Monday, October 31, 2016

And still counting (9568-9580)

interactions on the video team
Laura B in the parking lot--her smile and kind words
a dog bone for Nella on Saturdays

chats with a neighbor
video time with Julie
a warm Saturday for yard work
the new rhythm at home
a gifted book

and the friend who gave it
wood stacked
afternoon coffee
a skate night for Erin and Melody
book darts

afternoon break and a hot pillow

cross-stitch crafts, Lanie

oh, home

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Day story


Outside my window, lawn littered with crunchy maple leaves, acorns and oak leaves. I mulched them up with the tractor, and a windy day dropped a new layer. Thick and giving for kicking up leaves.

Giving thanks for the autumn smells, frost on shingles, the hum of the heater, the warmth of cherry pit bags and pumpkin spice coffee with cream.
frost on the shingles and that view!

In the school room, laughter and peace. Good times. We are making great and steady progress. Erin is thriving. Lanie and I are growing so close. There is time for rabbit trails and curiosity. There is time for undercover read alouds. There is time for sleeping late and breakfast together and play. So thankful for this time. A friend recently texted me asking how my school year was going. And perhaps I should have been more reserved, but my reply was an exuberant, "It's the best!"
"Little Women" lit discussion. Middle school. Good stuff.

These kids goofing during a read aloud.

From the kitchen, pumpkin breads and hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate on a Tuesday

And my dog

Gluten-free pumpkin bread

I don't want to forget Lanie's thank you note to me, nighttime rides with Erin running errands, the underscore of no rush and the peace in the days. I don't want to forget happy hearts over hot chocolate, and the laughter. How things fell together and community blossomed--returning to service at church and time to invest in others. This year is the richest gift to me.

I am reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, Entrusted by Beth Moore, and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.

I am hearing the background music of our vintage radio, the dog crunching kibble, the kids playing downstairs in the basement. Home sounds. Life.

Around the house, the Holiday Home Sweet Home candle burning, wood stacked and waiting for winter, photo sessions with friends this month, and finishing edits. Our family shoot this weekend. I got a plaid shirt.

A view of my favorite things:

At the table, Lanie celebrated her birthday (the other week) with an old friend and a new friend. Birthday song. Dinner chatter. After dinner talks with my man. Outside it's darker sooner, and the chandelier lights glow warm over our table for four.


Sewing is not my thing. I bought a sewing machine at our other house with grand goals of making two-story long curtains for the family room. That never happened. (Oh gosh, the time I tried to make curtains for Zach's room as a surprise when we decorated his space. Those curtains were a mess. He actually hugged me and thanked me sincerely when I bought store curtains and hung them up later!) Shane helped me to make Roman shades for our bedroom. It turned out, he did all the measurements and figuring for me, I pushed the fabric through the sewing machine.

I'm truly ok with this. He has his strengths (math things and figuring to name a few), I have mine. So, enter The Best Homeschool Year Ever, (I mean that part! That's another story.) and my grand goals of teaching the girls how to sew. Which means I have to learn too.What I lack in ability, I more than make up for in enthusiasm and perseverance. Lanie's project: a tote for music. Erin's project: the tea cozy. 

I found a good tutorial online that had pretty clear directions and pictures. I need that stuff. I wrote out the directions, as I usually tend to skim them and wing things. I made myself, painstakingly, follow the directions. I did. Well, to a point. And I tried not to get frustrated when the girls talked to me about all kinds of things that had nothing to do with tea cozies, measurements, or pairing right sides. They obviously don't understand the quiet and focus I need in tedious tasks. (As for the math part, I winged it when it came to seam allowance. Mostly because I didn't have my readers on. And because I might not have cared about being exact.)

Template cut. Fabrics cut. Things pinned. Lines sewn. Iron out (snicker). Pieces ironed. And then the assembly. It turns out that I mostly made the tea cozy (really, there was lots of stuff that happened with turning and stuffing and things, that it is truly an enigma this thing turned out, and turned out to be functional in my hands), and Erin wants to practice straight lines and understanding pedal speed before we do the next one.

There's always room for another cozy.

First try.

straight edge

this little mouse

first try

It fit!

Ready for tea! But first, coffee.

We're certainly not going into business over this because fabric is costly. And MATH and intense CONCENTRATION and DIRECTIONS. Although with one down, I suspect any future cozies won't take nearly as long.

I see fall and Christmas prints. And maybe something deep red and floral for Valentine's Day.

Truly grateful to women who put up step-by-step instructions with pictures. I admire their great talent and patience. Bravo to them all! Kudos! Godspeed! Amen! And truly grateful to my kids who waited patiently for weeks for me to get myself together to pull out the measure tape and sewing machine.

Monday, October 24, 2016

And still counting (9533-9567)

three women with large-print bibles
shopping for readers with Erin
Erin picked the last two

pumpkin bread

Friday morning online dates
the doctor who delivered my babies
windows-open weather
the moment the piano teacher began to play "Carol of the Bells"
Christmas music

history videos in the afternoon (Mozart, Abraham Lincoln)
this homeschool life
literature discussions with teens
and how Lanie wants to continue the talks throughout the week
the writers on 66 Books

Little Women
and limes at the table
the laughs and puckers
hospitality, blooming
Cindy's prayer

God's answer
video team community
cookies at Wegmans
my shopping girl

Wegman's cookies, as big as a hand


a flame, fanned
a calendar filling with community
woods walking with Erin
cooling autumn winds
a hound
Hound Love

Friday wines

the smell of the wood stack
puffy vests
this wonderland
the crunch of fall leaves under foot
sounds of my childhood

no place like home

I love all the seasons here

Lanie's hugs
friends to photograph

Monday, October 17, 2016

And still counting (9507-9532)

the honking sounds of southbound geese
foggy mornings
hot chocolate with whipped cream

under blanket read alouds

visits with friends this week
thankful for true friends
besties since kindergarten
I love their mamas just as much as I love these kids

hearts feeling full
errands with Erin

her welcome home the next morning
our hound dog

scavenger hunts, still
the pinkest of icings
birthday song

full moon drives for lettuce that lead to heart to heart talks
the crows

camera at church
the view from camera 3; later jumped to camera 2

Marshall's Mom
Beckie W

Becky P

a pastor stopping me and his intentional words that burrowed deep into my heart
an opportunity to get more involved in service

a former student bee-lining for me and the words she said that I will cherish
this girl, and fourteen years of motherhood she has brought me

Monday, October 10, 2016

And still counting (9475-9506)

sunshine returned
Miss Suzanne at the table
orange ginger mint tea
tidy spaces
a field trip with friends

phone chat with Lisa

texts with Nora
returned zeal for piano
Marshall's Mom on the calendar
steak on the grill
a last grape tomato from the vine

a tote bag, completed
a bench on a farm
the sunny skies

and drizzle days
grilled cheese and tomato soup

Nicole at the table
good reads
tears over Barnabas and Paul
and a God who went wholly with each

for fruit from broken things
a chipmunk sighting in the front yard
foraging squirrels
apples in a green bowl
a Beth Moore study

familiar faces in a women's group
a church home
gusty autumn winds
leaves raining


Sunday, October 9, 2016

On community

A candle, lit. Lesson plans, the week's at-a-glance, filled. A Christmas music start, and other favorites playing. Laundry spinning. I opened the bible study.

Outside, bluster and gusts. There is something about fall that speaks deeply to me of home. And whenever I think of my first home, it is always fall. Back to school. Chilly days and bike rides. Playing along a curb or walking with the moon. And leaves, always leaves. I'd rake them up in the front yard and make outlines of rooms, a floor plan of a pretend home. A place to park my bike. A kitchen. A family room.

I get nostalgic for that first home, something fierce. When Lanie was still a baby in my arms, Shane drove me there, and the great grace of the owners invited me inside. My eyes stung with tears. I don't remember anything but the burning and the overwhelming gratitude to stand in that place, one of the only places that ever meant so much to me.

A few years ago before Erin started kindergarten, the nostalgia hit me again, and we day tripped to old haunts. I stood in that yard again and snagged a photo of my children where my mother once stood, arms around me. I knelt down and ran my hand across the grass. (With the owner's awareness and permission, of course!)

Today, fall leaves spilling across the yard, lifted and tossed like confetti. I suddenly found myself craving home. I looked online, and that first home still belongs to the family who bought it in the 1980s. I smiled at the many years they've lived there, so much longer than my thirteen. I did a google walk down the street, in beginning blossoms of a spring once upon a sometime. I felt thankful I could be transported there in a second, and that I could look to the corner and the neighboring homes, however frozen, and my arms and heart ached.

The memories in that house, ones a child holds onto of joy and delight. Deep snows and birdsong outside a winter window. Jump rope. Book writing. Play houses. Azaleas and hostas. Summer evenings and a backyard made up of neighboring streets and blocks. That first home. How I want to go back there and absorb it all again.

I thought of neighbors, and especially Alouise, who lived behind us. I used to cut through her yard and jump the fence after school. She would muse, "One day, you'll be knocking on my door in your cap and gown asking if you can take the short cut!"

But we moved when I was in seventh grade. And I don't think I ever went back while she still lived there.

In curiosity, I googled her name. And through many tears, I read her obituary.

I remember going to her house unexpected, uninvited, but always welcome. I remember her drinking tea, washing dishes at the porcelain sink in her kitchen. I remember she gave me gifts and visited with me. She told me about the dogwood and Christ. She never married that I know of, and had no children. But she loved me, a neighborhood kid who lived in the house behind hers. And she didn't care that I brought my hamsters along to visit.

Day five of a Beth Moore study, Entrusted. This portion on page 39: "Keep moving and savor the fellow sojourners God deposits along your path, remembering to look back every now and then. A purposeful glance in the rearview mirror will clearly show how desperately we needed what somebody brought us."

And I am undone at the richness of life, community. Why is that first home so rooted in my heart? I think of Alouise, and Miss Mary, the Jacksons on the corner, Bud and Susan and their kids Angie and Sherry, Mr. Porter the mailman, and the guy that lived next door to Alouise and would hand out candy to all the begging children. I walked along all those streets as a child, and I would often meet people my parents never knew, and those people showed me kindness. The man who bought a pillow I was selling in a fundraiser. The group of bikers who let me crash their cookout and offered me water. Mr. Nanson's ice cream run at my request. The family up the street who kept pet squirrels.

"Show how desperately we needed what somebody brought us" ... during my family's turmoil. I think on those events, from the now perspective of a mother who fights for family and home, and I grieve the then child I was playing house while my family was coming apart. Raking floor plans and sitting at a neighbor's house, uninvited, but welcome. (God, how you carried me.)

I wonder what my children will remember of this community, here. Our neighbors, now. (And what do we add to their lives?) Janice, who brings down homemade canned goods. Helen and coffees at the table. And Miss Ivette who has special gifts for my girls. Across the street, the friendly waves, and the exchanges of Valentines. Our kids all growing up on this street. The cul-de-sac walks with my girls in the evening, and the Halloween scamper in darkness--Viviana who accompanies us, and plans again with her this year. The playdates we host all year round with long-time and new friends, memories burrowing into their hearts. Some will look back on their childhood and remember something about this--the crunch of leaves, the splash of blue, the captain's bell sounding, bikes and scooters on the driveway.

Home, and what makes a home. The power of community, the good and bad. And the awareness of a big God who brings lives together in one day, and separates in another.

Sojourners, all of us.
Alouise, 1925-2015. Thank you for being my friend. Welcome, safe, loved, included. You were part of shaping these words in my heart and in my home, and neither of us knew (then) the tremendous value our time together would have on a life.

My childhood home, how I smiled at their table and chairs out front! Tell me they have tea parties!

down the street

down the street