Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

turning a corner?

Ah, friends.
Things are getting done around hee-yah! I have neglected to show you the impeccable work that our friends, the Buss' helped us complete. They came for the weekend and lit a fire under us. The boys were able to dig and place all the posts for the fence around our 1/2 acre yard....whew! That was July.

KJ has since wrapped the posts with livestock fencing and built gates. Eventually there will be a
middle rail added, but for now, it's doing a great job keeping all our critters in.

I've finished some long-lingering projects.

My current color palette: gray with touches of turquoise, yellow, spring green, and orange...loving that combination. {hello, ubiquitous gray sweater and turquoise beaded bracelet}

Now, our visitors have seen that light fixture in our entryway...U.G.L.Y. Metal pieces are brass and the angled outer piece is oak. I wanted to pitch it as soon as Sweet Man hoisted his sweet behind up the sweet ladder and took it down. But Mrs. Buss helped me brainstorm a fix for it. I still kind of want to pitch it, but it has a bit of a reprieve with a little silver spray paint and left-over curtain fabric.

Our split-level entryway...awkward! There just isn't enough room for much. I left it bare for several months, but mail and keys and shoes were being left on the landing anyway. So, instead of beating them, I'm trying join them by placing that old mosaic table Sweet Man and I made years ago.


I hung pictures! The pictures that I took down before we left for Houston, y'all. Most of them are pictures of my babes, but caught up in the project I printed new pictures, y'all! Like memories from 2010. Progress! {Ignore the wonkiness, please.}

And now a sweet story: We're in the market for a couch or sectional for the living room...there are no cushiony spots for our sweet behinds upstairs. I spotted a lovely green beast for a song on Craigslist, being sold at a weekend yard sale. I showed Sweet Man and we made plans to whisk our babes out of bed Saturday morning to be there at opening. 

Wah-wah...the sectional was already sold...apparently a popular item. But we stayed and gazed at some beautiful French country/vintage/handmade items. Our host, Cecelia, happens to be a prolific artist who was preparing to move to Oklahoma. Not seeing anything of interest to them, my family stepped outside and I found myself in a room with Cecelia and an older woman...both lovely ladies. The older woman turned to me and said, "I'm going to tell you something, woman to woman. You make sure that you are doing something for yourself every day so that you don't end up like me. I see you taking care of your husband and kids, but you need to take care of you."

Now, gentle readers, I do puh-lenty to take care of my own needs, downright selfishly sometimes. Not a problem for me. But I was touched by the sharing of her story in that moment. Mother of 4, heartbreakingly burying two children, surrounded by possessions laced with memories that remind her of pain and heartache. She has just recently realized that she was too busy giving herself to those around her to have anything to mark moments for herself, projects or momentos. She captured Cecelia and me in that moment with her wisdom. With tears in our eyes, we asked some gentle questions. She confirmed that she is living with the hope of Jesus, allowing Him to heal her heart, teaching her to live. She spoke for a few more minutes.

I hugged her and thanked her for her precious words, that speaking them gave purpose to her pain. And giggled as I remarked that obviously I was not there to get a couch, but to get a word.

I didn't leave empty-hearted or handed...I bought this perfect piece for our entryway. I love it for oh, so many reasons.

You know you are all welcome here...even if we don't have a place for your sweet behind to sit...and we won't necessarily put you to work.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

pumpkin spice coffee recipe

My master plan for this most recent Saturday morning included 3 things:
  1. Zum-bah!! (Say it with the emphasis on the second...)
  2. Quick stop at the library to pick up a much desired What Alice Forgot {still trying to keep up with my book club from home...miss you ladies!}
  3. a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks
That's a far as my planning took 10:30am...ha!

The first 2 don't disappoint, but the 3rd did. Hrmmph.... In fairness, I asked the barista to lighten it for me, so maybe that was the difference...less sugar and fat?

So, to truly satisfy that craving, I made my own Pinterest-inspired PSL this morning. You can, too!
  1. make a simple syrup with equal parts water and sweetener in a saucepan {I used sucanat, but you could also use brown sugar, white sugar, or even maple syrup or honey}
  2. bring to a low boil and take off the heat, let cool
  3. in a container large enough to hold and store all ingredients, add 1/8 c. pureed pumpkin
  4. add 1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice {you can also combine your own with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves}
  5. pour your cooled simple syrup into the container and shake
  6. add a smidge to your hot coffee with or without cream 
  7. keep in  fridge
I'm enjoying mine right now and I hope you try it. Delish!

Friday, September 20, 2013


Just sharing some pics of our week!

embracing the chaos ~great school on Tuesday!

she asks me to teach her how to knit every other day {we'll get there}

a little soggy after our kayaking

a hike with Daddy before his trip {sycamore tree at Triangle Park}

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

coping skills

What a week! Sweet Man has been away on business - 5 days. It used to be easier for me to parent on my own, but this trip threw me for a loop. That safety net of support in Licking County was so important to me. I thought about running "home" for a few days, but logistically, it didn't make sense. We stayed put in Dayton.

Sam and I had a horrendous school day Monday. Four hours of work became 8 hours. Fourth grade's no joke, but a day's work should never take him that long. He found constant sources of distraction - the dog, a toy, a snack, a piece of paper...I don't know...I was busy distracting myself.

I finally chased him out of the house to the park because I could not bear to fight about it any more. And took away screen time for 4 days. (Just who am I punishing. I didn't think that through, did I?)

Josie needed me more than I could satisfy...mostly as a playmate.

Our neighbors here, who have befriended us, are moving to a new town this week.  During any other week, I would probably be bummed to say goodbye.

But this week that fact sent me over the edge into a very real fear, right into feeling very lonely and sorry for myself. Those thoughts spun me up right quick and I was close to holing up in a closet and going to sleep for the week.

But of course, hiding was not going to fly. I have these precious people with me. I needed a plan to cope, so I did my best. I'm not suggesting that your plan would be the same...but mine worked for the night.

I prayed...and asked others to pray for us.
I hugged the kids and sent them to bed.
I enjoyed a glass of wine and a few too many cheap, store-bought cookies.
I watched "Call the Midwife" on Netflix.
I made a plan for the next day.
I let the dog out one last time.
I checked the locks.
I slept finally.

Tuesday was different, thank God!

Sam and I used a timer to stay on task. We didn't fight. I didn't yell or speak in a condescending voice. We ate good food: fresh eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, veggies at lunch. We took frequent chicken chasing breaks. Josie did her schoolwork quickly and well and found independent entertainment.

School was finished by 1pm! And that victory meant we could spend our afternoon at a park where the Dayton Parks Dept had organized a kayaking event. Local outfitters were there and let us take their kayaks out for a spin. So fun! {We're in the picture somewhere!}

Remind me next time I start sinking: GO OUTSIDE, AMY! Vitamin D and fresh air will do you well!

So we will survive...already halfway through the week. And Friday will be a piece of pie as we are at school all day and Sam goes to his Lego League meeting in the evening. I'll have my partner back by dinnertime and that will make all the difference.

{This clip helped cheer me up, too:}

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oak Island

The coast of North of my favorite places. Opa and Anne asked us to join them. Oh, and Murphy the dog, too.

Each day has been lovely with today as perhaps the most perfect. We began a trip to a farmers' market, an encounter with Jack Sparrow, and a little thrifting. Thrift and consignment stores are more plentiful here than freckles on my ample thighs. I found a Victorio Strainer for $15!!!!

After our shopping in the oppressive humidity, we rested in the cool of the condo and hit the beach at about 4pm...when the light is just becoming magical. I love taking pictures at this time of day. I've noticed that I haven't taken many pictures since the move...perhaps because it has been such a difficult transition for me...I didn't really want to document it. But the beach is a great place to take many pictures...except for the sand and the water and the people in bathing gear who become cranky when I start snapping away. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

rocky mountain high

Can we agree that I have a couple of cutie friends? Especially compared to my flat-faced, big-headed, squinty-eyed self? And I didn't bring my big camera, just my

Let's all just look at the beautiful mountains, shall we?

After talking and planning for 2 years, penciling it into our calendars at least 3 times, HC made it happen! About a month ago, my sweet high school besties and I spent 3 days in Estes Park, Colorado walking, shopping, talking, eating, and drinking. KK found great plane tickets and so we flew out of Dayton early Friday morning to Denver. HC, who has been a Rocky Mountain resident since 1992, picked us up. After quick passenger pick-up hugs, we hopped in her truck and drove an hour or so up into the mountains.

HC found a perfect little hotel that was a good walk outside of town which led to a wonderful, relaxing stay. What a sweet little town with funky gift boutiques, sweet shops, and plenty of good eats.

Each day we found a reason to stop here, the hotel that inspired the writing of The Shining.

KK could not get enough wildlife sightings to satisfy her, so we drove through Rocky Mountain National Park in the snow to spy elk or big-horn sheep or mule deer. Ironically, we saw more animals outside the park on the edge of town. We'd stop the car, get out, and carefully walk closer, all the while listening to KK's voice rise into her "animal stalking" mode.

The mountains were what took my breath away.

Here we are enjoying a little 'bucks along the Big Thompson creek.

{ are the sweetest thing evah but you know I'm a little scared of you. I posted these pics anyway.}

Sunday afternoon, we bid farewell to Estes Park and drove to Pearl St. in Boulder. I could have stayed there longer, too...families and hipsters and buskers and those just plain down on their luck...moving in and out of shops and crowds. Perfect people watching.

But let's be real: the company was what I really came to see. There's nothing better than sitting down, yummy drink in hand, sharing silly stories and dreams together. Thank you, sweet friends...see you in Austin, 2015!

Friday, May 3, 2013

the bird dog and the birds

Life is worth writing about...always. Sorry I haven't for a while.

I chuckle now as I assumed our days would slow down once we moved to Dayton. Less social stuff, less running around. Maybe the winter days were slow at first, but with the sun shining and all the creatures around me needing something at any moment, I am routinely swept off my feet. Kids and chickens (7) and now a puppy have accelerated the rhythm of our home. And increased the joy! I do have my moments - in fact, I had to just step away and scoot everyone back inside to shut the craziness down. We'll go back outside soon.

The chicks came home with us one Sunday about 4 weeks ago. We've talked about chickens for years and enjoy the pets of friends when we visit. Our new yard has room for them. Compulsively, we stopped at the farm store during "Chick Days" and fell for the marketing - hook, line, and sinker. Fuzzy chicks and the necessary equipment neatly boxed and priced so close by. Irresistable! I kept thinking, "this will be so good for the kids as they have to help with these little fuzzies!" And they do. But the girls are big now...and we're still not ready for them. They're living in a box, down by the furnace! (Chris Farley, anyone?) Sweet Man will be finished building a tractor for them today and we have grand plans for a coop installed in the corner of the garage. Didn't plan ahead on that. And still haven't figured out how to leave them overnight or for a couple of days.

Lily, our new-to-us golden retriever puppy is a riot. A visit to the vet confirmed that she is a healthy six-ish month old. And we allayed any fears that Lily would not be able to remain with us as the vet tech scanned her and found no chip. She's ours forever!

Her temperament is delightful...calm for the most part. After 2 weeks, she knows her name and its variations. She knows "sit" and "come." We're working on her manners because she jumps up as she meets new people. We can anticipate her bouts of puppy energy and let her zoom and run her figure eights in the yard. She stays close to us unless her attention is distracted by something terribly interesting, like another dog or a squirrel...understandable. We're all helping with housebreaking her...announcing "she just ate - be on alert!" A charming, but naughty, habit is for her to hop up in bed with one of the kids or me once Sweet Man has left the house. I usually scoot her back out of the bed.

Our biggest issue is leaving her home alone. Our lower level has a very functional but utilitarian bathroom...big with a good solid linoleum floor. We've closed her in that room with water, her bed, and toys...mainly to contain the inevitable clean-up. But the first time, we didn't strip the room of everything. She shredded a roll of toilet paper, punctured the hand soap dispenser, chewed on the plunger, and even turned on a faucet. Big mess! We've left her 2 times since and while we've removed the toilet paper, she still whines and barks and makes a mess. Is is separation anxiety? I fear that now that she's been unhappy in the room that forever and always she'll be unhappy in that room. What to do?

Better catch you up on other news ~ Sweet Man celebrated his 40th birthday last week. The kids had their last spring tennis lesson last Wednesday. They are both playing Upward soccer and Sweet Man has found himself in the position of Assistant Coach. Yup, I warned him...keep your trap shut or Coach Drew will ask you to help.

He is my hero as he works crazy hours but still comes home and completes a project (blue bathroom tub/shower is functional as of Sunday - hurrah!!!) or shuffles the kids off to soccer practice. Or builds a chicken tractor. My partner, my sweet.

I've found a Zumba class I love - it's the little things, you know. I could go 6 days a week, but I'm trying to do 2 and walk my other days.

Tomorrow we will attend an Open House for a pool with a swim team. Our neighbors told us about it. I had a chance to walk around the property by myself last weekend. It's in the middle of woods and spring-fed...sound familiar? Very functional, but a little rough around the edges...just like me. I've heard their swim team is really good which scares me a little - we're not so good. We shall see. I'd love to settle on a place to hang out this summer.

Piano lessons have been tremendous and Bug and Bean both practice every day without much reminding. Usually, it just happens after breakfast as the piano is close to the table and they just slide over and get 'er done. Bug is zooming through his books and Bean is close behind.

Tonight we celebrate the End of Year with our CC community! We've been living outside this week so we must get all shined up and smell good to showcase what we've learned this year. Opa and Anne are joining us, too! I am thankful to God every day for Classical Conversations and my job with the organization is keeping me hopping.

We are enjoying our church and have attended a small group two times.

I miss you all. I talked with a friend yesterday, who also moved away. We lamented the things we would have looked forward to doing in the old place - music and lunch in the Works courtyard on Fridays, bike rides on familiar routes, knowing people at the pool.... It will be okay. I need to find new fun things here. But I confess I'm counting the months until Sweet Man can post for another gypsy soul wants to come home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

gray day

Hi, Friends,

(caution: whinefest ahead!)

Having a gray day here. I woke up at 4am and couldn't sleep and was immediately consumed by thoughts that we've done the wrong thing by moving here. The devil's not in the details; he's in the shadows of 4am, whispering his doubt. I get that...however, am not unaffected by it.

The house is in various levels of disruption with no one room complete. Trying out paint blotches on the walls, random boxes containing random things that we have just given up sorting, rooms empty of furniture or carpet. First world problems. But leaving me unsettled.

Most of all, I miss you all. Our life was so rich at home with support and fun and we have not connected with anyone here; not neighbors, not a church, not at school. None of us. It takes time, I know. But today I feel it.

And I'm just mad at my husband. He is working 12-14 hour days at this new job and although he loves it, I'm thinking, "I didn't sign up for this." I need my best friend now more than ever and he is largely unavailable.

Last night, we began a new tradition for our family. Daddy/daughter date & Momma/son date for Valentine's day. How do you do such in a one car family? Blessedly, each munchkin chose a restaurant across a parking lot from the other.

What a sweet time I had with my handsome Valentine Bug. He likes to talk...and much of the time in our normal days, I'm ashamed to say, I don't listen. Because he talks about things I'm not necessarily into, or because I believe the lie that what I'm doing or thinking is more important. I hold his precious heart in my hands and if I'm not going to engage and listen, who will? It was so nice to make him my most important task for an hour.

Well, must get on with it. Thanks for listening and indulging me a little navel-gazing. I need to lift my head up and do a little Col.3:23.