day in the life……


One of the things that I’m thankful about regarding Sarah is that she is always willing to snuggle and have “couch time” with mom.  In order to have couch time you need:

  1. a blanket or two
  2. a cat
  3. a good tv show
  4. books
  5. ice cream
  6. hairbrushes

At the end of a busy day, this is bliss.


She brushed my hair and made it pretty.  I brushed her hair and she, as usual, made complaints.  Her hair has gotten quite long and at 7 years old she’s not very good at taking care of it or keeping it brushed.  She ends up with tangles and this week, pine pitch.  I’m thinking about having it trimmed about five inches to make it more manageable.  In fact, this might be a nice outing for us on this cold rainy and snowy day.

IMG_4900 2

Good natured Seth, on a Costco trip.


The black cats we adopted at Christmas time have bonded to yours truly.  They adore me, however, at the sound of footsteps, or doors opening, or unexpected movements, they bolt.  But their purrs are loud and one of them is faithful to curl up on the couch next to me each night.  Unfortunately I cannot tell them apart.  I usually have to ask the children, “Who is this?”


Amanda came over yesterday with her son Weston and her friend’s daughter Julia.  Sarah had a girl to play with and they wasted no time in doing all they could in two hours.  It was absolutely adorable.


We talked a mile a minute and made plans and went for a walk with the girlies.



It’s been cold and I’ve been pouting in the house, having the children do chicken chores.  Two days passed, “no eggs mom” they say cheerfully.  So after Amanda left I trudged to the coop and found 2 dozen.  Hello?  I don’t get it.

They sure are pretty.  One of my favorite antique store purchases in the last year has been this old feed scoop.  It was the only thing I could grab to put the eggs in yesterday. . .

I made the children egg sandwiches for dinner last night and used up 7 of them.


We had a fire all day and Seth made a hot dog before bed.  He only took one bite before giving it to David, who practically ate the whole thing in one bite.  (little brother/big brother).  Seth is suffering because he had an expander and habit breaker put in the roof of his mouth this week.  He can’t talk and can’t eat and secretly I want to take him right back and have it removed.  But they say it’s for the best and he will get used to it.


Aren’t burning pinecones lovely?  Mom told me the Indians used them as fire starters so Sarah went down with a bag to gather them on a dry day (which is how she got pine pitch in her hair).

David felt dizzy during the day so I let him drink a Gatorade (reserved for sports practices and meets) and when he was done he threw that in the fire, too, causing me to lecture loudly.  Next thing I found was a metal pipe.  I saw it just as I threw another armful of logs on the fire and David was offended and said “My pipe!”.  “Get the pipe out of the house and stop throwing things on the fire!”  He amuses me and terrifies me.


At the end of the day and just before couch time with Sarah, David and Seth and I put our feet up on the hearth and chatted and laughed about things together.

It’s been a lonely week without my husband, but having the children home on spring break has made it much better.  He comes home tonight and I found myself putting make up on at 8:00 this morning.

full & good


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.



’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


golden edges


bluebird sighting at the suet


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……..


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


No human has a naturally red head THIS red.


And then, a cardinal appeared.


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


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.


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


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



And then they caught a nice fish.



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

~snow in March~


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.


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. . . . .








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


back at home. . . . .


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.


“Why aren’t these kids in school?”


“I can’t relax in these conditions.”



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


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



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.



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………….”


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


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)



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.

chocolate and sapphire


Rich and I met for breakfast this morning and then he went to work.  Since I was out and about I decided to drive myself to a nearby consignment shop and …….

…..scored a (retired) Chocolate Fiesta disc pitcher for only 6 dollars!

Then I went next door to another consignment shop and ………

……scored four (retired and somewhat rare) Sapphire tumblers!

The tumblers were sold as a set along with a blue teapot that was not made by HLC.  The price ticket said “Teapot and four mugs, 22.00”

Fiesta “in the wild” (term for when you find it second-hand) is always exciting (In my experience it happens only once in a blue moon) and I cannot believe I found Chocolate and Sapphire in two different stores within 15 minutes of each other at rock bottom prices.


“Be faithful to your own taste
because nothing you really like
is ever out of style.”  ~Billy Baldwin, interior designer 1903-1983


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.


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.


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.






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.


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


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.


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


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

‘Twas a lovely day.

seth almost got to go swimming


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


((((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.


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





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.


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


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.


Sarah’s favorite sneakers are Scetchers.


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


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


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.


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


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


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




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)


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


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.


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.



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.)



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


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. . . . ..


Jacob’s well organized gift pile.


Sweet Grace.


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)


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.


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




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


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


Ethan set up his new phone.


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


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


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!