Hello. In Real Life.

Painting: Failing.

This is a boring, business post, mostly for Becky, but also for anyone who likes to scratch his or her head at well-meaning failures. I persevere. I plow ahead! These traits are virtuous in some areas, but design isn't one of them. I don't know what the heck I'm doing, except probably making things worse, but I lack superheroic design skillz. (Regrettably, anyone who sets foot in this home will soon know the same.)

As instructed, I used the Target gift card for ME, so I'm the only one allowed to clean my shoes here. The girls think it's Swimmy.

Sunroom: It actually looks greener than this and a bit darker, and I wanted robin's egg blue, not teal. Maybe I should try something closer to the color of the globe?

Library: It's brighter than this. Believe it. The top half of the wall is more true to life.

Buttercup! It's identical to the buttercup's shade, but the yellow that might work is closer to the shade it looks like below.

I would definitely keep the bright yellow if I had the luxury of picking out rugs/chairs/curtains/couches/paintings, etc. that would complement instead of clash, but beggers can't be choosers (i.e. spoiled Americans can't be even more excessively spoiled Americans). The orange chair will still be ugly no matter what color I paint the room; this comforts me. I can do no wrong in the eyes of Ugly Orange Chair!

Living room: A mild change. My painting is less likely to horrify anyone (Mother. Becky. Aunt Alice...) with just a slightly brighter shade of what's already there.

I haven't bought test paints for the rest of the house yet. Perhaps I should back out now, but I persevere. I plow ahead! At the moment, I'm tempted just to plow ahead and finish painting the walls with the colors I tested, because part of me thinks everything will look great if the WHOLE room is painted. The other part of me knows it will look hideous, and then we'll be stuck with it.

This is Luci. She's even cuter in real life, with slightly darker flesh tones.

This is me with Luci on my shoulders. In real life, I'm actually MUCH more pretty and fit. Plus, I have no wrinkles.

Piper can walk in real life.

And this? Well, it all looked lovelier in real life, even my toes.


Rocks. Hard Places.

It's annoying, but I can't fix the problem. Blogger posted text unevenly, and it won't let me change the color or size to the proper settings in compose mode. The html is a big jumble, and I don't want to get tangled in it.

As a quick fix, I changed the problem text to a light shade of gray, which means that subscribers may want to come to the actual blog to read more easily.

I'm sorry.

Here, let me say it for you.

Early Morning

*Edit: I just noticed that Blogger has misplaced most of the accompanying text from the following picture posts. I'll try to fix it later, so check in again.
It's kind of fixed.


Darkness and fog cover what little I can see from the window beside me. Birdsong, muffled, still trills in a steady stream of warbles and chirps. I am glad of the birds.

Life is life, and we've been living it. School winds down on its spool, though there are a few things I'd like to continue through part of the summer. I think about the golden moments, about what makes us love learning, about what we invested this year, about what I should have invested but didn't, about the Big Reasons that undergird our decision to home educate and how I can make them more the flesh of our days and not only the bones.

The garden space lies choked in weeds, ready for someone to come and cast out demons. If I think about all that I'd like done with a fingersnap, I quickly become overwhelmed. It's the weight of painting the inside of our home and staining the outside and mucking out barns and clearing the woods of multiflora rose and finding a way to repair Nails and deliberately decorating and planting fruit trees and berry bushes and windbreak trees and getting a goat, or, better, a COW and getting a horse and maybe a pig so we can eat bacon and buying a wood stove and gathering WOOD and building fun bed-lofts for the girls and a TREEHOUSE with a ZIPLINE (we have the zipline; we don't have the treehouse) and a flatbed-truck-playhouse and buying a new septic cover and digging a new well (as the house inspector firmly said Should Be Done) and moving the dead fridge and...while worthy of doing, none of it matters if I neglect what lasts.

What will last are the souls of my family and of people in the world around me. What will last is the Joy that remains through temper and depression and discomfort. What will last is the truth that this time is small and should be lived with eyes that are open.

The sun's coming up over a horizon still cloaked by fog, and sometimes that's all one needs.

Scattered Things I Happen to Like

...and which also happen to need a home in a post somewhere.

Jellybeans. Pounds and pounds of jellybeans.

Ladybugs on my finger and green outside to which I may move them.

Gift tags for a quarter and pompoms timely strung. Snowflakes unseated.

Growing girls who come inside with this and say, "HA! Try to call me a city girl now!"
(I also like that Annika no longer EATS them.)

The first days of flowers. Colors to entice a cat.

The last days of flowers. Rebirth to come.

The exciting discovery that tulips have ELEPHANTS inside them!

Living in a house with many windows.

Seed sprouts.

Hope uncurling.

Girls who fetch color and gather it in glass. (Everywhere...)

Blue notebooks. Blue eyes.

Riotous color backed by gray and brown.

Rainy days. Rainy nights. Rainsound.
Spring-smell. Soaked skin.

Gusts that dry clothes in no time flat.

A reading reward program that gives us tickets to the opera. Even if it was a namby-pamby, modern version of Three Billy Goats Gruff, they still sang gloriously!

Babies tasting berry shakes for the first time.

A dog who limps, but who can still run.

And run some more...

Another little girl learning to read.

Ssss. Aaaaa. Puh. Sssss. Aaaaa. Puh. SsssaaaaPuh. SAP! (I need patience. Puh. Ay. Sh. Ents.)


It's four thirty in the morning, and ever since I nursed the baby an hour ago, I haven't been been able to sleep. What better time to blog?

To quote words I wrote before, "My blog isn't a personal journal or a ... forum for matters of theology, philosophy, parenting methods, or diaper choices, and it likely never will contain anything other than a glut of snapshots."

As I rearranged the glut of snapshots I've loaded recently, I had to laugh. Or was it a groan? Blogs are a patchwork, at best, and that's okay most of the time. There's really no way to give a seamless view of a life, and even if there was, I wouldn't want to. For me, the problem develops when the blog creator presents a false view, either deliberately or unconsciously, of herself or of whom the strange sphere of her electronic world includes. Occasionally, this happens here. Because I choose to share the substantial joy of the ordinary and not much else, shotsnaps tilts crazily to one side, which leads me to this:

As I type, my house looks like a train just plowed into the side, through the middle, and out the other end. This week has been a steady spiral downward in terms of housekeeping. The dishes are half done, the floor is unswept and unmopped, and I still need to put the baby's winter clothes into the basement. The smell of a Piper Who Shall Not Be Named And Who Already WAS Potty-trained pervades the downstairs, and it is not a pretty smell. There are many other heaps and hills I need not mention, and let's not mention the state of the basement, shall we? You know those mom-blogs that show a picture of a charmingly "messy" room only to show the gleaming after picture? [You know who you are, women!*] Well, let me just say that the messes round these parts wouldn't charm the warts off a frog, and I'd NEVER keep them for posterity.

Now that I've got that off my chest, you can enjoy the shiny pictures.

*And I'm not picking on those before/after pictures I've seen from several of you, either. I wish my befores were as charming, but they happen to be a bit more horrifying dramatic instead.

Frugal Fancy-pants #1

In lieu of the preceding statement about the frequent short-circuits between shotsnaps images and Real Life, I offer the following indulgent exercise, which I may make a regular feature of shotsnaps. By "regular," I of course mean "as regular as anything on a highly irregular blog can be."

-I was and am a tomboy (tom-mom?), whatever that means.
-I also love fashion, perhaps more than I should.
-I buy my clothes at rummage sales.
-I can stuff over 30 articles of clothing in a bag for $2.00, which makes my clothes < ten cents a pop.
-I fool people.
-I usually look fancy when we go to church.
-It takes me five minutes to get ready for church.
-I fool people.
-I take a shower about as often as the Elizabethans did.
-I fool people.
-I wear the same grubby clothes until they NEED to be washed.
[I change the necessary articles daily. (Please tell me you don't need this explained.)]
-No one sees me wearing the green bathrobe at home except for various branches of the Johnson family.
-I fool people.
-I may showcase the green bathrobe in the future.

This feature will combine the garbled truth of all above statements, while ensuring that I look fancy at least once a week.

Behold, the Frugal Fancy-pants!

Exhibit A
Suggestion: Wear this outfit while taking your children to a mini-opera about goats.

-Shoes: 67 cents
-Dress: gift from a friend at church (origin- Salvation Army)
-Red belt: rummage sale
-Hoodie: Debbie finally broke down and tossed it my way after I gave her one too many compliments (origin- rummage sale)
-Cookie-with-a-bite-missing necklace: A piece from my childhood that first belonged to my sister Becky. To my delight, she outgrew it and passed it along to me when she reached maturity. I've worn it since that point and have never outgrown it (likely because I have not yet reached maturity). It probably came from a rummage sale originally.
-Raggy bag: rummage sale
Total cost of outfit: @ 75 cents

Optional accessory: chicken mess on your heels- FREE

Exhibit B
Suggestion: Wear this outfit at home until barnacles attach themselves to it.

Boots, plastic bucket, sweatshirt: free or gifts
Jeans: rummage sale
Total cost of outfit: @ ten cents

Optional accessories:

1. Jack Red the rooster

2. Pizza sauce you made the night before (Time for this one to hit the wash...)

The Best Gift Ever

On Mother's Day, I went on a long, quiet drive, all by myself.

Wait a minute. That's not entirely true.

Okay, it's not even a little bit true.

I love these girls.

I'd Never Marry a Rooster

But John isn't a rooster.

If he was, he'd strut about the yard all day, crowing.
Crowing, crowing.

And I doubt I'd be as patient and long-suffering about all the noise as this girl seems to be.

Oh, Spring

Cattails from my secret sister at church, given the day after I murmured to myself the wish that some grew nearby. I think she has my house bugged, and I'm the richer for it!

Millie's tulips early Easter morning, full blown and lovely.


The cherry trees exploded into blossom last week, and Millie chose to do her school reading floating in a cloud of blooms.

I'm glad I took a moment to take these pictures, because it rained for the next five days, and the blossoms are already replaced with green. It was lovely while it lasted, though, which is all that can be said for anything.

Dwarves in a Cherry Tree

At one point, Millie shouted for me to come over. One of the poems the girls memorized earlier this year was "Oliphaunt" by J.R.R. Tolkien. Millie's finishing up the Lord of the Rings trilogy right now, and she was elated to discover the poem in The Two Towers. Who knew that it was the very same J.R.R. Tolkien who'd written the poem?! What a shocker!

All the excitement wore her out, so she went to sleep.

The End.