romance and reality;

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To live content with small means;

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to seek elegance rather than luxury,

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and refinement rather than fashion;

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to be worthy, not respectable,

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wealthy, not rich;
to study hard,
think quietly,
talk gently,
act frankly;

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to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages,
with open hearts;

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to bear all cheerfully,
to do all bravely,

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await occasions,
hurry never,

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In a word,

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let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,

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grow up through the common-

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this is my symphony.

~William Ellery Channing

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reality:

(While I wrote this Seth made hamburgers and dropped a spatula on the floor 32 times.  Sarah’s burger broke in half.  David said “ha ha” to her.  She cried.  Seth threw a mitten at me.  David kept tapping his feet and drumming his hands.  Seth yelled out strange noices and did strange dances.  We are about to leave to take David to a wrestling meet.  He is hungry.  I feel rushed.  Seth tapped his burger fingers on the clean glass door.  My nose is running.  Sarah yelled at Seth.)

 

no school today (wednesday)

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David is practicing a song on the piano.

A candle is flickering on the coffee table.

Outside the window all is gray (sky) and white (snow) and black (trees).  We are fast losing daylight.  It’s 4:10pm.

Time to turn on lamps, think about what to made for dinner.

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This morning Caleb asked to make breakfast.  He made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for himself and younger siblings.  Seth wrote up the menu and took orders.

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This book is so good!

Since today was a snow day but the roads were clear, I took the three boys to our favorite barbershop for haircuts.  Only two boys complained at the news and said, “I don’t want to get my haircut!”  I asked them if they were still three and said go get in the car.  Soon we were on our way. . . . .listening to music, going to the ATM because he only takes cash payments, and pulling into the parking lot.  There were 4 haircuts ahead of us so we had to wait a while.  Thankfully I had my book.  Sports TV was loudly playing and it was fun to watch the boys get their hair cut.  He gave me a notebook and pen when we were done, and the boys each received a piece of very hard bubble gum and a lollipop.

What’s for lunch?  Two boys wanted Dunkin Donuts egg sandwiches but Caleb and I ran into Chipotle for burritos to go.

Back at home, Jack came over and the younger kids went outside to play.

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David, Grace, and I watched Myths & Monsters on Netflix (highly recommended).

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Dave with a new hair cut.  (he has a scrubbed face (eye) from wrestling).

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After the first episode I fell sound asleep on the couch and the kids came back inside to play.

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Rich just came home early.

Happy Snow Day!

 

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brisk jaunt

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We had a deep deep freeze last week and now…..it’s 58 degrees.  Oh it’s just so lovely outside, the air is mild and moist, slippery mushy snow is covering the ground, a mix of warm air and cold snow adds a misty fog to the atmosphere.  Grace and I couldn’t resist a brisk jaunt.

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On school mornings, David’s alarm wakes him and he then goes downstairs to his brother’s room to wake him up.  Their bus arrives at 6:30 and I often don’t wake up until after they leave.  Seth and Sarah wake up next and I’m always awake and busy with them getting their breakfast and packing snacks.  Well, this morning to my surprise Caleb appeared from his bedroom half asleep.  He and David had both overslept and missed their bus.  I drove them to school, but had to wait until the digger got out of the way…..the town was digging out the beaver dam yet again.  A deep dark cold watery mix is what is left of the solidly frozen beaver pond.

Ice impressively thick and just the gentlest of blues……

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She threw in a small boulder of ice.

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Ice thickness

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fullsizeoutput_4fd9Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!

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Be not dismayed whatever betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday o’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you.

***

art museum

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Yesterday Grace and I went to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art to soak up some beauty and see an exhibition of Norwegian artists and paintings.

The exhibit was called “Sublime North, Romantic Painters Discover Norway”

My Mother’s Grandfather was Norwegian and came to Ellis Island as a teenager, ultimately settling in New York state, marrying and having a lot of children, including my maternal Grandmother.  Therefor, we have an interest in all things Norwegian.  My brother David and I love the show Vikings for this reason, as well.  The history of Norway and its people is fascinating and I would love to travel there someday.

One day when we were in the car together going to church, Grace complained that she forgot her book so I handed her one of mine which happened to be a history of the Vikings.  She started reading it and became interested in the culture, as well.

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The exhibit had paintings by Norwegian artists who had traveled to Europe to study.  This one is by Thomas Fearnley.

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Thomas Fearnley

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The animals by the water put the scene in perspective……

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My favorites were the paintings of the wild and beautiful nature scenes in Norway.

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and of Norwegian villages; this painting was by Johan Christian Dahl, done in 1843 of the Village of Skjolden

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Johan Christian Dahl, fjord Landscape with Menhir, 1837

“This solitary stone is marked with long horizontal runes–letters from an ancient Germanic alphabet.  The runes call to mind the Viking Age, an important period of Scandinavian history. . . . .”  ( quote from the plaque by the painting)

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Seascape, 1860s by Peder Balke.

I stood and looked at it for a while, I read that he used his thumb to press paint on the boat for the seaspray.

It was my favorite painting of the exhibit.  It pulls my soul right in and brings tears.  It’s interesting how art is subjective and how it effects people; I was surprised by my own reactions.

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After looking at everything twice, we moved on to another part of the museum.

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Art with mirrors

We had no intention of stopping to look but the room pulled us right in and we enjoyed it very much.  To me, this is a sign of a good exhibit!

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It was interactive; depending on where you stood the look of the mirrors changed, and so did the light reflections on the floors and walls.

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I studied each and every object in this display…….early glass works….someone made them, someone used them, oh how the imagination soars……

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beautiful, “that blue”

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We talked to this Egyptian cat and admired him very much.  He didn’t move a muscle.

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Monet Water Lilies

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“Cabinet of Art and Curiosity” gallery is a must-see!

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In one of the drawers I was surprised to see examples of “Feather Works” which made me think of my chickens who are generous with their feather offerings.  Perhaps I will make a feather pouch for my mom. (doubtful)

Well, as Grace remarked, “I love art but after a while it’s rather like getting too many gifts on Christmas morning.”  

So we ended our day at the museum with a lunch in the cafe.

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We left with many hopes and wishes for continued visits to this inspiring destination.

Grace started a new journal, purchased at the giftshop, which is to be filled with notes on various countries and history and art, beginning with Norway.

We both want to learn more.

seth almost got to go swimming

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Two evenings ago at around 6 pm I was upstairs peacefully making dinner when Seth ran up from the basement and reported, “There’s a leak downstairs.”

I threw aside everything I was doing and screamed because “leak” is one of those emergency words in the life of a parent.  I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could, with Seth running ahead of me.

In a flash I realized that the water pipe to the hose outside the basement wall had frozen and burst.  I could hear water gushing and see it seeping quickly onto the floor of our finished basement which contained not only a very full storage room and laundry room, but also beds, bookcases, desks, a sectional couch, toy boxes, dressers, a futon, end tables, chairs, throw rugs, a wrestling mat, and all of the children’s stuff that they threw on the floor instead of put away (clothes, shoes, books, garbage).

I called Rich and said, “Rich, Rich, quick tell me how to turn the water off in the house!”  He sputtered, “What?… H?… B?…  Why?…  What’s happening tell me what’s happening?”  I quickly told him and he helped me get the water turned off , said he would be home soon, and we hung up.

(I’ve learned in 22 years of marriage that his “home soon” meant “as soon as I get there” which was not the same thing as my “home soon” which meant, “10 minutes or less”.  In this instance, he did indeed get home in 10 minutes (he was at the school) and I almost fell over in surprise because I thought it would be more like…..whenever he was done with practice).

Thank goodness I was about 3 days behind in laundry and there were approximately 10 dirty bath towels in the laundry room ready to be used as a temporary wall to hold back a most giant alarming puddle from spreading further into the room.

It could have been so much worse.  In fact, I couldn’t help myself from continuing to say over and over and over, “This could have been a DISASTER an absolute DISASTER!  If you boys weren’t in the basement, if you hadn’t run upstairs so fast to tell me, if Dad hadn’t answered his phone, if we weren’t home at the time, the WHOLE BASEMENT WOULD HAVE FLOODED!”

Finally Seth interrupted me to ask in all seriousness, “Could we have gone swimming?”

21st birthday

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I took this five minutes after I said to my children, “I wish a cardinal would come to the feeder.”  (we hadn’t seen one all winter)

It was such a vivid reminder of what prayer is.

It’s about Father-God hearing our honest hearts, and isn’t it true that so often what we think are “not prayers” really ARE prayers because HE KNOWS and understands us better than we know ourselves.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words……..Romans 8:26

When I said that I wished a cardinal would come I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing was praying a very basic and child-like prayer to a personal God who cares about everything big and small.

This is why I do not worry about the eloquence or religiousness of my prayer life.  I am His, so I cannot help but pray on purpose and quite unaware at times, too.

Maybe everything we say and think and feel is a prayer and the answers are all around us.

“To the poet,
to the philosopher,
to the saint,
all things are friendly and sacred,
all events profitable,
all days holy,
all men divine.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Dear Jacob turned 21 on the 31st of December.  Like he does every year, he once again invited a group of his nearest and dearest for an all day and all night gathering here at home.  They played lots of games, visited, talked, ate good food, had a secret santa gift exchange, and so on.

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Jacob and Brittnee

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Ethan and his girlfriend Tessa.

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Michael after saying something sexist just to get a rise out of us ladies.

He is lucky he wasn’t told to leave and never come back.  😉

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volleyball in the house is never a good idea

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sweet Sarah watching a tv show

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please Dave, please let me take a photo of your face

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thank you????????????

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Found Seth with the whole bowl of fruit with an expectant dog waiting but being ignored..

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such dear faces, each one

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singing the song

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making a wish

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blowing out 21 candles

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now time for the epic nerf battle (annual event)

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Caleb and Ethan

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He didn’t know his sister was just around the corner……

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Jake and Zak

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

other sights around here lately:

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Sarah’s safari watering-hole playset was a big hit for Christmas.  She can spend an hour or more at a time, making up little stories with her animals.

sunbeams

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watching our son wrestle with the magic of live-streaming online video

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Another Christmas present that Sarah LOVES is a fairy garden set.  It came with everything she needed, including soil and seeds, to grow a little garden.  The seeds have already sprouted and because she learned about growing seeds at school, she insisted we use a growing light, too, which turns everything underneath it one of her favorite colors. She checks on her seedlings constantly and even said good night to them (while giving me a mini-lecture complete with wide eyes and hand motions on what TRANSPLANTING means) last night before bed.

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Happy Tuesday, dear friends.  You are loved.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K Chesterton

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deep down joy

fullsizeoutput_4e37A sibling may be the keeper of one’s identity, the only person with the keys to one’s unfettered, more fundamental self. ~Marian Sandmaier

Brother Dave came the day after Christmas and stayed until Friday morning.

He’s a brother in every sense of the word.

I noticed that Sarah in particular had to be close to him as much as she possibly could.

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He hardly had room for his arms at times.

It was like she could sense that deep down inside, Uncle Dave could use another human Right There.  Us Grown ups all seem to have a little bit of sad vulnerability within us that is healed by the love and simple phrases of a child.  “Sit by me!  Can I come, too?  Will you read me a story?  Let’s snuggle.  Can I have a taste of your smoothie?  Will you play a game with me?  I don’t want you to go!”  Healed.

If a child is not available, any ol’ human will do.  “It is not good for man to be alone.”

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Right away we had Christmas again.  Dave had already sent cards with money to the children but he brought the gifts from our parents that we all enjoyed opening up.

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Sarah received the most adorable green umbrella with piggies on it.

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The men received new shirts.

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Rich tied the ribbon around his head.

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Grace received beauty products.

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By the time we opened our gifts Rich was ready for a nap.  He had already been awake for hours and had worked out with his wrestling team.  He likes to trap Seth in his arm on the couch when he goes to sleep.  Seth either falls asleep too, or waits quietly until he can sneak away.

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Big family dinner all around the table.  I used the crock pot.  Flank Steak, sliced onion and green pepper, sliced fresh mushrooms, minced garlic, and a pat of butter slow cooked all day and then served over your choice of rice or mashed potatoes.

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After dinner we sat at the table and visited and I ended up french braiding Dave’s hair like a Viking.

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We went downtown for breakfast at the diner.

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“When your breakfast is brought last.”

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After eating we were filled with happy energy so we gave Dave a little driving tour of our town.

Meanwhile, it was so cold, in the single digits.

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We made a stop at the thrift store.

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I took this photo of Hess trucks to show Rich later to see if he had any of them as a boy.

And to show Seth what they used to look like.

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And this one for my son David who likes knives, especially sharpening them.

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Sarah found some boots for one dollar and a couple of books.  David found and purchased a big print of ships on the ocean.  Grace shivered.

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Then we stopped at the coffee shop.  (This photo was taken across the street from it).

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When I think back on our visit with Dave, the coffee shop stands out as a very pleasant memory.  It was warm and busy, art work on the walls and fairy lights around the windows was beautiful.  We had a corner table by the window, it was light and bright inside.  We played cards and talked and waited for our warm drinks.  Oh it was just so good for the soul.  Completely comfortable and relaxing…..so needed after a busy week/month of Christmasing.

Quick photos with five of his nephews and our dog Parker who also loved Uncle Dave.

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Another very special memory was the walk we went on, just the two of us.

It was, I say again, icy cold outside.  But we bundled up and walked briskly in the freshest of winter air.

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It was a delight to see tracks everywhere in the forest.

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Shards of snow

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Visiting the stream deep in woods is always a winter wonder.

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sister and brother

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We ended up at the chicken coop and I walked back to the stream to get a bucket of water.

DSC_1025Our brothers and sisters are there with us
from the dawn of our personal stories
to the inevitable dusk. ~Susan Scarf Merrell