grace at the christmas house


I dragged myself out of my cozy bed this morning to go wake up Seth for school, and wake him up I did, out of a sound sleep.  We came upstairs together to find Caleb in the rocking chair, “There is a two hour delay, mom,” he says.  Seriously, I could have stayed asleep.  Ugh.  But once up, I stay up and I made pancakes and bacon and hugged everyone.  I heard a report from Caleb and Grace that “Sherlock was meowing all morning and wouldn’t stop.  Jacob finally put him outside.”  After the children all left for school I found the cat under the porch, in distress.  “What is wrong with this cat?” I wondered, and then thought to myself, “He did bite Caleb not long ago, maybe he has rabies.”  The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that he had rabies and since he bit Caleb, Caleb naturally had rabies as well.  I called the vet and sure enough, his rabies vaccine had needed updating a year ago.  I made an appointment to take the cat to the vet and also put in a call to the pediatrician to let them know Caleb was bitten by a cat that didn’t have his shots up to date and probably had rabies but I didn’t know because I was on my way to the vet with the cat.  I had to leave a message and left to travel to the vets with my sad cat.

I was crying when I explained to the technician that I feared that my cat had rabies and that he had bitten my son.  She quickly left the room to send in the vet, who came in saying, “Sherlock was vaccinated for rabies in the past and there is no way he can get rabies or pass rabies on to your son especially since it has been over two weeks since he bit your child.”  She felt Sherlock all over and announced “Oh this is his problem, your cat cannot pass urine, he is blocked.”  So I cried some more and tried calling my husband to ask him what to do and if we could spend 800 dollars to get Sherlock on the road to recovery.  Rich grew up on a farm and values all living creatures, but only to a certain extent.  ha ha.   Providentially for the children and I, he did not answer his phone, so I called my son Jacob, who after all is a man now.  After talking it through with Jacob we decided to go ahead and get treatment for our cat, as the only other option according to the vet would be to put him to sleep.  All of us love Sherlock very much and since he had a sickness which could be treated, we decided that even though it would cost 800 dollars we felt responsible for his care and knew that in this instance it was the right decision to help our dear pet, after all he probably only bit Caleb because he was grumpy about his condition.

I drove home without Sherlock, who was being busily sedated and catheterized by the vet and her assistants to remove his blockage, which, as explained to me, was a multitude of crystals in his urine that had built up over time.  In fact, the vet was a dear older lady who became a vet later in life after her own cat had the same condition.  She told me that she was so impressed by her cat’s vet that she decided to become one as well.  She was very nice, I liked her a lot.  I’m wondering if now I will become a vet, too.  ;)


I came home and ran 2 miles on the treadmill while texting my brother Dave in order to settle myself down again.

I am now sitting cross legged on my bed attempting to blog about Grace at the Christmas house.

Grace is part of the Madrigals singing group at her school and they dress up in victorian clothing and sing Christmas carols a cappella in exquisite harmony at many different venues.  They were scheduled to sing at a lovely decorated museum on Saturday so I went and took Sarah with me.  Rich came a little later, as well.


I loved the wall paper.


There were decorations everywhere, and a little gift shop in which Sarah spent a few dollars on matching Menorah necklaces for herself and her sister so that Grace, “would never forget me.”  She said this with such sad eyes that Grace quickly told her “I could never forget you, Sarah, you’re my sister.” and then I cried a little.  It was one of those moments.


The acoustics in this room were divine.


When they were finished with their performance, I took a few photos of Grace who was dressed so beautifully.

She was the queen.


There was an older gentleman in the room watching us who invited Grace to sit on the couch (museum furniture is not typically to be sat upon) for a photo.


The music director’s daughter MADE this dress for herself when she was the queen in high school.



Grace with her friend, who was coming to get her for a group portrait outside in front of the house.  I gave the camera to Rich and asked him to try to get a picture of them for me while I went to go help Sarah with something.

And this is what I recieved:


~Merry Christmas~

look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!


my problem with fiction; and the solution


I bought a book recently based on the recommendation of an author I thought I could trust.  She raved about the book Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett, and consequentially, as soon as it came out, I bought it and read it.  It was terrible.  The best thing about it was the cover and that’s saying something.

This is just one example of what usually happens to me:  I pick up a fiction book because it says “bestseller!!!” on it and then wonder why I can’t get into it.  I thought maybe I wasn’t intelligent enough to understand the deep and hidden meanings/ideas that made a book a bestseller.  (this still could be the case, I suppose)

When I read I want to get lost in the book.   I want to get that feeling like “I cannot put this book down.”

If I get the sense that a book is trying too hard to be a book, I can’t read it.

The book has to be a book!!

My mistake was made when I subconsciously lumped *all of fiction* into one category…decided I wasn’t cut out for fiction….abandoned it….. and resorted to reading mainly memoirs.  I have the best time with memoirs.  I’ll always love memoirs.  (For a while I thought I had a problem with fiction because it was “made up”….after all, memoirs are for the most part true, or based on, truth.)

I watched the movie “The Age of Innocence” and watching the movie provoked me to read the book (free with kindle).  Ahhh, here was fiction to respect!  The Hunger Games?  Bah!  Yawn!  Sneeze!  (actually, truth be told, I did like the first book, it was the 2nd and 3rd I couldn’t read.)

But why?  Why did I enjoy The Age of Innocence and not Catching Fire?   And how?  How could I find these books, the fiction books, that I could read and respect?  Certainly not by walking aimlessly around the fiction section at the library!


The answer came to me just the other day when I was in the depths of reading a most wonderful book which I had selected at random from a used bookstore.  How on earth can I be enjoying this fiction story, I asked myself.  It was written in 1942, perhaps that was the answer.  Perhaps I have a problem with modern fiction.  After all, I hated Commonwealth (for example) and that JUST came out.  Perhaps the internet/online world destroyed the creativity and seriousness of the written word so that fiction works are no longer respectable?  How very depressing!

Not at all.  As I thought and thought about this problem, I finally realized and came to the conclusion that I was wandering around in the wrong type of fiction……

I realized that fiction isn’t just “fiction”. It’s divided up into different categories within the genre.  HELLO!  Now we’re getting somewhere……..

(I’m sure I should have realized this years ago, but whatever, I was too busy having babies.) I’m excited! what’s the point, you ask?

Look to the Mountain, as I researched it online, was a Pulitzer prize nominated book, and that was my light bulb moment.  What could be more literary than a Pulitzer prize book?  I quickly searched for the Pulitzer prize winners list and realized I had only read a few of them.  Right then and there, in front of the fire place, I realized I had a lot of reading to look forward to.

The point is this;  I am going to read all the Pulitzer prize fiction winners and not in any specific order because I’m going to search and find them all in second hand bookshops.

(insert squeals of joy here!)

I may even read all the runners up, as well!!

There is an awesome little used bookstore in Rutland, VT.  My son Ethan’s college is nearby and when we drove him back on Sunday I went inside to look for my books.  My Pulitzer books.  I quickly found two: The Good Earth, by Pearl S Buck, and Ironweed, by William Kennedy.

But first I had to finish Look to the Mountain.  Which I did, last night.

I just want to say….I highly recommend this book.  It was the best book I’ve read in a long time, and it was reminiscent of another long time favorite, Hannah Fowler, by Janice Holt Giles.  There is a special place in my heart for early American pioneer stories.  Reading them makes me want to make stew over an open fire and put on a long full skirt.  I often sighed to think, “I wish I could find another book like Hannah Fowler.” And I did!  This one is even better!


410 pages of wonderful words…..woven together into a meaty, rich, beautiful book.

She stood at the top of the rise and she watched to the eastward….guessing between which two treetops would be the place where the sun would come.  Then the sky grew too bright there to see the tree branches.  
     The true gleam of the sun, it the first instant she saw it, was of the sun itself—and a long ways away from her.
     Then across all that distance it came into her eyes…and her eyes had to turn from it.
     She threw back her hood, and on her face was the morning.  pg. 107



the day of thanksgiving


My brother Dave got some great pictures on Thanksgiving day.  I thought I would post the ones he sent to me, along with the few that I was able to take on that day, as well.  It’s funny as I look at them I feel peace…but in actuality the day was quite busy with lots and lots to do and think about (and I never did get the pumpkin pie out of the fridge to serve!  totally forgot about it).  I had lots of help from my Mom and everyone.  It truly came together wonderfully.



Seth was determined to peel potatoes.  I let Jacob help me peel when he was four years old and he peeled his finger so it’s always been an emphatic “no” from me to Seth.  He took matters into his own hands and found a peeler in the drawer for himself.  And yes, he did just fine, after all HE is almost eight.  Thank you, Seth!


His look of intense concentration was just the dearest.


We turned all the heat off in the house but it was still too warm to start a fire in the fireplace.  But I love this room….(we added it to the house a few years ago)


I played a few hymns for the potato peelers.


Rich, Jacob, and Ethan watching something on a phone….

I like how Dave took wide photos to get the details of the rooms.



my husband and his boys (plus Michael, Jacob’s best friend) watching TV


Sarah started eating the homemade rolls as soon as they were done.  They are obviously her favorite thanksgiving food.


Grace and her Aunt Maria made the corn casserole.


Mom, sister Amanda, sisters in law Cassandra, Maria, and Melissa, daughter Grace, myself, and my niece Abigail (who turned 16 yesterday!)  surrounded by lovely fiestware.  ;)


Caleb and Dad having a chat.


kitchen help🙂


Dad played football with his grandsons.  Seriously, he’s the best.


quick family photo before we ate dinner



My sister Amanda took these during Dad’s prayer of thanksgiving to God for all His numerous blessings to our family and the world……..


and then we served up our plates of food and ate all over the place….yes indeedy it was delicious

(I had no appetite which is the only downfall for being the hostess….I get so busy and distracted that I can’t enjoy my food! LOL)  the leftovers have been delicious, though.



and then there was time for a few goofy sibling photos…….


so thankful…whenever we can all be together in the same house….there’s just nothing like that feeling.  I never want to take it for granted.


Happy Thanksgiving!

PS.  and now on to Christmas.  :)


day after thanksgiving

The dryer is humming.  An orange cat is at my feet, busily cleaning his fur.  The bed is made and I’m sitting on top of the blankets with blue jeans, a flannel, and brown moccasins on.

I can hear Sarah’s movie from the other room, I can hear the cat licking itself, I can hear the dryer, but as I look around the room, everything is quiet and still.  Motionless.  The trees outside are like statues.  If I wasn’t typing, I would be motionless as well.  My eyes would stare; at the shiny doorknob of my bedroom door, at the curtains, the fan on the floor, the patterns of the wood grain of the dresser.

What a difference a day makes.  Yesterday at this time the kitchen and dining room were swarming with family, everyone talking, gesturing, laughing, working, eating, cleaning up, taking photos.

Everyone has gone.


It’s almost a lonely feeling.  To make so many plans and then have a holiday over.

Caleb is loudly whistling.  Rich is at the school setting up for wrestling season.  I can hear the boys digging through the lego bin.  Seth is singing a silly song.

I’m tired.  I’m wearing the day after thanksgiving like a cozy blanket.

preparations for Thanksgiving


Wow what a nice sunny day it is here in good ol’ *hometown* USA.  As soon as I got the kids to school and took my shower I made my way to the grocery store for thanksgiving groceries trip #1.  Trip #2 is tomorrow because my husband has the day off and he loves Costco.  (We’re getting the turkey at Costco…….)

And lest you think I was going to bring all the groceries inside the house myself:

..and yes, he did get up and do it.  :)

So, for preparations today, I am slowly getting organized to make sure I have all the things I need for the dishes I will be preparing on Thursday.


~Disposable turkey roaster because who wants to scrub out a turkey roaster?
~Bread for stuffing.
~Poultry seasoning, of which I have plenty because it’s one of those things that I never want to run out of so I end up getting more of it than I need.
~Turkey bags to roast the turkey in.


~wheat pilaf


~punch (sherbet in the freezer)….I will be putting the juice and soda on the porch to cool.


~pickles and olives (tray which used to belong to Rich’s grandmother)


~chips and dip

~I could make deviled eggs but haven’t committed yet.


~Orange jello salad (cool whip in freezer)


~crackers and cheese tray


~miscellaneous– more serving pieces


~corn casserole (sour cream and butter will be added, and eggs)


~more trays, plates, and dishes if needed


this along with the dishes that are in the kitchen (plates, bowls, and mugs)

These are the wonderful people attending our meal on Thursday, Lord willing:

Jacob-going to VT today to get Ethan, thank you J!
Sarah Joy
Mom-will be helping me in the kitchen
Maria-bringing pies, baklava, and wine
Amanda-bringing sweet potatoes, coleslaw, wine, and homemade cranberry sauce
Melissa-bringing a vegetable tray and a birthday cake
Makayla-birthday girl!
Cassandra-bringing salad
a guest invited by my sister

Now that I’m done with the groceries I am going to watch a movie, fold laundry and do some cleaning.  Seth and Sarah will be home in an hour.


thanksgiving preparations


We are hosting thanksgiving dinner for our family on Thursday and this morning I began preparations.

I made the rolls…….


let in a kitty


kept making rolls….


including a round pan of cinnamon rolls to be baked on Thursday morning for breakfast.

(for you, E)



At this point, everything went into the freezer.  On thursday morning I will take the rolls out and put them in pans to rise and then bake them so they are nice and fresh for our feast day.


next I will make a couple of


pies, but first some


coffee.  With