a skunk tale

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(9 years ago)

Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God
no matter what the conflict.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, home again.  And I worked like a machine yesterday getting this house on the pathway to order and cleanliness so I’m going luxuriate in a morning of blogging (a ridiculous word of which my definition would be: play with pictures, put my thoughts in order, type, enjoy the sound of the keys clacking whilst three cats sleep on the bed at my feet and the cool morning sun shines through the curtains).

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My children have beautiful souls.

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I took these photos on Thursday, right before we left to take Ethan to college (three hours away).  Jacob wasn’t able to go with us and had to say goodbye to his faithful sidekick of eighteen years.  They are brothers in every sense of the word.

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And look who was at his boys’ feet.  Another faithful friend.

Speaking of which, when we were gone the dog Parker fulfilled a lifelong dream; he killed an animal.  We all know this was a dream of his because he has had to make do by busily “killing” the children’s stuffed animals all these years.

This summer, not only have I had to spend time with the smells of six boys, but also had a stinkier than normal skunk.  This skunk sprayed Parker about a month ago and Parker has vowed revenge ever since.

Well, the skunk would periodically wake us all up out of a sound sleep in the very early morning hours.  The smell, like the gray of the morning, was everywhere and very depressing.  We cursed the skunk.  Little did we know, Parker had a secret plan (secret, only because he cannot talk).  If he could talk he would say, “No worries, family, I have a plan.”

And it came to pass, while Rich and I were away with five of our children and crying over leaving a sixth at school, that we were notified by the seventh that “Parker destroyed the skunk.”

We were elated and I was determined to bring our good dog home a treat.

UNFORTUNATELY……..

Even though three healthy and strong young men (Jacob, Michael P. and Ethan S.) knew of this “destroyed” skunk, they all decided to IGNORE it and LEAVE it to fester right by my house…..and as a result, as we pulled into the driveway Sunday evening, our happiness to be home again was shattered as the smell of skunk PLUS rot filled our beings.

How to make a man rage: put him in charge of cleaning up old destroyed skunks.

Rich doesn’t yell at me very often but he did on Sunday night.  I was in the garden picking all the ripe tomatoes while he took care of the skunk by making his way to our trashcan with it in a shovel.  “Don’t put that in garbage!” I said.  No response.  “Don’t put it in the garbage!”  Fast walking toward garbage can.  I hold my breath.  What will he do with it???  He puts it in the garbage.  “Rich!  Don’t put it in the garbage!”

WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH IT THEN????? He yelled, ferociously.

“You have to bury it in the woods!!  That trash can will never be the same again if you leave it in there for two days!!!”

So he pushed the can over with all his might (to remove the skunk?) and did what I told him to do.

We didn’t exchange words for the rest of the evening.

 

My point being…….the entire house was nasty.  The smell of skunk had permeated everything.  The only thing to do was clean, clean, clean.  I had to get rid of the smell.

So, on Monday, not only did I take Caleb to the dentist and go grocery shopping, I also:

hosed down the walkway outside, twice.
washed all the bedding in my room (the window had been open).
washed the couch off with leather cleaner wipes.
Grace washed the stinking dog.
We spent the entire day putting him outside.
He spent the entire day finding a way back inside.
I took all my sewing stuff out of my room and packed it away (which had nothing to do with the skunk…but the smell drove me to do things I hadn’t planned on doing, I was out of my mind).
I hired maids to come on Friday to clean and encouraged Jacob to contribute to the cost.
I made the children clean their rooms with threats.
I put clean sheets and bedding on Ethan’s bed.
I did 1,000 loads of laundry.
I spent hours in the kitchen, making tomato sauce, and a nice dinner (good smells to replace the bad one)
Grace cleaned the bathroom with Pine-Sol “Something smells like A1 sauce” said a small child.  (I rejoiced! He didn’t say skunk!)
Every single garbage can was emptied from every room.
We opened every window and turned on every fan for the entire day.

By the end of yesterday I was tired to the bone.  Rich and I had made up via texting and we went on a date to Rita’s while Seth and Caleb were at football practice.

All in all, the skunk situation did wonders in channelling my busy mind into thinking of other things besides the fact that my family seems to be shrinking and I made enough meatloaf to feed a small army when I only had 6 mouths to feed (three of which don’t even like meatloaf).

I am reluctantly thankful for the skunk.

*****

Grace is now a senior in High School so here we go again with the heart pulling and tugging.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  It’s just….so true…that life goes by fast, there is no stopping the merry-go-round.  Sometimes it makes one nauseous.  But most of the time it’s fun.

She left yesterday afternoon to go with her boyfriend’s family to drop him off at basic training.  He is going into the Coast Guard.  She looked so cute as she waited that I did a mini photo-shoot with her on the porch.

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I love you, Grace!

And I love all my friends who visit me here.
Happy Tuesday!

Yesterday is ashes, tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire
burn brightly. Live Today!
– Old Eskimo Proverb

 

how quickly they grow

 

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He arrived on a Thursday.  

He gave me happy baby kisses on a Friday.

We went for walks in the woods on a Saturday.

And took him to church on a Sunday.

He started school on a Monday.

We baked brownies and pancakes and mashed potatoes on a Tuesday.

He brought home a sweetheart named Tessa on Wednesday.

And left for college on a Thursday.

 

~for my son Ethan, on the day before we leave for Vermont.

 

time with mom and dad

I’m sitting on the porch watching a butterfly sip from a big pink zinnia.  It’s hard to type because the middle finger on my left hand has a bulky fingertip bandaid on it after I cut through the fingernail with a kitchen knife.  I was slicing cucumbers to make pickles.

There is no fresh air.  The smell of smoke is everywhere because David and his friend Emily K are melting soda cans over a bonfire.  I regret putting the fire pit so close to the house because every time they make a fire, the smell of smoke permeates everything.  Some children go for walks and collect cans in order to cash in on the five cent refund…other children play “melt the medal” with them.

I see a hummingbird enjoying the zinnias.  I wish I had my camera…hold on….

Okay, I’m back.

Today I am writing about the next day of our weekend back home.  Saturday was the family reunion at Colleen and Roger’s house.  Afterwards, Grace and Sarah went to spend the night at my parent’s house and Caleb went to spend the night at my brother and sister in law’s house.  Rich and I felt so strange with only three boys with us.  (Jacob had stayed home in CT because he had to work).  We went to our favorite pizza place and then to the hotel to sleep.

Around lunchtime the next day we went to Dave’s to pick up Caleb.  He had had a wonderful time with his Uncle and was full from a big breakfast at the Crackerbarrel.

Dave and Maria don’t have kids so Dave didn’t sleep well in worrying about Caleb.  Isn’t that the sweetest thing?

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After we reunited with Caleb we drove on to my parent’s house “up on the hill”.  It was raining outside so Mom made the burgers inside on the stovetop, with her grill pans.  She and Grace fried two pans of sliced onions in the drippings to eat with the burgers.  We had homemade potato salad, homemade pickles, and chips.

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a corner of mom’s kitchen….I love her decorating style so much.

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garden tomatoes, cut paper on the window.  two mixers for cookies, cakes, and breads.

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Well, we only had one afternoon together so despite the rain Mom and I went out to the garden so she could show me everything.  My son Jacob made the “Mr. Gregory’s Garden” sign.  My dad’s name is Gregory, and it’s a pun on the wonderful Beatrix Potter story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into
the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden:
your Father had an accident there;
he was put in a pie by Mrs.
 McGregor.’

Mom and Dad keep the garden all fenced in rustically so as to keep out the critters.

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Dave and Maria work in the garden whenever possible, too.  Maria planted these really fascinating watermelons; “Moon and Stars”….see the little yellow stars on the leaves and the melon?

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Mom wore boots, I went barefoot.  First we went in the shed where I took some of her onions, garlic, and a potato.  She showed me her gourds which are almost ready to turn into birdhouses.

She offered me boots several times but I needed to feel the mud and grass and dirt under my bare feet.

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Heirloom tomato ready to pick.

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Her sister is growing potatoes in old tires, and she is growing tomatoes in them.  I have decided that my garden totally needs some old tires.  :)

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Reflected in a silver bulb

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Perseverance corn…..

“I planted corn three times and the chipmunks ate the seed.  I bought fresh seed at agway and planted it the end of June, way late in the season.  I call it perseverance because Dad kept telling me it would never grow and I told him I was not going to give up.”  ~Mom

That’s the kind of mom I have.

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Grandpa’s old barns in the distance.

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Mom set to work finding cucumbers.

She also had me get inside the bean teepee which was pretty fun because I felt just like a kid again.  She looked in at me though the drippy green vines and said, “Isn’t it neat?”

I ate a crunchy green bean.

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I was standing in front of the bean teepee.

Mom and I got completely soaked and it was very refreshing.  And cold.

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I was given all kinds of cucumbers and had quality time with my mama.

(Today I cut my finger making pickles with them.)

“I’ve never seen you get hurt before!” ~Sarah
“Grandma has cuts on her fingers, too.” ~Grace

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Back inside the house, Rich took a photo of us and mom gave me a dry shirt to wear.

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Sarah felt like such a big girl after spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  She’s still bragging about it to people.  She loved the puppy, too, except when he gets too close to her.  (he loves children and chews on them).

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She feels important when Grandpa lets her hold the leash.

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Dad and Ethan played music together.  It was wonderful.

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From the other end of the house, Caleb joined in, too.

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We had to leave their house around 4:00 so that we could get home at a reasonable hour.

It was still raining when we left and I enjoyed that old drive down the hill.

Soaked it in, so to speak.

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Aunt Betty’s house.

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Mom when she was a baby.

family reunion 2016

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On the way to Colleen’s house on Saturday silly Seth said, “Mom, mom, look!”  When I turned around I saw that he had put his sneakers on his bear.   The next time I turned around, Bear had Seth’s shirt on!

This morning when I got up, I found Caleb on the couch with a cat, crying.  “I wish we could move our house and all of our animals to New York!” he confessed.  “You had fun this weekend, didn’t you?” I asked.  He knew I understood and began to feel better again.

We were running early to the reunion so we parked and walked on Main Street in one of the old familiar towns to a small but wonderful bookstore, which was adjacent to a coffee shop.  Once the young ones understood that there would be no “buying” only “looking”, we all had a lovely time browsing.

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On the way to the bookstore David gasped when he saw these backpacks.  He literally gasped.

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Grace was pretty.

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This bookshelf was full of wonderful classic books, and many of them had fresh up-to-date covers.  It was like seeing an old friend in a beautiful new dress.  I carefully pulled them from the shelves to admire them, placing each and every one back with a smile.  I was thrilled to see a copy of Kirstin Lavransdatter on the second to the bottom shelf in the middle (big thick black book with orange things on it).  It’s a book everyone should read (I’ve read it two times and plan to read it again soon).  A++++ literature.

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“If you would kindly please to let me keep upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn’t be sick, and perhaps I could attend more!”  Great Expectations.  Wonderful writing by Charles Dickens.

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Grace in the bookstore chair.

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I want to read the My Struggle books (memoirs written by a Norwegian).

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((CHRISTIE!!!  All of the Master and Commander books!  I smiled and thought of you.))  so so good.

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New covers for the Anne books.  They had a nice feel to them and I wished I could read them all………..

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Meanwhile the boys were playing Pokemon Go.  So annoying.  ;)

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We arrived at Colleen and Roger’s house.  Colleen is my Mom’s youngest sister.  She did such an amazing job hosting our first official family reunion.  We had a family meeting, ate lunch, played games, swam, had a bonfire, went for a walk, all the while visiting and bonding again as a big happy family.  I saw my aunts and uncle, my parents, siblings, cousins, and their children.  The younger set had fun discovering and playing with their cousins.

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There were a lot of old photos to look through.

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One of the “minute to win it” games was stacking three golfballs.  Mom won.  Later I played the same game against my cousin Erika.

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This game was to see who could blow a bubble through a hula hoop.

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Nate and Dave got a two hand touch football game going with the kids.

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We walked around Colleen’s vegetable garden.  She had potatoes growing in old tires.

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And a fake snake in the corn to keep out the critters.

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Just outside the garden entrance was a mailbox to hold garden tools and gloves.

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The pool was a very popular place to be.

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As was the chocolate fountain.

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One more game to see who could eat a “fruit by the foot” with no hands!

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(my parents and their puppy)

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Uncle Roger made a sky high bonfire and we had a table of everything to make a s’more of your dreams.

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We walked along the trails by the crick.  The boys skipped rocks and the children waded.

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Dad’s little puppy loved splashing around in the water.

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So did my little Seth.

Somehow 7 hours flew by and it was time for Rich and I to head to our hotel for the night.

We saw a lovely sunset and had full and happy hearts from a wonderful day.

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The good news is that the family now plans on having a reunion every year.

*****

Uncle Brian’s Green Salad

1  16 oz container of cottage cheese
1  small pkg. instant pistachio pudding
1   8 oz container cool whip
1/2  pkg mini-marshmallows
1  small can crushed pineapple

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Let set overnight–mix again just before placing in serving bowl.  May add coconut of other fruits to create your own version of this dessert-type salad.

 

 

you come too

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Grace and I went on a four mile walk yesterday.  I took my camera but determined not to take any photos.

So you see, the ones I took I really wanted to take.

The first photo was of a stack of boulders and rocks in someone’s front yard.  I took the picture because it reminded me of something my brother Dave would do, and also because Grace said she saw a squirrel on top of it.  Then we laughed because she wasn’t wearing her glasses (and they were only rocks).

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**butterfly**

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After we passed the free books and took four of them away with us, Grace read me a great story by Ring Lardner titled “Haircut”, written in 1926.  It’s best read aloud to someone you love, try it.

We passed several charming houses that we approved of.

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We stopped at an old, old cemetery.

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There was a stone in place for a woman who died at the age of 43, leaving behind 10 sons and 3 daughters.

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Another one said, “Tho dead he yet speaketh” …206 years later he spoke to Grace and me with the message on his tombstone.

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Lastly, a moist frog.

*****

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring:
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long.—-You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother.
It’s so young, It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long—-You come too.

The Pasture, Robert Frost, 1912

just a little walk with caleb.

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You may not realize this, but I have a son named Caleb.  He is son #4.

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I cannot imagine the family without our Caleb.  He respects everyone; man, woman, child, and animal.  He notices things; beautiful things.  He not only holds my hand but it’s all his idea.  He is 11 years old and likes to hug and lean against his mama, still, like a much younger child would.  He knocks me off balance when he does because he’s such a very strong, solid boy.  When he walks we can hear him stomp.  When he jumps he lands with a thud.  When he laughs the sun comes out.  When he sleeps he buries his face in pillows.  He tells the truth.  He chews his nails off to the quick.

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He and Ethan had cleanings this morning at the dentist in town.  They both hate the dentist so I had to go along to give the poor babies love and moral support.  Caleb had his teeth cleaned first and when he came back I asked him if he would go outside with me to stretch our legs while we waited for E.  Even though he was all set to read about football he readily said yes.

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I’m thankful for my son Caleb.

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He’s a great kid.  I can tease him, say no to him, lecture him, or love on him and he never complains.  This summer he has listened to JR Tolkien audio books every night and he is currently reading several books, including The Hobbit.  He goes to football practice every afternoon and during the day he plays with his siblings.  He loves to play video games.  He likes his things to be neat and organized and gets very upset when his siblings disturb his legos.  He sneezes a lot so I give him Zyrtec in the morning and that helps.  I think his favorite color is green.  Sometimes when he is silly he makes a “buck-hack” sound like a chicken, which is super annoying.  Seth does it now, too.   Caleb is always asking to have friends over.  He absolutely loves the family dog; Parker gets a lot of attention from his boy Caleb.

“YOU’VE MADE THIS DAY SPECIAL
JUST BY BEING YOU.

THERE’S NO ONE IN THE WORLD
QUITE LIKE YOU, AND
I LIKE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.”

We discovered a nice stream by the dentist office.  It was shady under the trees and the water was warm.  We studied the sumac plant (first pic), admired a tall mushroom, sank our feet in soft moss, and showed each other our best jumping skills.

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It was much better than sitting in a waiting room.

now and then

We just got home from running errands, Caleb, Seth, Sarah, and I.  Now Seth and Sarah are playing together and Caleb is curled up at the other end of the couch reading a book.  I bought it for him at Costco; Treasure Hunters, Peril at the Top of the World.  He says he will probably finish it today.

When I was his age, my favorite thing to do was get a big stack of library books and read, read, read.

When I was a little girl, I lived on a very quiet country road.  The lawn was green and soft and the air was sweet.  I loved going outside whenever I finished my books.  I would go for walks, climb trees, make a fort, pick flowers, walk down the crick, turn some cartwheels, or ride my bike.  I did some of these things alone, but mostly with my aunt or cousins or siblings.  There was never a lack of playmates and the farm was busy then, too.  We could visit the calves or kittens in the hay barn.  We could wave to Grandpa as he passed by on his Tractor.  If we walked by Grandma’s house she would come out on the porch to wave and say hello.

I liked the smell of the farm.  I liked it when Dad got home in the afternoons and we all ate dinner together.  I didn’t like my mom’s macaroni and cheese but I do now.  My Dad and brothers liked to play basketball outside and sometimes they would try to shoot baskets from as far away as possible.  Dad was good at side shots.  Dave and I would race but we always tied.  We kids all went barefoot all the time.  I loved my cut off jeans.

We could always find mom in the garden or in the kitchen.  Just knowing she was there made us feel secure.  I think I had the best childhood.  I felt surrounded by family but I also felt like my own person, too.  I was free to do whatever I wanted and think my own thoughts.  My life wasn’t controlled by my parents, it was loved, nurtured, and there were rules like there are in every family, but I felt that my days were my own.  I lived off fresh air, family, freedom, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

We went to church on Sundays.  In the car, I sat in the seat behind my Dad, who drove with Mom by his side.  Church, like home, was a safe place, too.  I loved going to church, singing hymns, spending time with my special friends whom I only saw on Sundays.  I loved the comfortable feeling of sitting so very long listening to a sermon in Pastor’s familiar voice and style with my stomach getting hungrier and hungrier.  Every time I looked at my Mom she would smile at me.  As I got older, I was able to help in the nursery and I loved playing with the babies.  I liked listening to the ladies talk and visit.  I observed all the women in the church.  I liked to see how they fixed their hair and make up, the way they dressed and walked.  I especially loved the musicians and  I longed to play the piano like our church pianist did.  The older ladies and men were the friendliest to us children, and they smiled at us and spoke to us with love.  I loved all my teachers and the things they did to make church a nice place for children.

These are just a few of my memories from childhood.  I’m thankful for the way I was raised and even though it certainly wasn’t always sunshine and roses, it all became part of who I am today and God was near to me then just as He is now.  It was a slower life back then, which is why I think it is important to be nostalgic now and then, so I can remember to slow down now, too.  I can remember to simply let my own kids play, realizing that they don’t need “ME” in ALL of their activities, knowing that just “finding me in the kitchen” is a comfort to them.  I can remember to look forward to their Dad coming home just like I did my own Dad.  And perhaps I will very soon bake up a nice big bowl of my mom’s delicious homemade macaroni and cheese.

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Yesterday Sarah had a procedure done to remove the stent she’s had since her surgery on July 6th.  She was very anxious and the doctors and I had to lay her down on the table and put the mask on her.  I held her in my arms and let her look at my face as she fought sleep.  Each time she started to relax she would get afraid and clutch at me again.  Her little arm was up around my shoulders.  It was quite heart wrenching.

She woke up sobbing and upset.  She didn’t like the way she felt, “Why am I tired?” she cried.  Thankfully the whole experience only took a few hours and soon were were back in the truck going out to lunch.  Sarah insisted on tacos.  We had to carry her into Moes but she ate her taco fast and determined with the hospital bracelet on and a bandaid from the IV needle, looking pale as a ghost.  Then she shared my food.

Later on, I took her outside with me.  It’s been hot here but yesterday evening was cooler and it was such a lovely ending to a very stressful day.

I wanted to show her the flower she gave me when she was still in school.  She planted a marigold seed and gave the plant to me for Mother’s Day.  It is now almost as tall as she is and covered in buds.

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Then I showed her a giant sunflower.  She carried her little blue owl every where she went.

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She helped me give the plants some water.

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David was with us, too.  So I took a sister and brother photo.

These are from this morning:

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I have a morning glory vine in one of my front garden beds (which need a lot of help).  It’s been a nice surprise to watch it grow all summer.  I’ve been training it up to the porch railings.

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M I N T

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P U M P K I N

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Q U E E N    A N N E’S  lace, growing near the side steps.  Sherlock wants to be let in.

******

Today Ethan and Tessa are celebrating their one year anniversary of when they became a couple.  So they went to the beach with Michael, Zach, Grace, Caleb, and David.

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It was after I took this photo that they left and then I left with the little kids to run our errands.

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I found fiestaware at the Goodwill!!

Happy Tuesday, friends.