Sunday we packed up a rental car to drive to California to see family for Thanksgiving.  We were planning to wake up early to drive 18 hours over two days.

Four hours before we were to leave, I took Sam to the ER.  Our plans have changed: it’s now Thanksgiving in the hospital, slowly healing and facing a surgery on Monday. (All prayers appreciated.) In the midst of many things that are out of our control, I have so much to be thankful for.


I am so grateful we weren’t five hundred miles from home in unfamiliar territory when he fell ill.

This situation would be so much harder without all those who have rallied around us. I am so grateful for those who have upheld us in prayer, visited the hospital, and cared for our kids.  Thank you.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson:

“Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.”

May we find ourselves fully awake to our mercies this week.

{phfr}: mid-November

Pretty: The color this year has been fantastic.  I know you people east of the Mississippi think you have a monopoly on red, but we’ve had some red here this year, too.

I collected these for my friend in Fiji who is heading into a hot, humid summer. Of course I can’t mail them to her, but I could send her a photo.


Happy: We celebrated by parents’ fiftieth anniversary last month.  It was such a joy to reflect on the forty-five years I’ve had with them and to celebrate how they have loved each other so well and so faithfully.


Funny: We are in the midst of teaching Jonah how to drive and have been struggling with how to motivate him to practice.  Last week I found the perfect motivation. Let’s drive to the bookstore!  Now he’s begging to drive!

Real: Our weather is all over the place now, with huge swings in temperature between a morning run and an after-lunch run.  Here was a week ago (28 degrees)when I ran in wool socks, long sleeves, a coat, wool hat and mittens:

And here was Sunday (64 degrees), when I ran in capris and a tank top.  Crazy.


For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}, go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Little things I’m enjoying this week

I want to give a few recommendations for gifts I’ve received in the past few months. Perhaps you are looking for just the right gift for a runner or reader or music lover?

Blessed Quietness: A Collection Of Hymns, Spirituals And Carols

Chestnut’s jazz piano is just right.  This particular CD is old and a lovely blend of hymns and carols and Spirituals.

Product Details

The Undoing is another album for contemplation. Very personal, reflective music by Steffany Gretzinger.  Highly recommended.

(This is not my body.)

Saucony bullet capris (or shorts). Not knowing what to wear on my run used to keep me from getting out the door. No more! These capris have a small zippered pocket in back for keys and found money, and side pockets big enough for my phone or the gloves I want to lose after mile 2.

Old NavyOld NavyBurnout Tank(This isn’t me, either.)

Old Navy burn-out running tanks.   The fabric is oh-so-soft and the cut super-long, so I don’t have to worry about flashing unsuspecting neighbors with my stretch marks. Unless you live in Colorado, you probably won’t wear it till next spring, but it’s on sale.

Product Details(Nope. Still not me.)

Royal Robbins travel skirt.  I like this one so much I bought a second.  The best thing about it?  Pockets. Lots and lots of pockets.  I can carry everything I need without looking like Katy:

Product Details(A fabulous book but not my fashion advisor.)

Have you received a gift lately that has become your go-to item?

Quick Lit: November 2015

Product Details

Lou is still heartbroken a year after her relationship with Will is over, and a freak accident and its aftermath are the fuel needed to restart her life.  I’ve been waiting for After You for so long!  (And then I handed it to Sam and had to wait for him to finish it before I could start.)  This is the sequel to Me Before You, and while the two have a different feel, Lou is such a great character I’d read another one about her in a heartbeat. Highly recommended.

Product Details

And then, because I was on a Moyes kick, I picked up The Girl You Left Behind.  It tells two stories in parallel: the story of Sophie, a feisty young woman whose life changes when her artist husband goes to war in 1914; and Liv Halston, a widow grappling with her loss.  Moyes paints loss so vividly, but she doesn’t leave her characters there, and her love stories are always multi-dimensional.  Also highly recommended.

Product Details

This is Birk’s third book about Terrence Reid.  The layers of this mystery kept going deeper and deeper.  I was wrong multiple times about who did it, and why.  I have been rooting for Reid and his wife for several books now, and Less than a Treason didn’t disappoint.  Great for fans of mystery and Christmas stories, especially ones in gorgeous Scottish castles.

Product Details

This is my favorite Penderwicks book so far, which I didn’t expect because generally I am not a fan of adding in new characters after a book or two.  Jeanne Birdsall crafts a beautiful story arc, in which all secrets are told and all resolutions are exactly right, even if you couldn’t see how to get there on your own.  The Penderwicks in Spring was great, and I can’t wait for book #4.

Join Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy for more Quick Literature.

Big News: The Match is Live


Hey, everybody! My book is live!

If the stethoscope and gun didn’t give it away, The Match is a medical thriller about a second-career medical student who can’t quite manage to do it all.

Medical student Kate Deming isn’t sure her marriage will survive till graduation. She hasn’t seen her husband or daughters in days, and her reclusive sister has stopped answering her calls. The turf war between the gangs and the mafia has made this Chicago’s deadliest winter on record, and every case that rolls into the emergency department is worse than the last. Kate recognizes the danger in her supervisor’s smile, but he’s so hot she may just take him up on it anyway.

When the CEO of the hospital dies in front of her, Kate reaches out to his widow. But the murdered man is not what he seemed, and Kate’s own sister is trapped in his web of lies. Will Kate be able to extricate her sister before the killer comes back to finish what he started?

Here’s how to find it:

(Apple, nook, and kobo coming soon.)

Anatomy of a Run

Warning to delicate readers: this story contains graphic content and may be too much for you if you are male or haven’t pushed several babies out your your-know-what*. If you choose to read on, do so at your own risk.

*Normally I prefer to use the proper names for anatomical parts, but this is the internet, people.  Don’t expect me to use the word you-know-what in real life.


The nights are getting longer. Coming earlier.  Knowing that winter is coming has made my late-afternoon runs more precious.  Last week, I had an agenda-free** run planned while my kids were at swim team.  Feeling pretty good, I planned to add a little extra distance to both the beginning and end of my regular run.

** Agenda-free here should be taken here to mean not a tempo run, not hill-repeats, and not a long run.  Just a regular run.

I dropped the kids at the pool.  Normally I stop in at the potties before beginning my run, but I knew it would be both dark and cold by the time they finished, and I wanted to get going.  Plus, I had peed before I left the house ten minutes earlier, so how full could my bladder be?

I turned on my GPS and started off.  Most trees still had some leaves, and it was beautiful.  I admit that I probably had a silly grin on my face as I passed red oaks, maples, and sycamores.  The Halloween decorations were mostly down, so I could enjoy fall color without skeletons and giant blow-up lawn spiders everywhere.


At mile 1, I noticed that I needed to pee.  Stupid bladder.  (Those of you without bladders are probably thinking, “She should be grateful for her bladder.”  I am, really, I just wish it worked better.) But in half a mile I would run past the post office, and I knew it had a bathroom.  At mile 2.5, I’d pass a school.  Both had bathrooms.  I’d be fine.

Mile 1.5 I dodged angry postal customers fighting over 5 o’clock parking places and ducked into the post office.  And the bathrooms were locked.  What?  Apparently, they had just cleaned them and didn’t want them to be dirty again.  I should try that at my house.

No problem, except that once I told my bladder there was a possibility to pee, it decided it really needed to pee.  There was a park two blocks further on. Certainly it would have a bathroom.

No dice.  Checked the GPS: it said I had run 1.5 miles.  (What happened to my 1 mile split? Hmmm…) The school was only half a mile on.  By this point, I was looking for dense bushes.  Thinking ahead to the impending darkness, I had worn my brightest, limest green shirt.  I might as well have been wearing a searchlight.  Peeing in the bushes was not a good option.

Mile 2: The school was locked. Health center at mile 3-plus: closed.  I ran through my options: ice skating rink?  Nursing home? Private residence? Not looking good.

At that point, mapmyrun told me I had run 4.15 miles at a 1:03 pace.  I would have turned it off, but… well, I was still hoping it would recover from its delusions and track my path.

At this point, I could go half a mile back to the rec center, or go on.  I went on for fear that if I went back to the start, I wouldn’t restart the run.  I had to capitalize on my momentum, right?

Mile 3+  (real miles, as calculated in my head): bladder rebelled.  I moved from the sidewalk to the grass so that no one would see the trail I was leaving behind me.  Felt much better, picked up the pace.

Mile not-quite-4: found a bathroom in the park.  Didn’t stop because what would be the point now?  I’d just have to pull wet capris back up.  If I kept running, there was a chance they’d dry, right? I capitalized on my already stellar run by blowing a snot rocket into my shoulder.

Mile  4+: really really really had to pee.  Again.  Sat down in the grass and had it out with my body.  Managed to get my skirt out of the way.  (I warned you, didn’t I?)  But after that, I felt so much better.  Decided to do another loop of the park.  With the hill.

And there was a the moon.

m5 (photo by Matt Hecht)

Gorgeous, full orange moon, rising enormously over the horizon.  A photographer with a lens as long as my wet leg was perched at the top of the hill.  I stopped and tried to take a photo with my phone, but who are we kidding?   It was so stunning I stopped two other pedestrians coming toward me to tell them to turn around a look at the moon.  Both of them actually did, stopped in awe, and thanked me as I sprinted*** off.

*** By “sprinted” I mean ran off at my 11-min mile.  And if you call that “jogging” in the comments, I will delete it.

Birthday photos

Postings have been sparse around here.  Some days it’s all I can do to get food on the table and school taught, without trying to see things in a new way that could be a photograph or a blog post.  It’s not really burn-out I don’t think, but running on empty. There’s no smoke coming from the engine, but there won’t be any side trips happening any time soon.

My observant husband has been noticing the high speed on my treadmill and wanted to encourage me to step off for a bit.  So he sent me away for my birthday.  It almost didn’t happen, but we persevered and Friday afternoon, I drove off while he set up the biology lab.   I had Friday mid-afternoon till Sunday at five all to myself.

It was lovely.  Quiet, not lonesome.  I took myself out for dinner and read a book at the table.  I stayed up late quilting and slept in late. I spent hours writing and reading and watching the old Masterpiece Theater Poldark while I quilted.  (I didn’t even know there was a remake until I googled it for this post.)   I ran around Lake Estes and got a haircut.  I ate leftovers all weekend without cooking anything.  All such simple things, but they added up to a restorative time, one I greatly needed.

Here are a few views from my weekend away.
Still a little bit of fall color.


Lake Estes.


image [I was running on the trail around the lake when I came upon this herd of elk and the crowd watching them.  What is the proper etiquette when you come upon a bunch of people watching elk?  (I didn’t want to scare off the wildlife and ruin the moment for everyone else, but I was sweaty and would get cold quickly.)  After a while, a bicyclist came by, and I followed him around them.]

After all this goodness on my weekend away, I came home to a clean(er) house, a winterized garden, and a completed AP bio lab. And tulips.

This time I got the weekend away AND the tulips.  Happy birthday to me, indeed!