delicious oatmeal cookies
good coffee

and vanilla stevia drops

a Bible to give away
a mid-morning nap for myself
tomatoes exchanged for basil
a good first full week back to school

coffee at the school table
a fabulous Bible study
and the M&Ms in the candy drawer
good nights of sleep

last pool days
a day with Denise
a trail to ride
oh, that bike
4 o'clock on fast days

ancient grains bread
socks for my feet
my kids laughing on homeschool days
a new closeness with Erin during read alouds
a library run

a dog bone 4 pack
20 miles (TWENTY MILES!)
clean swept floors

treats from the snoball stand
chalk drawings on the sidewalk

hard boiled eggs in the fridge
the kids playing hide and seek before dinner
Denise at the table

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

First Tuesday

The first Tuesday seems like the hardest at the start of the year. The first Monday gets all the glory: seeing old friends, meeting new ones, the excitement of new books--even new pencils seem extra special, and lunches that were normally boring become an anticipated mystery. Especially in a Bento box. With googly eyes.

Baby carrots never tasted so good.

But Tuesday. That's the day after the excitement. When we're all nursing sugar hangovers after the brownie celebration Monday afternoon. When it's trash day and piano lessons and a full day of work. And there's new routine and we're all trying to figure it out. (And mama picks this day for 5:2 ... live and learn.)

We made it through. Work got done. And mostly cheerfully. I only grumbled twice. And someone only cried once. And there were renewed energies after their lunches and pool splashes for a job well done.

I surveyed the wreckage. First Tuesday and it's like the dog shed every hair. And there are dishes in the sink from two meals. And the table is covered by lunch, another table with school work waiting to be checked. And toilets need cleaning (especially the basement after the plumbing fiasco--fortunately remedied!).

All that time, weeks before, I was in nesting mode: organizing linen closets and catching up on laundry and inventorying the pantry. All school supplies placed in a basket and waiting for our first day.

Funny, that.

Funny that in just one day, and the place looks like I never bothered. I'll go through these days making mental notes about things I'll do differently next year.

Happy back to school!

Monday, September 9, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4673-4720)

leaves falling outside the living room window
cooler temps
open windows

googly eyes for back-to-school lunches

coupons for free stuff
Ivette and Raul
jalapenos to share with neighbors
the extra cabinet space in the utility sink

chocolate chip/white chip cookies in the freezer
a new learning journey
Erica at dinner
how Erin skips and hops and dances wherever she goes
Lanie with me for evening errands

to be home with my kids
to be homeschoolers

and for people who accept us for us
Julie's hand to hold spiritually, even though she's half a world away

waking up on the couch to catch a snippet of a house-hunting episode as the wife tells the realtor they need a homeschool room
for this house, and its homeschool room

house wine
and a cheese platter from Wegmans (cranberry chipotle, oh my, and Camembert)

pink lady apples
the summery sound of lawn mowers
bushy marigolds along the walkway

good music
bikes to ride
last Wednesday in high school
sticky things to keep my maps on the wall

14 miles under my belt
gifted pink garden gloves

a construction paper snake for me to practice wrangle
a bike rack
blue and orange jingle/friendship bracelets

ice cream and magic shell
fireworks at the park
their hands to hold
this zip code
this day

Sunday, September 8, 2013

My neighborhood

We went to a festival in our zip code. First we took the kids out for ice cream. Then we drove to a park where the festival was being held.

In life before, we used to catch a neighbor's fireworks in July; the view from our patio.

But in life after, we joined a broader community at a park for a zip code celebration. Kids were rolling down hills. Over. And over. And over. Live music playing. Pizza in a giant, portable pizza oven. Glow sticks for sale. Lots of vendors and fun stuff.

We sat on the hill and listened to music and people watched. The stadium lights went out. My kids were so excited.

The fireworks began.

Lanie sat next to me, "The smallest ones are the loudest!"

The finale was amazing. I found myself clapping and woo-hooing, not that anyone could hear me over the boom. As the last boom faded, applause all around, and cheers.

I could hear Erin asking Shane, "Daddy! That was the best! Can we do this again next year?"

And the things of life before that I thought they'd remember are being replaced by life now and the hope of future.

I can't wait till next year's festival. And the one after that. And the one after that.

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:1-6 NIV

This heart, breaking full.

On an unrelated note, making these cheese rolls with dinner tonight. And these cookies are in the oven for back-to-school lunches.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


I still wonder how she came into my life.

She is a whirlwind of smile and energy.

 She showed up this morning to ride with her bike. And a gift for me. Pink John Deere gardening gloves. They can also be used for snake wrangling.

We loaded bikes on the rack and drove off to a relatively nearby path. Biked 14 miles. Laughed so hard reaching our halfway point, where they had a museum, and a kids' craft station. She made an owl out of paper plates. And then she tossed the only other crafty item on the table my way: a construction paper snake.

I laughed so hard.

Can't wait to ride again. I missed my bike. And that kind of laughter. And how good it feels to be that sore and sweaty.

Monday, September 2, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4635-4672)

shopping with my kids at the mall on a Monday
and a grocery run through Wegmans
corn salsa

peach salsa in the fridge
books at the library
peaches in hand, juicy and ripe

empty days on the calendar grid
a friend who knows how to wrangle snakes
and came over to wrangle one out of the shed for me

hanging out with her for a quick swim
cookies in the oven

a friend to walk my dog while we were out
pumpkin pancakes
and maple syrup
Shane's day off
road trip

roller coasters
sunny skies
the water park
and tube slides
my kids' happy screams

best days
running into friends
picnic lunches
dinner out (Burnin' Love burgers ... yum!)
the happiest, danciest, waggiest dog ever

David's family
Anita's example
legacies of love
a ceremony passed down by generations
"urban" chicken

Erin's 2 plates of mac and cheese
the ice cream truck
and cake slices
a new sink in the laundry room
a DIY guy

how Erin sings all day long
winning a book in a giveaway (!)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pear, pumpkin, fall

Opened a can of pumpkin the other morning and made pumpkin pancakes. Had enough pancakes left over to stick some in the freezer for something quick on a school day. Or if anyone just wanted a pancake, and (I) didn't want the mess to clean up.

Because of the delightful feast at David's, none of us needed anything big for dinner. I scrambled up some eggs and pulled out the the pancakes. Shane looked at me and said, "Pumpkin pancakes? It's August."

I shrugged.

Later when the kids went to bed, he fixed himself a glass of wine.

"You want some?"

I looked in the wine fridge.

"Eh, I'm not seeing anything I want," I said.

"What's that bottle?" he asked.

"It's something pear for a fall sangria I want to make," I said.

"Pear. Pumpkin. Fall," he started. "Then it'll be winter."

I can't help it. I love fall. In fact, since moving here, I love all the seasons--or should I say, both the seasons: green and brown.

The delicious scent of apple blossoms, peepers announcing spring through night chorus; the lush fullness of trees and how the wind sounds blowing over crowning tops, the splash of blue in the pool, the fragrance of cut grass in summer; leaves raining down, crisp mornings, crow ruckus, and the crunch of leaves underfoot in fall; woodsmoke smells and stacks of wood, how snow outlines tree branches, slope slides for little bottoms and a front hill that's worth, at least, half a day's fun. 

Life is beautiful in the woods.