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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Their little acts of service melt my heart!!!

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

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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.

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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.

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

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CAT NIP!!!!!

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

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Laura Ingalls page

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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.

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

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….ordinary life….

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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.

 

 

 

the babies

There’s a small hole in the kitchen, right in the corner where the dishwasher meets the cupboards.  Our cat Sam hates the other cats in the house and has taken to squeezing herself into that hole, ending up in the cupboard for hours a day.   The hole is too small for the other cats to follow her, so she feels safe.  Seth is home sick, getting over the flu, but wanted a cat so much that he went to pull Sam out of the cupboard, knocking over a bottle of sesame seed oil.  The cap broke on the floorm the bottle spilled, and so…. guess what…………I’ve already cleaned up half a cup of seseme oil off the floor!!!  Not a pleasant smell, either.  Seth was sent back to the couch without the cat.  In order to clean up sesame seed oil you need:  paper towels, Dawn dish soap, hot water, more paper towels, and cleaning spray that smells stronger than the oil.  (I used Mrs. Meyer’s Lilac)

I have to leave in an hour for a doctor’s appointment but am determined to post these photos.

My brother Nate and his family came out to Connecticut this weekend to visit my brother Isaac and his family, and the baby girl cousins were together!

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We had a wonderful time sitting around the livingroom visiting each other and admiring the girls.

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As soon as I walked in the house and saw them in their matching outfits I laughed.  They were impossibly cute!!!!!

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Isaac took all the photos.  Thank you Isaac!

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Isn’t it a joy to have a cousin to grow up with?  Cousins are the best.

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Seth named this photo “milk and cookies”.  He said Elena was thinking of milk, and Morgan was thinking of cookies.  He asked me which baby I thought was cuter and I said it was impossible to choose and then I asked him which one HE thought was cuter and he thought about it and couldn’t choose, either.

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They’re even cute when they cry.

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This morning we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful snow.

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Happy Monday, friends.

You are loved.

 

weekending

I just got back from Agway.  The kids don’t have school today so I took Sarah with me.  She talked to me in the car, all about her future in which she wants “ten cats, including kittens.”  She’s trying to figure out what sort of job she should get that will allow her to take care of her cats and spend as much time with them as possible.  She dreams of mealtimes when she has them all sitting around the table with her “eating chicken scraps” while she “eats potatoes”.  She showed her love to me by generously telling me “I’ll give YOU a kitten if you want one.”  I told her she should write all of it down and title it “Sarah’s hopes and dreams.”

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I wanted to post photos from Saturday and Sunday on here because we had a nice weekend.

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On Saturday Rich was at a wrestling tournament with his team.  I had begged him to take Caleb along, as he sometimes has a struggle with boredom at home with me and his two younger siblings so…….. off he went with his Dad, somewhat reluctantly.  This left me with just Seth and Sarah for the entire day which was lovely.  They were good company for each other and for me.  We went to Barnes and Noble because I had bought Sarah a book as a Valentine’s gift but alas it was a book she already owned.  Thankfully, when we made the return, the one she wanted was at the store, but we had a few nervous minutes while the lady looked in the back for it.  Sarah LOVES the Warrior books by Erin Hunter just like her big sister Grace did at her age.

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I took them to Chick fil a for lunch and snapped this photo because Sarah cutely complained, “The chicken keeps slipping from my grasp” which I thought was an adorable way to explain the situation.  She ended up putting it down in the box it came in and eating it with a fork.

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The rest of the day was spent at home quietly with cats and books.

THEN ON SUNDAY;

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We actually had time to relax in bed that morning for an extra hour or so.  Rich fell back to sleep after taking Seth and Caleb to their coaches house, I looked at magazines and Sarah read her new book.

Then we got ready and went to see Jacob and Ethan wrestle!!  I was so excited to see my two biggest boys.

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Look at them!!!!  They are wonderful.  My heart was happy all day long even though yet again, I was in a wrestling gym.  🙂

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They had the best time together.

David alternated between hanging out with his brothers and his mother.  Sarah was all over the place, coming back to me now and then when she wanted a dollar or two.  She loves buying snacks from the concession table.  I think she bought Doritos, and a piece of pizza for lunch.  Her pizza looked so good that when she was done I had her go get me a piece (BECAUSE David wouldn’t!!  He said if I was a young pretty girl he would get it for me but because I am his mother he felt that I should be getting HIM a piece.  We laughed and laughed).

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I found Sarah sitting in a lounge area reading her book.

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I was up in the stands (bleachers were packed) watching my boy Ethan.

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He won easily.  I was cheering so loudly that Rich told me that at one point Ethan’s coaches stopped watching Ethan wrestle to look around and wonder who was yelling for him.  🙂

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He knew right where I was in the stands and made eye contact with his mom after his win.  So dear.

Later, we were sitting in the extra room where mat #5 was when Seth and Caleb were dropped off by their coach.  They had BOTH qualified for States AND they BOTH won 2nd place!!  It was very special to me because Seth was a little quiet and pensive the night before the meet.  I noticed and told him he didn’t have a thing to worry about and to “just do it for your hometown”.  About an hour later I was tucking him into bed and he told me he would “do it for his mom”.    So when he came in he gave me his medal.  In the photo I actually have Seth’s and Caleb’s medals around my neck but later on I let Sarah have Caleb’s.

Michael and Zach were at the meet, too, so they could see Jacob and Ethan.

The only one missing was our dear Grace.  I missed her so much.

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Sarah frolicking across the mat.  🙂

Jacob wrestling.  He’s so strong.

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So many people I love in one photo……Ethan had just gotten done with a match.  Rich and Jacob were busy discussing some wrestling technique with Caleb, Seth, and Michael looking on.

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Later on when the  meet was over……one last photo of Rich and his five sons, not wanting the day to be over just yet.   After we left them, we took the kids to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and then grocery shopping.

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Yesterday the children played in the newly fallen snow.

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Cats were sleeping everywhere.

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David cleaned his room without anyone telling him to do it, and he printed and taped up all these inspirational quotes above his bed.

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Yesterday I made pancakes, remember?  This morning it was waffles.

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And David got breakfast in bed again,  now with a nice clean bedroom.  I’m still in shock that he cleaned it.

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It’s a beautiful morning and there’s so much to look forward to.

As I type I can hear David playing the piano and the other kids fooling around on my bed.

“What is done in love is done well.”  Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

 

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.”

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9:58am

 

good things

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.”

Tuesday morning

listening to music

staring out the window, the eaves are dripping, dripping, dripping (in time to the music)

lots of photos to share;

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((for the people I love))

 

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On Friday night we were watching the Incredibles 2

I was sitting weary but happy at my favorite spot at the table when Seth came by and said “I want to sit on you” and he sat on my lap.  I couldn’t see the movie very well after that but I put my nose in the back of his hair now and then and breathed in this boy of mine.  I gave that look across the room to Rich that he knows means, “Take a picture!”

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The very next morning, he was 10 and opening his big bag of gifts with some of his best friends watching curiously.

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He was given Dude Perfect things to play with, a new outfit, a stuffed animal dog that breathes thanks to a battery (he named it Oliver), and other little things.

I mixed up his requested birthday cake, which was Red Velvet, and then off we went to the wrestling tournament at our High School.  Rich is the head coach and hadn’t slept a wink the night before in all the excitement……

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Here he is, opening up the day of wrestling.

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Meanwhile, the birthday boy had a good friend with him all day and they (along with other boys) had the greatest time in the gym and also in the wrestling room nearby, playing football and running around.  They came to me now and then, mostly to get money so Seth could buy himself stuff in the cafeteria.  Since it was his birthday I didn’t say things like, “Don’t get candy with this” like I normally would.

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David with his friend Tristan.  Best boys in the world (the whole team is awesome)

There is so much sitting around and waiting at these tournaments.  David stayed bundled in his warm ups until it was time to wrestle.

I found myself a spot at the top of the bleachers so I could rest my back against the wall.  Sarah stayed nearby and we played cards and she also had a book and her DS.  I was able to chat with another wrestling mom which was fun, her name was Shannon.

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Dave after a win, going to the center to take off his ankle strap and get his hand raised.

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“Mom, can I have your phone?”

“Only if you sit over here and have your picture taken with me, birthday boy!”

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David getting set up to pin.

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My wonderful son.

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Another wonderful son (Caleb)…..watching one of our guys wrestle.

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Later on that night (what a long day, also Dave got 4th place in his bracket), Seth blew out his birthday candles and we ate the cake.  I had been concerned that it wasn’t going to be perfect……..but it was.  (in all humility)

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Isn’t it just so pretty on a Shamrock fiesta plate?  By the way, the newest color is another shade of green and they named it “Meadow” and I cannot wait to get a piece of it!!!!

(((Walter pictures)))  This cat is adored!  He’s sitting on the floor staring at me as I type, too, it’s quite funny.

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Well, and then on Sunday we all know what day it was.  Superbowl number 53 and my team was in the game.  Every time my husband flies into L.A. he gets me merchandise so I was all set to wear Rams stuff from head to toe.

We cleaned and pushed furniture around, plowed the driveway, ordered pizza and wings, and prepared for a houseful of friends all day long!

I was tired out so around 4 I went to bed to rest.  I was highly amused by the frequent visitors I had……

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Seth even stole my hat!

Isaac was the first to arrive and pretty much the first thing he said after taking off his coat and hugging me was “is that a red velvet cake?” and he ate 2 pieces.  🙂

I sat right in between my sis and my bro and it was a delight.  It was also a delight to see our girlies play and have fun.  Naomi braided Sarah’s hair and then they made batch after batch of slime upstairs.  They didn’t even make that big of a mess….I just had to vacuum the next morning what with all the glitter and foam beads everywhere.

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This picture makes me so so so so happy!  Rich invited his wrestlers to come watch the game and we had some parents stay, too.  Our friends Chris and Carolyn came again this year (they have in the past as well) and it was great to see them and catch up.  We had TON of food to enjoy.  I’m just so thankful and happy to have good friends through our community.  Look at Seth and John standing on the bookshelf behind the couch.  And Sarah sitting with her Uncle Isaac.  And sweet Naomi sitting between me and her mama.  I really need to print this and put it on my fridge.  I’ll smile all day.

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Well, alas, I was disappointed in how the game turned out.  My team lost to my son’s favorite team and Caleb has such a sweet heart that he felt bad and just stood next to me in silence as we watched the Patriots celebrate after the clock ticked down and the game was over.  “You can be happy, Caleb!” said Rich, but Caleb didn’t have it in him.  I had to go get groceries the next morning so I thought I would see if I could get Caleb a shirt to show him I was a good sport.  😉

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I took this photo at 6:20 this morning!!!!

By the way, when you have wrestlers in the house they’re gonna wrestle.  Caleb got a huge goose-egg on his forehead and another boy hurt his thumb (Rich even wonders if it’s broken).   That shadowy spot on Caleb’s head is The Bruise.

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I went for a nice walk yesterday again, the temps reached 60 which felt so nice after days and days of frigid temperatures.  I even saw a Robin taking a bath in a stream in the woods.  The birds were happy, too.

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(after a long day) we were texting Michael and the kids and laughing on the couch.

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Pictures from this morning.  (see Walter?)  Grace, David got the ink pot unstuck from the table finally.

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I sang him a song about a Handsome Handsome Cat.

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I praised the sunrise.

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And a few minutes later, the morning golden glow.

 

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for all mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

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It had been a long while since I had gone to the woods by myself so I practically ran.

I spent so much time over the holidays inside malls, inside the house, inside the car, doing, doing, doing.  It was time to just “be”.

I took all of these photos on Friday.

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First stop was the chicken coop where I found some eggs.  Walter begged and begged to go on the walk with me but I said “no” right away because I knew (from what Grace had told me) that all he would do is feel lost and scared and meow a lot.  Therefore,  I put the eggs and the cat in the house.

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I’m so thankful to live close to running water.  In fact, I was outside again yesterday in the cold sun, laying back on the frozen ground with my eyes shut, listening to the sound of it.

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The tree I hugged.

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self-portrait

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funny icicles hanging down from a fallen pine tree

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Looks like snow or styrafoam, but it’s really some kind of fungus.

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more pretty pretty fungus on a fallen tree

The sunshine was really lovely to see on this walk, after several gloomy days.

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I am an admirer of ice.

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In fact, I ate a bite of it.  It tasted good, like pine, but later on when I gave some to Sarah she spit it out and said it “tasted like the stench of the forest.”

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As I made my way around to the stream again (the same stream from near our house, only deeper in the woods)  I found that it had flooded the day before, well beyond its banks.  Then, it froze overnight and the next morning when the water started to recede, it left its coat of ice spreading across the ground.

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I stood up on a bank to take this photo, looking down across the ice.  I closed my eyes and could hear it falling and cracking.  It almost sounded like someone else walking throught it in the distance, but I was alone.

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I got as close as I could to the water and sat on a frozen moss covered boulder for a while.

(A good thinking spot.)

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I didn’t see any birds but the closer I got to the field the more I could hear them.

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The trees had sheets of ice hanging off their lower branches.  Sometimes a wind would blow gently through and shake the ice enough to make a sound like soothing wind chimes.

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It was all such a delight and my face was pleasantly cold.  It felt good to BREATHE.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say over and over again.  Everytime I go outside for a walk I get surprised (and smile a lot) over something in God’s big beautiful world.  Which is why I always take my camera along.

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My heart, mind, and soul go back home refreshed.

“If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

~Mary Oliver

 

 

 

..the dark sacred night..

dsc_0188I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world  

Good morning, it’s -5 outside, ice coating everything, sunshine lighting up the trees so they look all-over silver.  The most beautiful world outside, do the little wild animals in the woods enjoy it, too?

My heart is overflowing with joy.

I stayed up last night taking photos of the moon.  This morning I woke up to the children being so charming; Sarah already outside with her hair yellow and glowing down her back, Caleb and Seth laughing and fooling around together downstairs, David trying to make a fire using foil and batteries (“it only made smoke”).  Sports Center blaring on the TV, cats eager to be fed, and a movie playing on the small TV in the addition with no one around to watch it.

Good morning texts on the phone from my beloved sister and brother.  Today is Weston’s birthday, I can’t believe my little nephew is eleven today.

I couldn’t wait to look at my moon photos.

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Dear Joanna watched it with me, way way faraway in Pennslyvania.  My family all fell asleep.

The magical moon.

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It was so cold that I went out the front door, said hello, took a few photos, and then went back inside to warm up for another 10 minutes or so.

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I didn’t bother with a tripod.  I just tried my best to get the settings on my camera correct and then *didn’t fiddle around* simply because it was too cold and I had no mittens on my hands.

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It really does look as if it’s hanging in the sky.

 

I have needs and hopes and wishes and wants and complaints.  But last night when I was standing under an inky black sky, under a beautiful moon, in my slippers on top of a cold hard snow and my nose was freezing and my hands were freezing, and I was wearing a coat and a robe and a hoodie, I thought to myself………..

God is 1,000,000,000 bigger than any of my petty problems.

Vast, immeasurable, mighty, and……. and amazingly…….He loves & cares for you and me!

 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us–none can compare to You–if I would proclaim and declare of them, they are more than could be numbered.  Psalm 40:5