Friday, June 26, 2009

Lessons from my garden: Focus

A couple of years ago I did a series called Lessons From My Garden. Somehow I am constantly seeing life lessons as I tackle the challenges and bask in the joy of gardening. It is one of the most humbling of passions, as there are so many things which all of the watering, nurturing, weeding and mulching in the world cannot control.

A few weeks ago when I posted these photos of my flowers, I have to admit that I giggled at the kind comments. What I knew is that my garden looked like this:

Lots of green, healthy plants, but practically nothing blooming. That Jacob's Ladder in the middle was going like gangbusters, however, so it made a nice photo. And some of my containers had a few things going. I chose to focus on the color, rather than the lack of it. Indeed, my irises never bloomed this year. Two varieties of them that have always bloomed in years past. Nothing!

Well, almost nothing. This ONE flower bloomed.
On June 10th. AMAZING that it picked that day!
It deserved to have its picture taken.

Do you see what kind of help I'm getting? This guy is lounging, GRAZING in my garden. I have several impatiens plants along the front of the garden that are completely healthy and full of buds. Each day he and his buddies come and clean up those new little nasty flowers for me. Isn't that special? I have a couple of great bunny chasers, and when absolutely necessary I even dash out there in my bathrobe, but they are not to be deterred.

Here is one of my containers. Do you see that daisy at 12:00? The zinnea at 1:00? Covered with buds. But are they blooming? Nooooo. Are there rabbits on my deck too??? I don't think so. It looks like there is some hope for the showstars. And finally the gazania came up with a flower for me today.

But hang on...

That's quite a flower!

It was worth the wait!

" content with what you have,
because God has said,
'Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.'"
Hebrews 13:5

So where's your focus? Is it on what you don't have, or on what you do have?

I have to ask myself that question frequently. It's easy to look at my kids and answer that question for them. It's harder to be honest with myself about the truth of the matter. I try to think about how I would fill in this blank: I'll be happy when ____________. If I can easily fill in the blank, I know my focus is in trouble. "I'll be happy when my flowers bloom." Well, what if they don't? My irises didn't. Why would the others be any different? What I'm really saying is, "I'm leaving it up to my flowers to determine whether I will be happy or not. I am choosing to be unhappy if they don't bloom."

Now obviously I'm not going to choose to be unhappy if my garden doesn't bloom. I will be pleased if it does. But I love flowers, and I can find some flowers blooming around here to enjoy, even if some of my favorites don't.

What if your blank includes the name of a person? "I'll be happy when my kids stop bickering." There's trouble. Is it really my kids' responsibility to make me happy? No. And do I really want to choose not to be happy unless they stop? Who loses then? I do. We all do.

So there's what I was thinking about as I weeded, fertilized, mulched and sprayed for bugs in my garden today. Because those are the things I CAN control. I pray it helps me stay focused on being content with what I have. AND on the God who will NEVER leave or forsake me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Ben is channeling Rod Stewart today. We're all in trouble.

But enough about that. It's not too late to scroll down to the last post and tell me your favorite secrets to a successful road trip. Don't be shy!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Road trip, anyone?

We're starting to get ready for one of our famous road trips. I love just thinking about it! Our kids do too, and I have to admit that I am amazed at what good travelers they are. I often say I would rather take a ten hour trip in the car with them than a ten minute trip.

I am always looking for some new ideas for the car. This time we especially need some good foods for the road. We got a little tired of pbj's last year. So...

What are your best road trip ideas? Foods? Car activities? Items to pack? Pick me ups for crabby or rainy days? Funny stories? Awesome place you have visited?

Leave a comment, or better yet, do a post of your own and let me know and I will link to you. If a few people do their own posts, I will even put up a Mr. Linky so you can come back and find them later when it's time for YOUR next road trip.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Crazy Eight

It is almost impossible to believe my "baby" is eight today! She's so grown up--enough to plan her own party. To the detail. A luau.

First the local water park. (I thought it more important to supervise the kids than my camera.) The weather forecast was for "strong storms" the two hours we were there. It was gorgeous--and we had the place to ourselves! (Thank you God for swimming weather!!)

Next, home for pizza. She chose the table decorations (some assembly required, all by Bethany), and set the table. She even made colorful tropical shaped ice cubes. Then presents and cake. We combined a couple of cake ideas she liked, especially the volcano.

Then it was time for a movie, with popcorn and pajamas.

I couldn't imagine what I was thinking having eight kids with us for five hours, but it flew! The girl has a knack for planning.

Oh, how I thank the Lord for our sweet growing-up-way-too-fast girl!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Over at I [Heart] Faces they are having a photo contest featuring sepia this week. Funny thing about me and I [Heart] Faces: you are supposed to challenge yourself to think of new ways of taking and editing photos. As it happens, their themes instead remind me of my old favorites. Last time it was the silhouettes. This time, sepia. So much for taking new photos in new ways. But seriously...I'm pretty sure I couldn't come up with one I would like better than this.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mind games

Here's that museum we visited yesterday. It's all about electricity and magnetics. It was quite interactive, and had some very fun activities. Both of the kids loved this one, but I thought that perhaps its designer had a sadistic streak.

The object of the game was to move the ball down the table to the end nearest your opponent. The ball started in the middle of the table, and you put on the head band with electrodes to record your brain waves. The person with the most relaxed waves wins.

So what happens to the intense competitor among us?

Well, it wasn't too easy for poor Ben to relax when the ball was coming his direction. It looks like he may have won this one, though.

We should have relaxing competitions more often. Maybe a little practice would help.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hello summer!

Our summer is off to a great start! We went to a museum today that we have never visited before. More about that very soon, but let's just say that Ben looks remarkably good considering the torture he endured.

Is it just me, or are my kids looking awfully grown up? Third and fourth grade...yikes!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Tiffany over at Rural Chaos tagged me for this meme (Thanks, Tiffany!). Now you can learn more about me than you ever wanted to know!

8 things I am looking forward to:

1. Having fun with my kids this summer

2. More of my flowers blooming

3. My nephew’s wedding

4. Our family vacation

5. My next bite of chocolate

6. Bethany’s birthday party

7. Getting a digital video camera

8. Heaven

8 things I did yesterday (that was Thursday as I write):

1. Went to the arboretum

2. Got lost on my way home

3. Arrived late for the kids’ bus

4. Thanked God that Lee arrived home about the same time they did

5. Made supper

6. Went to Ben’s ball game

7. Uploaded photos from arboretum and ball game

8. Fell asleep while deleting and editing photos

8 things I wish I could do:

1. Finish the quilt I am making in time for a certain aforementioned birthday

2. Follow through on every act of kindness that crossed my mind

3. Play the piano

4. Keep my house clean and exercise without them taking time out of my day

5. Swim with the dolphins

6. Take professional quality photos

7. Avoid ever saying things I would regret later

8. Throw a frisbee like a normal person

8 shows I watch:

Seroiously? Since it would never occur to me to actually turn on the TV, I'd say whatever Lee is watching. That might be:

1. Anything to do with sports

2. The News Hour

3. America’s Funniest Videos (a family favorite)

4. Myth Busters

5. Anything on the War Channel History Channel (mind you, I don’t actually watch this one)

6. M*A*S*H reruns

7. The Daily Show

8. The Colbert Report

8 favorite fruits:

1. Raspberries

2. Papaya (sometimes the cashier has to ask me what it is)

3. Strawberries

4. Bananas

5. Grapes

6. Pears

7. Kiwi

8. Pineapple

8 places I’d like to travel:

1. The Swiss alps

2. New England in the fall

3. Senegal (to visit my brother and family)

4. The Canadian Rockies

5. Lake Tahoe

6. Washington D.C.

7. Anywhere that I can go snorkeling

8. Anywhere in Europe

8 Places I’ve Lived:

1. On the tundra

2. In a dorm

3. In a convent (and no, I was not a nun) overlooking Lake Superior

4. In the Philippines

5. In a basement looking out over a peaceful pond

6. In immediately post-Soviet Central Asia (I could see Iran from my house. I kid you not.)

7. In a condo

8. In suburbia

There! Now hopefully you learned something you didn't know before. Here's the part where I tag 8 people. TAG!! If you haven't done it yet, you're it! (Yes, I know I broke the rules. Tiffany is not legalistic like that. My blog, my rules.) If you do it, be sure to let me know in your comment, and I will add a link to you from this post. Have fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


My cousin Shelley and I spent a day at the arboretum last week. She mentioned she would like to go picture taking with me someday, and within five minutes I was scheduling it so she wouldn't change her mind.  She is a pro!

What we didn't realize is that we were picking pretty much the ultimate day ever to be there. They have entire gardens dedicated to peonies and irises, and they were both at their peak.  I have never seen anything like it!  

We have such a wonderfully creative God!! (Not to mention some very talented horticulturists.)

I had a blast taking all these photos. Even if they are the amateur version!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The answer is...

Whoa!! I knew I had amazing readers, but I had no idea!  I salute your superior sports savvy.  In case you don't know what I'm talking about, click here to take my little umpiring challenge, and then come back for the answer.  I'll wait...

Are you ready?

Ben was...


Not to mention happy!!

Because, as my first-time visiting nephew Danny (along with the rest of you) so quickly pointed out, the force wasn't on so he needed to be tagged.

And yes, his coach told him to slide.  I could only wish he was thinking he could save me some laundry.  I think he might have been thinking he could save himself having to take a shower.  Think again!

After his stand-up triple, they put him in to pitch a couple of innings.  It's so hard to believe he's old enough to do this!


Note:  After all those observant comments, I thought I was the only one in the dark.  Thanks to my very astute Australian friend for asking for better information! 

If one of Ben's teammates had been at second so that Ben would have had no choice but to go to third and stay there, and if the ball had gotten to the third baseman's glove before Ben's foot touched the base, Ben would have been forced out, having nowhere else to go.  Since he could technically have turned around and tried to run back to second because no other runners were there, he had to be tagged out with either the ball or the glove that it was in.  As Ben added, "The ball was thrown too high for the third baseman to tag me in time."  So true!

Friday, June 5, 2009

You make the call!

Ready sports fans?? It's your big chance to do a little Friday morning umpiring. Ben ran into an exciting play at third last night, and I learned a little about the rules of the game. Knowing what I know now, I see there is enough evidence in my photos to make the call.  So which is it?

 Safe or out?

And for extra credit, what did the coach tell him after the play???  Come back tomorrow for the answers.

So, Uncle Dave, do you still read my blog? I know you can get both of these!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


These people should win an award.  

Here they are, dressed as superheroes "Scotty Man" and "Scotty Girl"--rewarders of appropriate behavior.  They entertain our kids at assemblies every other month with their funny antics and positive message. Last night they showed up at our school's monthly fundraiser at the local restaurant to wait on tables, sign autographs and have their pictures taken with the kids, and remind them that "Appropriate Behavior Counts!".  How cute are they!!

But hidden behind those masks are the real life heroes.  A paraprofessional who works with "death students", as Bethany says.  I think that would be deaf.  He was more than a little self-conscious about going out in public with his tights on, but you wouldn't know it from looking at the picture.  What a good sport.  And a first year teacher who I would suspect, in these days of tightening budgets, may very well not be back next year.  I've heard wonderful things from parents of students in her class.  

Did they get paid for this little appearance?  I think not.  Why did they do it?  Because they are committed professionals.  They CARE enough to go the extra mile.  Our kids go to a school filled with people like this. How I thank God for them!

Who are the superheroes in your kids' lives?