Saturday, April 30, 2016

Drizzle

Friday morning, Cindy came over to swap plants for the garden. It was a drizzly day. She dug up some hostas. I gave her a lily and a bleeding heart. She gave me some plants of hers.

She had on white tennis shoes, and I accidentally pitched a shovel full of dirt on her foot. Ugh. We walked around the yard and walked through the house. We talked about a lot of things. She told me Joel is 71 and she is 61. She told me about her grandkids. She came inside to wash up her hands, and to brush the dirt off her shoe. (oops) Then she started cleaning my sink in the laundry room. I just laughed. It didn't bother me. I did tidy up a bit before she came over, but we live in the woods, and this place will never be immaculate.

I have weeds in my garden. I have weeds in the sidewalks. I have dog hair on the floors. And the school room has piles of books and paper everywhere. This is us. (Although, after next week, we are beginning a clutter and excess purge.)

We talked a lot, and I really enjoyed her. I hugged her hello and goodbye.

I was thankful that she showed me how the windows tilt in so I can clean both sides. Oh my gosh, I've lived here almost five years and HAD NO IDEA.

***

I baked a coconut chocolate cake for Lanie's math class party. It was the last day. She wrote her teacher a 2-page letter telling her how much she liked her and math. I'm thankful for these influences on my kids. I'm thankful for adults who exude gentleness and love. This is the kind of stuff that makes my kids thrive. This is what draws out their best.


***

Baked blackberry cheesecake bars for Miss Linda. Her birthday was Friday. I'm so thankful for these Friday nights with her. Thankful for the community that God has surrounded us with.

***

Sat with Erin on the floor by one of the season's last fires. I loved the heat. I loved the smell of wood smoke. We were reading a book about birds that we found at the library. I sat by the fire and she slid off the couch and joined me on the floor, slid out of a fussy mood and was lured into learning by beautiful photographs of so many birds. They fascinate her.

This morning, we read a bit of Anne of Green Gables (in the 350s out of a 400 page book!), and then she requested the bird book. So we read about nests, and matched baby birds to their parents, and learned about penguins before I had to scoot out and pick up Lanie.


***

There's no place like home.

Monday, April 25, 2016

And still counting (8632-8668)

a bench on the patio
warm sunshine
flowers in bloom
a friend in Lisa

read alouds on a couch
that Lanie lets me braid her hair
Erin's dozens of goodnight kisses
a comfortable bed
a good night's sleep

three Tuesdays
Allen T and Kelly
how he'd stop by during piano
and he liked tomato, basil, mozarella sandwiches
his place in our hearts and home

Denise
Fernanda and her family
Luana's friendship with Erin
last skate dates
last rainy play dates

a curriculum fair
shared stories
time with Lanie
Ann's hug
that man of mine

sunny skies
confirmation in words
strength in weakness
messages with Cindy
a birthday celebration


zip line fun
how the day was so full and filled her heart
a creek
bare feet
friends



a way to help out
hot tea in a mug
camera 2

Sunday, April 24, 2016

This thing called life

I couldn't sleep Friday night. The fullness of the week hit hard when I had time to quiet.

A rough day at work. Thoughts on community. Changes in schedules. A storm warning and wait. Goodbyes to friends who are moving. Word that a dear friend died, so young.

I sat up late in the dark with a blanket and grieved for my friend and his family.

I grieved for Erin as she processes goodbyes and changes.

I grieved for the severance in just a matter of weeks as we leave co-op; letting go of what lies behind and reaching, straining forward, stretching out for what waits ahead.

I remembered the faces of moms who drove off last year for the last time, and I thought long on that. Transitions.

This week was full of loss.

This school year was full of loss. And it was also full of learning.

I sit with the loss and the understanding: this was the race marked out for him.

rest, dear friend, in peace

This is the race marked out for her.
goodbyes

This is the race marked out for me.

Psalm 31:14-15, ESV,  

"But I trust in you O Lord, I say 'You are my God', my times are in your hands."


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Awakening

Today is the fourth Tuesday. (Can you tell I'm counting!?!)

After fixing up Shane's lunch and kissing him goodbye, I went back up to bed and set an alarm for 6:30 a.m. And when it went off, I silenced it and slept until seven.

This is the life.

Coffee sweetened with maple syrup (yum!). Sunshine in abundance outside the window. I put on a podcast with Andrew Pudewa and listened to his thoughts on read alouds and their influence on the word bank inside the mind. (Good stuff, people.)

"You have till 9 o'clock," I told Erin. Lanie was already off and running. Erin went to play instead.

I looked over pages I have for next year, calendars, lists and resources. I sipped at coffee.

I considered the HAS (homework assignment sheet) printout from the co-op. And since Erin only attends for two classes anymore, I realized these weren't tasks that we needed to do today. In fact, as I considered my printouts for next year and the requirements we have this year, I felt a deep peace in cultivating a love for learning, instead of a checklist focus.

At nine, we read some Anne of Green Gables, and after two chapters, Erin begged for a third (mostly because it was about puffed sleeves!). Instead, we switched over to science and sat outside on the bench to read.


The sun felt good. We watched the birds at the feeder. We watched a hound dog in the sun. We heard the scamper of squirrels. A ladybug flew by. Bees were busy. I'm so glad cicadas haven't emerged yet. I don't have the heart to tell the girls this plague is coming, because the bees are already enough to elicit shrieks of terror.

Summer's so close, I can feel it. The warmth of the sun on my skin awakens me. I can hear the bird song so clearly. Maybe because we've tuned our ears to listen in the quiet. Maybe because the feeder is a welcome mat to these flighty friends. Maybe because there are three homework Tuesdays remaining.

Erin and I finished reading about snails, slugs and roundworms, and closed the book. She went into the house to finish a math facts page, and then she was off to illustrate her favorite character balancing on a ridgepole, a la Anne of Green Gables.

Monday, April 18, 2016

And still counting (8589-8631)

a good review
a month of school left

free curriculum samples
a cozy bag for my dad
spring temperatures to mow the lawn
blackberries for $1
the moms in math class

a way to help Lisa
a friend's kids in a play
Alan and Kelly
friendships that last
good podcasts

a pair of binoculars to use
bird watching with Erin and Lanie
worship during the week at church
Kevin's loving legacy
inspiration

a meet up with a potential tutor
gladness
a hug from Rebecca
Becky S in the parking lot
her strength and example

pumpkin muffins for snack
that man of mine
a bird feeder
quinoa cake
coffee pods at a great price

this home-sweet-home
Michelle
a playdate with Kellie
our kids' friendship
and our friendship too

balloons for a party
her little bird earrings
a tractor started
Lisa's kids in the afternoon
Aspen's love of mashed potatoes

80 candles on a cake
the look on his face
that he read the card aloud
a hummingbird feeder for his window
waves goodbye

playing giant Frisbee in the field

Sunday, April 17, 2016

His eighty candles

We had Dad, Linda and Lori over today for lunch to celebrate Dad turning eighty.

Cookout outside. Lunch on the patio. Blue sky. Great temperature. Bird song.

I made the chocolate quinoa cake for dessert. We put eighty candles on it. Shane and I had to use two lighter wands to light the candles.

I carried the cake into the dining room and set it down. Linda got Dad and we sang. The heat off the cake was pretty fierce.

"Next year we'll get an '8' and a '1' to put on your cake!" I joked.

Next year ...

We had cake and big scoops of ice cream, and he wore a hat like a sport.

He opened our gift to him afterward--a cherry pit bag and a hummingbird feeder/hanger/nectar so he could enjoy the birds outside his window. But first, he read the card I got him.

He read it out loud.

And as he read about (us) wishing God's blessings on him that he would know how loved he is, he choked up a bit, and I choked up a bit.

We were full around the table.

Before he left, he selfied with me.

He rolled down the window of his car and showed me some of the features he liked about it. We talked about getting together in June for Father's Day and Lori's birthday.

"See you soon!" I called out and we all stood along the driveway and waved. And they all rolled down windows and waved back.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Ears to hear

The kids and I took a beginning birder's class. We only had one pair of binoculars, but the facility had lots of extras, so that was good.

"All the bird feeders have been stocked recently, so we should see lots of birds today!" the instructor said with a smile.

There was a 70-something with our group, our lovely leader, a mother/daughter pair, a single woman, and me and my crew. We walked outside to get used to operating the binoculars. And then we were off.
Just starting out. Not the secretive trail.

We took a secretive trail into the woods where a lean-to stood. We sat and waited. Before I saw anything, I heard. It hit me: the chorus of birdsong. And not just a few, but a multitude singing out. I listened long, leaning in to hear each different melody. Something inside of me grew in that moment, and with its growth, the growing pains.

When was the last time I sat still and listened?
When was the last time I was quiet with my kids in the middle of nature?
When was the last time I focused my thoughts on seeking a single sight in the thick of a forest?
When was the last time my mind hushed the hustle of thoughts (to-do's, worries, stresses)?

I ached for the loss of presence, living either in the future or in the past.

After some time, we moved on and walked through a meadow. Then by a pond. And before very long at all, we were back at the start of our walk. We thanked our guide and looked forward to more adventures. 

We saw many types of birds whose identities escape me. But the biggest thing I learned, and hope that I never forget:

I learned that in the hustle of this past year, its pace and presence clamored and clanged so loudly in my head that the sonorous symphony all around me had been silenced.

Lord, give me ears to hear.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hit the ground running

I'm glad I looked at the calendar last night. Even though a friend reminded me on Monday that Lanie was responsible for group snack (for today), I completely forgot. Our homeschool review is today, so I have been preoccupied with getting our information documented and organized, prepping for my high school class, keeping Lanie current on her assignments, and now with Erin added mostly to the home mix, keeping her going at home (which has shaved my co-op planning time in half!).

All that to say--I'm glad I looked at the calendar last night. Although, at the time, I felt like snack was just one more thing to do. Lanie and I had plans to go worship at church and we were looking forward to it. I explained to her that I'd have to set an alarm to leave during half the time so we could swing by the store and get gluten-free pretzels and apples for snack before the store closed. But when half time came, we were so enjoying the worship and community of familiar faces, that I whispered to her (if it's possible to whisper during one of our church's worship sessions), "Do you want to stay? I'll figure something out for snack."

She nodded. We stayed.

Somehow, the alarm never sounded this morning, and Shane and I woke an hour late. I had lessons to prepare for today, finishing touches to make on the portfolios, (plus a shower to take and Erin to school) and a snack to prepare. This is one of the parts of being gluten-free that requires more planning than regular people deal with. It would have been easy to swing by a donut shop and get boxes of donuts. It would have been cheaper to run into the store and grab packages of (regular) cookies and chips like the other families do. But so many times I hear from Lanie how she goes without snack because no one brings in things she can eat, and she doesn't want to pack her own because she doesn't like the attention of being different. (We were prepared for that. We don't expect anyone to have to accommodate her restrictions. But it is such a blessing when someone does!)

So when Food Lion opened at seven this morning, I was there to get cupcake liners and oil. Got home and made the muffins, checking the Hershey site to be extra sure that cinnamon chips are gluten free (they are!).

It's a hopping day, and we haven't officially left the house. But I'm glad the snack got done. And I'm glad that Lanie will have some, and so will a boy in her group who is also Celiac. (Truly thankful for that pairing!)

Thank you God, for a diagnosis that led to healing. For a nearby store and enough time (even losing an hour's sleep!) to get things done. For access to gluten-free products. For a companion for Lanie so she doesn't stand alone in peer situations. For families who do think of her when they plan out food. And for a new awareness to food allergies and restrictions. Also, thank you for gluten-free cinnamon chips.

Monday, April 11, 2016

And still counting (8566-8588)

blossoms on the cherry tree
a woodpecker sighting
Erin reading by the fireplace
that she finished a book in a day
Jackie at the table

full days
building margin into my time
my dad's 80th birthday
worship
sleep

the green season up ahead
talks with others about homeschooling
faith
answered prayers
a heart healed

texts with neighbors
Helen's kind words
the difference here makes
herbs gifted
and dropped off by my dad

a full day's work
a glimpse back that didn't hurt
an invitation to a play

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Because he's eighty

My dad turned eighty yesterday.

He stopped by our house today to drop off some herbs from an herb sale he and Linda attended.
oregano, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary

I wasn't expecting him.

He drove a new car (new to him a few months now).

I snapped a picture of him by it.
eighty and one day

I thanked him for the herbs.

(I wanted to touch his face and his hair. I wanted to hug him.)

The kids came out and said hello.

We'll see him next weekend for a birthday luncheon.

"I'm so glad I got to see my dad today," I said to Shane.

"Why?" he asked, as if this day was any different than the other times I've seen him.

"Because he's eighty," I said.

(Because of the lost years.)

(Because of the silence.)

(Because I love him dearly.)

(Because he's my dad.)

Because he's eighty.

Monday, April 4, 2016

And still counting (8518-8565)

Sleeping in
relaxation
read alouds with kids

preparing for a new chapter
waffles
weeding
a first cut of the season
the smell of onion grass

big blue sky overhead
a big bird perched on the pool slide
sticks in the yard
coffee
peace

a friend who thought of me while she was out of town
and brought back gluten-free flour for us
$1 books in a trunk
hand-me-downs from mama to daughter
photos with friends

ice cream
real cream in my coffee
Friday breakfast for dinner
a waffle iron
spring rains

hanging out with Ann
a talk with Lisa
texts with Michelle
a hug from Nicole
words to me on a Wednesday morning

scriptures in 66 Books
homeschooling chats with families
a waggy welcome from their dogs
clean films
and how he said I didn't look 46

Christy to watch my kids
emails with Rebecca
piano
Denise
gluten-free labels across the shelf (for quick identification!)

Six homework Tuesdays left on the calendar

She goes to VT and thinks of ME
Celebrating Denise! I love her smile!
seventeen years with my guy
This guy. Love.

the chocolate coconut bread

that he rented a movie he knew I'd like
red wine
chocolate coconut bread

my kids
worship
texts with neighbors when the power went out
family game around the table while daylight lasted
apples in the fridge

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The lull

I spent a good part of the break pouring over books and researching curriculum for next year. We are pretty set, all in all, but I feel binge tendencies to want to do it all. It's hard for me to pare down literature. Trying to find ways to sneak it in for "fun."

At the library, I picked up some field guides for animal tracks and butterflies. While I was there, I passed by The Black Stallion movie. I grabbed it and put it in our bag. Later in the week, the girls and I cuddled up on the couch in the basement and watched it, because I had doubts it would be a book we'd get around to reading. The movie was a delight, truly.

The other night, Erin leaned against me as I read another chapter out of Anne of Green Gables. Lanie joined us.

"I like how you read it, Mom," she said. "When I read out loud, I just read the words. But they really come alive when you read them."

And then later, she told me how she read the book in fourth grade, but only parts because it seemed boring, but now she wants to read it again because I made it sound good.

I wondered to myself, is this what I've been missing? Looking forward to a home focus.

Celebrated with Denise. Did photos with Marshall's Mom. Also did some product photography. I slept in more often than I got up early. Had homemade waffles. Chocolate. Easter egg hunts. Watched the grass green up, and the cherry tree preparing to blossom. Winter lasts a bit longer in the woods.

It's been a week of sweet lull. Busy enough, yes. But there has been a wonderful welcome of time stretched out, seeing people I love. Time together, my love language.

Ann came by and visited yesterday, and it was so nice to catch up with her. I'm still so grateful that during her trip to Vermont she thought of us at the King Arthur Flour Co and brought us back gluten-free coconut flour. Wow, wow.

Today, celebrating seventeen years married to Shane. I knew six months into dating him that he was the one. And as each year passes, I love him more and more. Really and truly.