Daybook: April

Outside my window: Spring.  [Sigh.]  I love spring.  I love the birds’ return and the tulips (both the ones in the garden and the ones I brought inside) and all the trees. I love our hens’ fresh eggs and the neighbors’ wind chimes.

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This is my neighbor’s crabapple tree, but this year it appears to be half-apple (on the bottom) and half-crabapple (on the top).

In the kitchen: Last night we had a Sabbath feast with friends visiting from far away. This week (for Holy Week) we’re planning a lot of soups- butternut squash, black bean with lime, white bean chili, rosemary potato.  Do you eat differently during Holy Week?

 

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In the school room: We finished our standardized testing last week, so this week we return you to our regular programming.  The younger kids are working on reports, Jonah is finishing up his AP content and working on review, and I’m studying for my Boards (on Friday).  I’m also hoping we can make it to this art exhibit at the medical school this week.

On my reading table: I’m deep in Girl in Translation (Jean Kwok). So good.

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In my shoes: I’m starting to run a little more.  And my runs are starting to feel like runs-with-a-little-walking, instead of walks-with-a-little-running.  I’m sure I’d go faster if I weren’t stopping to taking photos of blooming trees every ten feet.

Grateful: For Holy Week.  For a great Children’s Church yesterday, despite confusion about when we were excused from the service and who was supposed to be helping me (and for KC, who stepped in).

For Phoebe’s yoga classes she’s been teaching in my room at night: very relaxing. (She’s using these Yoga Pretzel cards to prepare her class.)

For friends who have visited us these past ten days and blessed us with their humor, their wisdom, their courage and their tears.

For Facetime with Fiji.

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Praying for: Egypt.  Syria. Refugees, and those who minister among them. The Neals and Simons.  Mandy, Judy, Anne, Dave, Christine, Lori, Ruth, Gill, Betsy.  My patients.  Those wondering when ICE will knock on their doors.  Patience and grace at home.  Courage to stand with the hurting.

May you have a holy week of walking with the Lord.  I’ll be back in this space after Easter.

Daybook 3.6.16

Outside my window: hail. We had a stunningly beautiful weekend with blue skies and warm sun, but this morning the light was greeny-yellow and made me think TORNADO. I don’t think I’ve ever seen hail this early in the spring. Especially since it’s technically still winter.

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In the garden: I watered the trees this weekend. I’ve been on crocus watch for ten days, and yesterday they hit their glory. I love crocuses. Spring bulbs remind me of the mystery.
Last week:
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Yesterday:
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It’s still too soon to pull all the leaf-mulch off the perennials, but I’m hoping to put carrots and some spinach in the square foot gardens this week.

In the school room: we are hoping to make it to the Denver Art Museum’s Star Wars Costumes exhibit. It’s supposed to be excellent. I’ll let you know.

Friday is the end of our third quarter of school, which has me thinking about pulling it all together: reviewing, reflecting on the essentials during these last nine weeks.

In the kitchen: We had pancakes and sausage for Shrove Tuesday last week, and then fasted over the weekend (with a few meals between Tuesday and Friday night.)  This week is busy.  We’re all going in different directions with long hospital hours (Sam), tutoring (Jonah), swim practice (Owen), dance rehearsals (Moriah), and gymnastic (Phoebe).  It’s lots of driving during the hours I would like to be in the kitchen, so there will be lots of prepare-ahead but low-key cooking right before dinner.  Pot roast with kale and blueberry salad, chicken-coconut-lime soup and homemade bread, crock pot carnitas tacos, and vegetable frittatas, and brined pork chops with wild rice and broccoli.

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On my reading shelf: I have a few titles queued up to read, including Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry and Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky, but they may have to wait until spring break. No free time right now.

On my mind: I have my Family Practice board exam next month, so much of my “free” time is going toward studying. It’s once every ten years, which seems like a long time, but every time it rolls around, it catches me off guard. Not already?

Grateful: for this year’s 30 hour famine, which we completed over the weekend. This was the first year all six of us have fasted together. It was a great way to begin Lent.  Every year it blows me away how much our lives revolve around food.  More on this to come.

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Also, we had a spontaneous trip to the movies last night to see the Lego Batman Movie. I couldn’t say I want to see any of the previews, but I laughed all the way through Batman. No spoilers here, but it somehow succeeded in simultaneously being deep and making DC child appropriate.

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Praying for: so many dear friends in the middle of huge (and hard!) transitions. The persecuted (the list is growing longer here). The hungry, both here and around the world.  Refugees and immigrants. Truth and wisdom for our government. The press.  My boards: for the discipline to study and the ability to update my knowledge. Jonah’s National History Day this weekend. Mandy, Ruth, Judy, Mick, Christine, Mary, Anne, Clare.

 

Early January Daybook

Outside my window: Snow.  I knew it was coming and had planned to take the girls skiing, but then CDOT closed the highway because of all the accidents.  So no skiing. The irony is not lost on me.  By the time I had finished my to-do list this morning, the kids had a bunch of neighbor children over to play, so I didn’t even make it out snowshoeing. (Looks like I might have another chance tomorrow.)

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In the kitchen: Beef noodle salad bowls, from Pioneer Woman. (Google it; I can’t get the link to work.)  They always get 6 thumbs up around here, and they don’t require a lot of beef.

On my mind: The January Money Diet.  This is the third year I have participated in a series of challenges to pull our finances into control.  During last year’s diet we saved a significant amount of money on non-essentials that was able to go toward our trip to London. Eliza’s challenge for day #2 this year was to go on a home scavenger hunt to find treasures you already have but aren’t using.  I unearthed some empty picture frames that were so dusty I had to vacuum them, but they look great on the wall.

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Around the house: mostly chaos.  I got the Christmas tree down and the ornaments packed away, but the rest of the decorations are up until tomorrow (Epiphany).  We are making slow progress on our new Harry Potter puzzle.

In the school room: We’re on break till Monday, but I did manage to complete the syllabus for Jonah’s comparative governments class.  I have a little grading to finish before we start back next week.

Our Eclipse Glasses arrived yesterday.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about the solar eclipse next summer.  I reread Annie Dillard’s essay Total Eclipse and found myself completely unable to explain to my family why I am over the moon (haha) about it.  There was a total lunar eclipse during my first week in Haiti, and the experience was amazing. I was in the kitchen trying to express this to my family, and all they could say was, “Why are you crying?”

Sam went off on this whole rant about how he saw the last one in 1979 at school so why is the 2017 one so amazing?  (Hello!  He remembers seeing the eclipse thirty-eight years ago! This was the first thing ever he told the children about his elementary school experience, but was it a big deal?  Apparently not.)  Anyway, the children are  but they are not impressed. Good thing they’re not in charge of our home school, or we’d never do anything cool.

August 21, 2017. Put it on your calendars.  Here’s the map to the see if you’re near the belt across North America where the solar eclipse will be total.

Grateful for:  the privilege of attending a lovely birth last week.  My dad’s generosity in driving my kids home from their once-a-week school, even when the roads are terrible.  A finished draft of my new novel. (I’m sure it won’t be the last draft, or the last novel.) Feeling better after the cold that knocked me flat on Tuesday.

Praying for: Mandy. Beth & family. Eileen’s family. So many of my patients who are dealing with bad news or challenging diagnoses.  Truth.  Hope.

 

Daybook: St Nicholas Day

Out my window: It’s cold. A storm is blowing in, and it smells like snow. Sam bought a heated water reservoir for the chickens, though, so hopefully none of us will have to thaw their water today.

In the liturgical year: It’s St Nicholas Day so the shoes, full of Dove chocolates and ornaments, are lined up by the fireplace. Normally I put Trader Joe’s chocolate coins in them, but it didn’t happen this year. I don’t think the children will mind. #chocolate.

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Maybe I should have vacuumed before snapping this photo.

Last year I was able to get my paws on my favorite St Nicholas book, The Baker’s Dozen. The children were asking for it yesterday, but I saved it for today.

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Around the house: Sam put up the twinkle lights this weekend, and our refugee friends came over to decorate our tree and have dinner.  It was a blast.  Jonah suggested we play Snorta (we’re always looking for games that don’t require reading) and everyone was laughing.
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My reading/praying chair is right there next to the tree. It needs a light for easier reading, but it’s bathed in the scent of the fir tree. I’m trying to figure out how to replicate that for the rest of the year without resorting to hanging a pine tree car air freshener from the ceiling.

In the school room: We’ve almost finished our first semester.  The next two weeks of school are lighter, but we should have time to wrap up The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons and The Mysterious Benedict Society, and read some of our Christmas books.

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Christmas books

Grateful: for the kids’ school choir performances last weekend.  Somehow their teacher pulls together 3 days of once-a-week school rehearsals into a super concert.  Owen had a solo (a teaser from the musical they’re doing in February) and rocked it, and the girls had a blast.

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The Great Salt Lake, one of many weird things between here and California

We celebrated Sam’s year of health (it’s been a year since his healing, can you believe it!) with a Thanksgiving road trip to California, and the only mishap we had in our 18-year old minivan was a burnt out headlight (for which the officer, after looking at my bedraggled just-drove-15-hours family, gave me only a warning).

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California Thanksgiving football game

For our new niece, who is healthy and arrived safely a week ago.  Hooray!

And finally, I’m grateful that my physical therapist gave me permission to start a couch-to-5K program yesterday.  My fitness (and my sanity) are almost completely gone, but my foot is doing so much better.  Time to get the rest of me back to health.

Praying for: for my patients, who are trying to make plans in case a January 21st deportation separates their families.  For Mandy, Ruth, Eileen, Christine and DB.  For our friends ministering in the Philippines and Fiji.  For the discipline of quiet this Advent to pray

Election Daybook

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Out my window: still roses and blue skies.  Such a gift. I might not be so grateful when I want to ski and there’s no snow, but today I am immensely grateful.

In the kitchen: We’re having a Taco Tuesday with neighbors tonight in hopes of defeating Lord Business.

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In the schoolroom: We finished Swallows and Amazons yesterday.  Those books are some of my favorites.  Even the older kids, who have been protesting rereading books we read a long time ago, gave no pushback about rereading this one.  We’re looking forward to the movie!  We reached 1500 in The World of Christopher Columbus and Sons, and it’s tense in the Mysterious Benedict Society.  Today we’ll be reading Sobel’s Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts.

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We’ve also been filling out hypothetical electoral maps.  Just the number of delegates per state generated some heated discussion among my kids.  They are excited to fill in the real numbers tonight, and Jonah is hooked on FiveThirtyEight.

The chess board has been pulled out, which is good and bad.  Good: chess is fruitful brain work.  Bad: the loser is really unhappy.

In my shoes: Still no running happening, though my physical therapist just cleared me to increase my walking “mileage” (not sure we can even call it that at this point) by 10% a week.

On my reading table: The kids listened to much of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows without me, so I’m filling in the bits I missed.  So much good stuff in those last three chapters.  And I’m reading Dick’s The Man in the High Tower, a 1962 counterfactual novel about what 1950 in San Francisco would have looked like if Japan and Germany had won WWII.  Fascinating.

Grateful for:  My friend Lori and I took the kids (minus one) to the Denver Art Museum this weekend.  I prepared a homemade photo scavenger hunt, which occupied most of them enough that she and I were able to have a conversation.  Look at this amazing then and now:

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The top photo was taken so long ago that the two youngest children weren’t even in it.  I am so grateful for both then, and now.

Praying for: Mandy.  Grace and perseverance for all that’s on my plate right now.  I pray for our friends in the Philippines- for their safety and peace during turmoil, and for our friends in Fiji.

And for our country I pray that after this challenging election season with so much divisive language and hateful rhetoric, we may as a nation choose mutual respect, justice, hope and a shared gratitude for the stability of our republic as we move forward into a new administration.

Daybook: mid-September 2016

Out my window: the roses are going crazy again.  The night was cools (in the 50s) and this morning is cool and gray.  We brought the London weather home with us, perhaps.

In the kitchen: Before we left, I froze already-cooked pork for tacos, and we have everything else.  But I need to soak some beans for a crockpot meal tomorrow, and I picked up a bunch of fruit from the store.  Tomorrow we have our CSA delivery, and I’ll plan our meals and more complete grocery shopping from there.
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No, these aren’t teabags. They are packets of Icelandic make-up removing cloths.  Something may have been lost in translation, though.

Around the house: We cleaned before we left, but you’d never know it.  The house is an explosion of laundry and travel-y odds and ends that haven’t found their homes again.

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Playing in Iceland.

On the school schedule: Jonah had his online classes from yesterday to make up. Everyone else has a little co-op homework to do, and we have music lessons, dance, and swim team tonight.  So while it’s a lighter day, it’s still plenty full.

Grateful for: a really good trip to London.  Our plane from Denver to Iceland had a mechanical malfunction, and they had to bring in a later plane, which caused us to miss our connection to Heathrow… but it meant the airline put us up in a hotel in Reykjavik overnight.  We ate lots of fish and walked the harbor… it was a lovely treat that seemed great to me.  The kids kept pointing out that it wasn’t an extra mini-vacation (as I kept calling it) but rather a day stolen from our plans.  However, it was a no-brainer to me to be grateful for a day in Iceland instead of a scary mid-flight diversion, or worse… maybe 9/11 is still in my heart and mind in a way it will never be for them.  Anyway, I was grateful.  I am grateful.

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From the window of our hotel in Reykjavik.

Praying for:  Mandy, Gerri and Jim (and all their families). Renee and her family as they mourn.  Marriages. Our friends serving overseas- for their encouragement, endurance, safety and connection.  Families still mourning the losses of 9/11.  Refugees.

 

Daybook: early August

Out my window: the heat is back.  We had a few days of cooler temps (and even one morning of mist and fog!) but alas, no more.  Remind me of this in February when I’m grousing about being cold.

Aforementioned mist:
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In the kitchen: I’ve been posting on our bounty of summer vegetables and our weekly meal plan, though I skipped our vacation week.  Over the weekend I asked the kids what meals they wanted for the rest of August, and they listed all our winter favorites: pot pie, shepherd’s pie, beef stew… Apparently they’re not down with the summer food program. Sadly, our CSA was hit with a terrible hail storm that killed the bulk of their summer harvest (all the tomatoes and peppers and the rest of the melons and corn)… so it may be back to supermarket produce for us after all, at least for this year.

In the school room: I’ve been organizing.  Momo gave me some great (meaning very specific) feedback about how to improve her French class for this year, and I’m happy about those changes.  The girls are very excited about all our school supplies (who doesn’t love school supplies!), and with the exception of the order of our literature read-alouds, I have our full year planned.  Wahoo!

Grateful for: My goddaughter is completely healed from her bacterial meningitis!  Thanks for all your prayers.  She and her family stopped by over the weekend, and it was so good to see her for myself that she is fully herself.

We have a new nephew, who (according to all photos and eyewitnesses) is the cutest little baby every born.  I can’t wait to meet him.

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We had a lovely, if short, vacation in the mountains last week. The highlight for me was our hike up Vail Mountain. We did this hike last year and everyone has good memories of it and was game to go again. It’s 5 miles one way (up) and gains 2160 feet. That’s an average grade of 7.9%. When several of our hikers fell weeping and whining to the dirt, crying, “How much longer? We’re neeeeeeevvvvverrrrr going to get there!” I remembered the agony of the second half of the hike. I must have blocked it out. Just like labor.

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Of course, at the top it was worth it.  Just like labor.

We also were able to spend a day with friends, playing in the (really cold!) river and swimming in the pool.

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On my book table: Jamie Martin’s Give Your Child the World and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.  These are the non-fiction titles I was hoping to read this summer, before I got sucked into two new-to-me mystery series.  I think I’m going to run out of time before Monday, especially since I have no willpower when it comes to turning off the Olympics and reading a book.

In my shoes: I’m nursing a sore foot with lots of stretching, yoga and ice.  What I really want to do, though, is run.  I ran 60 miles in July and my foot wasn’t worse, it just wasn’t any better.

Praying for: The Neals and Simons. Mandy, Judy, Caleb, Christine, Tammie, Gerri, and Lori.  Justine and family, adjusting to life as a family of four.  A good start to school and the quick return to good learning habits.