“time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life”

IMG_7681

It’s a peaceful morning inside and out.  The sky is overcast and a fine, almost imperceptible mist of glittery snow is falling.  Wild birds are busy helping themselves to the feeder on the porch and a cat inside is watching them through the window.  The dog is snoring and twitching next to me.  I’m sitting in the corner of the couch with my laptop, in my pajamas and red robe, warm and cozy under a vintage quilt.  The TV is on for company, but muted.

This week has been week of lots of children and lots of sickness.  I’ve been understandably distracted and haven’t been able to blog much, but my camera has still been busy as I all-the-time see things that I want to remember.  My darlings, my life, my home, my heart.

IMG_7725

I had Sarah on my lap one morning and it felt so good to hold her.  She’s a big girl now, a joy and a blessing to me and everyone else in the family, although her brothers wouldn’t agree at first.

IMG_7659

It was son Seth that was sick the longest.  Last Thursday the school nurse called me to come and get him.  He explained to me that his “legs felt wobbly and he felt tired”.  I’m afraid to say that sometimes my perfect children pretend to be sick in order to be home with their mother, so I didn’t wholeheartedly believe him until we came home and he went to bed and fell sound asleep.  Then I believed.  Seth doesn’t sleep during the day unless he’s sick.

He ended up being sick for six days with a fever.  It wasn’t his stomach although he didn’t have much of an appetite and lost a few pounds.  His main complaint was his head and he woke up every night with feverish nightmares.  Rich was away Saturday night and Seth came to my room so many times that I finally said “Get in bed with me” and when he woke up for real that morning he said, “How did I get here?”

We survived with the help of Jesus, cats, the couch, warm blankets, LOTS of snuggles, Tylenol, water bottles, ginger ale, and Dude Perfect.

He missed wrestling in States, which was disappointing as I’m sure he would have done very well.

Caleb was also sick and also missed States, but he wasn’t as sick and it didn’t him as long to recover.  He missed a couple of days of school and still has a cough, though, while Seth didn’t get any respiratory symptoms.

IMG_7616

IMG_7631

IMG_7585

IMG_7636

He had his arms around me.  How could I ever be sad or lonely with such love in my life?

Even with sickies in the house, everyone has to eat, so I did get a few photos from the kitchen this week as we had Michael here for a few days, and Tommy, a friend from school, who has been staying with us while his mom was in the hospital after back surgery.   Tommy fit right into our family effortlessly and it’s been a joy to have him here and seeing him and the kids get along so well.

ALSO Jacob and Ethan have been home all week from college!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s been wonderful cooking for 10 again.  LOL  But see the photo with Michael?  He made dinner one night and it was great.  Every noodle was consumed by a hungry family.  On another night I roasted three pork tenderloins, made a big pan of homemade scallopped potatoes, and a pot of mixed veggies.  Last night was a big pot of chili and the night before was chicken and rice.  We had homemade brownies with ice cream for dessert.  Lots of chocolate milk in the fridge and egg sandwiches for snacks.

fullsizeoutput_614e

A favorite moment of the week was on Wednesday when Seth finally made it back to school (in tears) and I sat on the couch with Ethan in a silent room.  No TV, no talking, just sitting together in perfect peace with the dog and a cat and blankets.

IMG_7692

I got up once to make us hot chocolate.  (it’s been so cold outside!)

Wonderful Hot Chocolate

2 T. sugar
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (just realized I forgot to put it in!)
Mix cocoa, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until mixture boils.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in milk until warm but do not boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla unless you forget like I did which is fine you won’t miss it.

Give a big mug to your son and keep one for yourself and all your exhaustion (from being a mom-nurse) will wash away.

IMG_7667

Their little acts of service melt my heart!!!

IMG_7707

I was frying bacon when I got a hug from behind!!  From a small boy!

DSC_0681

IMG_7713

AND THEN JACOB GOT SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He came down the stomach bug and was sick for a few days, sleeping nonstop.  I was thankful to have him home so I could take care of him.  He’s all better now, thankfully.

IMG_7718

busy kitchen, full tummies, full hearts.

They were talking about school and their teachers and laughing.  I sat across the room and listened with a smile.

IMG_7625

Sarah Joy in the morning.  First she came, then the dog, then the cat.

fullsizeoutput_6149

CAT NIP!!!!!

fullsizeoutput_614b

fullsizeoutput_614c

DSC_0673

DSC_0679

Rich called me a cat lady and I was fine with that.  🙂

fullsizeoutput_6150

A rare photo of Caleb!!  (he doesn’t like me taking his photo, so I always have to ask and get approval)

IMG_7744

Yesterday…….oh how wonderful…..finally got out of the house on a bright sunny day.  The boys and I went to Trader Joes and the mall.  Ethan got some new Converse sneakers and Jacob got a Stephen King book.  We sat for a while drinking our Starbucks.  I looked at magazines while they went on their phones.  Now and then they would show each other things and laugh (which I loved).

My Ethan Gregory.

IMG_7745

I turned around quick to snap a completely unstaged photo, my favorite kinds.  It was wonderful to spend time with my two oldest children who are now 22 and almost-21 (in five days).

PAGES FROM MY LATEST ART/SCRAPBOOK:

DSC_0682

I keep all my stuff out on the little table that I have in the livingroom and I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to sit down and add a few quotes or do some gluing of photos while the children are busy around me or watching a movie.  I have a stack of these “commonplace books” now, with the intention of giving them to my kids and grandkids someday, if they want them.

DSC_0683

DSC_0684

Laura Ingalls page

DSC_0685

DSC_0687

DSC_0688

DSC_0689

On the left is wrapping paper from the birthday gifts Joanna gave me, along with printed photos, and on the right is ribbon and the homemade envelope and card my Mom gave me on my birthday.  I treasure everything.

DSC_0691

“….a work of beauty and grace upon the heart of the giver……”

DSC_0692

DSC_0693

….ordinary life….

DSC_0694

DSC_0695

she was beautiful.

Well, that gets us all caught up here in blog-land.  Today is Friday and I hope that your weekend is full of everything that fills your soul.

You are loved.

 

 

 

racking up the mom points

David, Caleb, Seth, and Sarah have today and tomorrow off from school and I was telling them that I would make pancakes for breakfast but David complained and he said “I’ll still be asleep and miss out, as always.”  My quick thinking mind came up with a solution.  “I know, Dave! I’ll just bring you some in bed and after you eat them you can go right back to sleep!”  He shut his eyes and smiled like a pleased cat.  “That would be AWESOME.”

IMG_7274

9:58am

 

I found his cookies

img_6059

David came home from practice yesterday, made a protein shake in the blender, took a shower, and then wandered back into the kitchen and said in his morose-sounding Eeyore voice, “I think I want to make chocolate chip cookies.”  “Do it!” we all cried.

“Mom, where’s your recipe.”

“I just use the one on the bag but add more flour.”

“Okay.”

He wanted walnuts in them but couldn’t find them.  I knew this by the loud moans and groans, so I ran to the kitchen to pull out a stool to help him look.  When I found them I sang a happy celebration song, sort of bragging, until he said, “Okay, stop.” in his dry way.

David is charming to me.  I used to blog about him the way he was when he was a little boy and all the interesting things he would do….catch birds with homemade traps, catch turtles, draw comics, fish, swim in his underwear, read interesting books, make crafts, say interesting things as only he can say them.

I still blog about him the way he is, with his shirt off, now 16 years old, working on cookies, trying to take a 8 minute nap on the couch as each tray bakes, and suddenly noticing “Mom has the camera out.”

img_6062

img_6064

 

“I think I feel sick,” he admitted.  “Too much cookie dough.”

****

Sarah started watching him.

“Dave?  What kind of cookies are you making?  If you answer me now, I won’t ask you again later!”

“Sarah go away.”

“Dave, how can you be so mean, I never heard her ask a question so sweetly!”

“I know!  She’s being FAKE.  I can’t STAND FAKE WOMEN.”

She’s not even nine yet.

*****

“Just so everyone knows, these are MY cookies, I’m going to hide them and save them for rewards.”

He has to watch his weight for wrestling so I think this is smart.

He likes to put cookies in the toaster to warm them up.

He doesn’t wear an apron, he doesn’t need to, because skin is easy to clean.

He tidied up his mess somewhat, but this morning when he was gone at school I scrubbed the cookie sheets with hot soapy water and put them away.  I also got to eat the one solitary remaining cookie for breakfast, dunking it into my coffee.  Thinking about my son.  The walnuts and chocolate tasted so good.

Later on, when I wasn’t thinking about him at all, I found his cookies.

img_6082

lunch and christmas gift exchange with Dave

Too many of us never understand what we owe to our dear ones — until there remains no further opportunity of paying love’s debt.  JR Miller

I just downloaded 44 photos that could be grouped into a gazillion blog posts.  I was tempted to just dump them all into ONE but I can’t, I just can’t.  They deserve their own posts.  (Okay, It really might be ten, but with the rate I’ve been blogging it would take me a gazzillion days to post the ten.  I’m determined to do a blog a day until I’m caught up.)

I’m sitting on the couch in the livingroom.  Three of our four cats are prowling around.  Walter is sitting like a king by the kitchen door, Sherlock is sitting on the counter watching over things.  Bagheera snuck up behind Sherlock wanting to play and was hissed at, meanly.

Grace is also prowling around, warming up a cornbag and preparing a breakfast bagel.

It’s a gift to have her home on break for the next few weeks.  Her older brothers already had to drive back to Castleton on the 1st.  We are thinking about going to visit them at some point, just for the fun of it.

But today Grace and I are picking up Seth at the school at 10:30 for an orthodonist appointment.  He has an expander on the roof of his mouth, and a habit breaker, and I wonder if he’ll have either one of them removed today.  That would be nice for him.

Rich and Dave have a wrestling meet today after school.

This would be a nice weekend to visit us if you want to see the boys wrestle.  Dave has a meet on Saturday.  Caleb and Seth have their first meet on Sunday.  They will both be half- a- day long affairs, I will be taking headphones, a charger, and a book so the noise and activity doesn’t daze and confuse me.  I’m already praying they have fun and do as well as they can.  I’ll let you know if they place and get medals.

Sarah Joy was rummaging around the shelves this morning searching for lost school library books until I finally said, “You should have done this last night!” and she went to school with one missing.  She’s wearing blue pants, a purple velvet-textured shirt with ruffled sleeves, her trademark ponytail.  And a smile.

This morning I’m thinking about way back on December 18, 2018 when I drove to Clarks Summit.  The purpose of the trip was first and foremost to get my daughter home for Christmas, but at the same time I was able to spend time with Joanna and stay the night all by myself in a hotel.

I was also able to visit with my brother Dave.  He drove about an hour to meet me for lunch at a favorite little Greek diner.  He did all the ordering and we had the grandest time sitting and enjoying each other’s company while eating delicious food.

56684586932__E92D405E-9B56-4C40-97DC-071EDF7A019C

Dave is one of the best brothers in the whole wide world (I have two others).  We are a year and two months apart in age and we like to tell each other, “You’re my original best friend.” It’s true.  We’ve been together all these years, and now, even though we live 4 hours apart, we text each other almost daily and talk on the phone once or twice a month.

IMG_5226

This was before our main lunch plates came out!  We had spinach pie, a piece of cheese that the waitress lit on fire next to our table so we could eat it sizzling hot, and pita with a sour cream/feta cheese dip.  All of the foods had Greek names that I now cannot remember, (I should have taken notes.)

IMG_5227

IMG_5229

IMG_5230

Then our meat kabobs came out and we kept right on eating.

IMG_5231

We ate and we ate and we ate and then had dessert.  We were stuffed full of good food.

IMG_5234

The waitress cleared away our dishes and packed up the remainder of my cheesecake, which I would finish eating at 9 o’clock that night.  I asked her to take a photo of us and now I have this picture to remind me of the day Dave came to meet me for lunch.

I’m leaning toward the computer screen right now, looking at it and smiling because I can’t help it.

***

I posted the quote at the beginning of this post as a reminder to me to take every opportunity I can to spend time with the people I love, and to show them that I care about them.

thanksgiving day, 2018

I’m sitting in a quiet house for the first time in over a week.

I can write again!

Our three older children were back home from college for Thanksgiving break and I’ve been busy, because we were able to host Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  The kids helped in many ways, especially in distracting me from my unfortunate tendency to get anxious over how everything would turn out.  They helped by:  coming down with hives, needing to go to football practices, piling up dirty laundry, putting interesting movies on for me to watch, being funny and entertaining, arguing over the newly arrived Playstation, forcing me to play lots of games of bananagrams, and so on.  The weather was also a factor as it dropped down into the teens for days.  Life is good.

It was son David who had the hives.  I never had a child with hives before.  For no apparent reason his hands and feet would become painful and itchy, break out in spots and a rash between his fingers, and then clear completely, only to return 3 or 4 hours later.  This went on for a solid week.  I put in several calls to the Pediatrician just to give us all peace of mind that he was okay and that he wasn’t contagious for our guests.

He felt fine except for the episodes.   In fact, he felt good enough to find a Sharpie and create Neville Squashbottom:

IMG_4350

That’s Dave crossing his arms in the background and saying, “NOW we can’t eat him for thanksgiving.”  Maybe this was his way of perhaps getting me to NOT make squash, which he doesn’t like?  He created a Thanksgiving Mascot.

Over the next few days I would come across Neville in random places and the children became attached to him.  I just laughed to myself.  Of all things, a squash.

IMG_1124

Thanksgiving morning.  I woke up, Rich made me coffee.  Seth was awake so I put him to work tearing bread into pieces for turkey stuffing.  Sarah had mentioned that she wanted to do it, too, but she was still asleep and I never wake a sleeping child unless absolutely necessary.  Somehow she woke herself up, came slowly downstairs to the kitchen, and sleepily began breaking bread.  After about five slices I noticed her stop to stretch and say to herself, “I’m not even awake yet!”  They filled up the bowl with bread, Squashbottom watching them, while I stood at the stove and sautéed onion and celery (which Jacob helpfully chopped the night before) in plenty of butter.  I poured them into the bread, added plenty of salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and a touch of broth, tossed it together with a wooden spoon, and then stuffed our 24 pound turkey with it.  The smell of thanksgiving morning is my favorite.

Just three short hours later, brother David arrived with my parents.

DSC_0948

And I found Neville on top of the fridge with a mortal stab wound.

DSC_0951 1

Grace, laughing over the cheese tray.

DSC_0957

Seth and Grandpa saying hello and catching up on each other’s news.

DSC_0941

Sarah, shooting some hoops.  The basketball hoop doesn’t get played with unless it’s on the closet door, right by the kitchen.  These kids just love me way too much.  (by the end of the day, the “by grace alone” plaque had flown off the wall.)

IMG_1126

Rich found me cutting the squash into quarters and took a photo to document his end.

DSC_0964

The ladies; Sharon (Abbie’s church friend), Brittnee (Jacob’s girlfriend,) Amanda, Abbie, Grace, Naomi, my mom, myself, and Sarah.

DSC_0954

Dad and Sarah

Rich was at the sink washing pots and pans, he was my number one kitchen-cleaner-helper this year!!!  As soon as Mom and I threw a dirty dish in the sink, Rich washed it.

IMG_4362

We put all the food on the kitchen island and served the meal buffet-style, after we all stood together and joinded Dad for a heart-felt prayer of gratitude.  We loaded our plates, the adults sat in the livingroom, and the children sat around the table in the dining room.

IMG_4366

My extensive collection of fiestaware was put to grand use.  All three gravy boats, lots of casserole dishes and platters, too!  More than enough plates for everyone!

IMG_4370

IMG_4371

IMG_4375

A pleasant game of football was on tv-but kept on mute so we could still talk and laugh and hear each other.

After dinner was over we took some time to shoot our annual “Who are the Guests of this Year’s Thanksgiving” portrait, and some other photos, as well.fullsizeoutput_5d17

fullsizeoutput_5d3f

Rich and I with our children.

fullsizeoutput_5d41

My sister’s family.

DSC_1064

Amanda with her daughters.

DSC_1026

me with my brother Dave and our sister (our brothers Nate and Isaac couldn’t come this year)

DSC_1037

I love this photo of my mom and dad with their dog Kublai Khan.

Mom likes to pretend she’s jealous of Kublai so this was what happened when my sister said, “Lets put Kublai in the middle!”

DSC_1039 1

soooooooooooo funny

IMG_4385

Heads togehter, looking at the camera to see how the portraits turned out.

IMG_4386

we played Apples to Apples

IMG_4389

Mom was reading through the family genealogy and we decided that David looks just like one of our ancestors.  Especially with his ears that way.

DSC_0970DSC_0991

Jacob and Brittnee braved the cold for some photos outside.

IMG_4397

Sarah went out to play and was so cold she came back inside again and kept her coat on.  Here she is, enjoying Grandma’s homemade pickles made with her own garden produce.  Mom saved this big jar for our feast and let me keep it, too!  (pickles are gone and the jar is washed and put away).

Our beautiful thanksgiving day was over.  After many hugs, Mom and Dad left with Dave to go back home, and Amanda left with her family, too.  Rich and I relaxed on the couch for the rest of the evening and then we all went to bed except Jacob, Grace, and Brittnee, who went out at midnight to go shopping.

 

 

 

breakfast treat (brownie muffins)

IMG_9994

Chocolate Brownie Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl combine the first 6 ingredients.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs, milk, melted butter or oil, and vanilla.  Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

*****
I made these muffins for the first time this morning, with Seth as my helper.  The recipe said it made a dozen but I got 48 mini-muffins so you could probably get 18-24 regular size muffins.

*****

We leave tomorrow to take Grace back to college and then spend a few days with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah on a weekend vacation together.  School for them starts on the 30th.

*****

The muffins are SO SO SO SO SO SO GOOD!!!!  Make them!

 

 

raspberry vinegar

DSC_0378

“I’m so proud of my vinegar.”  ~Things I Never Thought I Would Say

Joanna gave me this cookbook.  I don’t remember when she gave it to me but it was published in 2012 and I simply LOVE it…the photography is luscious and lovely…and the theme, SUMMER, makes it an obvious month of July choice to pull from the shelf and look through, slowly, out on the porch in the breeze.  Yes, I persue it often at this time of year but I’ve never really tried a recipe until two weeks ago.

On Friday the 13th I found a recipe that excited me.  The date was important, as I knew with that date I wouldn’t forget “WHEN” I started the vinegar.  Friday the 13th is easy to remember.

DSC_0377

I’ve been picking cups and cups of wild raspberries, which are like gems, priceless gems, and the unusually generous amount this year gave me the freedom to easily sacrifice one and a half cups to make some raspberry infused vinegar.  The only downfall for me was having to wait the 2 weeks.

However, in typical busy mom fashion, after a couple days of being impatient about waiting, I completely forgot about it until today….two weeks later.

fullsizeoutput_583b

I know the bottle isn’t very beautiful.  I couldn’t even find a mason jar.   But the bottle is BPA free, so………

DSC_0380

Right away, I reduced some of it in a pan on the stove in order to drizzle over cantaloupe. And while it was delicious, it looked rather like blood.

The cookbook suggests drizzling it over vanilla ice cream.  Can’t wait!

SaveSave