Monday, August 31, 2015

Open house to the past

Time sure flies. My sister-in-law told me their former, former house was back on the market. She showed me the listing. I think I had favorited it or something because one day I got a notice that there was an open house. We went yesterday.

I was excited to drive up to it. This house was a home base to us for many years.




We celebrated a lot of cookouts there with people we love, watched kids/nieces/nephews growing up there. I got married in that house. I had a baby shower in that house. I couldn't wait to show my kids the room where Shane first kissed me as his wife.

I LOVE THIS GUY

While Shane kept trying to shush my fingers from snapping pictures, I kept on (and would have done more and better if I'd had my camera vs a cell phone!). The kids adored Aunt Connie's former closet--such a great place for hide and seek. And the yard looked nearly the same. Truly, it was like stepping back just yesterday, though it had been ten years.

A lot has happened in ten years. And all those cookouts rang laughter in my heart, and tears in my eyes as I remembered so many loved ones who are no longer living.

home to the best cookouts



"I want to buy that house," each of my girls said at one point.

I fought tears--how desperately I wanted to reach back in time.

"Uncle Jeff and Aunt Connie always have the best cookouts," I said, standing on the patio, remembering.

I took a picture of the kids from upstairs down into the foyer, just like the wedding photographer did of our party in 1999.

so wild to have my kids standing there

Driving home, Shane asked, "What would you miss of our place?" But I misunderstood him.

"Oh, the kitchen!" I started. "The memories we made there. The big sky."

"No, not what do you miss of our old place. But what would you miss of our house now?"

And in just four years, a tumbling list poured out and we all talked about the things we love about our home now. The privacy. The peace. The owls playing in the front yard. Pool splashes. The love of neighbors. Frogs and woodland sounds. The smell of the fireplace in fall. That this is where our kids are growing up.

Lanie added she loves the red gate Shane installed in the split rail fence.

Erin spoke that she loves the frogs.

Time does fly. This summer has given me so much to think on with priorities. And urgency. About complacency, distraction, attitude.

And still counting (7437-7473)

the amazing sunset in my sideview mirror
library run with Erin
French videos in the back seat
Trader Joe's Fireworks chocolate

coffee in the morning
the people who provide community
Barb walking down her driveway
Lisa T and Ann K at the pool
kids running through the yard

happy sounds
Funbites in the mail
coupons
a good deal on Romaine lettuce
time before school starts

fun math with Erin
and her interest in learning French
an article about a French immersion school in 1975
thoughts on my mother
dew drops hanging on ends of tomato plant leaves, like glistening diamonds

excited hands grasping new school books
shaved beef bowls
chopsticks at dinner
the soft of the purple blanket on a chilly Thursday morning
66 Books

how good sleep feels
gf rotisserie chicken at BJs
coffee on Saturday
a walk with Linda
chicken paprikash in the crockpot

a pool for my feet
hope in a challenge
that big moon on an end of summer night
wine
homeschooling wishes together, things we hope to make come true next year

her love for shapes cut into apples
an open house to the past
good libraries



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pantry

It went from a beige and dreary spot (quite cluttered too), to a clean dream. When Erin saw it, she immediately camped out a spot for a cash register because she imagined a play space for her Beanie Boos to go shopping.

"I love the cans!" she said.

Never saw a kid so excited to grab a box of mac and cheese for lunch! I didn't even have to ask.

These pictures are the progress of it.

from mess to marvelous--and gluten free!
When Shane got home last night, I showed him the space.

"I even cleaned my paint splatters off the floor," I told him. I could tell he was looking to make sure I got it all up. (I didn't paint with a drop cloth. Probably not the best choice, but it was an easy clean up.)

"And you put pictures on the shelves," he commented. Because no guy would do that.

When my love language is time together, his is service. This room screams his love to me.

Happy heart.

I'm sure I'll relocate things--even pulled in a step stool for the kids to reach the high shelves. But this is what it looked like yesterday.

Memory

Facebook likes to throw pictures up in my sight: remember this? Three years ago.

She had all her baby teeth then.
Three years ago.

Erin.

She was starting kindergarten. I was the morning kindergarten language arts teacher. It was hard for her to share me with the other kids. It all worked out--it was a good class. I learned a lot too.

That gritty grin of hers, I didn't see the emerging personality coming through the way other people would. Another teacher would complain about her being too loud, or too chatty, or when uncertain, not answering.

Three years ago she was just my girl who still had all her baby teeth.

After I saw this, I thought on third grade. On a summer that was consumed. On learning to order priorities. On the very fleeting wisp of time. I really wanted to go back and sit longer under that walnut tree.

(Cleaning up in Erin's room yesterday, I held a little porcelain teacup and told the girls how Lanie and I used to have tea parties with her toys when she was two and three years old.

"I don't remember that," Lanie told me.

I wanted to stop the robbery of precious memories--time is a thief.)

I found Erin wrapped in a blanket on the couch watching Sophia the First. She tried to shoo me out of the room, but I said I just wanted to watch with her. She made room for me under her blanket. And when the show was over I offered, "Can I brush your teeth for you?"

"Ok!" she said.

Last night she gave me extra hugs. And I gave her extra kisses. And she didn't come downstairs for thisandthat, because in all of that, she felt tucked in.

Note to self: remember the things that need to come first aren't things.

Erin is creative, funny, sensitive, giving, fun to be around, a gift-giver, a shopper, a chocolate lover. She loves big splashes and silliness. She draws and films and writes stories. She loves dogs and loves to help me in the kitchen. She eats the dough off mixers and would eat chocolate cereal and Nutella sandwiches every day. Her friends mean so much to her. She is loud. She is chatty. She loves to laugh (often it seems like she tells me about her day in one long laugh).

I don't want to lose sight of the delightful girl she is.

Monday, August 24, 2015

And still counting (7386-7436)

Sometimes it's hard to work it out--places where you'd expect to find (love, inclusion, kindness, community), versus the places where you actually do.

a friend to catch tears after orientation
real community in unexpected places
inclusion
the reckoning of information
open doors

Lisa at our house three days in a week


backyard splashes
biggest smiles
Bento goodies in the mail
a panda sandwich press to give away

movie night for the kids with friends
a yes to CBS
a yes to math class
Sandy
painted boards on a garage floor

sunny days
the smell of field fragrance breaking through my thoughts (thankful!)
butterflies in flight
a shared memory on a timeline
looking through cookbooks on the couch with Linda

a good walk with Nora
a dinner invitation for Lanie
little red and yellow tomatoes with fresh mozzarella
basil from the garden
Denise at the door

the biggest ever pizza sauce
6.5 pound can

goodies in a box
little cookie cutters, gifted
adore!

a flash sale on Lunchbots
crickets and locusts

camera 2
unexpected messages in my inbox from Dad
chamomile tea to give away
pushing past anger
the cashier at Wegmans

Batman, forever
the pin at 5 Below
Erin's surprise party for Lanie
stickers in the mail
kale salad

early mornings, still
the smell of clean laundry
little green peppers growing in my garden
Abigail at the table
adore!

ice cream out at The Cow

a compliment from Marshall's Mom's mom
a summer shot of friends
Lanie with friends: adore!
pantry shelves completed
Erin's imagination to turn the space into a play world for her toys
her help in wiping down the shelves

a gig with a neighbor

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dear future owner of my house

Dear future owner of my house,

I'm writing to tell you our history here. The very skinny of how my husband got an urge to look online at listings, that turned into him printing out listings and picking up a brochure of this place and putting it under my nose ... and into my heart. This house with the crunchy fall leaves, and the tucked away feel, and the chorus of creatures outside our door. This house where we are third owners who love the woods and cozy rooms of an older style. This house whose street was situated between two crosses that lit up like beacons saying "this way" and we followed first with our hearts and dreams, and later with our feet and furniture.

This house was a transformation from first to second owner, from second to third. We wrangled woods and jungle here; and ripped out ceilings and floors; peeled off wallpaper and paintedpaintedpainted. I loved this house before it was yours. I loved that my children are growing up here. I loved how living here transformed my marriage and transformed me. I found peace and healing here. I found freedom.

This house was host to holidays, parties and swim dates. We homeschooled by the woodstove. Rode hills in snowy winters. Music filled these rooms through the intercom system and through both of my children playing piano. This house was full of love and happiness. And I wish the very same for you and your family, whenever you move here.

This house didn't have a modern pantry, so I converted a closet into one. I wanted to tell you that my husband took a day to measure and cut and hang the shelves. I painted them white because I wanted a bright and clean space. The kitchen may be the heart of a home, but the pantry is (nearly) the heart of my heart. This is where the provisions wait for our meals, parties, lunchboxes and giveaway dinners. So, it just may be a room full of shelves, but I wanted you to know how special it is to me. Not only was this pantry filled by the love and generosity of friends and family, this place is where I've been shaping my daughters and teaching them how to care for others and their future families. This is why I love the space so much--and because my husband built it for me. 

(I hope I remember to give you Cindy's recipe for apple pie. It is my favorite.)

Love,

Courtney

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Laugh

Around the table last night, Shane was telling me how he found long, painted boards at a hardware store near work. This, after we are making do with the not-as-long boards that I painted yesterday.

"Sometimes I walk around the hardware stores and just look at stuff and imagine what I could do," he said.

"I do that too," I laughed. Meaning, imagining what he could do around the house.

"I think my days for big project are over," he finished.

"Courtney could do it!" Linda said.

"Yeah, but it just might not be the way you think it should be done," I said.

I thought this was funny. Except for the part of having to bag the dream of a kitchen remodel.

***

I checked out Zulily at the end of the day yesterday and was bummed I missed out on a deal.

"Lunchbots were on sale at Zulily today," I said to Shane.

"Were they really on sale, or were they just priced to seem like a sale?" he asked.

"No, they were really on sale. I've been at their site this week looking at their boxes. I was so busy today I didn't think to peek at the deals and I totally missed out on the Bento Cinco. It was thirty percent off," I said.

He laughed. "Bento Cinco."

"No, this is good stuff. But it's so expensive that there's no way I'm buying it regular price. I'd need a birthday check or something for that!"

He howled. Then I howled.

"Birthday check!"

I appreciate his response. I do say things for effect.

"You're pushing fifty! No one's going to give you a birthday check!" he went on.

I laughed so hard I thought for sure I'd wake the kids up. And for the record: I'M NOT PUSHING FIFTY YET.

He laughed harder, "Not unless you take one of the kid's birthday checks!"

"Oh stop!" I said.

Friday, August 21, 2015

No baking day

I made these bars last week in an attempt to get Erin to try new foods. I figured since it had chocolate in it, it would be a winner. It mostly was. She preferred I try to blend the oats to a finer texture this time, so I did.

I tried my hand at making these bars (from Gluten Free on a Shoestring) in an attempt to save money and have a good protein snack for the kids. Shane and I eat them too.
I made a second batch today. It's a no-bake recipe, so the only cooking was heating up the nut butter, syrup and milk. Easy.

Chocolate and oatmeal--makes 16 bars


They're finished and packaged in the fridge for another week. Hoping to get my food groove down before school starts. So far I have the shopping part mostly worked out.

***

Erin has had a hard time adjusting to being gluten-free. She misses a lot of her cereals. I'm trying to get her involved in cooking and planning, and she likes that part--but not enough to try new things.

My apologies to friends on Pinterest as I've been clogging the view with Bento boxes and lunch food ideas. I don't ever think I'll be the mom who creates artful masterpieces, but I do hope to make it fun. I've found a lot of inspiration over at What Lisa Cooks--her lunches are healthy, easy and visually appealing. I love that she has other ideas than classic sandwiches. And really, reading about Japanese versions of Bento has been interesting. I think I'd like to incorporate some of those into my lunches! Serious: rice balls are the new mac and cheese.

(no paid endorsements or compensation for any mentions of websites or products)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

In my bowl

kale
romaine
carrot matchsticks
blueberry craisins
sunflower seeds
walnuts
thinly sliced red onion

blueberry/pomegranate salad dressing


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Number the days

I did our weekly shop today. I drove past the lane where I suspect Wayne Manor is. A few years ago, Erica and I were headed out for a trail ride and Batman pulled out in front of us. We followed his Batmobile all the way to a biking event.


He died this past week. I learned more about who he was and how he affected other people's lives. I felt a deep love and admiration for how he numbered his days. How he made them count. How he gave up his time for others. I felt a loss that he died, and fifty-one seemed so young.

I passed by his lane today, looking for any evidence of his memory.

***

At dinner this week, Shane and I talked about him.

"God gives us every opportunity to step in and do good, to make a difference in someone's life. We can take it, or we can pass it by. I don't think God makes us do these things. I think he wants us to serve willingly and cheerfully. And if we don't do it, someone else will," I said.

This was part of a different issue. Thinking on Batman, I saw the connection.

"What is stopping any one of us from walking alongside someone and loving them? This guy did it. Anyone had that opportunity, whether they wore a costume or not. We all could have done what he did."

***

His street looked empty.

***

I did our weekly shop today. A woman chatted me up the second we walked into the store.

"Did your husband buy that shirt for you?" she asked, smiling.

I was wearing my "I love my awesome husband" shirt.

"No, I bought it. I got him a shirt too for Valentines Day one year."

I ran into her in a couple of spots throughout the store. We smiled at each other because now we recognized each other. At the bags and wraps aisle:

"I'm following you," she said, playfully. She had a cart with kids, I had kids in tow. We were both looking at lunch containers.

"Are you doing Bento boxes?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. And we had a nice conversation on containers and food ideas. (I had nori hidden low in the cart so Erin wouldn't see.) I loved that we had opportunities to talk. And I wondered if you knew I homeschooled, would that have changed our dialogue?

***

We all have opportunities to do good and make a difference in someone's life. Large or small.

***

I had such a full cart that I felt for sure I was over budget. I eyed up the check-out lanes. I usually look for the longest lines to get in on. I saw a familiar face. Down the row another cashier was waving to us. I told the woman in front of me, "Go! She's open for you!"

Her smiles and waves back to me were so sweet. The cashier called to me too.

"I'm going to stay put. I really like her!" I said, pointing to the cashier whose line I was in. She smiled at me.

"I've missed you," she said to me. "How have you been?"

Ugh, that question. Me: no make-up, no shower today; eyes likely swollen from yesterday's relentless tears; phantom headache teasing.

"Good," I said. It's a new day. It's a new day.

I loaded my things, and she and I made small talk.

"I looked up and saw you and I knew you remembered me," she said.

(Oh, she had looked up and saw ME and remembered ME.)

I smiled. "I really like you." She is beautiful and pleasant and kind. She is living and breathing and feeling. She matters.

"I really like you too."

I finished up bagging (I rather like bagging the groceries).

"I work next Wednesday," she said. "Till four."

"I will see you then," I replied. "Have a great week."

It is so nice to enter spaces with people and have these positive interactions, to look into their eyes like that and see good in them.

***

Looking ahead into a school year--a new class and a new group. I think long on influence. There's a whole world of hate out there. And already as homeschoolers, they may not know the full exclusion of mainstream. I want to impress upon them: their words matter.

"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35, NLT.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The nesting

I try to think back to other times when it felt like things in life got shaken up--and did I always nest? Did I always hunker down and gather my chicks near to me? A protective huddle.

This summer knocked the wind completely out of my sails for sure.

The yard kicked my butt.

Adding Lanie's workload onto an already demanding course load kicked my butt.

A kid's sickness kicked my butt.

A kid's diagnosis and lifestyle change kicked my butt.

Any of these things alone would keep me busy. But all of it together = crack.

I barely got together with friends in June or July, and when I did, I wasn't completely there.

I'm so thankful that August brought some relief. That I could see some friends and enjoy their company and feel like I could actually relax. (and I whisper this because--are there those who don't want my load lightened? Does an enemy wait to catch and condemn me?)

Yesterday and today--out in the front garden trying to keep up with the tree suckers and weeds, battling mosquitos. This week, a co-op orientation. And maybe a friend to swim. But that's it.

I'm painting shelves and typing lessons and readingreadingreadingreading and cooking.

"Are you busy this week?" a friend asked.

And even though so much of this summer was glimpsed over the top of a book, I'm still hunkering down. Three weeks left until school starts. I pull at time and tuck it under my wing to keep it close.

I feel like quieting--the somber silence before the ruckus and rush and soar.

This song comes on, and I dance in the kitchen. Erin sits at the table as I slice up watermelon into two bowls.

Lanie comes down and asks me, "Have you ever gotten spiritual chills?"

It's (your) perfect love that sees us soar.

This is living now.

And still counting (7359-7385)

sunny days in stormy forecasts
Marshall's mom and her kids at our place

cucumbers on the vine
a handful of jalapenos
ice cream cones at play date
a sister calling me a kindred spirit
friends who encourage and build up

Denise
a bag of gf goodies
a box of paper
photoshoots, a fall line-up
packages in the mail

that Red Robin has a gluten-free menu
and a local bakery has gluten-free yummies
a weeknight meet up with Julie and Judah
a night shop with Karen So
the best ever roasted potatoes

friends I miss the minute they drive away
white boards in the garage
snoballs in the freezer
peanut butter powder
hand-me-downs for Erin

stickers in the mail
crinkly paper sandwich bags
a French rolling pin
yard work
an afternoon at the pool with my people

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thunderstorms, all day

It was kind of impromptu--how a "What are you doing Tuesday?" turned into a swim date, lunch and photo shoot. Then the forecast wanted to crash our party--thunderstorms, all day.

Texting back and forth last night--reschedule? Inside pictures? We decided to meet up anyway, and I prayed that the rain would hold off for enough outside pictures.

Rain in morning. Wet grass. Cloudy skies. Humidity.

When she showed up? The sun did too.

A field trip.


Pictures.



Kiddos running.






The sun shined the whole time.


We sat and caught up, lunched, laughed and reminisced.

After hours, when they left?

Thunderstorms.

(Mostly sunny though.)

I love when friends let me take their pictures.

(Thank you, friend.)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Jehle

Someone posted an old photograph on Facebook of a high school graduation--sometime early 80s? A comment about the conductor leading the school band. I recognized his face. In comments, his name. Another wrote he died recently.

I looked him up online and found his obituary. A remarkable man whose life was defined by music, his pursuit and practice of it. There was no question what his passion was. He was 64 when he died.

I got up and cleaned a bathroom. I started a load of laundry, stripped the bed linens. Drank coffee and sized up the school room. My kids are still asleep. Laundry tumbles in the washer. My coffee is cold.

I think long on legacy, pursuits and passions, influence.

And still counting (7329-7358)

good reads on parenting/perspective on the internet (this--oh; and this!)
her 7-lb weight gain in a month

how healthy she looks
a really good pizza crust
four years here
a photoshoot with Erin and her Beanie Boos
and a pup who snuck in

Kelly T. and her girls over for a swim

chocolate chip bread (winner!)
my laundry room
pizza from a neighbor
My neighbor's lunch: she fixed me a cheese and fruit slice. YUMMY.

she went out and bought us their favorite gf pizza

we stopped by just as she was serving her husband lunch--and wine--oh, the life!

her gorgeous lunch
snow boots in the mail

Kellie and her crew over for swimming and cookies

Linda at the table
her hugs
red wine
red, white, and blue streamers in the wind

locusts and crickets, a fall symphony
cucumbers on the vine
blackberry vinegar
kale salad
Shane

Erica's gift and thoughtfulness
close up of bracelet
weeks still left before co-op
a year home with Lanie
pressure off--50 tips from a veteran homeschooler (yes: 43 and 50)
a fun trip to Rita's with the kids





and a clerk who asked me if I wanted sprinkles =)
Holy Spirit chills during worship
this song

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Priority

I think lately God has been showing me what's been trying to take first place in my life, at the expense of serving at church, friends for play dates, time/patience with my kids, etc. While the summer was overshadowed by stress and health, it turned out to be a (really) good thing. I had time to evaluate what was putting the most stress on me, and how it was affecting each portion of my life: church, home, family, friends.

This coming school year of schooling Lanie exclusively, a learning curve of gluten free, home/yard, friends, church, co-op--it will definitely be a lesson in boundaries and discipline.

I realized this summer that I'm a pretty good mulitasker, but I have limitations too. Sometimes I get sucked into comparing my life with someone else who appears to be able to juggle what seems to be so much more. But I know our circumstances aren't identical, and they pay a price too. It may be their health. Or their marriage. Or their relationship with their kids. Perhaps they don't know their neighbors, or just go-go-go so much and feel exhausted.

For me, I need peace at home. I want a great relationship with my kids; I want to enjoy them. I want to spend time with my husband--he's my best friend. I like having a (relatively, I mean, come on: we live here, in the woods, with pets) clean house, a tidy yard--because I like how it makes me feel to be here. I like having friends over--and I love it when they don't want to leave. If home is off, everything is off.

Sometimes I think my word for the year should have been balance. Or boundaries.

Lately, I've spent more time with Erin. We read, talk, cuddle. I've taken pictures of her Beanie Boos as she shares creative ideas she wants to implement. When I said yes to her, her response was, "Really?!" She was so excited.

she held the backdrop

it was her idea to put a cloth underneath the toys

This is gold. (I'm so glad I didn't miss this!)

Really looking forward to the school year, despite outside demands ... and because of them. (I just sorta wish summer would stretch a few weeks longer.)

Buckwheat groats

Generally with (them), I am invisible. They will not make a peep about any event in our lives. Not a congrats, or comment or even a like. Not on the first day of school; not a recital; not a birthday; not Christmas. I'm kind of used to it. So when I wrote to them to tell them of the health discovery and changes in our household, I didn't expect a response. Why would I? Our lives have passed without acknowledgement.

So it was a surprise when, in fact, there was a response in my inbox about our gluten-free life. Something to the effect of "How's it going? Does this mean you won't be making the sausage dressing at Thanksgiving this year?" (I would have called it stuffing, despite technically being incorrect.)

I had a good laugh.

I responded that there was gluten-free bread, and that I should still be able to make the sausage dressing.

But for fun? I thought I might have to serve up a side of buckwheat groats.

I found a really interesting book on gluten-free crockpot cooking at the library. I like it so much, I think I want to get my very own copy of it.

Despite its name's implication, buckwheat is not a wheat product and does not contain gluten.

A tidbit from this treasure:

"...buckwheat groats is a dish native to Russia, and while by the eighteenth century it was a peasant dish, it began as a dish for the nobility. From the twelfth to fourteenth centuries the word kasha was almost synonymous with the word feast." Gluten-free Slow Cooking by Ellen Brown. 

And when you take a dish from peasants and nobility and link it to feasts, you win my heart. Ellen Brown--I love your book.

This year's menu might look a little different--I'll still make Cindy's apple pie (with a gluten-free crust), and the sausage dressing will hopefully hold the spotlight, but I'm also enjoying considering things like German chocolate pecan pie bars and toasted marshmallow-topped pumpkin ice cream pie with a gingerbread cookie crust (both from Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone). And buckwheat groats. Do not forget the buckwheat groats.

Though, the things we'll miss have not escaped us either. Lanie recently asked what our new tradition would be at Christmas, since the annual pizza and cookie-as-big-as-your-hand is out. We'll find something. Maybe the kettle corn they serve up hot and fresh at the ornament store. Or we'll do something else. And cookie swaps will be gluten-free only to avoid cross contamination. I might even just have some friends over for coffee and gf cinnamon rolls or something.

(No paid endorsements here folks.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

In a year ... a look at the fourth

Thankful always for God's goodness, provision, protection, and love.
Friday night dinners

happy

happy

the hot air balloon that first fall--thanks, God!

peace

the captain's bell surprise

all the little things, making it ours

His wonderful surprises

Looking back at a fourth year here, foot hovering over the start of a fifth. In a year, we closed the pool for another season. Started second and sixth grades homeschooling at co-op. I began teaching Medieval Great Books.

But around here, we replaced the living room fireplace insert, stacked four cords of wood, wrangled the woods back a few feet, took out the front landscaping trees, removed a hot tub to create a cozy nook, repurposed some of the flowering gardens to plant vegetables and phlox, and redid a pantry for a new gluten-free lifestyle ...

Four

cozy nook

last fall on Lanie's birthday
We hosted another Thanksgiving with Dad, Linda, Lori and Denise. We had lots of snow fun. An Easter egg hunt. Gifted cookies to our neighbors and exchanged texts and happy waves. We've had an occasional playdate, sleepovers for the kids, a friend to come trick-or-treat, weekly Saturday coffee chats, and so many Friday night dinners.

I think back on that first year here--how I felt so overwhelmed by the projects--there were parts of the yard I refused to look at or photograph, though now I wish I had taken a picture or two. I felt overwhelmed by the feeling of living in Joel and Cindy's house. Each paint stroke felt like I was erasing their fingerprint and making a clean slate. (And if you know me, there was an element of sadness in that--because I remember still literally wiping the fingerprints off windows and walls at our former house.)
Cindy's style, our stuff. (August 2011)
White paint and Weimaraner

I remember the day Shane showed me the brochure to this home, and I watched the online video until my own feet entered through the door--it grabbed me. Funny too, because when I think of what it was (so very different from what we were), sometimes I think, "What was I thinking?!"

But it called to me "home."






Sometimes we talk about the quiet of an empty nest, and he dreams of condo life. I don't know how I could ever leave here. The kids seemed so small when we brought them here, and now growing so fast. I cherish every birthday, holiday, Friday night dinner. This house is full of love and memories. I'm learning and trying as hard as I can to be present in these moments and not distracted by so much that the beauty of now slips away.

We had former neighbors over today for a swim and chocolate chip bread. They moved before we did. I'm so glad we stayed in touch. I also made a chocolate cake to celebrate today, but it kinda might have got a little burned. Not that the kids cared--you know, CAKE.

Thankful for four years here.

On, on.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

And thank God for pizza

I've made two pizzas using Better Batter. The first one was ok. The second one (dough prepped, refrigerated several days for a slow rise) felt dense and I didn't really like it, even though I tried to really hard.

I tried another flour blend from a new cookbook tonight. This blend was a concoction I whisked together over the weekend that used tapioca and rice flour, potato starch and a few other things. I had high hopes for it.

alchemy


I also snagged some almond flour at the store to try out (I made a quiche crust--meh; and a chicken parmesan--yum!). Baking a chocolate cake with it tomorrow, topped with marshmallow icing.

Anyway, back to pizza.

I baked two types tonight. The one with the almond flour was such a disappointment to me. The kids seem to like it at first, but Lanie didn't want seconds and Erin ate seconds but changed her mind halfway through. I ate my piece and thought about how much I didn't like it, and was seriously considering that the remainder of my life would be pizza free. (Not kidding.) I kept my disappointment to myself, as I didn't want to influence anyone else.

Then the other pizza was finished (the one with the rice and tapioca flours). It looked great. It cut great. It tasted great. I felt an insane joy. Ok, maybe not insane, but I was truly relieved.

People: pizza matters.

"This is really good," I said about fifteen times.

"I would like this even if we weren't gluten free," I said.

"I'm so glad we found a recipe we like," I went on.

I did most of the talking. Everyone else was eating. Except Lanie, who didn't even try it and cut out to watch The Waltons after she had eaten the almond flour pizza.

Erin had two helpings and ate them both.
 
I heart pizza

Friends, I think we found a winning batter. The best part? It doesn't cost a million dollars.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lucky seven

We had a follow-up appointment today. When she got on the scale, the nurse announced her weight, and I smiled. I knew it was up from where she had been.

"What was it last time?" I asked. The nurse checked.

My kid gained seven pounds in a month.

I have felt ecstatic all day. All this gluten-free living is healing her and allowing her body to absorb nutrients.

I think I told nearly everyone I know.

I feel so happy for her.

Wow, wow, wow.

And still counting (7291-7328)

big glass jars in the mail
her laughter while she watches her homemade videos on my phone
black-eyed Susans in a pitcher
David
three packs of chicken thighs

Klondike ice cream bars on a platter
the captain's bell signaling dinner (and dessert)
three pool dates in one day
dinner for sixteen
a family photo shoot in the field



a toy puppy named Oscar

a solid sleep
coffee
fat blueberries in a colander
a text with Kelly

(another) Kellie sitting at my side
friends over
cannonballs

frog launching (not really)
a full day with no stress

white paint

butterflies on the flowers
marigolds along the walkway
good books
a full and happy heart

a 17-yr-old cat asleep on Erin's bed
salad in a green serving bowl
frozen bananas with magic shell
salty sunflowers in a mason jar
waffles in the freezer

cookbooks en route by mail
a birthday photo shoot for a dear friend's son

happy wishes on David's 81st


hanging out at the pool with my guy
libraries

hugs with Anita
talks with Marcy
this day