Monday, September 26, 2016

And still counting (9401-9438)

for butterflies gifted--Autumn, Abilene, Edie, Ken, Melody, Baxter, Ashley, and Mr. Shane
tea with Anita

delighted little hands and cheers for flights to Mexico
a note from Jennifer about butterfly friends
snoballs in the freezer

morning walks with Erin
schooling at home
meeting a new neighbor I've wanted to meet
a Bible study
texts with Amy

science on the swing
experiments in the kitchen
orange ginger mint tea
pumpkin spice coffee
sweet bell peppers

that Lanie taught Erin how to braid
fun updo's
book discussions with teenagers
southbound geese
a pool, closed for the season

a cupcake with Becky
her hugs in the parking lot
friendship, celebrated
the steep road that led into the woods
mailboxes in line, and sunshine upon them

a first fix for a tooth

and hopefully another fix soon
friends to carpool my kid
tea with Kellie
Autumn Story
our new mailbox

worship at church
cherry pit warmers
hugs from my kids
our new rhythm
woods life

a honk and a wave from neighbors
hints of a former season's woodsmoke seeping from the fireplace


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Day story

Outside my window, the bluest skies, cloud free. Warm temperatures. Leaves floating down, a preview of what's to come. Good old blue, covered for winter. So long, summer. Welcome, fall.

Giving thanks for dental fixes, clothes shopping with my girl, pumpkin spice coffees, mums for sale, and a faucet and a mailbox installed.

In the school room, planners lined up for a coming week's planning. This is the life.

From the kitchen, lots of baking. Ann's birthday is tomorrow and I'm thinking about a pumpkin something to celebrate her. Earlier in the week, I made a pumpkin butter. Buttermilk on the grocery list, and pumpkin breads in the very near future.

I am creating a tea cozy with Erin and a tote bag with Lanie. But more than that, a legacy. I am so thankful for this year. There is no place I'd rather be. Slowing down to be present with my kids.

I don't want to forget how she brings American Girls on walks with us. Acorns found. Butterflies freed. Hugs throughout the day. Their funny video skits. The books they write. And all the art. Or how when Lanie plays Love Theme, it makes me want to cry. Or when Erin works away at Ode to Joy, I know a passion is reignited.

I am reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch for middle school literature. Just finished The Pearl by John Steinbeck--his stories might just be some of my favorites this year. Listened to 1984 by George Orwell, Unglued by Lisa TerKeurst, and Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. A friend and I are about to start this one: Famous In Heaven and At Home: A 31-Day Character Study of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Michelle Myers.

I am hearing Lanie practice the piano. I love the peace in Sunday.

Around the house, a faucet fixed and Shane cut some wood to make a frame for me. The pool is closed, an oak is down. I, for one, am looking forward to cooler days, wool socks, and woodsmoke from the chimneys.

A view of my favorite things:

At the table--Shane and I have been revisiting hospitality. I'm so glad that he is supportive of my love of people at the table. More tea parties are on the horizon, and Friday dinners expanded. Looking forward to what will happen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In the happy

Morning walk with Erin, holding hands.

A quick run for groceries, and all of us carrying things inside ... Lanie curious what goodies we purchased ... and requests that I make her lunch. (Usually, Lanie makes her own lunch. Some days, Erin does too. But today, they want me to do it. Grilled cheese sandwiches and sliced apples.)

Four new butterflies joined the sky today. We held them, and they stayed with us so long that Erin took her lunch outside to visit with them. Their names: Melody, Ken, Ashley, and Baxter (after David and Anita's dog who was put down today.).

Read alouds about Monarchs and their flight to Mexico. We learned so much.

Walking trash cans up to the road, three of us. And the three of us, holding hands in one line on the way back.

Kellie wishing me a great day, and my response: "I'm so happy to be home this year!" Education going so deep, even the kids notice. And I notice so much more. An awakening.

Erin's return to the piano; her happiness as she plays "Ode to Joy" and she knows I love that one  best. "This song is impossible!" she exclaims delightedly, and yet she plays it again and again and again and finds herself practicing later because of her own joy.

A science experiment at the kitchen island.

A waggy dog and a bone.

Erin in my arms grieving Baxter's passing, and a science reading put on hold to hold her. Later, I show her the art supplies for nature journals, and she is ready to start. She wipes her tears. She finds an acorn on the ground for her first image and description. Lanie overhears and asks, "Can I do one too?"
  "Yes," I tell her.
  "Does it count for the review?" she asks.
  "No," I reply. She already is following a science curriculum. This year we added on other things outside the requirements that the kids enjoy without feeling any pressure: logic, Latin, French, science nature journals.

We make popcorn for an afternoon snack, and Erin asks for explicit instructions on how to make coffee so she can make me a birthday breakfast. "I like toast too," I tell her with a smile.

She plays "Ode to Joy" on the highest tinsel keys and it rings out like a life's soundtrack.

Thank you, God.

butterfly container in background and the word home in my hands

this open winged one is a male--see the black dot on the veins of the lower wings?

Lanie holds a butterfly

Things that made me smile (or laugh out loud):

~Erin's remembrance of reading Longfellow's Paul Revere's Ride and I hear her chanting a riding warning, "Courtney, beware! Run into your pantry!" And it was so odd and funny that we laughed out loud.

~Lanie telling Shane about the science experiment ... "And we used your water glass," she said, as he was sitting down to dinner and drinking from his water glass. "What?!" he asked. "We got you a new one!" she told him. So funny.

~An unexpected sweet treat (gluten free at a local bakery), split with a friend. I thought our coffee date was just a mom date. She had other plans for me!
Celebrating friendship

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Taking back Tuesday

It started last night when we needed a gallon of milk. Erin and I ran out to get some, and then heavy cream, peppermint patties and PUMPKIN SPICE coffee pods.

We ate peppermint patties in the car. Oh, how we love them!

This morning, a tea Tuesday and a special guest. I woke up to make pumpkin spice coffee to start off--the season's first (ACK! And then I got Autumn Story in the mail today and cannot wait to read it with Erin on the equinox). I fixed a batch of almond flour scones with mini chocolate chips. Then I went onto pumpkin scones, which called for pumpkin butter.

1 big can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup of apple juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of salt

(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

Heat to simmer, and keep stirring for 20-30 minutes. Keeps refrigerated two weeks--if you don't end up gifting it away to people you love (we gifted a jar to Anita and one to our piano teacher).

It's like apple butter. I used to take a spoonful of apple butter and mix it in with plain yogurt and a banana. Now I'm crazy curious to see if using pumpkin butter in its place would seem like eating pumpkin heaven.

I don't think I've made scones since we went gluten free. We were in for such a pleasant surprise.

I iced them with a homemade maple flavored confectioner's glaze.

It's only our second tea party. Anita joined us. She looked lovely. Her hugs nurtured. She soaked in all this place had to offer. She sat at the table set in the outside cove and we sampled scones and meringues and nuts. We poured tea and lemonade. And my heart felt so full when she went back for more, and the tea being her very favorite. (I sent tea bags home with her so she could continue to enjoy it!)

There's a lot of happy that goes on here. I write these things down and take the pictures because I forget. I forget faces and voices and words. I no longer remember the sound of my mother's voice, and her face is two dimensional, stuck in a firm expression of a 1990s photograph. There weren't many pictures of her. (I know she laughed loudly--Erin and I both take after her in that respect.) I forget how little my kids were and the things they said and the things I treasured about our lives.

So thanks, friends, for indulging me when I write down these precious-to-me things. Thanks for understanding when I take lot of photos and plaster them all over this space. I sometimes worry how it all comes across--if it seems too showy or glorified. It's just me wanting to hold it all--every thought and smell and feeling and image.

I forget. And all this life, it goes so fast.

mini chips, and almond protein

my mom's china

I cannot get enough of these

This beautiful woman is like a mother to me

Tuesdays for her--redeeming the day

Anita read poems to us and it was such a treat.


One of our butterflies emerged today. Erin squealed and named it Eddie. But since it was a girl (and we know why--it doesn't have black glands on the wings), we changed it to Edie and set her free.
males have a black dotted gland on their wings

I got to hold her!

We are waiting for these to emerge. Look at the miraculous and majestic beauty of green and gold in this temporary and disposable chrysalis. This is the stuff God does. There is great treasure hidden in vessels. It looks like golden thread woven all around.

It feels good to be free.

She took off into the pines and it was magnificent. We have thought of her first flight all day.


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Monday, September 19, 2016

New day

Got up early. Drank coffee. Listened to rain slapping the slate outside.


Kids sleeping in until 7:30 a.m. I had two loads of laundry done and a bathroom cleaned, literature notes prepared, a podcast reviewed, and was showered by 8.

Erin and I took a lovely morning walk. The rain had stopped, and she commented the temperatures were pleasant.

We held hands. We watched birds. I snagged a few pictures.

At home, she wanted to style her dolls' hair based on a book about updo's and buns. Then it was time to settle in to work. She did copy work for week three. We ate chips and dip.

"I love homeschooling. We get to stay home and eat chips and dip during school," she said. And my mind responded: on a Monday!

She wanted to draw a picture to accompany her writing piece. While she did, I read to her about Johann Sebastian Bach. We listened to his piece, Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, and upon further exploration, enjoyed the rattling, rich performance of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. We admired the baroque style of music, art and architecture. This all sparked from her music history. She practiced writing cursive B across a page.

There's still more to do, but I couldn't help but feel thankful that we have this year.

Lanie and history, writing and literature. She drinks a coffee. Later, she has me do a fancy updo, and I realize we need more bobby pins.

She's reading in 66 Books and old posts here.

"Do you ever look back and read this?" she asked.

I smiled and my eyes, they softened.

"I do."

"Do you like us better now or when we were younger?" she queried.

"I love it all."

And that's the truth. 

And still counting (9435-9472)

good Hoopla recordings (listening to Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst)

our favorite whistle song in the grocery store
baby chicks in hand
Monarch butterfly chrysalises as house guests for a bit
pumpkin spiced tea on the grocery store shelf
(and now in my cabinet)

dusk falling sooner
the slow fall of leaves
piano music in the rooms
a thank you note from Ann

her daughter's excitement over literature

my daughter's excitement over literature too
Trader Joe's peppermints
fabric for sewing projects
friends over for last swims
five miles walked
a morning out with Erin

French onion dip and potato chips
Becky at the house
her hug and friendship
a Wednesday out with my girls
a chocolate Frosty

1984 on Playaway
books in the mail
hot tea in a favorite mug
a full moon making its way above treetops
holding hands with Erin on a walk

her hugs
dance for two

a picnic in the field with favorite friends
Linda at the table
a Sunday morning feast

homemade waffles
a morning nap
last of the season's snoballs
books from the library

an after dinner walk with Lanie
good talks

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Because bacon

I was getting sick of pizza and pasta as a last resort (even though we did find an enormous bag of gluten-free meatballs at BJS). I needed more creativity in my menu planning. How was it I had thousands of pins saved on Pinterest, and I was still eating the same boring meals?

So I took out my grocery notebook, and working from the back towards the middle, started writing out the recipes I wanted to try from Pinterest. I wrote them out because, if you can imagine a homeschooler without one--egads--we don't have a printer at home.

We've enjoyed lots of new dinners. Tonight a honey mustard chicken with avocado.

Dressing: 1/3 c honey, 2 T grain mustard, 2 T dijon, 2 T olive oil, 2 garlic cloves minced, salt, and 2 T water. Mix together. Use half as marinade for chicken. Use the other half as dressing on the salad.

Then the salad: bacon, romaine, grape tomatoes, avocado, corn right off the cob, red onion.

I used chicken thighs and grilled them. I also added a few bell peppers to the grill because we've been loving grilled veggies lately.


Skirt steak, minced garlic, 1 lime juiced, 2 T olive oil, s & p. Make marinade. Marinate steak 2-10 hours. Grill. Throw down some zucchini, onions and peppers on the grill too. Eat your heart out.

Served up with a side of roasted sweet potato fries.


We had this on Friday with Linda.

rotisserie chicken, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced; 2/3 c heavy cream; 2/3 c milk; 1 c shredded cheese (used moz and parm); gf fettucini; 2 c steamed broccoli florets; and BACON.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Over Frosties

Yesterday I sat along the brick wall and enjoyed the sunshine. Erin came outside and asked if I wanted to toss a ball with her.

"Sure!" I said.

We played catch. On a Tuesday. And there was not a rush in any of it.

"Will we have snow days, Mom?" she asked. Last year, I was probably even more hopeful of snow days than my kids were because THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

It's September, and eighty degrees, and the pool is still open, and she's thinking of snow and sledding.

"I'm sure we will," I said, and knowing full well she wanted a day off to play.


Took the kids to a PE gig today. They had so much fun. And Erin came up to me at one point as she heard her favorite song (Firework by Katy Perry) playing. I had heard it too.


The girls were smiles and breathless and happy when we walked out.

"Can we do this again?" they both asked.

"Yes," I said. What a Wednesday can look like.


Kids hot from all the exercise, we drove to a nearby Wendy's for Frosties. I checked online earlier to make sure they were gluten free for Lanie. They are.

I got the kids each a medium Frosty and I got a small one. Their first spoonfuls and they were both exclaiming, "This is heaven!"

Both of them.

I smiled, thankful. Thankful for a morning off with my kids, on a Wednesday. Thankful that Frosties are gluten free. Thankful that such a simple pleasure felt like heaven to them.

"Do you think there are Frosties in heaven?" one asked.

"I hope so!" another replied.

"Yeah, I hope it's not all bread and fish!" one of them said. I held back laughter, and smiled at the thought of having a chocolate Frosty with Jesus. Smiled at my kids' anticipation of eternity.


She asked me and it touched my heart, her wording slightly different but the point of it this: can I still be a kid?

And I said, without missing a beat, "Yes, you can."

Monday, September 12, 2016

And still counting (9401-9434)

a tree down

an unexpected morning at home
a happy start to the school year
mums on sale, two for $10
a mug delivery

and a mug pick-up from the art teacher's house
a field of sunflowers on a sunny day

apples in September
skate night with Erin

Lanie at the table hanging out with me

morning walks
Diona and Kellie, poolside
kids and silly jumps into the pool
a lone frog named Robert
kale salad

her delight in Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge (James and the Giant Peach)
coffee wishes with Becky S
missing you texts with Becky P
Michi noticing my laughter, gone
tea cozy tutorials

an evening walk with Erin
her hand in mine
pizza on a Friday night
thoughts on community
home sweet home candle burning in the afternoon

fabric for a sewing project
peace in the "no"
a hawk's silent sail over the pool
a freshly cut lawn
the smell of wood, split

hot tea
burgers on the grill
this year, for us
and opportunities for real community