Monday, October 16, 2017

And still counting (11,041-11,056)

Sandy and her serving heart
the wreath on Linda's door
sleep
leaves, fallen
his arms

David and Anita
shopping with Erin
Marshall's Mom
green apples in the fridge
birthday pie for Lanie

a lovely day at home
Comfort and Joy in a mug
Beethoven
Moonlight Sonata
a sale on dresses

Monday morning drizzle

Erin's watercolors

birthday pie

improvisation--inverted bottom crust to make a top

not too shabby--but the taste! Delicious. And pie for breakfast, no doubt

Love these girls

Happy 15th to the sweetheart who made me a mom and changed my world


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Al chiaro di luna

A recent full moon flooded the room with light. I was sleepless in the glow. Night colors, grays. I got up and went to the couch with a book. I scrolled through Instagram. I stared off long in thought. I grabbed a blanket my dad crocheted and leaned against the back of the couch, curled and held. Lamp light covered me.

***

"Do you notice halos?" she asked during the exam. I hadn't thought of it, truly. This whisper thin veil thickened gradually. I didn't consciously notice the color fading, the smearing of light. All I knew was that nothing was as bright as it should be, and I craved big light more and more. I thought it was because we live in the woods.

I saw how the letters bled in view, like long and pointed stakes. When she raised the light, I noticed the halos.

Now it makes sense the world seems wanting vibrancy. And now it makes sense, my urge to overcompensate in picture edits, deep saturation.

A friend mentioned, "Once you have the surgery, you'll see the colors you've been missing." And I smiled in anticipation, because I know it will be true. And I know it will be a feast.

Not quite the new lenses I was expecting.

***

Stacks of books, and a fun favorite called Weelicious Lunches (not compensated to mention)--a delightful find at the library one day, soon became an eager purchase for my shelf. A dinner: white chicken chili. The lime juice brings it home. I added brown rice to the bowls because it was more like soup than a stew.

***

I drove past her house recently on the way to an appointment. Wreath on the door. Her front porch, sweet and inviting. Like she was home, if I'd just knock. Only she's not home anymore. I passed by later on the way back to my house. Heavy hearted.


***

Lanie got her piano recital song for May. Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I listened to it online, alone, and cried. The second I heard the first notes, I knew it deeply. Slow. Somber. A grief. A surrender. A resignation. An understanding. An end.

***

In a year when everything feels like it came apart, restoration is not where or how I hoped to find it. Fortunately, I am loved by a God whose hopes and plans are way better than mine, and I can wait upon him confidently. Maybe the restoration is not in holding on, but in letting go.

Monday, October 9, 2017

And still counting (11,013-11,040)

for Erin's heart--how she ponders lasts for my dad and sister, lasts they would have had in their home and not even know it as lasts (she and I think on lasts alike)
for a beautiful October day
Angela, after six years

her guidance and expertise
my kids running through their grandfather's yard
yellow roses, still in bloom
their intense scent
memories of Linda

his Last Quarter sign down
papers signed
the pleasant scent of Dad's house
underbrush aflame in autumn colors
pizza for dinner

a mug set out for me in the morning
good weather for a field cut
podcasts during yard work
Erin's smile and delight at a room rearranged
clean windows

texts with Linda's sister
hugs with Lanie
eyesight
the hum of the dehumidifier in the basement
a day with Erin at my dad's, sorting through things

a lettuce wrapped cheeseburger
that man of mine
the smell of pot roast after a day away
a full fridge
the difference You make

Monday, October 2, 2017

And still counting (10,971-11,012)

the lift and swirl of fallen leaves in an autumn breeze
cooler temperatures
thick crocheted blankets from my dad
chalk art on the patio
Denise

washi tape, gifted
gluten-free bagels
a hug with Diona
a pot of potato soup
October lesson plans

a trip to the science center
a gorgeous sky
a familiar skyline
the feeling of normal
my kids

cake in the mail
birthday wishes
a movie, gifted
good friends
a sleep-in day

a great visit with my sister
how she remembered my birthday with song
Holy Spirit
a dehumidifier
sweet grapes

pumpkin muffins
time in the Word
good books
cards in the mail
Marshall's mom

Christy
homeschooling
healthy kids
better days
enough

blue, covered and tucked until next summer
a Sunday nap
the sounds of my kids playing outside
long sleeves
October, for no particular reason at all

being 48
Rebecca's poem

Monday, September 25, 2017

And still counting (10,936-10,970)

hound song in the woods (and not my hound!)
last of summer splashes in the pool
a monthly calendar of meals to make life easier
gray shirts
cookbooks from the library

Gilgamesh, always
night walks
step goals, reached
Sofia's hugs
Marshall's Mom

friends who don't see a line between authenticity and oversharing
the smell of food on the grill
the crunch of spent maple leaves under foot, one of my favorite things about here
a nap with Erin on the couch
two fireplaces, cleaned and waiting

pumpkin spice coffee
the chimney sweep who reminisced on Beowulf
his pictures in the cloud
grasses, cut
The Iliad

her request for me to stay home
cutting back and not filling up the empty spaces
the guys on the video team who chatted me at the table
the people who've stepped forward to show me we're all in the same chapter
unity

a wood stack along the bricks
an unexpected afternoon home
grace
books in the mail
the monthly meal planner

a good night's sleep
Kathy and Janet
Chad and Don
introvert doors
October lesson planning, nearly complete


Friday, September 22, 2017

Day story

September


Outside my window, I watch the steady raining of leaves and acorns. They crunch under foot. The maple leaves, all spent, are my favorite. I think of my childhood and how the fall was full of the sound of crunchy leaves.

Giving thanks for slowing down. For days when I sleep later. Days when I do less. Days when I get the luxury of looking through a cookbook, menu planning, and the mindless decorating of a planning page with washi tape.

In the school room, a good start to the year. Instituting pretty consistent office hours. I cried over Gilgamesh (a favorite!). Loved revisiting ancients in a new way. Thankful for the rich resources found in Beautiful Feet.

From the kitchen, a creamy, sweet mug of pumpkin spice coffee--today, the first of autumn. I don't know where spring and summer went, truly. I don't even have many photographs to document the days. Desperately trying to hold onto the present. A month of menus planned brings me peace.

I am learning to let things go. This summer taught me that I can't control circumstances or opinions. I can't own fulfilling someone's happiness. I'm just doing the best I can with what I know and what I have.
 

I don't want to forget their joy at a family movie night. Tonight is a second time recently, and Shane requested ice cream. So I got some today at the store. I don't want to forget the evening walks with my kids and how they want to be with me and hold my hand. Last night, the three of us girls in a row, holding hands. Good life.

Around the house, it is back to the familiar. Lawn cuts, leaves, the chimneys cleaned and readied for a first fire. (Do you have any idea how this comforts me? Those fires and the warmth and the embrace of home. The woodsmoke smell in the air and on my clothes. It grounds me.)

I am hearing the quiet, and it's heavy in my ears.

A view of my favorite things:
a great start
 
goofing around

Cozzy asleep during a read aloud

2025

Erin's photo of a duck at Suzanne's

Jerusalem artichokes

what being outside does for her

hand holding with my high schooler

Friday wine night

fun treats for lunch bentos

the new video equipment at church


At the table, spelling tests to grade, a video on pyramids, hand-drawn maps, and blue tickets. I love teaching my kids, and they know it. Days like today, spent with my kids, I feel like the luckiest person alive. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

And still counting (10,929-10,935)

unexpected texts of encouragement in a hard week
Saturdays with Shane home

cookbooks from the library
sunshine
the piercing of bone and marrow
walks
hugs with Erin

Monday, September 11, 2017

And still counting (10,917-10,928)

the honking calls of southbound geese
the fragrance of the last of summer days
a good visit with my sister
paleo chocolate donuts for a first day of school

prayers for our year and hearts, heard
stickers on sale
and a teacher's discount for this homeschool mom
waffles for breakfast
a hike with Suzanne and my girls

cuddles while Erin was feverish
time at home
this family

Monday, September 4, 2017

And still counting (10,886-10,916)

time together: Sandy, Ann, Denise, Amy
summer vegetable soup
with tomatoes from a neighbor
cooler temperatures
windows open

this past week of resting
oh, the wrestle
a full fridge
Frank's dance
Lanie's happiness in a back-to-school 'do

66 Books
Rebecca for a visit
the cars in front of the hospitality house
an evening walk with Lanie
chocolate milkshakes

a transport driver who drove us to Chick-fil-a
lunch with my sister
good days with her
the letter from the holding company
a call to Tracey

acknowledgement as a daughter
bento lunches with my kids
gifts for a first day
composition notebooks
divider tabs

satsuma in the school room
cuddles with Erin
good coffee
home days
worship at church

routines

Monday, August 28, 2017

And still counting (10,854-10,885)

chips for my sister
my parents' grave marker selected and ordered

a day at the cemetery
$4 bouquets (for a friend, ok, and one for me too)
emails with Suzanne
hugs from Miss Pat, still
friends over to swim

a girls' night out with my children
new shoes for Lanie
a lunchbox
and a little pot
a library run

an afternoon nap
a friend's nighttime text, "Take care of you"
$1 spray bottle
that nesting feeling of home
one week left of summer vacation

taco rice, delivered to a friend
a cat named Butterscotch
tomatoes gifted by a neighbor
a night walk with Lanie
a phone call with Tracey

sale mums to take to a friend
a Saturday in the weeds
pumpkin muffins with extra chocolate chips
a parents' meeting for high school students
a free book

friends filling calendar grids
that man of mine
a sleep in morning
this last week before school starts
washi tape

Monday, August 21, 2017

And still counting (10,800-10,853)

home days--Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
slow days
the aches and pains
the tears
the tensions melting away
a chat with Jill

a field book, free, on backyard birds
a Dickens book
chips for my sister
her smile to see me
my happy heart to see her

a friend at the pool
hours in chat
losses and hopes
good sleep
forgiveness

Marshall's Mom!
her kiddos spilling out of the car
pool splashes
and the littlest one down the slide again and again!
lunches al fresco

the friendship mug
good talks
the eyes of a friend
and the safety to be myself
chicken lettuce wraps with red grapes

that man of mine
hugs from my kiddos
a read aloud on the couch with Erin
Friday at home and no transportation
catching glimpses of this heart reemerging

a fall photoshoot on the calendar
Michi in the rain
a bushel of apples
baked apples in the oven
cuddles with Erin after her scare

Miss Pat's hug at the store
a car in the shop
mandatory stay-home days
an off week resulting in a week off
a vacuumed car

the directors' meeting
a chat with Casi
pizza cooked and waiting for me when I got home
a favorite shampoo
ice water in a tumbler

the message, for someone who needed to hear it
and my husband, who pointed it out to me
peace
amazing grace
a mention of appreciation

texts with Wendy
a meal for a friend
feeling restored

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Day story

August


Outside my window, the sun is shining on a day that forecast thunderstorms. The air is summery thick. A bike's handlebar tassels twist in a breeze, bouncing back light. Hoppy balls nestle in the grass. Chalk drawings pop here and there. Pool inflatables tower high. All evidence of summer fun.

Giving thanks for friends through the years and the different seasons we walk. That lives are united under the most unexpected circumstances, and in some cases by magic tricks. This windy life road would not nearly be as lovely without her, her friendship, her family. She has held me up more often than she knows with her encouragement and listening heart. And she has pushed me back into the ring just as often. She has grit--and enough to share.

In the school room, coffee scents waft from the kitchen. Books soar stacked. And Erin, eagerly writes a new pen pal. I smile across the table at her, for the years that knit our family together with theirs.

From the kitchen, lunch dishes on the counter and opened chocolate bars for sampling. The kids and I finished off the last of the brownies. A rainbow of cups stretch stacked from thirsty kids. The little glass pitcher makes even the wee ones feel grown up.

I am full, and full in a way that is rich and satisfied. Time together, my love language.

I don't want to forget the years we mamas shared pushing little ones on swings in a big green field. The kiddos and juice cups and big slices of banana chocolate chip bread. The friendships growing and kids growing. And even now, growing on, and how a play set seems smaller with our littles growing up.

Around the house, Erin colors. I type. Lanie reads. A cat looks out the door. I am glad for a week that slowed me down--for car troubles and aches and pains and ailments. I am glad for a slower pace--and in the process the tension melted away. Yesterday I read aloud to Erin on the couch, and we reconnected in lasting way, in a summer that had me in too many directions, and none of them present--always looking ahead, or looking back. And if this is the only week I remember of this summer, then at least it was a good one--even with car troubles and aches and pains and ailments. 

I'm hearing the hushing sound of air conditioning. And it is good.

A view of my favorite things:
Comet--twenty pounds of punk

A turtle came to visit

Celebrating six years

boxes in the mail

the ammo bag turned field bag for nature studies

the electric kettle

At the studio to order dance shoes

At the table, a marble composition notebook and making meals and making plans. I am happy. I am grateful. My heart sings loud and strong and full of color. Oh, can I be back now?

Monday, August 14, 2017

And still counting (10,767-10,799)

vacations, rained out
a check-engine light
a tire with a slow leak
all plans canceled

an impromptu sleepover for the girls
popcorn with nacho seasoning
a movie night at home
sleep
B vitamins

coffee
doctor appointments with my sister
good care for her
her smile
a new planner (the composition notebook that can hold up under the daily assault)

the cold, juicy sweetness of watermelon
the summer writing workshop
messages with Suzanne
David's phone call
Linda, in my heart

photobooks of memories
calls from Marshall's Mom
tea with Rebecca
raw honey
an electric kettle in the mail

scriptures, encouragement
crickets
iced coffee
camera 2
Erica

Andrea
Erin's love note
a good message on hope
three weeks of summer left


Monday, August 7, 2017

And still counting (10,746-10,766)

a break from headaches
Becky's help
twenty bags
lunch at the table
long thoughts

a hearing
an afternoon nap
relief
kids at the pool
ice cream cones

timely messages in my inbox
good reads (Dancing With My Father by Sally Clarkson)
weeds pulled
a good cry
podcasts

a bonfire
with marshmallows

a cool summer night
a tow rope
iced coffee weekends

evenings at home

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Six--the difference here makes

This wasn't the house where I brought my babies home. It wasn't where they celebrated first words, first steps, first birthdays. But it has been the home they're growing up in--home, sweet home.
The fall of 2010 when we decided to put a contract on this house. I framed this image and hung it on the wall of the office space in our old house while we waited for our buyer.

Erin was 3 at the time; Lanie had just turned 8. They loved walking through the crunchy fall leaves.

It is always my wonderland. The birds. The trees. The seasons. The beauty. It is a life-giving sanctuary. Whether from the kindness of neighbors or (as a dear friend and poet described) the welcoming arms of trees--it is a loving embrace.

Thank you, God. I will always be grateful that you put this property under Shane's nose and embedded it instantly in my heart. I am grateful for the bleeding hearts in the garden--and gardens everywhere; the field where I've photographed families and my own!; cookie swaps and not swaps; swim dates and poetry teas; Friday night dinners and Thanksgivings; the school room bones to write upon; the captain's bell; the smell of pines; picnics, bonfires, sledding days, leaf piles; woodsmoke that welcomes guests and the luscious heat the logs provide; gifts from neighbors and coffee at the table; cold winters and all the blankets my dad knitted and crocheted; and that barely touches it all.

We've had our own firsts here: first birthdays here; first holidays here; first days of school here. While Lanie had four years of swim lessons in life before, she first swam fearlessly here. Erin got a bedroom of her own, learned to swim, started school, rode a bike, lost a tooth--all firsts here.

This is the place where I built the Ikea chairs for the school room table and Lanie protested, "Why can't you be like other moms?!" And that was just the simple start of many changes--learning to ride a tractor, taking down trees, stacking wood, hauling mulch, and all the weeding. We remodeled the school room and painted almost every space (I still have yet to change Lanie's room--her choice--and our bedroom and bathroom still have sample swatches of a color palette I'm no longer considering!).

A sensory feast. A physical engagement with a landscape. A spiritual journey and transformation. A community.

Healing took place in this home, and growth. And while this isn't the house we built, this is the house we are building upon with love and memories.



Our first fall in 2011--she turned nine.

This summer in 2017--she is fourteen to be fifteen.


2011 in the garden on the dinosaur rocks. Photoshoot for our Christmas card. Erin would turn five.

This summer, hanging out with her favorite neighbor, Cubby. Erin is ten, going on eleven this year.

We welcomed Nella into our home--that rescue hound and her hidden happy dance. We said goodbye to Rudy. We welcomed my dad and sister's cats Comet and Haley this year, however temporary their stay.

My prayer and hope is still: That anyone who enters our home would feel welcome. That anyone who sits at our table would feel safe to share a happening, thought or feeling without judgment or ridicule. That anyone within these walls would know they are loved just as they are, and always will be. That any family member or guest would feel a sense of inclusion and belonging. 

Thank you, God, for this home. Thank you for these years of healing and growth. Thank you for the joy that awaited us here, and for meeting our needs physically and in heart.

I truly have thousands of pictures of our life here. Just very random pulls from the years--because I can't fit them all. 

2012--Easter

2013


2013--her first loose tooth and the last picture of all her baby teeth

2014

2014--my all-weather girl

2015--play dates

2015

2016--when we got the new oven

2017--good life

2017--no place like home

2017--a winter movie picnic in the living room

2017--wonderland

2017--wonderland

2017--the difference here makes

Monday, July 31, 2017

And still counting (10,711-10,745)

a few more books in the mail
grasses cut
that man of mine who puts on a favorite movie for me
school plans coming together
did I mention coffee? Because, yes, that.

clean sheets
good sleep
apples with Michi
and a movie
texts with friends

Becky's offer to help
places for pets
a neighbor out and about
another whose story is uncannily close
quiet spaces

his safety in the accident
podcasts
tears
home, sweet home
visits with my sister

chats with Tracey
extracurriculars
and the ability to take them, thank you, Lord!
books in a pile around me
Andy's prayers and sweet tears

a blue hydrangea in his garden
the way his house smelled when I walk through the door
a roadside stand selling peach
fresh peaches for us
the mountains views

notebooks for .25 each
the video team
a beautiful, sunny day
potatoes with dinner
veggies gifted from a generous neighbor

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day story

July


Outside my window, some piles of weeds I'm finally getting around to pulling. Cloudy skies and seventies. Do-rag back on my head. Dirt under my nails. This is good.

Giving thanks for friends. For friends who know me. For friends on the worst days. For friends I can be vulnerable with. For friends who stand me back up with scriptures. For friends who worry for me. All of them lift me up and push me back onto the path.

In the school room, a summer writing workshop with a friend's daughter and Lanie. But not today. Working on September schedules and stuffing myself full with last minute books and book purchases--because JUST ONE MORE! Talked to a friend today about homeschooling and podcasts and days off.

From the kitchen, lists of meal ideas for breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. Cookbooks spread out. How to fill a finicky tummy. I would never be a bento mom if not driven to it by a picky eater whose love language is gifts.

I am. Regardless of what someone says or thinks or imagines. Jesus knows me. I'm beginning to realize how much stronger that makes me, when I believe the truth about who I am, and who I am in Christ, than someone's limited perception of me.
 

I don't want to forget, the year between the army and the sea and I felt sinking. As hard as it was, it comforts me now. I didn't sink. I rose stronger. On, on. In the hard things, on the hard days, on, on. When she said, "I worry about you." I said, "Sometimes I do too." Fix a focus. On, on.

Around the house, a yard day and quiet at home. Erin wants to swim. And I have to stop and experience summer and time with my kids over moving from task to task. God, help me to be present. I feel it calling again--the hunkering hermitting before the start of a new school year.

I am hearing kids' home videos. Someone's lawn mower. The hush of overcast skies.

A view of my favorite things:
 
after the writing workshop


morning light

sunflowers, a favorite!

besties

I'm not sure when I took this picture

watercolors

docking station

more art

lunch that's not a peanut butter sandwich

Cosmo, who really does spill over the sides

art show at art camp

She's a favorite!

Nella, by Erin


At the table, whether schooling, eating, drinking tea--my heart, always.