Friday, November 29, 2013


The annual after-Thanksgiving trek for an ornament, pizza and a cookie.

Thankful for memory making and the anticipation of a Christmas season.

Thanksgiving stills

Sunny and cold day. Two fires burning. Even the dining room felt warm--a first. Ever. When my dad walked in, I gasped in my mind. I haven't seen him since June, and he has aged years. Maybe the cold air does that, because he seemed to look younger by the time he left.

I wish I saw him more.

He helped me work on an infinity scarf for Erin, since I only know how to crochet granny squares. I think he enjoyed it. I got a note later in my FB inbox of thanks from him.

I'm thankful too.

pecan pie and apple crumb from a nearby bakery

Dad and Linda. He was helping me with a scarf. Apparently the cheese and crackers went over well.

Frenzy and wine

First course

I scored those turkey tea cups a long time ago on a Thanksgiving eve at Home Goods

Shane thinks it's weird I serve soup at Thanksgiving.

Lori, Dad and Linda
I usually invite other friends and families over for Thanksgiving. This year, the family we asked couldn't make it, so it was just us. Erin asked who was coming for dinner and I said, "Granddaddy, Miss Linda and Aunt Lori."

"That's all?!" she asked. Glad that she would think that not having guests at our table would be unusual.

Next year.

The sweet potatoes, stuffing and pecan pie were my favorites. The turkey was dry. Luckily I made gravy (first time getting it right), and that saved it. I feel like we'll be eating pie for a week.

Thankful for a good holiday with my extended family.

Clean dishes

Our first year, I painted the dining room the night before Thanksgiving.

Our second year, I painted a powder room just before Thanksgiving.

When I felt a compelled to start hanging pictures up, or adding the length to some curtains, I thought, "Let's give this year a break. Why do I do this?"

So I focused on food-making Thanksgiving morning, while Shane opened the package he got in the  mail, pulled out the dishwasher and replaced the pump.

We ran a cycle through, and it was music to my ears.

Clean dishes on Thanksgiving!

Thankful that it was fixable and that Shane fixed it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making a list

Prepping a timeline list of what to cook and when to cook it for tomorrow's meal.

Turkey, sausage stuffing, sweet potatoes, herbed mashed potatoes, that yummy chipotle pepper corn chowder, Linda's salad, green beans. Linda is bringing desserts. (I have some crusts refrigerating for making Cindy's apple pie.)

A string garland of lights already festooned across the school room mantel. I couldn't wait for Friday. We've been singing Christmas songs for probably two weeks now. Packages received in the mail. Including the new pump for the dishwasher. Merry Christmas to us!

Hoping to be thankful tomorrow for a load of clean dishes.

But thankful today for warmth, deliveries, surprise snow showers, gifted pumpkin pie (also known as lunch), texts with friends, a post in queue, and the thought of leftovers.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Greeted immediately with Thursday scriptures, preparing to post in queue and I can't help but think:

God is awesome.

Erica showed up for pumpkin French toast, with a little in tow who ran laps around the house with Erin. He was a hugger and sweet little boy.

Next, a co-op mom whose son is in Erin's class was coming by with sibs for lunch. In the interim, I chat Christy and check email.


A note from a 66 Books writer a few years ago who wants back in because of the learning he gained from time reading and blogging ... and he misses it ... and is expectant of what 2014 holds for him. (Of course, I said yes!)

Nate and Briann and Hannah and Erin and Lanie. Hide and seek. Playing in the basement. Lunchin' up a storm. Us moms chatting it up, and I really, super liked her. Can't wait to do it again soon. 

I reached out across the coast to a guest writer and he said yes to 2014.

I am amazed.

Just when I wondered if we'd have a sixth year ...

(He gives us the desires of our hearts.)

God, you rock.

Thankful for a day full of very good things. Time spent with others--a love language. And a Father who loves with no end.


I grabbed a small bundle of sage at the grocery store last night, and immediate thoughts were of the 8x8 garden in the before. The smell of the sage was strong, and I remembered how the velvety leaves grew big and fragrant in that little garden. Then, I couldn't keep up with how it replenished. And at times, pruning it back gave me a strong distaste for the herb--mostly because of how heavily its smell hung on my hands.

Glad for this little bunch. I really only use it at Thanksgiving for my stuffing. And once in a while when I make that sausage and cannelli bean casserole.

At check-out, I bagged my groceries. When the little bundle was handed to me, I got a whiff of it again.

I said aloud, "I used to grow sage at our other house. I had a little garden where I grew lettuces and herbs."

The cashier looked at me. He was very young.

"It was hard for me to keep up with this herb. It really got to be more than I could use," I said.

"My dad has a garden," the cashier said. "He grows lots of vegetables in it. He used to grow sage too. He likes to cook."

I looked at him and smiled. His eyes were brown.

I wonder sometimes if cashiers feel invisible--processing people and food and transactions one after the other. I wonder, too, if the patrons seem to them like one anonymous blur day after day.

Thankful to be present in the moment, to look into a stranger's eyes and share the slightest glimpse into our worlds.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heading home

Packing kids and back packs into the car. Cold wind, fingers felt frozen. Erin talks and talks and talks. Open door. Close door. Open door and into seat. Car idles and I look around. Emptied parking spaces as families head home for a holiday break. I think on the wrapping up of the day, and while there wasn't an urgency to leave, there was no lingering this afternoon.

I pull out of the space and look at the heathered sky. I count the armloads of wood I'll bring in before I'm even parked in my driveway.


One thousand gifts and still counting (5039-5062)

warm scarves
hot coffee

two fires going, luxurious heat
days to just stay home
errand running with Lanie
cookies at David's house with Erin
sitting with him on the couch

holding his hand
Anita and Erin doing Puzzlemania
cookies in a bag for her big sister
a fixed dishwasher
a turkey on sale

yarn and crochet needles
the no yelling challenge
breakfast gobbled by the worship team
Erica's hugs in the lobby
good sleep

a friend's call in her overwhelm
a ride through the woods and over the river
the blustery cold
one day of school this week
a menu to plan

her read aloud to me
her hug and smile when I said I'd save her

Friday, November 22, 2013

Christmas music

Singing with Lanie, Christmas songs on a night drive.

She has a sweet soprano voice.

Mine is much more alto. And out of tune.

Some houses are already decorated for the Christmas season with exterior lights.

I have a cranberry wreath on our door that I stretch over two seasons.

Thankful for Christmas songs, a daughter to sing with, groceries purchased, and a reason to sing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Half a page

We sat on the rug by the fire most of the afternoon.

She nestled against me while I read Little House in the Big Woods to her. And when the chapter was over, she wanted me to keep going.

She surprised me, though, and started reading to me. One word after another. One sentence after another. Soon she was down half the page.

From time to time she'd ask, "What's this word, Mama?"

I felt so thankful for leisure time ... sitting with my girl ... hearing her read to me. I wondered what the day would be like when she'd pick up a book and read me more than a sentence of single syllables. I'm glad it was a day framed in warmth and ease, time stretched out before us like it went on and on.

(Though it only lasted until the UPS guy showed up with a package bearing shoes for Erin. She immediately wanted to put them on. And she wore them to school today with a dress and tights.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (5016-5038)

a great review
lunch out with my kids
bluebirds perched in trees
a woodpecker hanging out on the cherry tree
a view of it from our school room window

praying friends
lasagna gifted
a week off from cooking
dinner at Linda's

scarves in the mail
video chat with Julie
a play date with Kellie
chocolate cookies with white chips
Nicole across the table

fires in the woodstoves
delicious heat
a rug on the floor
an awesome group of high schoolers

books to read
a clean fridge
sisters in Christ

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Just enough

My energy has been drained this past week.

Long spans of the day are cheery and chipper enough, but afternoons and evenings--I'm done.

We made it to our review. But I couldn't muster any additional energy to grocery shop. Not Wednesday night. Not Thursday. Not Friday. Not Saturday.

I'm thankful for the just enough:

Just enough warmth to fight the chill
Just enough sleep to feel rested
Just enough comfort to sleep through the night
Just enough milk for coffee and cereal
Just enough food to get us to today

I heard it/read it sometime ago that "enough is as good as a feast."

Thankful for dinners from Erica and Linda that got us through the week, and felt like love. (I'm convinced that food is the sixth love language.)

Linda's salad last night was a real delight that will likely appear at my Thanksgiving table this year: Mixed greens, walnuts, almonds, chunked Brie, and peach slices, all drizzled with raspberry syrup.

Hoping today for just enough energy to join weekend crowds at the store.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I discovered Zulily a couple of months ago. I'm not too much of a shopper, unless it's window shopping out of Pottery Barn catalogs. I'm the girl who'll walk into a store and hold onto something for an hour, and then leave without it. Then have remorse I didn't get it. (Or remorse if I did get it. Ugh.)

So on Zulily, I'm browsing these quick deals. I saw infinity scarves, and I really liked them. The price was awesome, so I picked two. Or so I thought. Weeks went by and nothing. No contact. No package. I got a pair of shoes in the mail, and thought for sure I had ordered those scarves already.

I went into email accounts to look if there was mention at all--and nothing about the scarves.

"I can't believe it," I said to Shane. "I thought for sure I had ordered those scarves. What a joke that I've been so looking forward to them showing up! And I wouldn't order any other scarves because I thought I had ordered two. What a disappointment that I didn't order any at all. Ha!"

He laughed. We both did. All this time, I was thinking today's the day.

Then, today really was the day.

Those two scarves I thought I ordered but didn't order (but really did) showed up in my mail box, even though there was no record of payment or shipment in my email.

I opened the package and put one on. It was even prettier than I imagined--and I just laughed.

Silly, I know.

Thankful for something warm and pretty around my neck, for laughter in disappointment, and for laughter in surprise.

Friday, November 15, 2013



 For friends who call.

For friends who text.

For friends who bring by a lasagna dinner, even when they had no idea what was going on here. Blessing us immensely in the process. Dinner that stretched for three days.

For friends who video chat across continents. And who are vulnerable and real and cry and pray.

Yes, especially thankful for friends who pray.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


We had our homeschool review with the county today. We've been seeing the same man ever since we started. I think it's kind of cool he gets to watch my kids grow up.

The review went well. It ended at noon. We were all famished. The kids and I got in the car and went to Panera for lunch. It was crowded. We sat at a cafe table and ate.

I felt so happy having lunch with the kids. (It doesn't hurt that Panera has the best creamy tomato soup ever.)

Home, and a sunny sky, not too cold. Erin went outside somewhere, and Lanie practiced jingles. I sneaked a few Peppermint Patties from the freezer.(Chocolate is a comfort food.)

I wrote down the kids' assignments for the day. I'm thankful to homeschool. I know it's not for everyone, whatever the reason. But it works for us.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


We took Nella to the vet for a check up. It's been a year since her last visit.

She weighed in at 58 pounds, up from her 45 pounds last fall.

I felt so happy for her. She was such a frail, frightened, bony dog when we got her.

Now she's solid. She dances and plays. She is secure.

I texted Shane about the weight gain--dog: built by chicken meatballs.

"She's getting some haunches," he commented. "We might have to put her on the 4:3."

(A jokey reference to 5:2.)


Yesterday had a chance of morning snow flurries.

It flurried.

I grabbed armloads of wood and brought them inside. After piano lessons, I started a fire in the wood stove in the school room. It was windy outside. Gray skies. Low clouds.

Inside we had books opened, and fire crackling. Erin and I sat on the area rug in the school room, near the wood stove, and read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder--it's November reading for a December project.

One day we hope to get some comfy chairs to put on the rug. But considering it took us two years to pick out the rug, I'm thinking we might just have to get used to sitting on the floor for a bit longer. Shane and I sometimes have wildly different tastes.

Open field vs the woods.

Sandy beaches vs the woods.

No leaves vs the woods.

Summer vs fall (in the woods).

The only carpet we have in the house is the runner on the steps, the carpet leading to the basement, and the Berber carpet in the girls' rooms. Having a rug underfoot, a soft one at that, is a very simple pleasure.

Erica popped by in the afternoon for a quick hello. The four of us girls sat on the floor in the school room, by the heat of the wood stove. I pulled out shiny, coppery pennies from my wallet, and Erica entertained us with penny catching tricks.

It was super cold and still windy when she left.

I got more wood to start up a fire in the stove in the living room.

Monday, November 11, 2013

These ... are ... days

Rolling trash cans to the curb.

Out the door with no rush or yelling, even though we were late.

Piano. Jingle Bells.

A run for dog treats, Pirates Booty, pita chips and apple cider donuts.

Then to the Tractor Supply for fire starters. That group of old farmer men standing at the doorway, talking farmer men stuff.

We bustle past.

Into the car and on the way home. A cup of coffee with cinnamon. The kids eat donuts. We start school. Home Sweet Home burning on the mantel. Laundry spinning. Dishes to unload. A hum starts in my mouth.

Finding the song, I listen for the first time ever to the lyrics, and I want to cry.

Heart swells.

Erin bobs her head to the rhythm of the melody.

"...  that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you."

Thankful, for being part of the miracles I see in every hour.

Beautiful life.

One thousand gifts and still counting (4986-5015)

the years managing worship hospitality
the blessing in service
two fireplaces
skate night with Christy and Ashlyn
pumpkin streusel cake for breakfast

an excellent sermon at church--the best I've ever heard
thoughts on the name father
Grandpa Bob
a report on Veterans

words of affirmation and encouragement from Shane, Christy, and that comment reply on another blog
thoughts on what matters today, and what matters in the years to come
coats for my kids
shoes in the mail

a pretty nail polish
a coffee delivery
the brown season
rumors of snow in the forecast
and that it won't stick

new toothbrushes
gifted sweaters from a friend
a shopping day with Erin
leaf placemats at the Thanksgiving table
how she out-loves me every time

pumpkin ice cream
my husband
the lost years, that were never really lost
cupcake stencils on clearance

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday with Erin

She looks so fancy in her red wool coat.

She skips and hops when she walks.

I give her a piece of gum when we get in the car, and it is treasure to her. 

We went to a few stores yesterday, and she loves to shop. I think gift-giving is her love language. She held the felted leaf place mats and the cupcake stencils. She talked about her favorite shape--it would be the heart (it's mine too). She tried a few times to get me to buy the gem encrusted votive holders. I would have liked to get them, but we had other things to get.

She gets smiles and looks and comments.

She chats me up a storm whenever we're together. People look over and eavesdrop. I catch them.

She out-loves me every time I tell her how much I love her.

We hold hands wherever we go.

She looks so fancy in her red wool coat.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Little red Elmo

A girls' night out with Lanie, Ashlyn and Christy. We went roller skating and then took the kids out for ice cream. I love this county. I loved Friday night at the rink. I loved the atmosphere there, and was happy that our girls had a fun time together.

Got home after 10 p.m., and Lanie went up to bed. I enjoyed the warmth of the fire place with Shane and then, later, we went upstairs too.

I glanced into Erin's room.

Hall light shining in on her. Fuzzy pink duvet cover. Ballerina fleece blankets. Christmas-themed pajamas. And a little red Elmo doll cuddled in next to her.

Six is so small.

Thankful that my kids can know a time of safety and security.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The daily stuff


Organizing the piles of paper stacks.

Tidying up spaces.

Homework at the school room table.

Fixing breakfast.

Bringing in wood for the fire.

Errand lists.

Thankful for the daily stuff. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Thankful for home, and the people who share it with me.

Cindy's daughter emailed me our first night here. I think I had the kitchen unpacked and beds set up, and I was sucking up internet time off my phone because we didn't have any other services yet. She dropped a sweet note in my inbox on Facebook. I read that note from time to time, and this jumps out: "This is the house that built me."

I understand it.

I wonder: doesn't every home shape us, break us, make us? The experiences within these walls are the building blocks of character.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Words from a Father

It's been a while since I plugged for 66 Books.

I'm writing there today.

Yesterday, I discovered how my superpower was birthed. Kinda like Superman learning about his heritage when he thought he was just a regular farm boy. If you think mine is a story of a cosmic war, kryptonite, villains, and inhuman strength--you're wrong.

Thankful for words from a Father. And that his love endures forever.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


"Lovely are the silent woods, in gray November days ..."

Many of the trees are bare. The lawn is covered in crunch, and even though I run the tractor over it, there's a new layer the next day.

"It's good to be in such a place, on such a day. Problems vanish from the mind, and sorrows steal away ..."

Woodsmoke from chimneys. A hot fire, crocheted blanket on my shoulders, wool socks on my feet. Southbound geese, the crinkle-crunch of leaves underfoot. Moody skies; a golden/rust/red canvas; brown ground.

trails by kids

I'm searching comfort foods. Soups, breads, baked goods and breakfast casseroles. In a binder of recipes, I find a letter from a friend who died last year. (I liked the poem she included about the woods, and tucked it away.) The letter is two years old.

"In the woods of gray November, silent and austere, Nature gives her benediction to the dying year."

Sometimes phrases take me back in time.

"My thoughts often wandered; and sometimes it seemed that I had been walking along that highway all my life, though I could not tell where or why." Hittite Warrior, Joanne Williamson. 

But not as often. And not as long.

At the nature center last week, the kids learned about owls and foxes. We saw frogs, snakes and other forest animals. I wrote to Cindy, "It was just like being home!"

I'm thankful for the woods.

Monday, November 4, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (4943-4985)

4943. drumming rain outside the windows
4944. rich gray skies
4945. November

4946. Erin's friend at the table
4947. trick or treat
4948. goody bags
4949. a volunteer day
4950. her message to me

4951. a field trip with friends
4952. and a chat with a mom
4953. cupcakes at Wegmans
4954. vegetable plates at dinner
4955. "home sweet home" scented candle burning in the school room

4956. a day to sleep in
4957. a fleece blanket on the bed
4958. coffee
4959. good friends
4960. greetings with Ivette, Pamela and Helen

4961. someone to come rescue me on the tractor
4962. kindness and smiles from a neighbor
4963. mild temperatures
4964. roller skates
4965. remembrance: He was already there

4966. lights like a runway
4967. video chat with Julie
4968. a quick nap in the lobby
4969. Erin at the skating rink, overcoming the falls to sail past with confidence
4970. a full table at dinner

4971. a day with Denise
4972. Erica's yes to dinner
4973. how a loaf of bread stretched, with pieces left over
4974. a beautiful Saturday morning
4975. a walk in the neighborhood across the big road with Lanie

4976. cold coffee
4977. loud laughs with Shane
4978. for Your provision, Lord
4979. and Shane's yes
4980. for doors You open, when You want them opened

4981. and an extra hour in the day I could spend holding Erin on the couch, watching the sun rise through the woods
4982. blankets and goodies gifted by Christy
4983. a day away for Lanie
4984. for "man glasses" and a husband who paints his daughter's nails
4985. for the exclamatory, teary, dramatic outbursts on a Sunday night that unburden her heart

Sunday, November 3, 2013

When seven is six

I joked with the kids, "This weekend we gain an extra hour. I don't want my extra hour spent listening to you guys pick and fight. I'd prefer to spend it sleeping."

Shane and I changed the main level clocks last night. We didn't change the ones in our bedroom, putting that off till morning.

Erin came to my side of the bed where my clock read seven o'clock.

"Mommy, it's seven o'clock," she whispered.

"No, it's really six something. We didn't change the clocks yet," I began to explain.

She stood there looking sleepy and wanting breakfast. So I got up.

We went downstairs and I asked, "Do you want to cuddle on the couch for a few minutes?"

So we did. She fit like a little bird in the nest of my arms. Her hair, a messy mop. Her baby blanket, in her arms. I sat on the couch holding her, and looked out to the view from the French doors to a wood-line horizon, lit spectacular.

When seven is six, you can watch the sun rise. Thankful for a loving, peaceful start--and, for me, a better way to spend an hour gained than sleeping it away.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Full table

Our Friday started off with an oversleeping, rainy-gray morning.

We got school work done early for a free afternoon: Denise over. Homeschool skate. An impromptu full table at dinner.

This little table Joel and Cindy let us have, has accommodated so many people we love. I know I dream of expanding our kitchen one day, but I will always remember how crowded this little table would get--and how no one ever seemed to notice.

Last night, though, we ate in the dining room.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1

This week was a blur.

(I'm not a fan of the blur.)

(Days go by too fast. Not enough done. I can't even remember what we ate. Or said.)

Yesterday Erin had a field trip to a nature center. The GPS took me to a dead end, and we ended up being twenty minutes late.


 Had a chat with a mom about how the days go: and don't we have to get from A to B because there are three other things we need to be doing right now?

(Does life really have to be this way?)

A grocery run, and a friend over for an afternoon of fun ... then dinner ... then trick-or-treating. 

getting ready to go

faces after checking out the bounty
Watching Charlie Brown and eating popcorn

It was dark when we went out. It drizzled a little. But we pressed on for free candy. The pines put out a sappy fragrance, and subbed as umbrellas. There were happy greetings, and a girlie chorus of thanks, and scampering feet across the lawns, and turn-taking for ringing doorbells.

Back home for Charlie Brown, and popcorn by the fire, and I felt so happy. Even though I don't remember what most of the week was like, I hope I never forget this slice of their childhood.

I took Viviana home, and visited with her mom--my friend.

Came home to hearth warmth and a blanket. Then went upstairs to bed. Woke to the richest gray skies and drumming rain--and totally overslept Bible study with Julie in the process. Thinking: I love Fridays. I love sleeping in. I love rain. I love covers. I love November.

Thank you, God.