About Shanda

wife, mom of seven, friend, child of God

friendship

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After a week, it was time to take dear Gracie back to college.  We didn’t have the adventures we thought we would have, but she was a comfort and a companion to me when her Dad was away and I was sick for days.  We headed back to Pennsylvania on Saturday afternoon.

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Always with a stop at Starbucks.  It’s a must for a road trip.

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On Sunday morning I got dressed up and went to church.  I had forgotten a Bible so I took the Gideon one out of the hotel room and I will cherish it forever as I had already read it the night before, and that morning as I ate breakfast in my room by myself.

“No good tree bears bad fruit.”  (that’s me!)

“The good person out of the good treasure of her heart produces good.” (that’s me by the grace of God!)

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“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be the daughter of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”

We hear a lot about the wrath of God, it was a “brought me to my knees” reminder that He is also good to the ungrateful and evil……….HE IS GOOD……

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My dear daughter.  So proud of her.

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Gracie between Mom 2 and Mom 1.  With moms like these she’s in a good place.  Always.

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Joanna and I left church together and went to lunch at a new place.  It was busy, exciting, alive, and bright, AND THEY SERVED ON FIESTAWARE!

We had to wait for a table but that was okay….we just walked back to the car and sat for a while talking like two soul-sisters do.

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My beautiful friend.  I love her so.

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she had chai, I had matcha

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The food was amazing!  Just the best.  And to sit and spend time together alone just the two of us was a gift from God.  I felt so very blessed.  And while we ate, I had a text from my dear mom wanting me to stop there on my way home….I felt even more wanted and loved….and texted Michael who said a quick and cheerful *YES* to helping me get the kids on the bus the next morning so I could stay a night at home*sweet*home with my parents.

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She pointed out the church she went to as a child.

Back at her house, she gave me a kitchen-tour and showed me her amazing new pantry.

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I got to linger over the pages of her Dawn-Journal.  Always inspired.

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And then, we went to a favorite antique store where I found a dear Periwinkle disc pitcher to take home with me!

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We were in the land of “The Office” and loved this quote which was up on the wall for our amusement.

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So thankful for a Jo in my life.

It’s one of the blessings that I will be forever humbled and grateful for.

Friendship.

 

you come too

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“I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too…………”  Robert Frost

 

Before I went on my long walk I stopped at the chicken coop to open the doors and check for eggs.  I found three in the barrel, along with a chicken.  I took all three eggs and put them in my pocket but one of them must have had a thin shell because it promptly broke as I did so.  I’m not disgusted by much, but a warm gooey egg popping in my pocket is one of them.  I threw the shell out in disdain, along with an egg covered tissue.  I bent down and rubbed my hand off in the snow and went on my walk with a soggy pocket leaving egg residue on my jeans with each step.

I was glad I had decided to put on boots as I walked through hard snow, slushy snow, mud, running water, puddles, and regular ol’ dry forest ground, too.  My feet stayed dry.  It was 50 degrees and I wore a sweatshirt and a jacket and was nice and warm.

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I thought this was fun, doesn’t it look like a mushroom?

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Soon my eyes were opeed and I was seeing alive things, mainly birds…….

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Birds have such elegant lines.

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This one was flying SO SO FAST!!!

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Like a rocket going across the sky.

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I sat down on the hill and looked at my phone, lost in my own little world and resting in the fresh air and quiet.  Then, I looked up to see a brown animal walking straight toward me out of the woods.

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We looked right into each other’s eyes and gazed.  Then, as I picked up my camera, he turned around to run away.  Thankfully he stopped to look back a couple of times.

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He lifted his upper lip and showed me his smile.

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Then he ran off like a little bear.

Never in all my days!!!

I figured out it was a fisher, the second largest member of the weasel family in our area, the first being a river otter.  I read online that fishers are useful in eating porcupines, however they are also known to eat housecats.  This one better not eat any of my housecats!  Or chickens!

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Well, nothing could top that but I kept trudging along nice and slow.  I stood here in the woods for a while listening to a woodpecker, the thing about them being they sound so close but you peer and peer and can’t see them.  Finally I stopped being stealthy and moved in confidence and sure enough it flew and I saw it but then of course I coudn’t take a photo. But I did see another small and sweet bird busy buzzing up and down tree bark looking for insects to eat.

See if you can spy it.

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Doesn’t it look soft?

And such a small sharp beak, too.

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A charming trail.

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It’s amazing to me that the moss stays so brilliantly emerald throughout the winter months.

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It was eating.  But how did the food get there?  Did he put it there?  Did it fall in from the trees above?  Was it a bug?

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And then I came out of the woods and saw what I had been searching for all along.

A bluebird!

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And another!

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And another.

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A spot of blue, and then………. a spot of red.

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I ended my walk the same way I began it, in the chicken coop.  There were two more eggs, for a total of five this morning.

PS, Mom this post was for you.

you are my good days.

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The McDonalds in town was being renovated for months and months this winter and as soon as we could, Rich and I took the kids there to see what it was like after it was completed and open for business again.   While we were there, David took this photo of us.

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David taking a nap with Sherlock.

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Sarah and I made pies.  As usual, my homemade crust was disappointing.  I’ll never get it right.

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I was sitting in the recliner when Grace got home!!  After a flurry of activity welcoming her back, with lots of hugs, I sat back down.  Soon I noticed that children were all around me so I had David (who was also sitting on the floor in front of me) take a photo.  My heart was full to bursting.

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Weekend box of donuts.   Dave was so happy he ran around the house with them before settling down to enjoy.  I believe he ate three.

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Saturday.  Sarah had a friend over for the morning.  I took this photo as they were all enjoying Youtube videos and were so cute.  David has my robe on.  He’s like my twin or something.  And you can tell Seth is happy to have his big sister home.

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We wanted a photo with Caleb but he wouldn’t cooperate.

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Michael and Grace, with sick Sarah in the background.  Yes, we are still going through the *end of winter sick-bug* here.  Currently, I am the last one recovering.  I’ve been sick for three days but thankfully last night’s sleep was much better and I feel I’m at the end of it now.

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cookies!

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Grace and I went for a walk together on Monday.

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Sarah being cute.

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Grace in the morning with our beautiful Bagheera.

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Sick Sarah with her things all around her. (the loaf of bread is a squishie)

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I discovered Caleb sleeping in my bed one afternoon.

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Sick mom with a big ten year old on her lap.  This was right before I pushed him off.  😉

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Grace and I (and Walter) have been working on a puzzle.

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RIch was away for two nights and one of those nights I stayed up watching The Office with Grace and Dave.  It was fun.

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Then, I said I was going to bed so I went in my room.  But a cat followed me, so as I was chasing him out, Grace and Dave got in my bed before I could!  It was so funny.  I love my children SO SO much.  And I think they like their mom just a little bit, too.  🙂

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Pretty Bags

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Me, last night after a nice long long bath.

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I had to share this photo of my brother.  He had a nice hair cut and beard trim and sent me a photo of himself.  This man is a constant comfort and friend to me, my dear brother Dave.

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Every morning when I get up I am attacked by three excited cats waiting for their one and only can of catfood for the day.  But yesterday we ran out so I had to post this sign by their food bowl to let them know.

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Last but not least, Rich got home safely last night and the dog Facetimed with Ethan at college.

 

HAPPY THURSDAY DEAR ONES!!!!

You are Loved.

“you. you are my good days.”  ~f.d. soul

 

 

 

week in photos

Good morning from my house to yours.  It’s all of 21 degrees here but we are warm and cozy indoors, daughter Sarah is sitting snuggled next to me in the recliner as I type.

Rich has been gone all week on a business trip but came home in the night (around 2am) and because it was such a late flight he is able to work from home today.  He’s in the other room now, working on his laptop.  Our town’s McDonald’s had a makeover recently so we are planning on taking the kids there for lunch to check it out.  Yes, the children are home today from school for a Teacher’s Conference Day.  And the best part of all is our dear Grace and Brittnee are coming home for their March break tonight!  We’ll have Grace home with us for a week, which will be nice because Rich has another trip to go on.  She and I can get into all kinds of mischief together while he is away, which will probably entail a trip to the greenhouse and Barnes and Noble, that’s as wild as we get.

I wanted to share some photos that I’ve been taking throughout the week, some highlights of our days together, me and the children.  Every day I am struck by the relationships I have with each one of them.  There are stressful moments of course, but the closeness and love we share outweighs the hard times by far.

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On Monday we had a snow day from school.  David started a fire and for dinner Seth roasted himself a hot dog.

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One night when I was tucking in the children I took photos of them for Grace because Seth was reading one of her favorite childhood books……..

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And Sarah was reading Eragon with Grace’s cat, Sammie.  In Grace’s bed.  (the girls share a room now and when Grace is home Sarah sleeps in the trundle-bed right next to Grace).

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Funny photo of Bagheera sneaking up on Sherlock.  He loves being stealthy and pouncing on Sherlock.  Sherlock always reacts with hisses and a punishing paw.

My current read is Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman.

Caleb on the big drum.   He’s so great, I kept my eyes on him the whole time, I notice as the fifth child he lives comfortably, knowing that “no one is paying attention to him” (not true, but when you’re #5 out of seven you do get a little more freedom as mom and dad are focusing on the older ones and the younger ones) so he’s relaxed and fun during the performances.  He was chewing gum and I even saw him blow a big bubble!!!  As a “good first-born” child I would NEVER have been chewing gum during a concert!!!  He talked with the kids next to him, laughed at the 5th grade band’s charmingly rustic and off-beat number, helped one of other boys keep track of his beat and music, and so on.   I was in awe of him.

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I had left David home with Sarah and when I got back I found him all dressed up in a suit jacket working on his homework at the table.  Why?  Because he “felt cool” (better) wearing it.  I think he felt business-like while writing his school paper.  David was sick over the weekend and missed school on Tuesday but is all better now.

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Sarah had been wanting to make cookies and we finally did it.  Oh boy were they DELICIOUS.  She carefully looked through the Taste of Home baking cookbook (from Hannah) and chose the recipe she wanted to try.

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They were impossible to stay away from.  She and I made them together and she learned how to separate an egg.  We put the completed cookies all on a vintage yellow fiesta round platter.

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My sister Amanda and I had been texting that morning and we both have this same shirt so we decided to wear them that day.  So I thought of her all day long.

IMG_7935I always write the date next to a new recipe and this time I let Sarah do it.  We divided this recipe in half because I didn’t want to spend 17 hours in the kitchen rolling out cookie dough.

We took a cookie in to David but found him asleep in my bed.  I was so amused by him I took a video.  He had carefully put relaxing music on my laptop and had it playing, like a lullaby, right next to him as he slept like a baby in my bed.  The kids all covet my down comforter, in fact, Sarah’s birthday is in May and she’s already requested one for her 9th birthday along with a hoverboard.  So funny.

Seth took a shower and when he was up there he got annoyed that Sarah’s horses were all over the floor so he took them out and cleaned up the shower.  He was so proud he would NOT stop talking about it and even went up to take pictures.  That evening I took him to Rite Aid so he could buy himself a new toothbrush (he wanted “one of his own”, which sort of confused me as there are about 25 toothbrushes around but we do seem to share everything in this family) some men’s body wash, and some men’s shampoo.  I have a little man!!  So charming to me.  I can’t complain about a boy who wants to be clean!

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Still talking about the upstairs shower, he also thought about taking Sammie to school in his backpack.

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“Just as I am, without one plea.”  And tired.

I did have fun yesterday with a friend, the two of us went to the mall together and walked over 2 miles and then shopped at Target.  We got Starbucks as we left and came back to my house where we worked on a puzzle and she read to me!!!!  It was relaxing and nice.

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After she left, and I ran to the school to get Caleb, Seth and I finished the puzzle together. We laughed at Walter because he couldn’t fit in the box.

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This puzzle is special because Joanna and her family put it together and then she gifted it to me to do.  So I thought of her the whole time we worked on it.  I love the birds.  It was a fun one to do.  Maybe now I’ll pass it along to Cassandra, or my Mom, or Amanda!

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This was good and easy!!  I made it for dinner yesterday.

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It’s a big big bowl of pasta goodness.  The kids all liked it, and so did I.

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Last but not least, last night Caleb and I watched Spiderman: Homecoming together.  It was the most relaxed I’ve felt all week and I even slept for a little while, so cozy with my son and cat keeping me warm.

Happy Friday!!!

 

 

 

“time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life”

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It’s a peaceful morning inside and out.  The sky is overcast and a fine, almost imperceptible mist of glittery snow is falling.  Wild birds are busy helping themselves to the feeder on the porch and a cat inside is watching them through the window.  The dog is snoring and twitching next to me.  I’m sitting in the corner of the couch with my laptop, in my pajamas and red robe, warm and cozy under a vintage quilt.  The TV is on for company, but muted.

This week has been week of lots of children and lots of sickness.  I’ve been understandably distracted and haven’t been able to blog much, but my camera has still been busy as I all-the-time see things that I want to remember.  My darlings, my life, my home, my heart.

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I had Sarah on my lap one morning and it felt so good to hold her.  She’s a big girl now, a joy and a blessing to me and everyone else in the family, although her brothers wouldn’t agree at first.

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It was son Seth that was sick the longest.  Last Thursday the school nurse called me to come and get him.  He explained to me that his “legs felt wobbly and he felt tired”.  I’m afraid to say that sometimes my perfect children pretend to be sick in order to be home with their mother, so I didn’t wholeheartedly believe him until we came home and he went to bed and fell sound asleep.  Then I believed.  Seth doesn’t sleep during the day unless he’s sick.

He ended up being sick for six days with a fever.  It wasn’t his stomach although he didn’t have much of an appetite and lost a few pounds.  His main complaint was his head and he woke up every night with feverish nightmares.  Rich was away Saturday night and Seth came to my room so many times that I finally said “Get in bed with me” and when he woke up for real that morning he said, “How did I get here?”

We survived with the help of Jesus, cats, the couch, warm blankets, LOTS of snuggles, Tylenol, water bottles, ginger ale, and Dude Perfect.

He missed wrestling in States, which was disappointing as I’m sure he would have done very well.

Caleb was also sick and also missed States, but he wasn’t as sick and it didn’t him as long to recover.  He missed a couple of days of school and still has a cough, though, while Seth didn’t get any respiratory symptoms.

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He had his arms around me.  How could I ever be sad or lonely with such love in my life?

Even with sickies in the house, everyone has to eat, so I did get a few photos from the kitchen this week as we had Michael here for a few days, and Tommy, a friend from school, who has been staying with us while his mom was in the hospital after back surgery.   Tommy fit right into our family effortlessly and it’s been a joy to have him here and seeing him and the kids get along so well.

ALSO Jacob and Ethan have been home all week from college!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s been wonderful cooking for 10 again.  LOL  But see the photo with Michael?  He made dinner one night and it was great.  Every noodle was consumed by a hungry family.  On another night I roasted three pork tenderloins, made a big pan of homemade scallopped potatoes, and a pot of mixed veggies.  Last night was a big pot of chili and the night before was chicken and rice.  We had homemade brownies with ice cream for dessert.  Lots of chocolate milk in the fridge and egg sandwiches for snacks.

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A favorite moment of the week was on Wednesday when Seth finally made it back to school (in tears) and I sat on the couch with Ethan in a silent room.  No TV, no talking, just sitting together in perfect peace with the dog and a cat and blankets.

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I got up once to make us hot chocolate.  (it’s been so cold outside!)

Wonderful Hot Chocolate

2 T. sugar
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (just realized I forgot to put it in!)
Mix cocoa, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until mixture boils.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in milk until warm but do not boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla unless you forget like I did which is fine you won’t miss it.

Give a big mug to your son and keep one for yourself and all your exhaustion (from being a mom-nurse) will wash away.

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Their little acts of service melt my heart!!!

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I was frying bacon when I got a hug from behind!!  From a small boy!

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AND THEN JACOB GOT SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He came down the stomach bug and was sick for a few days, sleeping nonstop.  I was thankful to have him home so I could take care of him.  He’s all better now, thankfully.

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busy kitchen, full tummies, full hearts.

They were talking about school and their teachers and laughing.  I sat across the room and listened with a smile.

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Sarah Joy in the morning.  First she came, then the dog, then the cat.

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CAT NIP!!!!!

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Rich called me a cat lady and I was fine with that.  🙂

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A rare photo of Caleb!!  (he doesn’t like me taking his photo, so I always have to ask and get approval)

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Yesterday…….oh how wonderful…..finally got out of the house on a bright sunny day.  The boys and I went to Trader Joes and the mall.  Ethan got some new Converse sneakers and Jacob got a Stephen King book.  We sat for a while drinking our Starbucks.  I looked at magazines while they went on their phones.  Now and then they would show each other things and laugh (which I loved).

My Ethan Gregory.

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I turned around quick to snap a completely unstaged photo, my favorite kinds.  It was wonderful to spend time with my two oldest children who are now 22 and almost-21 (in five days).

PAGES FROM MY LATEST ART/SCRAPBOOK:

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I keep all my stuff out on the little table that I have in the livingroom and I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to sit down and add a few quotes or do some gluing of photos while the children are busy around me or watching a movie.  I have a stack of these “commonplace books” now, with the intention of giving them to my kids and grandkids someday, if they want them.

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Laura Ingalls page

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On the left is wrapping paper from the birthday gifts Joanna gave me, along with printed photos, and on the right is ribbon and the homemade envelope and card my Mom gave me on my birthday.  I treasure everything.

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“….a work of beauty and grace upon the heart of the giver……”

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….ordinary life….

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she was beautiful.

Well, that gets us all caught up here in blog-land.  Today is Friday and I hope that your weekend is full of everything that fills your soul.

You are loved.

 

 

 

the babies

There’s a small hole in the kitchen, right in the corner where the dishwasher meets the cupboards.  Our cat Sam hates the other cats in the house and has taken to squeezing herself into that hole, ending up in the cupboard for hours a day.   The hole is too small for the other cats to follow her, so she feels safe.  Seth is home sick, getting over the flu, but wanted a cat so much that he went to pull Sam out of the cupboard, knocking over a bottle of sesame seed oil.  The cap broke on the floorm the bottle spilled, and so…. guess what…………I’ve already cleaned up half a cup of seseme oil off the floor!!!  Not a pleasant smell, either.  Seth was sent back to the couch without the cat.  In order to clean up sesame seed oil you need:  paper towels, Dawn dish soap, hot water, more paper towels, and cleaning spray that smells stronger than the oil.  (I used Mrs. Meyer’s Lilac)

I have to leave in an hour for a doctor’s appointment but am determined to post these photos.

My brother Nate and his family came out to Connecticut this weekend to visit my brother Isaac and his family, and the baby girl cousins were together!

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We had a wonderful time sitting around the livingroom visiting each other and admiring the girls.

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As soon as I walked in the house and saw them in their matching outfits I laughed.  They were impossibly cute!!!!!

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Isaac took all the photos.  Thank you Isaac!

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Isn’t it a joy to have a cousin to grow up with?  Cousins are the best.

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Seth named this photo “milk and cookies”.  He said Elena was thinking of milk, and Morgan was thinking of cookies.  He asked me which baby I thought was cuter and I said it was impossible to choose and then I asked him which one HE thought was cuter and he thought about it and couldn’t choose, either.

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They’re even cute when they cry.

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This morning we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful snow.

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Happy Monday, friends.

You are loved.