Daybook: Peak Summer

Outside my window: we had a weirdly rainy June, and July has been an oven, so everything is very green and extra enormous, even the weeds. Somehow the fruit trees managed a huge bloom between the late spring snowstorms, so the fruit trees are heavy with tiny pears and peaches. The roses finished blooming just as the Japanese beetles were arriving, so the beetles have thus far been thwarted. It’s like everything and everyone spent the entire last year of quarantine planning how to make up for lost time.

In the kitchen: the saga of the Seven (actually we’re down to five) Silly Eaters continues. Do you know that book? It’s my favorite Mary Ann Hoberman book, and Martha Frazee’s illustrations are perfect. One of our therapists recommended eating out more as a form of exposure therapy, and so instead of my cooking weird, crazy meals to meet multiple people’s dietary needs, we spend hours each week arguing over which restaurant to go to. Will it be too crowded? Do they use paper or cloth napkins? Are they paying a living wage to their workers? It’s fun, I tell you.

The Seven Silly Eaters

In the school room: It is summer, so I’m not actually teaching anything formally. However, Moriah is doing the Colorado Governor’s school but over Zoom, just so that every postponed fun thing we were looking forward to would be dead by the time we do it. It’s been full of lessons in “independent time management” with her family peering in the French doors to make sure she’s not playing computer games on the side and wasting this beautiful opportunity.

Somehow Jonah’s postponed summer research program managed to assemble twenty vaccinated college students who are all obsessed with biology, and he has had an amazing summer doing ornithology research, hiking in the Great Smokey Mountains, watching Planet Earth and applying for graduate school.

Owen has been working long hours lifeguarding at a very sunny, very crowded outdoor pool, or as I like to think about it, “reflecting on the benefits of higher education.” It will also make them grateful to go on vacation with us, so there’s that.

Phoebe’s summer has been a hodgepodge of pet sitting, speaking at environmental rallies, volunteering at the botanic gardens, diving, and complaining.  She won her age group’s regional diving meet last week after a very controversial, late protest lodged by the East German judge that will go down in history. Today we’re headed to the country club for the state meet. The riffraff is reminded to bring their own towels and that the use of cell phones and the wearing of denim is not allowed.

On my reading pile: Ostensibly I’m prepping for our fall classes, including Moriah’s senior English literature class and a middle school course on the economics of the Green New Deal. (Teach to their interests, right?) In reality, it means I’ve been rereading all my favorite memoirs (including Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audio) and wondering how the planet is going to survive capitalism.

In my shoes: This has been the Summer of the Hike for me. It’s not the once a week I fantasized about, but it’s certainly more hiking than I’ve done in recent memory.

Grateful: We have continued our dinnertime practice of gratitude, and it works! It works! There is far too much to list here, but I am grateful for the chance to celebrate my dad’s birthday with him, some vacation on the horizon, being back at church in person, Moriah’s dance company’s fantastic production of Giselle, and an army of tiny origami pigs.

Praying: to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Peace to you today, friends.

In which I become the old woman who keeps cats

Sometime last year, my kids downloaded an app called Neko Atsume. It’s a Japanese Kitty Collector app (that makes it sound like that is a whole category of apps) in which you set out virtual food and virtual toys to attract virtual cats to your virtual yard. The cats, in turn, give you virtual fish and little virtual mementos of their virtual visits. What’s not to love?


There’s truly no action in this “game.” I’m not sure it should rightly be called a game at all. No competition. No skill. No prizes. No levels. I love it anyway.


This is Jeeves, who was very hard to attract to my yard, finally came last week, and gave me a small silver pocket watch. (More typical mementos include “random seeds” and “A small used stuffed penguin.”)

Anyway, while I was off collecting virtual cats, Sam began adopting real cats. This is Graycee:


and this is Julian:

I have to ask: who is this man who keeps bringing home cats, and what did he do with my husband? (If you see my actual husband somewhere, let me know. Reward offered.)


Hey! I just caught a Ponyta!

You may have heard of a little phenomenon going on.  Pokemon Go, anyone?

Owen downloaded it last week, but it kept crashing on his phone.  Phoebe had better luck on my phone, and we’ve been walking around our neighborhood (and others) to catch Pokemon and incubate our eggs.  I think it’s hilarious.

Yes, I’ve read about all the downsides.  Pokemon Go may be getting almost as much press as the Donald.  But this is what it’s done to my stepcounter:


A game that gets my kids asking me to walk around the neighborhood (“Can we go for another walk, Mom?”) gets five stars.  Did Michele Obama design this game?

I caught three Pokemon inside Old Navy last week, while Moriah was trying on shorts.  Old Navy for the win!

P.S. Yes, I fixed the terrible typo on my runniversary post, in case anyone was horrified by the idea of my running through Linden trees dripping in blood.

Too many loose ends

You know the feeling, I’m sure.  You’re an octopus, with so many tender tentacles dipped in shallow tide pools on the beach.  The water levels are uncertain, all changing.  Your tentacles are dangling like participles in the air, waiting till they can get back into the water.  Will you dry out before the tide rises again?  Perhaps the tide has just gone out.  You know it will come back in, but watching the ocean recede for six hours before it can rise again is killing you.

That was April and May for me.

Now I’m on the other side of things.  I am swimming in new seas: working at a new hospital and planning the next school year.  I have given away some of my hats, including handing over the reigns of our church’s children’s ministry to a gifted, committed friend. A (different) friend’s baby, for whom I was keeping watch, has arrived safely.  Sam and Jonah had a blast traveling, and now all my chicks are back in the coop.

The water has moved back up the beach, and all my arms are submerged again.  I’m busy in a good way, instead of fretting over a future I can’t control.

Where is your tide these days?  Too high?  Going out?  Swamping the tide pools on the beach?

Grateful: school this year

Sam and I jumped straight from “phew, we finished!” into “what’s next?”

The kids, however, are hoping to savor their accomplishments  for a few minutes.  And by accomplishments, I don’t mean their grades or test scores.  What they are most excited about:

Phoebe learned how to ride her bike.


Moriah learned to make all kinds of baked goods and expanded her dog walking business to four days a week.


Owen taught courses in computer programming using Scratch at the public library. (And somehow I refrained from sneaking in to photograph it.)


Jonah had an adventure in China.


I am thrilled by the perseverance each of them showed along the way.  What I love about home schooling is not when something comes easily, but being able to watch them confront a challenge and figure out the way through it.

Being present with them is an honor, and I am so grateful that we had this year of school together (even if I didn’t get to go to China.)

Daybook: late March

Out my window: Snow, and light (even though it’s almost dinner time.)  Goodness, I hate the dark, cold mornings when we change the clock, but I love running right before dinner.

In the kitchen: Momo made Irish soda bread this morning, to go with my green potato-broccoli soup.  Happy St Patrick’s Day!

What I’m hearing: The girls are singing Hamilton at the top of their lungs (“I am not throwing away my shot!”) while Jonah practices piano.  Honestly, it’s a little much.

Around the house: We have a vacation coming up, so lots of people are fighting over the washing machine.  I’ve been trying to get the floors vacuumed and the bathrooms clean before we go. (I don’t mind leaving a dirty house, but I love coming home to a clean one.)


In the school room:  For some reasoneveryone is finishing math books at the same time. They didn’t start them at the same time, so it’s a mystery to me how this great Math Confluence came about.  We are enjoying CNN student news and Crash Course in World History regularly over lunch.  Reading-wise, we’re working on biographies and The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis).

In my shoes: I am slowing increasing my mileage after a slow winter.  It kills me that I lose fitness so quickly.  I ran 5 miles last weekend and then could barely walk the next day. #old

On my reading tableThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (everyone else listened to the audio book without me and loved it, so I’m catching up) and War and Peace (Tolstoy).  Has anyone ever noticed how long it is?  I’m on chapter 25 and am only 10% done, according to my kindle.  (But thank goodness I’m reading it on kindle, or I’d have wrist strain.)

Burma is just over those mountains.

Grateful: That the chickens are laying eggs again.  That Mandy is off IVs and Heather is out of the hospital! (Those three items are not in order of importance.) Spring walks. Myanmar’s (Burma’s) election. That our Karen friends invited us to a birthday party- hooray for friendship!

Praying for: Refugees around the world, and hearts at home that would welcome the stranger.  Our friends serving God far away (and at home).  Wisdom as I make some job-related decisions.  Patience.  A restorative vacation.  Marriages. We have so many dear friends who are struggling.  Continued healing for Mandy and Heather.


Beat the February Blues

Happy February to you!

February can be such a hard month for schooling. For living. It’s the month when I ask myself what on earth I thought I was doing when I decided to homeschool. It’s the month I most need fresh flowers in the kitchen and a whole day off tucked into the corner of the couch with a novel. February is when I wish I had a personal chef, housecleaner and live-in masseur.

In the past, I’ve tried digging in deeper where we were. Other years, I’ve taken a break from what was on our list and focused on something entirely new. In that spirit, I’m going to spend this month on the blog sharing an idea each day to help you Beat the February Blues. Let the fun begin!  Be sure to share your own ideas in the comments.

Off to the phone store…

It’s finally happened.  My phone fell in the toilet. (At least I had already flushed.)  We immediately popped it into a bag of rice, which promptly got into the plug inlet and expanded.  So now it can’t charge.  Good-bye, phone.

Stupidly, I hadn’t synced since July.  Serves me right.

I think Phoebe is the most bummed.  She’s dragging herself around the house.  Mourning.  “I had the awesomest minecraft world on your phone…”

Maybe the new one will have an even better camera.  There’s always that.

Here are a few photos of a recent physics class taught by my awesome substitute teacher Renee while Sam was in the hospital…


SQT: home from the hospital

One:  Sam is home.  This is the important thing.  They sent us home Tuesday, less than twenty-four hours after they cut a seven centimeter incision into his abdomen. (TMI? At least there’s no photo.)  At last they glued it closed (and maybe used a few stitches under the skin) before they kicked him out.

Two: Consequently he has a new respect for all you women who have had C-sections and then had to care for babies afterward.  This is no joke.

Three: This leaves me to be the mean caregiver who is consequently yelling at him all the time to walk around and use his incentive spirometer, since we don’t have any nurses to do it for us.  Hopefully his pain medicine will keep him from remembering much of this.

Four: Now that he’s home, the children can stop worrying that he’s going to die and focus on complaining about how much math I assigned them.

Five: And fighting over who gets to put up which figure from the Advent calendar.  This is the one time of year I wish I had five children instead of four, because 25 divided by 4 has a remainder, so it is NEVER FAIR who gets to put Baby Jesus in the manger.  I have one child to whom fairness is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. And who ALWAYS TALKS in CAPITAL LETTERS when THINGS ARE NOT FAIR.

Six: We are discovering that our friends are amazing cooks.  Especially of ice cream. My children have never had it so good.

Seven: Ack! I have to go! There are only 5 eggo waffles left, and who will get the fifth waffle?  IT’S NOT FAIR! (I am so glad to be home!)

Check out Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for more Quick Takes!