hazel and the peonies (an almost birthday post)

almost a year ago the peony plants in my backyard – ripe and ready – held out and waited to bloom until she did.

on may 31st, the first one opened. hazel was born in the middle of that night. so on the day of her birth – june 1 – they were all out in their pink, soft-petaled beauty. tim cut them and brought them in, arranging them in vases and pitchers all around the room where we lay resting. they kept us company as we got acquainted.

this year, the peonies did not wait until june 1st. the first one bloomed a few days ago. but they will always be her birthday flower to me. peonies will always be hazel’s.

her she is. my flowering almost-one-year-old, with her flowers. 



photo by jill devries (jilldevries.net/blog)

my favorite (am i allowed to pick favorites?) grand rapids photographer, jill devries, photographed our wee little family this past week. i’m so pleased.

you should check ’em out here on her blog.

and, i want to say thank you again to my mom, grandparents, aunts, uncle, cousins, brother and sister-in-law for chipping in to hire jill to do this. it was my birthday gift, and one of the best to date, i think.

a little family time

moving to Michigan, though a clear and confident choice, had the sad side-effect of moving us several hours away from most of our collier family, though closer to one branch of it. still, we’re about a 6+ hour drive from all of tim’s brothers and sisters-in-law, our nieces and nephews, and tim’s parents. and because we’re in MI and most of the rest of them are concentrated in WI, we know that in most cases, we’ll be the ones to do the traveling.

BUT this past weekend was a beautiful exception to the norm. this past weekend, tim’s three older brothers and their wives and kids came from Sun Prairie, WI (Nathan and Kristen), Milwaukee (Dan, Jess, Sam, and Eli), and Pittsburgh (Ben, Lisa, and Sophia) to be with us in Grand Rapids. four gentle giants of brothers, four sweet sisters-in-law, three charming cousins, and two baking buns in the ovens… all together for a short while. some of the crew stayed over at MY brother and sister-in-law’s house across town, but during the days, we all assembled at our little west side house, filling the rooms to bursting with all those bodies. we extended our dining room table and had a family style brunch together, the cousins bounced on the air mattress in the future nursery, the grown-ups caught up on one another’s lives and interests, we walked to a mexican restaurant for dinner. and on saturday night, we divided by genders, so that they Sisters could throw a mother blessing shower for me, while the guys babysat sleeping toddlers and talked about fatherhood.

and we’re all richer. it’s a gift of such generosity for them all to come out here and be with us in this way, in these final weeks leading up to the birth of our daughter. and we feel so loved by their commitment to making the trip out in order to see us in our new digs.

their visit, btw, came about a week and a half after a visit from tim’s “little” sister, Amanda, and her friend Kelsey. they set up camp with us for a handful of days during their college spring break, keeping us entertained with their wonderful senses of humor, putsing around the house with us, and jumping in on conversations and prayer times with some visiting boiler room pilgrims. i think amanda is one of the coolest 20 year olds i know, and i wish she’d transfer out here to finish her degree. 😉

anyway, here’s some photos of the collier weekend…

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and more can be found here.

snap shots (october – december)

letter-writing, bicycles, silly t-shirts, and such

here’s a bit of small talk:

oh, letter-writing. that long-lost artform whose practice now leaves a deeper impression because of its rarity. i want to recover it in my life, though it takes so much will-power to step away from the more plugged in diversions and sit down with pen in hand to write. when you write a letter, you feel as though you ought to say something Very Special, because it is in ink. goodness! here i was writing to chelsea, that sister of my heart, whose daily company i deeply miss. and i am writing on the stationary given me by my other dear chelsea, who is the best gift giver and spoils me when i haven’t enough courage to spoil myself. and, i was eating pasta. mid afternoon pasta. yes.

the other day tim called me while i was at work, and he was about town with a client. they had happened upon a yard sale and at this yard sale was a vintage schwinn bicycle with flat tires and the remnants of still living vines clinging to the spokes of the wheels. he wondered could he buy it, even thought funds are a bit tight, because this could be The First Bike I Fix Up. it would be really wonderful, couldn’t i see? and when it was finished, he could give it to brother jonny, who needs a bike. and so, because he believes in my creative pursuits, and let me spend $50 on a sewing machine this fall, i said yes.

the other day at [another] yard sale we stumbled upon a children’s shirt featuring darth vader. we bought if for our nephew sam (even though it won’t fit him for years perhaps, we know). but one morning as we were leaving the house to get some breakfast with the aforementioned gift-giving chelsea, i put it on as a joke. my mid-driff showed. tim said i ought to go ahead and wear it to breakfast anyway. so, here i am. no, i am not a star wars fan. at all.

and then there is salad. oh, the glorious greens being grown these days. we have a CSA share at Big Oak now, and that means we’re getting lettuces. so i’ve made salads for the children and yes, they do eat them! they love it. i made the salad above for us to eat at home. it featured red leaf lettuce, sprouts, raspberries, walnuts, scallions, and goat cheese. the dressing was made of rice vinegar, honey, grapeseed oil, garlic, lime juice, and a bit of salt and pepper. yes, it was lovely. we had smoothies with it, too.

and, we had to bid farewell to this one last weekend. i wrote more about her here.

we went to see our friend dustin pence play some music at Cafe Zoma. he’s really excellent. and if i had a link to send you to to get some of his music, i would do that here.

and tomorrow we are going to see patty griffin in concert at the house of blues. very last minute, slightly irresponsible (financially speaking), and also very awesome. (t is especially geeked about this).

how are things for you? what have you been up to?

photos and stories

here are some tidbits from recent life for you. sorta newsy. and illustrated.

tim has been tinkering lately with bicycles. inspired by The Bike Guy a few blocks from our apartment, who recently gave our bikes a spring tune-up, Tim spent a few hours a few weekends ago working on his bike on the back patio while i painted our dining room chairs dusty green. we had a great time out there, working quietly alongside one another on our separate pursuits. also, i think it’s pretty hot, this bike-repair thing he’s got going on. what is it about a little grease on a man’s hands?

my dearest Transit gals are taking off this week. this picture is of the little present packages i made for them as i saw them off (i almost never make pretty packages out of presents, so it seemed worth photo-documenting). if they walk away from this year with any good food for their souls, i will gladly give all credit to God. i was so glad to be with them this year, and to be a witness to their growth. btw, i gave them each a copy of the book The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, which comes highly recommended.

and here’s another photo of the three of them from our retreat at the end of april:

they’re SO cute.  and really splendid people to know.

we have been kicking butt with thrifty shopping lately, friends. yard sales, auctions, st. vinnie’s outlets, and road-side freebies. recent finds include the above-pictured photo hanger, several plaid shirts for t, a desk chair for t, a picnic basket, new blue jeans and several shirts for me, etc. the things hanging on the photo hanger all make me happy for various reasons.

  1. a list t and i made the other night of the qualities of our Ideal House (those who’ve been following our attempted purchase of The House… well, i don’t even know what else to say about that right now except that it’s not working out so well).
  2. a photograph i took at our family cottage the same year that we sold our share in it. this photo is taken from the kitchen looking into the center bedroom. the bed in the photograph is now mine and is the one t and i sleep on today.
  3. a photograph of me and my baby brother. i am particularly endeared by the aesthetic of his shirt adjacent to that fabulous boxy car to his right. i loved growing up with him.
  4. a photograph of all the roost (mom’s side of the family) women at an ice cream shop in the upper peninsula, sometime during college.

my dear pal jane, whom i met after college and lived with for a bit during grad school, came for a visit from the san francisco bay area where she now lives with her quirky and wonderful husband, lars. tim and i had a great time with her. we bicycled around a lot, visited the farmer’s market and olbrich gardens, and had a picnic in the courtyard of our apartment building.

finally, i’ll leave you with this group shot, taken this past sunday at the final meeting of the Madison Boiler Room (as we have known it). it was a good run, our sunday nights together in prayer and meal-sharing. but those words we heard the Father speak months ago about a kernel of wheat falling to the ground and it’s seeds being scattered and planted in different places… well they’re coming true. we were guided away from this thing as surely as we were guided throughout it. and that feels right. i’m looking forward to seeing what happens to the particles of this dissipating cloud (thanks for the analogy, pete).

good day.