Monday, June 30, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5697-5735)

sunshine days
big sky
a book run to a library in the old neck of the woods
a swim date with new girls to co-op

grass cutting
woodland fragrance
blue-y shoes
berries along the perimeter
juice-stained fingers

a good dog
Christy and Kellie and their kids
lots of laughs
the blue slide

a day trip with my family
picnic lunch
cold water
front seat on the roller coaster with Lanie
hands high riding

big fluffy white clouds
a bench in the shade for me and Shane
that man of mine
Red Robin burgers after a full day in the sun
safe travels

a friend to let our dog out
a call from my dad
his happy talking
chatting Tracey

sunflowers that remind me of her
beef kabobs for grilling
lump crab on sale
blackberry cheesecake bars
a week of hospitality

snakes that scoot along
Erin's hand in mine
Lanie time chatting about life

Sunday, June 29, 2014


This has been a hopping week. I think I'd have to ask the kids to remind me of how the itinerary went, but I know it involved five families (maybe more?), a lot of splashing-sunshine-laughing-racing, berry picking, amusement park and having fun.

And we're not done.

Here are some picture highlights.

growing wild along the perimeter

apple tree!

buddies since 3 years old

I've known these boys their whole lives


his first down the slide--unstoppable after that
she is hooked

that sky

oh, her! Love!

front row rider--now I'm hooked

she couldn't wait to drive
burnin' love--that is all

middle schoolers, can you believe it?

Now that recitals are behind us, I feel like it's summer vacation.

Yesterday, I had a few things to get for a luncheon today. We drove to a charming, historic little town to shop along their Main Street. Lanie and Shane are very much A-B people. Erin and I are more like A-A.1-A.2-A.3-A.3 1/2-B people. This was clearly displayed as we walked along the street from parking the car to get to the chocolate store. We stopped and waved bubble wands, then peeked down a few hidden alleys, touched iron gates, browsed a stained glass store, went into the cutest little shop and marveled at nearly everything, got distracted by sparkly jewelry in a window, then arrived at the chocolate store.

As far as Lanie knew, Wegman's was on next on the list. I failed to mention I wanted to stop by Hobby Lobby and Home Goods. This would have brought out wailing and gnashing of teeth from the back row.

Lanie points out Wegmans on the right. We are in the left lane. We turn left into a different shopping center.

"Hobby Lobby, Mom?" she asked. I detected disdain.

We get through that with dragging feet. Then into the car.

"Wegmans next, right?" she asked.


"You aren't going to Lowes are you?" she questioned.


Shane and I snicker a little to ourselves in the front seat.

"Well I know it's not Home Depot because you hate that store." This is true. Flashback to purple carpet incident. Boo.

"Home Goods? Really? Mom! I hate that store!"

She survived. We all did, despite being out way past the dinner hour and still having to drive home. I think I've seen it on Pinterest, this quote, "Please forgive me for the things I said when I was hungry."

Yeah, that. But not me--not this time anyway. I felt too happy.

Probably the result of lots of sunshine, and lots of friends and having fun with my family and, and, and--the good kind.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On remembering well

Remembrance played and mostly without words until the words were given to me, and then it replayed with those words. I understood things like disappointment, grief, betrayal, unkindness. There were other words too, words that stung more than the first. But honestly, I knew these words all my life. Even if I dared not acknowledge them out loud, I heard them in thought, and that made the prison darker.

Forgiveness feels elusive when tied impossibly to reconciliation. I churned in a cycle of loss and sadness. Heavy-hearted. Weighted down.

I owned enough Christian books, and books on forgiveness. I wondered why forgiveness was so academic, cerebral ... and almost like lip service. If forgiveness was the posture a Christian was supposed to take, why did it seem to look nothing like Jesus? Where was the celebration for the lost son? Not from Christians I'd seen. (Sometimes not even in myself. It's easy to forgive a child, or a sincere friend, but much harder when unkindness is done on purpose.) Deeds and actions speak beyond polite proclamation.

If I ever had to reduce my bookshelf to the top ten, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard would be on it. It finally made sense of the forgiveness and reconciliation imbalance. It finally got me out of a platitudinal forgiveness to one that looks behind the scenes and into a heart of compassion and understanding. It was about fathers and mothers, and it wasn't. Other names called out too, and I found us all broken and human, all hurting and not even knowing it.

Of many points that hit close, one is remembering well. Memories can be used to keep closed the prison gates, or to open them to freedom. Remembering well unlocks those doors, instead of keeping them stuck, to see the good that God brings from hurt. Joseph was betrayed by those closest to him, and yet was able to say from a standpoint of understanding and forgiveness, "What you meant for harm, God used for good." Remembering well uses memory and the past to be a blessing.

It surprised me (that time of) mourning would be so physical. It surprised me it lasted so long. And while I sometimes (struggled to) employed the "fake it till you make it" strategy, God wouldn't let me off the hook. Apparently, there's no faking it in God's kingdom--which is good, because when God says I'm forgiven, I know he means it.

(Edited to say, I read this book because of a recommendation/review published by Ann Voskamp. I am not compensated for reading it, writing about it, or wanting to buy lots of people a copy of it if I hit the Lotto and went on a spending spree.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Erin was describing the snake that crossed her path as she was riding her bike. He was black with red rings, and he opened his mouth and yawned at her.


I missed two phone calls yesterday while I was out cutting the grass. Lanie met me close to the house, holding out my cell phone. The plumber had called, and Shane did too. I called both back, leaving a message with the plumber that we were home, and talked to Shane explaining I was in the field cutting the grass.

Later, he told me that his brother was confirming my phone number for the plumber, and Shane had say, "Yeah, well, she was out in the yard cutting the grass!"

I wasn't sure if he was boasting on me, or himself. Ha!


Lanie was at an all-day rehearsal on Saturday, so Shane, Erin and I went to a couple of local places to price out wood stove inserts. We talked about different options--size, finishes, and if they removed the old stove. A salesman at one place said they would remove ours for a cost. "Or, just get a buddy to two to help you out," he said.

"I'll be your buddy!" I chirped. I pushed Shane in the shoulder playfully.

The salesman laughed. I could tell he was sizing me up.

"Oh, he knows," I said about Shane. Yard arms. Yeah, he knows. 


A dear friend came over last week to hang out for a few hours. When she got home, she told me how her daughter said she wished she could come back here the next day. Warmed my heart right up--I always want people to feel welcome (safe, loved, included) here.

I texted a friend who had asked about the day what the little girl had said, and she commented, "People always 'want to come back tomorrow' to your house!"

Big smiles.


My kids talk about having big families, maybe because they know I always wanted more kids. Erin said, "Mommy, I'll give you one of my babies. But when you die, I want it back."

I assured her she can keep all of her babies, and that I'd be happy to babysit them for her.


Riding home after lunch with my dad, I told my kids that I hope we'd always be close and not let a lot of time go by without seeing each other or talking on the phone.

Lanie mentioned she'd have Friday night dinners at her house. Erin said, "Hey, I wanted to do Friday night dinners!"

I smiled. This is something meaningful to them--when we have Miss Linda, neighbors, or other families to our house for dinners on Friday nights. It's a family time, a sharing time, over a meal. We all look forward to it. We have been doing this for nearly three years, since we moved here.

I have known Linda since 1994, but when we moved into her zip code, she became more than just my dad's girlfriend who came over on Thanksgiving and Easter. She became like family around our table on a weekly basis. I've seen her more in these three years than all the others combined.


I was outside putting chicken on the grill last Friday when Linda was here. She and Shane sat around the table and chatted. Later, he told me that Linda commented, "You two seem very happy together. You have a really nice family, and I'm glad to be a part of it."

I sat with those words for a long while. Grateful.


David and Anita came to watch Lanie dance. David sat next to me and put his arm around me. When we walked, he held my hand. He is going on eighty and holds onto people for balance. I know he loves me, and even without words, his gestures, affection and presence say it all.


There's a lot of good stuff that happens around here, and I am thankful not to miss it. I put the happy stuff, silly stuff and sometimes the thought-provoking and humbling stuff here ... so I won't forget it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5673-5696)

that he drove all that way just to be with us, and not for any other reason
he took time like it mattered
and looked me in the eyes

broccoli cheddar soup
Fuji apple salad
two little girls
Cool Whip
my grandfather John

his wave goodbye as he drove past us
a heart broken open, mine
ice cream with friends from school
the berry patch at the park
Nate and Erin

Friday night with Linda
her proclamation: I love you
how she sees happy here
chocolate chip, white chip cookies to gift away
worship at church

six dozen eggs for a big Sunday breakfast
David and Anita at the recital

his hugs
and how he always likes to remind Shane of his place in my heart
Lanie's beautiful smile as she danced

the girls trying to come to an agreement over which of them will host Friday night dinners when they're grown up

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Between the trees

Lanie had a dance recital today.

My daughter dancing, those lyrics, la fuite du temps.

Yeah, that stuff always tears me up. 

I sat with her between shows, and she was quiet, distant. We held hands for a bit before I left. I turned and mouthed to her, "I love you."

She amazes me, as quiet as she can be, the courage that bursts forth in her to perform with grace and poise in a packed auditorium.

Friday, June 20, 2014


The things a seven year old keeps in her purse:

several Rainbow Loom bracelets
a Hello Kitty hairbrush
a change purse
a ponytail
two My Little Pony figures

Love this.

Monday, June 16, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5658-5672)

a comfy couch for napping
neighbor friends whose kindness and generosity speaks big of their hearts and character
lemon squares to gift away

Cubby and Sammy
morning workouts with Lisa
a Bible study on Wednesday nights with some delightful women
breakfast bakes scenting the house
ice cream scoops with the kids

Linda at our table
a phone call from my dad
that he asked us out for lunch
that nothing is impossible for You, God
a life-changing book on forgiveness

David and Anita
sangria with my man

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This guy

My dad and me, a few glimpses of different times of life. He called last week to offer to take me and the kids out to lunch. (My heart sang.)

I don't think a daughter can get enough of a father's love.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

On a Friday

Fridays. During the school year, it's a light-load day, always ended in the evening with a glass of wine and company around our kitchen table. In the summer, it feels like an extended weekend.

Yesterday, the day was quirky with sunshine and rain showers. Started off exercising with a friend down the road. Then I prepped a batch of lemon squares to gift to friends. We did a drive by with lemon squares and other goodies for the friend who so generously gave us their couch. (Seriously, best seat in the house. I love how it fits in the school room. Matches with everything like it was meant to be here. Perfect size for me and the kids for read alouds, afternoon naps, girl talk.)

Then we were off to David and Anita's with a plate full of lemony goodness and a hello. We did a couple of quick errands and then caught a showing of Maleficent. Halfway through the movie, Erin moves into my lap and cuddles. In all honesty, it wasn't a scary movie at all--she just likes cuddles. After the movie, we went and got ice cream--scoops for the girls and a box of coconut chocolate chip for dessert.

Linda came over last night and we grilled Wegman's delicious cheddar and bacon sliders and a side of asparagus; I cooked up some corn and put together a caprese salad with basil from our little herb garden. Linda sampled a few lemon squares afterwards, and we indulged in scoops of ice cream. She stayed a little later than usual, and I found myself wishing she would stay longer.

Smiles this morning over the delights in life. Talking about life in the woods when the cat snuck out and spent the night outside. We wondered if anything had gotten her. She is safe and resting back in the house this morning. Shane told me how he saw an owl in the driveway the other morning as he was leaving. And Erin mentioned she saw a pig in our front yard--a pig that had a straight tail. (We went outside and I wondered what we'd encounter. It was a possum. They kind of do look piggy.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A trip to the zoo

I think the last time we went to this zoo was four years ago. Lanie was in second grade. It was fall. Our former house was on the market. We might have had a house showing that day, but I remember making sure the place was show-ready before we headed out.

I remember sitting along the curb because tables and benches were full and we ate a snack with some friends from our (then) co-op. I noticed the area yesterday when we were tableside eating lunch. Lanie remembered too.

Four years. A lot has happened.

Recently, I said to Shane, "In five years, the kids probably won't use the playset anymore."

Then the shock, "In five years, Lanie will be going on seventeen. Whoa."


Some phone-photo highlights of our day. Rain and thunderstorms were in the forecast, but not a drop fell on us while we were there. Hooked up with some homeschool families for the last week of school/group field trip discounts at the zoo.

I can't remember ever going into the kids' zoo within the zoo. I'm sure I might have at least once, but it all looked new to me. The grim forecast meant the zoo was uncrowded. It turned out to be a delight.

Oh my gosh I love these kids! The picture of Lanie and Erin in the bubble cracks me up!

Saw this sign about turtles. Zeroed in on the part about home--that word is rich and multidimensional to me. Apparently, it is for turtles too.

Had a chat with a friend as we watched our children slide down the tree slide. Her story is different from mine and with kids nearing leaving the nest, we talked on thoughts of home and from their perspective. The importance (and deep-seated need) of having a place to return to, a place that welcomes.

"One of the only places I considered home was the house I lived in for thirteen years as a child," I told her. "After that, we moved around a lot, and the college years were full of change too. I never really had an attachment to places. Even after marrying, Shane and I left our first place together after two years. I think I was surprised leaving our ten-year house was so difficult (in the last weeks). I hadn't realized the attachment I had to it. But our house now, it felt like home before I even lived there. Maybe because it reminds me of my childhood."

She paid me a dear compliment. I don't think she realizes how much I'll treasure it. 

The kids and I got home in time to swim. I even grabbed a little nap on the couch (the one in the school room--I love it! So comfy! In my favorite room of the house!).

I love summer vacation.

Monday, June 9, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5627-5657)

bluest skies
delightful weather
good meetings
that she's learning St. Elmo's Fire on the piano

a gifted couch for the school room

a sister couch for a friend
an unexpected visit from Dad and Linda
benches for around our fire pile

tissue boxes on allergy days

pizza delivered
worship at church
camera 3
a good surgery for a friend's husband

Your provision
hello calls in the stairwell
texts with Michelle as we're poolside in separate yards
blondies, a double batch, in the oven


hugs from Erica

and coffee with her across the kitchen table
a book run to the library
woodland song
conversation with Dad

Linda in our lives
Julie's safe arrival home
Erin swimming floatie-free


Monday, June 2, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5604-5626)

a lovely graduation ceremony
mama friends I love and admire

lemon squares
an opportunity to be an influencer
an eager helper in the kitchen
a beautiful sunny weekend
camera 1

a bird taking up residence in the birdhouse Lanie got me for Mother's day
cereal for dinner
gifted cake in the fridge
and wine from a neighbor
how Erin plays with their dogs


lunch with Dad and Linda
that it was just us
and it was good (thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you)
a chat with Tracey

a pool for the kids

a friend in Kellie all these years
my parents' former neighbor from 25 years ago
music to dance to in the school room
my man
a bench my dad built, and that he said he'd build one for me too

that nothing is impossible for You, God

Sunday, June 1, 2014


a bench my dad built

Linda and Dad

Linda's garden

She loves her garden. She loves flowers. She loves us too.

Linda treated us to a delightful lunch with some yummy carry out from a nearby restaurant. We ate on her front porch. Her yard has pockets of interest and history. The maple she and her former husband planted. The Chinese dogwood. The garden with irises and herbs. A deck my dad built her. Ivy that looked intentional and tidy.

I listened to the sound of the wind chimes. Listened to my children's laughter. Listened to the sound of my dad's voice.

The brie was soft. The tea was sweet. The sky was perfectly blue and studded with summery clouds. Afterwards, we piled into Shane's car, and my dad treated the kids to ice cream. He and Linda got twists in cups. The kids got ice cream and Italian ice combos.