Monday, June 27, 2016

And still counting (8958-8991)

the royal gold and pink smear of a sunset sky after a storm
the smell of a school
Lanie on stage, all smiles

Lisa in the mornings
sleeping in
a call from Linda
the summer hustle
a movie with Michi

that ended up more about talking and laughing than watching
blueberries from her plants in the backyard
that last creamy-sweet sip of coffee in the mug
Erin's helpful heart
Father's Day memories with my dad

a new pool guy
a trim from Lisa with the Creaclip!
garlic hummus
Kellie at the table
requests from the kids to all get together

Karen St and a coffee date
Erin peddling her bike through sunshine, first of the season
streams riding the breeze
a waggy dog
blossoms on the cucumber vine

music in the rooms
curriculum in the mail
a hummingbird outside the kitchen window
the little ones on stage making me wish my babies were babies again
texts with Nora

thoughts on community
literature packets getting prepped
the red, white, and blue bread at Wegmans
gluten-free confetti cake mix
frog song serenading at night

five years
she got her five-year dance trophy!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wake up call

She wanted me to get her up at 5:30 a.m. today so that she could get ready for her dance rehearsal.

She had an idea of what needed to be done, and I followed behind with reminders: get your hair wet, pack your lunch, get your clothes ready so I can label them.

And then makeup. I tracked down a gluten-free lipstick, since there's always a likelihood that it could be ingested. 

She put the mascara on by herself. I watched as she gently brushed her lashes, so carefully. Watched the lashes darken and grow, and realized that she was growing too.

"So it's ok that I start wearing mascara now?" she wondered.

"Sure," I said.

That image of her putting on mascara. Gently and carefully.

I walked her into the building and then we sat in the auditorium for announcements. She leaned against me for warmth and let me put my arm around her. We sat like that and talked quietly between each other and laughed sometimes too, and I thought how lucky I am to have this thirteen-year-old love to be near me and lean against me and hold my hand, still.

She asked me to walk her back to her changing room, and I did. Met with the stage mom to introduce myself and warn against sharing lipsticks because of Celiac disease. I looked at Lanie.

"You good?" I asked.

"Yes," she nodded.

"I'll see you later," I said.

Came home to Erin, who was excited to bake a cake for her sister's big day tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

That moment

When (you) get new curriculum in the mail, and instead of finishing a weekly meal plan and grocery list for immediate needs, (your) mind is suddenly, furiously planning and plotting the opening weeks of a school year, still months off.

With possibly five years left of teaching Lanie, and a bit longer for Erin, whatever will I do when they are gone? I have loved being a homeschooling family, and even more so looking forward to being an at-home family this coming school year.

Fully understanding the saying, "So many books, so little time."

Monday, June 20, 2016

And still counting (8929-8957)

sitting across the table from a beautiful sister in Christ
her encouragement

and the conversation we had that left me feeling seen, understood and refreshed
connecting with someone on a deeper level
our talk on community
textbooks, gifted--such a sweet blessing! Big grins and joyful tears.
the wind chime song in gentle breezes

a new home for birds in the big garden
a quarter cleared
mild temperatures
a chat with Marshall's Mom
texts with Fernanda

an afternoon nap
red flowers in the window boxes

pizza for dinner
a good dog
books in the mail

Erin's cursive writing
a chat with Tracey
a string of sunny days
school shelves organized
a former student's request for reference from me

66 Books
camera 1
laughs with Shane
a good Father's Day
Dad and Lori at the table

a chat with David

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Around a table

I love this:

"Everything happens around a table." ~ Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.

I love tables.

We homeschool around a table.

during the school year, although it still has book piles on it today

We have guests regularly around a table for play date snacks, coffee, lunches, dinners, holidays.

When we don't have guests, we meet as a family of four around a table for meals and celebrations.

I've sat at tables I shouldn't have and heard things I shouldn't have (and even had a table turned on me)--and I found new tables.

One of my favorite books is called Table Life by Joanne Thompson, and it certainly changed my perspective on tables.

Tuesday, I shared a table with a woman I hadn't seen in about a year. We caught up on things, skimming depths, gaining insight, sharing encouragement. I loved talking with her. I felt seen, heard, understood--grateful.

I left our time together feeling encouraged, refreshed, rejuvenated, and delightfully blessed.

My time with her was a joy infusion.

Life giving.

Everything happens around a table.

Monday, June 13, 2016

And still counting (8902-8928)

good coffee
hours in the garden
reclaimed spaces
lots of time to think

Lisa's friendship
mulch in the big garden
cold rains
a thunderstorm

bug spray
ice cream 
salty almonds
lessons on community

a fragrant splurge--lemon and coconut

the herbs on the plant stand
a kitchen floor, mopped
a summer cut

picnic plans with Linda
sweet cantaloupe

the family of baby birds just hatched in the bird house
their sweet tinsel thin cries
the grounding scent of smoke from the fire pit
lightening bugs outside the window at night
longer days

a beautiful sunny Sunday to remember Allen on his birthday (6/12)
camera 2
the peony scented candle to gift away

Sunday, June 12, 2016


It was after 7 p.m. and she wanted to walk with me.

"Go on out and I'll catch up with you in a minute," she said.

I rounded the corner of the house, flattened myself against the wall and waited. She came running to find me, threw her arms up in surprise, never imagining I would get out of sight so fast.

She turned around and saw me. We laughed.

We passed by the neighbor's honeysuckle, and the air was full of its fragrance. The wind blew warm around us. Evening light. Leaf rustle. She reached for my hand and we walked in silence. These homes around us, a familiar vista almost five years.

At one house they handed out apple juice boxes at Halloween. Another house sits back on a hill. A dance instructor lives in one by us. And there's Miss Helen's, and we love her.

Near the turnaround, there's a low rancher, and tonight a father sits on the porch with his child playing nearby. She was such a baby in another season, and look at her now! So big! I waved low. He waved back.

Next door to them, the hospitality house sits quiet. I notice it, the quiet and stillness of it. It makes me think of the day when our table will be for two. When the laughter of littles moves on. Will our house seem too big?

We keep walking.

Looping around, we see the mom join her family in the yard. I look at Lanie. She smiles at me and leans in to whisper, "I remember when that little girl was just a baby. She was just a baby. Look how big she is now!"

And I know it too well.

Soon we're back on our driveway, walking into the woods.

She talks to me about mascara.

In the birdhouse, a new generation cries out.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer hustle

Linda was at our table last night.

I showed her a picnic basket I picked up recently, and the checkered cloths to go with it. I got dreamy over summer picnic plans.

I told her about the year the summer went so fast with SO MANY ACTIVITIES, that while it was fun and memorable, I didn't feel rested or refreshed. I told her how, after the orientation meeting that fall at co-op, I came home with my kids and determined to have the picnic I had envisioned all summer under the walnut trees, but had never gotten around to.

throw back 2013

"This year, you should come have a picnic in the field with us," I said to Linda. Realizing there was no back-to-school orientation signaling the end of summer and the start of a new hustle, I smiled and said, "Because now we have forever."

Well, not really forever, but we can have a picnic any day we'd like. July, August, or October, November.

Hello, summer hustle. I think we're going to get along great.


reclaiming the garden

summer love, the field

woods life, abundant life
There's no place like home.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Day story

Outside my window, a big pile of mulch to move and dark gray clouds. There's a storm coming. Thunder and winds.
The storm clouds aren't showing up as much in this image.

Giving thanks for time together with my kids. I treasure the time Lanie and Erin spend chatting me; hearing "Mom" as the start of every sentence or question; that whatever space I go to, they follow at some point; and that they love for me to stick around to spend time with them during their TV hour. I'm thankful these kids still like to be around us because we've shown them that we like to be around them.

In the schoolroom, tidied table and a sense of restoration. Most times I can even see the table top! Comfortably cool, with a book ready on the couch. Perfect for relaxing or napping.

From the kitchen, frozen blueberry smoothies topped with whipped cream.

I am creating a garlic and honey remedy for my (not) "swimmer's ear" medical diagnosis. It's allergies and inflammation--this diagnosis from a French major. Remedies from Pinterest and good friends because the medical remedy didn't work. At all.
there's a LOT of garlic in that bowl

I don't ever want to forget this time of life. I love being a wife and mom. I love having my kids at home.
these girls are as different as night and day--the life they bring to our family!

I am working on getting my yard where I want it: weeded and mulched, and reclaiming my house for good. While I'll be spending a good amount of time preparing for our homeschool year coming, I love that the effort goes toward pouring into my kids and home. (I heart home!)

I am reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, mostly. I have several requests to pick up at the library tomorrow. And my "in my face" column has some others I've started and am trying to get through. It's really nice, though, to pick up a book just because.

I am praying. Yes. For lots of things and people, but especially about being a wise woman.

I am hearing my kids talking about favorite shows at the kitchen table. I love their friendship. This will last them their whole lives.

Clicking around--my reading for 66 Books this week, two blogs I follow, curriculum and an ebook. (No affiliate links or other endorsements.)

Around the house, we are finding our summer rhythm. Getting grounded with mulching and gardening; catching up on favorite pastimes like photography, reading for pleasure (ack--the freedom, the utter freedom--and the limitless options!); having great talks with my kids; watching their interests emerge (the book contests, and Erin and her new "water colors" from markers and a wet cloth).
holding it like it's a bird

like this, it made me think of a squirrel (except for the bird legs out the back)

One of my favorite things, the sounds of my neighborhood while I'm working in the yard. A lawn mower in the distance. Birds. A neighbor's laughter. A dog barking playfully at its owner. Tranquil. Peaceful.

A few plans for the next week ... actually, I rather like a former year's promise not to book too much too far in advance. I'm keeping with that strategy so that I'm open for all the great things that come up, or I can choose to chill out at home with the kids and not feel like the days are getting away from me. I hope to make a morning date with a kindred, but that's all I'm carving out at this point.

And my own addition:

At the table, one colander used to wash lettuce, drain spaghetti and drain elbow mac for the kids' mac n cheese. Lanie cracked us up with, "We'll call this the Courtney Special, you get mac and cheese with a spaghetti noodle, a piece of lettuce, and ... a hair!" Apparently whenever I do salad and pasta, there's a piece of lettuce remnant mixed in with someone's pasta serving. And very rarely is there a hair--truth!--but I guess once or twice is memorable.

This post is inspired by my dear friend, Nora, who was inspired by posts by Sarah Mackenzie.

Monday, June 6, 2016

And still counting (8878-8901)

days of rest on the couch
afternoon naps
coffee with cream and sugar

read alouds on the couch with Erin
Lanie hugs
a good barbecue sauce recipe
Coke over ice
Christy's friendship

books in the mail
library books on hold
Pinterest loves
66 Books

Tylenol and Advil
cold compresses
herbs in the planters
home sweet home
Satsuma in the air

knowing who I am in Christ
banana chocolate chip bread, gluten free

Lanie's baptism

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Dear future owner of my house

Dear future owner of my house,

This place might seem like a big bite, but I assure you, you'll get used to it in no time. The green season always seems far away and you'll find yourself anticipating the lush. I always did. I love how green it gets. A friend of mine called this place fruitful, and it is in so many ways.
potted thyme from Linda

cascading beauty of oregano on the herb stand

red for window boxes
blueberry bush, someday

I hope you'll learn to appreciate how the sun feels on your skin, how the breeze refreshes, and what a delight the pockets of field fragrance are. It never gets old, at least, not for me. It is a recurring joy that I'm sure more than once my neighbors have witnessed from their windows--my silly grin. (I started cutting the grass our first spring here as an anniversary gift to my husband, and it fast became a privilege and pleasure to take a task out of his hands.)

This is the life--the woods life, the abundant life.

Today, I sat on the little rolly bench and scooted my way down the walkway picking weeds. There is nothing like the gardens with their full blossoms, mulch thick around them. Something about the abundance of it, a delightful design to eye and heart. My oldest daughter walked alongside while I weeded. She chatted me on and on about her favorite episodes of The Waltons. She told me about the shows that made her cry--and there were many that moved her heart. I loved this time with her (she's thirteen, and just baptized last night).

I wanted you to know how special this work is to me. The weeding, the mowing, the mulching, the planting and the pruning--it's all been heart work, the very hands-on, hands-full caring for a home--relational seeds planted too, time invested in my people (family and friends)--creating a place of beauty and welcome. But also, the beauty and memories of nurturing a family and cultivating relationships--the quiet talks and times together, the splashes, the bonfires, the play dates and the cookouts. It has made us stronger physically, spiritually, relationally.

I grow thankful more and more each year.

I hope you will too.

With love,


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My child is a writer

Actually, both of my girls are writers. Lanie learned through IEW in co-op. She is systematic. She appreciates guidelines. She likes a checklist. IEW works for her.

IEW makes sense to me in reverse, as many things do. I don't know how to bend my mind to think like that. It frustrates me. It feels tedious. It feels forced. 

Erin started IEW this past school year, and it nearly silenced her. She hated writing. She hated co-op. She became despondent when it came to writing. I took her out of the class at the last quarter. We tried to work on it at home, with the same dismal results. She was quiet. I found I was doing more suggesting than she was writing. We both felt hopeless. It was hard to push a protocol I didn't enjoy or consciously follow. Despite its success for Lanie, I knew it wasn't going to work for Erin.

As I've researched curricula for next year, I found a product that really spoke to me. I listened to a talk the founder gave, all the while nodding and agreeing with all she said. She spoke about freedom and creativity and grace. When she expounded on free writing, on a safe place to be creative, I felt my heart swell--YES!

And when a mama from the listeners recalled how she felt she had wounded her children's inner writer because she focused on mechanics over message, my breath caught. I thought of Erin's poor grades because she didn't check all the boxes, or spelled something wrong, per her tutor's requirements and the constraints of the curriculum and rubric. I felt my heart sink.

I looked over the top of my computer screen. I thought long on lessons learned last year. I thought about Erin. She is creative. She is vivacious. She is free.

"Show me your book again?" I asked. She is entering a story contest with Lanie and another friend. She's been working for weeks on it. (Both have.)

I looked at her book, endeared with its rampant exclamation and abusive capitalization. And I laughed at the entertainment of her story, because my kiddo has a wonderful sense of humor.

My child is a writer.

a book about old ladies and a spider

She laughed so hard about this scene

her computer drawing

her headshot

about the author page

magnizen and fashon--and it's perfect (Bam Bam books)
My child is a writer.


One thing I love about homeschooling (outside of a co-op situation) is the ability to move at our own pace and choose products that meet our kids' individual needs.  It's interesting that one product can be perfect for one child and not ideal for another. IEW is great for a lot of kids. Like, most people I know love it. But just not Erin. And that's ok.

Rock on, IEW.

(No endorsements or affiliate links.)


She just came up to me.

"You know how you love something and then you stop doing it and then you start doing it again and you love it all over again but even more?" she asked.

I nodded and smiled.

"I'm getting that feeling for the Bam Bam books. I just want to keep writing more and more and more!" And out she skipped.

Rock on, Erin.