This is going to be essentially a silent blog post other than what I’m typing right now because the photos are so beautiful….I want them to pull you in….I was outside for two hours this morning.  I walked over roads and woods and fields.  I took photos of every interesting sight I saw, the loveliness pulled me in and as I wandered along on my feet, and in my thoughts, I felt myself getting quieter and somehow, melancholy.

I came home, ate lunch, and this busy mama of seven took a three hour nap.

Restorative is the word that comes to mind.































The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want….He restoreth my soul….He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

You have put gladness in my heart, more than their grain and new wine abound.  In peace I will both lay down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

You are loved, my friends.


we are surrounded by towns and surrounded by dentists….and yet….

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

“….your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

Almost five years ago to the day, one year old baby girl Sarah tripped and fell on her mouth, pushing one of her front teeth back up into her gums.  I was going through a time of serious depression, trying so hard to take care of my family while fighting exhaustion and anxiety, both spiritual and mental.  I was running on empty and this just added to my sadness and stress.

We immediately called the doctor about her tooth but the doctor said it was the dentist’s job and the dentist didn’t return our call (it happened in the evening after hours).  The next morning Sarah was acting like nothing had ever happened and was happy, so, with my eyes puffy with crying,  I proceeded with my own doctor’s appointment that had been scheduled for weeks and Rich didn’t want me to miss.

While I was there at the clinic, I had a friendly nurse asking all about the children, so I opened my phone (flip phone!) to show her a photo of my seven young offspring.  The first picture to appear was of poor Sarah’s mouth and the injured tooth, so I ended up explaining what had happened to the nurse.

She right away wanted to give me a referral to a wonderful pediatric dentist.  She knew of him because he came to the clinic often to do dental services (his office was in another town half an hour away).  She walked me out to the desk after my appointment to get me his number and just at that moment, the man himself walked out into the hallway!   She stopped him and explained Sarah’s story right then and there, and I showed him the photo.  He told me to bring Sarah to his office that afternoon at four!!  It blew me away how God worked this out for Sarah.  We went to the appointment and the whole experience felt like grace, he was so kind and professional and put our anxieties to rest in regards to Sarah’s little mouth injury.  As we already had our own dentist, we thanked him and went on our merry way…….thankful for this unexpected help from a stranger.

Fast forward five years………

Sarah had her six month cleaning last Monday and we found out that the very same front tooth is abscessed.  The hygienist guessed right away that it had been injured at some point.  The doctor came in and said that as Sarah also needed a frenectomy he could refer us to someone to have the tooth extracted and the frenectomy done at the same time to save Sarah from extra anxiety (after her year of kidney woes she isn’t a big fan of dentists or doctors).

I called the number he gave us as a referral and was told they could do the extraction but not the frenectomy.  I called a few more pediatric dentists and was told the same thing.  I called back our dentist and explained what was happening and asked the receptionist to figure it out and make the calls for me, as it was more of an urgent case and I didn’t have the clout of being a physician in expediting the appointment or figuring out what to do.  She agreed to make the calls and I congratulated myself for letting go of control.

It took a full 24 hours to hear back from anyone.  Last night, as I waited in the dark car for Grace to get done with drama rehearsal, my cell phone rang.  The lady on the phone explained that she was calling me because she was contacted by my dentist in regards to Sarah , and she began telling me about the office and where they were located.  To make a long story short:


She has a consultation appointment today at 10:50!

We got back home a little while ago and the appointment was great.  He said that her tooth was wriggly enough that she can get it out herself.  He put her on antibiotics.  He said that she could wait on the frenectomy for several years and it would be better for her psyche if we waited.  Rich and I totally agreed.  :)  Oh and they remembered her!


baked beans recipe (yum)


The sun was almost down behind the house, and in front of us like a living piece of art was a dusky early evening.  How many times have I stopped what I was doing in the house to run out on the porch just for a moment; to soak in the beauty, breath the fresh air, cool my busy mind?  Called the children to come and see the pretty sky?  So many times that now sometimes they do it, too.

“Mom, come look!”

s h a r e d  J O Y  i s  a  d o u b l e   J O Y


The darkest of blues and a world washed clean.


A year ago I put together a recipe file of all the baked bean recipes I could find in my cookbook collection.  I tried out a few of the recipes and then lost interest in beans for another year.  It is interesting to me how we become seasonally predictable.  All of a sudden I’m getting the urge to bake beans again–exactly a year later.

I selected the next recipe to try and for this recipe, I needed dark rum.  Rich and I drove downtown on Saturday to get some while the beans were soaking on the stovetop and the children played.  I sat in the truck while he ran into the liquor store for a nice bottle of rum.  Then we went downtown for coffee and a walk.


We ate dinner together around the table at the end of the day.  A big pot of homemade baked beans and fresh bread from Price Chopper.  The children all ate a plate of beans, so piping hot that they had to spread them all around their plates to cool faster.  They all liked them and several of us had seconds. It is a contented feeling to make such simple foods and have them enjoyed.

Rich and Jacob go to the gym three times a week and Rich told me that Jacob should probably not eat beans the night before, ever again.  Jacob replied, “It doesn’t matter what I eat, it’s going to happen.”

I thank my Aunt Mary for this recipe, because it came from a wonderful cookbook that she gave to me years ago as a bridal shower gift.  I’ve studied and used it so much that it’s falling apart now.  Every recipe I’ve made out of this cookbook has been extra delicious.

Molasses and Rum Baked Beans

1 pound dry navy beans or dry great northern beans
1/4 pound bacon (six slices) or salt pork, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup (we used maple syrup)
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. pepper

Rince beans.  In a 4 1/2 quart dutch oven combine beans and 8 cups cold water.  (I also added a bay leaf).  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

In the same pan mix beans and 8 cups fresh cold water.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 1 hour and 15 minutes or till tender.  Drain beans, reserving hot liquid.  Transfer beans to a 2 1/2 quart casserole or bean pot.

In a medium saucepan or large skillet, cook bacon or salt pork till fat begins to accumulate.  Add onion and garlic.  cook and stir over medium heat till onion is tender but not brown.  Stir onion mixture into beans along with 1/2 cup of the reserved bean liquid, molasses or maple syrup, catsup, dark rum, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, ground ginger, and pepper.

Bake, covered, in a 300 degree oven about 2 and a half hours or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.  If necessary, add additional reserved bean liquid.  Makes 10-12 servings.

NOTES:  I doubled this recipe.  I used a teaspoon of sandwich mustard rather than dry.  It took my beans much longer to bake.  Plan on this recipe taking an entire day from morning to night.  There is nothing worse than under cooked baked beans.  When done, the beans should be super soft and everything else in the pot should be melted together.  Add liquid as they bake so there is sauce.  Very delicious with bread and butter and cold glasses of cider.

recipe source:  Stay for Supper (Country Home) Cookbook


photos from walk yesterday, which was a warm fall day



the leaves I brought home with me


“….we must never pretend that things are better than they are-but I do want us to look beneath all that is difficult and see the miracle God has wrought in our hearts.  I want us to see that he has placed powerful urges to do good in the deepest recesses of our regenerated hearts.  That’s what the New Covenant is all about.  Something wonderful and beautiful and resilient is within us that no abuse, rejection, or failure can ever destroy.  I want us to relate to one another, not as moralist to sinner or therapist to patient, but as saint to saint, father to child, friend to friend, as true lovers, with the confidence that we can help each other believe that, by the grace of God, there is something good beneath the mess.”
Larry Crabb


connecting (quote)

God gave me a book on Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for it.  I went into the thrift store and aimlessly browsed, I chose the book (and a few others, too) after briefly flipping through it.  I started reading it at home and instantly I was mentally thanking and praising God and underlining everything with a nice sharp pencil….this book is solidifies some important things I’ve been thinking about in regards to kinship, belonging, and organized church.   At just at the right time, God gave me more words, more ideas, and in the form of a book (He knows how I love to read because He made me).  (I payed one dollar for five books and a little box for Grace).   So this book cost me about 20 cents.  I love it, I love how He operates.


An acquaintance of mine tried to commit suicide.  What he did should have killed him, but he survived.  I was asked to help.  For more than six months I worked with this man in therapy.  Even now I recall the session-I think it was the tenth-where I came up with an insight that put so much of his pain into new perspective.  I remember him saying, “How on earth did you figure that out?”  I humbly shrugged and said, “Hope it helps.”
     In the middle of our work together, I happened one spring day to be driving through the local college campus and saw my depressed client sitting on the grass with a friend.  They were laughing.  I’m not clear why, but I felt a strong desire to join their good time.
     Every reason why I shouldn’t join them ran instantly through my head–too much to do, it would be awkward, even unprofessional, to socialize with a client–but the words of my friends over breakfast came back to me.  Was I afraid to just be with this man, to take off the Dr. Crabb white coat, to stop being an expert, and offer myself as a person?
     On an impulse, I stopped my car, walked over to where they were sitting, their backs toward me.  When I got close, they heard my footsteps, and turned.  I greeted them both, then said to my client, “How are you?”
     Picture what it would be like to have your therapist, while you’re in the middle of treatment for suicidal depression, walk up to you in a casual setting and ask, “How are you?”
     He wrinkled his face into  serious expression, coughed a few times, then said, “Well, maybe a little better.  Still really worried about…..”
     I interruped.  “I don’t mean, ‘How are you doing with your struggles:’  I’m just sociably asking how you’re doing.”
     He replied, “You mean, like, ‘Fine, thanks’?”
     “Yes, exactly!”
     “In that case, fine, thanks.  Can you join us?”
     “Sure I’ve got some time.”
     For the next thirty minutes I didn’t say one intelligent thing.  I just enjoyed two friends.
     Three years later I met him for coffee during a trip to the town where he was then living.  He was doing well.  At one point in our conversation he thanked me for my influence on his life.  I asked what he remembered that had helped the most.  There was no hesitation.
     “It was that half hour you sat on the grass with me and my friend and just chatted.”  He was warmly smiling.
     I was indignant.  “Don’t you recall that life-changing insight I came up with in the tenth session of therapy?”
     “Uh, no, I don’t.  Can you refresh me?”
     I believe that the work we did in therapy was important.  But I also believe that the time I most clearly led with my heart rather than my head was the time of greatest power.

page 35 of Connecting, by Larry Crabb


thankful, so very very thankful


These mashed potatoes are soooooooooo good!


I’m still using my Grandma’s potato masher.

fiesta potholders
martha stewart pot


The potatoes were a snack for these fine young men.  (By the way, I took all these photos last week but didn’t post them yet).  Ethan had a week home from college.


Rich was away on a business trip for five days.  I took this picture of the boys for him after their football practice….as you can see, Seth is full of energy STILL!

This morning he was showing me how his shorts didn’t stay up and I said, “Dressing you is like trying to dress a broom stick.” and he said, “That’s because I’m skinny.”

He also said, “When I grow up I’m not going to get married so I can still live with you.”  “You don’t have to get married but you could still have your own place,” I replied.  “I’ll be your neighvor.” he said.  (exactly how he pronounced it)


WHAT???  All I did was walk out the front door when I discovered this very very cool green insect on the dresser on the porch.  Isn’t it amazing?

You can make discoveries at any time and any place.  Keep your eyes open.

I want to draw this bug.  Wouldn’t it be fun to draw this bug?


I have a fascination with the Salem Witch Trials but this book was disappointingly difficult to read.  It put me to sleep every evening.  I finally put it down and read reviews on amazon — gratified to see the majority of them felt the same as I did.  I bought this book at Costco and will be returning it.


The Trouble with Magic, by Ruth Chew (my latest read to Sarah book)
Little Women
The Little’s Surprise Party
Young Amelia Earhart
Tales of Peter Rabbit and his Friends
Heidi (full of illustrations)
Art book
Charlie Brown book

I love having books everywhere I turn here.


Sarah reading to Mama.


Seth reading to Mama (with Sarah next to us).

Little Bear books are the best.  You know they make me tear up?  Heartwarming stories.  And then she wrote Hunger Games, can you believe that?  (I did read Hunger Games and enjoyed it but got bored with the rest of the series, haven’t seen the movies.)



Dress up


Another homegrown pumpkin (we had four)


Kids are the best


a bunny bee and soft flower petals

(isn’t it so cute?)

To be glad of life, because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself until you have made the best of the them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts;  to covet nothing that is your neighbor’s except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends and every day of Christ; and to spend as much time as you can with body and with spirit, in God’s out-of-doors–these are the little guide-posts on the foot-path of peace.  

Henry Van Dyke.


((David caught a snake.))  Yesterday Michael and Logan walked to our house to visit and said they rescued a snake from the road, it’s tail was run over so they put the hurt snake in the woods.  I was so happy with them.


Our cats love sleeping in laundry baskets.


DAVID!!!!  getting so tall and changing daily…..drinking that yummy raw milk does wonders.  He’s been on the Rip Stick (see it behind him) a lot lately.  He loves to go to football practice with his brothers and while they are on the fields, he is on the parking lot with the rip stick (for 2 hours!).  Last night he was hungry and made himself a little pot of rice for a bedtime snack.  He’s the best at making rice and has a scientific precise way of making it.  He’s also been eating tortilla chips and salsa on a constant basis.  It always amuses me to see the kids to through “their favorite snack” stages.  I remember when Grace would eat a can of corn every day.


In a weak moment, I let Parker take a nap next to me.


GLOWING GLOWING GLOWING…….the outdoors is simply dazzling.

“Early in the morning, my song shall rise to Thee.”


Ethan and Tessa making pasta for dinner.

Is there anything more cozy than being outside and looking at the bright windows of YOUR house, with YOUR family inside???



Last night Seth looked back at me as he was going downstairs to bed and said, “Mom in the morning I want eggs for breakfast,” and he pointed his finger at me like Gary George, and continued, “Fried.  Two.”  Then, a thumbs up.  I was smiling, “Okay Seth!”  So this morning I put a healthy amount of butter in a cast iron pan and fried him up two eggs, served with whole wheat toast.

He said to me, he said to me with his mouth full, “This is a good breakfast, mom.”

when the snow flies


Rich wanted to take us to Pinkberry at the mall on Monday evening (the kids had no school again on Tuesday so we could stay out late).  Sarah and I didn’t want anything from Pinkberry (she said it was *too cold*, and I had already had ice cream at home-twice).

A few weeks previously, I had unfortunately and unwisely mentioned to Sarah as I zipped up her too-small winter coat from last year, that I was going to get her a new one.  I say that was unwise of me because she promptly held on to that information and never let go, bringing it up in conversation as much as possible.

Since we were at the mall and didn’t want Pinkberry, we decided to search for the winter coat.

It had to be just right.

The first one she tried on had way too many buttons.  I almost lost my sanity just buttoning it up for the photo.  It was very well made and pretty, though.  (Jessica Simpson girls Peacoat, at Lord and Taylor).


I don’t remember who made this one but it was a definite “no”, although the zipper was nice.


I loved this one from Gymboree, but Sarah immediately deemed it “too hot”.  She could not wait to take it off, which is quite the opposite of what we were looking for in winter wear.

It was a very nice coat, though.  Perfect, really.  Unless you have a child who easily gets too hot.


Then we tried a black jacket in a short length- also from Gymboree.  I liked it but she did not.  Then I got to thinking about the whiteness of the fur collar….and how annoying it would be to watch it get dingier and dingier as the year went on.  It was short, but a little too short.


A very lovely coat at Norstrom’s made by The North Face….the lining was super soft and it was reversible.  Too hot though.  I probably would have gone back to get this one if we hadn’t found The One later on in the shopping trip.


She tried on this super cute mini boden shirt.


She hugged this headless mannequin several times.  They had an instant connection.


She tried on a vest…I loved it…so soft….she said it looked like a sheep…the lining was gorgeous!  However, it was not a coat.


This was my personal favorite, as Rich said later, “it looks like you, Shan”.  This is the coat I would have bought if I were shopping for myself and not a six year old.  From JCrew.


Hanna Andersson.  I LOVE their clothes, the quality is so good and their things are adorable.  It’s the kind of shop in which I want to buy everything in sight.  I fell in love with this coat instantly.  I’m not sure why she was sad in the photo.


Same coat in peach…and adorable mittens.  Sarah got more thrills from accessories than the main purchase.  In fact, she walked out of this store with *a purse and gloves* AND a coat.


We were done and went to go find Rich and the others.  As we waited for Grace and her friend to show up, Rich was telling me a story.  I’m not sure what he was saying but I thought he was super handsome so took a photo….making him stop and ask “What are you doing?” in mid-conversation.

Seth was doing wrestling moves in his chair next to his Dad.  At one point his shoe went flying.


So what coat did we chose?  I took a little portrait of Sarah with my good camera yesterday, but first…some nature photos.  What a gorgeous fall day it was, and as I went down to the chicken coop I sighted a new-to-me bird.  After using my handy dandy app (Merlin Bird ID) I figured out it was this:


Isn’t it so cute?  There were about five of them in the same area of the lawn, busily eating lovely wildflowers which had gone to seed.


The design of it’s back feathers (wings) is so pretty.  And I love the touch of yellow.


I was on my stomach in the cool green grass as I watched them.


The hens are usually fenced in but I let them free range yesterday afternoon, which they obviously enjoyed.  It made me nervous the rest of the day for fear something would attack them.  We watched them well and they stayed safe and a had nice couple of hours scratching the ground and eating whatever they could find that looked tasty.



“Mom, come and see how I get on this all by myself!”

noooooooo thanks darling!!!


Chipmunk down by the stream….what a nice place to live; water, rock ledges, holes, acorns abundant, and tunnels, all so convenient.


It’s a great time of year to go bird watching what with the beauty of the trees, good smells of autumn, and busy little birds trying to fill up their tummies.




black spotted back.


fresh running water….a haven for birds and animals.


Sarah’s final selection…..the pop of bright blue flowers makes it special.


It is thick and warm for the upcoming winter months.  Inside the coat there are drawstrings to tighten the waist, and she selected adorable little gloves to match.


She couldn’t wait to take it off….goodbye coat, see you when the snow flies!





how long was the foot massage?

Saturday night, Rich and the boys stayed up late watching TV while the rest of us went to bed.  The lights were off with only the glow of the television, and the boys were enjoying some time together after their beloved Dad had been away all week for business.

As is frequent at our house, and because their Dad is a runner and often has aching feet, the boys were called upon to give their ol’ Dad a foot massage.  Seth, our seven year old, was happy to sit at his Dad’s feet and rub them.  Eventually, Rich, who is always exhausted by the end of the day, drifted off to never-never land.

Waking up hours later, he found the living room completely empty and a note on his chest.14642229_10154404895611343_4023043817698754794_n