voting with a nine year old

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The kids don’t have school today so I took a little buddy with me bright and early to get this important task completed.

Seth always knows what to do to have the utmost fun….. so I waited to see where he would put his sticker and then I put mine in the same spot.  Then he showed me that when I was filling in the ballot he had stolen the car keys out of my purse without me knowing it.

He thinks the voting age “should be five.”

We went to the grocery store with our stickers on our foreheads.

Next up, a trip to the barber with brother Caleb.

Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light…….

nancy drew books

When I was around 10 years old my Grandma brightened up my entire world by giving me a set of Nancy Drew books, which I absolutely loved to read.  I got so I would read one a day….all summer long…the summer I was ten.

I love how as an adult you remember things you did as a kid and think, “I still do that!!”  I HATE endings, I hate finishing things that are extra-special.  Most of the time you just have to go ahead and end, but sometimes you have a choice and just can’t.  For example, I read Winnie the Pooh to my son when he was little and I never read him the last chapter because I just couldn’t.  Well, I never read the last Nancy Drew book from Grandma, either………I never will.  It would be over.

I kept them all on a bookshelf in my bedroom,  in an orderly row.  My baby brother Isaac went through a stage when he would deliberately crawl in my bedroom just to pull himself up and pull all big sister’s nice books down in a heap.  I wonder if we have a photo of that.  I would have to put them all back again every single day, half annoyed and half forgiving because he was so cute and I loved him.

I had neglected the books.  I had all but forgotten their existence.

BUT THEN.  My brother David went to a huge antique store in Savannah, Georgia and sent me these photos:

(by the way it feels so good to be seen and known and loved by family–by Grandma years ago, and by Dave in sending me these photos bc he remembered I had them)

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The memory of Nancy Drew books came back to me as I thought of how amazed I was when Grandma gave me the set, how I treasured them and read them.  I would study the titles and the pictures on each cover.  I loved the size and feel of the books in my hands and their nice hard yellow covers.  I thought how I’ve kept them for 32 years now…..but not on shelves.  Shelf space for Nancy Drew had run out years ago and other books had become more important because life was busy with raising seven children and I rarely had time to read anything but children’s books to them, and no time to enjoy my own collection of books, much less the ones from my own childhood.  I like to enjoy my books by looking at them, pulling one out to look through, putting it back, rearranging them, putting them in neat orderly rows.  Feeling that they were mine, all mine.

I texted him back:  “When I was 10 Grandma gave me the whole set.  And I read one every day.  I should put them on shelves instead of in boxes.”

I’ve been cleaning and cleaning the basement for days.  And as I did, I came across some of the books!

Yesterday, Dave (my son) had an appointment and afterwards had to go back to school, but, “It would be WRONG if we were right next to Goodwill and didn’t run inside quick.”

WE FOUND A BOOKCASE!  It was made of pine (light enough for me to carry myself) and only cost 10 dollars.

Once books are on a shelf no one notices the shelf anymore so any ol’ bookcase of any quality (as long as it is sturdy) will do for books.  When I showed it to Rich he asked how much I paid and I said thirty and he said “good” and then I laughed and said “IT WAS TEN!!!!” to surprise him and impress him.

It was wonderful to gather up my old Nancy Drews out of a dark lonely box and put them all in one spot for the first time in 20 years.  I opened them up to see my name written inside.  I admired the covers.

There were a BUNCH MISSING.

This morning I wanted to blog and could not find my computer anywhere.  David uses it more than I do these days so I kept muttering his name as I went from room to room looking for MY computer.  Ugh.  I felt just as annoyed as I did when I found all my books on the floor.  Boys!  Brothers and sons.  cute.  loved.

I remembered that he had gone to the garage where we have a work out room upstairs.  He goes over there every day to exercise and he is very proud of his resulting muscles.  “Maybe he took my computer to the work out room,” I thought.  I don’t like going to the garage and mainly stay away.  But I tromped on over to look and… since I was there… I looked in the storage closet and FOUND A WHOLE BUNCH MORE OF MY BOOKS.

Thanks Dave (1) for inspiring me and thanks Dave (2) for misplacing my computer and forcing me into the garage this morning!  It’s all because of you two that I’m getting this silly little project done!

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I carried them back to the house in this basket.

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Getting ready to add them to the shelf.

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the shelf I bought at goodwill for ten dollars is already filled up

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I wrote down the ones I am still missing.  It’s like a treasure hunt!  I bet they’re around here somewhere!

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the beautiful blue of an autumn sky

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Samantha cat has a sore paw.

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Seth

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David was using this tool to retrieve Seth’s football from the pond.  He wasn’t being nice. He knew he had to do it because he was the one who kicked it in.

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When he saw me up on the porch taking his photo with my zoom lens he did what he loves to do…….

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…..take his shirt off and show off those muscles from his daily work-outs.

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I have three brothers and these five sons. (photo from 8 years ago)

Why am I crying?  I guess it’s because I’m happy and life is beautiful…and fleeting.

friday: boys dorm, saturday: book sale, sunday: football

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friday

I left the house at 8:30 in the morning on Friday to drive to the college that our two older boys attend.  After a three hour drive, and a couple of stops, I arrived around 1:00pm for a quick visit.  The purpose of the trip was to get Ethan and bring him back home with me for his week long break.  Jacob stayed on campus for football practices.  The drive to Vermont is easy and the views are so pretty.  I listened to a Wuthering Heights audiobook there and back, (all but the times when my phone lost cell phone service).

After I parked in the lot at the boys’ dorm, I let them know I had arrived.  They showed me their room and then they took me to a produce stand just down the road about a mile and I saw such picturesque farms along the way.    I posted photos of the stand on instagram.

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I love their room, it’s so typical of them.  They both agreed that they need 1) a broom and 2) an area rug.  I could have added more to the list.  Sometimes they take an entire couch from the common area and put it in their room.  It’s easier to play video games that way.  And maybe even study, too.  But you have to be sneaky about it and return the couch before room check.

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The dorm has a great view of the sports fields.

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Ethan and I left and ate lunch together in Rutland.  Then, an hour or so down the road, we visited a large antique center.  I bought a little bag full of black and white photographs from the 1930s, a vintage flour scoop, and a small vintage sifter for my mom.  I took photos of some fiestaware I saw but didn’t want or need (it happens).

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Admittedly, the vintage red shakers were in very nice condition, but I wouldn’t pay 30 dollars for them.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of this taxidermied chicken!!!  Would this be a fun addition to my house decor?  Or disturbing?  The tag said it was an old advertizing display for a store.

We also visited the Vermont Country store for cheese samples, coffee (oh how I needed it at that point!  And it was worth the wait–maple flavored;  everything’s maple flavored in Vermont), and sweets.  I had a delectable lemon bar.  The filling was creamy and not too tart, and the cookie base was soft and buttery.  So good!  So bad!

We arrived home and that was the end of Friday.

Saturday…..

……..was a nice, easy sunshiny family day.  Rich took Seth to a birthday party at a trampoline place and Seth had just the greatest time.

I took a photo of a pretty mushroom.

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And then, I took Sarah with me to a library used book sale.  She put new laces in her sneakers without any help from her Dad, and put a cute little dress on.  She was pleased to go look for some books with her Mom.  It’s odd at times, because Grace is at college now but when she was Sarah’s age she was the only girl in the family, and now it’s the same for Sarah.  She’s 8 years old and Grace was 10 when Sarah was born.  Sometimes I get flashbacks and think I’m back in time with Grace again.  Even their little voices sound the same to me now and then.   And I told Sarah when we got in the car, “I’m so glad God gave you to me.”

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The library ladies at the table gave me a dollar and fifty cent discount for being a mom of seven, which in their eyes, deserved the teachers discount.  I mean, every teacher AND mom should get a discount, am I right?

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We were able to add three more books to our Newbery collection.  I think it’s amazing and good that Newbery medals are awarded to all different reading levels and genres.  For example, Millions of Cats is a children’s picture book and story for the age range of 2 to 5 years old, and only 32 pages long.

Here is a quick video that I did this morning, showing all of the books (except the Newberys which I already put on the shelf.)::

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Our kitty Walter Felix Disney just meowed and meowed in gratitude when he saw his new book that we bought for him.

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But Sherlock didn’t care.  He knows the books about HIM are 100 times better.

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Someone was happy to have his boy back.

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Rich and I took full advantage of our Saturday together because on Sunday he had to leave us for a business trip.

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I’m sort of consoled because Ethan is home this week and also Rich’s trip includes the L.A. airport and we all know what that means……more RAMS merchandise for yours truly!

sunday

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A happy Sarah cheerleader!

I am sad to say that although it was a beautiful day for football games, we lost them.  Caleb and Seth seemed to enjoy it anyway, especially because they both came away with a bunch of new bruises and Seth’s calf muscle on his left leg got run over very impressively by cleats and he has scratches and bruises.  It seemed to invigorate them and they came home and later on played even more football with Jack until it was too dark to see outside.

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David and Ethan dropped off Caleb, played soccer together on another nearby field, and then left to go to the Guitar Center and go visit Zach, Michael, and the rest of the gang at their “2nd Mom and Dad’s ” house, Chris and Caroline.  I didn’t see them again the rest of the day because by the time they got home at 10pm I was in bed finishing my latest book.  (shown on instagram).

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Seth on the field.  He did so so good.  Coach George made it a point to sing his praises to me later on and said how good Seth was, both as a player and a person.  It meant so much to me to hear his coach say what I know in my heart to be true.  He’s a good boy.  You know, he sat right on my lap this morning when he got up.  They love it when I wear my soft red robe.  It prompted me to make up a song titled “the best chair of all is a mom chair.”  To which he replied, “Can I see your phone so I can check my fantasy team?”

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I found this Seth-Selfie from yesterday on my phone.  He had my phone in the car and was listening to a Boxcar children book while waiting to warm up.

this very morning;

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST a photo that I took so I could show Sarah how excellently I did her braids this morning.

“Every kind of work can be a pleasure.
Even simple household tasks can be an
opportunity to exercise and expland our caring,
our effectiveness,
our responsiveness.
As we respond with caring and vision to all work,
we develop our capasicy to respond fully to all of life.
Every action generates positive energy
which can be shared with others.
These qualities of caring and responsiveness 
are the greatest gift we can offer.”
~ Tarthang Tulku

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one little patch of beauty

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The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

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Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

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Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

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But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

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Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

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The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

~J.R. MILLER~

I found a new podcast that I listen to as I walk and it never ceases to soften my heart.  The speaker simply reads excerpts from books or essays from various spiritual writers.  His voice is soothing but –be aware–the children will laugh.  I was listening to it when I picked up David from track practice and he dropped his head back on the seat pretending to be put sound asleep by the voice reading to us.

The name of the podcast is Inspirational Living.  Yesterday was a reading from J.R. Miller called Be of Good Cheer:  The Blessings of Cheerfulness.  Miller has been quoted many times on this blog, so I thought it was high time to quote him again.  There is a great website full of Miller’s writing you might want to go peruse it…GRACE GEMS.   Highly recommended.

PERUSE:  read, typically in a thorough or careful way.

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Lily of the valley is coming into bloom.  I found some in the ditch as I walked yesterday and picked one so I could enjoy it’s lovely scent.

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A little peak at the flower garden by the patio and garage.  Hens and Chicks, Phlox, and Iris.

The best part of the day, besides figuring out the Marco Polo app so I could video text with my friend Lea Ann……..

…….was these two fine young men returning home for the summer.

We were all so happy as we ran to the car to see them.  They had quite a morning of trying to load the vehicle with all their stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  They learned a valuable lesson or two for next school year.

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As soon as they opened the doors it started falling out.

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Ethan showed me his seat, he had no room for his legs or any movements on the 3 hour drive back home.

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For whatever reason even the hens ran over to investigate.

Seth, Sarah, and David helped them unload.  I had made hamburgers and pasta for dinner, and peanut butter cookies, but had to leave after just a few minutes to take Caleb to his game.

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This is how they brought their clothing home.  Stuffed in a hundred thousand plastic bags found in a trash can at school.

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JUST as I took the photo, Jacob threw his football to Ethan.  We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried…..

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Rich and I sat in our lawn chairs at the top of the hill and watched Caleb play in his game (they lost 9-7) and the rest of the kids (but Grace, who comes home this weekend).  Jacob talked to us nonstop about his recent college stories.  As I studied their faces I was filled with pride and joy.  “What do you think of these fine sons of yours, Rich?”  And we looked at each other and smiled.  If you have children, you know the feeling.  These moments make all the stressful moments worth it, tens times over.

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Caleb was hoping that his big brothers would come to his game.  And they did.

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They were playing catch with the football right in front of me.

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Sarah came to get me so she could take me to a tiny nest that she found.  Could the night get any better?

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David said “I finally feel like I’m not all alone anymore.”

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flashback:

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This photo recently caught my attention again…..it’s from almost 8 years ago…..I made Sarah’s dress.  And look at those arms and legs and that face.

Just a few more quotes before we go:

fullsizeoutput_54db 1“Our attitude is to be ever toward joy.”

DSC_0633 1“Shall we not seek for the bright side? There is really sunshine enough in the darkest day—to make any ordinary mortal happy—if he only has eyes to see it!”

DSC_0659 1There is no lot in life so dreary—
that it has not
at least its
one little patch of beauty;

or its one wee flower looking up
out of the dreariness,
like a smile of God.”

*J.R. Miller

 

you are loved.

seth wrestling

Seth started out really well in his wrestling career at age 5 but now that he’s nine he definitely has to work a lot harder for wins because unlike Seth who practices only during the season as a town sport, most of the other participants are in clubs.

Seth had a meet today and I didn’t go so I have nice detailed texts from Rich.

When I got up this morning they were about to leave and Seth was wearing 1) his Nike leggings 2) his wrestling shorts that are just like Tristan’s from the HS team who is a great wrestler and Seth looks up to him, and 3) his Champion Tshirt from when he won states at 7 year old.  As soon I opened the door and came out of my room he walked straight to me without a word and gave his mom a big hug which became a moment I have thought about all day long.  “You look snazzy!” I said.

Sometimes wearing just the right clothes gives you that winning edge.

I awaited the first update and here is is:

10:32am

“Seth lost a heart breaking match.  He was up 8-2 but got caught in a headlock and got stuck for a pin late in the 3rd against the same boy he lost to a few weeks ago.  It was a crazy fast paced match.  Both boys are real good but Seth was clearly the better wrestler today which made it hard for me to watch the way it ended.  The other boy’s head coach came over after the match told Seth the same thing.  Ugh!!!  Time to wrestle for 2nd.”

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As his mom I felt better a little while later when Rich sent me this adorable photo of Seth and his friend Johnny talking over their matches in a quiet corner.  I can see a smile on Seth’s face and I had imagined him like huddled in a corner crying or something (which he honestly never does).

11:18am

“He won his second match.”

“Good!  How was it?  Points or pin?”

“He won by pin.  He could have wrestled better though so we need to do better this next match.”

12:07pm

“He just won his 3rd.  Most exciting match of the day so far.  He was down 3-4 with 20 seconds left in the 3rd and he was wrestling very well.  Seth was on top but having a hard time turning him for back points.  I had Seth let him up which would give the other kid a point but if we could get a takedown we could tie it and have a chance for the win.  Well Seth got a takedown with only seconds left to tie it and we went into overtime.  (In first overtime first wrestler to score wins.)  Seth got in on a good shot but they ended up in a scrambled he couldn’t finish it going out of bounds.  Then he got the same shot but ended up in a scramble that was back and forth–at one point the other kid clearly had better position and almost scored the takedown, but Seth held the helm and ended up being able to get around and finish the takedown for the score, the win, and to take 2nd for the day!”

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Way to go Seth (and his Dad)!