Friday, May 28, 2010

Kid in a Candy Store

You know those things that you see while shopping, and you can't seem to pass by without checking them out, and somehow rationalizing a purchase? For some it may be pocketbooks, shoes, or jewelry. I can usually walk by these things with just a small tug of longing. They don't bring on the quickened heart rate and middle of the gut ache when I spot my two main weaknesses - books and flowers.

As for books, it has to be a used book sale. I like a good book store as much as anyone else, but I don't go in for paying full price on a brand-new book. No, for me, it is the corner of the library with the stacks of used books, priced for a reasonable quarter or fifty cents. I have to really think hard about if I want it if it is as much as $1. I can't seem to resist going over to check out the selection, even though I know I have piles of books at home, both mine and the kids. I usually end up coming away with a new treasure or two, and I seem to always justify my purchases by reassuring myself that I am helping out the library.

As for my other weakness, I literally have to talk myself out of purchases. Spring time brings out my appetite for all things gardenly. I pore over catalogues, take long walks just to see what other people have and how they have planted it, and try to figure out how I can get the same effect. For this reason, going to San Diego was torturous! To see every single house planted with gorgeous, flamboyant, lush, spectacular gardens was both a treat for the eyes as well as an ache for my heart.

My own garden seemed so sad, so pathetic, in the face of these gardens of eden. How could I dare to post pictures of my own little irises and peonies,
knowing about the eye-popping beauty of lantanas, cannas, and hibiscus that are commonplace in other parts of the world? I admit, there was a little bit of embarrassment involved- that I would dare to think my common place garden was something worth sharing. But then I returned home, and there really is nothing I can do about my climate. I realized that I need to be thankful for what I have, and even if it isn't at the same level of beauty, my garden still warms my heart and brings me pleasure, like the simple sight of water droplets clinging to a grassy stem.

So I entered the season of planting and buying. Like I said, my weakness. It is very dangerous for me to enter a garden center or nursery this time of the year. Every flower seems to call me to it, and my mind spins, wondering where if I could find a place for it in my already bursting flower beds. It can get pretty expensive if I don't hold myself back. Fortunately, this year, I had a couple of budget friendly acquisitions. First, in early April I went to a plant exchange. I got together with a couple of friends, and we all brought some divided perennials. Everyone went home with a nice new selection of plants, and the best thing, it was free!

I also used birthday money towards some new baskets for the front porch, and I found a place that had gorgeous baskets for half the price of other nurseries.
I also couldn't resist these begonias!

Today I went on my annual trip to the nursery of all nurseries. It is a beautiful place, garden beds laid out with paths that show both sun gardens and shade gardens, a pond and vegetables. It has it all. The flowers are of excellent quality, which means they are a bit pricier. But I was able to get a couple of annuals using a birthday gift certificate, and spend some time getting ideas. I usually go once or twice a year, and it always feeds my soul.

I was reflecting on my love of growing things and gardens and it occurred to me that my parents picked out a perfect name for me. I think I was destined to be weak-kneed over a perfect blossom from the very start.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A new reason to smile

"Mommy! Mommy!" a voice whispered from the foot of my bed.

I groggily answered, "What's wrong?" while determining that it was N standing there.

"My tooth is falling out of my mouth!" I squinted at the clock, and noticed it was 2 a.m. "N, go back to bed. I'll look in the morning."

I rolled over and went back to sleep, wondering what he was talking about, but being too tired to really care.

He has had a loose tooth for about 3 months, and we have wiggled it at teeth brushing time, but it hadn't noticeably loosened. Apparently something happened in the middle of the night, because the next morning N came into the kitchen bright and early with his tooth just hanging out of his mouth.

I asked him if he wanted me to pull it, and he did. I took a tissue, twisted one corner out, and then gave a another twist and tug, and it was out!

He was so proud and happy.

I was so proud and happy. My boy had just lost his first tooth, just one month shy of the end of kindergarten. He had watched his classmates all year coming in with stories of lost teeth, and now he got to share his own. I love those gap tooth smiles, it is one of my favorite stages of childhood.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Every couple of years we get several cubic yards of mulch delivered to our driveway. I would love to be the person that gets it all neatly shoveled onto the flower beds within a day, or even a week. But it seems to sit for weeks, gathering "helicopters" from the maple trees, and long strands from the oak trees. Last time we had it delivered, we actually got too much, and the remainder of the pile sat there for a whole year, until the following spring when I used it up. The neighbors must have been horrified! Anyway, I was trundling wheelbarrows across the yard yesterday, with two little helpers. Both KK and Addie were eager to use their little beach shovels to pat down the mulch around the flowers. It must have seemed like a fun game to KK, because today she came up to me, shovel and bucket in hand, "Mommy, please I can do the dirt?". How could I resist? So what if she was wearing a white shirt, and the mulch leaves black stains? I showed her where to dump her mulch when her bucket was full, and left her to it. About half an hour later, I realized that she was still working! Face flushed, dirty knees and hands, she was completely absorbed in her job.

Digging into the pile

Mulch covered

Getting up

partially full bucket
off to get some more

With a little helper like this, it won't be long before I'm scraping asphalt.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Coming up on the women's retreat weekend, I was feeling a little conflicted. Two of my friends, who I look forward to rooming with every year weren't going. I have always enjoyed this time to spend with them- talking, worshipping, eating, learning together. But it was not going to happen. On the other hand, I was super excited for the speaker, Nina, she is a very dear friend from my growing up years whom I don't see very often anymore. So I signed up to go, and asked my sister, Sandy, and another friend, Anna, to room with me. It was a little hard leaving this time, since I had just returned from a weekend in San Diego with my two closest friends from high school, and I knew Ed was feeling a little overwhelmed being alone with the kids again. Also, we passed the one year anniversary of my dad's death the day after I returned from San Diego, and 2 days before I left again. I was still feeling a little shaken from all the emotions running through my mind. Yet, I was really looking forward to learning from Nina, and spending time with her.

The weather was absolutely the best I have ever seen. We always go to the same place- Harvey Cedars Bible Conference on LBI at the Jersey shore. Most years it is chilly, sometimes rainy- it is only the first weekend in May. But this year it was 85 and sunny, sunny, sunny! I really enjoyed my time with Sandy and Anna. We ate together, talked, laughed, and I was completely blessed by our time together. We just soaked in the sun and Nina's lectures.

It was absolutely the best lecture series of a retreat, in my memory. The theme was "
Making straight paths in a crooked world". Nina wove in practical applications, was honest as she shared struggles from her own walk, challenged us in the way that we thought about Scripture, about our Shepherd. The best way to summarize all that Nina talked about is through a line from this song, that she shared with us,

"When my world is shaking
Heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands"
JJ Heller and Katie Herzig

In so many ways my world has been shaken, starting about 8 years ago - my family, friendships, church family, basically, my life. This weekend was such a good reminder that I am in His hands. It is a long journey ahead in this crooked world of ours, He is with me, alive in me and lives through me so that I can bless others. I have a renewed desire to pursue a knowledge of Jesus, to be a woman who knows her Saviour well.

Here are some random pictures from our weekend:
I saw this, and I asked the owner if I could take a picture of his dog- it just cracked me up
Someone found this little turtle on the walk. I took him inside the last lecture, and he became very animated midway through, trying to crawl out of my pocket, across my notebook, down my legs. I released him, although I knew the kids would have loved to see him.

and one with my sweet friend, Nina