it was a month ago…..

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Ask her what she craved and
she’d get a little frantic
about things like books,
the woods, music.
Plants and the seasons.
Also freedom.
~Charles Frazier

Grace turned nineteen on November 4.

When she was home from college for Thanksgiving break she said, “You didn’t blog about me on my birthday”.   So here I am, better late than never, with my sincerest apologies to you, dear Grace!

Grace was born in the very early hours of the morning all those years ago, our first daughter after two sons.  Born at 38 weeks, but so tiny that everyone stopped to admire her and call her “Peanut”, I delighted in being her mother.  I found a white bib that had a small peanut embroidered on it and of course I had to buy it for her and I bet it that bib is still here in a box somewhere along with many other keepsakes from that precious time.

She’s all grown up now and in the middle of her second year of college and doing very well.  She has her own dorm room this year which has been nice for her, but she keeps so busy she’s rarely in it except to do homework and sleep.

She’s healthy and strong, with lots of dear and close friends.

She loves to read and write, sing and play piano.  She loves to be useful.

I hadn’t taken many photos of her lately so when she was home for Thanksgiving we got the camera out for a couple of “Now You’re Nineteen” photos.  We were downtown that day for “small town shopping”.

The quotes are from Grace’s own personal collection of favorites.  (she has hundreds) ❤

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“Come, let us have some tea,
and continue to talk about happy things.”

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Don’t be so cool you can’t cry.
Don’t be so smart you can’t wonder.
Don’t be so set on your sunny days
That you can’t love the roll of the thunder.

He has made everything beautiful
in its time.   Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

a very special September 16th

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new mama

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first baby!!

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My brother Isaac and his wife Cassandra had their baby!!! and invited us over yesterday to meet her.  Rich and I left David in charge of Caleb, Seth, and Sarah at home, and spent about an hour and a half visiting our new little niece.

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It was wonderful to hold this beautiful baby girl.  She’s perfect.

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Rich had a turn holding her, too.  I think he was surprised that I would share.

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Isaac with his baby girl.

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I took these portraits after she took a little nap and was relaxed, calm, and content in her Daddy’s arms.  Rich remarked to me after we left how sweet it was to see her obviously know and love her parents.

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Welcome to the word, sweet Elena!  You are loved beyond words.

*****

 

When it was time to leave, we went in the backyard and had Isaac take some photos of us, as it was our 23rd wedding anniversary.

It was a very special September 16th, and one we will always remember because it was the day we met baby Elena.

Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 106:1

 

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Dearest Father in Heaven,
Bless this child and bless this day
Of new beginnings.
Smile upon this child
And surround this child, Lord,
With the soft mantle of your love.
Teach this child to follow in your footsteps,
And to live life in the ways of
Love, faith, hope and charity.
~Gaelic blessing

We had a full and fun summer with just enough boredom, chaos, and lack of schedule to make the first day of school somewhat of a relief.  Okay, maybe I’m speaking for myself.  I was wondering why I wasn’t sad in the least to have children get on the bus a few hours ago and I think it is because there were no major changes this year….no one is going into their senior year, no one is entering High School for the first time, no one is going off to college for the first time.  “Sigh” everything’s sort of the same as it was a year ago.

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David saw me get the camera and said, “No”, but even as he said it he was getting up off the couch to go to the door…….he knew it had to be done and maybe I’m fooling myself but I think he was glad that I was still going to take photos just like all the years before.  He is in 10th grade now and will turn 16 in a month.  Caleb is 13 and in 8th grade.  My heart swells with pride and love when I look at them.  They’re just so great in typical teenager boy fashion.

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Seth is in 4th grade this year and has the same teacher that his big brother Caleb did in 4th grade, and he’s excited that he has a man teacher for the first time.  We visited his classroom yesterday and he was thrilled to discover that he had several of his good friends in his class.  Seth took special care in putting together his first day of school outfit which I thought was adorable.  He grew a lot this summer, into a big solid boy.

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Sarah had an entire new outfit that I bought for her yesterday (she even picked it out herself with no help from me because I was busy chasing Seth around the store).  But at the last minute, she went with an old- but stain-free-, comfortable- but pretty-, shorts and shirt.  Then she grabbed the kitten and jumped.

Sarah is in 3rd grade and has the same teacher that both David and Caleb had in that grade!  She also has a male teacher for the first time and he’s just the nicest man, we see him and his family around town often.  It’s such fun to have repeat teachers, and really get to know them.

Jacob, Ethan, and Grace are all off to college and settled into their dorms.  The boys share a room which has no air conditioning so they sweat and swelter, and Grace has her very own room which I am sure is a relief to her after having to share with Sarah all summer.  I’ll do a better update about the college kids eventually.

After I waved the kids onto the bus, I got dressed, tidied up the house, gathered up laundry, and emptied the dishwasher.  I also let out the chickens, and had to shampoo Seth’s rug.  Now I’m done with chores I’m going to the garden center to spend my rewards cash before it expires in 2 days.  I guess it’s time to get some fall mums.

Thanks for stopping by, friends, it’s a beautiful day.

You are loved.

PS, kids I’ll be home and waiting with cookies when you get off the bus.

 

this is the sweet face of great relief

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“I feel like a huge burden that I’ve had since I was a child was just lifted off of me.”  

 

Here are the memories she doesn’t want to forget about learning to drive:

That time when her Dad had her drive around and around and around an empty parking lot at school backwards, this way and that way until she cried, and then he had her do it more.

The time she and I were going to the plant store and I didn’t tell her how long it was going to take to get there and she drove for an hour.

When she first really drove it was with her older brother Jacob and it was raining but she didn’t know how to turn on the wipers and when she did turn them on they went so fast she got nervous and asked Jacob for help.

She went to the H.S. to practice backing into parking spots and no one was there so her Dad got out of the car and walked laps while she practiced parking which was exactly what she needed…to figure it out on her own.

She had two college friends (April and Ryan) and Caleb and Kylee praying for her before her test this morning.

She and Caleb talked on the phone and went over traffic rules the morning of her test.  And he reminded her to turn on her lights and put on the emergency brake which were the two things she did wrong on her practice test last weekend.

To help them with their nerves, they had a movie going in the waiting room for the students about to test, and a box of munchkins for them to snack on, but she didn’t want to eat anything or watch anything …. but she did eat a munchkin because she felt she would be rude if she didn’t.  The movie playing was “Sing” and she was annoyed because she wanted to concentrate on her test but with the movie playing she started getting interested and watched it.

The songs she sang to herself while she waited for her test driver were, “Give me Oil in my Lamp” and “I love You, Lord”.

The man riding along to test was very nice; an elderly grandfather type.

She didn’t think she would do well, she didn’t think she would pass.

She and her dear friend Kylee both took their test on the same day and passed.  And when she walked in to the office to hand her paper sheet to the lady for her paper license the lady said, “Look at you, you little show off,”  because she got nothing marked wrong.

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She walked over to the garden center after her test to find me.

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vanilla cake, vanilla frosting

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What a special evening our youngest had with her brothers and sister.  They played games together, and big brother Jacob made the quick trip to the grocery store in town to buy some ice cream.  He came home with strawberry, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, and party cake ice cream.  Rich and I sat contentedly in the living room with the sounds of a full house all around us; doors opening and shutting, chatter, laughter, basketball bouncing on the driveway, footsteps walking or running, upstairs, downstairs, drinks in the kitchen, on and on, so much energy!  Soon it was time for the birthday song and cake.  Sarah watched her Dad light the candles.  She watched so intently as her siblings continued to be silly all around her.  Her face as we sang was precious to see, all sparkling eyes and big smile.  The cake was amazing.  Even Ethan agreed, and he doesn’t typically like cake.  The birthday girl was offended when I bragged, “I made it myself.” because she helped make the frosting.

Cake:

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Oven set to 350.  Grease 9 by 13 cake pan.  Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-sized pieces remain.  Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Give batter final stir by hand.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bak until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely.  recipe from Cook’s Country Cookbook  (it’s the cake part of the recipe for Lane cake).

Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 T.  milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, milk, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until light and fluffy.  Makes enough frosting for one 9 by 13 cake.

great

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1.  Sarah Joy is our youngest child and was born on this date, 8 years ago.  She was named after her Great-Grandmother and the joy in our hearts when we knew she was coming into our family.

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2.  The last photo I took before having Sarah was of the beautiful blooming peonies in my flower beds.  This morning Sarah stood next to them, but spring was late coming this year and they are still only buds.  A hope and a promise.

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3.  Sarah is in 2nd grade and has very nice handwriting (her teacher said so).  She loves to read.  The last book she read was titled Waiting for the Magic and she liked it very much.  “The dogs talk.”

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4.  Her favorite food is macaroni and cheese.

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5.  She ordered light-up gloves with her birthday gift card from Uncle Dave.

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6.  She has requested a vanilla birthday cake with what kind of frosting?  “Vanilla”.

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7.  She used to be seven but now she’s eight.

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8.  Eight is Great.

 

a long & fascinating Epcot account

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We went to Epcot on March 31st, Rich’s birthday.   He had been looking forward to his Disney birthday for months.

For a breakfast treat, he wanted to get a coffee from Starbucks more than anything but had mistakingly passed by the one on our way to the park.  Imagine his joy when, as soon as we got through the main entrance, there it was!  A Starbucks right in Epcot.  We had the children sit outside while we stood in line to get our special coffees.

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Next stop was the “Club Cool” building for CocaCola, which has been a highlight since we first visited Epcot years ago.  If you lean in you can see the children walking in under the sign.  (I was standing outside Starbucks when I took the photo).

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They had free samples of their slushy sodas.  And then, the children taste tested all the soda “flavors from around the world”.  I tasted a couple of them, too.  Rich refused.  He was content with his coffee.

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Caleb

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Seth

Nothing like the feeling of lots of sugar first thing in the morning!

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Sarah and I were happy to split from the boys and go our own way.

There were flowers in bloom everywhere we looked.

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We bought jewelry made by this nice lady, which she crafted from things in nature.  For example, the red in my necklace is naturally dyed orange peel!  Sarah picked out earrings.  The interesting thing was the lady was originally from Connecticut and knew our hometown.  While we were there, we also bought a map (Sarah is holding it in the photo) with Easter Egg stickers to put on each spot after we found them in the park.  It became a fun highlight of our day.

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Here is the first one we found!  Do you see it?

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And then Mary Poppins walked right by us!

By the way, Sarah had no desire whatsoever to meet any of the Disney characters who walked about in Epcot or any other park.  She especially disliked the costumed animals like Chip n’ Dale, or Goofy, etc.  I would have liked to take her photo with a princess but “No” she shook her head and planted her feet into the ground.  I could understand so didn’t press it.

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I took a photo of the beautiful leather purses in “London”.

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On our way to “France” with the Eiffel tower behind us.

I was so heart-happy to have Sarah’s hand in mine on this day, always thankful that God gave us a second daughter.  I told her so, too.  It put a sweet smile on her face.

All of my children are a blessing and a joy.

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Each country had a lovely Topiary that I always pointed out thoughtfully to Sarah, who never seemed to be as impressed as I was.   She was too busy looking for the egg.

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There it is!

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flowers in France

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thought of Joanna……with the teapots….

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“Take a picture, mom!” said Sarah.  I called birds like these “Parasitic Birds” because they were just hanging around trying to steal food.

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Sarah was also given a fan to carry to each country for a stamp and a picture.  It was a nice little “time out” throughout the day as she stopped to color.

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This is the table in “Germany”, the girl is coloring on Sarah’s flag.  I had to take a photo because an old copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales was on the table and I’ve been reading it to Sarah.

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We ate in Germany and watched the little girl next to us throw chips to yet another “Parasitic bird” (a duck this time).

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Norway!  My favorite section of the park!

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It briefly rained.  Good thing I had ponchos in my purse (#1 Mom).   While standing in this line we made friends with the English family next to us.

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I met a Viking!

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We met back up with the boys after going on the Frozen ride.    Rich had gotten himself a birthday jacket from Norway and looked very handsome in it, too.  We headed to the Norwegian bakery for some treats.  I was told the Schoolhouse buns were the best so I bought one and enjoyed every single bite.  In fact, I want more than anything to find a recipe and make them myself here at home.

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Sarah’s Elsa cupcake was amazing.  It was so big she couldn’t finish it so I had to take a bite.  The cake was fluffy and homemade, there was chocolate filling and frosting, both wonderfully tasty.  Seth and David finished it up.

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Orchids, the way they should look.

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Another pretty flower.

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We went to go ride on the Nemo ride and visited the aquariums where David made friends with the fish.

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And people started to get silly.

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David now and David then.  Same exact spot in Epcot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t stand it.

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Golden Hour in Epcot.

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David in his “nerd store” (his words) he loves anime and greatly enjoyed the Mitsukoshi Department Store in” Japan.”

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Sarah and I picked out some candy.  David got a shirt and a tea cup.  The shirt is a long story.  Months ago, I found him carefully cutting out a graphic and coloring it from a page he printed online.  He wanted to transfer it to a t-shirt but had to stop when he realized regular paper wouldn’t work, he needed transfer paper.  But then in Epcot he found the very shirt he had wanted to make.  Sadly, as soon as we got home, he was wearing it when he picked up his half-wild cat who got scared and scratched his way out of David’s arms, cutting a hole in his new shirt with his very sharp razor- like claws.  David said, “What about my arm?”  it was scratched and bleeding.  “Your arm will heal, but I’m the one who will have to mend your shirt, you’re special shirt you just bought in Disney!”  Thus, David has a unique shirt from Disney, already ripped and mended by yours truly (and I did the best I could but it wasn’t a mending that could be hidden very easily).

We liked all the candy but for the green tea KitKats and the bean paste gummy candy. (ew)

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After the fireworks show we headed out.  The park was closing so we were in a big crowd as we tried to keep up with Rich, who walks very purposefully with his long legs.

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I yelled for him to stop walking for a photo.  Thanks, Birthday boy!  It was the best day!

According to my step calculator on my phone I had walked 9.7 miles.

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David’s “after a long day at Epcot” greasy cheesy hamburger at 11pm!

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In fact, Seth started falling asleep right at the table.  Rich and I felt proud that we had finally made our most active child tired.