Saturday, August 30, 2014


I got my hair cut today. Drove to that place that's a three-hour round trip to get the style reset by my favorite stylist as I search for someone local. I felt an urging to take my camera with me. I'm glad I listened to it. When I walked into the salon, a wedding party was getting made up. I asked my friend if he'd mind if I took some photos. He was happy to let me. He said he wants to take photos but either doesn't have an extra hand for it or a camera.

I snapped almost eighty pictures. I left with a new do, and a great feeling to have helped him out. I'm always amazed at God's nudges.

Came home to Shane's update: the kids made their own lunches--Erin decided to make a Cheetos sandwich.

"Eew," I said.

"You're going to have to have lunch decided for them before you go places," he told me. "Erin can't make these sandwiches."

Later, I got near him and smelled onions.

"Did you eat an onion for lunch?" I asked. (He had a hamburger, loaded with onion.)

At church, the onion breath, despite his brushing and mouthwash, wafted in my direction. Ugh. I scootched over closer to my friend Julie. The music was unusually loud at service. I plugged my ears during half a song. When I unplugged, they were ringing and sensitive. I went out to the lobby to get ear plugs. Walked back in to finish up the first worship.

Shane tried to whisper something to me but someone on stage started to talk, so he stopped.

Later, during the sermon, I showed him the ear plugs in my hands.

We got up afterwards for worship and I put the plugs in. Shane leaned over to me to tell me something, I pulled a plug out. He laughed.

"When you went to get those, I thought you were going out to get me a mint!" he said.

I don't know why I thought that was so funny. I wished I had thought of it! I would have gotten him two. 

Boo onions.


We chatted (online) and it was lovely.

I showed her a house by link and said if I didn't live here, I'd live there.

I showed her pictures I had--the laundry room door; the school room when it was their family room; the napping couch. She liked the paint job on the door grid and the door knobs.

We talked about photographs and I wondered if they took her back in time.

"I think we leave a piece of our hearts behind when we leave," I wrote.

"Me too," she replied. "In the walls."

I told her how I inscribed the walls at our former house when it was being built, and I did it here when we remodeled a room. She told me she also inscribed the walls when they were remodeling here.

I felt such a deep connection to her.

I invited her to come by when she's in town again.

I baked blackberry cheesecake bars for the night's dessert. Lanie helped me.

"I want this recipe in my cookbook," she said. "And Cindy's apple pie one, too."

I got ready for dinner. Cut the grass that afternoon and was covered in dusty grit. Went to clean up before guests arrived. Walked through the rooms and up the stairs and thought about past, present and future. How lives and memories and emotions get woven together. I wondered where her inscriptions were, and smiled.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In the woods

"I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms."    Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods
 If you guessed I cried when I read this, you'd be right.

Monday, August 25, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5944-5970)

a pink blanket on the napping couch that wraps her up while she reads (a Betsy-Tacy book)
Lake and Lodge coffee

half and half
a Wednesday Bible study
texts with Laurel
things falling into place for Great Books
whispers to watch the path

how the water feels sitting poolside
Erin swimming laps across the narrow
the school room
the opportunity to homeschool my kids
books on hold at the library

Robert Frost
that man of mine
good laughter
coffee and cocoa with a friend at Panera
rainy days

that I can leave things in Your hands
and You take care of them
long grasses
good books
good friends

an evening walk with Lanie
holding her hand
take out for dinner
feet in the pool
good memories

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wisdom teeth

I'm suckered into the next cup by its name: Lake and Lodge. I have no idea if it's a man flavor or if it carries hints of wilderness, but I'm captivated by the name. Sounds like a vacation. I'm there.

Lanie begins to tell me that she's got wisdom teeth growing on the lowers. Hopefully, she's inherited my big mouth. (Did I ever mention that my dentist once joked about me being in the top one or four percent of women who have mouths big enough for wisdom teeth? He said I could use it as bragging rights. So, there you go.)

Erin taps against her front teeth.

"Are these chewing teeth?" she asks.

"Not so much. Those are the teeth for biting into things. The bigger ones on the side are better for chewing," I say. I push brew on the Bunn. (Oh, love.)

"I'm so glad God knows all about teeth," I start. Yeah, here we go. "He knows that the bigger teeth are best for chewing. He might have been saying, 'I'll put these big teeth on the side because clunky chunky teeth wouldn't look right in the front.'"

Lanie laughs. "Clunky chunky? I don't think he'd say clunky chunky."

"You don't know that," I reply. "I bet he has fun with words."

A spoonful of sugar to Lake and Lodge. And a swirl of half-n-half. It's roasty and lingers.

Good life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Innie summer

I have to say, this has been one of the best summers ever.

I feel rested. I feel happy. My kids are getting along great. I'm keeping up with what's going on around here. No one feels grouchy or rushed. It has been bliss.

And I owe it all to a resolution to not schedule more than two things a week, or schedule (with rare exceptions being for all of three people) more than a week in advance.

I didn't have a full calendar staring at me saying, "You have no free time. It's all booked up."

I didn't have kids thrown off equilibrium with daily onslaughts of things to do, and go-go-go. I wasn't rushing to throw in a load of laundry before the next wave of guests came over.

Instead, I had full days to get done what needed to get done here, whether it was cutting the grass, doing some laundry, cleaning bathrooms, or painting. I enjoyed summery days taking pictures. I grouped together friends so that we could have fun in a big way, instead of lots of small ways that blocked out time. But I also had time to see friends in smaller ways.

My kids constructed imaginative scenarios that filled their days with laughter. They would run off sometimes with my phone and film fun plays. There were berries to sneak-eat in the field, fences to climb, bikes to ride. There were books to read and bracelets to make and lots of sunny fun swimming. They became good friends this summer, and didn't that make my heart swell! There was a lot of peace here.

We went to amusement parks with friends, hiked, had swim parties, did a week of vacation Bible school, had cook outs and sleepovers.

I learned that a full schedule isn't always best for us (even though for others it is their life preserver and joy). I learned to balance go-go-go with no-no-no (and not feel guilty).

Extroverts don't always understand introverts. I can't tell you the number of outies I've met who want to change someone in our family, or feel the need to comment about (any one of) us.

I have a lot of friends who are outies, and a lot who are innies. At times, I can relate to either side. But this summer, it was delightfully innie. 

In the fall we'll pick up the pace with school, piano, dance, and all the fun field trips, birthday parties, holidays, play dates, small groups, and studies. This type of intentional summer was exactly what I needed to recharge for it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5920-5943)

big, bold sunflowers in a vase
gifted tomatoes in a salad
tomatoes plucked from my own garden (I've waited four years for this!)
the Global Leadership Summit
a way to contribute
the Greek salad wrap for lunch

Julie next to us at worship
sunny days
friends who helped out with my kids
and that my kids had so much fun
Lanie eating chili

a comfy bed
clean, cold water
clean clothes
innie days
frogs in the pool

three more weeks of summer break
that mine was the card he saved
school books ordered
and coffee too
beans and rice

chairs on the patio
warm slate against my feet
a little who still climbs into bed with us in the middle of the night

Friday, August 15, 2014

Queen Mary and the GLS

This is my third year attending the Global Leadership Summit.

I don't remember too much from the first year, but I'm sure I would if I looked at my notes.

Last year I was completely undone and won over by Brene Brown, her thoughts on shame, suffering, exclusion. (So thankful I was in nearly a private room instead of the large center when I heard her talk. I was on the cusp of losing composure. Saw a friend outside when we broke for lunch, and could hardly speak. Went home shaken cried. So thankful for honest talks.)

This year was also informative and moving, but on a different level. I loved Bill Hybels' opening talk and how he spoke of a woman who tried to rowboat to Ireland (or someplace. That wasn't nearly the point.) Along the way, she had been battered and beaten by weather; she sent out a call for help. A giant of a ship showed up with provisions and encouragement for her--this woman in her little boat on a big ocean. The name of the ship was the Queen Mary.

My friend Reggie was in the audience yesterday. I sat with her for the first part. Turned to her at the break and said, managing to keep my composure, though my eyes filled briefly with tears, "I thought of you when Bill talked about that woman on the ocean. You are my Queen Mary. When we moved here, I was so overwhelmed by all that had to be done. I will never forget how you went out in the garden and pulled weeds with me that day. You just showed up and helped me."

She got teary too.

Today, she sought me out and said, "I was thinking about what you said last night. Do you know my name is Mary Regina? Regina means queen."

God, you are a delightful mystery. I love you, Lord, like crazy. You weave rich meaning into everything.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The cluttered mind of back to school

Tabs online. 

Yankee Candle
Conscious Discipline
A Beowulf boast assignment
A look at depression
Food industry trickery
Forgiveness (does not mean) fellowship
A Pottery Barn duvet cover in paisley and cozy red tones (want, want)
Several tabs to books for the next school year
Andy Stanley podcast
Some stuff on Proverbs
A blog by homeschool moms
A blog post on parental influence
Scriptures on pleasing God rather than pleasing people
Joyce Meyer

Altogether: 25.

And if that isn't enough, you should really see the paper explosion across my work space. About 15+ books and at least three armloads of paper.

And a pool floaty.


Why is there a pool floaty on the table?


Monday, August 11, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5896-5919)

three years here
daisies in the garden
Your surprises through the lenses
a friend in Teena
a sleepover for Lanie

Friday night dinners
taco night
coffee with Julie
how those hugs feel
a hike with Michelle and Connor

frogs in the pool

my dog
a coffee maker
hazelnut pods
the field

cinnamon chips
summer memories, unhurried
summer pool

summer yard
that she's starting a women's group, and that she said she wouldn't do it without me

Dave looking at me, in that moment, during his sermon
Shane's arms around me

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Little things

I had coffee with a neighbor and her mom yesterday. She brewed a pot of blueberry coffee, and it was good. She served up peach cobbler and chocolate pie. We talked about summer and pickling and the little details in life. On different levels, we are both wishing a school year could hold back and that summer would stretch out longer. She works in the public schools. I teach at a co-op and homeschool. (Though I have a lot more peace about the upcoming year since I didn't overbook our summer days.)

I sunned on the tractor yesterday afternoon, cutting the field and around the house. It was Friday, and it's my way of "dusting" for company. I baked up zucchini cinnamon bread and made tacos--a double batch to feed a friend's family and my own. I arranged for her daughter to come spend the night.

We went to drop off the meal and pick up Lanie's friend. The mom mentioned their study plans for the evening had been canceled, and I wish I had listened to the little voice that suggested earlier that I just invite them to over to eat tacos at our house.

"How about you just pack all this stuff up and bring it back to my house?" I offered.

And that's what we did.

What was funny to me was that the portion that I had fixed for my group ended up feeding us all, so my friend could take back what I fixed for her and have food for the weekend. God multiplies things like that.

We ate outside. We heard geese honking overhead. The crickets called out loudly, and it reminded me of the first August I stepped foot on this property--how the night sounds made my ears ring nearly the whole ride back home.

Linda joined us at the table. She gifted me a pasta bowl, and the cutest little turkey salt-and-pepper shakers.

"For Thanksgiving," she said. Because that's my gig.

The kids' feet were bare and dirty. They played hide and seek, rang the bell, scootered and hoppity-hopped all around. Erin wanted to catch lightning bugs. Kam walked around with a stick in his hands and seemed up for an adventure every step of the way. Lanie and Jiliann gave each other a run around. Haleigh sat with us and read a book. I grabbed a couple of blankets from the (very awesome Home Goods find) basket and brought them outside. We sat in the growing darkness draped in blankets my dad had crocheted when my girls were babies, and talked and listened to the woods--the owls, crickets and locusts. A big moon lit the sky. My dog ran around wagging and inhaling shredded cheese that had fallen off tacos.

They left after dark, and upstairs Jiliann and Lanie settled in, giggling and talking. Erin was fast asleep in her bed. And because I'm a goof this way, I went to bed anticipating the morning's cup of coffee.

the Bunn

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August days

Yesterday, we hosted a swim for some of Erin's friends.


the kids

the moms

There was a constant chatter of children.

Splash, followed by splash and splash.

the splash

Several times the captain's bell sounded. This is music to me.

Last night, coffee with Julie at a local bakery. We sat on sofas that nearly swallowed us up. Time went too fast.

Today, an early start. Exercised with Sandy. Relayed that spring story of grace to her, watched her eyes water with tears. Tenderhearted. She noticed the little bottles with flowers. And I loved her for that.

Vivi came to play with Erin. When she left, I settled into the napping couch, lulled to a delicious sleep by the sound of the air conditioning humming.

Later, I sat outside and listened to the woods sounds. Watched a hawk circle overhead. Circling, circling. Silent. A woodpecker knocked somewhere. Other birds chattered. I watched leaves waving in the wind and listened to their clapping, so soft and distant.

My hands were warmed against the slate after morning sun.

I don't know how long I sat there. There was no hurry to leave, as August days should be.

Zucchini bread with cinnamon chips

If you're wondering where to get cinnamon chips, I found you have to stock up (in these parts, anyway) during Christmas. Seriously, grab a couple of bags. They're great in scones. And, we've discovered, in zucchini bread. However the only way to get Erin to eat it is to call it cinnamon bread. Shane just calls it good. And it must be good, because while he never complains ever about anything I fix, he also rarely raves about things I make. This one got a hearty, "This is good!" from him last night.

Zucchini bread with cinnamon chips (or cinnamon bread)

3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups unbleached flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cinnamon chips (you could use chocolate chips, nuts, or craisins)

Mix all that together. Grease 2 loaf pans with coconut oil. Bake at 350 for one hour. Makes 2 loaves.

T minus 17 years

Once I asked Shane, "How long do you think we'll live here? Ten years? Longer?"

"Twenty years?" he wondered.

If I had known we'd be at the other house for ten years, it would have reframed how I spent my time. I probably would have painted the office way before we decided to list the house for sale. As it was, we lived as though we had all the time in the world. Until we didn't, and then we prepped to move.

When we got here, we hit the ground running (and swinging, and demolishing, and painting, and, and, and). We didn't want to wait until we were listing again to accomplish the things we'd like to enjoy sooner. It's not that I'm into decorating (far from it--more like an idea borrower), or ever felt like I was a DIY-er (this is born of circumstance), or extreme gardener. It's just where we are. We wanted a change. And we got one.

Celebrating three years here.

Or as Shane once joked: seventeen years to go.

This move brought us closer in proximity to people we love like family: David, Anita, Linda. They are all just minutes away. It brought us closer to church, allowing me to serve in a different capacity than I could before, and attend events there without adding an hour's commute. It even brought us to a co-op, minutes from our door. I think of all the new friends, and memories, we've made as a result of being here.

I've taken thousands of photos here. The ones above are packed with love and meaning:

  • Linda kicking back at the pool, and saying, "This is the life." We thought it was so funny. When I saw this sign, I got it to remember.
  • A former kitchen table repurposed to school room chalkboard table. 
  • Hydrangeas from Reggie's garden at a 66 Books cookout--the first here.
  • A hot-air balloon sighting. Something I thought I'd never see in woods life.
  • The do-rag.
  • Erin learning to ride a bike.
  • The kids picking berries in the field our first full summer here.
  • Snake stompers. Game changer.
  • Joel's kitchen table, given to us. After reading Table Life, it's possibly one of the richest seats in the house. My heart swells when I think of the people we've hosted around that table for coffee, meals, play dates.
  • Walls painted. And a dog of our own. 
  • Landscape. Later transformed by David.
  • Birthday celebrations.
  • The captain's bell. A hidden housewarming surprise.
  • Shane and Lanie walking through the leaves before this place was ever ours. That was the October visit that led to a November contract on the house.

I think of the little details that awaited us. All the songs that played as the score of a journey. The scriptures that fed (shaped and sustained) us. And the secret hopes in this heart, fulfilled: the captain's bell; the hot-air balloon; studs and floors to inscribe; a view of fireworks from the back yard.

Our lives, in many respects, look nothing like they did just three-years-and-one-day ago, though the change started in our hearts before then.

Happy three, house of ours. (Thanks, God!) While I can't exactly number the days we'll be here, I hope to make them count.

On, on.

Monday, August 4, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5866-5895)

a mini coffee maker tucked away in a cabinet
the last few swallows of coffee in the mug when I thought it was empty
another day
words to the lie so I don't have to believe it
Psalm 62

fluff study turned fierce
Sandy and Claudia
thoughts on worth
a napping couch
my girls giggling upstairs past bedtime

Linda at the table
yummy grilled squashes in a pasta dinner

zucchini and cinnamon chip bread
a reciprocated playdate
how our kids got along
good coffee in her living room

how calming the natural light was
her garden gifts to us in parting, of green peppers and tomatoes
gifted peppers and tomatoes

Linda's kind words
how these three years have changed our lives and hearts
the difference here makes

Jackie and the six-hour playdate
how good a friend she is that time flies
a sandwich to share
my girls fixing a lunch for Viviana
hospitality that reaches into the next generation

Vouvray at dinner, bottled in 2011
David's 80th birthday
brunch at his home
time with them
almost three years here

Sunday, August 3, 2014


We went to David and Anita's house today for a brunch. We celebrated David's 80th birthday.

I loved seeing the familiar faces of people we've grown to know all these years from cookouts, Passover, birthdays and a bar mitzvah. Loved the feeling of warmth and love whenever I enter their house. Loved the good food Anita prepares, and how she exudes hospitality.

David's friends Lenny and Wasil also turned eighty this year. I thought it was pretty cool they've been close friends for so many years. I snagged a picture of them.

Wasil--I never knew he had this funny side

caught in the act

We sang to David.

I hope he wished
He was showered in cards and hugs and kisses. He shared a box of chocolates with all his guests.

Erin raided their cookie cabinet.

I'm sure she hit it up more than once
 I took pictures of his dogs. (David got me hooked on hounds.)

Slowly, guests began to leave.

I watched David shake Wasil's hand. Watched how they lingered.

I watched him, later, shake Lenny's hand.

I was close enough to hear Lenny say, "Let's make sure we do this again next year."

"Yes, let's," David responded. He smiled and nodded. (My heart swelled to hear this exchange. Thank you, God, that I witnessed these precious details in their friendship.)

Anita spent time with me and we looked at the pictures that filled the spaces of her kitchen. She explained who everyone was. Shared history about family and friends. I couldn't help but notice how relationally rich her life is.

"Friends and family," she said. "That's all that matters in life."

I think she is the most beautiful woman I've ever met. I'm lucky, so lucky, to be loved by them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

In a year

In the past year, measured by Augusts:

replaced garage doors
before and after--I love this photo

painted an office space
created a fire pile

Erin learned to ride a two wheeler

we completed another homeschool year (first and fifth grades)

hung up some pictures in the bedroom

made new friends in Teena, Claudia, Sandy and Jennifer
cut back on playdates and focused more on family and balance
had lunch with my dad and girls

learned grace through spackle (laundry room) and infusion (the hug)
replaced/repaired a washing machine, a woodstove insert, a dishwasher pump
celebrated birthdays: mine, Lanie's, Erin's, Shane's (his is not pictured)

sled down hills in snow

put in an electric fence
watched fireworks from our field

we've had sleepovers
holiday dinners


got a napping couch
gifted by friends, my favorite seat in my favorite room
 and (quite possibly) took more photos of this wonderland than I did of my own children

The first two years here were pretty physical and task oriented. And while there's still more to do, we seemed to take a bit of a breather this past year. As much as was possible, anyway.

(And I'm ok with that.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

White Christmas

We got our Keurig coffee maker at Christmas one year, maybe it was 2009? 2008? I don't know, but I became enamored (obsessed) with getting one after having coffee at my friend Karen's house.

She had a lovely assortment of coffee mugs on the table and I chose the pottery one that had blue and brown tones to it. She brought out an adorable basket with assorted k-cups so I could pick the flavor coffee I wanted. I'm pretty sure I chose hazelnut. (Ok, so this might be a mix of coffee memories at Karen's house, but hazelnut, a basket and Karen were always involved.)

I told Shane about the experience. Told him how it was a hospitality dream to offer guests any flavor they'd like (from a basket!). And he countered with economics of k-cups verses bagged coffee. He is practical; I'm all heart (when it comes to coffee anyway).

We got the Keurig. I had a basket and filled it with k-cups. While I don't remember the first time I offered a guest their choice of coffee at my house, I do know that more often than not, I think of Karen when I do and how delightful it was spending time with her.

There are woeful tales of Keurig ownership on the internet. Read any review. In fact, at our former house, there were seasons where it would only brew half a cup at a time and we'd have to double brew. I tried descaling. It was a quirky machine. Sometimes we'd get a full cup. Sometimes it cut us off at half. I did not complain (often), because I chose it.

When we moved here (and as Shane reminds me: when I sold his trusty 12-cup coffee maker at a yard sale for $2--though his memory prices it lower and lower each time he tells his story. I think yesterday he said I sold it for 15 cents.), the Keurig surged with new life. We got full cups.

"See, we're meant to be here," I rejoiced to Shane. Yeah, we had a jungle to conquer and a 20-year-long to-do list, but we had full cups of coffee fueling us.

Anyway, long story--the coffee maker died two days ago at 4 a.m. It left me with half a cup. It sputtered and groaned. I might have too. No one wants half a cup at 4 a.m. At least, not this one.

I rummaged in an upper cabinet and pulled down a hotel-style version 4-cup (Ha! Read two cups.) back up. I had filters and ground coffee (why? I have no idea).

I googled how to make coffee because it had been years since I had to and I completely forgot. (Note to self: 1-1/2 tbs of coffee per cup is a good starting point.)

I googled single-serve coffee makers. I had accumulated enough Keurig points to get me, my neighbors, and second cousins discounted coffee makers for at least the next five years (and, according to some reviews, I would need them!). But then I wondered what else was out there. I found Bunn.


It wasn't a matter of want. I knew I needed this baby. Changeable parts that allowed brewing of k-cups, ground coffee, soft pods, loose tea leaves! The possibilities made my eyes wide like Erin's on Christmas morning.

The reviews on it were glowing. Keurig converts praised its performance. And really, what's not to love? Ok, one minor detail of having to add water for each cup of coffee (no reservoir tank). Wasn't I nearly doing that with this little 4-cup (read 2-cup) wannabe?

This morning I brewed myself a pot (Ha, if you call two cups a pot) of a blend called White Christmas.

Shane asked, "So what are we doing here?" And before I could answer, he said, "I don't want to add water every time I want a cup of coffee. This is something we'll be using for years."


"Fine ..." I paused, giving him the opportunity to change his mind. He didn't.

"I really, really want the Bunn. But we can get the Keurig (it's cheaper with the discount). AND WHEN THAT BREAKS, we're getting the Bunn. Deal?" I said.


Folks, this is my documentation of the agreement.

I've never had tea from loose leaves, and I've made it this far. What's a little longer?

On, on.