cinnamon rolls

Ethan learned from my mistake and decided if he was going to make cinnamon rolls then he better triple the recipe.

He and Jacob are done with their wrestling season and are home this week on break from college.  One of the things Ethan enjoys doing when he’s home is baking and cooking in the kitchen.  As soon as he got up yesterday morning he started looking through our Top Secret Recipes cookbook by Todd Wilbur and thought he would make either donuts or cinnamon rolls.  I have to admit I was relieved that he decided on the latter, as the deep fat fryer is a big pain to clean up afterwards and even though Ethan does use the kitchen, he rarely cleans it up afterward.

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We had a house-full; Ethan, Jacob, Michael, David, Caleb, Weston (my nephew), Seth, Sarah, and myself.  Somehow the cat was able to get a nap in now and then although with any alarming sound he would bolt his neck upright and look around the room with big eyes.

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Cinnamon rolls take hours to make.  While the dough was rising the first time Ethan went down the road to get his girlfriend Tessa.

Then it was time to form the rolls.

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I had to leave as the cinnamon rolls went through their second rise.

It was a day I had been waiting for:

At my last cleaning my dentist sent me to an orthodontist because of over crowding and the Doctor agreed that I was a good candidate for invisalign.   I had braces as a teenager but through the years my teeth had shifted and I’m thrilled to get them straightened again.

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I came home to a counter full of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  And boy were they delicious. . . . .

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The weather was so nice that I immediately went for a walk on the road so as to burn more calories for more cinnamon rolls.  These two passed me on the street; Jacob and his best friend and our perennial weekend houseguest Michael.

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Two more pictures from the day; Dave on the laptop.

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And Sarah Joy telling me that “Michael only won once.”

‘Twas a lovely day.

seth almost got to go swimming

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Two evenings ago at around 6 pm I was upstairs peacefully making dinner when Seth ran up from the basement and reported, “There’s a leak downstairs.”

I threw aside everything I was doing and screamed because “leak” is one of those emergency words in the life of a parent.  I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could, with Seth running ahead of me.

In a flash I realized that the water pipe to the hose outside the basement wall had frozen and burst.  I could hear water gushing and see it seeping quickly onto the floor of our finished basement which contained not only a very full storage room and laundry room, but also beds, bookcases, desks, a sectional couch, toy boxes, dressers, a futon, end tables, chairs, throw rugs, a wrestling mat, and all of the children’s stuff that they threw on the floor instead of put away (clothes, shoes, books, garbage).

I called Rich and said, “Rich, Rich, quick tell me how to turn the water off in the house!”  He sputtered, “What?… H?… B?…  Why?…  What’s happening tell me what’s happening?”  I quickly told him and he helped me get the water turned off , said he would be home soon, and we hung up.

(I’ve learned in 22 years of marriage that his “home soon” meant “as soon as I get there” which was not the same thing as my “home soon” which meant, “10 minutes or less”.  In this instance, he did indeed get home in 10 minutes (he was at the school) and I almost fell over in surprise because I thought it would be more like…..whenever he was done with practice).

Thank goodness I was about 3 days behind in laundry and there were approximately 10 dirty bath towels in the laundry room ready to be used as a temporary wall to hold back a most giant alarming puddle from spreading further into the room.

It could have been so much worse.  In fact, I couldn’t help myself from continuing to say over and over and over, “This could have been a DISASTER an absolute DISASTER!  If you boys weren’t in the basement, if you hadn’t run upstairs so fast to tell me, if Dad hadn’t answered his phone, if we weren’t home at the time, the WHOLE BASEMENT WOULD HAVE FLOODED!”

Finally Seth interrupted me to ask in all seriousness, “Could we have gone swimming?”

Christmas 2017, Part 2

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Good morning and happy new year!  I have nothing profound to say.  So let’s just jump into the photos.  Rich preached at church on Christmas Eve.  It was a joy to my heart to have the all the offspring home and in church.  Even Ethan and Caleb playing “thumb war” as they waited for church to start didn’t sway my happy heart.  And Michael looked so nice in his suit as he and Jacob visited before the service.

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We watched two Christmas movies that afternoon, the second one being The Polar Express which is a memorable movie for Sarah and I because we watched it more than once together three years ago when she was in the hospital.  So we snuggled as we watched it at home and I couldn’t help but be thankful.  Also I made a huge amount of boneless chicken wings.  Michael and Jacob cut up the chicken for me.  Its a meal everyone loves and we had enough left over for later that night for snacks.

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As is our tradition, I baked up some pillsbury cinnamon rolls, too.

Rich and I didn’t put the presents under the tree until almost midnight and we enlisted Jacob to help us get some of them out of the basement, which was the first time we allowed a child to help us in this secret time.

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I got the idea from a friend to use zip ties to hang the stockings on the stair railing and that worked nicely.  Rich got heavy duty ones though so it was a little hard to cut them down.  And Rich’s was the top one so I had to keep climbing the stairs to add to it.

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((((BEFORE)))) everything is under the tree

The next morning I sent the boys back to bed because they had tried to get up at four.  We all went back to sleep and got back together at 7:30 and this year we took our time opening gifts and didn’t get done until about 10.  It was such a wonderful family time.

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We let Caleb pass out the gifts this year (but this is Seth, who kept trying to commandeer his brother’s job)

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As Santa and I suspected, this noisy chicken was a big hit with Seth, from the movie Moana (one of their favorites).

 

Jacob being surprised by one of his gifts.

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We got the boys a Keurig for their dorm room which thrilled them to no end.

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The children all really love getting shoes for Christmas.  They all received a pair, all but poor Caleb, and he was sure to let me know later on that he was left out but then quickly said he didn’t mind.

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Sarah’s favorite sneakers are Scetchers.

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Sarah studying her new shoes; Seth about to open his Hess truck.

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Sarah trying them on; Seth pulling his Hess truck from the box.

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This is the second year he’s received a Hess truck from Santa.  How long will Santa keep up this yearly tradition only time will tell.

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Rich, I mean, Santa, also gave the boys a remote control car that can go in the pond this summer and take videos.

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One of my favorite photos of the morning.  Taking a time out to listen to Dad explaining their new gift.

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Rich always gives me a romantic card and this year it included my itinerary for a trip to Alaska.

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The boys received new Eddie Bauer boots which they will need for the rest of winter in Vermont.  (It’s currently -17 in Castleton).  Ouch!

(they go back today)

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One of Caleb’s favorite presents was a Patriots Patriotic hoodie.

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Rich told a super funny story about being sucked into the amazon lightening deals.  He ordered what he thought were apple wireless earbuds to give to me for 20 dollars and only when he wrapped them up on Christmas Eve did he realize that they were NOT made by Apple, there was only ONE ear bud, and it was made for a Giant Ear.

I told him I loved it even more than the Apple ones because I won’t have to stress out as much about losing it.  It worked just fine, too.

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Seth bought Caleb a poster about a month ago at the school book sale and had to wait and wait to give it to him– so this is the moment when FINALLY Caleb opened his new Patriots poster from his little brother.

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He opened a Giant Mug from his sister Grace which for some reason struck him as extremely funny.

(Grace was so thoughtful in giving each family member a gift this year for the first time, as she had her own money from her grocery store job.)

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Ethan opened up an iPhone X.  And his world was filled with happiness.

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These two were together all morning on the end of the couch.  I was out of earshot which made it all the more sweet to my mother-heart.  What were they saying?  What were they smiling about?  Only they know. . . . ..

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Jacob’s well organized gift pile.

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Sweet Grace.

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David was thrilled to get one more big box from Santa and he felt very special like maybe…….he was the favorite.  (It was clothes from Dicks clothing and Sporting goods; a long sleeved blue shirt that he said he had just looked at the last time he was there, a pair of skinny joggers, and a Nike jacket)

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Seth in a new Panthers shirt (his favorite NFL team), I asked him about that and he said that years ago his first favorite team was the Patriots “until I found out that Tom Brady was a cheater.”

He is also wearing new sneakers.

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((((AFTER)))) nothing under the tree.

outside:

inside:

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Sarah got help from Big Brother as she set up her Safari set.

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David began using his new whetstones to sharpen every knife in sight, causing me some bouts of anxiety.

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Ethan set up his new phone.

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“We are new to this family and we are so scared.” ~Black Cats

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“Let me outside so I can bury my big Christmas bone that Dad gave me.”  ~Parker

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MERRY CHRISTMAS from our house to yours!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and a happy New Year, too!

******

As I wrote this, Tessa and Ethan made pancakes for us all; Rich, Me, Jacob, Brittnee, Grace, Caleb, Michael, Ethan, Kylee, David (only one still asleep), Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  And yes they used your recipe, Mom.

There was also a small Nerf war as I typed.

The house is a happy DISASTER.

So Rich is working on putting all the Christmas-time garbage in big trash bags.

When we woke up it was -3.

It’s 10:00 now, and 1 degree.

And thus concludes yet another Christmas blog post.  More to come!

MUCH LOVE TO MY FRIEND AND FAMILY WHO FIND THEIR WAY HERE TO THIS HUMBLE LITTLE CORNER OF BLOG-LAND………

christmas time happenings

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“I don’t have any good photos to blog with,” I thought.

“Well you do have some on your phone,” I replied.

“They aren’t that great of quality though,” I continued.

“But they are priceless and of great value, since they capture the moments authentically,” I said wisely.

“Oh fine,” I sighed.

And then got all emotional looking at them because there were over twenty photos, twenty moments during which we were living life and I grabbed the nearest camera, my phone, to record something quickly and easily.   I honestly LOVE this stage of life.  My youngest is 7 and without any toddlers daily life is much calmer, however with seven children it is still busy enough to never be boring and to always have that feeling of “what’s next” — you really can’t prepare, there are surprises every day and lots of laughter.

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Handsome son Dave, who was dressed in his High School wrestling clothes for the first time in his career.  And, by the way, this door used to be a curtain hiding our laundry area, but the laundry room has been moved downstairs and now this is a big spacious closet just off the kitchen.  I’ll take photos eventually because I really like how it turned out.

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Sarah Joy arriving home from school.  “Christmas Porch” with a wreath, and a snowman flag.  She made me and her dad an ornament made out of a glue/cinnamon dough that smells so good.

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LOOKING FOR THE PICKLE IN THE TREE

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I gave him the present; a chocolate fish and a card that I had prepared for the Amazing Pickle Finder.

“Keep looking for hidden treasures your whole life and you will be amazed at what you will see and discover.”

“I am really good at finding things,” he agreed.  (debatable, I thought)

Sarah was holding back the tears because she didn’t find it.

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SHOPPING WITH MY SISTER

We had SUCH a good time.  We got manicures ; my nails are so pretty now, a deep red with red sparkles similar to Dorothy’s shoes on the Wizard of Oz.

We talked and talked and laughed and just felt so comfortable together; “This is good for my soul,” she mentioned.

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We had bison burgers and freshly cut french fries for lunch.  I indulged in a diet coke.

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There was a giant Christmas tree at the outdoor shopping center.  We did a little shopping and I bought Caleb, Seth, and Sarah some nice warm mittens/gloves for outdoor play at LLBean and they liked them so much they literally spent HOURS until dark outside everyday until our snow melted a couple days ago.  Wise purchase even though the line was long.  With a sister/friend the lines go fast.  More time to talk!

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My dear Hannah sent me and my family a Christmas box.  She lives in Alaska and has visited me 3 times and I haven’t visited her yet.

So guess what I asked Rich to give me for Christmas?!

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We spend time together like this every chance we get.  In fact, he’s next to me as I type and he’s rather insulted because a laptop is on my lap and not him.

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COLLEGE SON ETHAN IS HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  As of two days ago!

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AND COLLEGE SON JACOB my FIRSTBORN is here as well, the person I gave birth to 21 years ago at just this time of year.  CHRISTMAS and JACOB’s BIRTHDAY are all wrapped up in my heart during this season.

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Uncle Dave always sends cards for the children under 18.  The rest of us get a family card.  So now there are “only four” in the tree waiting for Christmas morning even though they keep asking me if they can open them NOW.

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WRESTLING MEET on Wednesday, two days ago.  David was .5 over so there was a little bit of unwanted stress in making certain he made weight and then come to find out he had no one to wrestle in that weight class.  (he did make weight, however)

But eventually they did exhibition matches (which don’t count in the team scores) and Rich bumped him up to give him experience.  I could see Dave giving a little shake of his head “no” but Rich didn’t give him a second glance and got him right on the mat with someone who weighed 5 pounds more than him…..and Dave won.

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He won right in front of his big brothers who also wrestle for college.

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Right in front of his big brothers AND their girlfriends.

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AFTER THE MEET it was time to play.  Ethan wrestled with his little brothers but what really gives me joy in this photo is Bruce the man on the left just walking out of the camera frame with a smile on his face.  He’s one of the custodians of the school and is ALWAYS so quietly kind and friendly.  We notice he turns a bucket over and sits on the side of the gym during meets, we think he must like wrestling.

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^^ Jacob and Seth on the left and Ethan pinning Caleb on the mat.  And it took me a long time to get that sentence out right.  (names LOL)

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Seth’s turn to wrestle with E.  It was such a fun night.  We were only missing Grace because she was at work.

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We are forever trying to hug Dave and he is always this reluctant, but we know he secretly enjoys it.  Tessa is a good sport.  Such a dear girl who, along with her sister, has grown up with my own children (they live nearby) and is in love with Ethan. ❤  She’s a senior this year, while David is a freshman so she sees him now and then and tries to get hugs.  You can tell (sort of) that he’s warming up to her.  (no, his arm never got higher than it is in the photo).

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HERE SHE IS!  She got back on Tuesday (thank you to Michael who went to get her from college).  Yesterday she and I went shopping with Ethan and we took this photo as we were waiting for him to finish up his hair cut.

(I prefer myself with bangs but when I am too lazy to deal with them I pin them back).

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When Seth got home from school yesterday he had a sore by his mouth which immediately freaked me out (internally, I didn’t show it to him) because it wasn’t there when he left in the morning.  He complained that he thought his jaw was broken and his cheek hurt.  But he pointed to the sore spot by his lip as the place where it hurt.  (I don’t think he knew what “a jaw” really was) I was thinking “Oh my goodness my child caught a contagious skin rash during wrestling” and took him to the docs who told me it was basically NOTHING.  I mean, it was infected slightly (like a pimple actually but he’s too young for them just yet).  She gave us a prescription for an antibiotic cream but Rich didn’t get to the pharmacy in time so we just rubbed neosporin on it and this morning it looked much better.  I’m still picking up the prescription though, don’t worry Mom.  I’m sure it will come in handy.  Seth has had chapped lips so the Doc thinks he was touching his face with dirty hands.  (8 year old boys are generally dirty) I do tell him to wash but when he’s at school who knows. . . . . .

The whole experience ended up giving us a nice time together.  His appointment was at 6:10.   WHY is it SO DARK he kept asking.  We agreed that it isn’t a pleasant feeling to be going to the doctors when it’s dark outside.  Scary.

I took him to Dunkin Donuts after, it was just a short jaunt down the sidewalk from the office.  He ordered himself a bacon egg and cheese on a plain bagel, toasted, and five glazed munchkins….and a hot chocolate and he looked so cute as he waited.  He didn’t want help carrying his treasures.  He ate and drank everything.  He hugged me.

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We went to the Goodwill store next and he and his bright eyes saw a wrestling head gear for Caleb (who needed one) for ONLY A DOLLAR.   Jacob said they are twenty at the sporting goods store he used to work at.   So Seth got the deal of the day.  Grace scrubbed it with antibacterial wipes this morning.

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Then we met Jacob, Grace, and Sarah at the pet store.  WHAT are the girls looking at, you ask?

Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

******

I typed all this at the end of the couch at Ethan’s feet.  He sleeps on the couch when he’s home even though he has a perfectly good bed in a bedroom upstairs.  I think he finds it cozier to be on the couch.  He’s sound asleep.  Listening to him breathe gives me joy.  He stretched his feet out and pushed against me, waking up just enough to look down at me and say sorry.  I said, “I like it.” and gave him a pat on the leg.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

common hours

Write it down, when I have perished:
Here is everything I’ve cherished;
That these walls should glow with beauty
Spurred my lagging soul to duty:
That there should be gladness here
Kept me toiling, year by year. . . . .
Everything thought and every act
Were to keep this home intact.
Edgar A. Guest

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Saturday morning I woke up and Rich wasn’t in bed with me anymore, he was out on the couch.  Sometimes if he can’t sleep he will get up and move into the livingroom.  ESPN was on, quietly, and he was sound asleep and looked so peaceful.  I made some coffee and tip toed back to bed.  Shortly thereafter, Seth came in and got into bed with me.  We read stories on my blog for a while and then Sarah came, too.  I love these grateful days of having children small enough to still get into bed with me on a lazy weekend morning. . . . . .

We decided it was a good morning for pancakes.

 

 

Cornmeal pancakes and corned beef hash.  Rich ate the whole pan of hash himself….the kids kept saying, “WHAT IS THAT SMELL?” as it fried.  I haven’t made him hash in years.

Seth had the only complaint, “The pancakes are chewy.”

“Do you mean gritty?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s because they have cornmeal in them.”

I happen to adore cornmeal, and in case you do too, here is the recipe:

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cornmeal

2 cups buttermilk
3 egg yolks
3 T. butter, melted
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 cup blueberries

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter.  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle and sprinkle with the blueberries.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles firm and start popping.  Turn only once and cook until done.

I used blueberries that I picked myself this fall at my parents’ house.  I had forgotten them in mom’s freezer and she thoughtfully brought them to me in a cooler at Thanksgiving.  I was sparing with them in the pancakes as I am hoping to make my four bags of blueberry treasures last until next fall when I can pick some more.

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Happiness is being able to sit on the couch and take photos through the window of your bird visitors at the feeder.

Also legwarmers.   Leg warmers are happiness.

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The children were ecstatic to see snow coming down and bundled up in their snow boots to go outside.  Sarah danced down the driveway.

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Seth was pensive.

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Rich and David went to get our 2017 Christmas tree.

At first, they sent me this photo:

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But they really came home with a nice large sized tree.

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Thank you, guys!

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I made tacos for lunch.

Rich and I went downstairs to find ornaments.

Later that evening we watched Elf and let the children decorate the tree.  Only three of them decorated this year.  It was amazingly non-chaotic and I must say, lovely.

Rich and I must be getting older because as soon as the Christmas tree was completely done we said to ourselves, “It’s like it never left.”  The time between trees is all too brief now.

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Our three tree trimmers.

Rich hung the lights.  I think I hung up one ornament, my glass camera one.  I still have to hide the pickle (I’ll do it as soon as I’m done blogging). . . .

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Sarah was excited to find her Sarah ornament but was very confused when she found the one that said Isaac.  WHY do we have this one???   “Because he’s my brother and I like to think about him at Christmas!”

Truth be told, at the end of the season when the ornaments all go on sale I buy the ones I can find with our siblings/family names on them.  It’s fun and meaningful to have them hanging on our tree.  Someday Sarah will understand, too.

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The first Christmas card tidings received in the mail this year were from our old neighbors.

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We were trying to get a photo of the children in front of the tree when Parker slinked over and sat in front of them.  One wonders how long he was in the background watching before he became brave enough to join his children.

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My heart missed the older children very much.  I hope they are just about ready to come home and get their photo taken in front of the tree, too.

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He’s so cute.

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Last but not least; Christmas cat.

***

“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”  Francis P. Church

..we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good..

DSC_0325“I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” —Mina Murray in her journal

Sunday morning.  I had considered going to my parent’s house for the day as it was only an hour and a half drive from where we were in Pennsylvania.  But I was suffering with a cold and we decided to stay where we were.  Grace showed us a nice coffee shop and the three of us had breakfast together there.

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We spent the rest of the morning at a bookstore and Grace bought a journalling Bible with a beautiful cover and nice wide margins for her thoughts.

She was craving macaroni and cheese for lunch and we went to Ruby Tuesdays.

By this time, Joanna’s family was back from church and she was able to meet us with her daughter.

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I love her.

Joanna took Sarah along home with her.  Grace and I went to the hotel to get her things so she could do homework at Aunt Joanna’s house.  And then we spent the rest of the afternoon until bedtime with them.  It was as cozy as could be with all the family and me and my two girls all together in the cozy kitchen, dining room, and living room.  We had delicious Dominoes pizza for dinner.

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We love to exchange our big journals and look through them as we visit.  Joanna’s journal is big and heavy and full of quotes, pictures, found papers, and art.  Coco stayed by us and was inspired enough to get up and find things to glue into her first journal.

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((red shoe))

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Inspiration, Idea, Execution (the top corner of her journal shows a picture of how she came up with the art on the wall—her own photography))

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(green page)

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(brown)

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(old recipe)

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(photo by Jo)

“Some may say [journal keeping] is a great deal of trouble. But we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good. I consider that portion of my life which has been spent in keeping journals and writing history to have been very profitably spent. If there was no other motive in view [except] to have the privilege of reading over our journals and for our children to read, it would pay for the time spent in writing it.” —Wilford Woodruff

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“Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.” —Salman Rushdie

a wonderful weekend for Grace

IMG_8560I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

Grace’s boyfriend Caleb has been far far away in Texas.   He graduated from Air Force basic training in June and then spent the rest of the time in tech school for security forces.  Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Grace graduated from High School, spent the summer working, and began her freshman year of college, in Pennsylvania.  Despite the distance, the two of them were in constant contact using their smart phones, even going through several books of the Bible together during their own personal Wednesday Bible studies, and using FaceTime and texting to keep in touch.  But it just wasn’t the same.  They missed being together.  It had been too long.  Six months and five days, to be exact, according to Grace.

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So of course, this weekend, when Caleb was finally coming home to his parent’s house, Grace was going to try her hardest to get home, too, and had an AMAZING and GENEROUS friend drive her back as a surprise for him.  He walked into his house Saturday evening and found not only a “welcome home” party with friends and family but also……coming in the side of the room last, as a surprise……Grace.  As soon as he saw her, he took her into a hug and walked a few steps out of the kitchen into the dark hallway and….. there they stayed for quite a long moment.  I wasn’t there to witness this, but I saw the video and showed it to her Dad, too.  It made him feel awkward watching it as the seconds ticked by and by.  “What are they DOING out there?”  I laughed at him.  Oh Grace.  You’re in love and it’s sweet.

The next day Rich was away at our sons’ college in VT for a wrestling clinic.  I had football games to attend for Seth and Caleb, and Seth was going to a birthday party that afternoon, too.  I was able to spend some time with Grace that morning and then again, briefly, when I came home to pick up Caleb and Sarah.

As I drove back down the road to go to the game, I pulled over to take a photo of Grace and Caleb, who were out walking in the beautiful fall day with Tessa and Myranda (Grace’s excellent friend who drove her home).

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Grace and Myranda had to leave that afternoon, and Caleb plans to visit her again next week.  He’ll be based in New Jersey, which isn’t THAT far from Pennsylvania.  2.5 hours, according to Grace.

She sent me this photo later on in a text:

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“If there is anything that is a miniature picture of heaven upon earth, it is a pair of
Christians happily united, whose children grow up in the fear of the Lord, and render
to them increased comfort and joy every day. Oh, how much some of us owe to the
gospel for the happiness of our homes!”    ~C.H.SPURGEON

Grace, your Dad and I pray for you (and Caleb) each time you come to mind.   You and your siblings truly bring us “increased comfort and joy every day”.  Thanks be to God.