Daybook: Mid-January

Outside my window: It’s 67 degrees and sunny. My windows are open and Julian (a.k.a. Cat#2) has spent the day watching birds at the window. The chickens even laid four eggs yesterday.

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In the kitchen: Cuban Flank Steak with Mango Salsa (from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Dinner: Changing the Game), and Deviled Eggs. I am very grateful everyone wants to cook right now. Phoebe (a.k.a. Chef #2) even cleaned up, but don’t say anything because I don’t want her scare her off from doing it again sometime by accident.

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Chef #2

At lunch, we had ice cream sandwiches. I think Mary Poppins had a song about that. “Just a small ice cream sandwich helps the algebra go down!” We listened to Randall Munroe’s Ted Talk on math answering cool questions.

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In the school room: One of the questions Randall Munroe can answer is, “How much force did Yoda use to raise Luke’s X-wing fighter from the Dagoba swamp?” (He needed Star Wars wikipedia page to find out the mass of an X-wing fighter and the gravity on Dagoba.) And here’s a link to Wired Magazine, where they calculate the physics of the tie-fighters’ formation in the Star Wars trailer. Just in case you needed it for some lunch-time math.

We are also reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter right now, but the effect is blunted by our own balmy weather.

On my reading table: I just read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which Owen & Moriah are reading for school. I’m listening to A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter. I thought I was almost to the end, and then I checked and I’m only on chapter 16 out of 34. I’m not sure what’s going on, or if I’m going to be able to get through it all the way before the library yanks it off my device. And I’m reading Helen Thorpe’s The Newcomers, which is excellent.

Grateful: for tomorrow’s release of my second book, Lost Things. I’ll be over at Karen’s Killer Book Bench tomorrow with details on its release, an excerpt and a giveaway. If you can’t wait that long, all the pre-order links are here.

I’m also grateful for the two cats (Graycee and Julian) who joined our family last week.

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A game of Bird Bingo with Julian.

Praying for: Mandy, Bishop Gerry, Austen, Lori, Ruth, Christine. Refugees. Patience. For our cats to become friends.

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Daybook: Mid-December

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Outside my window: dark. And cold, too, though it’s supposed to warm up enough for a comfortable run later. Whether I’ll have time is  different matter.

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In my shoes: I’ve been running at the end of the day again. Somehow, between the aforementioned darkness and cold, I can’t quite get myself in gear to run before our school day starts. Instead I’ve had a few beautiful sunset runs, one under the Supermoon (which connected me with a whole bunch of moon-runners on Instagram) and one where I saw an enormous owl, whom I managed not to scare away.

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In the kitchen: I’m in a cooking funk.  I write out meal plans but don’t want to go to the store, so when it comes to four o’clock and I drag myself back into the kitchen (which is invariably awash in piles of dishes and school books and bags and mail) I realize I don’t have some crucial ingredient.  Some weeks are like that, even in Australia.*

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When I went though my photos last week, I found that I had taken almost the exact same photo of this ornament 7 years ago. His name is Harry. He’s what I feel like every day at 4:30p.m., which is exactly why I need to run in the afternoon.

On my reading pile: We started our annual reading of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and we all sat around chuckling at the same jokes as we always do. I love that book. When I’m without children, I’m reading Lydia Reeder’s Dust Bowl Girls, which I mentioned over here on my book blog.

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In the school room: I realized a few weeks ago that we hadn’t been doing enough art.  My high schoolers were whining and complaining when we did it, so I’d been skipping it, but my youngers need a lot of art. So we’re back to sitting at the table while I read, at least once a week. The boys can opt out if they want, but I’m making it available. (More often than not, they join in, even though they’re too cool# for it.)

We’re doing our exams this week on history and literature. This involves narrations (e.g., drawing a comic, making an annotated diagram, writing a page, or asking 5 questions about the reading).

Also, it’s recital season. Last week we had two recitals (one piano, one piano and violin), and this week we have a concert and two Nutcracker performances. It must be December.

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Grateful for: great music teachers. My in-laws’ beautiful reminiscences of their dad last week. Xeljanz. Running. The upcoming release of my book, Lost Things.^

Praying for: Mandy, Judi, Lori, Christine, Bishop Gerry, Scott, Aimee, Austen. All those who are mourning lost loved ones more than ever at this time of year. Refugees and those who minister among them.

*No, I’m not in Australia. #No, it’s not humanly possible to be too cool for art. ^Coming out January 10, 2018.

Daybook: End of November

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Outside my window: it’s cold today, after 75 and sunny yesterday. Similar (emotional) swings are occurring inside the house as well. The light and shadows are so close and so stark this time of year.

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In the kitchen: today we’re going to have beef pasties. This is my new favorite grab-it-and-go meal. (I just wish someone else were doing the prep before I grabbed it.)

In the school room: we really needed our break last week. Now we are regrouping and trying to press on till our longer break at Christmas. I took a few minutes Sunday night, when I do my usual school prep, to assess the growth so far this year and it’s been significant. Hopefully I will remember that when I stare down far we have to go.

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In my shoes: We went for the independent (a.k.a. free) turkey trot this year, and I ran a beautiful four miles. Yes, it’s the same four miles I usually run, but it seemed sunnier than usual, and I felt lighter. (That feeling went away after dinner.)

In my reading pile: I spent a good chunk of the weekend reading, finishing Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Gabaldon), Sourdough (Sloan), and The Attenbury Emeralds (Walsh). The trick after so much feasting is going back to being able to read only a little bit here and there.

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Grateful for: a Thanksgiving celebration with my parents.  We shared dinner and decorated their Christmas tree with them, which has become a cherished tradition. It’s been two years since Sam was miraculously healed. We are still celebrating that! I’m grateful for Phoebe’s confirmation this weekend- it was joyful and beautiful and precious.

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Praying for: More miracles, of new life and healing, in other lives that are dear to me. Mandy’s new knee (going in today!)

Daybook: late October

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Outside my window: Still dark. But once the sun comes up, there will be leaves to rake and a crisp morning. I’m hoping to make it out for a run today.

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This autumn has felt especially colorful and precious to me, and I think it’s because I missed much of autumn last year because of my injury. I couldn’t run, or even really walk around the neighborhood, because my foot hurt so badly. Now I am so grateful to be outside.

In the kitchen: my mental energy is elsewhere right now, so it’s going to be easy staples this week: simple soups (butternut squash, potato-dill, Jerusalem lentil) and eggs of various kinds. And maybe some pumpkin ribbon bread.

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In the school room: Phoebe had a breakthrough last week, seeing some progress in areas that have been challenging for her. I think it’s very hard to be the youngest- she spends a lot of time thinking she’s behind, when really, she’s just younger.

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Meanwhile, Jonah is working hard on college and scholarship applications. This process has shown me where lie some gaping holes in my educational plans. It’s hard to be the oldest- he’s the guinea pig for all my theories.

Today is the end of our first quarter. We need to get to the library for new books (and return all ones that are overdue…)  I think it’s time to schedule a reading day.

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We collected a bunch of leaves two weeks ago before the snow, and last week I got around to ironing them in waxed paper.  The kids couldn’t remember the word for ironing board and were very puzzled as to why I had it out. We certainly never use it for ironing clothes.

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Grateful for: second (and third and fourth) chances. The medical miracle I witnessed last week. Friends.

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While Jonah and I look at colleges this weekend, Owen’s going to visit his godparents. I am so grateful for our children’s godparents and their investment in our kids.

Sam and I had a chance to get away this weekend. It was a trip we’d scheduled and then had to cancel last year. We slept in, read books, ran long, and ate delicious meals we didn’t have to prepare or clean up afterwards. So many gifts.

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Praying for: New life, both literal and metaphorical. Mandy. Luke. Upcoming college visits. Discipline. Our group of four young confirmands at church as they prepare for confirmation.

 

Daybook: mid-September

Outside my window: Today is the first day in a few that the air is clear again.  The smoke from the fires has meant I’m seeing lots of asthma in my office, and terrible allergies at home.  Y’all know how it kills me to run the A/C, but it’s hot enough in the afternoons still that keeping all the windows closed is unpleasant. First world problem, I know. At least I have windows.

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It didn’t occur to me until well after I took the photo that perhaps this wasn’t the healthiest air in which to run.

In the garden: It’s time to bring in the 13 butternut squash we grew.  I say we, but of course I mean the soil and sun and water.  All I did was prune the vines when they tried to take over the lawn.

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said vines, said lawn

In the kitchen: The farm has been giving us lots of tomatoes and corn, good summer food.  We’ve been freezing lots of marinara (anybody have experience using their Instant Pot as a pressure canner?) and peaches.  I’m going to be so grateful for those peaches when we finally remember to use them in my smoothies and crumbles.

In the school room:  We have been taking field trips.  It wasn’t my intention to start in so early with field trips, but I couldn’t pass on the eclipse, or on MSF’s Forced from Home exhibit last week.

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We were pretty impressed even with the partial eclipse leading up to totality.

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And then we were blown away. Midday darkness, cold, and the corona… it was incredible. Even my skeptical husband was impressed.

The MSF exhibit Forced from Home is absolutely worth a day. (Find the upcoming stops here: Forced from Home.)  The exhibit begins with an introduction to the work of MSF (a.k.a. Doctors Beyond Borders) and then allows you to walk through the refugee/IDP experience in an interactive fashion, forcing you to make hard choices with inadequate information.

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I hoped the exhibit would give us all a better sense of what our refugee friends went through, and it did that in a small way.  The bigger, more surprising impact it had was the opportunity to show my kids and dad what my experience in the Cholera Treatment Center was like. (NB: I did not work with MSF, but with Samaritan’s Purse which was working in the same area of Haiti.)  The MSF volunteer led us to a model of a cholera treatment center, and talked about the gritty details of it: the cots with holes cut in them for patients too weak to make it to a toilet, the IV poles, the buckets used for toilets… My family were able to see some of what I had done, and what was a transformative experience for me.

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Forced from Home is a great exhibit, staffed with actual MSF volunteers who are articulate about their work and why they do it.  Definitely make time for it when it comes near you.

Grateful: that our school rhythms are beginning to become habits.  For Sam and Phoebe’s good trip to Chicago. For meaningful work and the inspiration of others who are so brave. For my friend Lori & her crew’s coming up to go to Wonder Woman with us. For a weekend walk with Christy.

Praying for: refugees, IDPs, asylum-seekers, migrants and others forced from home, and those who work alongside them. For families who lost loved ones on 9/11. For the ability to listen to one another.  For many near to me who are hurting and afraid.

Daybook 8.7.17

Outside my window: rain. We were supposed to meet friends for a hike, but due to a high fever and rain (or, either one of them individually), this is what we’re doing instead:

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Yes, that is the 2014 movie, Annie. I like to think of it as Dickens lite.

In the kitchen: Meal prep. This is the difference between cooking on vacation and cooking during the school year. I plan my meals and shopping year-round, but during the school year, I don’t have time to cook ingredients on school days. So I broke down and bought an Instant Pot. (This link will take you to the an affiliate link for the Instant Pot on Amazon, and any purchase you make will benefit a great organization, Foster Source, that supports foster families. If you buy through them, Colorado foster families receive training and direct support. Thank you!) The Instant Pot jury (that would be me) is still out. Yes, I can cook an enormous amount of chicken for salads and enchiladas and future recipes in less than an hour, but man, the thing is huge. I feel like NASA every time I turn it on. Is this the time it’s going to explode?

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Before I loaded up the rocket Instant Pot, Moriah made miniature apple strudels for lunch. At some point I will have to come up with something else to have with them.

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Also, I have some bread rising. It’s my first time making this recipe (Oatmeal Bread, from The More with Less Cookbook) since early spring, when it got too hot to bake bread. I always seem to forget something on the first round. Initially, it required a trip to the grocery store, because I forgot to check my ingredients before I started throwing things in the bowl. Hopefully I didn’t forget to put anything in the bowl.

What I’m hearing: Dear Evan Hansen on Pandora, which means a funny potpourri of clear tenors (like You’ll Be Back, from Hamilton) and angsty high school songs (like Beautiful from Heathers). Also, a chicken is announcing that she just laid an egg. That’s a different kind of angst.

In the school room: school supplies. I love them. Also, stacks of books and half-laid plans. I have a ways to go. More on school planning coming up.

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On my reading list: I’ve been listening to All Clear on my runs and hikes. I’m also rereading The Martian (see above note about NASA) while I wait for Lost in a Good Book (book two in the Tuesday Next series) by Jasper Fforde to come in at the library.

On my mind: Our numbers are dwindling around here. Jonah is working about 20 hours a week, and Owen has been volunteering most days this summer. It has meant a constantly changing number of faces around our table, and in and out of the house. This fall will be more of the same, with Jonah at a local college for classes a few days each week. I guess it’s getting me ready for next year’s big shift, but even this is uncomfortable.

Grateful: for our weekend celebrations of my dad’s 80th birthday. (He would like to say that, despite how this photo appears, he is not an invalid. We were going for “king on throne” but managed instead to achieve “doting family surrounding patriarch in wheelchair.”)

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Praying for: Mandy, Judy, Christine, Lori, Ruth. My aunt and cousins, who are mourning my uncle’s death. Patience and peace, even in the midst of change.

Daybook: Mid-June

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written a daybook.  I’ve missed the ritual of logging my thoughts here.

Outside my window: Heat. I’m back to opening the windows early to lower the temperature inside the house, and then closing them up at the nadir.  Yesterday (which hit 87 degrees) the A/C didn’t come on until 4 pm.  Not bad.  I didn’t get it as low today, though, so I think the air will be on longer.

In the kitchen: Our first CSA farm delivery will happen this week.  I’m looking forward to peas and garlic scapes.  Last night I made this chimichurri (minus the jalapenos). Delicious.

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In the garden: The flowers are really beautiful right now.  The vegetables are growing as fast as they can… probably trying to make up for lost time, since I planted them so late.  The chickens got out of their yard last night (someone left the gate open), but the hens were so overcome by the delectable glory of green grass that they didn’t even notice my vegetables. Phew.

What I’m hearing: Owen is playing the piano. It’s a little wonky, because Jonah broke the harpsichord pedal. The middle range is stuck on harpsichord, and the outer octaves are still piano.  Here’s hoping the tuner will know how to fix it.

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In the school room: We have started our summer reading program, as well as one from the Tattered Cover (a local bookstore we love).  Jonah is studying occasionally for the SAT subject tests.  (I wrote the date down wrong and didn’t realize I had the date wrong until after he’d missed it. Whoops. Now he’s rescheduled to take them in August.)  Everyone else is doing a little math every few days, though not as consistently as I’d like.

Summer rhythms:  We are sticking to our 7-things-before-getting-on-a-device plan, although I need to make some adjustments, namely: after they’re on the computer/phone, I need to have an ending time so it doesn’t magically morph into the rest of the day.

I had grand plans for my writing this month, but today was the first day I’ve been able to type after nearly amputating my fingertip last week.  The ER was able to throw a stitch in it to reattach it, though I suspect the fingernail is never going to be quite right again.

Jonah is babysitting and working at the library.  Owen completed a junior-lifeguard training last week and is assisting teaching swim lessons and lifeguarding for the next few weeks. The girls just wrapped up a ballet performance on Saturday and are looking forward to our neighborhood theater camp.

On my mind: How long will it be until a black life is recognized as the having the same God-given value as a white life?   The words of Job 19:7 are on my heart: “’Though I cry, “Violence!” I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.'”

Grateful: For a fantastic visit from my sister-in-law Mandy last week.  We had a blast playing Exploding Kittens and hanging out and doing crafts.

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Wow, this is some great posture my kids have!

I’m grateful for my dad, and Sam who is an amazing dad to our children.

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For the blast we had at the Dignity Festival this weekend.  My kids were willing (with a little prodding) to journey out of their comfort zones to learn about the challenges and strength of the refugee community here in Colorado.

For the persistence and courage of journalists and bloggers who are not willing to take easy answers to their questions and have the guts to write the truth, even when it’s hard.  I am grateful to those whose words and example open my eyes to my own prejudice and ignorance. (For good writing on the subject of racism and the Church in America, here is a place to start.)

Praying for: Judy. Mandy. Justine & family. Jen.  Lori. Christine.  Mary & family.  Laughter.  Refugees, both near and far. A first response of “yes!” to my kids, instead of, “I’m too busy.”  For justice to roll like a river.  Healing for my hand.  To be woke, and stay that way.