day with the husband

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Rich and I celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary on Sunday the 16th of September and since Sunday is a busy day for us, Rich took today off so we could spend time together while the kids were in school.  He’s at an eye doctor appointment now (4:30pm) so I have time to post a few photos.

We ate breakfast at a diner, the next town over, even though at the moment we don’t “like” this town because their youth football teams beat our teams very badly last week.  That was Rich’s remark anyway, which made me laugh.  This diner was hopping with folks “of a certain age.”

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This is a small town to have so many people at a diner for breakfast and Rich thinks it’s because it’s such a nice place but I think it’s because there is a senior living community just down the road.  It was fun to see people coming in a various times and getting enthusastic welcomes from their friends.  There was an older lady that looked similar to my Aunt Betty and I kept looking at her.  There was an older man with an oxygen tank.  There were hugs and loud conversations.  “Yeah, I feel good today!” said one gentleman to another.  Rich and I settled in to our eggs and potatoes and just enjoyed the atmosphere before heading to my hair appointment.

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This was taken in the car after my appointment.  My hair stylist, I think, let the dye sit a little too long because my head along the hairline is also dyed and it will not come off yet.  I had the roots done and a little trimmed off the ends and Rich worked on his laptop outside in a lawn chair while he waited for me.  We had enough time that I could have dropped him off at home while I had my appointment but he said he wanted to stay with me.   Then we drove the backroads to the mall and stopped at an apple stand/coffee/bakery on the way.

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Rich picked out a nice apple but when he ate it in the car he said it was mealy, so that was a little disappointing.  Out it flew through the car window into the trees.

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He saw this toy tractor and pointed it out because he liked it.  He’s a farm boy still.  He has a small John Deere tractor in our garage.

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He took me to Barnes and Noble and I bought the newest Flow mazazine but once I got home I realized that someone had taken the free wrapping paper out of it so I’m a little annoyed about that.  I also got a Breathe magazine and the Newbery Honor book Echo, which is a big beautiful hardcover book with 585 pages!!!!  I hope it’s as good as I am anticipating.  I can’t read it until I’m done with The Windy Hill (1922).  Rich got a couple of men’s fitness magazines and one of them has a young Arnold S. on the cover only wearing a small bathing suit which was horrifying to see.  Rich is slowly easing into running again after his disc surgery but has been able to keep working on his upper body and to me, looks amazing.  I’m so proud of him and the way he continues to get up early three days a week to work out and keep himself healthy.

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I took a photo of the cover of this book because……..

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Inside there was a photo of fiestaware (mixed with Bauer).  SO pretty!

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We sat at a table by the window for a while.  He had a pumpkin spice latte and I had a matcha green tea latte and then we drove back home.

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We ended up having a good hour to ourselves before the bus came.

morning of the waxwings

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*Jacob and Brittnee*

I took their photos right before my trip to Alaska.

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They make a nice couple, don’t they?  Brittnee is such a joy.  This year she is enrolled at Christian college in Pennsylvania WITH GRACE.

She was Grace’s friend in High School before she and Jacob started dating.  And now they go to the same college!  I would have never dreamed.  God truly has a way of making this sad and dreary life delightful.

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They were all dressed up to go out to a nice dinner together to celebrate their anniversary.

*****

I still have Alaskan photos to share but I haven’t done it because, in my mind, once I blog about the rest of the trip……. it will be truly “over”.

When David was a preschooler I read him Winnie the Pooh, just the two of us, and could never bring myself to read the last chapter.

I’ve learned that being highly sentimental is a gift.  It takes all kinds of humanity to make the world go ’round.  Each individual is a blessing to the family in which they belong.  I’m so grateful for each grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, parent, cousin….. both my husband’s and my own.

And each friend and neighbor, too.  We belong to each other.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

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Sarah forgot her school folder the other day.  It was mistily raining.  When I went outside to the car to take the folder to school I heard a racket almost like crickets or maybe birds, so I walked around the back of the house to peer up into the tall trees that grow between our house and the neighbors.  After a short time, I saw that the sound I was hearing was tiny birds, up high and partially hidden in the leaves. “Probably just sparrows,” I thought, but because I couldn’t see them very well I thought I better grab my camera and get a better look.  But what about Sarah’s folder?  My curiosity won out and I retrieved my nice long zoom lens from the house to take a photo and discovered these weren’t ordinary sparrows (are not five sparrows sold for two cents? yet not one of them is forgotten before God), but baby Cedar Waxwings!

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Their mother came with some food and the birds became even noisier.

Behind our house is a bank and the trees grow up from the top of it, so it’s rather high up and proved cumbersome to aim a heavy camera almost straight up into the mist for photos, so I went upstairs to Sarah’s room to lean out her window.

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Meanwhile I was also texting with my brother so I sent him this silly selfie.

I thought about going out the window onto the roof of the addition but decided I was too scared.

I wanted to see if my better vantage point would result in better photos but from the window I couldn’t see the baby birds at all.  They were lost behind all the leaves. However, I got a pretty decent photo of the adult.

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She was at the very top of a tree, probably to stand guard, ready to defend her babies from the Lady with the Camera.

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The nest close by with another baby inside of it.  Oh it was just wonderful to see and experience, and photograph.  And yes, Sarah DID get her folder.

*****

Yesterday when I went outside the birds were all gone.  I still feel that the 20 minute part of my morning the other day (the morning of the waxwings) was a great gift….I’ve never seen baby cedar waxwings and when I see the adults (once a year) it’s always a thrill.  They are such lovely birds and don’t visit the bird feeder because they eat mostly fruit and insects.

*****

Since I have my camera right next to me as I type, I looked up from the computer to check the bird feeding station we have on the porch just outside the window.  Maybe today I’ll see another unique visitor…….

….but this is what I saw……

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A Very Bad Kitty!

I brought him right back inside and now he and Sherlock are looking out the window at a cardinal eat sunflower seeds.  The tips of their tails are twitching.

Time for me to eat breakfast and clean the house!

Happy Thursday!  Maybe you’ll see a bird!

marvels of ordinary living

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egg holder
strawberry bowl

Just two little treasures picked up recently at second-hand shops.

Good morning, friends, how in the world are you?

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I downloaded photos from two sources this morning in preparation for blogging.  The photos on my SLR camera?  All birds and fish.  The photos on my phone?  All kinds.

I was sitting in just the spot I am sitting now when I looked out the window and saw an almost grown up male cardinal at the feeder, utterly charming, with his *not quite red* feathers grown in.  I took about 20 pictures of him.

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And then a hummingbird, too.

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And a sweet little tufted tit mouse with reptilian toes.  All from the same seat and out the same windows.  How very convenient!  You don’t even have to step foot outside to see nature.

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Then, later on, I was down on the dock over the pond and a Solitary Sandpiper came for a visit.  He bobbed his tail up and down as he walked the perimeter of the pond looking for food.

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Look how camouflaged he is.  Look at his back leg compared to the grasses growing right next to it, the same green color with dark pink.  His white breast matches the rocks and the gray of his feathers matches the ground.  A marvel.

Solitary Sandpipers are not frequent visitors so it thrilled my heart to have my camera ready for a photo or two. or 30.

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Last but not least of the bird photos…..two more juvenile birds.  I think these are young Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  Two of them came together to the edge of the pond for a bath.

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I laughed.  It’s so fun to see what bird life has been hiding in nests around the property.

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The small pond has lily pads growing in it now and as I was sitting on the dock I kept hearing sharp snapping sounds, almost like someone breaking in half a thin dry stick.  It made my head go back and forth as I tried to figure out what I was hearing in different locations of the pond.  Eventually I figured out that the sound was being made by FISH.

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They were slowly swimming to the surface of the water underneath their lily pad of choice and either grabbing it, or biting it, or pulling it, (I don’t know) as fast as a fraction of a second.  Somehow what they were doing was making a popping sound.  Were they eating something?  Having fun?  I have no idea– but I would love to know.  It went on all day every 20-30 seconds.

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This photo is so blurry but I still like it.  Sarah asked if we could walk in the woods and to our joy, Sammy the cat quickly caught up with us.

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This tiny spider stopped me in my tracks.  Sarah kept saying, “Mom, let’s GO,” but for the life of me I couldn’t (and still can’t) figure out WHAT THIS SPIDER HAD CAUGHT.  It’s web wasn’t even complete and still looked perfect.  And it caught this thing, bigger and heavier than the spider himself.  As I looked, the spider became nervous and carried it’s prize as fast as it’s 8 legs could run to the edge of his web on a tree twig.  A white/gray blob with black triangular legs.  I hope it tastes good.

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(On the dock over the pond.)

I just finished Pecos Bill, a 1935 silver Newbery Honor book.  It was fun and I read several of the chapters out loud to Rich in the car.

But really the photo is all about how adorable Sarah and Sherlock look as they peer into the water side by side.

I sat in a lawn chair on the dock all day on Saturday, running up to the house now and then for food or a bathroom break.  It made me smile to see who (besides the dog) would visit it me most often.  The winner?

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Dave.  My Dave.

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He even brought down his dinner to eat next to me.  He made it himself, a pasta dish with homemade alfredo sauce, celery, mushrooms, and garlic.  He also made garlic sour dough toast to go with it.  “You have to rub both sides of the bread with a garlic clove.”  I wasn’t hungry because I had just ate half a box of crackers as I read my book, but he so very gently hinted several times that he wanted me to try it that I eventually followed him up to the kitchen for some.  “And it was very good.”

David also made pizza and cookies this weekend.  He was creative with the cookies.  He made the dough for chocolate chip, but because we didn’t have any chips (I know, can you believe it?) he substituted a cup of PB protein powder.  It made the dough taste just like PB cookie dough and it baked up just fine, too!  I told him he should write to the protein powder company to tell them.

David works out daily and tries to create different drinks using protein powder.

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David has also been charming my heart by doing calligraphy on his covered text books for school.  He told me yesterday as he worked on “US History” with a pen and a sharpie that a girl in his school asked him to do her books for 20 dollars but he said “No.”

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(BTW, Jacob if you are reading this David said that Mr. S asked and begged if he could call Dave “Dives” but Dave said “No.”)  LOL

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The other day I stopped to take a photo of my pretty pink morning glories and Walter the kitten jumped out at me, scared me, and then made a face.

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Orange title, orange cup, orange cat-tail

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Very tired kitten with Caleb

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(Lea Ann, don’t read this part)  She’s jealous because I keep talking about THE PEACH TREE THAT WE GREW WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT!!!!!  My mom calls me the Accidental Gardener because I complain about my gardening skills and then still end up growing a peach tree.  We first noticed a strange tree growing by the porch last year, in fact, I specifically remember it was at Grace’s graduation party and Colleen was here and we were talking about this tree and trying to figure out what it was.

Well, fast forward to this spring when it BLOSSOMED.  Now I’m really intrigued and keep a close eye on it.  Eventually, to our amazed eyes, it grew PEACHES, so many peaches that the branches bent over with heavy fruit.

We don’t think its a coincidence that it grew right next to Parker the Dog’s favorite digging spot in my flower bed (SO annoying!).  We think that probably Rich ate a peach and threw the pit over the railing and then the dog, in digging in his spot, buried the pit.  And it grew and grew and bore a crop of peaches this summer.

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I said, “Mom, they are still hard.” And she said, “It’s peach season I’m sure you need to pick them.  Put them in paper bags for a few days and they will soften.”

Now that I’m 40 I know that I should always promptly and without hesitation do whatever mom tells me to do, so I went right outside and put Sarah to work.

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She could simply reach her arm over the railing and pick peaches!!!!

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And to no one’s surprise Mom was right!  After a few days we started eating them out of the paper bag and they were as juicy and peachy as any old peach in the store……even better.

I have since realized I have a vine of white gourds growing in the same garden that I didn’t plant.  It’s another accidental gardening situation.  The moral of the story is don’t be afraid to throw pumpkins, pits, and old fall gourds over your porch railing.  You’ll grow things.

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We have since picked every single peach and I bought a case of canning jars.  stay tuned!

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Of course, it’s not ALL fun and games around here.

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Unless you’re Walter the kitten.

 

 

 

 

 

be amazed!

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First of all, it’s been a joy and a delight to watch kitty-kitty Walter (our new pet) get used to his new surroundings.  He is curious and “literally plays with everything”, says Dave.  You see in the photo that he is being tempted by Sherlock’s twitching tail.

Second of all, it’s 8:07 in the morning and I’m the only one awake!!  Seth NEVER sleeps past 7 and most of the time is up even earlier.  I just found him sleeping in the addition on the couch.  He spent the night in there because of the air conditioning.  So I wonder, is he still asleep because 1) he didn’t sleep well? or, 2) he COULD finally sleep peacefully out of his hot upstairs bedroom?  Whatever the reason, it’s nice to sit here and type………….

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“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”  Psalm 16:11 (thank you, husband, for sending along the verse)

I was thinking this morning about the enjoyable fruits of the Holy Spirit, those only-from-above giftings of God to our souls.  In those oftentimes rare/unnoticed moments of deep spirituality when we find ourselves really able to love outside of ourselves in a mysterious way.  We have joy,  and it is unexplainable, gentleness toward every living creature, peace, beyond comprehension!  And, patience like our *big brother* Job.  These beautiful character qualities/fruits aren’t from us (we cannot muster them up, they cannot be faked) and are the Holy Spirit within us, given to us, and no reason for pride or boasting.

….the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

Alas, sometimes it’s just simply hard to breath “down here”.  And this is the reason we pour over the Scriptures as much as possible, and remember, and think of Him, and pray, we do these things to stay connected, to stay reminded.  To stay breathing.

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”  ~CS Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia

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Home on Earth, real Home “in the sky”……….

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We have had such hot days lately, it was pleasant to sit with my latest Newbury medal winner (I’m attempting to read them all) while the children swam in the pond……..

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….and to have Jacob walk down the hill to show me a cool caterpillar.  Thanks, Jake, for grilling us all a nice lunch yesterday!!!

At my house yesterday there were all these people:  Rich, myself, Michael, Jacob, Ethan, Caleb T, Grace, Kylee, Brittnee, David, Caleb, Jack, Seth, and Sarah.  But not all at once.  Some came for a while and then left.  Some worked all day and then came home.  🙂

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Yesterday afternoon on the couch, David helped me identify a bug using the internet.  It didn’t take us long, but seeing the different insects online filled me with the desire to go back outside to look for even more bugs with the magnifying lens attached to my camera.  It’s such fun to stand over the flowers and plants and search for insects with your eyes……….at first you see “nothing” but little by little you see 100’s of creatures……and much activity.

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This was a small moth, about the size of a fifty-cent piece.  But with my lens I can get a nice close-up.  It’s amazing to see the details.  Observe.  Study.  Be amazed.

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These pretty little white flowers grew in clusters along a thin vine-like stem.

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Meanwhile, Dave was looking in the pond for a big snake but had to make do with a little frog (sitting on his leg next to his thumb for size comparison).  He sat nicely for his portrait.

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This plant has been tearing the skin on my legs my entire life.  It’s just a tad thinner than spaghetti and grows plenteously by our stream.  One direction of the plant doesn’t scratch you, but the other direction, oh it sticks so tightly to your legs and scratches them terribly.  I’ve never identified it’s name, there is a small white flower that grows on it, maybe I can look it up in my flower identification book today.

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a cluster of silvery eggs……so beautiful!

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The band on his tail makes him special.  You can see Ambush bugs to the left of it.

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THIS IS THE BUG I JUST HAD TO FIGURE OUT.  AMBUSH BUG

The other day I saw one gripping a yellow jacket.  The yellow jacket was upside down and dead in its front claws.  It was a sight to see.  And these ambush bugs are all over the flowers right now (especially Joe-pie weed and goldenrod).  I beg you to read the link, you will be amazed.

In a nutshell, it sucks the bodily fluids out of its prey.

As my brother Dave says, “its horrifying”.

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“slurp”

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It would take me a long time to identify all these insects but I sure would like to do it.  Each one has fascinating characteristics and wears the nicest bug-clothes.

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Another ambush bug!

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And this one!  I’ve never seen it before, it was so tiny I only noticed it because I was photographing another bug nearby and saw it waving around first one tissue-paper wing and then the other.

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This bee posed so nicely, I felt as if it was just WAITING to be noticed.   Yes, you’re lovely.

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After I breathlessly captured this photo (I thought it would fly away before I could get close) I talked to my friend Lea Ann and then took the kids to music lessons and football practice.  I spent time walking around the cemetery next to the fields and then met my husband for a quick trip down town for strawberry sundaes, just the two of us, before practice was over.

When we got home, David made a chocolate cake from scratch …….

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……and we had a rain storm.  I sat on the porch to watch it for a while before bedtime…..

If you watch carefully you will see the world light up in a quick flash of lightening.

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And now it’s Wednesday.  Good morning!

You are loved.

library ‘n’ lunch

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Do you think we should adopt this kitten to be our very own?

This morning, we picked up Brittnee on the way to the library and she brought the kitten to the car so we could all say hello to him.  So far, my husband says “no”.  To be exact, he threatened to buy a motorcycle if I brought a kitten home.  It’s hardly fair.

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When we arrived at the library, the girls were happy to see that two of their friends were there!  They sat right down on the floor for a nice visit, and I must say, they weren’t exactly “library quiet” but who can reprimand young and beautiful readers like these?

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I’ve been eyeing this book for a while…..

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….so I added it to my stack.

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When I was done picking out my books, I went and found Sarah.

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And then I tried to sneak up on Seth, who was behind a bookshelf on some comfortable bean chairs.  I asked him how he knew I was coming.  “By your legs”  “How did you recognize that they were MY legs?”  “By your Converse sneakers.”

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We (and our bag of books) left the library and went for a picnic lunch nearby in a most picturesque location.  There were cows standing in the water on the other side of the lake.

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(((Life is Good Together)))

“Everyone please eat as slowly as you can.” ~mom

“WHY?”~children

“Because I want to enjoy myself.”~mom

*****

When Grace was done eating she climbed way up high in a tree.

PS.  should we get the kitty?

 

 

walking and cooking

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Seth plays video games every day for a couple hours but his time doing it is controlled by his loving mother to a certain extent.  This morning, he asked if he could have “his time” at 9am and I said, “sure”.  But at 8 he had eaten breakfast, showered and dressed, and he didn’t know what else to do with himself so we went for a walk together.  Grace was awake but Sarah was still sound asleep.  (Seth is an early riser)

It always happens that the boys will pick up a stick and start battle on trees and such.  From Jacob to Seth, they were all the same in that regard (and still are).

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pretty pretty Indian Pipe flower.  The website (linked) adds: America’s eminent poet, Emily Dickinson, called the Indian pipe “the preferred flower of life.” In a letter to Mabel Todd, she confides, “I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, and unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.

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I told him how to pose on this fallen down birch tree and he was obliging enough to humor me, still with his weapon-of-a-stick in his hand.  He looks pleased.

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He even likes hitting the caps off wild mushrooms with his stick, he calls it mushroom golfing.

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This is that same fallen down birch tree, I wanted to see the wood where the tree broke and fell.  What a wonderful home for God’s smaller creatures.

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little things of interest on the forest floor…..

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He walked barefoot.

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There are even orange mushrooms.

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Big healthy ferns are squeezing in on the path, reminding me of childhood games and forts in the woods.

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Teeny tiny white mushrooms

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some mushrooms had red caps

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This one looked shy.

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mushrooms on a log

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This large mushroom was broken off and on the ground……Seth’s barefoot show how big it was.

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Seth spied these gorgeous Cardinal wildflowers before I did.  They bloom at this time of year on mossy rocks in the stream and I always delight in them.

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Almost home!

He was a good sport and I found myself thinking, “I do so enjoy walks with a child or two or five or seven, and my camera!”

Dinner Tonight:

Crock-Pot Gingered Beef
2 pounds round roast, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
6 T. brown sugar
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef on all sides (I skipped this part).  Place sliced onion on the bottom of crock pot, place roast on top.  Mix remaining ingredients in bowl and whisk together.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced, about 10 minutes.  Serve over the top of the beef.

I haven’t made it in a while but in the notes I wrote “Yum, E approves.”  So I’m hoping he still approves tonight when he gets home from work and eats it for dinner.

Grace and I have been enjoying this today:

Black Bean and Rice Salad
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, sautéed until translucent
3 cups rice
salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl and serve each portion with a spoon of salsa on top.

Both recipes from my ever-favorite cookbook Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

I’ve done lots of laundry (don’t you love hanging clothes outside on the line?) and still have some to fold, which I will do while the Waltons are on TV.  Seth and Sarah are outside playing.  I fell asleep reading a book on the couch with Seth next to me earlier and now Grace is in my spot, reading her book:  Messenger, by Lois Lowry.  She says it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t task the brain like some of the old classics she’s been reading.    I am reading Dead End in Norvelt, which is a Newbury award winner.  I’m almost done with it and it’s been delightful.  I love it.  Maybe you would, too.

 

PS, ANOTHER WALK WITH SETH that’s kinda making me cry right now.