a muffin morning

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“I’ll measure the flour, you can dump it in,”

“You’re good at measuring.”

“And you’re good at dumping.”

“3 Tablespoons of sugar.”

“You don’t have to mix so strenuously.”

“1 Tablespoon of baking powder.”

“Baking powder?”

“And 1 teaspoon of salt.”

“Did you already put the salt in?  I wanted to use my little teaspoon.”

“Okay, now we have to put the wet ingredients in this bowl.”

“You can crack the egg, just let me pour the milk in first.”

“A whole cup of milk.”

“I need to melt half a stick of butter.”

“The key to perfect muffins is to never over-mix the batter.”

“Repeat after me, I will never over-mix my muffin batter.”

“I will never over-mix my muffin batter.”

Good girl.

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Sarah ate all 6 of her tiny muffins and then ate one of mine.  Then Caleb and Seth each had a muffin.  Ethan came home from picking up Tessa and they ate the remaining nine muffins which meant Michael, David, Jacob, and I did not get a muffin.  (12-3=9)

“I feel so bad,” said Tessa when she realized.

“I don’t.  I’m proud of us.” said Ethan with his eyes closed contentedly.

my birthday {2018}

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Yesterday was my birthday and Rich took the day off.  We had such a nice day together.  We took our books to the diner but never touched them.  We had plenty of things to talk about.  I had wanted him to try the homemade corned beef hash and we both ordered it with eggs and toast.  He liked it so much that he took me back for lunch so he could order it again.  Between breakfast and lunch he ate half a dozen eggs (over medium) and lots of hash.

He told me stories about his wrestling team and at one point we noticed one of the youth wrestlers across the room eating with his grandma and Rich went over to shake his hand and say hello.  During our meal he told me about a freshman who began the season so soft that he couldn’t do a pull up.  He couldn’t do a sit up.  But on Friday as they did conditioning Rich noticed him from across the room and he was easily doing pull ups on his own.  “Hey how many of those could you do when you first began the season?” he called.  “Zero, Coach!” was the happy answer.  He told me that wrestling is hard work, hard practices, but one of the boys answers when Rich asks, “How’re ya feeling?”  “Like a million bucks, Coach!”  We’re both so proud of the team captain who was so shy she cried when she first started having to speak publicly for the team a few years ago.  “She’s something else, Shan, she’s going to be something someday.  She’s brave in her own way.” and he told me a story about wrestling tape and singlets and how she got things done.  They aren’t perfect kids by any means, but they’ve been a pleasure for Rich to work with this year.  States are on Saturday!

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We left the diner and headed out to mail something to our son Jacob and then Rich said, “Where are we going?  It’s your birthday we can do anything.”  So I said, “Please please won’t you take me to the antique store in Sturbridge?” and he did.  Happiness is going to an antique store that you haven’t visited in a very long time.  We had plenty of time so I looked at every single thing in the store (two floors).

The first thing I studied (through the glass door) was stone fruit.  I’ve noticed over the years that I always pause over fake fruit.  How dumb.  But I do not collect it.  However, I was reading a magazine over Christmas and there was an article in it on “what is hot to collect next”‘.  Stone fruit was on the list along with a picture.  If you look at the fruit you would not think it was made of a solid stone, it looks lifelike, with bruises on the bananas and markings.  I made the decision that I would keep my eyes open for stone fruit since now I know it’s not dumb—after all, the magazine said it was a hot collectors item for 2018!  I didn’t buy any yesterday.  I didn’t realize it was so pricey.  But I believe I will come across it during some of my thrifting trips. . . . . . .

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Dawn, of course I thought of you, and my mom, too.  Vintage paper valentines!!!

This display case is done so beautifully!

Makes me want a display case in my own house that I can play with!

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Rich walked over to me with a Valentine and told me to put it in our stack of purchases for the day.  Inside it said:

Someday when I am older,
I think it would be fine
If you would be,
Sweetheart, to me
A loving Valentine

So many things brought tears to my eyes yesterday, I was deeply sentimental.

I went in for a hug about 7 times while we were browsing.

It was a love-connection day.

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I took pictures of things that I thought were interesting but not interesting enough to purchase.  One of the reasons that I love antiquing and thrift store shopping is it’s educational in a way, you get a sense of times past.  You can see the things that were in style 100 years ago…old photos, postcards, jewelry, art.  I love history.

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69.00   Excellent Shape  🙂

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This Cast Iron Amish Family tickled my fancy

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Baby photography from time gone by….I LOVE THIS LAUGHING BABY in a basket!!!!

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I collect HLC Fiestaware so I always always search for it.  I found this little set of black fiesta which was interesting because you don’t really see black out in “the wild” much.  The bowls were priced at 7 dollars each, the gravy boat was 14.  The creamer was missing from the coffee set.  I picked it up and looked it over but left it as I do have four small black fruit dishes already.

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“There really isn’t anything much to look at over here,” he teased.

“Oh look!  Gray!  I hardly ever see gray!”

“Who on earth would want GRAY FIESTAWARE?”

“Take my picture!”

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The mug and two bread plates were new, but the dinner plates were vintage gray so I bought one of them.  I’ve always liked gray in combination with pink and I have lots of Rose fiesta.

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The very bottom plate was a vintage Ivory chop plate in very good condition.  I LOVE chop plates they are so big and make lovely platters.

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**the most cheerful teacups** only 3 dollars said the sticker

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Not fiesta ~ ~ and yet I took a photo because Springtime!  Roses!  Pink!  Valentine’s Day!

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One last picture before getting our totals added and seeing how much we spent!

It really wasn’t too bad.

And then……time to drive down the road to pick out my birthday cakes.

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At my favorite bakery. . . .

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I got a chocolate peanut butter and a carrot cake.

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And then…..lunch.  As we got out of the truck to walk in the diner I noticed some people looking at me through the window.  “They must think I’m pretty or they can tell it’s my birthday”, I thought to myself.  But when we went in and walked to an empty table the man called out to Rich, “Hey, we were just admiring your truck!  That is one nice truck!”  It was awesome.  I simply love being humbled.

Generously buttered sour dough toast dipped in homemade clam chowder?  Comfort food.   Across the table from my very own husband of more than 20 years?  Soul-comfort.

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WHEN I GOT HOME THERE WAS A LITTLE PACKAGE and it was from my parents….a birthday check AND a homemade glorified dishcloth from MOM.  She made it up as she went along with an idea she had in mind.  I placed it on a scarlet cake plate to take a picture.

I love it.

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When I asked him to take a picture of me with the dishcloth so I could send it to mom, he took this first.

My husband and my fiestaware.  All very important to me.  🙂  I choose the middle.

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My birthday gifts from the antique store:

  1.  kitchen towel made from a flour sack with embroidery and three red and white doilies (MUCH less expensive than anthropologie!)
  2. betty crocker kitchen toy set (I LOVE)
  3. blue ceramic spoon (fiesta kitchen craft–a great find at 5 dollars!!!)
  4. snake book for Caleb
  5. Abe Lincoln book to read to the children
  6. and a Stereoscope viewer–Rich’s find, along with a stack of photos (very cool!)

 

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The next time I bake Sarah and I will do some miniature baking.  There are 2 cake pans, a muffin tin, a pie tin, a tiny cookie sheet, and mini cookie cutters.  So darling.

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Rich had a meeting at 5 and I spent time doing a puzzle and guess what?  Another gift from God—SUNSHINE after days of gloom and rain.  The cat agrees–sunshine is wonderful.

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MY FRIEND HANNAH who is on vacation in Hawaii, sent me this photo!!

And Joanna called to sing Happy Birthday.  We had the best little chat on the phone.

So many gratitude tears!

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The other day this package came from brother Dave.  He always remembers and he knows me so well.  Thank you Dave!  I got loving texts from my other 2 brothers and my sister and other family members throughout the day.  And of course Facebook makes birthdays extra fun and I heard from so many people I love.  So thankful to be on earth with all of you at this time.

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Rich took the video but when he stopped it he said, “I’m so sorry but that was like the worse singing of happy birthday we’ve ever had.”  I was thinking the same thing which is why I blew out the candles before the last note was finished.  LOL

 

most delicious chocolate cake

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Seth’s birthday

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had a backdrop of pure white and a sky of baby blue.

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It was absolutely magical in the woods.  Photos just do not do it justice as a photo turns everything flat and motionless and room temperature.  Reality has endless depth, layers, temperature, smells, sounds, feelings of expectation, exploration. . . . .

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nature’s playground

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here comes the sunshine

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They insisted on the short cut back home which involves a perilous crossing of the stream.

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No one got wet.

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For dinner that night……looks amusingly not that good….creamy scalloped potatoes with pan fried sausages on top.  Yum!

Birthday cake for dessert; two round cake layers with fresh whipped cream, sweetened strawberries, and homemade fudge sauce.

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topped with chocolate dipped strawberries.

I made everything myself except I did use a cake mix for the chocolate cake.

((((presented upon a Scarlet fiestaware cake plate))))

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It was truly as delicious as it looked.

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One piece remained but was quickly eaten the next day.

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“I got no cake.”

“I only got this dumb green streamer in my collar.”

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We took a photo that night at 9:20 pm, the exact time of his birth, nine years earlier.

 

 

 

bird notebook

Good morning Monday, my friends, do you feed the birds?

A thoughtful collection of bird feeders will bring an interesting variety of feathered visitors.  Sometimes I even say, “Thank you for coming!”

From where I am sitting on the couch I can look right through the living room window and easily see my feeders on the porch.  I have one hanging and three make-shift feeders (which are really copper sifters) sitting in different places; on the porch railing, a plant stand, and a little white table.  Because their bottoms are screens I don’t have to worry about the seed staying wet after it rains.  There is black sunflower seed in three of them, and dry mealworms in the fourth (wishing, hoping, dreaming…….of bluebird visitors).

I have a camera nearby with my zoomiest zoom lens attached.

And in this simple way, our days are peppered with bird behavior.  Sometimes the feeders are empty.  But sometimes chicadees fly in, take a seed, and immediately fly out to eat it in the bushes by our driveway.  They don’t stay long.  As soon as one leaves, another one takes its place, it is well-choreographed and there are never any collisions.  Sometimes a pair of cardinals come to visit.  Or a beautiful house sparrow and nuthatches, and a titmouse or two.  I remember that we need more suet to cater to the local woodpeckers.  I haven’t seen any bluejays lately but I saw some at a neighbor’s feeder yesterday.  My parents get a whole flock of mourning doves on their front porch!

Sometimes one of the children will notice a bird and tell me to “come look, Mom!”  I love that.  I tiptoe over as quietly as I can.  Sometimes I’m too late and “oops, it flew away.”

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“Think of all the animals you know and you will see that there is not another one that is clothed with feathers.”  Fields and Fencerows, by Porter and Hansen

“He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Psalm 91:4

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“A wave of song moves across the continent each morning, east to west, with sunrise.  Light–a certain intensity of light–starts birds singing.”  Backyard and Beyond, Edward Duensing and AB Millmoss

“He redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.”  Job 33:24

“Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.”  Psalm 96:1-2

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The more things should learnest to know and enjoy, the more complete and full will be for thee the delight of living.”  Phalen

“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all……”  Ecclesiastes 11:8

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“Use at least one full page in your notebook for each bird sighting.  First, record the day and time.  Next, record the place you saw the bird.  Was it in a field or near the water?  Was it on a grassy lawn or in a woodlot?  You might want to add a brief sentence describing the feature by which you identified the bird–it’s color, shape, or field mark.  Do a small sketch of the bird and make notes about the bird’s behavior.  You can squeeze a lot of information on one page.”   Field Trips, by Jim Arnosky

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“These birds were probably not drawn, even thus loosely, together by any social instincts, but by a common want; all were hungry, and the activity of one species attracted and drew after it another and another.  ‘I will look that way, too,’ the kinglet and creeper probably said, when they saw the other birds busy, and heard their merry voices.”   Signs and Seasons by John Burroughs

******

 

no school today (wednesday)

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David is practicing a song on the piano.

A candle is flickering on the coffee table.

Outside the window all is gray (sky) and white (snow) and black (trees).  We are fast losing daylight.  It’s 4:10pm.

Time to turn on lamps, think about what to made for dinner.

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This morning Caleb asked to make breakfast.  He made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for himself and younger siblings.  Seth wrote up the menu and took orders.

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This book is so good!

Since today was a snow day but the roads were clear, I took the three boys to our favorite barbershop for haircuts.  Only two boys complained at the news and said, “I don’t want to get my haircut!”  I asked them if they were still three and said go get in the car.  Soon we were on our way. . . . .listening to music, going to the ATM because he only takes cash payments, and pulling into the parking lot.  There were 4 haircuts ahead of us so we had to wait a while.  Thankfully I had my book.  Sports TV was loudly playing and it was fun to watch the boys get their hair cut.  He gave me a notebook and pen when we were done, and the boys each received a piece of very hard bubble gum and a lollipop.

What’s for lunch?  Two boys wanted Dunkin Donuts egg sandwiches but Caleb and I ran into Chipotle for burritos to go.

Back at home, Jack came over and the younger kids went outside to play.

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David, Grace, and I watched Myths & Monsters on Netflix (highly recommended).

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Dave with a new hair cut.  (he has a scrubbed face (eye) from wrestling).

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After the first episode I fell sound asleep on the couch and the kids came back inside to play.

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Rich just came home early.

Happy Snow Day!

 

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21st birthday

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I took this five minutes after I said to my children, “I wish a cardinal would come to the feeder.”  (we hadn’t seen one all winter)

It was such a vivid reminder of what prayer is.

It’s about Father-God hearing our honest hearts, and isn’t it true that so often what we think are “not prayers” really ARE prayers because HE KNOWS and understands us better than we know ourselves.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words……..Romans 8:26

When I said that I wished a cardinal would come I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing was praying a very basic and child-like prayer to a personal God who cares about everything big and small.

This is why I do not worry about the eloquence or religiousness of my prayer life.  I am His, so I cannot help but pray on purpose and quite unaware at times, too.

Maybe everything we say and think and feel is a prayer and the answers are all around us.

“To the poet,
to the philosopher,
to the saint,
all things are friendly and sacred,
all events profitable,
all days holy,
all men divine.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Dear Jacob turned 21 on the 31st of December.  Like he does every year, he once again invited a group of his nearest and dearest for an all day and all night gathering here at home.  They played lots of games, visited, talked, ate good food, had a secret santa gift exchange, and so on.

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Jacob and Brittnee

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Ethan and his girlfriend Tessa.

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Michael after saying something sexist just to get a rise out of us ladies.

He is lucky he wasn’t told to leave and never come back.  😉

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volleyball in the house is never a good idea

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sweet Sarah watching a tv show

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please Dave, please let me take a photo of your face

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thank you????????????

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Found Seth with the whole bowl of fruit with an expectant dog waiting but being ignored..

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such dear faces, each one

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singing the song

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making a wish

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blowing out 21 candles

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now time for the epic nerf battle (annual event)

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Caleb and Ethan

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He didn’t know his sister was just around the corner……

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Jake and Zak

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

other sights around here lately:

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Sarah’s safari watering-hole playset was a big hit for Christmas.  She can spend an hour or more at a time, making up little stories with her animals.

sunbeams

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watching our son wrestle with the magic of live-streaming online video

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Another Christmas present that Sarah LOVES is a fairy garden set.  It came with everything she needed, including soil and seeds, to grow a little garden.  The seeds have already sprouted and because she learned about growing seeds at school, she insisted we use a growing light, too, which turns everything underneath it one of her favorite colors. She checks on her seedlings constantly and even said good night to them (while giving me a mini-lecture complete with wide eyes and hand motions on what TRANSPLANTING means) last night before bed.

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Happy Tuesday, dear friends.  You are loved.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K Chesterton

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deep down joy

fullsizeoutput_4e37A sibling may be the keeper of one’s identity, the only person with the keys to one’s unfettered, more fundamental self. ~Marian Sandmaier

Brother Dave came the day after Christmas and stayed until Friday morning.

He’s a brother in every sense of the word.

I noticed that Sarah in particular had to be close to him as much as she possibly could.

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He hardly had room for his arms at times.

It was like she could sense that deep down inside, Uncle Dave could use another human Right There.  Us Grown ups all seem to have a little bit of sad vulnerability within us that is healed by the love and simple phrases of a child.  “Sit by me!  Can I come, too?  Will you read me a story?  Let’s snuggle.  Can I have a taste of your smoothie?  Will you play a game with me?  I don’t want you to go!”  Healed.

If a child is not available, any ol’ human will do.  “It is not good for man to be alone.”

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Right away we had Christmas again.  Dave had already sent cards with money to the children but he brought the gifts from our parents that we all enjoyed opening up.

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Sarah received the most adorable green umbrella with piggies on it.

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The men received new shirts.

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Rich tied the ribbon around his head.

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Grace received beauty products.

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By the time we opened our gifts Rich was ready for a nap.  He had already been awake for hours and had worked out with his wrestling team.  He likes to trap Seth in his arm on the couch when he goes to sleep.  Seth either falls asleep too, or waits quietly until he can sneak away.

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Big family dinner all around the table.  I used the crock pot.  Flank Steak, sliced onion and green pepper, sliced fresh mushrooms, minced garlic, and a pat of butter slow cooked all day and then served over your choice of rice or mashed potatoes.

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After dinner we sat at the table and visited and I ended up french braiding Dave’s hair like a Viking.

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We went downtown for breakfast at the diner.

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“When your breakfast is brought last.”

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After eating we were filled with happy energy so we gave Dave a little driving tour of our town.

Meanwhile, it was so cold, in the single digits.

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We made a stop at the thrift store.

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I took this photo of Hess trucks to show Rich later to see if he had any of them as a boy.

And to show Seth what they used to look like.

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And this one for my son David who likes knives, especially sharpening them.

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Sarah found some boots for one dollar and a couple of books.  David found and purchased a big print of ships on the ocean.  Grace shivered.

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Then we stopped at the coffee shop.  (This photo was taken across the street from it).

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When I think back on our visit with Dave, the coffee shop stands out as a very pleasant memory.  It was warm and busy, art work on the walls and fairy lights around the windows was beautiful.  We had a corner table by the window, it was light and bright inside.  We played cards and talked and waited for our warm drinks.  Oh it was just so good for the soul.  Completely comfortable and relaxing…..so needed after a busy week/month of Christmasing.

Quick photos with five of his nephews and our dog Parker who also loved Uncle Dave.

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Another very special memory was the walk we went on, just the two of us.

It was, I say again, icy cold outside.  But we bundled up and walked briskly in the freshest of winter air.

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It was a delight to see tracks everywhere in the forest.

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Shards of snow

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Visiting the stream deep in woods is always a winter wonder.

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sister and brother

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We ended up at the chicken coop and I walked back to the stream to get a bucket of water.

DSC_1025Our brothers and sisters are there with us
from the dawn of our personal stories
to the inevitable dusk. ~Susan Scarf Merrell