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.

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.

Not Quite as Bad as Predicted…

The snowstorm, I mean.  All the same, we spent lots of Sunday shoveling and banging the fruit trees to keep the branches from breaking.




They may not plow the streets in Denver, but they do clear the running trails. I was grateful to take a run in the afternoon. When I got back, this was all that was left of our little friend.


{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.


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{p,h,f,r}: Thanksgiving Weekend

Pretty: Here is the table set before Thanksgiving dinner.

Here’s the other table, which we squeezed next to the couch. Sam had the brilliant idea to cover the couch with a sheet so that nobody accidentally wiped mashed potatoes or cranberry sauce on it. Hooray.


Happy: This is the first Thanksgiving we’ve hosted in… well, maybe 18 years? It was so much fun! I pulled out a turkey recipe I made with my roommates during medical school.

That’s a cheesecloth soaked in wine and butter (my recipe had no quantities, so I used a stick of butter and a cup or so of wine) on top of the turkey in a 450 degree oven to brown it. Then reduce the heat and cook until the red timer pops up. It was good.

Of course I only have photos of dessert. The girls made these Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites, Sam made “Grandma Judy’s Jello” and my friend Pam brought an awesome pumpkin pie.


Funny: My kids’ favorite Thanksgiving tradition, apart from the aforementioned jello and seeing their cousins (which I couldn’t recreate this year), is playing “The Character Game.” We played it Thursday with all our guests, Saturday morning with friends we hosted for brunch, and Saturday night at the party we hosted for our children’s church volunteers. So I hope they got enough of it for a bit. Here’s how you play:

Each player chooses character (you can say “any animal” or “a historical figure” if you want to narrow things down, but “any character, real or imagined” works just as well) and tells the name in secret to the Writer. The Writer compiles a list of all the characters and reads it back to the players twice. For example, “Vladimir Putin, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, Joshua, Sully, Luke Skywalker, Janice Joplin.” Nobody asks “Who is Janice Joplin?” or that name will stick in everyone’s head.

Once the Writer reads out the names twice, the guessing begins. No one acts our their character; instead, they want to give nothing away. I might say, “Jonah, are you Luke Skywalker?” If he is, he joins my team. Then our team becomes my character [still secret] and can put our heads together to use psychology and our awesome memories to figure out who everyone else is. The winner is the last person whose name is guessed correctly. The trick is 1) to remember all the names, and 2) to pick a name for yourself that is just ordinary enough that it doesn’t stick in anyone’s mind.  This is a great game for a group of people of varying ages, because everyone can play. Only the Writer (who doesn’t pick a name for herself but observes the play) has to be able to read/write. Of course I don’t have a photo- I was too busy trying to remember all the names!

After everyone left that night and I was putting the leftovers away, I realized I had never put out the cranberry sauce.  No wonder there wasn’t any wiped on the couch.

Real: The one thing I’m still looking for to finish the house are pendant lights for the kitchen over the island. My mom and I went looking at a lighting store on Sunday. Sam’s only advice was “Don’t buy anything without me.”


I saw the perfect thing hanging over a bar in Glenwood Springs during the summer. Thinking there might be a local glass blower or shop we could patronize, I went into the restaurant to ask where they got them. The hostess found the bartender who knew. “Venice,” he said. “They were hand-blown in Italy, and the owner brought them back in his luggage.” So much for that.


Obviously I’m looking for blue.

Lots to chose from, but nothing quite right.

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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.

For more every day contentment in {p,h,f,r}, head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter!

{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!

{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!

this moment

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.