pizza dough recipe

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By what magic does my mother make her fabulous pizza?  I’ve tried for years but curiously enough, it is only recently that I feel as though there is hope for me, her eldest daughter, to follow in her footsteps.

I texted her last week to tell her I was going to make it but it wouldn’t be as good as hers and she replied, “Maybe I’ll make it too” and I said, “Then we’ll be the same.” and she said, “In spirit” and I said, “What do you set your oven to?” and she replied, “475”…..”on the lower shelf so it gets crispy on the bottom.”

Hours later, I sent her a photo of the results.

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“That looks perfect,” she wrote.

The next day she sent me a photo of the bottom of her pizza crust and it looked exactly the same.54506716276__12E75B43-9D7E-4A62-A53D-E589479F86F1

This was the point of turning for me, from hesitant frustrated pizza maker, to confident and joyful.

I had given Seth, Sarah, and Michael each a lump of dough to make their own pizzas, too.  It was the first time Michael had made a pizza.  This was last week.  When he came over again yesterday I asked them all what they wanted for dinner and he requested pizza again.  In this way I knew it had been a good experience for him.  Unfortunately I had already made it the previous night.  Michael works at a boy’s home and is going to started cooking with the boys four times a month (on Saturdays).  He started writing up a meal plan and Pizza made with Actual Dough was on the list.

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Sarah bragged that she “Ate seven pieces”.

Seth said “My stomach’s extended.”

Sarah said, “My taste buds are out.”

David and Caleb were so jolly after a tummy full of pizza that they ran around the house trying to pull each other’s, and Seth’s, pants down.

I’ve tried several recipes for pizza dough but this is the one that makes my heart sing.

Shanda’s Pizza Dough Recipe

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 T. white sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, let sit until creamy, about 10 minutes.  Stir in olive oil, whole wheat flour, salt, and 4 cups of bread flour into the yeast mixture.  Mix in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.  (I use a kitchen aid mixer).  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.  (I leave the dough in the kitchen aid mixer bowl).  Cover with a damp cloth and put in warm place to rise until doubled in volume; about 1 hour.

Deflate dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and form into rounds.  Cover the rounds and let them rest for about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 475.  Use a rolling pin (or hands) to roll dough into the desired shape, cover it with your favorite toppings.  Place on bottom rack in oven until nicely browned, about 20 minutes.
recipe source:  allrecipes.com

 

full & good

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Things That Have Been Happening Around Here Lately:

  •  Rich has been away more than here. (business trips)
  • basketball with neighbor boys
  • Sarah had a brunch date with friends.
  • I bought a giraffe at an estate sale.
  • Someone gave me a gospel track — Rich said I must’ve looked in need of Salvation.
  • I yelled, “Get OFF the roof!”
  • I yelled, “WHAT are you DOING?”
  • One of our black cats ate a purple ribbon.
  • Sarah broke a rose fiesta bowl.
  • We had a warm weather day.
  • We had rain.
  • We had snow.
  • We had ice.
  • The boys had baseball practice.
  • We are listening to The Hobbit on audible to and from the fields.
  • Seth didn’t want to hold my hand on the sidewalk in town. (rite of passage)
  • This week is spring break.
  • David had an appointment this morning.
  • And is now back to bed.
  • I said, “If you ask me that one more time you are going to stand in the corner” to my 12 year old.

 

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’tis spring; come out
to ramble
the hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.  a.e. houseman

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golden edges

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bluebird sighting at the suet

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One morning I could hear a bird singing and I sighed, “I wish I could identify birds by their sounds.”  The children got on the bus and a little while later I went to get in the car and was distracted by the bird that was making that same sound I had heard earlier!  So I learned what it was, a Red Headed Woodpecker!  I ran to get the camera……..

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It slipped the tip of its beak under the edge of the lichen to get bugs; making its calling noise the whole time.

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No human has a naturally red head THIS red.

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And then, a cardinal appeared.

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And a goldfinch.  It was a lovely bird morning.  I took the photos from the porch.

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The children spent the entire day outside on Saturday.  In my opinion it was our first spring day. . . . .absolutely gorgeous weather, bare feet, fishing, turtles, basketball, baseball.

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Caleb ran to show me the turtle he and Jack found.

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And like his big brothers before him, he named it and put it back.

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And then they caught a nice fish.

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I repotted some plants I started for my friends and family.  It’s been fun collected different planters and pots on my thrifting adventures.  I’ll have to do a blog post soon to show them off.

life is full and good

//easter sunday in orlando//

(I heard this song at the dentist with my son Caleb yesterday and liked it so much).

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April 1, 2018

It was Easter Sunday and we decided to take a day of rest.  Rich read resurrection Scriptures to us in our hotel room that morning and then we slathered on sunscreen, put on our bathing suits, and headed for the pool.

Oh I forgot to mention that Caleb and Seth tried to play basketball first thing in the morning but came right back to the room because “There is an easter egg hunt going on, there are eggs everywhere even on the basketball court.”  I noticed Sarah (who was still in her pajamas and in bed) perk up at these words, so I asked Caleb to “hop like a bunny and go get Sarah an egg”.  We all laughed hysterically as he hopped out the door as only Caleb can, and then 10 minutes later, hop back inside the room with an egg and his front teeth sticking out of his lips just like the Easter bunny.  We affectionately call Caleb “Moose” for a reason, his bunny “hops” were more like heavy stomping earthquakes and he quickly hopped/launched himself off balance and into the wall as he tossed the egg to his sister.  “They were all gone so I told a man I needed one for my sister and asked if he would give me one of his.  There were kids with huge bags full of eggs.”  Sarah opened her egg to find a grape-flavored hard candy and was thrilled.

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Rich and I settled into pool chairs and very soon David was coming over to show me that he finally caught a lizard.  (the round scar on his stomach is from a spider bite, chronicled on this blog about 10 years ago).

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David was very curious about the wild life around the pool.  Now and then a duck or two would fly over to see if there were any crumbs to eat.  David tossed one a potato chip and we laughed to see it gobble it down only to bob his head up and down forcefully to bring it back up.  It landed on the pavement just as dry as it had gone into his beak.

David also saw a bird spear a fish over at the lake and came to report enthusiastlically.

My heart bursts with joy that he comes to share things with me so often.  I love to hear his stories and the way he tells them is always unique and interesting.  I am an eager listener.

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Sarah (in pink) quickly made a friend of a little girl just a year younger.  Eventually I met the little girl’s mother.  They had plans to go to a park that day but after seeing the girls swimming and getting along so well they ended up staying at the pool all day too.  They had traveled to Orlando all the way from Ireland and it was fun to visit with the mom and ask her questions about her country.

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We eventually made the girls get out of the pool to share a hot dog lunch together.  Sarah didn’t want to get out of the water and made sure to let me know that she “wasn’t done swimming yet.”  I was so glad to have gotten the children goggles before our trip because they had the greatest time throwing a little plastic card into the pool and diving for it.

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Behind the pool there was a lake and Caleb was so happy to go fishing.  He and Seth also played basketball for a while, too, and Seth was nicknamed “Seth Curry” by some other boys were were playing with them.

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After Sarah’s great reluctance to meet Disney characters at the park, I was truly intrigued to see that she got out of her beloved pool to approach the Easter bunny.  But on second thought, I decided that it had more to do with the eggs than the bunny.  It was the most adorable thing to see her and her friend get out of the water and hold hands as they walked over to the bunny for an egg.  All in all, Sarah managed to bring home about 7 or 8 plastic easter eggs.

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I spent the day in my chair with my book, journal (pictured above) and various nice coffee drinks.  The tallness of our hotel blocked the sun after a while so Rich moved to the other side but I stayed put.  I would rather not roast myself; it was perfect in the shade and Rich always gets annoyed because I still get tan so much better than he does even though he stays in the sun.

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Eventually it was time for dinner so we got all cleaned up and headed to a steakhouse for a good meal.

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“Yeah but mom look, I’m not even in the picture.”

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What is it with boys trying to look cool and thereby not smiling?

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Handsome Caleb after a day in the sunshine.

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Someone take away that soda!

The boys had steak dinners.  I had crab legs and Sarah had spaghetti.

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Even though we truly didn’t NEED dessert, the next thing we did was drive to a soft serve place for cones.

It was the kind of heavy cream soft serve that makes you feel full and sick after eating only half of it.

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It was a good ending to a relaxing day.

*********

What a God we have!  And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven–and the future starts now!  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all–life heal and whole.  ~ 1 Peter 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

magic kingdom

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I had flown down to Orlando the day before to meet Rich who was already in town for business.  He looked so handsome leaning against a pillar in the airport at the end of the escalator to greet us.  We spent the rest of that day hugging, settling in the hotel, swimming, and exploring.

The next morning we drove from our hotel to Magic Kingdom.  Rich and I were looking forward to finishing up our parenting goal of making sure all seven of our children got to Disney in their childhoods.  Sarah was the only one who hadn’t been; we had David, Caleb, and Seth with us too, and the older three were in college but we had taken them when they were little.  In fact, it’s all on the blog.  The only trip that I didn’t blog about was when David was a baby and that’s only because I didn’t have a blog back then (15 years ago).

We took the Ferry over to the park.

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A nice thing about the boys having already experienced Disney was that they could knowledgeably “inform” Sarah about all the things she would see and do.  These types of conversations had been going on for weeks and she was very excited.

She and Seth kept their eyes on the castle all the way across the water.

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It’s always a lovely sight.

Okay—–honestly, Rich and I, now that we are back home, have already decided that never again if we can help it, will we go to Disney during Spring Break season.  The crowds were next to impossible.  There were some good things, however, as having so many excited people added to our own excitement.  (It also added to the length of time standing in lines.)   It was fun to hear different languages being spoken all around us and observing families from all over the world enjoying this famous destination.  But it was a very vast sea of humanity. . . . .

Speaking of crowds, we only lost children twice.  In fact, the first thing we did was lose children.  And by “lose” I mean, it was all their own fault (a miscommunication of sorts).  What happened was this:  In the midst of a thousand other people, Caleb had to use the bathroom so badly that as soon as we got across the water and departed from the ferry boat we located restrooms.  He and Seth ran just a little bit ahead of us into the men’s room, we were right behind them.  Sarah and I went into the ladies room and Rich and Dave went in just after the other boys, who never saw them.  Rich and Dave were still in the stalls when Caleb and Seth got done, so when they came outside and didn’t see us, they headed straight for the main entrance (just to the right of the lines) without any of us seeing them, either.  So THEN, the rest of us finished up and waited outside the bathrooms.  No Caleb, no Seth.  Before we even knew they were “missing” my phone rang.  They had immediately called me from a Security officer’s phone and found us.  In a nutshell, they thought we had went to the ticket counter to wait for them to go to the bathroom.

The second time was similar.  We were standing in line (a Very Long Line) waiting to go on a roller coaster.  We could see the restrooms from where we were standing so Seth ran out of line to go to the bathroom and then got confused trying to find us again.  Rich went to look for him just as my phone rang.  Seth had asked the first couple he saw to use their phone.  He was so close to us that I saw him talking to me on the phone.  So I just yelled, “SETH over here!” gave the couple a smile and a friendly wave, and called Rich to tell him Seth was safe and sound.

So right away we knew that the children would be able to find us again if they ended up lost in the multitudes of people.  Truly it was somewhat of a miracle that we didn’t lose them around every corner, it was THAT crowded.

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Main Street Parade

(we just caught the very end of it on our way to a ride).

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Thunder Mountain.

It was so cute to listen to Sarah make plans with Caleb to sit together; and to actually have Caleb agree to do it was adorable.  When we got home after our vacation was over, she had me print this very photo so she could take it to school.

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My beautiful travelers.

After a long winter, the sunshine we enjoyed in Orlando was such a treat.  We just made sure to use lots of sunscreen.

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We bought this photo from our next ride (Splash Mountain; Rich’s #1 favorite) to add to our collection.  We bought the frame to go with it and it was nice that they could send our purchase to the front of the park for us to pick up at the end of the day.  It’s now hanging on the wall next to a photo from Hershey Park, and one from Six Flags.

BD967BE0-EC96-4426-9855-52912599E529“Before (sobs) and After (smiles)”

Sarah got the #1 Overcomer of the Day award for riding Splash Mountain even though she was terrified.  The combination of water and a drop down was almost too much for her.  That’s why you see me holding her like that in the photo.

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The Buzz Lightyear ride is a favorite.

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We didn’t buy this one but I thought it was the cutest ever with Rich’s big muscles and Seth closing one eye to aim and shoot.

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Waiting for the Presidents show, we enjoyed the displays of memorabilia.  I took this photo of Projectile Points for Mom and brother Dave, only we call them Arrowheads.

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And of course the boys intently studied Teddy Roosevelt’s sword and asked me to take a photo.

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I did take my big camera with me to Disney.  I took a handful of photos with it on this day, including this nice one of handsome Caleb with Rich in the background (in his own car) but after Magic Kingdom I left it in the hotel.  I’m not saying I’ll never use it again, but I think when I have a bunch of other travel-mates with me and it’s a busy park it’s just easier to use the phone camera.  It was more of a time to take candids for my family then to think about thoughtful photography.  But I do love this photo of Caleb.

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Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse; be still my heart.

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Standing in line for the Enchanted Tiki Room; “vintage” Disney at it’s very best.

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Fireworks to make all the sentimental grown ups cry.  And I did, too.  (We waited for them to begin next to another family.  The dad was complaining almost in a desperate way because they had gone straight to the park from the airport and hadn’t even checked into the hotel.  They were exhausted.  He was wondering if the show would be worth it and almost didn’t want to wait.  He wanted to leave to escape the crowds.  But they stayed and later on during the show I could hear him singing along to the songs with his son up on his shoulders and I thought, “yes, it’s worth it.”)

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Seth took this as we waited for Rich to get our photo; it was the last picture taken of our visit to Magic Kingdom.  We had walked a total of 5.8 miles that day and went to bed at midnight after pancakes at Ihop.

Tomorrow I will share photos from Epcot.

~snow in March~

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Ah, the changeable weather of March.

This is what we woke up, nothing too terrible, but school was already cancelled and for hours and hours we felt rather let down. . . . .in fact, the roads were perfectly fine when I ventured out with Sarah for her dentist appointment at 11.

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Next door to the orthodontist is a small floral shop so the two of us ducked inside to look around before heading home.  It was warm and cozy and we met a cat named Penny.   Sarah said, “Penny is a great name for a cat.”

No one appreciates flowers like a Northerner at this time of year.  They are a feast to the eyes. . . . .

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We came home with this arrangement. . .and a soy candle.

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back at home. . . . .

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David and I played Monopoly with Seth and Sarah.  It was laborious.  And not fun.  By the time I had a total of 2 properties, everyone else had like 7.  I kept landing on non property spaces.  Seth played like he lives life, with no regard for keeping things orderly and neat, flipping around on the floor, spilling his iced tea, and so on.  He also got tired of the game even though he was doing very well.  We eventually congratulated ourselves for quitting at the half way point.  (we made it that far)  But isn’t the penguin token so cute?  I thought of you, Dad.

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“Why aren’t these kids in school?”

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“I can’t relax in these conditions.”

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The Christmas Cactus surprised me with one more blossom!  (in a cobalt fiestaware planter)

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Rich got home from Dallas just in time for the big snow-day.  Everyone was glad to have him back. . . .including Parker the dog.

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Eventually the snow picked up.

Rich went out with the children to buy a mattress for Joanna’s visit (tomorrow) and I had a nice hour or so to watch the snow fall and read my book (Don Quixote) which has been a highly amusing literary surprise.

“Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published.”  ~wikipedia

I picked up a copy at the thrift store for like 5 cents.

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When they arrived home with the mattress, I had just put chicken enchiladas in the oven.  Everyone was so hungry.  Enchiladas were never anticipated quite like this.  We looked into the oven every 30 seconds to see if they were done.  Meanwhile, Rich told me all about his wonderful deals at the mattress store.  The man in charge gave them his full attention because, as he said, “You will probably be my only customers today.”  Rich told me his story as the children all hovered around, listening and watching for Mama’s reaction, after all they were so proud of their Dad and knew I would be, too.

Alas, just as Rich finished up his report and concluded by saying, “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”,  Seth “ate his chair”, in the words of our 15 year old son.  He had been rocking back and forth on his stool, leaning on it instead of sitting on it, and it slipped out from under him and landed on him with a loud crash.  We all looked down at Seth on the floor as he started saying, like he was trying to convince himself or maybe pray for a miracle, “I’m okay, I’m okay!  I’m okay!”  Rich helped him to his feet and dusted him off.  It was dear little his nose, the part right between his eyes.  It swelled up slightly and bled a little but was not broken.  “Wow, he totally ate that chair,” said Dave,  “Is the chicken done yet?”  Seth went to look at himself in the bathroom mirror.  A picture would be nice right about now but I wasn’t in the position to be photographer at that point, I was too busy congratulating my husband for buying 2 mattresses, 2 pillows, 2 sets of sheets, a mattress protector, arranging free delivery and old mattress pick-up, all for the PRICE OF JUST ONE MATTRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!  “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”  “Wait, I’ll tell you just as soon as I feel Seth’s nose to see if it’s broken………….”

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I’ll just post this photo again.  Boy was dinner good.  They all dug in and enjoyed as they ate in front of the TV and got up for seconds and thirds.  Yes, TV is totally okay during meals on snow days.

The rest of the day passed lazily.  PTL

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The snow continued to come down heavily and we woke up this morning to yet another snowday.  Rich plowed the driveways and headed to work after telling me, “No, I cannot take them with with me,” and the children went right outside before 8,  after breakfast to make hyenas.  (I don’t know but they took the bag of carrots, I saw Parker running around with one in his mouth)

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I filled up the bird feeders and admired little cat tracks.

I’m blogging in front of the window with my slippered feet up on the sill.  When I look outside I have to squint a little, the snow is so white and bright it puts our ideas of “white” to shame.

happy birthday

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(The boys in our family plus their Dad)

Today is Ethan’s 20th birthday.

When I think about each of the children God has given me my heart is overwhelmed.  It’s 100% true that each and every child is a gift and a blessing, no matter if you have one or seven or more.  Each life is of endless value.

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In years past I have had so much fun taking high quality photos of Ethan on his birthday but this year we shall have to be content with iPhone snapshots because with him being a full time student in Vermont it isn’t as simple as it used to be.  When he’s home he’s busy with more important things like cooking in the kitchen, eating, playing games, relaxing in front of the TV, going on dates with Tessa, goofing around with his siblings, catching up on sleep, and shopping trips to the mall………

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Ethan has a unique way of scrambling eggs which leaves a solid piece of cooked eggy skin stuck to the bottom of the pan which I HATE.  But look at that face.  Okay, I will clean the pan for you, E, since you say this is the very best way to cook eggs.

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Rich and I took him to the mall where he picked out some new clothes from Hollister.  Jacob, Brittnee, Sarah, and David also went along.  It was a fun evening together.

(Have you noticed all the florals this year?  I love it!  Even 20 year old guys can get away with roses (and serpents) on their shirts.  And I bought the prettiest T-shirt for myself with big red roses on it.  A must with rose scented perfume!)

We had Ethan’s cheesecake (requested) on Saturday night after the shopping trip because Rich was leaving for a trip on Sunday morning and on Monday (today, Ethan’s real birthday) the boys would be back to college.  He blew his candles out with so much lung power that there is STILL candle wax on the counter.

Happiness is a big family singing your birthday song.  We love you Ethan!

(We missed sister Grace who was at college but we will see her soon.)

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Yesterday, Ethan was able to squeeze in a quick visit with Tessa in the morning and then I took the kids to church and lunch at Ethan’s requested restaurant, UNO’s.  It was me, Caleb, Seth, Ethan, Jacob, Sarah, David, Michael, and Zach.  Nine of us all together in one big booth and THANK GOODNESS for Sarah or I would have been the only female.  🙂  We had a yummy meal and when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert we were much too full but asked for a piece of cake for the birthday boy.

“But you don’t have to sing to me,” begged Ethan.

“Do you want a candle?” asked the waitress.

“No, that’s okay, but thanks.” he replied.

We were rather let down that Ethan appeared to get away without spectacle but the waitress must have sensed our true wishes and ignored the wishes of the birthday boy, much to his dismay.  However he recovered quickly and was a very good sport about it.

She gave Ethan a HUGE piece of chocolate cake along with NINE spoons so we could all share it!

I gave her a nice big tip because she really did deserve it.  I’m still smiling and I hope that Ethan is, too.

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Seth took this photo as Ethan and Jacob were getting ready to leave for school.  We are so thankful that they have a car and can come home now and then.  It’s just not the same around here with the three older ones so far away but we wouldn’t change a thing because they are learning, growing, and thriving.

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Happy 20th birthday, Ethan!

There is no one like you in the whole wide world.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them – any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!  Psalm 139