an anomaly

I waited for two hours this morning while my vehicle was serviced; oil changed, tires rotated, a latch fixed, vacuumed, and washed.  I read a book the entire time so now…….I’m sick of reading and have some free time to….blog.  I have all kinds of lovely little stories to tell.

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Starting with our son Jacob, who is a college football player now.  He LOVES school, is keeping very busy, and is also keeping a pet fish alive in his dorm room.  He had several football games this weekend, one of which was shown live online.  Rich hooked his iPad up to the TV and we all sat and watched it, keeping our eyes peeled for number 88.  And I was thrilled when we finally saw him!  I just had leap off the couch to take a crappy picture.  ((It’s beautiful to me.)) Seth asked me to print it so he could hang it on the wall in his room.

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On Sunday, Seth had to be at the football field at 9:45 in the morning and Caleb had to be there for 2.  However, Rich was preaching and the game was away, so I had to take both of them with me, meaning Caleb was over 4 HOURS early for his game.  It was a hot autumn day, very dry.  Perfect “baking” weather.  Caleb was in the sun so long that by the time he had HIS game (at 2:30) he was much slower than usual.  In fact, our team did win, but most of the boys were a little “off” from overheating.  I took this picture just as Caleb was saying, “Dad, next time coach says I can’t get here too early.”  LOL

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MONDAY NIGHT football was on TV.  My children were in a clump on one part of the couch.

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While their dad gave me a foot rub on another part of it.  I love Monday night football!  🙂

(He was have a conversation with David about why David wasn’t waking up on time in the morning….Dave was blaming his alarm …….because it’s NEVER his fault, right?)

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I recently rediscovered this photo of me and the children (before Seth and Sarah were born).

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Sarah had her things all set up for playing with marbles but then she left for school and Sherlock the cat walked over and had a turn.

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Chickens enjoying leftover morning cereal and milk.

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why kids, why????

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I couldn’t stop myself from buying mums (and ornamental grass) for the garden.  I also put Rich’s old riding tractor from when he was little in the garden.  I found a “pretty plate” garden decoration, too, which includes a chartreuse luncheon plate (Fiesta!).  I did some weeding and Gentleman Gray the cat got some on his face while he watched.

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Last night, Rich and I watched the boys practice football.  I love watching them (kids and coaches) so much that I sometimes get tears in my eyes.  They have such fun out there.

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THIS MORNING……a brief quiet moment, trying to wake up, before I left for the car appointment.

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The FED EX truck came and dropped off two storage bins that we ordered from Costco.  My hope is to contain sports stuff (one for football, one for wrestling).  And so on.  Rich and the kids get to put them together later!!  (have fun, honey!)

Also, we recently had our side steps extended on the porch. (not painted yet)

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I went to a thrift store after the car appointment.  This was in the same plaza outside of a yoga studio.  Since I had finished my book I left it behind on the shelf.

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Well, after the thrift store shopping I was hungry so I cast my eyes about the plaza and only saw a Vietnamese place.  “No”, I thought.  But then……

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“Yes”, I decided.  And I sent a picture and a text to our family group chat.

“The menu makes me cautious.” said Ethan

“Hmmm, adventurous?” said my husband

“In my own very small way,” I agreed.

and then

“What is their compelling differentiating advantage that made this place stand out to you?”  asked Jacob.

“It was right next to the thrift store.” I replied.

“It had good reviews on YELP.” I continued.

“and I was able to read the menu on YELP.” I further explained

“Okay, so your unconscious need was food, and they revealed that to you by placing themselves in a convenient location where shoppers go.  Their feature is that they’re a sit-down restaurant, their advantage is that they’re close by, and the benefit is you will no longer be hungry and you’ll feel good about yourself for supporting a small business,” Jacob texted, “These are my thoughts as I leave my sales class.”

And then Rich replied:  “But if they were not near the thrift store no matter what they had on yelp or what their menu said they wouldn’t have had a chance.  Your Mom’s not a good business test case, Jake.  She would be an anomaly in a field of data points.  And absolutely special beautiful one–but still an anomaly.”

I laughed all the way home about being “an anomaly in a field of data points” as they continued to banter via text messaging.

I eventually texted, “I think everybody should just shut up.” but no one listened.

MY VIETNAMESE COLD CUTS SANDWICH WAS DELICIOUS!

It had pork belly on it.

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When I got home, I washed my thrift store purchases (mama and baby tiger) and put them in the girls’ room.

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And found my cat—can you believe it–in the same spot I left him….4 hours ago.

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hershey park

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After we left Grace at college, we drove a couple of hours to Hershey, PA.  Rich and I had both visited the park when we were kids and Rich especially was excited to go back to the place of such fabulous childhood memories.  We went two days in a row so we could do everything.  The weather was gorgeous and there were crowds and crowds of people, but the park was big enough that it didn’t seem too bad.  It was fun to people-watch.  It was fun to eat chocolate.

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I thought the flowers behind Rich and Caleb were so pretty.  (I took all the photos with my iPhone.)

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(P.S.  Our anniversary is on Saturday.  )

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We went on rides all morning and then went to the water park.  I changed into my suit, but stayed on the side lines in a chair and read a book, which was really the only thing I wanted to do at that point.  The kids were able to stay together as there was only one entrance and one exit out of this section of the water park.  Rich took a nap next to me (he can sleep anywhere) and then he took the boys on the bigger water rides.

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This was when then came to the fence to complain about something.  LOL

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The water was so cold.  Seth had trouble staying warm, but Sarah was like a fish and stayed in the water the entire time….over 3 hours of swimming and enjoying all the neat fountains, slides, and so on.  She LOVED it.

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I was glad she had a bright bathing suit on….she was easy to spot.

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There is a magic to amusement parks, don’t you think?

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Cotton candy was on their bucket-list.

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That night we went to a pizza place, it was much later than we usually eat (around 9pm). The kids were good and hungry and a little sunburned.  I was absolutely enthralled with the very old man I could see working.  This pizza shop was obviously a family affair.  So I slyly took his picture and felt like a sneak doing so, but I wanted to remember that someday when I’m 90-something years old, I can still work.  🙂

(He was busy putting new sodas in the cooler).

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Never did a pizza taste THIS GOOD.  We ordered two and left with only one piece left.  It was thin crust, cheesy, hot, and perfect.

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The next day at the park, we began our visit at the chocolate tour.

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My mom has a little cookbook with this picture on the cover.  I used to love looking through it when I was little, just like a picture book for children, I would study each photo and recipe.  Years later, when I was a grown up, I was happy to find a copy of my own at a garage sale.

Of course I texted her this picture, too.

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“eight wholesome roasted almonds”

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chocolate, chocolate, everywhere

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chocolate of all sizes

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KISSES !!!!!

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And then, back into the park for another day of riding on all the rides.  One of which was such a scary roller coaster that Rich went on it alone.  I let the kids get their face painted as we waited.

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It was a huge mistake for Seth, because by the end of the day nothing was left of his Panda-face but the black around his eyes.  He looked like a zombie.

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I think the zoo was one of our family-favorite parts.  We studied every single animal…snakes, owls, everything.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.

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On a train ride together while the boys rode “the claw”.

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She was soooooooo cute!  She had no fear whatsoever.  The kids were good sports.  It truly was a wonderful experience for us.

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Merry-Go-Round with my girlie.

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She was full of encouragement for this one last ride of the night; the Scrambler.  (I get nauseous on the spinning rides).

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That night we ate at a diner next door to the hotel.  And I finally got a good picture of my darling handsome Seth.  He really is a mama’s boy and the adoration is mutual.

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Tasted so good after a day in the park, especially the juicy fruit.

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Caleb’s burger.

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We went back for breakfast the next day and this is how they served my raspberry muffin–queen style.

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so handsome.

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On the highway we found ourselves behind a tractor trailer which was shedding feathers…white feathers…we were curious so Rich sped up.  It was FULL of chickens.

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When we got home, David wanted a pizza right away.  I think he missed me pizza.

snippets

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Dryer is humming.

Lights are on; it’s 5:30, very gloomy, and raining.

When cars go by they splash up rain off the road, a lovely sound.

I made chicken and dumplings for dinner.

Seth got mad at Sarah because she started to give him a candy and then took it back.

The coffee table is covered in books and toys.

I finished a book today, and started another.

Sarah acted so guilty as she walked by me that I asked her what she had in her hands.  It was a package of crackers, a package of fruit snacks, and a granola bar.  “I’ll drink some water after.”

Caleb watched numerous youtube videos of football clips when he got home from school.

Seth liked dinner for the second day in a row and gave me a hug.  “I’m on a roll this week,” I tease.  “You’ve been on a roll with me since I started eating your dinners,” he replies.

I tried calling Rich but he didn’t answer and then he called me back later to make sure everything was okay.  Practice is cancelled so he might take the boys for haircuts later.

I took David to the orthodontist this morning, and then drive-thru breakfast.

Then to high school—–HIGH SCHOOL!

I found a vintage fiesta teacup (no saucer) for 50 cents today.

I took a newly hatched butterfly outside.

Seth and Sarah are busy running a bath, for their stuffed animals.

This was after I said “no” to washing the cat.

They are calling it the Shower Pet Shop.  

There is a pile of shoes and backpacks by the door.

Mail on the counter.

I heard from Grace today, briefly; she had a quiz in math.

And Ethan got an “A” on a paper.  He had interviewed his Dad about being a Manager.

Rich says it’s his first college “A”.

I think Caleb fell asleep in his room.

I know David did.  I took his picture.

I normally don’t allow 5:30pm naps.

But today it just seems right.

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first day of school 2017

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8

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Blessings to the children, first of all, on another new school year.  You have each grown so much over the summer, but still young with lots to learn.  What bright and willing minds you have, eager for education and eager to have fun with your teachers and friends.

Blessings to the teachers, who work hard to make the school year as successful as they can, with patient and mature minds, eager to “go forth and conquer” all the challenges that come about each day.  Blessings to you as you prepare and teach. Your life’s work is importance and we thank you.  You are touching countless young lives.

Blessings to the families who let go and watch their children go forth and experience life, who do everything they can to help.  Blessings to the mothers and fathers who nurture and provide a home for children to come back to at the end of the school day.  May the afternoons be full of welcome and love.  And cookies.

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I like to imagine all the good things happening that no one will ever know.

The mom, busily packing school lunches, slipping in an extra package of snacks, “so you have something to share with a friend.”

A music teacher, choosing a special song with a certain student in mind.  “He’ll love this one.”

The office ladies picking up donuts to share with any parent who comes in during the day.  Adding fresh flowers from the garden to a vase to brighten up the space.

Cheerful volunteers who do what they can to help.

Children picking out their favorite outfits and wondering if their best friend will be in their class this year.  Such smiles when they reunite with their classmates.

Janitors keeping things extra clean, who get to know the children by name.

Teachers who purchase extra supplies just in case a student isn’t prepared.  Showing a caring heart.

School nurses who welcome the wounded and show patience to pretenders.

Dads smiling over the texts messages; photos of his dear ones.

Mothers left alone in a quiet house, quietly cleaning and working, preparing for when everyone gets back home again.  Or off to work, glad to have something to do, with thoughts of her babies always there.

And so on.

Secret prayers, deep thought, problem solving, strings pulled behind the scenes, all sorts of people taking an interest and making good things happen for their communities.

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. . . .encourage one another and build one another up . . . . .

“We can only see what we have grown an eye to see.” Rachel Remen

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This little boy wants to be just like his older brother, so he found Ethan’s old backpack and claimed it for this school year.

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Sarah only likes ponytails, so I took a quick picture just before twisting around the hair ties.

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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……encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all……

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Time again for an early morning “wave” from the next door neighbors as they get their kids off to school, too.  We’re in this together.

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……..anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad……

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Have a wonderful day!

You are loved.

 

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adventure

We are leaving to take Grace to college on Friday morning.  Jacob will be coming home this weekend while we are gone, to pick up Ethan and take him back to college with him. So we are savoring the last week at home before a very busy weekend.

I’m sitting cross legged on the couch, still in my pajamas.  The kids are playing a game and Parker the dog is stretched out next to me, snoring.  Gentleman Gray is grooming himself on the end table.

We had rain in the night.  The outdoors is fresh and clean and the sun is shining bright.  I ate a piece of pie out on the porch and watched the morning birds fly about.  I saw a hummingbird chase around a titmouse and a bee sipping nectar from a flower in my garden.

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I recently made a pound cake and it turned out so good I thought I would share the recipe.  Click HERE for a yummy Vanilla Bean-Brownie Ripple Pound Cake from Southern Living.  And it used up five eggs so it was a winner in every way.  (I’m always looking for recipes that use up the eggs from our flock of 14 hens).

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I quartered some baby potatoes and fried them with an onion and some peppers.  When they were done, I made a spot for four eggs and cooked them with the lid on until they were just soft in the middle but not gooey in any way (I hate runny eggs).  It was a delicious breakfast and so easy.

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I was gazing at the monarch caterpillars when I saw Gentleman Gray trot by the window with a frog in his mouth, legs every which way.

Cats are funny.

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Ethan spent over an hour yesterday morning learning a new song on the guitar.

It was like he couldn’t stop, he was so focused.

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Why yes, she WAS singing “Do you Want to Build a Snowman?”

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Caleb got his summer reading assignment done.

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Grace and Tessa worked on a puzzle.

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Watching a movie with the kids (Lego Batman).

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The two swallowtail caterpillars finally stopped eating and began the chrysalis stage.  Instead of dangling like the monarchs do, they hang themselves under a stick using a loop of silk.

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And then, like magic, they turn into something that looks just like a stick.

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I recently got this at Goodwill.  “Five little maidens out on the green, Happier maidens never were seen.”

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legs

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I have about 10,000 peaches to take care of thanks to our one and only tree being LOADED this year!  (I made a pie yesterday).

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Grace and I finally got her college preparations done yesterday.  AND manicures and pedicures.

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*****

“The less we are attached to life, the more alive we can become.  The less we have preferences about life, the more deeply we can experience and participate in life.  This is not to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast to blueberry muffins.  It is to say that I don’t prefer raisin toast so much that I am unwilling to get out of bed unless I can have raisin toast, or that the absence of raisin toast ruins the whole day.  Embracing life may be more about tasting than it is about either raisin toast or blueberry muffins.  More about trusting one’s ability to take joy in the newness of the day and what it may bring.  More about adventure than having your own way.”

~Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. in Kitchen Table Wisdom

 

efforts on the last day of summer

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“….a little boy grows up so fast….”

I was secretly calling Saturday the last day of summer because it was our oldest son’s last day at home before leaving for college the next morning.  So I made the effort to take some photos of the ordinary family living that I hold so dear to my heart, knowing deep down that while life will go on just as beautiful and ordinary as ever, parts of it were ending and beginning anew in other parts of the world…….not too far, thankfully.  Jacob and Ethan will be at college together in Vermont this year (3 hours away), and our sweet Grace will be in Pennslyvania (about five hours distance).  As the children grow up, things within the home change, but the bond we have stays true, and the love we share will never die, and indeed, my deepest desire and hope is that it will continue to grow up and out as our family grows up and and out.

So these efforts were made by me in the realm of photography, and the only other effort I made personally was to be “hands off” on the day and let it be as normal as possible, because I have finally learned that while deep in my soul I am in a type of motherly mourning for the fleetness of the years, no one else in the family necessarily needs to know.  🙂

So what did we do?  Jacob headed for work, sicker than a dog, and Rich left for the chiropractor’s with Ethan (they are both getting work done on their backs) and Caleb (who needed a hair cut after the doctor’s appointment).

DSC_1346Confession:  somehow, even though I was truly trying,  I just realized this morning that I took not one single photo of Grace, so I am inserting this one from last weekend, when I caught the sisters sharing a moment over pancakes.  In reality, Grace was so busy on Saturday….she had driver’s practice in the morning, and then worked all afternoon until 7pm….that I somehow didn’t take any pictures of her.

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The brightest red wildflower is in bloom down by the banks of our stream.  It’s like a jungle down there so I can’t get as close as I’d like……

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I watched busy buzzing bees collect pollen all over the wild and tall Joe Pye Weed and then, saw the most beautiful dragonfly I’d ever seen…..

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RED!  DARK RED!

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with shimmering wings!  I admired it until it flitted away.

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Next to the garage we have a tiny wild pond where bullfrogs hang out all day.  I enjoy sneaking  around to spy on them and they always freeze like this and stare at me.  I want to sit down there sometime and see what they REALLY do……

And then, the guys finally got home and went to work on Rich’s car.  Yep, that was the real theme of the weekend;  “Put The Motor In”.

Rich has been itching to do it all winter long and had big boxes in the house which were all delivered and saved carefully for The Day.

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Nice haircut, Caleb.

Now get to work!

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Nothing makes Rich more annoyed than not being able to find his tools because the children have been running off with them and not returning them to the proper place.  Nothing that is, except maybe water running through the ceiling because Seth didn’t have the shower curtain in the bathtub and was getting water everywhere on the floor upstairs…..ask me how I know this…..so the first thing they did was find Dad’s tools, while Rich and Ethan organized and Sarah cleaned.

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The car is under the tarp.  Waiting for it’s motor.

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I’m pretty sure this is it.  🙂

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Sarah was very conscientious about sweeping the floor.

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Seth wasn’t as conscientious about finding Dad’s tools.

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David

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Oh and Jacob was able to get out of work a little early and he went straight to bed, spending his last day at home SICK and asleep.

(I think it’s amusing that the dog is in a lot of these photos being ignored.  But he gets his revenge later.)

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Bringing the boxes out of the house (finally!) and into the garage.

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Finally they were ready and the younger boys snuck away.  David was called for duty now and then, but Ethan was the main helper of the entire day all the way up until it was too late to visit Tessa and he was secretly annoyed.

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I mean, as his mother, I could sort of tell.  But Rich, as his father, certainly didn’t care.  He needed his son and Ethan has vacation days coming up this week to visit his girlfriend.  (It reminded me of when Rich and I were dating all those summers ago and he had to bale hay all weekend for his dad while I was left to my own amusement at home…..so I took pity while Rich just felt like it was the only natural thing to do; helping Dad…there’s no way out of it, not even girlfriends.)

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The younger boys hung out on the patio between the house and the garage.

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And I found Sarah had vanished to her room to play the DS.  So I sent her right back outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

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They made a cake.

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Eventually, hours and hours later, I picked the camera back up to take a picture of CHICKEN that I grilled myself……

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And this is where the dog got his revenge for being “ignored//neglected” all day.

After we all ate, he stole the leftovers off the kitchen counter, eating the chicken and neatly leaving the sticks on the carpet in the living room.  We all got mad because that was really good chicken and I had made a ton so we could enjoy the leftovers, not feed them to the dog.

We ended our day by watching TV on the couch in the dark, all tired out.

*****

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This is where things get sad you might want to turn away.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to see my son off.  Rich was already awake and in the garage with his car but the rest of the family was asleep as Jacob finished packing his car to leave, although I did hear Seth stir and call out, “Bye, Jay!” from his bed, as he will greatly miss his big brother, too.

I followed him around, back and forth to the car and house, not unlike the dog, silently and with wishful eyes.

We hugged twice.  We held it together.

It was a beautiful morning, with bits of pink in the sky.

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I looked at his dear possessions everywhere in his car, that say “Jacob” to me in so many ways……his collection of hats from working at “LIDS” all summer….his new sneakers that I bought for him during a quick shopping trip we had together last week.

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His music, his new fridge, all his clothes and books (he took a big box of books, which made me smile and touched my heart…I remember when he read them all…and sister Grace struggled with sharing some of them..namely the JRR Tolkien books…), my dear 20 year old son, how thankful I am that I had all of these years with you before you moved on to new adventures taking classes and playing football at college.  I am blessed to call you son and friend.  We’ve had such good times together, haven’t we?  Your downstairs room in the basement is too quiet and still already but we’ll keep it ready for those visits back home!

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“So the life of the true home flows on, sometimes in the bright sunshine, sometimes in the deep shadow; yet whether in the sunshine or in shadow it brings blessing.  It shelters us in the day of storm.  Its friendships remain true and loyal when adversity fails and other friendships are broken.  It lays holy hands of benediction upon our heads as we go out to meet life’s struggles and duties.  Its sacred influences keep us from many a mistake.  Its memories are our richest inheritance.  Its inspirations are the secret strength of our lives in days of toil and care.  Then it teaches us to look toward heaven and the great Home in which all our hearts, hopes, and dreams shall be realized, and where the broken ties of earth shall be reunited.”  JR Miller

 

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trip back home part 2

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For the rest of our stay, we lived next door to Aunt Colleen and her four girls.  The girls call me “Aunt Shanda” because Colleen (my mom’s baby sister) and I are practically the same age.  The girls  are creative and busy and are so good with little children.  Seth and Sarah love visiting there.  They have a wonderful back yard with lots of room to play, AND a swimming pool, so the kids went swimming every day.

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Seth with his “bugs bunny” teeth, being kissed by mama.

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We piled into the van one afternoon for a trip to the park.

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It was a hot day so we splurged on coolattas from Dunkin’ Donuts for the kids and iced coffee for the moms.

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Reesy (the kids love him but he nips so they couldn’t get too close).

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Aunt Colleen removed Seth’s stitches over his eye.  She’s a nurse.  And awesome.

Molly painted the cool rock that Seth has his hand on.

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We went back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house one evening after mom was done with work.  Seth relaxed on the hammock.

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Mom took this photo.  Dave looks strong and manly and tough and he is, but he’s also a super-sensitive and caring guy.  We text each other at least once a week.  He’s great.  He and Maria are devoted to their nieces and nephews, too.

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We saw a mother deer with two babies when we were driving back to Colleen’s that evening.

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Perry’s ice cream is the best!!!  There is a stand right down the road from Colleen’s house and I think we went there 3 times over the week.

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Blueberry sundae for Sarah Joy.

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Perched in a perfectly splendid apple tree.  This small bird.  🙂

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We sat together on the wooden swing for a while one evening.  Such a dear girl.

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I wandered throughout one of my favorite local shops one morning while the kids were at VBS and had to take a photo of one of the “corners”….Mary Poppins, Little House, hello sacred life, markers, Beatrix Potter, all such good things.  The shop owner is always warm and friendly, and while I paid for my selections we had a nice little chat, I told her that I visit every time I can and how much I love her store.  With tears in her eyes, she gave me a free chocolate for being an awesome mom and told me to “Rock On”.  We even hugged over the counter.

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We met Mom for lunch on Thursday.  Seth and Sarah gave her flowers, too, which I had picked up from a florist.

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Outside the courthouse where his Grandma works.

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As we were walking from the courthouse to Boscovs (where I had parked the car) I ran into a friend from High School!!  I hadn’t seen her since graduation!  (The skirt I’m wearing is one of the things I bought at the General Store…it’s organic cotton, so comfy! and my favorite color, too.)

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Boscovs sells fiestaware so naturally………

Also, a note about Seth’s shirt.  He collects baseball cards and recently sent one to Derek Jeter to sign.  He wrote a fan note that began, “You’re my biggest fan……” (SO SO CUTE).  While I was out shopping with Colleen one day we found a wonderful second hand store where I found the Jeter shirt for only 2 dollars.  🙂  It was fun.

The new color is that yellow in the bottom left…DAFFODIL…I took home two of the smaller bowls.

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Seth and Sarah were invited to spend the night at Uncle Nate and Aunt Melissa’s house on Friday.  Seth adores Tyke, their little doggie, and by the look on Tyke’s face the feeling is mutual.

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At the playground with cousins.

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The cousins went to VBS, too, so these kids had lots of time together last week.  What a blessing!

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Saying goodbye to VBS!

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They absolutely loved it.  On the first morning Seth said he was nervous but when we left  after the last day he was sad “because it was only five days long”.