Monday, September 29, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (6049-6089)

for the view that it is
a rainy day for my mum

a thank you note in my family mail
a favorite class x 2
Your provision
chances for understanding and learning
the smell of vinegar on freshly mopped floors

maple flavored coffee
an infinity scarf
and socks on my feet
the return of stomps
wood for a good price

a visit with Kellie and her kiddos
my girls' Friday dinner out at a friend's
four day weekends
free eggs and bread

chocolate pie
a bag of tomatoes, gifted
a bench, table and chair for the patio, gifted
song around the table
girls who were eager all day to gift and sing

wishes on a candle
a happy birthday, two days early
next parties to plan
Dad and Linda over
peppermint oil and lavender

camera 1
a loom bracelet made by Erin
pizza lunch day
Jennifer's dedication
texts with friends

a card from Reggie
a diamond with rough edges
a family selfie
that I get to be the mom to these girls
a crackle glass vase from my favorite store

and a candle for the mantle
friendship with Allen and Kelly
that You know the number of our days
Your song over me

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Who we are

We took this photo last night.

I love that my husband is getting in on the fun.

I love Lanie's unhindered laugh.

I love Erin's exuberance--life force, up front.

I loved being in the middle of it all. Loved by these people and loving them till my heart bursts.

This photo was taken last night, and I was battling the fresh sting of words someone spoke about one of my kids. When I look at this image, I see my girl's full smile and delight and joy. I'm thankful for who she is.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Homestyle homeschool

Lanie asked me to quiz her on her vocabulary words. I picked the hardest one from the list.


But I said it dramatically and in all caps volume.

She starts to spell it and has a little trouble.

"Do you want to write it down?" I suggested.


She got it wrong. So we did the other ones and came back to it last and when I said the word, I used my over-dramatic pronunciation of it.

She made drama eyes and leaned away. I laughed. She got it right.


Erin is going through a phase of disagreeing with everything I say. She even disagreed about which side was left, and I know she knows better. Sometimes she will not answer questions regarding music notes and other topics. It makes schooling a bit ... challenging.

So I put on my drama voice to read her history test. Some fill in the blank, some T or F, some choose the best answer. When I told her she stood to gain an M&M for every correct answer, she was game. A girl after my own heart.

"Can you start doing that for all the questions I get in school?" she asked.

She answered loudly and clearly and enthusiastically and earned herself 14 M&Ms. I'd say we're off to a good start.


Erin loved the way a neighbor's house smelled, so the next that I saw her I asked what plug-in she used. She gets oils and warms them. I kept it in mind for someday.

Sometime later, my neighbor called me up to come over to her house. When I got there, she had gone out and purchased an oil warmer like hers (brass and iron), and a bottle of Satsuma from The Body Shop. It always reminds us of her when we use it in the living room (and it's a cheery antidote for wet dog smells).

I got an additional warmer in soapstone and put it in the school room. Today I have both going with the most delightful citrus scent. And while I love being home on rainy days, it's equally wonderful having a happy scent for us all to enjoy, and the underlying love of a friend filling my house.

I've read citrus smells arouse happiness in hearts, making it perfect for at-home school days.


Up early to write. Funny how I was drinking a cup of maple flavored coffee, and its aroma was working at my subconscious. Coupled with gray skies and pattering rain, I found myself craving pancakes. So I made them for breakfast (btw, delightfully light pancakes; Lanie agreed this one is a keeper.).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


The back-to-school load is intense--and not just the workload, but the actual transportation of all the materials: history book, binder, lit book, planner, pencils and markers, a box for treasure, grammar/Latin/vocabulary, notes, and at times, a laptop. That's just me. I was struggling to affix these things against my body as I limped my way across the parking lot and up the stairs. Had gone out to get a rolling crate with the family. Shane convinces me that a suitcase would be better. Then we notice a lovely executive bag with pull, but it was too small for my laptop.

"Let's try a different store," he suggested. Similar story, and the bag that was available was a hefty double price we don't want to pay. Seriously, I'm not trying to impress anyone here. I just want something to cart my stuff around.

I left with nothing and was sorry I hadn't gotten the little rolling crate at the first place. I think it was twenty bucks.

A friend commented on my load and I told her the story.

She brought me back her rolling crate later that day. She didn't need it this year.



I was so beat yesterday that I didn't get Erica's birthday cookies baked. I was up at 3:30 a.m. today, reviewing notes and outlining work, building a history test for next week, treasure hunting in "Confessions" ... and baking cookies.

Erica couldn't meet today for me to give her cookies. I packed a lunch for myself, and one for my friend Jen. She has been a huge help to me in getting the class put together. I wanted to treat her for being so awesome. Got the fat cucumber kosher pickles at a deli. Built her a tasty bagel sandwich, a bag of chips, an apple, the pickle, a bottle of water, and two delicious white chip and chocolate chip cookies. Put it all in a big brown bag and folded and secured it with a clothes pin.

At lunch I got the news her son was sick. She wouldn't be in, and I had already eaten my lunch during math study hall with Erin.

A mom entered the cafeteria, which was cleared out for recess. Her kids were outside, and her lunch was nowhere to be found. And I found myself saying, "I have an extra lunch."

I handed her the bag and she took out each item. The pickles smelled so wonderful, and she smiled at the sandwich wrapped in wax paper and bagged in a sandwich bag. She placed each item tenderly on the table top and pulled out her phone to take a picture.

"Look how God provides!" she exclaimed. "I will call this 'God's Provision'."

It's probably on her Instagram of FB somewhere.

I just wondered at the unfolding of events. Who has a bagged lunch freshly prepped and waiting? God does.



A mom reaches into a big brown bag and asked the gathering of us, "Who needs eggs? I have a friend with chickens and all these eggs."

Five dozen.

We got a free dozen.



Getting the kids after school today, I'm heading out and a mom stopped me.

"My van is open with free bread in the back," she said to me.

There was a crate of assorted breads and danishes with a sell-by date of yesterday. We got a package of multi-grain and a package of cinnamon raisin English muffins.




When you supply it, they gather it. You open your hand to feed them, and they are richly satisfied. Psalm 104:28, NLT.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This and that

We went outside to grab the free paper for a school project. When we crossed the line from shadows to light, we both immediately pressed our hands against the black pavement.

"Ahh, it feels so good!" she said.

I laid down and tried to warm myself from head to toe against the blacktop. That kiddo laid down next to me. We were there hardly five minutes, but long enough that I felt myself drifting off.

"Mom?" she asked.

"I'm so tired," I mumbled. The warmth felt so good. It's hard to warm up in the shade. Oh, sunlight.

"Come on, Mom!" she tickled and tugged at me.

"Can't I just take a nap here?" I asked.

We walked up to the top of the driveway and got the paper to make a shepherd's crook. She's outside painting. I just finished a cup of coffee.


It's the first day of autumn. I love all the seasons. And as someone said on the radio today, pumpkin spice is jumping the shark. We saw pumpkin spice soda, pumpkin spice popcorn, pumpkin spice tea, pumpkin spice pretzels ... just to name a few at the grocery store.

I know I'll miss summer.

A friend asked me, "So are you still on outdoor projects or have you started indoor things?"

She's always interested in our go-go-go around here.

"I'm in Great Books. That's about all I do now," I said.

Seriously. So glad it is fall, because I can let up on the grass cutting to about every other week. As for cleaning the house or ever putting things away ... that's anyone's guess. Or until we have company.


Stunning sunset tonight. Pink that mixed with orange. I saw it through the bay window. Lanie and I got ready to take a walk.

"Let's go see the sunset," I said. It was fading fast.

We ran down the driveway.

"It's going!" she said.

"Oh!" We ran on.

We got to the top of the driveway and caught the last smidge of it. Then we walked in the dark. Houses already getting decorated for Halloween. Orange lights in the window of one. A ghost in a tree in the yard of another.

This will be our fourth trick-or-treat here.


A picture:

orange in the yard, happens every September

Monday, September 22, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (6032-6048)

a Joel sighting and hug
green apples for a pie
night chorus

a night out with Jackie
tomatoes and cucumbers from a friend's garden
Nicole at my table for coffee on a Saturday
Julie's hand to hold during service
a home to offer friends' children so they can scoot out on a getaway

cookies gifted and warmly received
Jen F's hugs
opportunities for growth
a car repaired
books on hold at the library

Teena and her kids over for a later night visit
friends who inspire
chats with Cindy

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The whole earth

We had a lovely bonfire last night.

the fire pile

I love the smell of a campfire

A glass of red, kids roasting marshmallows, that man of mine. I listened to the night sounds of the woods. Crickets and locust and owls. So many sounds, a chorus.

I doubt the owl hated the cricket. Or the frog hated the locust. They each had a song to sing, independent of the other, and yet in unison.

At church service earlier last night, I listened to the singers and sang along with them. I will never be on stage to sing, and I'm ok with that. But I watched a lead singer sing her heart out for God, and how can you not help be happy for her talent, and know that God is pleased how she glorifies him with her gift? The gift he gave her.

I think of friends and their gifts. Marshall's Mom's amazing artistic talents. She never ceases to amaze me with the things she does. And I would never think of hating her that I don't do those things or that she does them so well. She has inspired me to try my hand at craftiness, however elementary my attempts. I will probably never be as good as she is, and I don't need to be. I can "sing" along with her. I know that God is glorified how she blesses so many with her talents. The ones he gave her.

I think of friends who are wired to serve. They are the ones there in a pinch to help watch a child or let a dog out or to clean up after a party. They inspire me to open my eyes to need around me and help out out of love.

I think of friends who are generous givers. They have blessed me on many occasions with thoughtfulness. They've helped me to see how to bless others in giving, and to do it with an open hand and a happy heart. They are an inspiration.

Other people do hospitality way better than I, and I'm glad I can look at them as a source of inspiration, rather than irritation. I'm glad I can see the beauty and heart they bring to their tables and homes. And while the beauty of my home may be questionable to some, I bring my heart. A beautiful home, or any of the above, without heart is just show.

Last night, a friend and her family joined us later. The bonfire had burned low and we were inside when they arrived. Hot dogs microwaved and plastic plates for serving because a dishwasher was bursting full. We sat around the table and talked, and my house was a mess and the counters cluttered, and it was so last minute to call them over. But if she noticed, she didn't say, and her eyes didn't let on about a thing. She's been here when I've tidied up, and even now when the thought of the visit outweighed the protocol of presentation.

She sent me a message today. "So thankful for you!" God is pleased when I open my home, and a friend is blessed (and we are too!) by letting her into our hearts. And the owl, and the frog, and the locust don't care. They sing their own song. I sing mine.

And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6:3, NIV.

And it is.

"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:40, NIV.

And they will.

Running my race. Those who love me and love the Lord will cheer me on. And those who don't, won't.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, put first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

Friday, September 19, 2014


Sometimes I think if I had a do-over, I would have gotten a minivan.

Dropped my car off at the shop for some work and got hooked up with a loaner.

"Would a minivan be ok?" the woman asked.

"Um .... YEAH!" I said, with enthusiasm. She looked at me and the four girls behind me and chuckled.

So funny that the vehicle we got was the exact same one my friend has--even the same color. Her kids got in and told us all about its features.

I pulled out of the lot. The kids seemed so far away, like they were on a bus from the rearview mirror.

Suddenly, hashtag lines come to mind: #livinthemomlife, #iluvminivans, #momoffourforaday, #livingthedream.

It was awesome.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


A friend's girls are sleeping over tonight. One Lanie's age, one Erin's age. They've been making bracelets, playing Barbies, making obstacle courses, and now they are on their second scavenger hunt. I threw together a list of diverse objects: toothbrush, a piece of cheese, a walnut, a crab apple. But since I'm getting ready to make dinner, I added a box of shell pasta, knowing they'd have to run to the basement to get that and bring it up for me.


I call it win-win.

Monday, September 15, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (6006-6031)

for moments in humility on a Tuesday
a good cry
and an hour's quiet to walk across Milvian Bridge
a friend to catch my overwhelm and encourage me
3:30 a.m. on a Wednesday

Medieval Great Books
seeing last year's Bible students, as friends
a great first day of high school
a fun field trip for the kids
riding with Claudia and her daughter

and the great chats we had that dip below superficial
meeting a new Karen, and loving her immediately
Linda on a Friday night
cookies in the freezer
fall clothes for Erin

a sixth grader and a second grader
dance shoes in stock at the shop
a gift card, unexpected
words during a sermon: hearing "wholehearted" (and)
my favorite verse

Shane and the lectern
ice cream after dinner
reading with Lanie on a couch
the good talks we have
her Post-it note back to me, dotted with a heart "i"

tomatoes gifted in abundance from a neighbor

Sunday, September 14, 2014


The last day of the girls' summer vacation. Yeah, a lot of folks started school already (me too--with high school last week), but the lower grades begin tomorrow.

I baked pumpkin streusel breads--one to take in to the office, and one to slice for a lunchbox snack for my kids. I organized the backpacks and got my things together too.

Lanie came to give me a hug and I held her close. Her hair was still damp from a shower and smelled like a fruit salad of strawberry and melon. We hugged for a bit and I said, "You're going into sixth grade tomorrow." I love the young lady she's become; love the change in her heart this year--softer, and full of gratitude, thoughtfulness, and service.

I walked Erin upstairs and she took off to brush her teeth. Doesn't need a mama to look over her shoulder, she thinks. Likes to do things all by herself. Thinks second grade is for little kids. I hugged her close too. She smelled like tomato plants after climbing through the tomato plant maze at a friend's house this afternoon, picking and plucking tomatoes off the vines. We carried home pounds of fresh tomatoes, shared.

"You're going to be in second grade," I said. But she was disappointed she wasn't older. This kid, ready to take on the world. Full of life and life force; she is exuberant and carefree. How she sings and dances when she thinks no one sees her. She wanted to stay up late reading tonight.

"It's a big day tomorrow," I told her. "You'll need to get some good sleep."

It's still a bit early, but they're quieting down. Thoughts of tomorrow and seeing friends and making new friends.

Sixth grade and second grade. It goes so fast.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Twenty minutes-ish

Now that Erin is taking piano lessons, we need to get her a little tote for her piano books. I decided to make one. (Insert laugh track.)  Lanie and I went off to a store to get fabric and cotton webbing (had to Google that--it's the handle material).

I can't tell you how many times I walked the aisles, though I'm sure Lanie could. I didn't have Erin with me, but thought for sure that I would be able to find something she'd love. With hundreds of choices, though, I was having a hard time. Some had too much white. Others looked too grown up. Others still lacked wow factor. I loved the fabric I saw at the tutorial site, and was bent on getting apples. No such luck.

"Mom! Just pick something!" Lanie said. We'd been there an hour, at least.

"I know this is hard for you, but it's even harder for me because I'm stuck in my head!" I told her, with a smile.

I picked a fabric and hoped Erin would like it. We worked on it this morning because she wanted to be part of it. It took a little longer since I had some reacquainting to do with the sewing machine. The last time I sewed anything was with Marshall's mom at least five years ago.

Improvised sewing table

We did finish it. Erin chatted me the whole time, put pins away, and was such a delight.

"Can I show it to Lanie?!" she asked when I handed it over to her.

"Yep!" I said.

"I can't believe Mommy actually made something," she said, aloud, to herself as she walked away.

I hear you, kid. It's like eighth grade home economics all over again--the tote project.

Not perfect by any means. But she loves it (and I love her), and that's all that really matters.

Linked to the site that inspired and taught this. Great instructions, especially for people like me who hate following directions. Love it!

Monday, September 8, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5990-6005)

a last full (and fully us) week at home with the kids
a school room table nearly cleared
the pair of shoes and bundles of socks that came to $12 (after the discount!)
free chocolate at Godiva (2 pieces each with my birthday month credit!)
celebrating a niece's upcoming wedding
Friday night at the table

cheese and tomatoes gifted
night walks with my girls
how Erin chatted my ears
and fat toads crossing
piano lessons, resumed

new music in the house from beginner fingers
fabric for a tote to make with Erin
September skies
egg custard snoballs with marshmallow, his favorite

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Over 24 hours

There has been no chocolate in the house for several weeks. I've been looking for a package of Hershey bars for s'mores, but I never seem to find them at the store. I was doing ok with it, except for yesterday, who knows why, I was on a ravenous search for it in the house. I saw a Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking bar. It didn't matter it was semi-sweet. I opened that bar up and broke off two squares. Shane saw the evidence later.

"Baking chocolate?" he asked.



Erin had her first piano lesson today. She battled keeping me in the room with her and kicking me out. She clutched at my arm and I peeled her little fingers off and went into the waiting room with Lanie. We heard the lesson through the wall. Tentative tapping on the keys.

"I can't do it!" she exclaimed to the instructor.

"Yes you can, sweet love," I whispered to the wall. Lanie smiled.

Erin came out of that room some time later with some books. She couldn't wait to get home to practice.

"I'm going to teach you tomorrow," she told me. Shane got a private concert when he got home from work.


Cut the grasses in the field late this afternoon. Watched a black snake slide past. It was long and oily looking. Moved fluid like it was being poured out like a rivulet across the lawn.


A friend called me and said she had a block (read: pounds) of cheese for us. The kids and I walked over to get it. She bagged up several varieties of tomatoes from her garden and handed me a bottle of hot sauce. She texted me her recipe for gazpacho. I made it tonight and ate a bowl of it, thinking how homemade croutons would have been the perfect topping.

I used:

approximately 10 ounces of vegetable juice (V-8 low sodium)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
a good dousing of olive oil
a big beefsteak tomato and several plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 peeled and chopped cucumber
about 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
several shakes of hot sauce
some coarse salt

Blend in a blender to desired consistency. Would be delightful with garlic Parmesan croutons on top. But some sliced baguette for dipping was good enough in a pinch.


Woke up super early this morning. Shane came downstairs.

"Good morning!" I said. All smiles. Amped.

"Did you drink a pot of coffee?" he asked.

Oh, Lake and Lodge. The last pod.

Note to self: must get more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not a day over ...

Was going through some paperwork regarding our insurance and noticed that my date of birth was wrong. By like several years ... older.

"Um, we need to get this straightened out, or this will be an insurance nightmare," I said to Shane.

He has used this as his opportunity to rib me incessantly on being forty-nine.

Sometimes I dish it right back, how forty-nine looks good on me. One might say I don't look a day over forty-four.

Monday, September 1, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5971-5989)

Nora, Beckie and their kids over for a summer hurrah
good smells in the house
an email from Denise
and her visit with us on the weekend
sangria on a Friday night

grasses cut
chats online
a creative, crafty friend
false eyelashes
a hair cut

tomatoes on the counter
burgers on the grill
Autumn Harvest and Lake and Lodge coffees
thoughts of others on woods life
abundant life and tears

lights around the pool at night
woodsmoke smells from the school room fireplace
mums for sale
the camera nudge