Archive for the ‘friends’ Category


the meal table

   Posted by: liz

i have noted before that it is nothing short of magic what happens when friends – new and old – family, and even strangers are gathered around a table of food and drink.

some would like to blame it on the alcohol, but i credit the euphoria on the flavors of food and drink that humans share together around a table.

some of my favorite recent memories are hosting meals around our farm table in our dining room. even before i redecorated the room (now a cool colonial blue), our dining room has hosted christmas meals, thanksgiving feasts, and our dinner group of friends eating, drinking, and usually breaking into song at the end. it is by no coincidence that our family piano is tucked away in a corner of our dining room. we stash all of the sheet music, our boys’ piano books in a basket near the piano, but also a stack of old hymnals and psalters.

one thanksgiving meal comes to mind, that included my brothers and their families, my parents, and some friends of ours that we had recently met. we ended the chaotic meal (chaotic only because 12 kids under the age of 10 with 10 adults to match makes it so) around the piano. We sang the Alleluia chorus from Handel’s Messiah, stumbling our way through the four parts (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), but sharing together in the richness of filled stomachs and Handel’s brilliantly coupled harmonies.

another remembrance is a dinner group of friends, all of us with sons (10 total), shared a potluck dinner of indian-spiced goodness, deep, dry red wines, and a table full of singing before we said our nighttime goodbyes.

i hosted my book club for a cookie exchange one christmas and set up the dining room meticulously with christmas decorations and space for all of our dozens of cookies to be displayed. but where did all 8 of us spend the entire exchange? standing around my kitchen table (ignoring the festive dining room) where the brunch items and mugs of steaming hot coffee were. we laughed, we comforted those of us not looking forward to the upcoming madness that Christmas can be, and we played a “name that tune,” christmas song version all while sharing together the cinnamon rolls, mimosas, and several versions of quiche.

maybe it’s not magic. maybe it’s what is supposed to happen when we open our comfort zones – our family meal tables – with friends. maybe we’ve gotten so bogged down with school schedules and day jobs and family crises that we forget to notice that when we take time to sit, eat, and remember…connections happen. friendships deepen, family members open up, incredible flavors of food and fellowship are shared. this is how we are supposed to sup.

my mom’s book club gets together monthly to talk about their latest book at restaurants and sometimes one of the members hosts a potluck brunch or dinner on their deck. when i ask my mom how her book club was, she always responds, “oh, it was great. we LAUGHED and LAUGHED…” that’s what friends, and hopefully family, does when they share time and conversation around a table. when it’s more than a passing conversation on the phone or email. when we sit, breathe, and break bread together, we are sharing our humaness with each other.

“take, eat…” Jesus says to His disciples. let us do likewise. together.



   Posted by: liz

it’s been so long since last i blogged that i actually forgot my login password. january was my last post, and it’s been the longest time between posts, ever. i’m always thinking of blog posts, always churning ideas around in my head, but never sitting down to write.

this was a particularly long and tiring winter. this spring has been unusually wet and cold. memorial day weekend marked the beginning of the longest stretch of warm weather, and it started out with a cold frost. i guess i could fill you in on the last 3 months, but i don’t want to bog you down with a depressing post. instead, i’ll give you a highlight reel of current things in our family:

- i continue to be so amazed at how the boys and i grow in our relationships with each other. we are together all day long, every single day. there are DEFINITELY some tense and frustrating moments in that. we get on each other’s nerves. we need our space from each other. but for the most part, our conversations and our time spent WITH each other are rewarding, fun, and always growing. even though they are around their mom every single day of their lives, the older two boys are beginning to spread their wings and be more independent. i’m all for this, and i’m glad it’s happening, slowly, but surely. i don’t know what this would look like had we chosen traditional schooling – would they have been much more independent by now? probably. i’m okay with it taking it’s time. i’m REALLY okay that they’re still young boys who are innocent in so much. there is still so much time for them to grow up. slowly.

- that said, there are some stretches of exhausting times when we are together as a family all the time. the bickering and the whining about school work and farm chores and…the list goes on. i get tired of being their teacher and their mother every single day of their lives. it’s hard. it’s hard having them with me on all my weekly errands. it’s hard not having time to myself until evenings (although our evenings are all full these days). it’s just plain hard.
but we did end our school year two weeks ago and have been enjoying the warming weather, and hanging out with friends. both rowan and sawyer had evaluations this year and both of them “passed” with rave reviews from their evaluator. during that time, i realized that adam was reading a book that sawyer was reading previously. sawyer is reading so well these days, but adam has taken off with his reading. he doesn’t sound out words any more, he reads for comprehension, which is earlier than the other two boys ever did. for all the struggles of teaching your kids that you may encounter, there are some pretty great discoveries along the way!

- so i’m running again. i really need to not take the winters off (but how i HATE indoor running, and it’s harder and not at all comfortable to run outside in the winter). i’m signed up for my first 5K of the season. i’m ready! because once i start to run, i can take on the world and all it throws at us again.

- this past week, kenny was rockstar dad and husband again as i took three days in a row to teach a geography and art camp for the co-op that we are a part of. i was out the door well before the boys woke up, and he tended to them and their needs while i taught forty-one 6 to 8 year-olds for three solid days. i came home to dinner already cooked before turning around and heading back out to rehearsal the first two nights, and on the last night, i came home to a beach chair sitting next to the pool, a bottle of my favorite chardonnay already uncorked, and a lovely grilled tilapia, chicken, green beans, and coconut rice dinner, al fresco (with friends joining us at table!). a great way to end those crazy exhausting three days.

- we are three weeks away from opening night of our second production, The Tempest. the rehearsals have been going so well, the cast is amazing and the sets and costumes are going to be stunning on that stage. i can’t wait for Butler to see that Shakespeare is interesting and fun and not stuffy and boring. we’ve been really busy every single evening and weekend putting this show together. some moments are tense and overwhelming, but for the most part, i’ve really loved the creative process in this production. from the conversations with the actors about their characters, to the evenings i spend at the sewing machine while kenny composes music for the show, it’s been a fun and exciting production.

- our farm is on hold for the moment. at least the sheep, their guard donkey, and our two chickens are happy and healthy. we just haven’t added to to our flock this year, and our honeybees did not make it through the winter. we’ve also decided to container garden on our deck instead of plant our massive yard garden again this year. i’m okay with this. sometimes you just need to take a year off of the hobbies that may consume you.

- we are so blessed. there is nothing hard about our life. we are a healthy, busy, a bit nutty family who has absolutely nothing to complain about.
except the winter weather.


game night and chocolate-peanut butter

   Posted by: liz

i’ve already blogged about our fabulous day in the city last saturday, but i haven’t yet told you about the fun evening we had the night before.

the marquiss clan invited us over for dinner and game night friday night. we then spent the night since they’re only a few minutes from downtown where we could breakfast-and-museum on saturday.

after a fantastic grilled steak and veggie with salad dinner they served, we spent the evening watching a play that our kids performed, passed out cookies for their dessert and then put them all in bed so we could enjoy the grown-up dessert that i had prepared. it was a “pinterest dessert” full of chocolate peanut butter goodness. it was only a “grown up” dessert because there wasn’t enough to feed the kids. don’t worry – the cookies they all enjoyed were large and full of chocolate goodness, so they weren’t left out. completely. :)

i am not a chocolate PB expert like my husband is, so he’ll provide the “review” of this dessert. i made a chocolate peanut butter torte from this recipe. it was one of the more simple recipes i’ve tried, except for having to convert all of the ingredients from grams to AMERICAN-STANDARD (really now…why can’t the whole world have the same measuring system? what was up with the silly americans changing the perfectly fine metric system to american standard?).

an oreo cookie crust sits beneath a peanut butter filling, topped with a dark chocolate ganache. i found a separate no-fail ganache recipe that i will use forever (and ever, amen) for all of my chocolate-covered dessert recipes (buckeyes, chocolate-covered-strawberries, etc).

review: i thought it was super yummy. kenny, who loves nothing more than chocolate peanut butter for any dessert, liked it, but he would have preferred smooth peanut butter to the crunchy peanut butter that the recipe called for. perhaps it would have been more buckeye-like with smooth peanut butter.

definitely a keeper, especially for adult gatherings. but you might want to consider stearing away from the crunchy peanut butter for this recipe.

then we played games…

a few rounds of 7 Wonders (i’m slowly getting it!) and then a lightning round of The Amazing Labyrinth. a very late night, but a great night’s rest and perfect weather for our saturday outing. games and chocolate and friends…a fabulous weekend habit!




   Posted by: liz

A few weeks ago, kenny forwarded me an email with this story of a family and their miracle baby boy.

His email read, “Liz, This is incredble…I taught these kids when I taught in Hagerstown, MD!” and it took me a minute to realize he was referring to the parents in the story.  Kenny was a high school English and Grammar teacher right out of college for three years before he moved to Pittsburgh and started his current career in software. When he saw the story, he realized that this was a local family (they had recently moved to the Pittsburgh area) now. What a coincidence!  So he forwarded their story to me.

I clicked on the link and the whole time I’m blinking back tears, I’m wondering how it is I recognize this family, when I didn’t know Kenny when he was a teacher. It finally dawned on me that I read Leighann’s blog, Living with Three Hobbits and a Giant, about a year ago. I recognized the blog title right away, and I quickly wrote back to Kenny and said, “Incredible!  I used to read her blog!”

So I dashed off an email to Leighann, not knowing how she’d receive it, explaining to her who I was, and how we “found” them. I wondered if they could come for dinner soon or would it be weird for them to “hang out with an old high school teacher?” Within a few hours, she wrote back:

“Liz, Yes, it would be weird to hang out with an old high school teacher. Henry and I decided we will do it since you seem so cool, but on the condition that we continue to call Kenny “Mr. Smith”, especially since he thinks we are still kids.”

I immediately loved her sense of humor.

Last night, we were graced with their family’s presence in our home for dinner. We were both so excited to meet them, me for the first time, and Kenny, for the first time in nearly 20 years. Our children bonded over the pasture fence feeding the animals, and then eating together at the “kids table,” then building a fort and playing legos. I loved listening to Kenny, Henry and Leighann talk of old students, teachers, and families from the school.  The evening went way too quickly…we had such a great time chatting.

If there is an age difference in any of us, you wouldn’t know it. It was an honor getting to know such a wonderfully warm and loving family, and we look forward to many more “getting-togethers” with them!


Liz and Kenny, Leighann and Henry (and Ryan!)

The kiddos...



Seven Quick Takes

   Posted by: liz

Join Jennifer at Conversion Diary every Friday for 7 Quick Takes!

I admit, this is only 6 quick takes. This serves more of a “catch-up” post as I’ve lots to talk about, but never the OOMPH to sit and post. Tonight, my husband is partying with some bachelors (um…all married men, except this weekend’s groom), so I have time to sit and type while the boys play. And eat pizza and drink rootbeer: their own little bachelor party!

  • Kenny and I are training for a 5K in August. I’ve always been an avid power-walker, and I always hit the elliptical hard at the gym. But running? Oh, my lungs!  It’s a completely different workout than I’m used to, but I’m ready for it!  Kenny and I have been out a few times running. It’s good for me to run with a partner, or else I’d justify walking most of the time!  Friends of ours at church told us about the 5K, and it sounds like a great run, for a worthy cause (a local Meals on Wheels fundraiser).  It just might make a runner out of me, yet!
  • It’s that time of yearwhen we switch our black shoes for whites, and our red wines for white!  I’ve come to love red wine this winter. The “comforting” red zinfandel (Rex Goliath and Cardinal Zin are two of our favorites) and “familiar” shiraz (Yellow Tail) have kept us company this winter, but we’re ready for our favorite chardonnays (Hob Nob, Yellow Tail, Sabeka, Cupcake) and Pino Grigio (I haven’t found a favorite brand of Pino Grigio yet, but we had Rex Goliath at our dinner group last week and I really liked it. A bottle of Rex Goliath (red or white) ALWAYS shows up at our dinner group dinners).I’m looking for a good chardonnay-in-a-box. Anyone have a recommendation (I love oakey, spicy chardonnays, rather than the sweeter, buttery ones).Kenny thinks I need to start some kind of business around wine. I love talking about the different textures of wine, and the pairing of wines with foods, the differences between each type of wine. Of course, getting together with friends and drinking it around good food is always a highlight. To quote one of my theatre professors, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
  • I was recently invited to join a new book club and I’ve only been to one of our gatherings, but it’s so much fun!  I inhaled the book that was “on deck” – Anna Quindlan’s Every Last One. I’d recommend it because it was such a fast, intriguing read, but the subject matter is really hard. I loved the slow, steady introduction of the main character’s life. I can’t wait to discuss it as it was a hard theme and I’ve been processing it around in my head for at least a week now.I have always wanted to be in a book club. What is more fun than hanging out with girlfriends, talking, laughing, eating, and discussing books? I can’t wait for more books to come!As I wait for our next book, I’ve read Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation (non-fiction, theology…absolutely loved it…i’m considering forcing kenny to read it so we can hash it out together), and am currently reading Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City which is also non-fiction, but reads like a novel. It takes place in Chicago, just before the turn of the century around the building of the first World Fair. It is a fascinating read so far!
  • I have only one thing to say about the current crazy weather we are experiencing in the United States, especially that of the deadly tornadoes that the South experienced this week: God is not trying to get our attention by sending bad weather! I’m so sad to hear Christians explaining the deadly twisters as vindication on a sinful country. Geez. I’d invite you to tell that to a mother who lost all her children in the Joplin tornado. Please stop trying to explain, and just help those who need it.
  • Our family is attending a wedding on Sunday. Kenny is in it. It’s his SIXTH wedding that’s he’s been in since we’ve been married. I have been in ZERO weddings since our own wedding. Is this weird?I was telling Adam today that we’re going to a wedding on Sunday and he asked if there was going to be kissing. I told him yes and he grimaced. I changed the subject quickly and told him that his friends Owen, Luke, Isaac and Danny will be there to which he replied, “Which I LOOOOVE!” His pronouns need some work.
  • The boys are loving their summer school schedule…and so am I!  We go really light in the summer with reading practice from books they’ve chosen from the library, “treats” from us if they can read (and comprehend!) a full book or chapter or two in a chapter book.  I also found a great spelling game that we’ve used a few times this week called Word Pirates. It’s actually a game that I can sit through and enjoy playing. You roll dice, spell words, block your brothers’ bridges….the boys actually ask to play it rather than me say, “hey, let’s play that game where you spell words!”


week in review: VBS and ichiban

   Posted by: liz

this past week, the boys spent their mornings at the little local church doing vacation bible school (VBS). it was the first year that adam was old enough to join them and the first time EVER that i had a whole week of three hours of kid-free time.

i spent the entire three hours wondering if i would get a call from the teacher asking me to come pick someone up…or worrying that they weren’t having enough fun (although i KNEW they were having a blast as they always do at this particular church’s bible school!). such is the fate of a mother who doesn’t send her children to school, i guess. i have never gotten used to having them at a different location for that long.

the church is a smallish country church of the missionary alliance denomination but they use a poplular non-denomination bible school curriculum that all of you involved in a big church VBS are probably using: Group’s age-appropriate High Seas Adventure.

they do a great job with the fun activities and invites all families to participate in a closing friday afternoon picnic. last week, i heard “but sawyer, we learned about SHARING today in bible school, so you need to share that toy with me!”  yup.  AND…”mommy!  God’s word is TRUE!” at which point all three boys yelled as loudly as they could, “LET’S GO!!!!”  yes, bible school lingo was mighty strong around these parts last week.

one would think that having three hours to yourself in the morning would make for an easy peasy week. but actually i found the opposite to be true. by the time i picked up and brought the boys home, they were hungry, tired, and needed me to tell them how to have fun all afternoon. they’re usually very good about playing games and making up stories to play, but after being entertained all morning, they wanted me to continue their entertainment. fortunately this new behavior will be changed soon as they will wake up with no plans beginning tomorrow (monday!) and enjoy playing together once again.



kenny and i exchange babysitting with another family – friends of ours that we met through another church and our homeschooling circle. they have three kids as well, and so we sit their kids (for free!) once a month and they do the same for us (for free!). our first exchange was last weekend and kenny and i met friends of ours from church for sushi. this was my first sushi experience as i’m (A) not a fan of seafood at all and (B) afraid of raw meat of any form. but i’ve been willing for the longest time to give it a try as long as our first experience was with someone who knew what they were ordering.

we went to ichiban which is by far more popular for its hibachi steakhouse side than it is for its sushi bar (as was confirmed by it’s empty sushi bar tables and packed-out hibachi tables). we were encouraged to try the special sushi rolls of the day, and we were not disappointed. the rolls weren’t in the least bit fishy tasting (my biggest fear), not slimy at all (my second biggest fear) and quite flavorful if you used soy and wasabi. i am eager to go back to eat an entire meal of sushi rolls soon. the only downside to sushi is the price: i’m glad we had it on a night we weren’t also dropping $30-40 on babysitting! sushi was the only cuisine i have never given a try, so i’m now happy to say that i’ve pretty much tried each cuisine available to us in america (and enjoy pretty much all of them!).

next time we go back to ichiban, i do want to take the boy as i know they’ll find the hibachi chefs a hoot to watch (and they love noodles, edameme, and veggies!)


a shout OUT!

   Posted by: liz

my friend Jill is an artist-momma who lives very close by. we were college roommates (in cold, cold MI), did some acting together, but more importantly, we both drove Hondas. we have great college memories.

she and her husband and two kids live just about 45 minutes from us. he spends the day speaking spanish on a college level while her two cute kids do things like meet us at the zoo for lunch. jill was an elementary art teacher in her former life, and now she mothers, creates, plans to teach again soon, and blogs (yay!).

i have commissioned work from her in the past (she created a pictoral version of the “give us this day our daily bread”, from the paraphrased version of the Lords Prayer found in the Message) and just recently asked her to do three pieces for each of our boys. She just posted about it on her blog and I can’t wait to give them to the boys…look at those cute, crazy, and finely-balanced sheep!

please look around her blog and see her work – it’s SO fun, whimsical, and she might even do a “giveaway” at her blog for an art piece every now and then. i won this one over christmas! hopefully she’ll be opening an online shop here soon.

tell her i sent ya. she might just share our secret handshake if you do…


4 november 2007: the bridge

   Posted by: admin

kenny has been very busy over the past few months preparing for something that began last night, and that we hope continues and grows on into the future.

with the help of friends and other church members, we started a saturday evening service for church members and anyone outside the church who wants to check it out to worship. the service is based on “an order of worship for the evening” so communion is not included. however, the service concludes with a free meal for everyone, so communion happens, just not Holy Communion.

we honestly had no idea if anyone would come, but we were pleasantly surprised to see the faithful worshipers from a typical sunday morning service come, and a few others.

i can’t describe the service any better than kenny already has at the service’s web site. please check it out. and if you’re local, come visit! and if you think of it, keep this service in your prayers.

i leave you with an image of my favorite poster we’ve hung up in stores in the area.


time to move on.

   Posted by: admin

the end of summer seems so…heavy. take a look around you. the green leaves are weighing branches down. the gardens have candy-apple red (or ripe-tomato red) fruit hanging on plants shared with dead, yellowed (once green) tomato leaves. the weeds have overpowered every effort of weeding. shrubs, grasses, and plants look tired of their summer life…as kenny likes to say, they look “rode hard and put away wet.” they’ve had a good life in the hot sun. it’s time to rest for the colder months and re-awaken with vigor come spring.

this is the first summer in a long time that i’ve enjoyed every last bit of heat and sunshine, and would love a few more weeks of MORE. fortunately, it can be in the 70s well into october in these here parts (i.e., october 21, 2001 was in the mid 70s…i remember this because i was wearing a heavy, silk wedding dress that day), so i don’t really have to let go of it just yet. however, everywhere you look, fall is here: pumpkins and scarecrows and halloween and thanksgiving decorations line the shelves in every store.

we’ve been enjoying the cooler (or less humid) evenings after dinner playing aerobie while the three boys run around us in the yard. rowan and sawyer usually spend the time riding their bikes into the pine trees or swinging on their jungle gym while adam walks circles around us.

the other evening, kenny and i stayed on the deck with adam after eating dinner outside while the older two went to swing. they eventually ended up watching clouds (something i haven’t done since i was a kid myself!). adam had fun with the cat:

we had friends over on monday for labor day…friends from out of town, friends from out of state, old friends, new friends, friends with instruments. the last “official” weekend of summer was spent with friends. and family.

and in pajamas a lot of the time:

i hope you’re enjoying the last of the season as best you can!

happy mother’s day!

   Posted by: admin

happy mother’s day
to my mom, grammy, and all my fellow mommy readers and bloggers.

i was blessed to share homemade crepes (ala kenny) with my boys this morning. and i was gifted with THE NEW MARTIN SEXTON CD!  ahhh…black coffee, lovely crepes, and martin playing all day long!! the perfect day!

and here are my reasons for truly celebrating today…