About Shanda

wife, mom of seven, friend, child of God

love cake

Hello dear friends,

I saw on the news this morning that the shooter in the Boulder grocery store killed ten people. I am 45 years old now, I have grown children, one of whom moved out into his own place this weekend, another of whom is working as a student teacher and going to college in another state. I have close family and friends everywhere. I have seen so much, after years of deep thinking I know more, I have learned and processed new and important things, and so maybe these are some of the reasons why it hit me harder this time, learning of another mass shooting.

Those people were just like you and me, doing what we always do, running errands and getting groceries, but they……. were shot at, traumatized, killed. It doesn’t make any sense to me, how a beautiful spring day can turn so ugly. And yet, if you read the stories you learn that the victims came together in crisis to help each other the best they could. You learn that a police officer sacrificed his life.

Is there nowhere safe anymore? Was there ever any place safe?

When confronted by the confusion of such unanswerable questions, I find myself stripped bare of everything but what I love the most; my people (friends and family), spirituality, nature, and home (my purpose).

So, because I was able, I told my people I loved them, I went outside for a long walk, and I went in the kitchen and made a cake. Cakes are typically for celebrations but today was a day for showing love.

I gathered eggs for the cake; produced for us daily by a flock of feathered hen-friends. I gave one to the dog (who knows that he has to drop it, not on the soft lawn, but on the driveway, so it will crack open and he can eat it) and then put the rest in the house before going for a walk.

I stopped and rested by the stream and thought about the beaver. I wished I could see him. How very industrious he is, chewing down each and every tree that he is able to. This stick was standing up, leaning against a large tree (large trees are safe from beavers), it’s bark entirely removed by the teeth of the beaver who ate it like corn from a cob. (I decided I’m bringing back the handkerchief.)

Then, my feet led me to a spot in the field where some scat lay. I noticed that it appeared to be entirely fur. As I stood there looking down at it, I saw something within the fur that looked otherwise. So I took a stick, knelt down, and started poking around.

Soon I had the fur-poo pulled apart, and the contents that I had discovered, in my pocket.

I headed to the stream to wash my hands over and over in the ice-cold water.

The forest on early spring days is so………gray.

As is the grass.

And what’s this I see so far from home? A spoon.

A spoon from my own kitchen! To have children is to be constantly surprised one way or the other.

Thus, I went home with a spoon in one pocket, a hanky in another, and poo-bits in the third.

But before I got there, I found a green bottle and hung it in a tree.

Every walk I go on is fascinating. And I realized something, although I have a second home in Georgia, I feel like my best self and most inspired self in my dear New England.

I emptied my pocket onto a piece of brown paper bag. Furry teeth and bones. Someone needs to tell that animal that teeth are indigestible.

From that to baking. I was able to use up six eggs on my cake. By the time it had cooled Rich was in the house, the boys were home from school, and Sarah and Brittnee were home from the apartment (where they hung out today, to wait for a couch to be delivered). Therefore, I had an audience watching me frost the cake. “What are you going to write on it, Mom?” they cried.

“Just watch and see,” I said.

love-cake,
with all their names

very good

This morning Rich sent me out of the room. He had a call and told me to go. I was so shocked, that I went. I left the room and said “You guys, Dad just kicked me out of the room,” and they didn’t care. They said, “He has an important call.” Humph. More like, “He has an important call and doesn’t trust my mouth.” It’s always very tempting for me, and I have a very hard time staying quiet. I try so hard that when a sound DOES come out, it’s not good. So he is very smart to send me away………and thus, I am amusing myself here, in a different way; blogging.

I had my stuff with me, the stuff I carry from place to place; my book, my notebook, my pen, and my phone. I met up with Seth. He had a question to ask me; “Mom, is Grace getting married THIS year?” I took a deep breath and when I said, “Yes, Seth,” he quietly and slowly walked out of the back door to the screened in porch. He just stood there, looking at the sea. “What’s wrong with Seth?” asked Sarah. “He’s sad because he’s losing his sister.”

It’s been a very quiet morning, all because my energizer bunny is sad.

Ya know, I spend all this time (24 years) getting the family to bond in tight love, and moments like this are very rewarding. We love each other here. It’s all so clear to me this morning.

Now, David shows his love in another way; bitter sarcasm and pointed disapproval. He also doesn’t want Grace to get married (this year, or ever). No matter how many times I said, “She’s HAPPY, David, she’s VERY HAPPY.” and no matter how many times his father says, “You’ll never think ANYONE is good enough for our Grace, Davy” he still hasn’t come to grips. Of course, it’s only been a few days now…….

Yes, our dear Grace, at the young and tender age of 21, is now engaged to be married to a Most Wonderful young man, who already fits right into this family (and from what I hear, Grace fits into his, as well). I remember years ago, when Grace was small (er), she sighed and said “I just wish I had someone I could talk to as much as I want”.

Brogan.

He’s the someone.

I have observed and seen and noted; they have NO trouble talking to each other….. and talking…. and talking.

She found him.

But, that’s just one of the reasons why.

Because if they both lost their voices, there are always books, and writing, and hiking, and cooking, and playing music and gazing into each others eyes and kissing……….and so on, and so forth.

Grace is so happy she glows, her eyes twinkle, she is exceedingly bright and chipper, everlastingly smiling, and “it is very good”. (Genesis 1:31)

Thank you, Jesus. You did it again.

“Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing.” James 1:17

moon rise, sun rise

sparkling white on the water (1/28/21) photo I took before bed last night

Good morning!

Rich is working at his desk in the master bedroom, next to windows that overlook the sea.

David and Caleb are schooling in the upstairs living room, each on their own small but cozy couch, with their own laptops and headphones. Every once in a while, I can hear them talk and laugh. I’m glad they have each other.

Seth and Sarah are in Sarah’s room with the door shut playing with animals (those small nice plastic ones from the Schleich company). They have their own world on the floor, their own dialogue, and sometimes even set up the kindle with “jungle sounds” from youtube to *set the scene*. They will also “do school” today, but have a break right now. (Sarah starts at 8:30, an hour later than the boys).

Yours truly went to sleep last night at 9, after taking a photo of the full moon and spending an hour in bed with my phone, watching Netflix. I was exhausted, and slept soundly, waking up “in the middle of the night” just knowing I wouldn’t be getting back to sleep……I felt around in the dark for my book and notebook, and tip toed away……only to discover that it was 6:30. True morning! I was the first one up. I turned on the heat to get the morning chill out of the air, put on some socks, got a blanket, and made coffee for myself.

And thus the day began. A new one, a fresh one, “without any mistakes in it yet”.

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

morning snuggles with Sarah and Penny.

“Penny wakes me up every morning. At SEVEN! She’s like an alarm clock…….”

I saw golden light starting to shine through the windows and couldn’t resist running outside for a photo (or 15……) of Sunrise. The air was cool, and the only sound was the waves and morning bird calls. This is Georgia winter, but to me it feels like spring and something new. I feel like a young girl running from the door to the ocean, in my pajamas and with my hair loose, wearing Seth’s canvas shoes on my feet……..

*******

As promised, here is a photo of “fwren” and me. We met online over ten years ago, and she’s been a dear lady whom I have looked up to and drawn encouragement from. We have several of the same most important loves; family, friends, Jesus, photography, nature, and JEKYLL ISLAND. Since we are both here on the Island, we took the opportunity to finally meet face to face. We met at the Sunrise Grille, ordered coffee and avocado toast, and chatted away an hour or so. It was good for my heart and soul to spend time with a friend.

How can I say thank you? The words aren’t enough………..

peaches cake

Oh so good! I had to share the recipe. Its quick and easy and perfect.

cake: 1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
topping: 1 8 oz. can drained sliced peaches
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. butter, melted.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 by 8 by 2 inch pan (I used a pie plate).
  2. To make the cake: In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Add 1 egg and beat well.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with 1/2 cup milk.
  5. spread the batter into the prepared pan, top with 1 8 ounce can of drained sliced peaches. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar (or less) and drizzle with 2 T. melted butter.
  6. bake for 30-35 minutes or until done.

What we didn’t finish while warm, I stored in the fridge. The next morning I had a piece cold in my hand for breakfast! Just as good that way.

I am in Georgia again, with Rich and four of the children. We plan to be here for the month of February.

This morning I am meeting a long time blog-friend. Stay tuned!

more than words

I woke up last night and went to the bathroom. I never turn on lights, I find great satisfaction in carefully making my way in the dark. When I came back to bed, I nestled right into my husband like we have gotten into the habit of doing, how delightful and cozy, his shirt smelled clean and lightly of bleach, it was up a little bit and my arm was across his soft warm skin. He woke up and I asked him if I was bothering him, ready to move away if I was so he could sleep. “I’m too hot,” he said, taking my arm and putting it back around him. He pressed his nose into my hair contentedly and I fell back to sleep……….

I woke up last night (a second time) and I was alone in the bed. I reached for my phone to check the time, 4:22 am. I couldn’t resist figuring out what he was doing, so like any good & nosy wife, I got out of bed and walked barefoot across the cool wooden floor, out the door to find…….

My husband playing the wii. I was instantly amused. He couldn’t sleep so he decided to get to “pro level” on the golfing game. I woke up just in time to see him take a swing. I laughed, he laughed, we hugged, and I went back to bed and fell sound asleep…… (I’ve been sleeping wonderfully…… and he has not, my sister and I think it’s because he won’t eat carbs, I mean how can anyone relax without baked goods?)……. He’s doing Keto like it’s going to bring about world peace. And as I slept, I dreamed a question; *Did He or Did He Not Make it to Pro?”

I woke up this morning at around 9? I think? Still no husband in bed, so I opened the door and cheerfully announced, “I AM READY FOR MY COFFEE!” He looked up from his chair and said “Good morning!” The boys looked up from their game at the table and said “Good morning mom!” I said “Good morning!” in return, and went back to bed. Wonderful Saturday.

Rich brought my coffee (in a meadow fiesta mug) and then went around on his side to get in bed with me. I thought “Oh this will be cozy, we can be lazy and talk and visit and read.” Our big black cat joined us, the dog flopped on the floor in our room to sleep, I opened my book, my coffee in hand………not even surprised when Rich fell promptly to sleep within seconds. Like, twitching!

My night owl.

“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-Expery, The Little Prince

My heart is often bursting with seeing. This blog is more than words; it’s my heart.

*He did

this and that

I came to consciousness this morning as the dog was outside, scratching on the door to be let back in the house. I slowly opened my eyes and saw through a crack in the curtains a very pink sky. Somehow I really needed to see this sky. I took my phone off the nightstand and turned it on, got out of our warm bed, and padded out to the porch to look at it.

Our house faces the rising sun and it’s something I am most thankful for. As I turned to go back inside I noticed the sunrise had been painted across the glass windows.

I went back to bed and fell asleep for two more hours. When I got up I sat in the chair in front of the fire to finish my book and drink coffee. Brittnee came down all dressed and pretty. “I just woke up,” I said. She said she knew because Seth knocked on her door to tell her “‘Sarah won’t let me use her charger and I’m at 2% and she’s at 50’. So I knew you weren’t up yet.” Somehow that really made me laugh and be happy, my children left me alone so I could sleep! Brittnee is a great “second mom” around here…….

Life is good. I have much of the preparations for Christmas Day complete, however I don’t feel like baking cookies. Like, at all.

I have most of the presents wrapped, but I’m not bothering to hide them and they stay in the corner of my room in a pile. If they want to snoop, oh well.

We bought an artificial tree this year, Rich has always admired the white flocked trees. Again; I just don’t care anymore……I used to say “Never! I want a real tree & a real tree ONLY!” I was so uppity about it. I wonder if this “getting older” thing is a blessing in disguise. I find myself letting go of things I clutched so dearly in the past. Our artificial tree looks beautiful, doesn’t shed needles, is prelit with flickering warm lights, and I don’t have to worry about watering it. It can stay up as long as we wish and won’t change from fresh and green to crisp and green.

Ethan and I bought a train to go around the tree, a Harry Potter train set from Costco. It makes me twitchy though because it sounds just like the robot vacuum cleaner that we have. Whenever the vacuum is running I have to be hyper vigilant about keeping the basement door shut. Consequently, whenever the train is running I keep running to shut the basement door. 🙂

Parker showed me how to get a small bit of bacon from Brittnee. Just stand and stare.

Brittnee and I play rummy constantly, sometimes with Jacob or Ethan, rarely with Rich, but the two of us play almost daily. She consistently wins, so that on a rare day that I win, it’s extra exciting for me. Today it was “rummy during breakfast”. She was depressed at the time because not only did she crack one of her egg yolks but we are also out of ketchup. Oh the horror.

Seth went around asking everyone how many mozzarella sticks they wanted for lunch and then after he put them in the oven, he went downstairs to play Rocket League, forgetting all about them. I ended up taking them out of the oven myself, while David ran down to yell to Seth that ” Your cheese sticks were ON FIRE you DUMMY!!!” Seth came running upstairs smiling because he (naturally) didn’t believe David. Caleb observed, “There’s NOTHING in these anymore!” and I said, “Your older siblings called these ‘exploding cheese'”, (eat them anyway). And they did. Even Rich had one, saying dryly, “I just love it when my cheese stick turns into a cheese cracker”.

You know, just family life stuff. It’s busy and fun, and I have time in the afternoons when it’s quiet and calm. The children can all fend for themselves. I tuck into the corner of the couch and read, drinking coffee and tea, with a cat purring on my lap. I’ve been sewing when I feel like it and realized again how calming it is, even if threading a needle is a lot harder than it used to be. I need glasses. I made a potholder and am now making a small wall hanging which I secretly think looks like a slice of ham from a distance.

Ethan gets home from Fed Ex at around 10:30am and he blames his job as a manager in a warehouse for the way he stomps around the kitchen making himself lunch as soon as he arrives. He’s the one who noticed that there were a lot of cups missing. “Where are all the cups? There are literally no cups, where did all the cups go? I don’t understand it. There are no cups.” So……..I stepped in and asked David to “Go around the whole house and find dirty dishes.” He appeared from the basement with this entire box full. He saw me take the photo and asked “Where is that going?” “To social media, tagged with your name!” “You’re low-key proud of this, aren’t you?”

I wouldn’t say proud, but “determined to laugh”, yes.

Brittnee and I realized we prefer Alexa to play “Jazz Christmas music” more than any other genre. But David likes Justin Bieber. He was flat out re-amazed at his talent, he says “bruh!” at every talented note sequence. Everyone’s “Bruh” to him now, and I’m sick of being called Bruh. “No one should call their darling MOTHER Bruh,” is what I say.

Reminds me……a couple weeks ago he was in my room sitting on the bed and I didn’t know it. I ran in to change my pants and as I pulled the old ones off all the way down to the floor I heard someone behind me saying “BRUH!” like his eyes were on fire, and it was David…..I was horrified, “David, David! Run into the bathroom, don’t look, get out!” He was so dry and calm about it, “It’s not like it even matters now Mom,” “I don’t care!!! get out!”

Back to music, there are certain songs I cannot listen to anymore including but not limited to “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, “Baby it’s Cold Outside”, and “All I want for Christmas is You”. I can’t, I just can’t.

Sherlock as taken to sleeping in this deep basket, which I think is the cutest thing in the world. You can’t see him unless you are purposely looking in, and it’s so funny the way Penny the kitten stands up with her front paws on the rim, to look down and see if he’s there.

Rich and I were talking about McRibs a week or so ago and when we googled we saw that they were returning….so today when I dropped David off at work (he’s a cashier at the grocery store, and so awesome at it) I swung around the drive through to get three; one for me, one for Rich, and one for Caleb. Ethan has Crohns now and can’t eat them. The McRibs were very messy with all that sauce, but tasty.

What else? It’s pretty cold outside and today was the first day since the temps dropped into the 30s that I went out for my walk. It was very nice to get some fresh air, I gulped and gulped.

I had the piano tuned yesterday and the old-man piano tuner was very interested in my bird feeders outside the window. He didn’t even know what a blue jay was. Maybe he will go home and put a bird feeder up. It’s never too late to add a small joy to living.

Tomorrow Sarah has a check up and is nervous about shots. Oh, speaking of Sarah, she asks me daily if we can make cookies, including the last time…… which was about 2 hours ago. It sincerely pains me to say no to her, but it would pain me even more to make them (I can’t seem to muster up any desire) so I said, “no”. To which she replied, “I’m so bored……what will I doooooooo”, and wandered away.

Half an hour later I noticed her outside by herself, sitting on a sled sliding down the hill in the cold fading sunshine.

It was the cutest thing I had seen all day. She had figured out what to do.

for my parents

the best is yet to be.

home
how many Christmases have there been?
together, we make a home

I was loading the dishwasher and cleaning out the sink this morning, early, while the children were busy getting ready for the day. Ethan and Jacob were talking, David, Caleb, and Seth were already gone on the bus, Brittnee was getting ready for work, and Sarah was just getting up and talking to her kitten. I was listening to music; an indie folk Christmas playlist on the Alexa, while scrubbing and wiping and puttering around, when a song came on and stopped me in my tracks.

Life is seasonal, just like the weather. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.

And when you raise a family the changing years are all impossible to ignore, especially during the holidays.

Maybe this is why emotions run so hot this time of year, at the oddest moments they hit.

I remember years ago reading a quote, “The best way to prepare for the next season of life is to ENJOY THE ONE YOU’RE IN”. I’ve taken this to heart because somehow I’ve always known that “the days are long but the years are short.”

This morning Sarah was pressing her face to the window when she noticed icicles hanging off the bushes…….”I’m going out to get an icicle! Want one?” she (very thoughtfully) asked. “Sure!” I agreed. There are so many chances in a day, to enjoy. Soon we were crunching into them and I was deep down content, feeling ten years old again, with my youngest, who is ten for reals……..

Young married couples, couples with babies, couples with babies AND children AND teenagers AND adult children, and then………couples who have paved the way and show us the rewards of years raising up the next generation, now…….. with an empty nest? No, not empty, FULL, rich and full with a bountiful harvest of layer upon layer of loving memories, I see it everywhere when I travel back to my childhood home, this harvest, these memories.

I see two people, who after all these years are so much together that they are one.

All is grace.

but what does it look like?

I want a tender, juicy, dripping, messy-making heart.

God knows this, and He created me this way.

Sometimes we go through the desert to prepare for new growth.

You know, kind of like when I “three-quarters kill a plant” because I didn’t water it for a month or more. Then, I have to slowly encourage it back to life. The dead parts get cut away and new bright green things appear, fresh and tender.

From dry to fresh and new could happen in any length of time, a day, a year, five years……..over and over, a cycle, a weather cycle of the heart.

I woke up this morning thinking about the heart.

And a Christmas hymn that always squeezes my own.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

That last line.

The loving heart MUST give. And what does it give? Itself. But what does it look like? “Open my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth Thou hast for me”. An unexpected note in the mail from a friend, a smile right into the eyes, being vulnerable, reaching out, opening up. A song, a dance, a painting. Being thoughtful. Knowing someone, learning them. Words, The Word, gold, frankincense and myrrh, an alabaster jar of perfume, a seat at the table, death on the cross, a tomb for His body, The body, blood, sacrifice, resurrection, eternal LIFE, a place in Glory…….. “For God so loved the world, that he ……..G A V E.”

*********

This is Grace’s fourth year of college and the youngest ones look at her with such adoration. They admire their big sister and seeing this love between them is one of the biggest brightest gifts of my motherhood journey. Having her home over Thanksgiving added sparks of joy for all of us, but I wonder if it was deeper and truer coming from the hearts of the youngest ones, who aren’t busy with “things to do that must get done”. (  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”). Children seem to naturally choose “what is better” and are watching, playing, carefree. Behind those glowing eyes is a thoughtfulness that gives birth to the sweetest moments.

Seth has been sleeping with the same brown, loose limbed bear since he was a newborn. Mr B has been with him every night for the last 11 years, except for the times when Seth, in his excitement, forgot to take him on trips. He is Seth’s most valued possession and has a very friendly and knowing face. I have made Mr B dance for him, talk to him, walk into his room for him, put clothes on him for a surprise, and we make up stories, all of which has, to Seth, made his Bear very real indeed. (“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”~ VR) By the way, when he was very little, Seth pronounced “Bear” like “Beer” and a few of us still call him Beer at times, because it’s cute and funny.) So you see, he has a whole family presence.

Imagine our shock on Sunday afternoon, when Grace skipped out the door to go back to college, WITH MR B held in her arms. What was happening? Did she take Mr. B? We whirled around to look at Seth, who was at the door with us, waving goodbye with pride. “I want Grace to take him with her to college,” he explained. “I gave him to her. To borrow.”

He gave his most precious possession; his heart.

And he gave it with joy and an open hand. Mr B was going to visit college with Grace! Oh the stories he will tell when he returns………..

The next day he sought me out and confessed that he had woke up in the night, feeling around with his hand for Bear, and then remembered he was gone. “So I went back to sleep.”

“Oh! Seth! come here, Seth!” I said, remembering a photo I had gotten from Grace while he was at school, “I want to show you something!”

He held my phone and I looked at his face.

“Bear,” he sighed, giving me back the phone, and turning away with a smile on his face. He was ready to get back to his busy day.

it’s a love without end

Dearest Grace of mine,

We miss you. The house is not the same with everyone here and you so far away at college. I’ve often said that I am so blessed and satisfied with you children, that even if God just gave me YOU, I would have a heart overflowing with gratitude. I say this so that you know I deeply cherish YOU specifically, individually, you aren’t just the “third of seven”, you are my one and only Grace Lillian. My daughter, my friend. It’s my joy to love and care for you, and the rewards you give in return, just by being your own wonderful self, are uncountable.

When I think back, I remember a small pregnancy (my tummy always measured small with you & a lady at church never even realized I was going to have another baby until she saw the birth announcement in the bulletin, she wrote me a note saying “where were you hiding baby Grace?”), a small newborn (only 5 lbs, 13 oz), and a tiny girl (so petite, Grandma gently wondered in every conversation if I was “feeding you enough”—-I was!! of course I was)!

It’s no wonder the quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” reminds me of you. You have a zest for life and seem to be tireless with all the things you take responsibility for, and you never give up on the things you know need to be done. (this is sometimes annoying).

You have made a difference in numerous lives, and I am thankful to God that you’ve made a difference in mine. I learn just as much from you as you do from me. I am honored to take the things I see in you and “keep them in my heart” and I thoroughly believe that God gave me you and your siblings because He knew I could learn no other way what the realities of life with Him can truly be. I was born to be your mother.

I always have my birthday child in mind, when their special day comes around. My heart is bursting with thankfulness as I think about that priceless life I have been able to keep for just a little while. I take out the baby books and read the journals and the blogs about that special someone. I have been doing this lately in your honor, my November baby, here at home, studying your photos, your smile, thinking about the ways you have made your way through life so far, seeing the little signs of you all around the house. I took out the journal I kept from when I was a very young mom, pregnant for you, while caring for a 2 year old Jacob, and a one year old Ethan and read it, relished it, feeling like it was yesterday, amazed.

Later that day, your Dad sat on the couch next to me. The diary was still on the coffee table and I considered…….He’s never read my private journals, he knows they are mine and he respects that, I never thought to offer them to him. They are my own ramblings and scratchings of daily life, but I thought “maybe he would enjoy a glimpse back in time” so I handed him the book………

He sat and read with an amusement and interest I have never seen him have over the written word. “This is more interesting than a History book,” he said. He laughed at the antics of the boys, and my funny remarks about their mischief. He was truly disappointed in the times he would turn the page and find that “four years have passed”.

He read a lot of it out loud to us, laughing to tears, but the tears that came when he got to this part showed how much his little girl means to him:

“Grace is four years, five months. She’s starting Kindergarten this fall. Her hair is down her back, she wants to grow it out. She’s very sweet and I enjoy watching her and her Daddy interact. She has her own room, collects Minnie Mouse, (sometimes we call her ‘Minnie’), she likes to play with her dolls, and adores her baby brother David.”

April 15 2004, shanda’s diary

His voice broke and tears rolled down his face. Sarah asked in wonder, “are you crying Dad?” and he (flat out lied) said, “no”. But he was, and for the rest of the journal he was sober and serious.

Life truly passes by quickly, and it’s okay. It’s the way God made life. It’s a blessing and a good thing that our days are numbered. “….so that we may grow in wisdom…”

Love is beautiful and what makes life worthwhile. (God IS love) We love you Grace, and want you to know we are here cheering you on in every messy-beautiful thing you do, good or bad, safe or unsafe. (preferably unsafe) *wink*

Happy birthday dearest girl.