Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Exit plan

Still working on some of the last-minute touches on the office space. I considered making it Lanie's room at one point, but in an effort to keep things moving along, Shane and I agreed to make it an office.

I stood in the doorway of that room today. Lanie joined me.

"I'm rather liking this color," I remarked. Splendor--the eggshell makes a big difference.

She liked it too.

"I don't think my room would have made a good office," she said. (I agree; it's much better suited for a bedroom.) She continued, "Once I move out though, you can do whatever you want with it."

"OH MY GOSH." I stated. I picked up my eyes off the floor. Then I had to lift my jaw back into place. "I can't believe you're thinking that far away!"

Which, really, isn't that far. Not when she was born, like, yesterday. I blinked, and she's nearly twelve.

I walked away in an effort to think happy thoughts. Like Erin and the smiling puppy.

Or the love note Erin left on my bed this morning.

People: slow down.

Monday, July 28, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5827-5865)

a lunch at a bestie's house

a sleepover for Lanie
an evening just Mommy and Erin (for Checkers and reading and nail painting and cuddling)
a good night's sleep

for hugs from Lanie
and Your amazing work in her heart
a fun week at VBS
those old roads
food in the fridge

safety in the storm
running into Reggie at the store
big sky
blackberry cheesecake bars in the fridge
a cleaned house

an impromptu swim with friends on Friday
dinner with Linda
an opportunity to pray for her
an invitation to a birthday brunch for David
southbound geese in V formation

66 Books
the beautiful things here
an office space for Shane
his words of encouragement in an empty room

the man You're transforming him to be
Beowulf on Playaway

thoughts from Pretty Woman
a basket for blankets
hearts in the margins

a rug for the laundry room
pictures on walls
Cindy's hearts in the comments
his mom's safety after falling
tomatoes growing on our plants

pruning shears found (after a year+!)
a fun day with friends for Lanie
puppy kisses from a cutie named Coconut

scoops on a Saturday night
those clouds in that sky

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In my heart

We finally got the desk out of the garage and into its own space. We converted an extra room into an office. Shane hung up the curtain rod in the room today. Then I had him hang a painting over our dresser in the bedroom. This prompted wanting a change in the location of the armoire. And suddenly I'm knee deep in file cabinet papers, old photos, children's artwork and cards.

I found our wedding announcement. I found lots of fun pictures of us when we were so much younger. I found the card our real estate agent had given us, wishing us happiness here. I found the original brochure for this place. I found a love letter Shane had written me when we were dating. 

"I was just upstairs reading that love letter you wrote me," I said to Shane.

"Where did you put it?" he asked. I don't imagine he'd really expect me to incriminate him with anything in it, but he seemed to consider taking it into his own hands.

"In my heart," I said. And I gave him a ginormous hug, and an even bigger smooch. I think he's more handsome than when we met.

Spending the next five weeks getting this house in order. I know, we've lived here three years and I still have boxes I never unpacked! I'm also seven years behind in scrapbooking.

Monday is the start of lesson planning, medieval literature and history. I'll be back to early rising to work on lesson planning so that I still have plenty of time for my kids. Good thing I stocked up on coffee.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

At the table

Over coffee this morning, recapping and catching up with Shane.

A great night visiting with Linda; deeper talks on numbering days, of hope in hopeless situations, and she asked me to pray (how she sees faith). Her wish-list to-do in retirement.

Thoughts on seventeen years--so multifaceted.

Talking about activity and a sedentary life. Evening walks ...


Lanie and I went for a walk last night along a nearby street. We looked at landscaping (ok, I probably did more than she did), enjoyed the summer fragrance, strained necks at tall pines. She held my hand, and won't I always treasure these moments?

One house was aglow with warmth and an older couple opened doors in parting to a chatty pack of children and their parents loading them up into minivans. (I later told Shane, "I want that to be our house--Friday night dinners with our kids and grandkids and love pouring right out like that." While I felt sad my kids have never known that kind of experience with cousins and grandparents, I am encouraged that it will change with us.)

We were walking back home and I looked up in the sky just as a flying-v formation of geese passed overhead. They honked their goodbye to summer and pressed on. "You're going the wrong way! It's not even August!" I said. I looked at Lanie, "Do you think they know something we don't know?"


We sat at the table this morning over coffee and I told him how I'd have to read Table Life at least ten times to get its full depth. Page after page, I see things in a new and beautiful way, packed with meaning (and love!).

"I put little hearts next to the paragraphs I really love," I said. I usually underline, and I didn't want to underline in this book because it would look too academic. The hearts fit better with hospitality.

"You know, I don't think I would EVER put hearts next to things I was reading," he said to me.

Insert my too-loud laughing.

"It never would enter my mind to draw a heart," he continued. "Not even a hammer."

The things he would never do ... we talked about this the other day ...

"I was at Home Goods looking at baskets," I started. "Something tells me if you went to Home Goods it would never occur to you to look at baskets."

"You're right. I'd walk right past them," he said.

That day I couldn't decide on what I wanted and went back yesterday while the kids were at their last day of VBS. The basket I was looking at was gone, but there was another one there I liked even better. (Isn't that always the case at Home Goods? Every time I go there's something even better. Which is why I won't be going for a while now.) So this time I got it. I carried it out to the car and a woman nearby called out, "I like your basket!"

I smiled and thanked her.

It's a girl thing.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Tomato cage

I think I tried to grow lettuces and herbs our first spring here. The herbs did great. The bunnies liked the lettuces. I have plans for next spring to transplant hostas and lilies from the flower bed along the patio and put vegetables there. I need something close to the house, slightly raised, and easy to water. It might not be the most creative landscape, but it is certainly practical.

This year I'm growing herbs: oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, bay leaf. They're my staples. And because basil is better with tomatoes, I purchased two heirloom varieties and planted one by the herbs, and one by the hostas along the patio.

I have never used tomato cages. Before, we just let them grow wild wherever they wanted. But here, I'm tight on space (sunny space, I should say). I also wanted to protect them from whatever would eat them.

A recent visit with a neighbor, and she was showing me the raised beds they put in their backyard. (Lovely!) We talked about tomato cages, and she showed me the materials her husband uses to make cages. She said they're sturdier than the store cages. I mentally put it on a to-do list, and sort of knew that it would never really get done.

She called me the other day to say they had extra fencing they could give me to make a cage. I was so happy, mostly because I knew I'd never get around to buying my own or making a cage. So here's to a summer garden project, thanks to a kick-start from a friend.

I get there to get the fencing, and her husband takes me out to their deck and measures it out per cage. I thought we were done. Then he pulls out pliers and starts making the cages for me.

"Sit down," he offered. I watched as he turned the wire around and around, securing the sides together a row at a time. I knew immediately that I would not have been so careful--remember, I have a to-do list that's every bit seventeen years long. He is a builder, and the time and attention he put into such a small project affirmed the care and intention that he brings to his life.

"This is more than I expected. You don't have to do this," I said.

He brushed it off, and then began to tell me stories about gardening, renovations, and hunting. He spoke unhurried, all the while turning wire around and around. It took him about 15 minutes to make one. Then he started on the next, talking leisurely. Erin played fetch and hide-n-seek with their dogs. His wife came out and chatted too.

When the second cage was completed, he gave me ties and large wooden stakes.

"These will last you years," he said. 

He gave me tips on securing the plants. Then Erin and I carried the cages back home--me, completely bewildered by their endless generosity towards us.

I sent her this photo with heartfelt thanks. I see this outside of my kitchen window and smile.

Thought stream

Why I sometimes busy my hands pulling weeds than typing thoughts. A momentary glimpse into the thoughts of the week.

  • grasses cut--it's like my version of dusting in hopes that no one notices my house is less than tidy on the inside.
  • scented plugs from Bath and Body Works. Hello apple. 
  • battery charged for big sky photos, last day of VBS.
  • that Pretty Woman moment when you feel all dressed up and fabulous and the enemy speaks shame over you, and seems to delight in it. Still waiting for Richard Gere to bust in on my behalf. Except he doesn't know me, so probably not going to happen.
  • a fluff Bible study that I was reluctant to do that totally ripped off a bandage. It's the quick rip that doesn't hurt at first, but then you're like, "Hey! Ow!" Interjections. 
  • first back-to-school nightmare that the HAS isn't completed for the first week and I don't have any lesson plan and I'm missing a few books for teaching. This is why I'm drinking coffee at 3:30 a.m.
  • gray start, sunny finish, and blackberry cheesecake bars in the fridge. I added a little more vanilla and Lanie noticed. "Make sure you give me this recipe!" she said. She's becoming such a sweet young lady.
  • it's Friday! Happy heart. I love having guests at the table.
  • reading a book on hospitality--probably the last book for fun this summer. Full speed into lesson prep next week. Twelve books, plus vocab and grammar. Never a dull moment.
  • read a friend's announcement of her mother's death. She held her in her arms. I remember baking cookies at their house in eighth grade. Caitlin and I eating dough off our fingers. Her mom said not to worry, the germs cook off. I've always remembered that.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5801-5826)

fat blueberries in the fridge
cooler days
a footstool to stretch my legs on
a nap outside to summer sounds
a room painted

Christy and kids over for a swim
the hummingbird feeding at the window boxes
a birthday invite for Erin
at her best friend's house, and they know how to throw a party!

daisies to frame

an opportunity to serve a friend
workouts with Sandy
fast days
lemon water
a waggy dog

family at the dinner table
Friday sangria
a picnic with the kids under a walnut tree
red and white checkered cloth

cookies in the freezer
blossoms on tomato plants
my neighbor made the plant cage for me

a front garden full of flowering hostas
purple cone flower, still

a week of VBS for the girls

the difference here makes

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In the oven

We're heading over with dinner and cookies to a friend's house today.

Baking up a batch of white chip/chocolate chip cookies, and a batch of these chocolate cookies with white chips (except I'm substituting with a combination bag of chocolate and peanut butter chips).

We'll have some for a freezer stash, and for Erin's picnic plans. Gorgeous day today. When I get the field cut, we'll have a fresh landscape for picnicking and finger painting.

Here's a little throwback of these kiddos. This picture is so representative of their personalities. (Insert wave to 2009.)

throwback to 2009

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Whispers of things

I wanted to try to get a normal night's sleep. Went to bed at a decent hour. At the top of the stairs, I glanced into Erin's room and saw her looking at me. We smiled at each other and I went in to give her hugs and kisses.

She was hot breath and fervent whispers of everything on her mind.

"Mommy, tomorrow let's get the tea cups out and have a tea party with apple juice like we used to. We can have it like a picnic with cookies," her eyes were bright with imagination.

"Ok," I said.

She got out of bed to come sleep with me, and all the while, she's whispering a to-do list that's every bit seven-and-a-half-year-old-girl.

"We can paint our fingernails pink, and go to the chocolate store for chocolates. We can shop for jewelry along the way, necklaces and earrings," she continued.

I'm sure there was more, possibly accompanied by rainbows and daisies.

Thankful for this little girl. Thankful that her mind is full of things she wants to do with me, that it's all special to her, however simple as cookies and juice on a blanket in the field.

Note to self: do not forget these days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


It's been like a presence at my back--the school year. I don't turn around, but I know it's there. I try to pretend like it's far away, but it's really right up against me.

At the amusement park, I chatted a granny who had treated her grandkids to a day of fun after a completion of summer school. I remembered my own summer school days--didn't they run like six weeks or something?

Egads, the summer is half over! I don't know if she noticed the panic in my eyes, or saw 2014-2015 reach around and tap my shoulder.

I got home and immediately crawled into a closet. Ok, not really, but I mentally locked all my doors and pretended there was no world outside our property boundaries. When a friend called and asked if I wanted to join her for Chik-fil-a cow day, I declined. I guarded every minute of that day, remembering last year's tears and last-minute picnic under the walnut tree, the mourning of a fleeting summer.

Insert drama.

This week has been a nesting week. I'm painting a room. I'm clearing out the space. I'm sorting through books and purging (I thought I did this three years ago!). I'm repurposing basement shelves for school curriculum on hold till Erin grows into it.

Erin crawled into bed with me this morning, and I was glad. She has been out of the habit for at least a year. She snuggled with me, and I listened to her sleep breathing and cherished being a mom. She stirred and said, "I don't want to get out of bed."

"You don't have to," I replied.

It was going on 8 o'clock. Coffee could wait.

Today, I'm in deep hunker mode. Finishing books, painting trim, organizing. Maybe tomorrow I'll get photos ordered and framed and hung on wall and shelf spaces. But I don't want think too hard about tomorrow. I'm just going to savor today.

Monday, July 14, 2014


I bought a can of paint a couple of months ago to paint a bedroom. I picked the color splendor. I got up today, tidied spaces, got the paint out with brush, roller, step ladder.

I stirred the paint. I felt a lightness of being at the very light beige that greeted me. Happy day! But as I stirred, deep mustard and camel surfaced and I hesitated. This wasn't what I remembered it being. Since I owned it, I committed to move forward with it.

I cut in. It seemed a good bit lighter than the paint on the wall. It could work out.

"It dries darker," said my inner voice.

"Shut up," I said back.

Ran down to stick chicken nuggets in the oven for lunches.

Back to the room to see the paint beginning to dry.

Face palm moment.

I did this in the school room. It was nearly a similar story in the powder room. Despite wanting to change spaces in this house, some rooms refuse to change. Or else I secretly really liked the colors and subconsciously bought the same shades.

I stood there wondering if I should even bother. It was an eggshell over a flat, so that might help with brightening. And who knows the overall effect once the room was painted? There was a (slight) difference. At the very least, it would be freshened up. I kept going and did two walls. I'll do the other walls tomorrow because I have to move all the furniture to the other side.

I remember painting the living room (I think it was hush or frappe) and having second thoughts on it.

"Just finish it," Shane said. "If you hate it, you can paint it again later."

I remembered his voice as I finished up two walls today. It's only paint.

I love the color of our living room now, but at the time of seeing it over the old shade, I wasn't sure it would work out.

Distanced an hour from today's work, the difference is slight, but enough.

Oh, splendor.

One thousand gifts and still counting (5766-5800)

new friends over for swimming and berry picking
for a good laugh with another mom
for reconnection with old friends
the pick-your-own farm

shelter in powerful storms
Bible verses that wait for me
and that You're there holding my cup
a nice chat with Greg
his yes returning to the blog

Teena's friendship
years and years with Christy
the coffee delivery
berries on sale
an invitation to an amusement park

cold water
French fries
a Wendy's hamburger
safe travels
Shane coming to get us with an umbrella

the couple we've become
yard work
seeing Jake outside and not even recognizing him because happiness had so transformed him
texting with Helen about fire nights and promises to get together soon
plans with a sister that make my heart sing

a refocus on priorities
Sandy in the mornings to T-Tapp
Janet's kind note in my inbox
friendships through 66 Books

daisies in the garden
how You delight me with the images
field fragrance
the Holy Spirit chills

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Remember when

Sat next to Shane at church.

"Remember when we first started going here and we went to the beach and missed being at church?" I asked.

He shook his head, "No."

"Well, we did," I said. "We couldn't wait for weekends because church was so good. You don't remember that?"


"It's a good thing you've got me," I said.

"To make up memories for me?" he asked.

"And to remember them," I said.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

In July

raspberry picking with friends

this character


purple cone flower



Shark Attack--the wait

I said no to a lot of things this week. 

I scheduled in time to mop a floor and do (many) loads of laundry and tidy rooms.  And vacuum.
I left time open for blue splashes in the pool and enjoying fire pile and marshmallow roasting.
There was time to let a neighbor's dog out.
To watch the girls on hoppity balls in the field.
To cut the grass and grin goofy over the amazing fragrance of summer.

We said yes to things too--like having a family over for swimming and lunch. Berry picking with some friends at a pick-your-own farm. And being friend-guests to a super-fun, full day at an amusement park. (Did I mention it was super fun?)

It was all good. Even the mopping and vacuuming parts.

Monday, July 7, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5736-5765)

for girls who said they didn't want to miss anything
a flag cake by a mom who went over and above because she loves to

thankful for Teena and Kelly

sisters who love, love, love
Lanie fixing Erin's hair in the morning
5740. Denise arriving early
thankful for Denise

spending a morning preparing with her
daisies on the table
thankful for these gardens and daisies in mason jars

inviting pool temps
fire piles and marshmallow roasting
an unexpected honor

her son who wanted to come back to Miss Courtney's the next day
berries along the perimeter
picking with Linda
thankful for Linda

5751. Denise for the day
how Shane said he'd like some adirondak chairs at the top of the hill because the view was nice
for sister friends who asked when they can come back
Friday night open door
windows open to birdsong

hanging out with former neighbors (Allen and Kelly)
that they (and Denise) are always the last to go
lights along the walkway
his growing affection for this place
bubbles blowing past French door views

mulch down and done
grape vines cut back
Shane swinging on the vine in the woods
an invitation for a day trip with new friends
fresh cucumbers gifted from a neighbor's garden

Saturday, July 5, 2014


In life before, Allen and Kelly would come to our house for a cookout and, from our patio, watch the fireworks a neighbor would set off. I remember our last summer there and Allen and Kelly over for one last time, a house in utter disarray and boxes everywhere. That was three years ago.

Our first 4th here, Erin had a fever. Our second one, I don't know why we didn't go anywhere. This year, I thought it would be fun to have Allen and Kelly over for a swim and cookout. They came. So did Linda, Denise, and a family we know through church. One other family had a feverish family member and couldn't make it.

By some standards it was a tiny gathering, but it was big in heart.

We swam. We grilled. We walked along the perimeter picking black raspberries. Linda told me how when she was a kid she used to do that all the time. I knew this brought back dear memories to her, and that we were making more special memories together.

As it got a little darker, the men went and started up a bonfire. We carried down benches, blankets and chairs ... jugs of tea and water ... and all the makings for smores.

The kids did hoppity ball races in the field and it was hilarious to watch them. Even a neighbor's deck party clapped and cheered them on. Darker still, and out came lightning bugs for little hands to capture. And then the sparklers. They looked like electric dandelions.

I was telling our friends about field life and fireworks and hot air balloons. I told them how when we first moved here, I thought about things I'd probably never see again, and how God sent a hot air balloon over the tree tops, over my yard, so close that I could clearly see their faces.

Last night, a neighbor walked over in the dark, all smiles and hugs to tell me that they had tried to call us. We brought our blanket and a bench into the field and had front row seats to lights and sounds that delighted every one of us.


Later, some goodbyes, and later still when "five more minutes, kids" becomes much later than that, we sat on the couch in the school room, pulled up chairs, and spent time together in a way we hadn't for years.

This morning, Shane and I sat on the couch and talked about all the good things yesterday held. I said to him, "I never thought I'd ever see fireworks from my back yard again."

Oh, how He knows the very secret things in my heart.

Thanks, God.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The last day

A few months ago, we were at the mall and the kids took a carousel ride. Something hit me really hard that day. Watching a tween struggle with a ride and pride, a little who was bashful, I found myself wondering: I wish I had known when the last day was, that last day when we could do these things and do them with joy ... I would have gone out that day and rode the carousel with my kids, if I had known when the last day was.

Watching David age ... he stood in our yard three years ago, able to walk and drive and get around on his own. He hired a man to do the clearing for us, telling him what to cut and what to leave. He designed our landscape. But even then, I sensed his frustration.

"I used to be able to do all of that!" he said as he pointed to the hired man. "I could do all of that and didn't need anyone to tell me what to do."

In his seventies, his age caught up with him. He wanted to be able to haul the rocks and cut the trees and rip out the growth. But he couldn't. Three years later, he needs assistance to cross a room, easily tired and often dizzy from vertigo.

I know someone who had had bad results from a surgery that impaired her vision and her ability to walk. She didn't anticipate the worst case scenario. She's at least eleven years into her new normal, and I listen to her reminisce on the things that she used to do. Though she doesn't speak of not being able to do those things now, her nostalgia hints at loss.

When our treadmill broke, Shane toyed with repairing it and asked me if I'd use it.

"I think my running days are over," I told him. And I find myself wondering, when was that last day that I could have run any real distance? If I had known, would I have run?

When was the last day that my kids would be littles on a carousel ... would still want a mama's hand to hold ... would still prefer a read aloud to reading alone?

It has shaped how I view life.

When my child reaches for my hand, I hold on. When she comes to me to talk, I listen. When she wants to read a book, I do it. When the pool is full of friends, I will be the mom who organizes seahorse races across the pool and joins in on the fun.

Even when it's just us, and they say, "Come in, Mom!" I will do it now.

At the amusement park last week, Lanie and I got front seats on the roller coaster.

I had never done that in my life. Neither had she. And as we tick-ticked up the first hill, I raised my hands high in the air and through the drop and around the bends ... because who is to know when it is the last day?

yeah, I'm a goof
The last day a body tolerates the jerk and yank of a ride; the last day a child prefers the company of a parent over that of a friend; the last day we are together as a family.

And now I understand the saying, to live each day as if it were your last.