Thursday, April 30, 2015

Four days

We are wrapping up a school year and I'm trying to plot the remaining days for my class. Yesterday we sat around a table and the students ate their lunches and I just felt lucky to be part of it all.

"Did you get a ukelele yet?" one student asked me.

I fell in love with hers and she told me it was easy to play and a lot of fun. We looked them up together online.

"Not yet," I said. Thoughts on mulch and pool opening and next year's text books. "It's on a wish list."

"Wish list," a boy chuckled.

I smiled too.

Happy thoughts of L'Arbre Fee de Bourlemont to the plucky tune of a ukelele. I can't get the song out of my head, and I don't want to.

"Are you going to cry when we're gone?" she asked.

"Maybe at the end of year program, you know, after the song," I said.

I'm so looking forward to sunny days at home with my people and yard work and company over. But I'm also already happily planning into the next school year, with an ancient focus. Books on hold at the library, texts on order for summer reading.

"Where can we have a bonfire?" another girl asked.

"I've got a stick pile ready for one," I said.

"Can I bring my guitar?" she asked.



Cut the grass today. Happy to be back under sunny rays and field smells. A cardinal tried breaking in a few times, without success. My hound napped on the patio. A to-do for the day that bumped plans around, some into tomorrow. Four days off before school on Monday seem to fly by in no time. Glad I was able to grab a moment on the bench.

Our couch friends also gave us a bench set they weren't keeping
Weekend plans full of gardening.

Happy dance.

Monday, April 27, 2015

And still counting (6941-6961)

Denise over
dirt under my nails
blossoms on the apple tree
a neighbor's happy wave
a school year groove

windows to clean
the bay leaf plant
tulips in the yard
sunshine, unexpected
$5 pizza for dinner

buttery primrose
festive geranium
plants to share with friends
sunshine on the patio
fresh lemonade

a good day with family
fun pictures with my dad
hugs with Kathy S. at church
camera 2
Sam at church

another birthday with my dad

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Dad, Linda and Lori came over for lunch today to celebrate (Dad and Linda's) birthdays. I was skeptical about the weather. I was skeptical about the menu (and having enough). And if you know me well enough, well, then you know.

I worked camera 2 at church and came home to pull out the food and get things ready: iced tea, fresh lemonade, scented oils.

I made an overnight layered salad, chicken salad sandwiches, and a pasta salad. I got an assortment of lunch-size chips that looked so novel in a basket with red and white checkered linens. Dessert was a coconut cream pie (for Linda), a raspberry something-or-other with whipped cream, and lemon sorbet.

When they showed up, I guided them to the patio furniture where the hot tub used to be and we enjoyed warm rays shining down on us, iced tea and fresh lemonade. Nella chased after a baseball a few times. Linda and I walked around and looked at the garden additions and the holes where the subtracted things once occupied.

Dad showed me his new phone. He laughed at the pictures he could take of us that we didn't even notice. And then I had him look at the screen, flipped the image, and snagged a selfie of us. He liked that. So we did a fun one. And then everyone got in on it.

Linda and me

Dad having fun

My dad

All of us
Lunch was stress-free. Dessert was fun with his-blue and her-pink candles. I got Linda a gorgeous hot-pink-and-white flecked geranium. I got Dad a buttery yellow primrose (and a jar of horseradish mustard). (And this is why "time together" is my love language and not "gifts". I am terrible at gift giving.)

Dad is seventy-nine. Linda is seventy. Thankful we could all be together. Thankful that my skepticism was laid to rest with blue skies, warmth, and happiness. Thankful for a picture with them. 

(Note: I have no idea why some of the pictures look like we smeared white chalk on the lips and teeth. These images weren't edited at all.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The j-o-y

I love Wednesday because it's like an extra Friday.

I love the kids in my Great Books class.

I love medieval literature and history.

(I love reading books to first and second graders, too.)

I love sitting with high schoolers during the lunch hour and writing scripts and singing along to a ukelele.

I love the moms at co-op.

I love coffee after school.

cherry tree

I heart tulips


I stood on a chair today in front of my class because I didn't have a soapbox, and I lectured encouraged them on Hebrews 12, about running their race and finishing strong. Three weeks left.

I got teary with a friend who is moving on, how our lives crossed for such a brief time. Was thankful for her ugly honesty, a beautiful truth through refining fire, her vulnerability.

A woman spoke fluently to me in French today, and my head was giddy and glad to hear it. What a delightful surprise.

Another mom and I had what I found to be an unexpected jump into the deep end. I was thankful.

Thankful for the many opportunities to see into real lives, real struggles, real honesty, real friends.

Monday, April 20, 2015

And still counting (6892-6940)

a twice found dog
awesome neighbors
a good leash
pansies in a pot

Lisa and George
Pepto Bismol
peanut M&Ms
my Great Books class
their honesty and input

anointing and grace
Your power in my weakness
white tulips
Raul's time
John and Bruce

the pine forest
water walking with the girls
cheap rice
breakfast casseroles to give away
green grass

spring blooms
neighboring bonfires
Clorox wipes
blankets made by my dad

online sermons
fellow woods dwellers
pink lemonade snoballs with marshmallow

Karen So
the smell of onion grass and field fragrance
worship at church
races with Shane
a prom photo shoot

Nicole for coffee
dirt under my nails
snake sightings from the safety of my car
a race with Lanie for the coffee box
weeds to pick

baby foxes playing on fallen logs behind the house
Indian rice
a garden, half tidied
herbs gifted

a picnic in the field, for four
birds up in the air, so high
an afternoon nap
the hot tub, gone
the kids on bikes

Sunday, April 19, 2015


It's been more than a year, probably, since the treadmill died. I didn't use it much since we got here anyway--that was more of Shane's tool. He'd been toying with the idea of fixing it. We thought it would be good to just train on the hills outside. We could race each other.

Yesterday we were down in the field looking at vines to cut back.

"How about we race from the post to the top of the hill?" I suggested.

"No, let's run to the driveway," he said. That's even farther away.

We raced to the post, and he turned around and RAN BACKWARDS and STILL BEAT ME.

"You need to give me a head start," I said when we got to the post. "Don't start till I get to that tree."

I took off, and it felt like I was running through thickness. I was approaching the tree and I knew he'd be ready to go. I wanted to go even slower to hold him off, but at the same time, I had to pick up my pace. Good grief, I thought, if I was trying to outrun a murderer, I'd be gone.

I got to the tree, knowing he was taking off, and I didn't look back. It felt like the air got thicker.

"I'm a dead man! I'm a dead man!" I laughed and gasped and yelled as we tore up the hill. I did make it to the top of the hill and dropped, breathless, laughing. He kept going to the driveway.

Luckily, in a spiritual race, I know Jesus carries me in my weakness.

The past couple of weeks have been busy with service and hospitality, little sleep and several surprises. I was on the phone with a photography friend who was offering feedback on my work. I rattled off a greeting and update, only having 45 minutes to offer him.

"Sorry for such a brief window!" I finished.

"I just have one question for you," he said, measured. "What kind of coffee do you drink?"

We laughed.

"It's all grace," I said. A joyful tonic. I drink it in.

Running, not in my own strength, but His. The hill part, though, might require a bit more from me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sunny and 81

There's dirt under my fingernails today.

The smell of cut onion grass and field fragrance makes me smile.

So warm, I don't need long sleeves. How nice to not feel cold in the woods.

This day, plenty of sunshine, outside, work sounds. Birds singing, flowers blooming, cheeks pinking.

Thanks, God.

Linda brought me several herbs for this year's garden.

The crazy yellow

New stack



Shane is busting up the hot tub.

One day we were talking about to-do's for the year, and he said, "If it's not one thing, it's ten others."

He makes me laugh.

Friday, April 17, 2015


It's greening outside, and unexpected sun today means biking for her. She comes in, a pale face, and says, "Mom?"

I hold a waiting finger up and finish a call.

"You know .... ?" she starts, and I don't remember the words because new ones stand out. She comes to sit on my lap and show me the scrape on her leg. Her little legs stretched out over mine and I hold onto this moment of how small she is. "It didn't really bleed, but it hurts."

She leans her head against my should and I run my fingers through her hair.

"You're one of my favorite people," I say quietly.

"You're one of my favorite people too," she responds.

I touch her nose and look at little freckles. Look into her blues.

"You make my heart happy," I say.

"You make my heart happy too."

I smell sunshine on her skin.

"I will love you forever," I tell her.

"I love you, Mommy."

She's dressed for summer and we have a cookie run to make to neighbors who helped find Nella.

"You're my girl."

"You're my mom."

Heading out to deliver cookies. She's up and able. So thankful for my family.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hound dog

I heard her crying at midnight and she wouldn't stop. So I went downstairs and let her outside. She started crying again at three in the morning, and I got up and shushed her. As Shane was getting ready to go, he commented, "What's that smell? It smells like poop."

"The dog!" I said, and ran into the living room and turned on the lights to find she had the runs. All over her bed, and a few little surprises squirted ON THE WALL.

"Ugh!" Shane said. "Sorry to leave you with that. Gotta go."

He laughed and I grabbed the Clorox wipes and let the dog out. Little did I know I wouldn't see her for the next TWELVE HOURS.

Yeah, once her bed was all cleaned up and Erin went to feed her, I noticed the yard was eerily still. I called. I whistled. And then I heard her howls in the woods. The kids and I booted up, I found a leash, grabbed my phone and we went off woods walking.

We called the dog. She howled back. She was over the river. She was through the pine forest. She was at the high crest. I offered her a meatball, and she thought it was a great game and KEPT RUNNING. Down the next steep hill. With two kids in tow, in the rain, I couldn't do it. I sat down in defeat and prayed.

And wouldn't you know, God called that dog back and she walked right up to me. I leashed her and we made our way back home. When we got to the gate, she gave a strong tug to resist, and THE LEASH AND THE COLLAR SNAPPED. She was gone AGAIN.

A neighbor saw it all go down. He came out with another leash. The kids went up to the house. He and I walked down to the water's edge and called. She howled. I called. She howled. She was on the other side of the river and ran past me without even a glance, howling and hounding out of sight.

All day long, I called her, she howled. We could hear her from one end of the woods to the other.

It was a long, rainy search. Another neighbor gave me rides around the area to all out to her. And then as we were giving up for the day, I got a call from a guy who lives across the street from me telling me he had her. I ran down the street from where we were to find my miserable looking pup and we took her home and gave her a bath. It's nearly 5 p.m., not a stitch of work done for my day tomorrow. But thankful for her safe return, for caring neighbors, and for leftovers in the fridge so I don't have to do anything but heat it up.

Erin just sighed and said, "This day has been so long."

Monday, April 13, 2015

And still counting (6851-6891)

good coffee
sunny days
short sleeves
the view from the bench
the green season

daffodils blooming
kids on bikes
coconut macaroons
a photoshoot

images that made my friend so happy
props for my kids to enjoy
blankets on chilly gray days
clean clothes
bubbles sailing past the window

volleyball hangouts with Nora
hamburgers on the grill
the sound of girls giggling past bedtime
a full tank and a full car
a field trip to Medieval Times

that Erin could go too
and the Green Knight threw a flower to her
how she put it in a vase of water when she got home
pink lemonade snoball with marshmallow

for illness that didn't take us down and out
his birthday, a seventy-ninth
that Jesus passed the bread and wine to Judas
his example of serving others who look for ways to betray
a table to plan

the nasty note that showed up on my screen
Kristine catching tears
for our friendship since we were teens
closeness with Lanie
peppermint oil

tulips in a vase
the kids in Great Books
Andrea at my table on a Friday afternoon
the ring of the captain's bell
extra kids at the table

a movie night in the living room

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How it flies

That feeling when Monday is looking around the corner, waving through the window.

We kicked off a spring break celebrating an anniversary; squeezing in piano and volleyball; Easter celebrations Friday, Saturday, Sunday; dinners with several different families; yard warrior-ing and hauling; movies and popcorn and books--and nothing of the school variety; snowballs and snow shoots; a medieval field trip, meal and show; and then capping off with a weekend sleepover with friends. There was church. There was more popcorn. And, to my great amusement, after nearly four years here, Shane finally hooked up the DVD player to the the t.v. in the living room. (A student lent me a movie he really wanted to see--guess I just needed the right incentive!)

Tomorrow is a review with the county and I'm getting the materials together. All the while fighting a head cold and nausea that has been picking at me for days. I wish it would just hit and take me out instead of bullying me.

Looking forward to celebratory coffee and treat at Panera after our review. Of a countdown to the end of the year. And daydreams of picnics under walnut trees, trail riding with kids, summer splashes, field fragrance, and the full bloom lush life of woods living. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Playing with food

Got a food shoot in today.

you can see my reflection in the tray (whoops)

The kiddos got to eat some of the props.

Yesterday's forecast: sunny

Yesterday's forecast was the sunniest of the week, and the only real day to try to do outside things. I had planned to take the kids trail riding in the afternoon (ended up being a total BUST because of a deflated front tire that would not inflate for anything. Boo.). Instead, they biked around the property and I raked up leaves.

got the season's first blister, despite wearing gloves

taking a break

Erin and I sat on this bench and ate a cookie

so glad to be outside again

I needed this day

Our Easter pictures looked cloaked in brown with all the leaves from last fall. I raked up flower beds in the afternoon on Sunday, and yesterday finished dragging off leaves I couldn't mulch up with the tractor.

I found this cute pair just waiting to see daylight.

Rain in the forecast most of the week. Overbooked myself Thursday through Sunday, so Monday through Wednesday are my only chance to do some things I wanted to do. Sadly, putting off painting until next week.

I think I need another full week off.

At least.

Monday, April 6, 2015

And still counting (6819-6850)

spring peepers ushering in a new season in song
warmer temperatures

daffodils along the walkway
the last of the snow mound, melted
a wiggly dog squirming for a belly rub on the grass
winter wear packed away

emails from friends
a break
a friend I can get teary with
that Erin wanted to be "it"
a talk with Darby that made it all right

scripture verses: perspective and direction
our talk about hazy times, fading fast
this old, cold house
a great friend in Jiliann for Lanie
egg rolls, specially delivered

Your perfect timing (and how everything is encased in multifaceted glory)
sixteen years married
piano music in the house
discounted crafts
Easter egg hunts

layered salad leftover
half and half for coffee
a cork craft finished--our Friday nights with friends (thank you, God, for putting hospitality in our hearts--that we can use this home and our offerings for your glory)
tulips in a pitcher

David and Anita at our table for dinner
a good day for yard work
treats for the kiddos from Ivette
worship in section 4
abundant life

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The hunt is on

Easter 2012, our first Easter here.

The cherry tree

Joel's tree

That baby face!


Easter 2015, and they're off!


Coconut macaroons


Saturday, April 4, 2015


I was making grilled cheese for lunch today. Jiliann is such a dear at our table. Truly a special child. She said, "The only reason I'd stay (here) is because of you (all)."

I walked over and hugged her. She has the sweetest heart.

I went back to the stove, and heard her say, "I'm going to miss you."

I turned back and she was crying. And so I started crying too. I went back and hugged her some more.

Crying still, every time I think of them leaving.


David has been on my mind a lot lately.

I asked Shane if he'd mind if we had extra people for dinner tomorrow. He said he didn't mind.

I texted Anita to thank them for sending us an anniversary card of happy wishes and to invite them over for burgers tomorrow. Then I noticed I had missed a call and voicemail earlier today. It was David calling to wish us happy Easter. I called him back immediately.

"You know what I love?" I asked him.

"What?" he said.

"That we were both thinking of each other today. I love that!"

He laughed. (Shane laughed too when I told him.)

I told him I love him too. And the wonderful thing is, I know he will say it back.

The little things, the big things

In trying to cover the big things, I overlooked the little things. I had a menu planned--ham, marinated tenderloin, baked potato casserole, layered overnight salad, roasted carrots, smores bars and ice cream sandwiches. I cleaned the house and did laundry and vacuumed/mopped floors. We ran out quickly to Michaels where Lanie picked up a few things for her friend, I grabbed a cheapo bundle of fake flowers for the little jars in the bathroom, and scored some Easter crafts on 60% markdown. We had another stop to make to get the ice cream sandwiches from a local shop.

When we got home, there was still time to spare. I began to cut up celery and cheese cubes. I had completely overlooked any appetizer-y snacky things by trying to cover the big things. They were coming at five and we probably wouldn't eat till after six. I hoped it would do. The fixings looked so pathetic on that little plate.

Teena arrived with her group and we chatted and I cast a vague gesture in the direction of my very sad plate of offerings.

And then the doorbell rang.

I answered the door to find a neighbor's daughter standing with a plate presented towards me.

"My mom made these for you," she said.

And I knew what it was before I even felt the warmth transferring to my hands. Her homemade egg rolls.

I know I gushed a fool's gratitude. (Seriously, after having had these before, they are the most delightful homemade treasure I could imagine. I have secretly hoped and wished she'd make more to send over. And she did. Awesomeness.)

I walked into the kitchen with the plate and carefully peeled back the foil. I pulled out my jar of spicy honey and heated it to drizzle over the plate.

We had an appetizer, just like that.

With holy reverence, we each reached for a roll and quietly, humbly, gratefully sampled, dined, feasted.

"These are the best I've ever had!" one commented.

"These are really good! They're still hot!" another said.

(Yeah, seriously, they're that good--and so is God, to have a warm appetizer delivered by a neighbor. His timing is always perfect. This heart sings--He knows the little things are really the big things.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Table for nine

Teena came over with her crew tonight. We lit some candles at the table and dined on a feast. An early start to the day and systematic checking off of things that needed to get done. And it all got done. Shew. So glad for time that didn't seem hurried--in preparation or togetherness.

It was easily an hour from the last bite of dinner to thoughts of dessert. I got so lost in conversation with them. These are my favorite things: food and friendship at the table.

Lanie and Jiliann took off to craft bracelets and things on the Rainbow Loom. Erin and Kam were in and out, barefoot, of course. Bubbles. Slinkies. Swings and slides.

We had ice cream sandwiches for dessert. And I made s'mores bars out of Golden Grahams, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

She was getting her kids together to leave, minus one. I wasn't sure why I was sharing it with her, but told her about the reading I had on 66 Books this week. How Jesus was telling the disciples to recognize the times, and to remember Lot's wife--don't look back. This is in Luke 17.

"She looked back at the destruction and it destroyed her," I said. "So, you know, don't look back."

Teena told me how someone had shared that very same thing with her years ago when they were moving (out this way). And now, on the ready of another move, I was telling her the same thing. She started to tear up.

I walked her and her family out to the chorus of spring peepers--their debut concert today. The mild temperatures. A song. I hugged her goodbye.

Afterwards, cloth napkins still rumpled at the table. Chairs still turned for conversations. Water glasses nearly emptied. I grabbed the last of it and loaded the dishwasher.

The peepers are still singing their hearts out.

The kiddos are upstairs laughing.