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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

magic kingdom

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I had flown down to Orlando the day before to meet Rich who was already in town for business.  He looked so handsome leaning against a pillar in the airport at the end of the escalator to greet us.  We spent the rest of that day hugging, settling in the hotel, swimming, and exploring.

The next morning we drove from our hotel to Magic Kingdom.  Rich and I were looking forward to finishing up our parenting goal of making sure all seven of our children got to Disney in their childhoods.  Sarah was the only one who hadn’t been; we had David, Caleb, and Seth with us too, and the older three were in college but we had taken them when they were little.  In fact, it’s all on the blog.  The only trip that I didn’t blog about was when David was a baby and that’s only because I didn’t have a blog back then (15 years ago).

We took the Ferry over to the park.

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A nice thing about the boys having already experienced Disney was that they could knowledgeably “inform” Sarah about all the things she would see and do.  These types of conversations had been going on for weeks and she was very excited.

She and Seth kept their eyes on the castle all the way across the water.

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It’s always a lovely sight.

Okay—–honestly, Rich and I, now that we are back home, have already decided that never again if we can help it, will we go to Disney during Spring Break season.  The crowds were next to impossible.  There were some good things, however, as having so many excited people added to our own excitement.  (It also added to the length of time standing in lines.)   It was fun to hear different languages being spoken all around us and observing families from all over the world enjoying this famous destination.  But it was a very vast sea of humanity. . . . .

Speaking of crowds, we only lost children twice.  In fact, the first thing we did was lose children.  And by “lose” I mean, it was all their own fault (a miscommunication of sorts).  What happened was this:  In the midst of a thousand other people, Caleb had to use the bathroom so badly that as soon as we got across the water and departed from the ferry boat we located restrooms.  He and Seth ran just a little bit ahead of us into the men’s room, we were right behind them.  Sarah and I went into the ladies room and Rich and Dave went in just after the other boys, who never saw them.  Rich and Dave were still in the stalls when Caleb and Seth got done, so when they came outside and didn’t see us, they headed straight for the main entrance (just to the right of the lines) without any of us seeing them, either.  So THEN, the rest of us finished up and waited outside the bathrooms.  No Caleb, no Seth.  Before we even knew they were “missing” my phone rang.  They had immediately called me from a Security officer’s phone and found us.  In a nutshell, they thought we had went to the ticket counter to wait for them to go to the bathroom.

The second time was similar.  We were standing in line (a Very Long Line) waiting to go on a roller coaster.  We could see the restrooms from where we were standing so Seth ran out of line to go to the bathroom and then got confused trying to find us again.  Rich went to look for him just as my phone rang.  Seth had asked the first couple he saw to use their phone.  He was so close to us that I saw him talking to me on the phone.  So I just yelled, “SETH over here!” gave the couple a smile and a friendly wave, and called Rich to tell him Seth was safe and sound.

So right away we knew that the children would be able to find us again if they ended up lost in the multitudes of people.  Truly it was somewhat of a miracle that we didn’t lose them around every corner, it was THAT crowded.

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Main Street Parade

(we just caught the very end of it on our way to a ride).

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Thunder Mountain.

It was so cute to listen to Sarah make plans with Caleb to sit together; and to actually have Caleb agree to do it was adorable.  When we got home after our vacation was over, she had me print this very photo so she could take it to school.

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My beautiful travelers.

After a long winter, the sunshine we enjoyed in Orlando was such a treat.  We just made sure to use lots of sunscreen.

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We bought this photo from our next ride (Splash Mountain; Rich’s #1 favorite) to add to our collection.  We bought the frame to go with it and it was nice that they could send our purchase to the front of the park for us to pick up at the end of the day.  It’s now hanging on the wall next to a photo from Hershey Park, and one from Six Flags.

BD967BE0-EC96-4426-9855-52912599E529“Before (sobs) and After (smiles)”

Sarah got the #1 Overcomer of the Day award for riding Splash Mountain even though she was terrified.  The combination of water and a drop down was almost too much for her.  That’s why you see me holding her like that in the photo.

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The Buzz Lightyear ride is a favorite.

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We didn’t buy this one but I thought it was the cutest ever with Rich’s big muscles and Seth closing one eye to aim and shoot.

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Waiting for the Presidents show, we enjoyed the displays of memorabilia.  I took this photo of Projectile Points for Mom and brother Dave, only we call them Arrowheads.

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And of course the boys intently studied Teddy Roosevelt’s sword and asked me to take a photo.

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I did take my big camera with me to Disney.  I took a handful of photos with it on this day, including this nice one of handsome Caleb with Rich in the background (in his own car) but after Magic Kingdom I left it in the hotel.  I’m not saying I’ll never use it again, but I think when I have a bunch of other travel-mates with me and it’s a busy park it’s just easier to use the phone camera.  It was more of a time to take candids for my family then to think about thoughtful photography.  But I do love this photo of Caleb.

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Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse; be still my heart.

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Standing in line for the Enchanted Tiki Room; “vintage” Disney at it’s very best.

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Fireworks to make all the sentimental grown ups cry.  And I did, too.  (We waited for them to begin next to another family.  The dad was complaining almost in a desperate way because they had gone straight to the park from the airport and hadn’t even checked into the hotel.  They were exhausted.  He was wondering if the show would be worth it and almost didn’t want to wait.  He wanted to leave to escape the crowds.  But they stayed and later on during the show I could hear him singing along to the songs with his son up on his shoulders and I thought, “yes, it’s worth it.”)

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Seth took this as we waited for Rich to get our photo; it was the last picture taken of our visit to Magic Kingdom.  We had walked a total of 5.8 miles that day and went to bed at midnight after pancakes at Ihop.

Tomorrow I will share photos from Epcot.

happy birthday

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(The boys in our family plus their Dad)

Today is Ethan’s 20th birthday.

When I think about each of the children God has given me my heart is overwhelmed.  It’s 100% true that each and every child is a gift and a blessing, no matter if you have one or seven or more.  Each life is of endless value.

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In years past I have had so much fun taking high quality photos of Ethan on his birthday but this year we shall have to be content with iPhone snapshots because with him being a full time student in Vermont it isn’t as simple as it used to be.  When he’s home he’s busy with more important things like cooking in the kitchen, eating, playing games, relaxing in front of the TV, going on dates with Tessa, goofing around with his siblings, catching up on sleep, and shopping trips to the mall………

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Ethan has a unique way of scrambling eggs which leaves a solid piece of cooked eggy skin stuck to the bottom of the pan which I HATE.  But look at that face.  Okay, I will clean the pan for you, E, since you say this is the very best way to cook eggs.

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Rich and I took him to the mall where he picked out some new clothes from Hollister.  Jacob, Brittnee, Sarah, and David also went along.  It was a fun evening together.

(Have you noticed all the florals this year?  I love it!  Even 20 year old guys can get away with roses (and serpents) on their shirts.  And I bought the prettiest T-shirt for myself with big red roses on it.  A must with rose scented perfume!)

We had Ethan’s cheesecake (requested) on Saturday night after the shopping trip because Rich was leaving for a trip on Sunday morning and on Monday (today, Ethan’s real birthday) the boys would be back to college.  He blew his candles out with so much lung power that there is STILL candle wax on the counter.

Happiness is a big family singing your birthday song.  We love you Ethan!

(We missed sister Grace who was at college but we will see her soon.)

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Yesterday, Ethan was able to squeeze in a quick visit with Tessa in the morning and then I took the kids to church and lunch at Ethan’s requested restaurant, UNO’s.  It was me, Caleb, Seth, Ethan, Jacob, Sarah, David, Michael, and Zach.  Nine of us all together in one big booth and THANK GOODNESS for Sarah or I would have been the only female.  🙂  We had a yummy meal and when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert we were much too full but asked for a piece of cake for the birthday boy.

“But you don’t have to sing to me,” begged Ethan.

“Do you want a candle?” asked the waitress.

“No, that’s okay, but thanks.” he replied.

We were rather let down that Ethan appeared to get away without spectacle but the waitress must have sensed our true wishes and ignored the wishes of the birthday boy, much to his dismay.  However he recovered quickly and was a very good sport about it.

She gave Ethan a HUGE piece of chocolate cake along with NINE spoons so we could all share it!

I gave her a nice big tip because she really did deserve it.  I’m still smiling and I hope that Ethan is, too.

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Seth took this photo as Ethan and Jacob were getting ready to leave for school.  We are so thankful that they have a car and can come home now and then.  It’s just not the same around here with the three older ones so far away but we wouldn’t change a thing because they are learning, growing, and thriving.

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Happy 20th birthday, Ethan!

There is no one like you in the whole wide world.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them – any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!  Psalm 139

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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