Monday, September 30, 2013

fare thee well

It's the last day of September. 

Last day.

Of S-e-p-t-e-m-b-e-r.


Full swing into fall here with crazy rain and wind storms.  The mountain passes are reporting fresh snow. 

This week we are getting our chimney cleaned out and the fireplace fixed up so we can have some cozy fires in the near future.  Even though the temps have cooled, our new little house has stayed pretty warm without needing to turn on the baseboards.  That is a good thing because the baseboards are old and stinky and need replacing before we want to turn them on.

This past weekend I was able to go to the Northwest Baptist Ladies Conference.  It's a two day conference and there were almost 200 ladies in attendance this year.  Every year this event is such a blessing to me.  I'm challenged and refreshed and I get to see lots of my friends that I only see maybe once a year.  This year I was surprised to run into a friend that I'd lost touch with 11 years ago!

While I was gone at the conference I received a text from my husband with a picture attached.  The picture was of a toilet.  He had just finished installing our new one.  The joys of home ownership just keep rolling in!  And that is not a complaint!!  I'm thankful for the new toilet as the old one leaked.  The list of projects and upgrades makes me laugh.  This week toilet, next week baseboards.

The cool fall weather, colorful leaves floating to the ground, fat raindrops and mud puddles; the whole thing has me delighting in comfort foods.  This evening I will delight in meatloaf and cheesy scalloped potatoes.  I delight in good food. 

Well, the boys are back from a long bike ride and I have a list of things to get done.

Fare thee well September!

Welcome back October!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

thursday here

Outside my window...  It started out chilly, that autumn morning kind of chilly, and now it is beautifully sunny and warm.

I am thankful...  for our new little great-niece, daughter of my nephew, the one whom I held in the hospital when he was just a day old and now he's a father and that rocks my world.  As does the fact that my big sister is now a grandmother.

In the kitchen...  I'm about ready to mix up some pumpkin banana bread with vanilla icing.  Intriguing isn't it?

I am wearing...  A tie-dyed shirt that reveals a little bit of my inner free-spirit.  It is the only tie-dyed thing I own, a guilty pleasure.

I am listening...  Billie Holiday Radio on Pandora.

I have gone...  Drove out to the old house today to let the chimney sweep in.  Dropped off the keys with the management company.  Took the four boys to the park for a couple hours.  Stopped by the store for milk and surprised the guys with chocolate milk.  I do love simple pleasures.

I am reading...  Home Cooking: A Writer In The Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin.  This book has made me giggle and nod my head in agreement as I read.

I am looking forward to...  The first event my 14 year old can participate in with the Color Guards.  He goes to practice early (6:30 a.m.) a couple times per week.  He's learning proper respect and regard for the United States Flag.  The Color Guard present the colors at community events and retirement homes.

From the schoolroom...  things are going swimmingly. We are definitely in a good routine now after moving, changing jobs, starting high school, you know that kind of stuff. 

A favorite quote for today... "Um, where'd you get that shirt?"

One of my favorite things...  my new kitchen.  I am so at home in it.  Barefoot, shuffling fluidly in my space, creating yummy things or just cleaning.

A few plans for the rest of the week... still watching a couple extra boys, work tomorrow, and a fantastic day off on Saturday.

And that's about all I have to report.  Work is going pretty well.  As I mentioned this is my first experience being a waitress.  I'm learning to time things (when to take an order, when to refill beverages, when the take the check), to anticipate the needs of the guest, to balance having a handful of tables, and yes, to carry the tray of beverages and set them down on the table without dropping the tray (it's all about weight distribution).  But if you could see the difference in my soul you'd cheer along with me.  Maybe I'll explain this more fully in a post yet to come.  For now I have pumpkin banana bread to create.  

This is the recipe I'm using.  Things will be altered though, they always are.
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of Kosher salt
       Vanilla Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  1. Mix bananas and sugar with electric mixer until well-blended.
  2. Add pumpkin puree and mix until creamy. Add flour, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and mix until smooth.
  3. Prepare two loaf pans with baking spray or with butter and flour. Divide pumpkin banana bread batter between the two loaf pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees until a cake tester or skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the bread, approximately 45 minutes.
  5. Top with vanilla glaze.

Monday, September 16, 2013

another whole

Monday, September 16th.  It rains.  After a lightning storm last night, the rain continues.  Normally this would be a fantastic respite, reason to curl up in blankets.  Today it is not so welcome as we are entertaining smaller humans, boys with energy that really want to be outside.  I call upon my reserve bag of tricks and plan on pulling out sheets and blankets later for living room fort building.

This day is special.  Our niece is in labor with her first baby, a daughter.  Life changing.  Joy giving.  And my sister becomes a grandmother.

I know I've said it already but I really, really love our new home.  It is warm.  And my kitchen.  Sigh.  It is my favorite.  The other day I spent hours there, baking.  Happy girl.  Today too will find me there, mixing up some pumpkin bread rolls.

This week, since we are caring for our younger friends I have taken most of the week off of work.  Have I mentioned that I'm a waitress now?  This is a first for me.  After my last job where we took multitasking to another level, I've got this in the bag.

Side note:  "a whole nother" is not a phrase, ever.  Please, for my sanity, say "another whole" or just "another" or just "whole". Not "a whole nother".  The end.

Friday, September 13, 2013

ruminating in memories

It was my last work-day at the old house.  I swept out each room, mopped each floor.  And as I did I had flashes of memories.  Like old home movies, kind of grainy, warbled sounds, distorted color. 

I walked through after the floors were dry and let myself ruminate in the memories, let a few tears fall, let my heart hurt a little, let the whispers of thanks permeate the silent empty rooms. 

My sensitive soul, it feels deeply.

There was pause at the place in the living room where my kitty died.  Where I watched her exhale for the last time.

There were tears as I recalled the evening I watched my Gracie walk out of that house , her wise brown eyes loving, knowing she wouldn't be coming back.

The hall echoed with the voices of the boys when they were just 8 and 10, they've changed so much since we moved in.

And I thanked God for the closeness He brought about in our family while we lived in that house.  He worked in mighty ways, growing each one of us.

We faced trials, defeats, and victories in those walls and I don't take any of that lightly. So while it is just a house, it was our home and life was lived there.

One chapter closed.

And the story continues...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Austin left in his Navy sweats today.  First day of PT (physical training).  This will happen twice a week through the school year.  He's excited to work on his abs.  As a fourteen year old boy he really needs the physical outlet.  This is something I've learned of boys.

I've been allowing the boys to go on long bike rides around town.  It's not a huge town and even then I have given them boundaries (don't cross the highway, don't go further south than the middle school).  They've been exploring neighborhoods and bringing me back reports of how the other half lives.  "They have really nice cars and even their second car is really nice!"

Schedules have it that I've not been working much these last couple weeks.  This doesn't bother me one little bit.  It's been nice to have the time to get some things done, to button up things at the old house, etc...  It is always our desire to return things in better condition than we received them so we've been putting some time in on the old place.  Living there for four years with energetic boys may have been a little hard on the place too.  We've been painting, pressure washing, and scrubbing.  Done soon!

Each morning I wake up and open the blinds to see the sunrise I am thankful.  This new place has just awakened a spirit of gratitude in me.  Our family has grown tighter through the move, through the changes.  And the changes offer so much promise.  I love being here in the mornings with my family, whereas before I was out the door at 4:45.  We all wake up together, one trudging to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, taking turns in the bathroom to ready for the day.  I see the teenager out the door.  I see the husband out the door.  And the day begins.  Everyday.

Thank you Lord for this time, this gift, for the love you express each and every day and my ability to recognize it.

Monday, September 9, 2013

and the birds

A gray hummingbird came to the window today.

Just a bird.  Just an undistinguished bird.

But to me,

                           a gift from God.

One of my biggest hurdles to moving into town was moving away from all "my" birds.  I'd been greeting the birds each morning, smiling out the window as they flit around the feeders.

I voiced my concern to my husband many times.  Would they find me?  Who would feed them?  Should I leave a birdseed trail to the new place?  Are there even birds in town?

And today.

A hummingbird came to the window.

My heart verily leapt with joy as I strained my eyes to watch his path.

As I sat at the table and assisted my son with his English, my eyes were constantly drawn to movements out the window.

Soon I saw a chickadee light on the cherry tree.  A chickadee!

Today I will be making up some fresh hummingbird solution and hanging the seed feeders with care.  These new birds and I, we will be fast friends.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

this day

Sleepy dogs, drizzly rain, cello music on Pandora.

Dunkin Donuts coffee in the coffee pot, the lingering smell of pancakes in the air.

I sit here at the open front window watching a stream of rainwater make it's way down the road.  The grass is already greener, revived by a long drink.

The schoolwork corrections I've not been able to get to for a week are now done.  Maybe we can get back into the swing of things after moving house.  Things are already settling down, schedules are set.

Austin had his first day at NJROTC today.  There are 40 kids in his class.  40!!!  One of them being a foreign exchange student from Spain.  Another fellow student is also a fellow homeschooler.

The rain is pouring down now.  Tchaikovsky serenades.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

the desire of our hearts - part 2

When we wake up we can see the sunrise from our bedroom, the back patio, and the kitchen.  This makes me tremendously happy as my heart seems to be connected to the light of the sun (Son).  And in the afternoon the sun warms the front of our house, streaming through the living room window, making sunny patches on the carpet for the dogs to nap in.

We have a few rose bushes, a cherry tree, and day lilies. We have room for a garden next spring. Yay!

This may not be my dream farmhouse in the country but it is HOME.  It is where we are now, maybe not forever, but for this season of life.

With this move into town came a new job for me.  I work for the same people but now I work at their restaurant in town.  I was able to set my own hours and days.  No more up at 4 a.m., I'll be home to make my kids breakfast and get them started on their schoolwork.  And I'll be home in the afternoon to finish school and tend to my home.  No more 8 or 9 hour shifts, I'll be working 4 hour shifts, 5 days a week.  This means I won't be exhausted like I was, I'll have energy leftover to spend on my family.  My heart is happy as I see the potential in this much needed change.

Already, I've been bike riding with the boys.  We can go all over town.  We can ride to the beach, to the library, to any park, to 7-eleven for a Slurpee, or just about anywhere.  And I say hi to everyone because I feel like I'm really part of a community now.  And I want to just stop them and tell them so.  But I only say hi.

Our oldest son is within walking/biking distance of the high school.  We've been riding our bikes there to time it (6 minutes) and practice the route so he is comfortable with it come the first day (tomorrow!).  I bought him some school supplies too.  Even though he's just taking the one class I wanted him to feel prepared.  He's got a new binder, a pack of paper, mechanical pencils, and smooth ink pens.  And I've been talking to him about some of the things that he may encounter, maybe I'm more nervous than he!  My son is a well adjusted, confident, personable individual and I know he'll be amazing!

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the desire of our hearts - part 1

We spent the last four years living in a small neighborhood in a rural area.  The well water smelled of chlorine and we wouldn't drink it so we bought gallons of water and spent a few cents refilling them at the grocery store.  At night we'd be serenaded by coyotes, sometimes close, sometimes just a faint call in the distance.  Mornings brought the sound of roosters crowing, a multitude of birds singing the sun into the sky.  Trips into town were most often thought out and methodical.  If I needed to go to the grocery store I'd plan the other five stops I could make since I was "headed to town".

And our house.  Our dear little home.  We lost 400 square feet when we moved there.  Downsizing became an art form.  And we grew cozy.  But it was always cold.  Even in the middle of summer, like an ice box.  Drafty, chilly, never warm.  And dark.  We were surrounded by tall evergreen trees so sunlight was sparse, a nice ray in the mornings around 10:00 that my kitty used to lay in when she was alive, and about 10 minutes worth in the evening through the bedroom windows.

When we made the decision to move into town I knew there would be some adjustments.  We'd lose that rural feel.  I'd miss all those varieties of birds.  There'd be an array of different people, maybe some not so upstanding.  Would we have any peace and quiet?  Could we make another house feel like home?

We have a friend here in town, a Christian we met through the wrestling club.  He is a real estate agent and we knew he'd help us in our search for a home.  From day one we knew he only had our best interest in mind.

Our price range was minimal, we've been down the road of overextending ourselves on a mortgage and it never ends well.  So we kept our numbers low, humble, modest.  This meant that some of the places we looked at were ssssccaaarrrryy, foreclosures with loads of work to be done.  Of course we looked at them with a discerning eye, trying to find potential in the bones.

There was a house the boys and I liked, very close to the library, old and kind of funky.  There was a house Aaron liked, wood floors and woodstove.  And there was another house that as soon as we walked in we felt as if it were home.  But we each kept that close, not wanting to get our hopes up, not wanting to jump into anything.

Two months later we signed the papers for that very house.  God really did give us the desire of our hearts.

To be continued...