Monday, May 29, 2017

Yes, please

I don't know where I got this recipe--likely off a Pinterest lead. It's written in the back of my spiral notebook as a meal idea.

Lanie said it was her new favorite.

Chicken Fajita Salad

Marinate chicken breasts several hours or overnight: juice of 2 limes, 2 garlic minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/4 c olive oil, a bit of salt and some minced cilantro.

The dressing: juice of 2 limes, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, some salt. Mix well.

For the salad--easy. Boxed lettuce, colorful grape tomatoes, avocado, cilantro.

Grill onion, peppers and chicken. Top on salad and drizzle with dressing.

This was so easy. So flavorful. Tastes just like summer. Especially when followed by watermelon.

And still counting (10,460-10,494)

twist in a cup
books on hold at the library
Babette's Feast, waiting
his good neighbors to take out the trash
friends, that when you text them, they call you
Mrs. "Ward"

her hug, tears and blessing
geraniums in the window boxes
a mountain of mulch
the green season
all the rain

nights at home with my man
cream, again, for my coffee
a dental check up
a glimpse of Linda's house on the way to the vet
audiobook on Hoopla, "Unoffended"

an extra Tuesday in May--for tea
purple verbena
and one to gift away
the good aches from hauling mulch
safe travels in the storm

and the glowy sunset with Lanie for the ride home
Sherry's help
an afternoon of podcasts while I cut the grass and mulched the gardens
Shane home for three days
evening walks with my kids

Lanie's sweet thank you
chocolate coffee in the afternoon
Joyce Meyer podcast "No Parking"
tired legs
a morning chat outside with my sister

fresh fruit salad
good sleep
snake stompers
Erin's love of writing, returned

her smile

geraniums, verbena


glowy sun after the storm

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day story


Outside my window, it's overcast. One of the things I love about living in the woods is that I hardly even feel the rain unless I'm in the open spaces. I can work in the big front garden and not get drenched. Chances of rain and thunderstorms this weekend and lately. Right now, a break from mulching. So far, just the front strip and house garden beds nearly finished. To do: the big front garden and weed the pool rock gardens.

Giving thanks for this time at home. It's been a whirlwind of a year. Funeral February. My sister in the hospital in March. And these past two months, near daily visits with her as she works through unexpected set backs. It's a bigger journey than we expected--but I'm thankful she's closer and for our time together. I'm thankful for the people I've met as a result of the unexpected. I appreciate even more the time at home. It is a new level of contentment to clean and do laundry. Callouses on my hands from shoveling mulch--I love the beauty after the work. This is living. The sweat and aches. The life. The new relationships. The learning. This is living.

In the school room, we are wrapping up a school year that started with a predictable rhythm and ended in grace. It was such a relief to realize that despite two funerals and a sister's health crisis this year, we were able to keep up. Just grading to do, and stretching out math drills for Erin. Seriously considering a year-round approach. I have my book lists made up for fifth and ninth grades. Wow. Lanie starts high school. It goes so fast.

From the kitchen, a holiday weekend and grilling. It's just us at home, so no cookouts or company. But I have a pack of hot dogs and a cut of steak. So thankful we are together. So thankful for this hunkering close. Respite. Restore.

I am thinking long on balance and busy seasons. Thinking long on the best yes. Grateful for grace.

I don't want to forget my kids' company while we visit with my sister. One or both will come along. It means so much to me to have them with me. I don't want to forget my husband's understanding and support. I don't want to forget the friends in trenches with me--they have no idea how they lighten this load just by listening.

I am reading "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" by Victor Hugo. A student (from ancients the other year) commented it was a favorite of his, and so I checked it out. I love to read books that are someone's favorite. Also reading "Mountain Born" by Elizabeth Yates, "Jacob Have I Loved" by Katherine Paterson, and "The Kindness Challenge" by Shaunti Feldhahn. I have a few others waiting, and a few used gems on the way in the mail, including "Experiencing Grief" by H. Norman Wright--whose book "Recovering From Losses in Life" was instrumental in grieving broken relationships and expectations.

Around the house, it's the green season. I'm still uncertain whatever happened to February, March, and April. But here we are, the end of May. A mountain of mulch beside the big garden, and weeds-weeds-weeds in many garden beds. This weekend, a slow and steady effort to catch up. It's good, grounding work. A recent woods walk with Erin and Suzanne--along thirty-year-old trails, felt like being carried along the veins of life itself. The green, everywhere, so lush and full of life. Yes, this is living. Inhaling deeply.

A view of my favorite things:
The gorgeous, glowy setting sun after the storm

This man. These kids.
Blessed. With love. And laughter. Grateful.

Our neighbors. And Cubby!

The nursery cat that stole our hearts

Squirrel proof. Bah!

Summer hustle

At the table, the four of us. And in my heart, hopes and plans of bonfires, poetry teas, field picnics, summer splashes, and woods walks. Time together, a love language, and looking to live true to that.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A sister at first sight

Her name wasn't really Mrs. Ward. The name on the room said otherwise, and I saw her write out her name, first and last, in cursive across the paper. Her handwriting was so lovely. I think she may have had a stroke. She struggled for words, yet some she spoke unmistakably.

Her hands were always quick to raise in praise of God. Her face showed many years. Sometimes, I saw her lost in sadness. But sometimes she laughed in joy and her smile beamed. She thought it was funny when I told her I mostly owned gray shirts, and she laughed at my stories.

Recently, she told me with great relief that she was being discharged (today!). I hoped to make it in to see her before she left. From the doorway, her bed was stripped, and I thought I was too late. But I saw her foot, and realized she was sitting in her wheelchair. I walked in quietly. She sat in that chair, eyes closed. I said her name softly. She opened her eyes, and immediately mine teared up.

"I'm so glad I got to see you before you left," I started. And before I knew it, she was hugging me and grasping my hands, and we were both crying and speaking blessing over the other. It was joy. She touched at her heart, and pointed to mine and said, "I know. I know. You! I know your heart. I know." She glanced over her shoulder, a worried look, and back to me, "It will be ok. You will be ok. You will be ok."

And thanks poured out of my mouth, tears from my eyes.

Wonder of unexpected turns life takes. Thankful to open my eyes to the people in this journey. Thankful for a sister in Christ, who often couldn't finish her thoughts because of a stroke, but who made sure to speak encouragement and blessing over me. As the attendant wheeled her to the lobby, the kids and I stood by and clapped and cheered. Well, I did most of the cheering because I don't mind cheering someone on.

God bless you, Mrs. Ward.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Peony in pink, thoughts on a year

A year ago (ish), I had withdrawn her from all classes but the ones that ran during my teaching time. A year ago (ish), I had seen her sleeping later, melancholic, dreading the co-op. A year ago (ish), she was paralyzed to write a sentence or answer a question.

There's good advice in the homeschool community--if a curriculum isn't working, don't stay committed to it if it will make you and your kids miserable. Find something else. And while there is something to be said for pushing through difficulties (subjects, curricula, circumstances), about persevering, what is the cost? For Erin, I was watching her confidence plummet, her love for learning grow cold, and depression take over her heart. We had to find something else. So this year, we stayed home, all of us.

We threw out the IEW method and turned to Bravewriter. We had read-alouds on the couch, on the patio, wherever--and poetry teas with treats and fanfare and, of course, poetry. I watched this sweet flower of a girl, her heart closed so tightly, begin to loosen up over the course of the school year.


Today, she is parked next to me on a computer. I am writing. She is writing. She asks me, "How do you spell ... ?" And she has a paper next to her full of answers to her questions. She jots them down.

"Mom, when was the camera invented?"
"What did it look like?"
"What language do they speak in Iceland?"
"Do people still use the name Jeremiah?"

She's writing stories and we are researching places and things, all born from imagination and passion. She talks run-on of plot lines and anecdotes. All day long. Her laughter is like bird song.

that smile, that heart

A year ago (ish), I felt really unsure of our decision to leave co-op. It was what we knew, and oh, how I wanted it to work. But it wasn't working.

A year ago (ish), we sat on the couch at home, reading, and she told me, "I want school to be like this next year. Just like today."

"It will be," I told her. And it is, and so much more.

We are still wrapping up last subjects, crossing the finish line a bit later than anticipated--in a season that was anything but predictable! But the victory isn't in the closing of a book--it's in the opening of a heart.

And still counting (10,426-10,459)

chocolate bars for Lori
the way the neighbor's dog ran across their yard in the sunlight
Amelie and Milo
a woods walk
baby chicks to hold

field fragrance
a bird feeder and all the song birds
garden plants and vegetables
azaleas on sale
the mention in (her) journey

an invitation from Andrea
His word: restore
praying friends
that music jewelry box, found
lunch out with Erin

clean windows
the smell of laundry in the dryer
evening walks
a drive through the mountains
home, sweet home

a visit with a neighbor
tomato plants, gifted
a good storm
podcasts during the lawn mowing

cat song in the house
his 50 years
quinoa cake
Marshall's Mom
a visit with Kristine

the fragrant yellow roses growing alongside his house
the summer smell in my house when I walk upstairs--reminds me of my childhood
peonies, gifted from Denise's garden
a friend at the table for dinner


ferns in the woods--maiden hair

love this woman

baby chicks

gorgeous shadows from the walnut tree


Five Guys lettuce wrapped burger and this little cutie

Happy birthday, my love
Thank you, friend!

Monday, May 15, 2017

And still counting (10,394-10,425)

visits with Lori
evenings at home

food in the fridge
a May day fire in the fireplace
Comet and Haley
running into Jennifer B's daughter
Michi at the table

nourishing talks
that man of mine
"Radio Silence" in the school room
dress shopping with the girls
and a later run out to the mall with Erin

a week of lasts: middle school literature and math
a piano recital
and the music that has filled this home all school year
so many song birds criss-crossing the yard
a call from a neighbor

a gift drop to Cindy
sangria on a Friday
all the rains
a yard mowed, and how the sun looked walking back to the house
nurse Debbie

Amy, the caseworker
truth reminders by email
Marshall's Mom
coffee in the early morning

66 Books
gf, df break-and-bake cookies on a chilly Friday
errands with the kids
this homeschool year, at home
camera 3

Monday, May 8, 2017

And still counting (10,373-10,393)

an afternoon nap on the couch
socks on my feet
camera 4 (skips and twirls and grins in my heart!)

a video team meeting
library runs
a sermon walk through Food Lion
her laundry to do
visits with my sister

Anita at the table
an afternoon snack with Anita

hot pots of tea
texts with Cindy
a lovely red on Friday
100% chance of rain

backyard frog on the back door

Friday night movie and wine with my man

frog song

a rainy, rainy day
a windshield replaced
these weeks turned months of craving rest
and the rest found in them
a fresh four a.m. morning seat at the table

Aldi cheesecake
Monday resets with Marshall's Mom
homemade egg rolls gifted from a neighbor

Monday, May 1, 2017

And still counting (10,360-10,372)

good podcast on integrity
arms around my shoulders in prayer
sunshine during a field cut
laughs during the nature walk
May Apples

the video team
goal steps
flowers in the garden
bird song

my girl, who still reaches for my hand at fourteen
this girl, this garden
showy orchid


woods walk

Lady's Thumb

at the nature walk

bushy white azalea, thriving