Monday, November 30, 2015

And still counting (7921-7965)

a hug from Sandy
a break from co-op
home with the kids
the hum of heat
Lisa for a chat

her girls hanging out with my girls
New Year's Eve plans
good sleep
packages in the mail

time with Lanie
all those birds in that tree--looked like leaves fluttering
a frumpy fleece jacket
hot coffee in my hands
strength in the Lord

another Thanksgiving with my dad
days home with Shane
his hand in mine and a pretty sunset

laughs around the house
breakfast pizza for lunch and dinner
family traditions
Grandma Jane
kettle corn

Christmas ornaments
Erin's love of the season
understanding Lanie
rainy days
warmer weather

books to read
sleep-in mornings
five (co-op) days till Christmas break
the love of sisters in Christ
popcorn and a movie with the family

cranberry gingerale for my dad
gray days
a place for Lanie
whatever Monday holds
the goodness of God in all things

Christmas ornaments crowded close on a branch
candy canes
old recipes

Sunday, November 29, 2015


We put our tree up yesterday and did the annual ornament shop. In all the years past, we would go out for a cookie as big as your hand and a slice of pizza from Wegmans. Being gluten free meant holiday traditions and staples needed rethinking.

And that's ok.

This year, we got a bag of kettle corn that was freshly popped outside the nursery. I thought I knew where a coffee shop was in a nearby plaza, but got it wrong, so we skipped hot chocolate and coffee. But next year, I'll make sure to know.

The kids got home and excitedly hung ornaments on the tree.


I was putting away the Thanksgiving dishes. Some shelves held magazines of my favorite food publication: Everyday Food. It's out of print now, but I loved the perfect sized cookbooks that I got every month. At the other house, it was one of my favorite things--to get the magazine and tune out the world and turn page after page of new recipes.

On some of the covers, I wrote the names of my favorite meals held in that edition. Several of these foods were staples to our menu: banana chocolate chip bread (a playdate feature and welcome loaf to new friends), chicken parmesan, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, plum cake, and chicken penne pasta.

I went through years of magazines. I ripped out pages of things that were old favorites, and I kept pages of recipes we can still use now.

Still, I felt a little sad.


There was gray smoke coming from the chimney when Erin and I got home from a quick run to the store today. Fire in the fireplace. Warmth.

We fixed up some popcorn and put on a Christmas movie. The four of us and the dog in the living room.

Outside it looked wintry gray.

I thought on things.

An address label from our former house fell from one of the magazines.

New traditions in an instant and old favorites left behind.

How the kids hung Christmas ornaments, sometimes several crowded close on the branches.

My dad and his love for the cranberry gingerale we had this year. I bought him a bottle to take home with him today.

Friendships and former friendships.

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Dad told me that he really enjoyed Thanksgiving, and I felt grateful.

I don't know why I'm so acutely aware of the brokenness in this world. Maybe it was that song. Or maybe because of Monday.

Friday, November 27, 2015

On black Friday

Slept in.

Had leisurely coffee. Two mugs.

Laughed and talked to my man.

Had lunch at home. Erin asked if we could put up the Christmas tree today. And the Little People nativity.

"I could play with that all day!" she said.

Outside was warmer than in my house, so I stayed outside. I saw a baby snake outside one of the sheds. I rode the tractor to mulch up the leaves. Then I grabbed a rake and started raking out the leafy mess in the front garden.

Christmas music is playing.

I got a Zulily delivery: some fleecy Christmas leggings (the uglier the better) and some kid-friendly essential roll-ons for the season (sniffle stopper, immune boom and germ destroyer or something to that effect).

I thought about how happy I feel, and how much energy I have, and how good it is to be home from co-op.

My mums are perking up, and the primrose in the garden is wondering if it's spring.

Picked up sticks in the yard, because one day these hills will be tracks for sleds.

The girls have played non-stop, save for the TV breaks they've had.

I'm so thankful for the peace and quiet and time home with this crew.

Hugging my man out in the garden when he was locking up the shed, I asked him, "Do you feel loved?"

"Yes," he answered.

Tonight, Thanksgiving leftovers, and packing up the few fall decorations I have to make way for the Christmas season.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Sometimes, it's a hit.

Sometimes it's a miss.

They say, "Don't debut a new recipe on a special occasion."

This year's Thanksgiving is gluten free.

Turkey and mashed potatoes: no problem.

Butternut bisque: a fave.

Today debuted a pumpkin panna cotta tart and cornbread stuffing.

monkey slippers

the new stuffing, I mean, dressing

gluten free

morning prep

The food was good. The time went fast. There were plenty of smiles and warmth. This heart: happy.

and thankful


that girl

this picture makes me happy

these tasted homemade

Erin set up shop at the door and sold several of her books to Granddaddy and Aunt Lori.

I snagged a selfie with Dad and Linda.

Thanksgiving 2015

After they left, Shane and I walked the trash cans to the end of the driveway. There was a beautiful sunset, and we stood at the end of the driveway holding hands looking out at it.

"How did we ever get here?" he asked, as we were walking back to our home.

Home, sweet home.

"Um, YOU!" I laughed. How Shane found this house, one of the three listings he stuck under my nose that day. And we'll never know if it had been the first one to catch his attention, because it seemed so insignificant back then. The insignificant day that would change everything.

Thanks, God, for glowy pink sunsets, my husband's hand to hold, family around the table, this old/cold house, a long driveway, hot coffee, and a great day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fashion statement

Someone posted about it online and I was curious. Looked it up. Mused aloud to Shane about it.

"That's a good idea," he said.

It's a service for people who might not like to shop, or have limited fashion sense (hand up), or just like getting stuff in the mail (me too!) where a stylist shops for you based on your budget and preferences, sends items to your house on a personalized schedule (or just as requested) and you can send it all back if you don't like any of it. Or you just pay for the things you keep--I think you get five items, a mix of outfit/accessory/outerwear.

I am a miserable shopper sometimes. Sometimes I love it. Sometimes I find things I like, but sometimes I don't. My closet? Grays, browns, whites and blacks. I will wear a pair of jeans out before I buy another pair. And if my favorite cut of shirt is on sale (and only on sale), I buy a few of them (and double the gray order). And then I wear those out too.

But a stylist? On a single income? How could this be?

Shane kinda gave me the nod to try it out. (At least, that's how I interpreted it.) I get my first order early December (I opted for quarterly delivery--and I'm not obligated to keep a thing or stay on that schedule).

"What style did you pick?" he asked, when I told him I'll get my first delivery soon.

"Casual Chic," I said, laughing a little. Me ... style ... because "Woods" wasn't a category. "I asked them not to send me anything frumpy."

This morning I got up, came down to make his lunch.

"Look, I drew you a heart," I said, pointing to the mustard. He had noticed some time ago that I stopped making hearts.

He laughed and commented on how it looked broken.

I went into the living room to get his old fleece jacket that I confiscated when we moved here.

"It feels (chilly)," I mentioned, putting it on, also remarking on how I know how much he loves this look from last year. And the year before.

"Wouldn't it be funny if they sent you an oversized gray fleece jacket?" he suggested.

I would have woken the kids up with my laugh if I didn't stifle it. He cracks me up.

(Side note: I met Shane in November 1995 when we had our first date. I love him.)

Monday, November 23, 2015

And still counting (7869-7920)

fog and drizzle
the chimney sweepers

knee high boots
my students' smiles
skate night with a friend
how Erin dances while she skates
80s music

rotisserie chicken
packages in the mail
a tart pan
cans of pumpkin in the pantry
snowflakes by mail

shopping by blanket at home
my waggy dog
God's strength
prayer texts from a friend
coffee with Jen

how her hugs are bear hugs
the giant rainbow
this was a STUNNER

turtle neck sweaters
my favorite cashier at Wegmans

white chocolate raspberry ice cream
homemade chocolate chip cookies
seasonal music on the piano
a coffee date with Becky, sans coffee
her heart and support

jingle bell pens
the smell of clean laundry
books in the mail
peace in difficulty

a fire
heat so hot
a hug from Becky P
camera 2

baptism services

Erica G next to me
play dates (code for visits with mom friends) on the calendar
friends who reach out
Nora's encouraging words
Marshall's mom on the phone

a Monday half day (for us!)
home with kiddos
cloudy skies
a turkey in the fridge

wine in the wine fridge
candy canes
wool socks
her safety

(no affiliate links)

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Holidays around the corner. The kids are thinking of Christmas and decorating. We usually put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"I don't want to put my ballerina ornament up this year," Lanie said. It's a beautiful glass ornament she picked out years ago. "I'm worried (a little friend) will run around and it will get broken."

"It won't get broken," I said. "(That little friend) isn't little anymore and doesn't run around the house. It will be ok."

She's thinking of years past and remembers the running. I'm thinking of her words over something that's special to her getting broken--a concern so great, she doesn't even want to take it out and display it for what it was made to do--this fragile object for beauty and joy.

The life implications aren't lost on me. I think of all the times I wanted to hide my heart because it felt fragile and people can be reckless even when they don't mean to be. Times I wanted to not take it out, not let it be seen, but keep it tucked away.

People can be really reckless with others. That kind of treatment knows no age limits or other boundaries. No one is immune to it in friendships, families, churches or other communities.

I read a book over the summer about friendship, and there was a part in it that read friendship is like putting your heart in someone's hands saying, "Here, I trust you with this."

I've held my heart out before, whether to have it rejected or dropped, made fun of or wounded with words. And there was a season I just wanted to hold it close to myself, not take it out to display it for what it was made--to love others.

But it's different now. The hurt of former friendships won't make me hide it away. It's stronger now, this heart. And while still capable of being wounded, I won't hide it away for a season. I hold it out and I hold it high. I don't hold it out to be abused, but I hold it out to be used by a good God who knows what he's doing.

On, on.

Monday, November 16, 2015

And still counting (7826-7868)

the wiggly-fingered wave from the truck driver as he rounded the bend
his smile that lit my smile, and how his grew even brighter
a frosty morning spread out as far as we could see
seat heaters
pumpkin muffins to gift away

prayers for words for Erin, that she would love language
crazy pants that make me dance
a waggy dog
joy in the Lord
trucks parked along the side of the road, hunters

life in the woods
friends who follow through
hugs in the hallway at co op
a family of deer grazing in the field
a song in my heart

encouragement by email from a friend I've never met
a drizzly day
getting it done
the hot pinks of a sunrise through the trees (stunner!)

a night drive with Erin and her animated conversation
pancakes and maple syrup
her hug in the lunchroom
her lesson in the best of
hugs from Becky P

encouragement from Nora
a Friday chat with Julie
skate night with Christy's family
leftover fries for my eggs
a really good gf chocolate chip cookie recipe

a meaningful talk with Lanie
and our new study that started Sunday
things to think on from Nicole
muffins in the oven
fuzzy socks

manuka honey
the vive in La France
a first fire

Cam 4

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


We were leaving co-op yesterday and the skies looked like snow. I love gray days.

Today, a drizzly damp. I'm still in my crazy pants

and wearing a cardigan and lined boots. My nose is cold. I'm drinking a hot cup of Colombian coffee, with cream. I love the coming of winter.

Koselig, a term borrowed from an article I just read in Fast Company, implies coziness.

Next week, flues cleaned and wood ready to burn. It's burning season. And woodsmoke smells. And roasting marshmallows if we can scootch the dog away from the prime seat long enough to brown them.

A friend posted a map that suggests a snowy winter over our part of the country. (Like.)

I love being home, with a fire, with my people, even if it means home projects (haha)--it also means home and woods walks with a camera, and snowflakes and sledding. It means hot chocolate and chunky infinity scarves and the hat that Nora gave me for Christmas one year.

The very secret of enjoying a long winter might well be a secret to enjoying life.

The Tuesday homework

Sitting on the couch, reading All of a Kind Family to Erin. A chapter about two cunning kids who take their pennies to purchase crackers (cookies) and candy. They plot to eat the candy in their bed at night without their mama's knowledge. Erin's eyes grew wide.

"That's a great idea!" she said. Already, the wheels are turning.

I watched her in amused fascination.

"That's sneaky and sinful," I said.

"No it's not, Mom," she answered. "That's fun!"

Must check Erin's bed for crumbs ...


History. Map work and a home project. (I am not a fan of home projects, especially after hours dedicated to constructing a mobile for literature.) This one on crop rotation. I wanted to write it off. Especially after we'd have to plot crops in a scientific order.

The thinking. The planning. The directions. This is equivalent to a mental torture to me--the one who hates multi-step directions. I'm really kind of a just-do-it girl.

We did it anyway and I didn't write off the project.

But believe me, it was tempting.


Time for coffee and Great Books.

Monday, November 9, 2015

And still counting (7791-7825)

glimpses of color bursts in November trees during the sunrise
grilled chicken
chocolate pudding
sermons online
the winter blanket on the bed

cream in my coffee
found things
the yellow leaves at the bend
skate night
a good day in Great Books

a green die
cream in my coffee
warmer days
a fun camera chat with Ann and Molly
cake mix cookies, gluten free
cookies and juice with Erin

hazelnut coffee
waves in passing: Ivette and Raul
Wegmans shopping
tart pans

Thanksgiving menus
how the sunrises look in November through the woods
video chats with Julie
a craft show
seeing an old friend (Stacey)

her hugs and beautiful heart
a necklace she made that I will wear with great joy
an owl necklace gifted to an 8 yr old--the thanks in her heart!
worship at church
a first-day sale

pumpkin muffins warm from the oven
warm pumpkin muffins

a lazy Sunday
pizza for dinner
a view of a field of geese on a November morning's drive
the difference here makes

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Out of the camera, into my heart

I planned on making these cookies a couple of weeks ago, but only got around to it yesterday. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to run a race across a wet bar of soap.

They are chocolate cake mix cookies with 3 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla, one package of cream cheese and half a stick of butter. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes. I put peanut butter candy pieces on top of mine.

Erin wanted to have a tea party. On my wedding day, I was gifted a sake set from a sweet friend. We don't drink sake, but this came in delightfully handy for tea parties years later with my girlies. It had been awhile, and Erin was recently reminiscing.

"We'll have one tomorrow," I told her.

When I dropped Lanie off at dance, Erin was waiting for me in the garage when I got home. I immediately pulled out the sake set, the apple juice, plates and cookies. Erin got napkins.

"One or two cookies?" she asked.

"Two," I answered.
People: her face

She chatted her sweet talk to me while we ate and then said, "Oh wait!"

She ran upstairs and brought down a card she had made and handed it to me.

"I made it last night!" she said. "I wish I had made you a gift too!"

Because this is what time together looks like. This is what time together means to her. Time together is my love language--and hers too (along with gifts).

Tables are rich altars for love offerings.

Thanks, God.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The book that made her cry

One of the things I wrestled with over the topsy-turvy summer was the bombardment of all things that wanted the spotlight in my life--and the sadness and realization that the one thing that repeatedly got the best of me was the one thing that never even cared about me (or my family).

It's been great having Lanie at home this year. She loves it. I love it. And still I struggle at holding that thing at bay as it pulls and grabs at me to make it number one. I push it back to its side of the line.

So many times Lanie had said to me over these years, little hints and insights into her heart: a favorite song, activity or book. I was too distracted to give her my full attention. She had a favorite story or two, Treasures in the Snow (it took me over a year to get around to reading it) coming first to mind, I knew I had to make the time for this small slice of life. When my (once) elementary girl would tell me about her favorite story, I had to read it. And my (now) middle school teenage girl tells me there was a book that made her cry, I had to read it too.

Found Things, by Marilyn Hilton (not paid or compensated to share my thoughts or even read the book--unless you call the rich treasure of sharing a story with my daughter payment/compensation), reads across the back of its hard cover: Wishes are powerful things.

An ancients reading list of history and literature, keeping up with Erin's science-history-literature readings as well as grammar and math and geography, Lanie's own courses and, let us not forget home/yard/laundry/church/interests, I was finding it hard to get to this story. And something in me knew I had to do it ... now into a week of no extra renewals at the library and growing late fees. Last night I buckled down at the skating rink and read as much as I could, head nodding and bobbing from a 3 a.m. wake-up.

I finished it just now.

I finished the book that made Lanie cry. She was sweeping in the kitchen when I looked up with tears in my own eyes.

"Did you finish it?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, refusing to let tears fall and blinking them back quickly.

"Did you love it?" she asked.

"Yes," I said. Because I love her--and the story was good too. One of love and sacrifice and forgiveness and hope and children welcome to the fold. I asked her, "What part made you cry?"

Though I thought I knew, and she confirmed it. But for me? It would come at the very end of the book, in the acknowledgments:

"And to God who makes all things possible, all things new."


Monday, November 2, 2015

And still counting (7761-7790)

Raul's flaming maple tree
his invitation into the barn to see his remodel project
gift and treat filled containers from Ivette
Janice's text that she bought gluten-free candy for the kids
Helen's hugs and treats and our promises to do coffee soon

porch lights on and neighbors who enthusiastically greet my kids on Halloween
Viviana, Erin and Lanie running (and glowing) in the darkness
how their laughter and happiness rang out through the neighborhood
a hair cut with Michael
and a glam date with Erin

Happy Meals
and a small Coke
giddy kids handing over chocolate to me
how the sunrise lit up the tree tops on the way
blackberry balsamic vinegar to gift away

a morning with Lindsay and picture perfect kids
Ivette's honking hello to us down at the tracks
a family shoot

sermons that encourage me to press on
knowing I am seen when (she) looks through me

who I am in Christ
sweet apples
an extra hour
Cindy's memory of white mugs

Erin's peppy chatter
hugs and kisses from my kids
new photography projects
gluten free candy and pancake mix from Ann K.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November days

Lovely are the silent woods, in gray November days ... 

It's November 1, and I enjoyed every minute of a fall-back hour. Felt a pull to reclaim my house when other things have been grasping and grabbing for the first-place spot. Focusing on home.

Dusted shelves, changed sheets, cleaned bathrooms. Lit the satsuma oil for a cheery scent in the house. Tackled the school room piles. Cleaned off the bench of all my former favorite cookbooks and muffin tins that had been placed there in quarantine since July. Taking them to store in the pantry.

Ordered supplies of tapioca and buckwheat groats. Menu planned for the week.

Today's plan: photo shoot with tripod.

Next year, I need to schedule us in before November, but this year I'll enjoy barren trees and gray skies. November is one of my favorite months--maybe just because it's the start of cozy season.

Fires in the fireplace. The gray skies. Hot drinks that double as caffeinators and soothers. November has a home, hearth, heart focus. Thanksgiving dinner. A family ornament shopping date. A preparation for Christmas.


Thankful for these smiles.