About Shanda

wife, mom of seven, friend, child of God

its not fair

I’m avoiding the news, but I am aware of current events; all the issues spread across the land like a heavy cloud. I think about the issues because I care, I wish I could figure things out neatly and satisfyingly. Its frustrating.

I’m reading a memoir written by Lorene Cary, “a bright, ambitious black teenager from Philadelphia, who in 1972 was transplanted into the formerly all-white, all-male environs of the elite Saint Paul’s School in New Hampshire, where she became a scholarship student in a ‘boot camp’ for future American leaders. Like any good student, she was determined to succeed. But Cary was also determined to succeed without selling out. This wonderfully frank and perceptive memoir describes the perils and ambiguities of that double role, in which failing calculus and winning a student election could both be interpreted as betrayals of ones own skin.” ~quote from book description on the back cover

There are some hyper-sensitive souls among us who are in near-continual grief over the unfairness of life; sickness, death, discrimination, cruelty, abuse, neglect, handicaps, poverty, and so on. It all seems so overwhelming and heartbreaking that the more we think about it, the worse our own inner being becomes.

We need to lean on you more stoic, logical ones. We need to be nurtured. You help us with your strength and understanding; THANK YOU.

Oftentimes, though, we feel alone. We know who we are; deep feelers in a world of hurt. We can’t imagine adding our own hurts to the pile, so we suffer alone. We use our minds and our quiet books, our ears, and our hearts to try with all our might to make sense of it all……….

Jesus was called a man of sorrows.

“He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with the deepest grief.” Isaiah 53:3

When he hung on the cross, He cried out to the Father, “WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” (Matthew 27:46)

He was born, and lived his years in this world, in grief (but He didn’t wallow in it, he had things to do.)

“I carry out the will of the One who sent me, not my own will.” John 5:30

The other day my son confessed, “But I don’t like to cry, it feels weak.”

I turned around to look into his dear face and reminded him that the shortest verse in the Bible was “Jesus wept”…….It takes great strength to cry.

The Bible also says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Maybe the sensitive among us shouldn’t try so hard to be “happy” and “upbeat”.

Maybe their anguish, like all anguish, is the key to something different, a sweet pathway leading to the overwhelming comfort of a loving Heavenly Father, who, like a mother, takes the time to scoop up a crying child and spend all the time her baby needs her, holding and rocking and singing over her, with soft motherly kisses in her hair……..soothing and gentle.

“It hurts, it hurts!” I know, dear one, come near to me and let me love you.

“It’s not fair, it’s not fair! I want to fix it and I can’t!” Yes, sweet love, now you can let go and wait for Me to fix it for you. I love you, trust me my darling child.

and when it comes to that, we can continue.

In my book, when Lorene accepts the fact that despite all the hours and hard work, calculus still wasn’t making sense to her, she would fail the class, and she went to a friend in tears. It wasn’t fair, she felt that the teacher wasn’t treating her fairly because she was a female student in a time when the college was just starting to try co-education, she felt that he favored his male students, she was tired and frustrated. Her friend listened to her and said, “It’s hard to know when it’s really happening or when it’s in our heads. There’s nothing we can do about that right now-the fact of it or the way we feel-except to do what we’re doing and be the best we can.”

This struck me as wonderful, because when all is said and prayed and felt, the next thing is to DO.

I’m a thinker and a feeler, I often forget the health-giving gift of WORK.

write the blog
get some exercise
clean like I mean it
care for the needs of my family
explore

I wrote down a list of things that truly take me out of my head:

MUSIC; singing, playing piano
COOKING and BAKING (this could be an all day affair if I let it! why not? it’s fun to chose recipes and make delicious dishes)
NATURE; especially bugs (they are everywhere and easy to photograph)
BOOKS; reading, bookstores, the library
FLOWERS
COUNTED CROSS STITCH (I passed a little stitchery shop last week and made myself turn around to visit it, I walked it, it was like an oasis of beautiful colorful yarns. I picked out a small kit and purchased a tiny pair of scissors from a sweet older lady in a blue dress).
PHOTOGRAPHY; (I’m enjoying a Polaroid camera!)
GYMNASTICS
TALKING

The kitten we adopted is very very sick. We watched her weaken and took her to the vet on Saturday for medicine and special food. The very next day, she was huddled in the corner in a little bed we made for her. I had already given her medicine and water through a dropper and was discussing her impending death in the kitchen to my husband. Our sensitive boy, the one who doesn’t want to cry, overheard us and silently went into the closet and wouldn’t come out for over an hour. When he finally came out, he was sobbing, “I just don’t want her to die alone! I don’t want her to be in that closet and die by herself!” We comforted him and encouraged him, we stepped up our game with trying to nurse the poor thing back to health and keeping her company. She made it through the day, and even walked over to her new friend, who was on the couch, and jumped up on to his lap.

We still don’t know if she will make it, but we are learning what everyone in the world is learning; life hurts. it’s unfair. we want to change things and sometimes we can’t. Jesus understands. and those who love us will comfort us.

and then we stand up, and get to work.

Father’s Day

We are at our place on Jekyll Island again. Grace’s boyfriend was here for a week and the family took him to the airport on Saturday morning so he could catch his flight home. The children asked for Chinese food; we ended up at a Japanese place in Brunswick. Seth and Sarah constantly ask for ramen (they watch manga) and were thrilled to get some.

Rich had a massage scheduled at a place on St. Simons Island, so as we were waiting for the kids to eat the rest of their food, he took the car in order to get to his appointment on time. The children and I took the opportunity to stay in Brunswick so we could shop for Father’s Day (which was the next day).

We finished up our food and walked across steaming hot parking lots to Target.

Why is it when a woman is in Target with five children and knows she’s stuck there for two hours, that she automatically is done with it all within half an hour?

Grace and Brittnee had their own ideas for gifts, and I asked Sarah (a card), Seth (a digital weight scale) and Caleb (a dad trophy) to each pick out something for their Dad.

He ended up with so many gifts that I made a comment on how he got way more than I did for Mother’s Day. (teasing).

Right after I said it the girls put their heads together and said things under their breath like, “We buy her things all the time, don’t listen to her, it’s totally fair, we never buy Dad anything, she’s spoiled…” and so on. It filled my heart with joy that they stood their ground, and they WERE right. I laughed and took a photo.

I was amused, but also tired out and a little snippy (not about the gifts, but just because I was tired and done and hot and wanting to go home). I was even snippy to the lady taking my order at the Starbucks in Target. Then, being an empath, I felt guilty for it and felt like a bad person. But she didn’t need to ask me so many pointless questions to try to understand why I needed a side of cream for my latte (there are NO pitchers of cream left out for customers anymore, ya know?). I like to top it off, okay? Am I that confusing for asking for a little cream in a cup? The regular Starbucks do it cheerfully without question!

So we got done with our shopping and left the store because there is NO place to sit indoors in public places anymore, ya know?

We found one bench under a tree in the shade and sat there to wait for their Dad to return.

Seth wandered off and found a bees nest.

He also stood on top of the Target ball;

Sarah cried because she needed water so I asked Grace to take her inside to buy some (there are no public water fountains anymore, ya know?)

Brittnee pretended to push the cart into the street to see what I would do. (I got more anxious).

Sarah and Grace came back and after Sarah revived she asked to go to Petsmart which was a few stores down the plaza so I asked Caleb to take her. “Why do I always have to take her?” “Because, Caleb, Jacob had his turn, Ethan had his turn, Grace had her turn, David had his turn, now it’s your turn.” (sibling age-order of responsibility). He didn’t argue with that (Thank goodness) and off they went, only to return 10 minutes later, “Mom! Mom! there’s a kitten!” “Can you come see it?” No way was I moving myself off the shade covered bench, so I sent Grace and Seth ran off to see it, too. We all miss our cats back home and have been wanting a kitten ever since we got here (a month ago). I told the children to be on the lookout for a feral kitten to adopt off the island but no luck. They looked in Petsmart before, but on that day there were no kittens. But on Saturday, June 20, their luck finally improved.

Brittnee was alarmed, she knew like they all knew that their Dad had said no to a kitten, but I was in that perfect *mood* to do what I wanted to do. She stayed behind with me and took a call, she wanted no part of the kitten adventure.

We also took a selfie.

Soon, Grace and Seth came running back, “Mom! It’s so cute, she said we could have it for 25 dollars!”

I handed over my credit card and wallet and they were astounded, followed by instant and joyful glee. Seth took his flip flops off so he could keep up with Grace as they ran back to Petsmart as fast as they could go.

And then Rich arrived, all relaxed from his massage. We loaded up the purchases and hopped into the air conditioned car.

“Where are the others?”

“Oh they will be right back, they are in Petsmart.”

(This is where I would have known right away what was happening, but he is so trusting, so honest and pure, that he had NO suspicion of wrongdoing.)

Grace came running back, again. This time with a clipboard that I had to sign in order to adopt the kitten.

He yelled. “WE ARE NOT GETTING A KITTEN!”

I didn’t know what to do so I signed the paper and Grace left looking worried but determined.

I sound like such a terrible wife, but I know my husband and this family better than they know themselves. I KNEW without a shadow of doubt, that we needed a kitten. And I knew from experience, that my husband would come around.

“NO! I TOLD YOU NO, I TOLD EVERYONE NO! SARAH ASKED JUST YESTERDAY AND I TOLD HER NO!”

“YOU ALREADY HAVE THREE CATS AT HOME, WHY DO YOU NEED ANOTHER ONE?”

“I’M TIRED OF SPENDING HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS ON CATS!”

To each claim, I countered.

He sat there, looking out his window, and trying not to smile.

We drove down to Petsmart so the kids didn’t have to walk back AGAIN in the heat.

waited and waited

And they came out triumphantly, all in a row, Seth carrying a litter box and cat food, and Caleb carrying a cardboard box with a kitten inside it.

Rich continued to look very disturbed, but melted just a tiny bit when we realized the kitten was already spayed and he wouldn’t have to pay for that. She had all her shots, too.

“And they gave us coupons for the litter and the cat food.”

The kitten was pulled out of her box as soon as the doors were shut to the car.

“IT’S NOT EVEN CUTE.” he remarked.

We went home. Everyone wanted kitten time and I ended up having to set my timer in thirty minute increments.

my turn was short changed and also I wasn’t left alone with her. 🙂

The kids are IN LOVE.

Sarah’s turn.

Sarah being consoled because it was Seth’s turn next.

By the end of the day, someone else even had a turn.

“This kitten is skin and bones. I think she’s cold.”

This man.

He has so much grace and forgiveness for his wife and family.

We all see it. We all love him. We all want to please him.

On Sunday morning, he opened his numerous gifts as we sat and watched. He opened each one carefully and thankfully, ending with a note from Brittnee, who thanked him for being the Dad she never had, and asking him to dance the Father/Daughter dance at the wedding next year. “Of course, Brittnee, of course I will,” he gently said.

“This day is special because of you all, you know that, right?” he started to cry a little. “You are the ones who make this a wonderful day for me.”

It was such a pure and tender moment, time stood still for a moment, and several of us also shed a companionable and understanding tear or two.

He works so hard as the rest of us spend our days having fun in paradise.

He wouldn’t have it any other way and resentment is never part of his character.

I look up to him and respect who he is. I wish I could be more like him.

He comforts me and protects me.

In return, he has the love and respect of a family of ten………….

…….and, a kitten.

moose

I woke up for good this morning at 9am. This is a nice and lovely later hour for me. I feel rested. I made coffee and took it to bed with me, after voicing an open invitation for anyone who wished to join me in my room (the Queen’s chamber). I turned on lights and opened the curtains, revealing a rainy world outside. Seth was the first to come in, to eat his breakfast on my bed. He had made himself a piece of toast cut in half corner to corner, an over-easy fried egg that ended up dripping on my comforter (ignored because it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things), and one slice of bacon. Funnily, it was the “last egg” and the “last piece of bacon” in the house…….”It must be his birthday,” I said to Sarah, who had in the meantime got under the covers with me to complain that there was “no cereal”. She and Seth left and Ethan came in with his coffee to drink, sitting in the recliner positioned by my side of the bed. Soon Seth came back in with the laptop open and Ethan helped him order a new playstation controller “because ours all stick”. He left again and Ethan went in my bathroom to take a bath, he’s getting a cold and is all stuffed up this morning. Grace came in with her Bible, I was already reading a book, and she snuggled close. This is where Rich found us and he took a photo at my request………you may see it on the ‘gram.

We are dressed for the day now, and out of the bedroom. Grace is at the other end of the table doing school work.

*********

The other day I went walking in the woods and made a first-for-me-nature-discovery.


It turned out, after I did some sleuthing on google, to be MOOSE POOP. I had no idea they made a multitude of pellet-style poo when they had to “go”. I had no idea that some people even make crafts with them.

We hear of Moose sightings in our area, and I would absolutely LOVE to see one and photograph a Moose, like I did in Alaska once. In the meantime, I delight in the *sign of life* I found. Now I know where a Moose has been, in the woods, by the stream, less than a mile from home.

Then, the woods offered up a proposal to me. A ring in my size! Yes, it is a perfect round circle with no breaks……we sealed a lifelong promise with one another, the woods and I. A promise to always maintain a good and wholesome relationship. I will visit it and enjoy everything I see, and the woods will soothe my soul and calm my troubles. It will add to my joy and subtract from my sorrow. It will give me fresh air to breath, and calming scents to inhale. How can I thank it enough?

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.” God our Father, to His people, in Psalm 50:10-12

I brought home pinecones and some moss. I emptied Tylenol into a baggie and used the empty jar for my specimens. When I texted my Mother, she said, “Someone will eat that, you better label it.” I was feeling obedient and mischievous, so I did.

She wasn’t going to condescend to answer, so I pressed. “Oh brother” was her reply. I offered some of the “chocolate” to the children but NONE of them were even slightly convinced it was a treat. They all knew right away to be suspicious. They were more alarmed as to why their mother had POOP in a jar in the first place.

toadally

It was Saturday morning and we woke up to every growing thing outside bowing down under a heavy load of SNOW. Can you believe it? It was a winter wonderland and we didn’t even mind in the least because we knew it would not last long. In fact, we started a fire and played Christmas music.

Grace and I were on my bed being mom and daughter and I began telling her about what I hung on the wall recently.

My mom sent me a package in the mail for my birthday and inside was a gift wrapped in the paper of my childhood bedroom. I cried and cried. (Not that much though. I slightly cried.) I was moved. I loved it so much that Rich agreed that it should be framed and he even measured the paper and found the frame for me at Michaels. This was way back in February but being quarantined all, I finally got it hung up the other day. Then, it got me to thinking about the little band box that Mom made me a very long time ago, using the same wallpaper. I had Grace get it out of the bathroom for me and I dusted it off. Inside it is nothing but pedals and ribbons from flowers my boyfriends gave to me. Not all of them, as *I received so many flowers that they were too numerous to save, but just a select few, and at this point I don’t remember who they were from except for one and I’ve told this story to Grace several times so obviously it made an impression on me. ….this one flower was NOT from a boyfriend, but from a boy who became mesmerized by me as I sang a solo way back in H.S. during the awards ceremony. I sang an entire solo dedicated to a classmate of mine who had died that spring (heart breaking, I can’t talk about it). The reason I was the one to sing was because I had gotten the highest mark on that year’s NYSSMA solo. I sang the song in German, and a very lovely lady from the school taught me how to pronounce all the German in the song and it was a very lovely song, I still have the sheet music for it. So I was to sing the solo at the awards banquet but then my music teacher changed my song to “I hear Leesha” by Michael W Smith, to be dedicated to our dear classmate. After the banquet was all over, this boy came to me and gave me the flowers off his table. My mom told me that she saw him staring at me as I sang. This was touching enough for me to remember all these years later and I mention it here because it’s just one of My Little Stories.

Then, I had Grace get me my bear that my mom made me and we agreed with each other that Mom (Grandma) was very crafty indeed. Artsy. I texted Mom right the to tell her that I never got tired of looking the wallpaper, with the pretty girls and flowers on it, and that she did a great job picking it out and I asked her where she got it. She replied, “Binghamton at a wallpaper store off the end of Bevier Street. I can still drive right to it in my mind. It’s no longer there.”

It was the “I can still drive right to it in my mind” that got me in the heart.

Then I decided that I wanted to find a pattern online of a bird. I traced the pattern on a piece of tissue paper and cut it out for the “bird window” that I watch the birdfeeders through. I only made two. I’ll make more someday maybe. One is yellow and the other is green.

I got some lovely bird photos with my big camera. I hope I post them, but I can’t make promises. I have so many things to tell you that I don’t know exactly what will happen or when.

But this blog post is titled “Toadally” for a reason.

It’s about a toad.

A toad on the snow.

A bleeding toad, hopping very very slowly on top of the snow.

I was alerted to it by Sammie the cat. She looked out the window and said very quietly, “there is a toad out there” and I rushed over to the window in disbelief.

Then naturally I had to go outside to rescue the poor frozen toad. I could tell it was frozen by how slowly it was moving.


I made it to the back of the house and found toad in this position. I had never seen a toad on top of snow before. Then I noticed it was bleeding. Whenever I see a small creature outside bleeding I blame the cats. I did ask but he was too cold to answer and I agreed it didn’t really matter. I picked it up and held it in the palm of my hand.

It was a very beautiful toad.


And it matched my brown slippers. It pressed itself into my hand, it was grateful I think.

I took it inside and sat with it for a while until it revived. As I sat I began to feel motherly.

Incidentally, I clipped my nails because Seth tried running from me when I asked him to empty the dishwasher and I grabbed at him in fun, but scratched him. “YOU NEED TO CLIP YOUR NAILS!” he scolded as he lifted up his shirt to look at his mom-scratch. So I did, right away. I need to be able to grab running children without scratching them.

I couldn’t sit and hold an energetic toad and I didn’t want to put it back outside in the snow, so in a box it went. Much like how I dealt with Seth when he was a crawling baby, come to think of it.

This is when he was named Chewy the Toad. You can say it was inspired.

While he stayed in the dark box, I went on to do other things…….

I wanted to show you my “Magpie Findings” of things I pick up off the road while I am walking. This represents about a year of walking. I found two more things today for my jar. I tend to gravitate toward metal but I have also found perfectly good string and brought it home. Honestly, some of the money you see here wasn’t from the road, it just ended up in the jar after I picked it up in the house.

See the cat?

Sarah was reading the paper and then wadding up the sheets and throwing them in the fire.

I am currently reading The Harvester, by Gene Stratton Porter

By the end of the afternoon, the sun was warm enough to melt a lot of the snow so I took Chewy outside to let him go.

I toadally enjoyed his visit and pray he has a nice long life. I hope to see him again.

Wait til you hear what I saw today!! Stay tuned…….

*just trying to be funny, I didn’t get THAT many.

heart-work

And the Lord
will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have. ~Thomas Kelly

Before I start my day today (which means: clean my kitchen. again.) I sit here in my room with you, my dearest bloggy friends, and a cup of rapidly cooling coffee, my latest scrapbook, and one small female Samantha cat behind me on the narrow shelf top of my bed’s headboard.

Wanting to say hello. Wanting to connect. Wanting to pray for you. Wanting to love.

Rich woke me up out a sound sleep this morning and we all know what happens when the Queen is awakened by a magical kiss…….she wakes up and doesn’t go back to sleep. With the extra two hours, in which every one else is asleep but Seth, I shall sit my Queenly self on my throne (bed) and tippety tap on the ol’ keyboard, to you, my friends. (The King is in the garage, hard at work).

I was considering hearts.

And how once I was blind, but now I can see.

Seth turning around and looking at me while eating homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, “Thank you, Mom,” he says. There is the briefest of pauses as he looks into my eyes and sees my smile before he also smiles and turns back to his breakfast.

Ethan helping his sister clean the kitchen without saying a word or being asked.

Jacob “fathering” his youngest brother so patiently through learning a new game.

David giving me the best hug after I asked him for one (yes, I did have to ask twice). “I give the best hugs, that’s what the girls all say.”

Rich bringing me coffee in bed.

Brittnee wanting to be close and already like a daughter to me.

Grace and her friendship, we are so alike, we understand each other without any effort.

Caleb waking up one morning and walking right into my arms for a hug. He’s taller and bigger than I am now, but “I had the worst dream,” he says, and I think, “I am the listener of dreams.”

And then, Sarah.

I let her be carefree as much as possible, and I find her singing to herself as she plays alone with her toys, or curled up with a book, or sometimes I am not even sure where she is……..

But yet, I remembered again that the smallest of ways to gather her little heart to mine are so easy, so effortless, that I don’t even realize it’s happening until I see the evidence lasting for days…….I was on the couch one evening, it was just the two of us, she was sitting three feet away and I motioned her close to my side and pulled her into my arm for snuggles and the most wonderful movie; “Kedi” on amazon prime (I bought it a few years ago) it’s all about cats in Istanbul, and so lovely with music, little stories, and charming cats galore, just right for comforting TV time and blankets, for mother and daughter both.

And Samantha even watched, too.

And then, when it was over, we simply had to go out to look at the beautiful bright moon.

We were together, just the two of us, and we felt like we were getting away with something, going outside at night instead of straight to bed!

She was as bright and full of light as the moon itself. She laughed. She shivered. She said she was freezing. I laughed and said, “Oh stop, you’re fine!” just to make her giggle again.

In that moment, I felt it deep within me. This isn’t just fun, this is deeper than that. It’s hearts.

We said goodnight to the moon and each other.

And the next morning, while I was in bed in my nightgown drinking coffee, the first thing she did when she woke up was come to me and get back close to mama. These days are different, all of us gloriously at home and honestly, 98% of the time it is party-atmosphere, we get along so well, but then we might miss out on the one on one time, and I relearned this as I saw how Sarah warmed right up to me in this way after spending time with just me.

She got a cookbook and went through recipes as I read my own book, and she picked out a cake to make together later on……..

Then Seth came and got on the other side of me and my coffee spilled.

Somehow it was funny.

Everything was funny yesterday.

Isn’t it interesting the variety of days? One day we are exhausted, so we spend most of it being as “lazy” as possible, and then the next day our energy is back in full swing and we do allllllllll the things and everything is fun and good again.

I wonder what today will be like.

I know I’m homeschooling again. Remembering my old tricks. Thank goodness I only have to oversee Seth and Sarah; Rich is in charge of David and Caleb. Grace is a HUGE help, and I involve everyone in this household, I ask for help and they always come through for me. Can’t life always be this way? Can’t Rich always work from home? Can’t the older ones stay forever? Why must we separate? I don’t want to go back to being alone during the day again. I’m liking this too much. We have our own small community here, with a population of ten.

“I acknowledge with great gratitude the peace and contentment we can find for ourselves in the spiritual cocoon of our homes………”
~James Faust

If I can be content now, I can surely be content with, too, children flying the nest. Yes, I know, I know, all is well, and all will be well. Now is now, let us focus on the day.

I like to stick things in my ponytail while walking….it’s such fun! I’ve even been known to add small branches to it! LOL.

Please enjoy these old mashed potatoes, my fine-feathered friends.

Thank you, dear son! Please fold everything, including the underwear and socks! (he often doesn’t go that far in his laundry service)

Jacob is our resident grocery store shopper. And oh how I appreciate him and his thoughtful, good work here. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have him do this for me.

Homemade biscuits baked in cast iron, makes a world of difference.

I made them for sausage gravy but later on for a snack I had one with jam and sour cream.

I was torn by the end of the ordering process. Should I pick “free shipping and who knows WHEN it will arrive?” Or five-dollar shipping guaranteed to come within the week?

Free it was, and it still arrived in less than a week. VERY PLEASED WITH YOU, ANTHROPOLOGIE. Well done.

And I LOVE the overalls so so so so much.

Rich is in the background, working. This is the room in the upstairs of the garage which is mostly a home-gym but then there is also a desk by the windows for him to work. He is so thankful for this area away from the busyness of the household. He is still working full days and keeping busy. I go over to visit a few times a day, stomping up the stairs in a dramatic fashion (Mt. Everest of stairs!) and falling in a heap at the top from the exertion.

Those are Seth’s crocs.

My phone case was clear so I added a piece of pink scrapbook paper to beautify it.

Even though it has a major flaw (loss of handle) I still love my seamist mug. In fact, way back when it still had it’s handle, it was featured in a blog post. search “seamist mug” it should come up.

Daffy in apricot, apple-scented geranium, and a sink full of dishes.

I went for a ramble in the woods yesterday and came home with these things. A twiggy nest, a round hallow ball fallen from a tree (see gall-dwellers) , lichen (such a beautiful light green almost like my mug) and a sheet of white birch (I put my houseplants on them to protect the table).

And, yes, we made the cake. Two just like this one, from the recipe which Sarah picked out from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red plaid cover. Strawberry shortcake, all homemade, using real butter split, filled, and topped with freshly whipped cream, and sweetened sliced strawberries.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

not anxious, but tired

It’s 8pm on a Sunday evening. I am in my room with the door shut but I can hear the children loud and clear. Sarah is playing with the dog, I can hear her talking to him and laughing. I hear a ball bouncing hard on the floor, and the voices of the children talking. I’m smiling, but I’m tired. A lot of their sentences start with “I remember one time……..”

Today started out slowly, I slept in and Rich brought me coffee and opened the curtains to the bedroom. I sat up and sipped my coffee and read my book. He sat in the recliner with his, and when Brittnee also got her cup, she sat on the bed next to me on her phone. I was determined to finish my book before the sermon, and I did.

Our pastor preached an appropriate Palm Sunday sermon but made us laugh when he, for one thing, kept saying the word “ass” (Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the foal of a wild ass). And, for another thing, he kept mispronouncing “foal” as FOWL. (Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the FOWL of a wild ass). Gary is happy-go-lucky, in his mid 60’s, very personable, so we felt perfectly free to be amused at God’s messenger. We know he wouldn’t mind.

Sarah and I recently met this mouse under the bird feeder. He was stumbling around with his eyes shut searching for seed. I carefully tossed some under his nose and he immediately worked on nibbling it down. Something was obviously wrong with him, I asked and asked but he never replied. Sarah said, “I want to keep it.” She even told me what she would name it (I have since forgotten). I thought about it as we watched the poor thing but then I told her, “Um, I don’t think so, it seems like maybe it’s sick and we probably shouldn’t touch it.” We observed it until it scurried away.

It was Brittnee’s idea to make stuffed shells for Rich’s birthday (March 31). Without realizing that several of the boys would turn their noses up at them, we made all of what you see here. We ended up eating one pan, freezing one pan and are still eating the third pan.

I put David in charge of washing my biggest pot (which we used to boil the shells) and then was so surprised to walk in my bathroom a little while later, to find him IN MY TUB washing it out. It felt weird to me but as I stood and watched I realized that, after all, he was using the same water that comes out of the kitchen sink, and the same soap, so it was quite a genius move.

I’ve been drawing things. This was a dog that I found a picture of online and I looked at it and copied it on paper with pencil, then traced it in black marker, then colored it with Jacob’s art markers. I have also drawn my first doll, (literally the doll of my youth that I have kept all these years) and my childhood teddy bear. If you want to see, they are on instagram. This dog one wasn’t ever posted on there. I wonder what I shall attempt next?

This was the end of the day of Rich’s 46th birthday. The girls and I made a bowl of non-bake-cheesecake-ish stuff and we scooped it out into waffle bowls and served it with cherry pie filling. Some of the kids put Hershey’s syrup on theirs. It was good but Brittnee was right, we should have made it earlier in the day so it was cold. The leftovers have been enjoyed by me on a daily basis (again, we made too much).

Mr Seth enjoying a show on TV with Samantha cat.

our pretty pretty pond

Well and then I saw this bird dazed and half dead on the ground and Seth said, “Yeah, mom, Sherlock caught a Hummingbird!” I looked around for the hummingbird but then realized he meant this bird, because of it’s long beak????? I mean it’s about 50 times larger than one, and I’ve never seen a brown hummingbird, but okay maybe I can see a slight resemblance?

We found out later it was a Woodcock. Such an interesting bird that eats earthworms. Look it up online and watch it’s fascinating walk as it’s searching for worms.

This one must have been caught by the cat, but I saw no cat by it and I picked it up feeling quite distressed and grieved that my cats would harm such a bird. I didn’t know what to do. It revived a little in my hands and I ended up washing it’s beak and eyes (which were stuck shut with feather-fluff) with pond water and putting it on the edge of the property in the bushes by the pond.

(before the wash)

After the wash (see it’s beautiful black shiny eye?). Oh it was hard to leave it outside in the cold breeze but the next day when we checked on it again, it had vanished. So I hope it goes on to live a long life.

Last but not least, this is what I woke up to one morning. The kitchen and I spend a lot of time together, but the kids also help and with all 10 of us working it can get done in no time.

Grace made dear little mini lemon cupcakes this evening.

I am praying and thinking of all my blog friends.

You are loved.

photo from Jekyll

I thought I would pop in and share a photo from Jekyll. Rich and I went about a month ago and I was able to perch in this tree branch.

I hope and pray everyone who reads this is doing well. Please tell me any stories you might want to share about things lately, it’s such a strange time, isn’t it?

first violet

I’ve gone on frequent walks in the woods lately, both with the family and by my lonesome. When I am by myself, I find myself settling into the same spot by the stream deep in the woods, and leaning against a certain convenient tree. As I walk, I notice the green and various textured moss, fallen trees, rocks, pinecones, puddles and mud, dead leaves, birds, the blue of the sky, and the brown and gray of almost everything else. I drink from the stream, I get caught on briars, I fill my pockets with little nature finds, I breathe deeply, I smell the air.

There are ten of us here at home, with school and college and work all being accomplished from various places around the house. Jacob shed tears when he finally realized that college life for him and his brother Ethan was completely over, as Seniors, this shortened year means a closure of a different sort and adjusting in the arms of family. David kissed his track season goodbye, and there is no Little League for Seth this season, either.

I am very content. I’m spending my free time just the way I always have, but with less running around for the children’s extra activities. I don’t miss attending sports practices or games, at all. Not one bit. I find the children, and Rich and I, doing things that we wouldn’t have made time for if we weren’t spending so much time at home; catching up on mail, making things, more reading, more quiet time, more cooking and baking, more play.

I haven’t been to the grocery store at all. Brittnee and Grace still work there and most of the time, if we need something, they can easily bring it home for me. Rich and Jacob have also gone for bigger trips. We are eating a lot of food and cleaning up the kitchen multiple times a day. Today marks the first day of my husband alarmingly remarking on the money we are spending on food for all of us.

I have gone to Target twice. The first time to get a prescription filled, and the second time to return a couple of items, not knowing that the store would not be accepting returns any longer until April 27th.

I saw a bald eagle yesterday in the top of a tree. Imagine my laugh of joy. And my sorrow in not having my camera with me.

And I saw the first violet in bloom, yesterday. I post the first one here, every year, for all my February friends, especially you, Thia.

you are loved.

(absurd times call for absurd amounts of love)

great is Thy faithfulness

The boys were getting ready to go back to college after Christmas break when Jacob asked to speak to me and his Dad in our bedroom. He wanted us to know that he would be proposing to Brittnee. We had seen this coming, and gave him our blessing but didn’t know when or where or how and we both assumed this was a plan for the distant future, as Brittnee has another year of college and Jacob has to graduate (this spring) and get some things settled before starting a family.

Soon, it was the last week of February and they were back at home for a week-long break. We spent our days going to the mall, going out for breakfast at Millpond, and spending time together. It felt good to be cooking for a big family again and watching the kids do things like make pancakes and goof around. Everyone was busy with the last week of wrestling season and the boys helped their Dad with practice every day. Jacob and his Dad wrestled together and Rich nearly got a black eye. Jacob would tell me at home, “I don’t want to wrestle, my back hurts, my hip hurts, I’m RETIRED.” but then, once he was in the room, he just couldn’t resist having fun with his Dad on the mat. I know Rich loved every moment.

On Friday there was a major wrestling meet starting. Rich and Ethan took the team to New Haven, but Jacob had already made plans to visit the girls in Pennsylvania. I wasn’t feeling well, so I was able to stay here at home with Sarah Joy. The two of us enjoyed the quiet, and also went out shopping together (Ulta beauty, and Barnes and Noble). Sarah picked out a magic wand and a book of spells at the bookstore. I’m hoping she learns to turn things into cats for me.

Jacob left on Saturday morning looking handsome and happy, with a hug for his mom.

I had no idea he was going to propose to Brittnee.

At 3:59pm I received a photo from Jacob on my phone of a hand with a ring on the ring finger. I think I either didn’t see it or didn’t fathom it and so I didn’t reply until he also wrote, “Mom?” Then, I looked closer. I thought to myself, “Are they ring shopping? Do they want my opinion about the ring? Is this even Brittnee’s hand?” I had two more questions so all I wrote back was : (here is our entire text chat)

“? ? ? ? ?”

“Did you get my picture?”

“Yes, but I don’t understand.”

“I proposed!!!”

“Today???”

“YES!! Joanna is meeting us in ten minutes to take pictures”

“That’s so exciting!!”

“Yes, she cried. It was very emotional.”

(half an hour later, after I processed things and thanked God over and over, I wrote:)

“The ring is perfect, and I am so deeply happy that she will be my daughter. I felt was soon as I met her that she was someone special. I wanted to get to know her even before you fell in love, I was drawn to her in all Grace’s plays and concerts. And I say congratulations from the depths of my heart. I love you both so much and will always support you.”

“Thank you so much, Mom. I’m so glad that she has such an awesome connection with the whole family.”

“This is exciting and wonderful news!”

*************

And that was that. Soon I was getting quick phone photos from my talented soul-full photographer-best friend, (who watched our little Jacob grow up in all my many many photos, letters, phone calls, and visits), was taking celebratory photos of my first born and his brand-new fiancé! I’ll share them as soon as I can.

So many delightful surprises all along this life-journey from my Father-God.

*****

Seth was thinking about it on Monday morning as he got ready for school and said, “Even when he’s married, he will still be my brother.”

“Yes, Seth, you will always be brothers, nothing can change that.”

“And when I’m seventeen, I will drive to their house and visit them.”

“Yes, you will.”

“And soon, you’ll be a Grandma.”

Oh, gosh. He just had to throw that in. (not that I will mind, you all know I’ll be a wonderful Granny, I just don’t want to get excited so soon!!!). Oh gosh, did I just say Granny?………..they will (I admit) have the cutest baby in all the world, when the time comes. You know, far far off in the future…….let’s get them married and situated first, right? Thank you, Jesus.

“Blessings, all mine, with ten thousand beside.”