Phfr: while Daddy’s away

You know how it is. While Sam was gone, I was two hands short for every task. Now he’s home (hooray!!) and I’m catching up on my sleep. Everyone is happier.

Pretty: we had amazing weather. I dragged the children on a walk on Saturday. “But I don’t want to take a walk!” they said.
“Do you want to eat?” I asked.

We walked to a local Thai restaurant and took some games to stretch out our lunch. We saw this petty nest on the way.


Yes, it really was that sunny. I came home with a raccoon-like sunburn, which made everyone at church think I’d been skiing. I wish.

Happy: So we got to the restaurant and played Bananagrams, Timeline and Mancala while we waited for our awesome Thai food to come. They seated us in the back of the restaurant, away from the other patrons. It put us rather near the store room and the stacks of beer boxes, but at least we had a nice, big table.


Funny: Saturday night, the children begged to watch something on TV. We get two channels on a good day, and I don’t actually have any idea what’s on TV lately, except for the shows they advertise during Bronco games, which are certainly not appropriate for my children. The shows, I mean. Their friends at church and school love Dr. Who, but I haven’t watched Dr. Who since the fourth doctor (Tom Baker, with the long scarf), so I couldn’t judge whether that would be appropriate either. All my children know about Dr. Who are the Daleks (scariest alien ever!) from Mr. Bean’s Nativity sketch, and I don’t think they’re ready for Daleks.

So I loaded up an episode of the fourth doctor with robots gone wrong, and we watched it. The children were fascinated by the terrible special effects, and I reminded them that this was 1977 and they should have a little mercy.

The next day, Owen and I made these pizza rolls for dinner, and I include them here because the two on this side look like Daleks.  Exterminate!


Real: While Sam was gone, the girls asked me for a few wall hooks for their secret hideout. I said No. They have a fun cupboard under the stairs that even has its own light; they don’t need to be affixing blankets to my walls as well. They they had another great idea, which was to push the couch out from the wall and drape the curtains over the back of the couch. Which was all fine until their brother came and sat on the couch- and the curtains, thus ripping the hardware off the wall.


What was that I was saying about being short two hands?

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{p,h,f,r}: Autumn Days

Pretty:  I love autumn. I especially love October.  I love the color which is especially spectacular around here this year– probably because of all the rain we’ve had– and the light, which is so different from summer light. I walk around marveling at the color (“Look at that tree!”) and the light (“Look at the way the light is hitting the mountains!”) until my kids can’t take it any more.
Just look at the color of this bush!

Happy: I also love the cooler days.  My kids like to lounge in their jammies in the morning, so getting them out to the park early enough in the summer to beat the heat is hard.  In the autumn, we can head out at midday.

Look at how blue the sky is!

Funny:  Phoebe loves to make little rooms for her dolls all over the house.  If I find the family on a shelf, they live in an apartment.  She especially loves big books because “they make good floors.”  This family dinner occurred in the study.

The other day I found a doll’s bathroom set up in the hallway. I draped a little piece of wet paper towel over the edge of the bathtub and put a chocolate chip in the toilet. When I called her and told her to ask her people please to clean their bathroom, she dissolved in giggles and ate the chocolate chip. So much for sanitation.

Real: As I mentioned, I love light.  But the light in my kitchen is killing me.  The other day, the glare was so bad it gave me a migraine.  Any suggestions on how to hang curtains over a three-panel sliding glass door?  I need some help here.

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Not the Post I was Planning, so Grateful

I had planned a post on Links that make me think (as a counterpart to Links that Made me laugh) for today, but it was so depressing I’m going to skip it.  I think the heaviness in the world is weighing me down even more than the Pepsi and brownies.


So instead, I’m going to share a few things I’m grateful for today:

:: a day at the Denver Art Museum. We didn’t actually go to any of the galleries; instead, we spent two hours in the hands-on sculpture area.  I needed that.

:: visits from 3 dear friends (and children) during the past week, all timed while Sam was away.  What a blessing to have some company!

:: that I noticed the laundry rotting in the washer after only one day, instead of two (like last time)

:: yesterday’s run in the pouring rain. I’m especially grateful that it was only sprinkling when I started. Had it been pouring rain (as it did once I got to mile two) I certainly wouldn’t have gone at all.  I stopped at one point to take a photo of the water pouring in sheets off a roof, but I was so completely soaked and cold that my finger couldn’t conduct enough to unlock my phone.

:: the warm-air dryers at the rec center that I used to dry my shirt while I waited for the kids to finish swimming. (The little kid next to me thought I was crazy.)


:: girls who do school in costume.

:: boys who love to read on the couch.

:: the preterm baby we delivered last week, that mother and baby are doing well.

:: that Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home (Complete Collection) (Amazon kindle book or Paperback from Doulos Resources)  is available for pre-order. It’s coming out November 1st, just in time for Advent.

What are you especially grateful for today?

phfr: first week of school

Pretty: Last Monday was our first day of school.  We also threw a celebratory dinner for some friends.  We had steak and warm spinach bacon salad and a fruit salad and potatoes, but the highlight was this cake.

One of Sam’s hospital colleagues LOVES this cake and brings it from the Market at Larimer every time there is something to celebrate. Then Sam comes home and says, “She brought Special Cake again. It’s so good…” and goes on for ten minutes about how great was the cake [that he ate and I did not].

Anyway, my friend Kristina is an incredible baker, and she posted the recipe for this cake, actually known as Spring Fling Cake, on her blog. It’s not as hard as it looks, but it does have a lot of steps. It was worth it, but let’s just say that maybe next year it won’t be a whip-it-up-on-the-first-day-of-school cake.

Happy: SweetP’s cast came off last Monday morning (hooray!) which made a bike ride possible. So on day two of school, we hopped on our bikes and, with only moderate weeping and gnashing of teeth, rode to a new-to-us park for a picnic lunch. Why was there weeping and gnashing of teeth? I’m not really sure. There was something about how we shouldn’t eat outside. Bees, maybe? (For the record, the bees hadn’t fond the new park yet.) Once we got there, though, the new equipment and the workers replanting trees and the novelty of each person having his own bag of popcorn won the day.

Funny: I was out and about running errands one day last week, and I finally snapped a photo of a building I pass with some frequency. It always has me laughing. On the grass in front are little individual signs, too: Wedding Chapel! Reception Hall! Crematorium!

Real: This is what my house looks like:

I turn around, and the girls have opened a new Doll Hospital in my bathroom. Why in the bathroom? “Because the other hospital is full, Mommy.”

For more every day contentment, go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Daybook: early August


Out my window: the chickens are in my cucumbers.  Next year I’ll make fencing, but this year… well, I find I like watching the chickens more than I need cucumbers. So I’m happy to share.

In the kitchen: our CSA share has been bountiful, which surprises me given how much rain we’ve had.  Right now my favorite is green beans.  We like them fresh, or sautéed with a little garlic and soy sauce, or steamed…

On the calendar: this weekend alone is a birthday party, a hospital shift, Tae Kwon Do class, a planning breakfast, a meeting after church, lunch with friends, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Tempest.  That’s after I make it through today’s dentist visit, meeting at school, and visit from the Dell computer tech.   But now that Sam is not going to Liberia next week, I find my brain has opened back up and I can plan.  I will post more about the decision-process later.  The situation in West Africa is so heavy on my heart; thank you for praying.


In the school room: the high school we had “choiced” into for Jonah decided not to allow him to do part-time there, so we are now deciding between a different once-a-week homeschool program and two the community college options for his math.  Other than that, most of the pieces of our autumn schedule have come together.

I know you can’t see SweetP in the boat, but she’s there, safe in the bottom– I promise we didn’t lose her!

Grateful for: July was a month of many visits from dear guests.  The trips were all short and incredibly sweet– full of prayer and laughter and blessing.  I’m also so grateful for a really good vacation over this past weekend.  Phoebe was able to swim every day multiple times; everyone loved the white-water rafting and wants to go again; Sam and Owen had a great hike up the mountain; and my heart filled up with mountain air and space and wildflowers and hummingbirds again.  All much needed.


Praying for: the Neals’ trip to Fiji next week.  All the Ebola victims, their families, and all those working in incredibly difficult conditions to save them. Mandy. Judy. Heather & fam.  The Simons’ plunge back into life in Davao.  Clare.  My children.  Kathie’s healing. My friends who are foster parents– what a ministry.




{phfr}: vacation edition

Pretty: this is the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Chicago.  We spent one day in Chicago on our trip last week.  The highlight of the day was hearing friends (whom we hadn’t seen for 10 years) call our names at the train station in Hyde Park.  We had all lived there together years ago, and by chance had the same idea to visit the Museum of Science and Industry on the same day. What a blessing.

Happy: we spent two days at Sam’s sister’s home.  The girls spent most of their time in the pool.


Funny: The Museum of Science and Industry has a chick-hatching incubator, and SweetP spent half an hour watching a chick work his way out of his egg.  Her face was my favorite part of the exhibit.

Real: Now we’re back to real life, complete with piles of laundry, an empty refrigerator, and hundreds of emails to answer.  All the same, there’s no place like home.



For more every day contentment, go check out Like Mother Like Daughter!


{Pretty}:  Our new neighborhood has lots of paths I like to run. Along one path is a row of these trees, which I’m sure are not native to Colorado. (And would I be able to identify them if they were? Likely not.) Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?


{Happy}: Monday my friend Renee and I ran the Bolder Boulder.  This was my second time running it.  Last time, I was pretty sure I had done everything wrong by mile 1.  This time, we registered late, stopped whenever we wanted (at the side of course), ran through every sprinkler there was, and had a great time.  Once again, my attitude about any activity is 80% of the problem (or solution).

{Funny}: Has anyone seen this man?  This is Moriah’s sculpture of my dad.  All of us totally recognized him.

{Real}: I took a bunch of children to the tennis court. We had six children, seven rackets and two balls. My young friend there in the party dress was the most fun, with the racket that was almost as tall as she was and a strong desire to run laps around her brothers.

{Real} :

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{phfr}: Easter Week


This was the sky on Easter night.  As if God had taken a cosmic paintbrush to the heavens.




My laundry line is back!  Seriously, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hang my laundry outside.  In our old neighborhood, the neighbors identified me as “she lives in the house with the clothesline.”  Here, it’s really not in anyone’s view but ours.  And yours, now, since I just tortured you with it.  Now I am “that weirdo who blogs about her clothesline.”


While the curves look like a tocometer measuring a labor pattern, it’s really just our day-by-day readout of our solar power.  The panels came with the house, but the monitoring system was just installed.  Accessible from my phone, this is totally addictive.  How much electricity are we using (red)? How much are we receiving from the sun (green)?  Even Sam is impressed and mentioned that seeing the power usage is going to make his case for using A/C this summer more difficult.


The sandbox is fully functional.  I know this because the girls go out there as soon as it’s warm enough in the morning (good) and my entire house– but especially the kitchen and bathroom– are covered in a fine layer of sand (bad.)


For more everyday contentment via {phfr}, go check out Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Daybook: April

Out my window: SUN!!  Also, enormous quantities of mulch.

In the kitchen: I’m participating in a four-family frozen meal swap soon, so there’s ground beef thawing.  I’m trying to imagine four batches of chili simultaneously, but it’s such a production it may have to be two double-batch jobs. Followed by two double-batch pot pies and enchiladas… It will be worth it in the end, I’m sure.



The animals came to the science fair. They didn’t ask a lot of questions.


In the school room: this is science fair week, so we’ve been making our posters and practicing “defending” them.  Thank goodness we did– we found a huge error in Moriah’s results table, which happily was fixed before the fair.  Also, Jonah had to dissect a crayfish.  Moriah was fascinated, so she sat there next to him asking questions.  I was set to call her back to “her” work when I realized (just in time) how much they were both getting out of the experience.


Who cares if her grammar assignment is delayed by a day?

Around the house: Our house blessing was such a… well, a blessing.  Our friends’ prayers and presence gave me great  joy.  An added bonus: we cleaned before it, so I’ve been enjoying that, too.



On my mind: I just read How She Does It by Anne Bogel.  It’s part inspiration, part how-to for thinking creatively about how to give the most to both family and work.  There’s been a pattern in my reading lately–fiction, alternated with how-to-fit-it-all-in books.  Fiction, for when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  How-to when I’m ready to tackle the too-much.


Dance break! Photo by SweetP


Grateful: for Saturday’s house blessing and all the lovely people who blessed us there.  For flowers in the house, even if especially since there aren’t any outside in my garden year.  Dance breaks.  Afternoon soccer and volleyball.  Sunday’s long run.


What the children do during read-aloud time

Praying for: Mandy.  Jeremy & Amy.  Sam’s back. Clare. Deb.  Our youth group’s 30-hour famine (coming up soon!).  To see my work- all the different parts of it- life less like puzzle pieces and more as a ministry of presence.


Daybook: Chinese New Year

Happy New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Horse, which I hope is a sign that the Broncos will win the Super Bowl. (Cause it’s not the Year of the Seagull.)


Outside my window: Snow.  I know that’s the case  for everywhere else in the country because the weatherwoman said so and she is always right.

Look at the lovely bird prints I found when I was shoveling.  A bird must have been hopping around on the new snow in the driveway before I pulled the car in, because I found them under the car.

What I’m hearing: SweetP’s tap dancing.  Shuffle-step-ballchange.  Shuffle-step-ball-change.

In the kitchen: tonight is roasted potatoes, peppers and kielbasa.  And a fruit salad and whatever vegetables are in the fridge that haven’t gone mushy. Lunch was whatever we could scrounge in the leftover department.  Good eats around here, I tell you.

In other news, in six days I get to start filling ginormous refrigerator with food and random condiments.  I’m sure this is the only time it will be free of fingerprints.

Even bigger than the refrigerator are the washer and dryer you see there in the laundry room.  They are so big that the builder has to take out the door frame and door and replace them with ones 4 inches narrower. Whoops on my part. But won’t I have a lot of clean laundry?

In the school room: Tuesday was a snow day, because we went skiing. Or rather, we tried to go skiing.  Everyone was wearing snow clothes. Skis and boots and helmets and lunches and children were all in car.  We made it to within 5 miles of the resort, and there was a whiteout. Like, blizzard.  The only thing I could see was the line of cars coming down from the ski area. We made it to the parking lot and were able to see that two of the beginner lifts were closed.  Long story short, we drove home with SweetP crying, “But we did all this work! But we did all this work!”  The day was not a complete bust, but there was no schoolwork, per se, happening.  Anyway, after all that you can see why today had to include math and science and writing and reading and history and music.

Around the house: still packing boxes.  What I need are three huge boxes for wind chimes and snow shoes and assorted large sundries that don’t fit in the twenty sturdy-but-small boxes I have.

On my reading table: we just read this lovely picture book about the Chinese New Year.  Like many books I enjoy, it describes a universal event (the New Year) through the lens of an individual family. The story of this child in this place was what was important, but through it, we learned about the bigger world.

And for whatever reason, we brought home a pile of Strega Nona books.  This one on gardening was new to us.

The books I am reading include Angel with a Bullet (Grant), Tasting the Sky (Barakat), and A Song in the Night (Massie). A very eclectic collection, but so far I’m enjoying all three.

Grateful for: a walk in the snow. Bird song, even in winter. Renee’s gift of child care yesterday.  Wendy and Jack’s prayers for me last week.


Shelves in the closet (happy thought indeed).
Praying for: Lori. Mandy. Amy. Betsy. No snow next Thursday.