grace (graduation)

It was about a week ago now that I met a homeschooling family at one of my son’s baseball games.  The mom and I had a nice visit together as we watched the boys play and at one point Grace came walking by with her friend.  I stopped her and introduced her to my new acquaintance.  “Oh, I used to be homeschooled,” Grace offered excitedly, “I loved it.  I never wanted to go to public school but mom made me.”

Part of me cringed to hear these honest words.  However, after last night, watching Grace with her class and teachers, seeing her bright smile, how mature she was, how capable, her light shining bright, it all became clear to me.

She bloomed where she was planted.

She took a difficult change in her life and made the best of it.

She had ups and downs, more downs, a few more ups, on and on for the six years she was in school, rather like a roller coaster.

She had fun, tears, anxiety, sleepless nights, songs, dance, silence, wide eyed wonder, false friendship, true friendship, romance, responsibility, headaches, dizziness, academics, good grades, good books, teachers who were kindred spirits, teachers who were her second mothers, and through it all…….she had her faith in an unchanging dependable Father God keeping her steady.

She did it.  Rich and I could not be prouder of our daughter.


A month or so ago I was feeling a little desperate about Grace leaving home so soon and mentioned, half teasing, that she might like to take a year off from college and just stay at home with us (me).  After all, she did start school when she was four and was younger than a few of the juniors this year.  “We would have so much fun, Grace!”  to which she replied (and I quote because I wrote it down):

“I know we would but. . . .we have all summer.  And I need to move on with my life.”

I just had to laugh with respect, happy to have a child this steady and focused on her goals.  I know how much she adores her siblings and depends on her parents.  The relationships within the family circle couldn’t be better, which is to say, perhaps this is the very reason why she is confident in moving on; her needs are met so she is not needy or clingy.  Plus it’s just her personality in general.  She’s forward-moving.

She’ll be attending Christian college in the fall about 5 hours from home (not too far), easy enough to get her home for the holidays.  I know she will have the time of her life there.


For our small town, the class of 2017 was rather large and cars parked all over the the place outside in the parking lots AND out of the parking lots.  I drove up over the curb with my big mama vehicle and parked in the lawn!  Saving seats was a hostile experience!  But we all got squeezed in and you can see my view from the middle of the room. . . . . .thank the Lord once we sat down I found that I could see Grace if I leaned over to the right and then forward in my seat.

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There she is!

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Recognized with the other scholarship and honers students.

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waiting in line for her diploma

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two hours after walking in……the class left the gym to loud & happy music.


(dear girl; Emily–our neighbor and also Ethan’s girlfriend’s sister…kids rode the bus together for years)

and now for the fun photos:

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With gratitude to the teacher who understands that some families NEED more tickets, Grace’s siblings were able to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.  (all 9)  Her two big brothers visited the old HS stomping grounds and saw some of their teachers and friends.  (I say “old” but Ethan just graduated a year ago, and Jacob the year before that).

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After getting through the crowd and out of the gym, we found our girl.

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Oldest girl with youngest girl; oldest boy with youngest boy.




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adoring little sister

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One of “our other kids” Zak, also graduated.  He is a close friend of the family.

My husband coached him in wrestling.


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brother Dave

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W E N D Y ! ! ! !

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I had left my purse unguarded in the hall so Jacob collected it for me.  Brittany is another dear friend of the family and graduated with Grace.

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Caleb and Seth got through the night thanks to the kindle and…..cheese.  🙂

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Ethan with his girl.

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My daughter, my friend.

Love you, Grace…

How hard the battle goes, the day, how long;
Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song. ~Maltbie Babcock




grace (class night)

The washer and dryer are going, and outside skies are clearing up after being washed clean from a night of rainfall.

A mason jar of wild flowers, freshly picked, sits on the kitchen island.

A collection of baseballs over there on the end table from a now-ended season of little league.

Parker the dog is sleeping, with his head resting against my leg.

I scrubbed something disgusting off the porch this morning.

Sarah’s stuffed owl on the coffee table.

A stack of stuff emptied from someone’s backpack.

shorts, a tank top, freshly washed hair, and comfy birkenstocks on my feet


Today is the last day of school.

Last days are a tad heart-wrenching, aren’t they?

(I swear they each grew a foot this year.)

Thankfully, “last days”……. are followed by “first days”.


Grace’s HS graduation is tonight.

Rich and I were away for five days, we returned last night just in time to go to the school for a fun “Class Night” put on by the Seniors, for the Seniors.  Grace looked so pretty marching into the auditorium with the rest of the students.  All the moms and dads looked and looked until their eyes rested on their own dear child. . . . . . . .suddenly on the threshold of completing all those years of school.  We couldn’t help but take the time to remember the years leading up to this day, as they grew from little babies all the way up to the 17 and 18 year olds that they are now.  Lots of love was in the room.

After a 30 minute slideshow, the kids put on one last talent show up there on the stage.

I sat between Jacob and Ethan and it was fun, but today, right now, as I watch these videos of the two songs Grace sang with her friends, I’m a big puddle of mama-tears.


Grace wore a long white dress with roses on it.


dishes n’ daisies

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I’m posting these photos today because my Aunt Colleen came home from an amazing cross country roadtrip with a bag all the way from West Virginia for me!  Guess what was inside of it?  A fiesta daisy plate!   She gave it to me when I was at her house this weekend and the first thing I did when I got home was tuck it in my collection; just right.


Thank you, my friend!


Wild daisies are just coming in bloom here in Connecticut and it’s hard to say which is my favorite; a handful of daisies or a fiestaware daisy plate.


It was fun to take a few minutes to play with these colorful dishes in the midst of a busy morning.

“I will go pick daisies
and have a happy heart.”


at the present time

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“forever is composed of nows.”  Emily Dickenson  

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Now:  recovering from a mild concussion, “pink shorts/don’t care”, having fun with a neighbor-friend (who arrived wearing his shirt), fried chicken party from mom in the kitchen, swimming in the pond, lacrosse in the yard.

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Now: another summertime for romance

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Now: with a little adoring sister who loves her, too.


Now: freedom to soar, to fly, to play

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to laugh.

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Now, with a faithful furry friend or two.

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Now:  time for graduation parties, a dear cousin, a loving family, and yummy food.


Now, sisters.


Now:  contemplating a secret recipe, sleuthing, enjoying.

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Now:  for oops and for trying your best to recover what you lost.


Now: innocent childhood, cousins, holding hands, exploring magical places.


Now is the time for youth, skipping stones, bare feet, a mama who adores you.

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Now:   a tire swing hung from an old apple tree,  and glow stick bracelets, and soft green grass.


Now:  a trip back home to where your Dad grew up, climbing trees, flowers in the garden.

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Now: for memories, for listening, for fathers and daughters.

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Now; driving four hours to get back in time to watch your boy play baseball.


Now; cheerful friends, watching the boys play, music, blazing sunshine.


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Now time to go home and fall into bed with that delicious “by God’s grace I did it all” feeling, and “it was very good”.


And now it’s time for me to do lots of laundry in a ponytail, shorts and bare feet, with a dear son at home, thinking of the children at school taking finals, planning a graduation party, looking forward and not backward, reading and praying, talking to Jesus, a song or two, thankful always, with love all around. . . . . . .

Philippians 3:13   “… I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on. . .”

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I slept so good last night, finally, after a week of having the world’s worst cold ever.  I made it through the day yesterday with no nap (feeling better!), plus five miles of walking outside in the fresh air, two baseball games at the end of the day, trip to town for errands, weeding in the garden, cough medicine before bed, yes indeedy it all made for a wonderful night’s sleep.  I woke up with my face glued to the pillow I had slept so heavily.  It’s 8:30 and I still feel sleepy.  Delicious..

Kids are all in school, their last day is the 20th.

There is so much going on in my life.  So I haven’t been able to blog as much this week because I’m very distracted.  However, I did take some photos here and there throughout the week so I thought I would make myself sit still on the couch and post them this morning.  They are mostly nature photos.  The sun has been shining bright and we have two lilac bushes in bloom attracting the most beautiful little creatures. . . . . . .


So I sit in front of the flowers in a lawn chair with my camera and it’s just the nicest time in the sunshine and perfume of the lilacs.

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I love the tips of it’s antennae.


wildflower I smiled to see



the purple ones smell like grape koolaid.  I’ve picked them and put them in the house for the most lovely of smells. . . ..natural air freshener at it’s best.

The peach ones smell good, too.  Thanks to mom for sharing her irises with me.

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Getting off the bus one day.

I sit on the bench on the side porch with a book and my camera next to me, ready to shoot anything interesting that comes along.

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Ugh…gypsy moth caterpillars are everywhere.


This is a pretty little bird, my flash went off and the picture came out nice.  I like it’s eye and beak.


A community of mourning doves at the end of the day…they were roosting together and cooing.

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see the green grasshopper on the pansy?


It was raining outside, I was in the house on the phone with Tara, and took the photo through a window and porch railings.  Not bad!!! I love these birds (Northern Flicker).  They have stripes, polka dots, red, yellow. . .so pretty!  They eat ants and beetles and have been visiting our front yard to find food.


so lovely (see the blue on it’s wing) –such beauty in a small bit of nature. . . .it’s wings flutter so quickly at times it’s hard to see the details, which is a nice benefit of photography!

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Sarah got new clothes, she picked them out of the miniboden catalogue.  I love their clothes and Sarah likes wild cats, reading about them, playing with her toy cheetahs and lions, so when she saw this shirt she just had to have it.  So this is what she wore to school yesterday, and even though she’s not partial to a top knot, I fixed her hair in one.  Adorable.  She didn’t know kitty was coming  . . . and then was so sweetly happy to hug him.



Back of the shirt. cute, right?


HUMMINGBIRD MOTH, one of my favorite visitors!!  They flap their wings so fast they are a blur.

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I threw something out on the porch at 8pm the other night and was surprised to see one “working overtime” in the dusky evening shadows flying around, dipping into lilac blossoms.

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The bumblebees were most amusing…there were so many the became territorial.  Flying, hovering, making contact with each other in the air, buzzing around.  Pollen looked like gold dust.  Wings as purple as the flowers.

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It was quite a challenge to be fast enough to focus my camera on a hovering bumblebee.



last but not least…..I was at the edge of the woods at the end of the lawn and saw a chipmunk.


It was busy eating a dragonfly!!


As I was typing the last sentences, and before I had time to edit, the school nurse called because Dave had hit his head in gym class.  He hit heads with a classmate, causing the classmates glasses to cut the classmate (he feels so sorry for that) and then fell on the floor hitting his head a second time.  So he has a headache and has to rest in a quiet room today. . . . . . .

I just hopped online to edit and publish again.  Happy Friday!






what the boys are up to

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Actually only four of the boys were photographed on this day (last weekend). . . .this one is David.  14 years old.  Eighth grade.

He does flips all the time–front ones and back ones.  Last Friday his class went on a special outing to an amusement park for the day and they had freedom to wander around, go on all the rides, and in David’s case, attract girls by doing flips.  He was approached and asked for his Snapchat (nonexistent) and instagram (currently defunct) by the girls.  He was proud to tell me the story, however.

David is on the Juniors baseball team and has the highest batting average of the kids there.  He is known for his prowess in stealing bases.

David watches The Flash every day, he has seen each episode more than once (or even twice?).  I complain but secretly credit the show for his relentless need for speed.  They sometimes call him Flash during baseball games and practices.

He will enter High School in the fall.  Sometimes he jumps off the upstairs landing on to the couch below…..he’s been wanting to do that since he was 4.  He likes music, playing the piano, and playing video games with his big brother Jacob.  He is a night owl and typically on a Saturday morning we will forget he’s even home because he sleeps in so long.  He is a natural born pessimist and can find something negative about any situation which at this point only makes us laugh as we try to help him see the better part of things.  He’s also possessive about his stuff or things he believes belong mainly to him.  He only lets his dad hug him because I am “a woman.”


He was straining so hard to flex every muscle he possibly could.

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Seth is the youngest boy and still a mama’s boy.  He loves it when I’m right by the fence keeping my eyes on him and only him during baseball games.  Part of this is because he knows sooner or later I will be gone……over at the other field to give his brother a turn, too.  Seth is almost done with 2nd grade and does really well in Math.  Reading and writing, not so much, although I have noticed that his actual penmanship is improving.  He has reading homework every night so these days I get the bedtime story.  He reads to me about presidents, owls, money, sharks, or volcanos.  RARELY does he chose a story, it’s usually a educational book about different topics.

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He is very light hearted and energetic.  I heard his coach reprimand him several times last night for his energy and impatience and goofiness during practice.  He is a well rounded athlete and does very well in each sport he joins.


He is easily influenced.  If he watches Garfield (one of his favorite shows and book) he has to eat pizza.  If he watches a baseball movie, he doesn’t last the first 10 minutes before he’s outside with a ball and glove.  As soon as his brothers took their shirts off (out of vanity), his came off as well (out of imitation).

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Caleb read the most books in his class this year.  He thought he would win a kindle and spent the entire year working toward his goal.  He wanted that kindle so much.  Imagine his dismay at the final awards assembly and only ONE kindle was given out, and by a raffle no less.  The child who won it had only read 2 books all year.

Rich and I bought him a kindle.


Caleb loves burying himself in his pillows and covers when he sleeps and always appears  in the morning with amazing bed-head.  He’s 11 so I have to remind him to change his clothes—he can’t be bothered—he has stuff to do.  Mainly sports—football being his absolute favorite.  Yesterday Seth had practice at 6 and Caleb had practice at 7 so with his extra hour he played a pick up game of football with 7 other boys.  I like to walk around the park while I wait and I smile as I watch Caleb playing with his friends.  He is a good friend.

Caleb can’t forget about things.  He worries.  For example, if he has a game in two days and the extended forecast is rain—he will constantly check the weather, ask me about the weather, ask his Dad about the weather, wondering if it really will rain.  It’s a sign that he cares deeply about his likes and dislikes.  He’s sensitive and wants his loved ones to have everything they want.  When I make dinner he will always say he loves it, unfortunately I don’t ever know if he is sparing my feelings or telling the truth.   He keeps his Christmas toys and legos pristine because he wants us to know he liked them and so we won’t be sad to have them get lost or broken.  If his Dad wants to go to Pinkberry and I say “no” Caleb’s heart hurts for his Dad and he feels so sorry for him.  Poor Dad.  He wanted pink berry and mom said no.  And then I feel like a jerk (in this case he only thinks of one person’s feelings–his dad’s).

The other day I was standing at the couch folding clothes when Caleb walked by and remarked, “I’m almost as tall as you are Mom.”

Caleb is in the band and it makes my heart so happy to watch him count the beats.  He’s a percussionist.

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Ethan is home for the summer and just got his first paycheck yesterday.  As I was in a gleeful mood, I got out his baby book and glued it in with much drama.  (after it was electronically cashed, of course).  I made sure not to put glue on the half that had his signature so that by lifting the end we will always be able to see his name there.

He’s working at the same company as his dad and they ride to work together.  (I refrained from adding five exclamation points after that sentence, it just makes me so happy.)

Rich wakes Jacob and Ethan up on M, W, and F mornings so they can go work out together.  Yesterday he fell down half the stairs because Seth had left his shoe on the step.  He accomplished his goal (of waking Jacob) and thankfully didn’t hurt himself.  The three of them have such a good time pushing each other in their workouts and it has really paid off.  They are all very buff.

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Ethan is staying in shape for college wrestling, Jacob is getting in shape for college football and wrestling.  By the way, Jacob isn’t in any of these photos because he wasn’t home at the time.  So sad.

Jacob and Ethan are both going to the same college in the fall and will be roommates.

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Ethan is at his girlfriend Tessa’s house every chance he gets.  He is busy working during the week and doesn’t get home until around 5:30 or 6pm.  He is the most quiet of all the boys.  He knows what matters, he knows sincerity and good character is important.

All three of the older boys are always making pots of pasta.  They get hungry and eat the dinners I make each evening and then make more food around 8pm.  The pantry is always stocked with boxes and bags of pasta and jars of sauce.

Showing off.



And being cute.

Rich and I do the best we can with these boys.  We make a good team.  He tends to focus on their character and goals and I tend to focus on their health, nutrition, and general wellness.   I also try to find out all the information I can about their private lives, too.  LOL (like, does anyone have a girlfriend that I don’t know about).  Caleb told me a girl asked him out yesterday but he said no.  Um, you’re only 11.

They make me happy every single day because they end up surprising me to laughter.  You can’t be bored as a mom of five sons.

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Eventually a normal game of catch wasn’t good enough….we had to throw gloves and make up different ways to catch and throw the ball.


And then they got lost in the woods for a while.  After a while, from our chairs on the porch, Rich and I saw them appear again.  We watched them walking together and felt so proud of these boys of ours.

We are surrounded by brothers.



birthday girl


Good morning, how’s this picture of mud for an opening to a blog post?   The other day I was outside with my camera and one of the things I noticed that day was little animal prints in the mud by the stream.

The mosquitoes are so bad right now, it’s almost enough to make me stay indoors.


Actually, I haven’t been outside much lately . . . .so what is keeping me indoors? and on the couch?  Cold clammy weather and the world’s worst cold.


This big bug has almost human qualities, doesn’t it?  sneaky, large nose, suspicious expression. . . . . .


The neighbor’s cat is frequently seen at our place.  If I try to say hello he squats down in fear and then bounds away as fast as his four feet can take him.

Sometimes my cats communicate with it in melodious yowls.

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A boy and his dog.

(Parker is sleeping in the same spot as I type, but his boy is at school).


From my sick spot on the couch, nature came to me!  I looked out the window in time to see cedar waxwings land in the top of our tree by the garden.  My Aunt Colleen and my mom both said they’ve been seeing flocks of them, too.  Such beautiful birds.


I kept hearing a strange bird call . . . .over and over. . . so (even though I’m sure it wasn’t calling ME!) t simply had to look for it and discovered a new sighting (for me) of a Great Crested Flycatcher.

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hummingbirds are constant visitors to our feeder (thanks to son David for filling it up the other day)


I bought Sarah’s presents yesterday while she was at school.  Michael and Jacob came with me.  We went to Target, Costco, and Barnes and Noble.  If you visit my instagram account you have seen the picture I posted of Sarah’s birthday requests, written in purple ink on a sheet of paper that I found in an empty room.  She didn’t hand me the list, she didn’t tell me she was making one, I just happened to find it on the floor and then, last night and rather too late, another copy by my bed.  Rarely do things like this get by my all seeing eyes, so I was especially amused and set to work, determined to get everything on the list, which was quite realistic and humble; a very basic birthday wish list.

Gone are the days (at least for now?) of siblings crowded all around the birthday child. . . .only Seth was interested in Sarah’s presents.  They make a cute brother and sister pair when they aren’t bickering.

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Sarah had a VERY very busy day yesterday. . .she went to the zoo all day long with her class.  Despite being tired she was happy and pleasant for family time and birthday celebrations here at home.

However, I did have to wake her up from a very deep sleep this morning in order for her to get ready for school.  Dear girlie.  She was so excited for her birthday.


Barnes and Noble does free gift wrapping and the paper was so cute. . .lots of trees and open books and little creatures reading, and a shiny gold sticker on top.

I found Sarah the wolf books she wanted.

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AND a book of her favorite Henry and Mudge stories.

She is a fantastic reader.

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Meanwhile Seth was busy putting flour in a balloon to make a homemade stress ball.  He was tapping the flour down the funnel with a wooden skewer.

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Her face when she saw the My Little Pony play set.

She also got her plastic animals (a bear, a wolf, and a fox) and a “cat and jack” bathing suit.  The bathing suit wasn’t on the list.

She also received a birthday card from Uncle Dave and Aunt Maria, and one from Grandma and Grandpa.  She gets so excited to have money.  😉


The ponies have been a big hit.  There are enough of them for her to be creative and entertained by very absorbing make believe adventures.  The TV remote is on the floor because naturally she had to watch an episode of My Little Pony, too.

The boys blew up balloons for her and we’ve been having fun playing “volleyball” together.


When she’s playing with her ponies she doesn’t notice anything else  happening around her.


Thanks to Michael and Jacob’s suggestion for dinner, I made a big pot of Shepherd’s pie, corn, and salad.

We had our whole family except Grace but with Michael and Zach.  (Grace was at school for a Variety Show and missed her sister’s birthday entirely)


Everyone loved dinner and then it was time for cake!


Nice big brother lit the candles after we all had to search for something to light them with because David had left the whole box of matches outside and they were rained on.


It was a huge Costco cake, vanilla.


With chaos and noise all around her (7 boys! crazy boys!) she silently sat with her eyes sparkling, patiently waiting for us to sing.


My favorite photo of the day.  🙂

Happy Birthday, Sarah!