jam mama (part 2)

Ten years ago almost to this very day I wrote a post on my blog which was untitled but included the words…..JAM MAMA……

“You should have seen small Grace
diving into the warm cup of jam
that I set out on the table,
with a loaf of soft white bread from the bakery.
She tore of big chunks of bread
and dipped the majority of it down
into the bright red jam. . . .
there is just nothing like that warm, strawberry taste
. . . .it’s heavenly.

She called me ‘jam-mama’.”
July 12, 2008

Ten years have come and gone……

Grace is 18 now and was at work (as a cashier downtown at the grocery store) yesterday when I walked up the road to “see if there were any raspberries left”.  I determined to really look and really pick every single good enough berry I could find.  This involved lots of bending over and looking underneath the tangle of vines and briars and taking my merry ol’ sweet time.

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I eventually came home with 6 cups.

Incidentally, these berries grow on the side of the road, free for the foraging!  I already have a gallon of them frozen in our chest freezer in the pantry.  Once they ripen, we have to go back every couple of days to pick some more until they are finally all done.  They are productive!

We have a small patch of wild raspberries over by the chicken coop, too, which the chickens love to jump up and eat off the cane.  Then they lay us the most lovely eggs out of appreciation.

The black-cap raspberries grow on the bank by our drive way and under the dead pine tree at the bottom of the yard by the pond.

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I always pick clean but you never know what little creatures may have taken a ride home with the berries.  So I dumped them out to look through them.

I put them in a pan and simmered them until they released all their juice.  I strained out the seeds, measured the juice (2 cups) and added them back to the pan with the same amount of sugar (2 cups).  Brought to a rolling boil for 3 minutes and then beaten with the mixer for another 3 minutes.  Done!  So easy, so satisfying.

I was given the recipe by my very own jam mama, Cindy.

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Jacob said the jelly would taste good on “that cake you made the other day” and Ethan suggested some other baked good and I said “How about homemade biscuits?” And he said YES PLEASE.

I made a double batch of biscuits and we all ate them up right away with the homemade jelly on top.

Everywhere I looked there were children grabbing  another and another biscuit, slathering it with butter and jelly, and walking away with it………

This morning my feet are sticking to the carpet and the floor.

camp fire pizza

When I was in Alaska I was blown away by the campfire pizza they made out in the backyard over a hot fire amongst the trees and canopied by a tarps just in case it started raining.

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While Hannah and I were out about town and exploring Glacier Lake, her daughter Rebekah prepped everything for the pizza.  She made homemade sauce (red AND white!) and dough, busily chopped vegetables and got the meat ready, too.

Here are a couple of short videos to “set the scene” so to speak.  Hannah and her husband worked like a well-oiled machine and had the entire process down like a science.  I asked her about campfire cooking in general and she said they don’t really have any favorite recipes especially for campfires; they just figure out how to cook their favorite foods over a fire.  They have done A LOT of camping over the years……

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seven puppies, my friends, seven puppies…. and the first-time mother dog didn’t ever want to nurse them, thus Jacob’s foot on her neck.  LOL  The puppies spent most of the time wandering around exploring.

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I wore thick clothing so as to discourage the mosquitos which were large and very plenteous.  I could kill five in one slap to the leg.

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I don’t know where everyone was when I took this photo……which is of a pizza on the fire, covered in foil held down by sticks.  This is the final step in the pizza making, in order to get the toppings melted.  LOTS OF CHEESE.

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This was the white pizza with bacon, chicken, and onion…the best pizza I ever had!!!!

(besides my moms…..)

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BEAUTIFUL evening.

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BEAUTIFUL family

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The fire was extremely hot they had to work fast…….

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They made pizza after pizza………

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And it was cooked to perfection!

 

 

little league days and nights

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We’ve been doing little league with the boys ever since David was about 5 (he’s now 15).  Jacob and Ethan got a late start in baseball and we’ll probably always have some regret about that.  However, David started very young and played every year but one, and Caleb and Seth also started as soon as they could (although we did skip t-ball).   It’s not always fun for me to drive to the fields almost every night of the week, and sometimes in not the greatest weather.  In fact, we still have cold evenings and we shiver as we watch the boys play.  But then, we’ll have evenings so hot people are holding up umbrellas for shade.

Rich especially LOVES to watch the boys play.  He mourns having to leave on business trips and missing the games.   This is when it’s so nice to have the phone.  I can easily take short videos of the boys at bat and send them along to Rich.

On game nights, we eat an early dinner and drive the boys to the field early to warm up and then I walk and walk and walk (with my headphones in my ears, listening to podcasts) until the games start.

Here are some photos:

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Seth (9 years old, 3rd grade) started out as pitcher on Friday night.  It was very hot after several cooler game nights and the boys were rather wilting toward the end.

Seth had an “off night” as pitcher and was visibly relieved when the coach put someone else in.

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He’s a very good all around player.  And he will play every position if possible.

One time they were warming up and he was at shortstop and he and his teammate called “Got it!” at the same time and Seth ran into the kid to catch the ball.  “Seth’s a show off!”  I heard.  He’s not necessarily a show off, but if he yells “got it” he’s going to get it, even if his teammate said it at the same time.

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Seth’s face looked so worried as he ran to first base after getting a hit but knowing he won’t make it to the base in time.  When Rich saw it, he got right up to go get him a cold Gatorade from the food booth.  Usually does magic.  🙂  It’s so much better than mom’s warm water bottle.

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He got a nice hit this time…..I heard someone in our crowd say “beautiful!” as we watched it go…..

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This season, Seth had to break the habit of watching what the other team was doing with the ball as he ran the bases.  Seeing him run to base with his neck twisting this way and that was silly.  “Watch the base!” we would yell.

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******my heart*******.

Now for Caleb., who is almost 13 and in 7th grade.

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Everyone loves Caleb.  He’s a team player, he is quite vocal about encouraging the team and telling them when they’ve had too many errors.  He’s also a lot of fun and can be too goofy at times.  I heard his coach get on his case once when he struck out at bat and then went to the dug out and started goofing around.  Sometimes Caleb will dance after getting a good hit and making it to first base.  Caleb is well-known for his realistic chicken noices and as a result, his nickname is “Chicken”.  Even his coaches call him Chicken.  Not because he’s scared and timid like a chicken, but because he SOUNDS LIKE ONE.  Rich groans and groans.

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He’s such a calm player and rarely makes mistakes.  He DOES make them now and then, but as his mom I’m always very surprised.  (every mom thinks their kid is practically perfect).  He looks great in all three of his positions that he plays; first base, pitcher, and catcher.

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No home runs yet this year….oh how we are waiting!!  Last night he got walked three times.  He was SO annoyed.  He and one other boy on his team have red cleats so I’m always squinting down at the field and saying, “Is THAT Caleb?”  Caleb is number 11 and his cleats used to be Ethan’s.  I took these photos with my long zoom lens.  He looked so very handsome with that game face.

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Here he is jogging to first after getting walked……Caleb wants a home run so bad!!!!!

The white pants have been fun to wash all season.

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Pitching

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As I’m writing this I’m thinking I should ask my brother Isaac to do a pitching clinic with Seth and Caleb.  He was an excellent pitcher when he played years ago.

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Caleb as catcher.

Here is a video from last night.  He was warming up the pitcher and looked so cool and confident.  I LOVE THIS VIDEO and so does Caleb.  He said, “Send that to Dad.”

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Jacob dropped off Seth and Sarah at the game yesterday after church.  I had stayed home to get Caleb to his game on time and he helpfully took the other kids to church (Rich had to leave for a trip).  So Sarah looked like a princess in her church dress.  She had a hamburger for lunch from the food booth, and took off her shoes as soon as possible.

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I went to a tag sale before the game and bought a bag of old linens and she found this piece of lace and her princess attire was complete.

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Happy golden days.  Lots of times chaotic, but all the time worth it.

vanilla cake, vanilla frosting

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What a special evening our youngest had with her brothers and sister.  They played games together, and big brother Jacob made the quick trip to the grocery store in town to buy some ice cream.  He came home with strawberry, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, and party cake ice cream.  Rich and I sat contentedly in the living room with the sounds of a full house all around us; doors opening and shutting, chatter, laughter, basketball bouncing on the driveway, footsteps walking or running, upstairs, downstairs, drinks in the kitchen, on and on, so much energy!  Soon it was time for the birthday song and cake.  Sarah watched her Dad light the candles.  She watched so intently as her siblings continued to be silly all around her.  Her face as we sang was precious to see, all sparkling eyes and big smile.  The cake was amazing.  Even Ethan agreed, and he doesn’t typically like cake.  The birthday girl was offended when I bragged, “I made it myself.” because she helped make the frosting.

Cake:

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Oven set to 350.  Grease 9 by 13 cake pan.  Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-sized pieces remain.  Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Give batter final stir by hand.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bak until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely.  recipe from Cook’s Country Cookbook  (it’s the cake part of the recipe for Lane cake).

Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 T.  milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, milk, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until light and fluffy.  Makes enough frosting for one 9 by 13 cake.

nature photos (and knee-spots)

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purple finch at the feeder

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The glow of the pond.

I’m sitting in my room, I had to get away from Grace so I could focus.  I get easily distracted by her because we have lots to talk about (anything that comes to mind becomes a conversation).  I thought I would be all alone in here but Samantha-cat just appeared out of hiding and jumped on the bed.

Jacob, Ethan, and Grace are home for the summer and it’s wonderful (the only time it’s not wonderful is if I am over-tired or have PMS).  But seriously I do think it’s wonderful.  I’m not just saying that.  I no longer have that feeling of “I wonder what the older children are doing”–  I know what they are doing.  I can see them.  Jacob rides to work every morning with his Dad and Ethan goes to work in Jacob’s car.  I see them in the mornings getting ready.  This morning Jacob asked me where the nail clippers were, and half an hour later his brother Ethan was wondering where tweezers were, he had a sliver in the bottom of his foot from going traipsing barefoot through the woods (photos of that tomorrow, possibly).

During the day it’s still quiet.  The children have gone to work and to school.

Every evening is unpredictable family craziness.  Practices?  Games?  Someone missing (briefly)?  Big dinners, a whole pie getting eaten so fast so you better get a piece while you can, dirty bowls and cups being left all over the house, laundry piling up, homework reminders, tv turned up and up, loud talking, loud laughing, coins being thrown super hard and me getting mad about it, fortnight gaming, singing, playing the piano, telling the boys to take the garbage out, Seth can’t find a pencil, etc………going to bed and hearing the noice of the older kids getting ready to go to bed, too.  Lights being left on.  And then the house is quiet again.

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It (photographing this blog post) all started after dinner last evening, when I went out to the mailbox to mail a letter and was surprised by a wild rabbit who didn’t seem afraid of me in the least.  I stood still and he stood still.  Then, he “came back to life” and commenced his snacking on dandelions and grass.  The dandelions have turned into their moon-like state and I was amused that he picked them with his teeth at the base of the stem and ate it, end-to-top.  It was funny to watch the stem slowly disappear into his mouth with “the moon” last but not least.  I went inside to get the camera and when I returned, he was eating grass.  I am a bit concerned as the vegetable garden is nearby, newly planted with radishes, spinach, herbs, and peas.  Will he be eating that next?  I named him John.

And then I wandered around with my camera.

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I absolutely love the look of this photo of a cardinal in the tall dead tree on the edge of our property (dead tree=GIANT bird perch).

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mourning dove & male cardinal

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I stood and looked up up up into a very tall pine trees to sight this bird.  It was singing an evening song with its back to me.  Finally it looked over its shoulder and I got this amazing photo.  (I had my big zoom lens with me).

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It flew to a different branch.  I am almost positive that its a female scarlet Tanager.

Thoughts?  I never knew the females were yellow!  What a beautiful bird-couple they make.  Now I will be on the look-out for the male.  I hope I see it!!

I think I took about 25 photos of that bird and then it flew away and I moved on.

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Lady Slippers (a favorite wild flower) are in bloom now.

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Seth (9 years old) saw this photo and said, “Beautiful moon!”

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I sat and watched this duck pair for quite a while.  They were peacefully together on the stream at the dam, bathing and grooming their feathers.  The female must have enjoyed this stretch with her foot because she held it long enough for me to take several photos.  I love the curled up feathers on the male’s tail, and the purple color on the female’s wing.

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I walked up the hill and in the distance, where the water of the stream enters the dark woods, I saw a blue heron standing in a pool of water, probably finding some tasty dinner.  I was thrilled to see it and get a photo before it moved out of sight.  (It saw me as soon as I saw it and it was very suspicious of me right away.)

I went home and found the family sitting around in the living room getting ready to finish watching a movie they had started the night before.  It wasn’t a movie I was especially interested in so I got ready for bed and did some reading.  I finished a book titled, When I was a Slave, Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection, and it was very interesting in a sad, inspirational way.  Here is a quote I keep thinking about:

“One thing dat’s all wrong with dis world today is dat day ain’t no ‘prayer grounds.’ Down in Georgia where I was born–dat way back in 1852–us colored folks had prayer grounds.  My mammy’s was a old twisted thick-rooted muscadine bush.  She’d go in here and pray for deliverance of de slaves.  Some colored folks cleaned out knee-spots in de canebrakes.  Cane, you know, grows high and thick, and colored folks could hide demselves there and nobody could see and pester dem.”

Andrew Moss, 85 years old

It’s the concept of having a great need and therefore NEEDING TO PRAY.  It’s the idea of KNEE SPOTS.  All day long since reading it, that term comes to my mind.  When was the last time I got down on my knees to pray?  All the nature that surrounds me, and do I have even ONE “knee spot” to go to in order to pray to the God I love?  Where is my sense of great need?  Great gratitude?  Great praise?  Why go to the knees?  After all, I do pray during each day, but oh my,  in order to pray on my knees I would have to stop everything else I was doing………….and therein lies the beauty and soul-nourishment of “knee-spots”……..

“Be prepared.  You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.  Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.  Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.  Learn how to apply them.  You’ll need them throughout your life.  God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.  In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare.  Pray hard and long.  Pray for your brothers and sisters.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  Ephesians 6:13-18

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These are some of the things on my mind this morning as I start the day.  I also took this photo through the window of Rich’s office, which is why it’s so hazy, but still a beautiful bird.

one little patch of beauty

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The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

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Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

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Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

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But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

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Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

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The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

~J.R. MILLER~

I found a new podcast that I listen to as I walk and it never ceases to soften my heart.  The speaker simply reads excerpts from books or essays from various spiritual writers.  His voice is soothing but –be aware–the children will laugh.  I was listening to it when I picked up David from track practice and he dropped his head back on the seat pretending to be put sound asleep by the voice reading to us.

The name of the podcast is Inspirational Living.  Yesterday was a reading from J.R. Miller called Be of Good Cheer:  The Blessings of Cheerfulness.  Miller has been quoted many times on this blog, so I thought it was high time to quote him again.  There is a great website full of Miller’s writing you might want to go peruse it…GRACE GEMS.   Highly recommended.

PERUSE:  read, typically in a thorough or careful way.

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Lily of the valley is coming into bloom.  I found some in the ditch as I walked yesterday and picked one so I could enjoy it’s lovely scent.

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A little peak at the flower garden by the patio and garage.  Hens and Chicks, Phlox, and Iris.

The best part of the day, besides figuring out the Marco Polo app so I could video text with my friend Lea Ann……..

…….was these two fine young men returning home for the summer.

We were all so happy as we ran to the car to see them.  They had quite a morning of trying to load the vehicle with all their stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  They learned a valuable lesson or two for next school year.

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As soon as they opened the doors it started falling out.

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Ethan showed me his seat, he had no room for his legs or any movements on the 3 hour drive back home.

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For whatever reason even the hens ran over to investigate.

Seth, Sarah, and David helped them unload.  I had made hamburgers and pasta for dinner, and peanut butter cookies, but had to leave after just a few minutes to take Caleb to his game.

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This is how they brought their clothing home.  Stuffed in a hundred thousand plastic bags found in a trash can at school.

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JUST as I took the photo, Jacob threw his football to Ethan.  We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried…..

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Rich and I sat in our lawn chairs at the top of the hill and watched Caleb play in his game (they lost 9-7) and the rest of the kids (but Grace, who comes home this weekend).  Jacob talked to us nonstop about his recent college stories.  As I studied their faces I was filled with pride and joy.  “What do you think of these fine sons of yours, Rich?”  And we looked at each other and smiled.  If you have children, you know the feeling.  These moments make all the stressful moments worth it, tens times over.

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Caleb was hoping that his big brothers would come to his game.  And they did.

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They were playing catch with the football right in front of me.

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Sarah came to get me so she could take me to a tiny nest that she found.  Could the night get any better?

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David said “I finally feel like I’m not all alone anymore.”

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flashback:

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This photo recently caught my attention again…..it’s from almost 8 years ago…..I made Sarah’s dress.  And look at those arms and legs and that face.

Just a few more quotes before we go:

fullsizeoutput_54db 1“Our attitude is to be ever toward joy.”

DSC_0633 1“Shall we not seek for the bright side? There is really sunshine enough in the darkest day—to make any ordinary mortal happy—if he only has eyes to see it!”

DSC_0659 1There is no lot in life so dreary—
that it has not
at least its
one little patch of beauty;

or its one wee flower looking up
out of the dreariness,
like a smile of God.”

*J.R. Miller

 

you are loved.

tuesday morning

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Good Morning!

The pie tasted even better this morning.  I just ate a piece for breakfast.  (more details on instagram).  Sunlight is flooding, FLOODING into the room and it’s glorious.  We’ve finally had warm springtime weather and I spent most of the afternoon yesterday outdoors.  I was looking forward to blogging but as soon as the door slammed behind the children going to school after a long spring break and I was alone in the house for the first time in forever, what did I end up doing?

C L E A N I N G

I turned on the tv and cleaned away to my hearts content asking myself who I was and why and how did I turn into this woman delighting in cleaning when she was alone in her very own nest?

And then, I read my book which is just getting good and un-put-downable, went for a brisk walk, watched the busy birds, and baked a pie.

This morning when the door slammed I grabbed my computer to blog.

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Guess what play Sarah is going to see today?  And guess who was making her laugh while I took her photo?

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*****

The Lord loves you not to-day, Christian, because of anything you are doing, or
being, or saying, or thinking, but he loves you still, because his great heart is full of
love, and it runneth over to you…….. Charles Spurgeon

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