fall fashion

Last night I awoke very confused from a deep sound heavy sleep with my hand securely attached by my ring to the lace collar of my nightgown. In my sleeping stupor I felt myself rising to the challenge. Indeed, I for some reason got out of bed and stood up in the darkness. I tried in vain to get it free but finally gave up and simply took the ring off (or, took my finger out) and slept with it caught in my nightie just like you see in the photo above. For the rest of the night if I woke up even a little bit I was patting myself, making sure it was still there because I really didn’t want to lose my ring from Tiffany & Co. but how weird that this even happened, right? Rather disturbed my whole night to have it *not on my finger* but leaving it behind on my nightgown was all I could think of to do whilst half asleep. I didn’t even think to turn on the light because I didn’t want to bother my husband but you know what he did to me? He bothered ME this morning by taking my car to drop off Caleb at school and then parking it as faaaaaaar away from the house at the very end of the lower driveway as possible. I had my arms full as I looked all over for it; (I had expected it in the upper driveway where I always park, or in front of the garage)!

If you’re wondering, this is how the ring got caught, the ends don’t meet, they end in a diamond and wrap around my finger. Surprisingly it gets caught in things often.

I got a FREE PEOPLE clothing catalogue today and I don’t buy from them because $$$$ but it’s fun to see the outfits and make up my own similar, with less expensive pieces. Since my husband was in the kitchen with me as I looked at it I told (I mean asked) him to give me a quick YES or NO to each one. These are the ones he would see me wearing;

(I’m just thinking now that it would have been funny to show the ones he hated too but oh well, mainly what I realized that he has a particular negative reaction to baggy wide legged jeans and also ….fishnet stockings).

This one I absolutely love. I have a solid gray dress similar so I could recreate this with that dress and some tights and cute boots.
I mean the skirt is a bit short maybe (definitely) lol—-but I do like both these as well. I have overalls.
Oh oops I got that one outfit two times. but I do really like the black and white pic of the white blouse with long sleeves paired w the jeans and boots. I also think that layered necklaces are very pretty, always.
I would do this with a longer tank underneath.
Last but not least he didn’t like this one. but I did, it was my fav of the whole catalogue 😊

The kids are home from school and soon some of us will be going to Caleb’s football game at the HS. Tomorrow we leave for NY for a family reunion and it’s the first one we have had since COVID so we are all excited. Not only will I see my extended family but also all ten of my children, Lord willing! I’m one happy mama.

It’s a gorgeous September day, and a happy day for me, and I pray God’s peaceful and rich blessings on each one who reads this. Much love!!

brief updates & life is good

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are
something to do
something to love
and something to hope for.” Joseph Addison

Good morning my lovlies~ I have done the past couple of blog posts from my phone but today I am in front of the laptop so have freedom to tippety- tap away as fast as the words can flow from my fingertips…….what delight, to sit and express here, a few little happenings of my heart and life. It’s only 7:15 in the morning and what promise there is for a full and bright day! The weather has changed and Summer is now gently introducing Fall. Autumn, my favorite season when I feel most alive in not only energy, possibility, and inspiration, but nostalgia, contemplativeness, and a sort of “taking stock” of my innermost life, and it is good.

That word…..good, it’s such a Father-God word, isn’t it? I just love it so much that when He did the work of creating this world, he took the time to see and pronounce it GOOD. And I find myself trying more and more to do the same as I go about my household duties, those beautiful acts of daily life. Yesterday was vacuuming (and more), today is baking (and more), and I hope that when I complete the tasks I can remember to also take the time to look at what my hands have done, and take a moment or two of satisfaction from the work.

So, let’s see……updates……

Jacob and Brittnee are happy in an apartment not far away. We typically see them here at home with us on Sundays. They have taken on the role of “firstborn” together, and are such a comfort to me and their Dad, just knowing they are there. Both of them fun loving and responsible.

Ethan is engaged to Sierra now and they are busy preparing for their life together. He is still at home for about a month, after which he will be moving into an apartment. He’s working hard and counting down the days until the wedding (April, 2023) and we are so happy for them both. It’s fun to have “young love” in the house…..a couple just about to be married with nothing else really on their minds…..as it should be. They eat, drink, and survive on “wedding//newlywed preparations”.

Grace and Brogan are happy in an apartment way too far away. Like five hours. (wink*wink, I know five hours is not as far as they COULD be, but also they aren’t next door like they COULD be, so……..) we stay connected a lot through texting and phone calls, and try to see each other as much as we can. They recently invited an unwed and homeless mother CAT into their home to have her kittens and now have a total of six cats of various ages to enjoy. (if you want a kitten and will be in Scranton PA, let me know……..)

David got through a year of college and is now taking a year and working while living here at home. He just started work at Fed Ex and he will be amazing. His outlook and thoughts on life are so relatable to me and we share a deep bond. He is recovering from a serious stomach bug AND starting his new job at the same time……and not complaining, either. (no energy for it).

Caleb is now a Senior in High School, Caleb the one who was “Baby” when I first began blogging here. Caleb my little sweet tenderhearted gentle boy. Still the same in essence, and so much more as he matures and grows. He’s busy with football these days.

Seth is in his last year of middle school. Stlll as joyful in heart and energetic in body as ever. He has my heart in his hands, this boy-man of mine. We have such fun. He brings a playful spirit into our home on a constant basis. He also plays football and is QB and a kicker, playing offense and defense and guess what? I can’t sit still for nervousness while we watch his games, and I pray constantly. But don’t tell him that. 🙂

Sarah Joy -oh my goodness- is 12 and we are so proud of our youngest one, she’s in 7th grade this year. She’s my little friend, and always has a word of encouragement, and common sense dictates that she also can hold her own in this house where everyone is older than her. Also, she loves putting on a little make up and doing her nails. She’s getting so big!

I absolutely love KNOWING my children. Seeing them for who they are, knowing that their lives are all their own and that I have the amazing honor of sharing each day with them as long as I live. I take the things they say and do and keep them to remember and think about.

Rich and I celebrate 27 years of marriage soon….Septemeber 16….which is yet another reason why this time of year is special to me, and to him, as well. He is still working hard, but not as hard as when we were first married. With time comes a security and a blessing in understanding that the world can keep going at it’s fast pace even as we take some time to slow down and focus on what truly matters; our health, our ability and opportunity to “stop and smell the roses” and our relationships. It’s so satisfying to enjoy the unique passions and interests that God put in us, and important to make sure we aren’t too busy to do the things that make our “hearts sing”.

I will write more about myself soon, but the most exciting for me recently was opening my own ebay shop and starting to sell things that I collect around in my thrifting and goodwilling and antiquing adventures. I’ve made a few sales and find myself taking a moment to bless the recipient of the treasure I have chosen to offer in my “shop”, I just can’t help myself, my mother- heart wants to know that everyone is okay and if not, help in some small way even with just a little prayer over a box to a random stranger is enough. I enjoy everything about it, and it’s such fun to have a little bit of pocket money that I’ve earned all on my own (I’ve been a stay at home mom since day one of marriage), and thus life goes on…day by day…mile by mile…age to age.

Life is a struggle!!! and for me, the struggle is keeping myself aware and understanding that there is always beauty HERE and NOW, even when I am sad or grieving or tired or overwhelmed and ready to give up. God always brings me back around to the truth that I can trust Him, He leads us gently, He loves us without reservation, and He is generous beyond measure.

So let’s allow this ordinary day surround us like a warm hug.

“Surely the Lord is my help; God is the One who sustains me.” Ps. 54:4

PS, David just came home from work (he works nights) and asked me if I wanted to go to Chipoltle, to which I replied after laughing because it’s not even 8 in the morning yet, “NO, but do you want to go to the Woman’s Bible Study this morning with me?” He also said NO.

Barnes and Noble on Labor Day

writing always writing

I kicked off my flips and am sitting cross legged in a comfy chair facing the windows looking out over a parking lot, it’s not an ocean view like in Jekyll but it’s just as interesting, and there is a steady flow of cars. My husband is next to me on the floor and when he wanted to convince me to build a log cabin (he’s looking at a magazine) by reading me an article (from it) that lists (helpfully) 10 Reasons Why We Should, I said please don’t because I could give you 35 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t. The first being I’m Too Tired and the second being I Don’t Want To. He laughed and now he’s looking through a different book.

I brought my notebook and after choosing a few books to look at I wrote down some quotes from them;

“We could strain for hours today for the meaning of something that may come in an instant next year. Let it go. We can let go of our need to figure things out, to feel in control. Now is the time to be. To feel. To go through it. To allow things to happen. To learn. To let whatever is being worked out in us take it’s course.” Melody Beattle

“It’s okay to be the teacup with a chip in it. It’s the one with a story.” Matt Haig

There are a lot of people here in the bookstore today. We think because it’s the perfect day to be here; it’s raining outside and what better place to visit than a bookstore. You know I was thinking as I browsed the thousands of books here; bookstores glorify God. So much abundance can only come from Him; topics, authors, colors, stories, words, they seem endless, but only He is truly endless. The beginning and the end. The alpha and omega. The first Author. It’s a moment of awe and gratitude for me. Always looking for those.

We are loved.

little poem

“Write it down, when I have perished:

Here is everything I’ve cherished;

That these walls should glow with beauty

Spurred my lagging soul to duty:

That there should be gladness here

Kept me toiling, year by year…..

Every thought and every act

Were to keep this home intact.”

-Edgar A Guest

nurse shanda

Today I woke up as Rich was getting ready for work and he told me that when he went to let the chickens and ducks out he noticed that the chickens were in the wrong part of the coop–they were up in the loft, so, for whatever reason, (not a good one) he decided to get up there and shoo them down but when he did he fell against the inside wall and hit the top of his head on an exposed nail (the sharp end). It’s not bad, but it was the top of his head and he couldn’t see it. Consequently, that’s what I did first thing this morning. I checked his wound. It wasn’t a puncture, it was a scratch. That’s exactly what I told him.

I got up and dressed and got a box ready to mail to my dear friend, which I always love to do, pack up a happy box and traipse to the post office with it and see how expensive it will be this time (12 dollars). I invited Sarah to come along and off we went. We tried to listen to Dateline the podcast on the way but she said it was making her sad so we switched to her music choice; Taylor Swift. We stopped for gas and went inside for drinks. She got one of those egg candies that have a toy inside and guess what it was a beaver so she gave it to me. It’s so cute! I got a cheesestick and a low calorie gatorade. We continued on down the road…..

Consignment shop was the first stop, where she found a nice backpack for school. It was so large that all our purchases fit inside it to take to the car. She found some shirts that she liked (I’ve already taught her that she must try things on before making a decision, and to only say yes to the items that make her feel so very pretty and good in). I bought three pairs of jeans because I’m finally getting a mom-pouch stomach that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get rid of (I’d like to lose 10 pounds, not that I’m not beautiful the way I am, but because I just feel lighter, brighter, and happier in the 138 range). So theses jean will be nice for now, because they fit just right, not “a little bit tight” like my other ones. I also bought a few other little things to try to sell on eBay, which is something I am starting to try my hand at. It’s also nice to have a pleasant hoard of gifts ready to send out to friends who need a little pick-me-up.

After the post office we went to the Goodwill where Sarah found some “super hard to find” strange looking stretchy toys that she really likes, “Don’t you remember I asked Uncle Dave for one for my birthday?” she asked. She then found two pictures for her bedroom, “I just love decorating my room.” I found some odds and ends, my most exciting find being a ceramic (?) vintage squirrel holding an acorn, which I love, in the “bric a brac” section, my favorite. We then made our way to Starbucks where she ordered a Caramel Frappechino. She didn’t like it. It tasted of coffee. As we have purchased hundreds of drinks at Starbucks over the years, I figured just this once she could try to give it back and try another flavor, so she did, and they were happy to oblige even though Sarah wondered if they probably think she is “spoiled”. I assured her that I knew she was NOT. She ended up with a regular vanilla bean frappe with some caramel syrup. She was cute as she figured these challenges all out.

We came home, Seth was a little feisty as he thought we took too long (awww he missed us), he wanted the iPad. iPad usage is under strict surveillance for him as a curious young boy the google bar is very tempting. He had to wait until I got home for his time on it. He called twice to ask when I would be arriving. In order to curb this habit with the children, I always give the calling child a chore each time that they call. So he had some things to do for me, and probably only called twice for that reason alone.

David was still asleep so I woke him up and told him to clean his room and comb his hair and start going to bed earlier at night. He did as I asked and then went to the grocery store because he is in the process of making homemade dumplings for the first time. He made the dough last night. He also had to go get Caleb from school because Caleb was alway all day for a wrestling clinic. Ethan worked from home today as usual. I felt overwhelmed until I gave everyone jobs to do, and I myself undertook making a new recipe for dinner; spinach lasagna, which involved a LOT of processing. Squeeze the spinach, process it. Process the onion and garlic, saute it, add crushed tomatoes for the sauce and meanwhile, process the ricotta cheese with spinach juice, eggs, parmesan, etc. I never processed so many ingredients in my life……Rich and I loved the lasagna but not sure if the kids will eat much of it.

Brittnee (Jacob’s wife) has had a migraine for a couple days so she is out shopping for new glasses. She’s a go-getter. She had a doctors appointment and an eye doctors appointment both today, to try to get herself feeling better.

And then poor Grace texted me as well, saying that she went to the dentist with wisdom tooth pain and has to have them all pulled out because some are sideways, and some are impacted. And she’s in pain.

Ethan and Sierra went to look at a house (they are engaged to be married in April).

There is always stuff going on when you have a large family. Seth and Sarah are just over Covid; they had it conveniently at the same time and are all better now except for the coughs.

When Rich got home from work this evening he said “My head was bleeding and oozing all day, are you sure it’s just a scratch?”

So I had to look at it, again. I looked and examined. When he said “Ouch, why did you have to press on it like that?” I said, “Because I’m Nurse Shanda.”

belly button piercing

I got it done last week after absorbing the last needed amount of courage from my girls. I was taken back into a little office/medical room by an amazing young lady who had multiple piercings, tattoos, and was wearing black fishnet stockings under her denim shorts. I liked her instantly for her authentic, lazy manner. Nothing was going to alarm this woman. She would probably yawn while pushing the needle through.

She explained things to me and had me stand so she could clean and mark the places where the needle would go. Then I sat on the table while she carefully, while only touching the paper, opened the needle package, and the piercing package, dropping the items onto the clean sterile tray. Then she put gloves on and told me to lay back. She asked if I wanted the door shut for privacy. How comfortable not to care about it and I said, leave it open. There was a fan slowly blowing on the floor in the doorway, and right across the hall was a man in a chair with his back to me, getting a tattoo on his forearm. The two of them didn’t look our way once and were lost in their own conversation and work.

She readied the needle, which was about three inches long and rather thick, and said “Breathe in, and when I tell you to breathe out that is when I’ll insert the needle and then the piercing.” So I took a deep breath and when she said “okay, breathe out,” I felt the needle go through my skin and…….she mumbled, in her quiet yawning manner, “I’m sorry your skin…..it’s tough, you okay? There, it’s through…good…now the piercing jewelry is through, I’m all done, just turning the little top piece on, you okay? Now I’ll just clean you up, the purple marks, it’s not blood…..”.

I had felt like slow motions the stinging sensation of the needle going through my skin and then up and out of it again as she explained to me, in these simple words, “your skin is tough” and all I could think was a shocked, “My skin. It’s tough. I’m rather like an old hen at this point. If I WAS an actual chicken I would only be good for…….for the stew pot.” Wow, what a realization, I’ll tell you.

Oh well, at least this old hen has a beautiful belly button!!!

people-pleasing?

How about Shanda-pleasing?

What would that look like?

It would look simple, and genuine. Relational. Glorifying to God. Grateful, reserved, unseen, known fully by only a select few. Quiet. Life in the kitchen, living room, at the art table, in the laundry room, at the piano, outside, in the forest, on paths, with trees and insects and birds, plants, in all weather.

Music, books, making a home. Conversations, exchanging ideas and things that matter. hugs and kisses, rest, nourishment, peace.

Feeding the hungry and loving everyone who is safe to love and needs what I have to offer, as a gift, my heart.

These sort of things, and more, please me, and delight me.

keen boot saved my life, written by a chipmunk

There is a very persistent rain today and so a perfect day to tell a story.

I am a small red chipmunk. They tell me the hunters love chipmunk meat and there are five such hunters living in the yellow house on a nearby hill. And though they are fed the best cat food money can buy, they still prefer freshly caught and killed chipmunk. This is what I was told and told again by the one and only elder chipmunk in my family (the rest were eaten in their prime). But most don’t believe The Bad Thing will happen to them, until it does, and thus it was for me. I would never become a meal. The day I almost became one, I was dancing.

I am a lover of the arts; literature, drawing, music, light, and expression. And I was dancing that day, when suddenly I was seized. My audience (mostly ants, flies, bugs, and butterflies), gasped. I was suspended in air, except for a tightness of teeth in my back, and away I went.

Inside the open window the hunter flew, and landed with a jolt on a terrible floor. Instead of earth, and grass, and good smells, it was barren and perfectly flat with no place to hide.

The hunter, a skinny striped cat named Bones, put me down briefly to absentmindedly lick a tiny sliver out of his paw and off I went, as fast as I as could run, looking for a small tunnel or hole to hide in. Tunnels and holes are all over the place outside, but not in this terrible place, the only hole I saw led to nowhere.

It was a boot. I felt the hot breath of Bones as I pressed as hard as I could into the very end of it, the toe, and I turned my face away, curled into a hard oval, and clamped my tail around myself like a vise. I stiffened and held onto the boot with every fiber of my being.

Still the cat tried. An epic battle began between Bones and Boot. If it had been any other boot but Keens, I wouldn’t be writing this story right now. Keen boots are performance quality, built to last with the most durable of materials. They are strong and keep the foot safe and warm and dry, stable and secure, and I might add, they kept me safe as well. No cat was going to get me out of this life-saving boot.

I felt a different touch, a touch of inquisitive gentleness, of soft slender fingers, and then I heard a scream, many screams….. or perhaps one long scream. My heart stopped and then calmed. My Savior had appeared and what I thought was a scream was really the trumpet sound, announcing her arrival. I felt my safe boot lift up in the air, and I was being carried, yes danced, outside. The best place to be.

She, along with two of her children, left the cat in the house, and then kindly tapped the boot on the driveway so I could understand it was time to go. It took several attempts, but then I was free. I ran across the driveway into the shrubbery.

It took several days for my paws to stop shaking and hold this pen with which I write.

I avoid the yellow house and all of its property now. I learned my lesson. As usual, the words of the elders are ignored in preference for personal experience. How I wish it weren’t so.

But I never stop thanking God for that boot, and for that woman, both of which saved my little life that day. They will be the subject and inspiration for my beloved art until I die, preferably of natural causes.

within the boot
my exodus from the boot

I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.

Elsie de Wolfe

I was there

I set out with my big camera to find a dead moth only I didn’t know that was going to be my main accomplishment, I only knew that I had just seen and heard a Kingfisher in the big dead pine tree and I greatly desired a photo shoot with it.

As trees and birds and all of creation are much wiser and intuitive that we realize, the kingfisher sensed my plans and was gone without a trace by the time I came back outside with the camera. No matter, I would wander. As I’ve learned time and time again, going out is truly going in……in to God’s big, beautiful and endlessly generous world.

I never go back to the house disappointed or empty handed.

I admire little nurseries such as this. Some wonderfully accomplished parent sewed up a little room (using a fern frond) for its babies to hide and grow. I was so very curious as to WHO exactly this particular family was, but would never dream of doing damage to such fine house building. Imagine! Building a house out of leaves and threads (I’m fairly certain it’s some sort of spider).

And then I saw this intimidating creature.

Into the darkness of the woods I wandered, and although it is darker in the forest, there is always dappled sunshine that comes through the tree canopy above. I continued to look for birds but was reminded, as I stopped to admire an old dead tree, that there are worlds below as well. These silent little slugs, for instance. feasting on mushroom.

Then I saw this insect on a fallen tree. The tree was pushing out mushroom (?) through its bark and on these mushroom growths were the insects, probably snacking.

The beavers’ preferred tree to chew down in our woods was the swamp, or yellow, birch. The birch is a juicy, sappy tree, and this stump was oozing with it. Another feast for slugs!

On my way back out of the woods, I bent to look at the ground again, and happened to spy this dead moth. It was so pretty I brought it home and added it to my nature journal, along with two mourning dove feathers.

And now I shall sit on the porch and try to identify things. We aren’t going to church today because Seth sprained his ankle badly yesterday and is now lame, and my husband is terribly sick with fever, chills, headache, and cramp. He did an at home Covid test = negative.