Wednesday, June 28, 2017

When it feels perfect

Gorgeous temperature. Beautiful sky. And a day she'd planned for weeks now. Erin wanted to celebrate her doll's birthday with a poetry tea and invited a special friend and her dolls to join. She even mailed an invitation.

Tuesday morning, we made mini chocolate cupcakes. I had Trader Joe's meringues in the cabinet. I put out grapes and watermelon. I made a cauliflower soup with parmesan crisps. There was lemonade and black currant tea. And there was beauty provided by wonderland.

Erin helped me set up in the field under the walnut trees. She helped me carry down the benches (my dad gave me) and wicker chairs. She spread out the tablecloth. We got a wagon and covered it in hot pink burlap for the dolls.

Her friend Abigail arrived and we went down to the field. We served ourselves plates of food and poured tea and lemonade. We ate and enjoyed the beautiful weather. And then we talked about poetry. And then the kids got the books and started reading out loud. Even Erin, who just Monday was in tears at being recorded reading for the reviewer (which I hadn't sent yet; replaced it with her twittering laughter and gaiety), was now laughing and giving great voice to poetry--likely fueled by too many mini cupcakes. I don't care. It was a beautiful, freeing moment.

Abigail asked questions about our poetry tea times and we told her she didn't have to memorize a poem and she could pick as many as she liked. She liked this approach compared to the classroom. I nodded. This is freeing.

(I am so thankful for the resources I stumbled upon last spring--they've shaped our home and homeschool--Sarah Mackenzie's Teaching From Rest; Julie Bogart and her Bravewriter lifestyle and Poetry Teatimes; Charlotte Mason; Pam Barnhill; Ruth Schwenk; Sally Clarkson. While some of our curricula resembles a classical education and co-op influence, we've done away with rush and rigor. Life is so much more than a checklist. I want to enjoy it along the way, and even slow to savor.)

I love how something as simple as cupcakes and a tablecloth transform a snack and school work into something social and rich and meaningful. So much laughter. The light dappled through the leaves. The cake plate, emptied. Kids running barefoot in the field afterwards.

This is why. This is why. There is no place like home.

absolutely clueless about using icing tips

cheesecloth draped over the table until we were ready to eat

everything felt perfect

This was a big deal to Erin--and it became a big deal to me

the view looking up

table manners for fun

Erin has changed a lot this year--so happy for her!

Our chubby little teapot--it's a keeper
Erin and Abigail took off to play while Lanie and I packed up some of the items. Later Erin told me how they'd stop off at the table to refresh on lemonade and tea. My heart couldn't be happier.

Life is a feast.

Monday, June 26, 2017

And still counting (10,566-10,598)

frog song at night
bird feeders full
baffled squirrels
afternoon thunderstorms
a trusty hound at my feet

dozen a day piano practice
a school table, nearly cleaned
a sleep-in morning
a last week of dance
bathrooms cleaned and laundry done

beautiful (stunning! gorgeous! captivating!) sunsets on the ride home
coffee at the table with a friend
books on order for a next school year
errands with my girls
good friends

a full fridge
black raspberries in the field
Erin and Abigail, bounty hunters snacking along the perimeter
66 Books
chocolate coffee with Lanie

a neighbor who checked on me out in the field when I sat on the tractor
Anita and David

Marshall's Mom
the scripture box from a kindred
her written prayers over me, a blessing still and always
red wine
a pot of coffee

flowers for dancers
their biggest smiles
for family and friends who came to celebrate their hard work

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Day story


Outside my window, a hound dog asleep on the patio by the French doors. Geraniums in window boxes, bold and red. My dad's truck in the driveway, still.

Giving thanks for quiet days. Reprieve.

In the school room, a tabletop getting cleared. Library books stacked high, and I wonder why I can't just read what I own, that I add to it exponentially with borrowed books. Next to me, booklists and items checked off. Today, purchasing next year's curriculum. It feels good.

From the kitchen, a favorite kale salad. A book (not an affiliate link; from the library--which I then added to my online cart under the guise of "curriculum" for poetry tea parties. It counts!) of possibilities for crafting next week's special tea for Erin and a friend ... and their dolls. Thankful my kids are still kids.

I am creating a new rhythm. A summer song. It is gentle and slow. It is intentional.

I don't want to forget watching Babette's Feast with Erin and reading subtitles. The spurts of French, a welcome and familiar word. The messages, multifaceted. A beautiful story and a beautiful message of the power of community, the power of a table, the power of sacrifice.

Around the house, Satsuma in the air. Laundry washed and dried for my sister. A grocery list, incomplete. A steady week of rehearsals for a weekend's show. But in light of these months, there is no hustle in this. This is light. This is easy. Perspective. Self: remember this. Slow down and savor.

I am hearing my kids finishing lunch, and Erin's twitter laughter. She talks about her dolls and how each year they age like she does--but when they get to be 'adults' she will start them over, because she doesn't want them to grow up. I understand. 

A view of my favorite things

summer splash


Haley and Comet

First frog

this wonderland


Random finds around the house

celebrating my sister

the kind of dad he is
At the table, earlier today an impromptu coffee with a friend while our girls visited. Talks about curriculum. Walking new roads. I felt thankful for her, and thankful for the life the table invites. Oh, tables matter.

Monday, June 19, 2017

And still counting (10,541-10,565)

sweet cherry picking at a neighbor's
sour cherry picking at a friend's
summer blue skies
good breezes
time with my kids

splashes of blue


a Wednesday training to redirect my thoughts
chances to laugh in a hard week
Your sovereignty

a bumble bee cookie for Erin
frozen bananas
walks in the community
grass cut
French vanilla coffee

a birthday balloon for Lori
cupcakes to celebrate

texts with Marshall's Mom
Lori's smile
Happy birthday, sister

a birthday tradition continued

yard work with my man

celebrating him
a quick, soaking summer rain
an early morning call
a practice run on the controls
My view for the morning

and a debut weekend directing with a great video team
time with dearly loved family
close hugs and hearts
a packed room
Jenna's life and influence ... in dear and loving memory

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


When she chats me up from the backseat on our errand drives, it's like a bird's twitter as her laughter mixes with her words. She speaks in this laughing song. Her smile is big. And every thought pours out in delight.

She plays "Ronald and Donald" on the floor. Little farm animals spilled out like rainbow sprinkles.

She collects rocks, still. And laughs at her foot getting swallowed by a mud hole. She digs in clay. She considers the reservoir water with longing.

She holds my hand almost anywhere when we walk. She accompanies me to the nursing home to visit my sister. She's with me at the store. She spends time with me in the garden. When my feet are in the water and I feel summer's spell, she calls out, "Mom! Look!"

Her hair has copper highlights that catch the sun. Her eyes are blue like mine, and when I gaze into them, I imagine dandelion fuzz.

those eyes that day, before we knew
She would love it if her closet were full of beautiful dresses, and she would wear them all. 


She plays the piano and fills the house with beautiful music every day.

She likes company at the table, and always hopes I'll make a cup of coffee for her. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes. And likely more often now.

She still reaches for my hand on the neighborhood walks. We have real talks, truthful talks, hard talks. I like this about her. It refreshes me.

She is focused, determined, disciplined.

She loves music, but not shopping. But if I ask her if she wants to go to the grocery store with us, she often says yes to that.

She shares my love of reading. She waits for me to watch a movie with her--on purpose, because she wants me there. And suddenly I'm reminded of her at the end of second grade, that summer we would move, having an end-of-school-year slumber party in my room--nails painted, and a Dick Van Dyke movie playing until she fell off to sleep. She tried so hard to stay awake. It was "Mary Poppins."

Sometimes when she's next to me in the car, I reach out to hold her hand, never entirely sure she wants to hold it, but especially grateful, especially now, that she does. She has never refused it. I hold hers close and store its warmth in my heart, that it would last me a lifetime.

coming back from cherry picking at a neighbor's that day


Now. Especially now.

In loving memory, Jenna.

Monday, June 12, 2017

And stilll counting (10,518-10,540)

medjool dates
a meeting at church with Dave
mulch moved

a hike with Suzanne
a fern-lined path
the reflection of blue on the water
dogs in the water
Erin making wood boats to float

plump, sweet mulberries
nasturtium gifted
Marshall's Mom
pool noodles

light bulbs replaced
a season's first swim
a walk with Rebecca
the hug of a friend

a day out with Lanie
library books on hold
a visit with Lori
Jimmy C., his love for his boys, his determination to get back up
frozen banana "milk"shakes

Monday, June 5, 2017

How the garden grows

God's timing is grace. After getting through a school season (awaiting review now) and getting my sister closer to (my) home so I can visit her, I'm still figuring out how to add new responsibilities into the same 24 hours I had before. The years here always had a rhythm, and sometimes it took a little bit to remember how it went. How to manage a grass cut, mulching, weeding on top of the inside house chores, the errands, and, delightfully, the guests.

Now it's full on green season. The mulch is delivered. House beds weeded and mulched! Half the rock garden weeded, and more to do. And the front garden? I pulled a quadrant yesterday, another today--and today I had a little help.

I don't know why suddenly my body feels so old. This garden is kicking me down this year. This year was a first consideration that maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew. And the thought of how will I keep up in ten years ... fifteen ... twenty ... ten to twelve yards of mulch to move is a big job for anyone. I press on.

One day recently I was hot and sweaty, body achy and so thirsty. No one came to check on me for the several hours I was out. A different day, I enlisted Erin to come help me with the pool garden beds.

"It's hot!" she said. And,

"The bugs are bothering me!"

"I'm so thirsty!"

"Well, it's got to get done," I said. "And complaining isn't going to make it go any faster or feel any better."

"Why do you do this?" she asked. I think she'd let the gardens go to weeds.

"Because even though it's really hard work, it's really beautiful when it's done. And I like beauty," I explained. And truly, I'm learning to like dirt under my nails.

One thing the day taught her was compassion. I told her the bugs and heat and aches bothered me too, but the job had to get done. I told her I got thirsty too, and what a blessing it is to be remembered with a cold drink.

This summer, to a mix of their delight and dismay, I instituted the kids' summer chore bowl filled with tasks like weeding around the playset, an hour weeding in the big garden, watering the potted plants and flowers around the house, sweeping out garage and patio, etc. Each morning, the kids pick their task. Today was the first day. Oh! The dread of pulling the card and getting dish duty!

Lanie got the job of weeding around the playset, to which she told me there was a spider there that looked like it would kill a man, and that a harassing bee kept trying to sting her. "Do I have to do the whole area?"

"Yes," I said. I know coming weeks won't be nearly as much work as this first one.

Erin was tasked with weeding in the front garden with me for an hour.

"Has it been an hour yet?" she asked.


I heard about her body aches and how long it was taking--that this hour was impossibly long! Forty minutes into it, I pulled out clippers to cut back the tree suckers, and she asked to help.

"Weeding isn't so bad when I'm with you," she said. And later, "I hope the hour isn't up soon. I like this part!"

I told her when her hour was up.

"Would you like a drink?" she asked.

I smiled, thankful for her camaraderie and compassion. Oh, there is still so much to do--more weeds to pull and mulch to throw down. But it was probably one of the best hours of the day.

And still counting (10,495-10,517)

coffee to drink while it's still warm
sunshine returned
homonyms in watercolor
Her tea to my tee (not shown)

Pear vs pair (not shown)

sleep bingeing
her tooth, out
that man of mine

the band she got to hear
potato chips and chocolate for her
a field, cut

thoughts on catching up with friends
a huge stack of books to read

more books in the mail
my current station

food in the fridge
encouragement by text
how the sky light brightened her eyes when she looked to treetops for pine cones
running into a former bible study leader

talks with Lori
summer blue outside the window
the folks on the video team

a frog named Survival
watercolors, watercolors everywhere
house guests
Haley and Comet

wine night

Friday, June 2, 2017


A week ago on Thursday or Friday morning, I mentioned to Shane that I was excited it was or was almost Friday.

He rolled his eyes. "I hate that attitude in people. People who dread Mondays or are glad it's Friday ..."

He went on to explain that that attitude was a waste for a variety of reasons and other things--whether poor work ethic or a limiting mindset.

"Um ... I'm just glad it's almost the weekend because I like having you here with us," I said in defense. "I truly don't care what day it is. All my days are pretty much the same. Fix meals, clean, work in the yard, school kids and run them places. Friday makes no difference to me."

Fast forward a week later, and we're at the dinner table last night. The kids had already finished their food and were off.

"Tomorrow's Friday!" I said happily and slipped my arms around him in a hug. "I mean: boo! Boo, Friday!"

He laughed.

"Really, I'm just glad it's Friday and I can kick back with a glass of wine," I said. Hence the name: Friday Wine Night when Linda used to come over and we'd all enjoy dinner and wine together.

Shane and I closed down the house and walked upstairs. Erin heard us coming up.

"Oh! I thought it was Friday! I was so excited because then tomorrow would be Saturday, but then I wondered why you were going to bed so early on a Friday night and now I'm bummed because it's not Friday," she said.

"Don't talk about Friday," I told her in jest. "It's forbidden!"

We all thought it was pretty funny. Even this morning when I said to him, without thinking, "Happy Friday!" And then, "I mean, not. Not happy Friday."

Happy wine night! To your health!