first sledding of the season

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My brain woke up before the rest of me.  I was so tired it took me a few minutes to reach for my phone to see if school was cancelled this morning.  Nope, just a two-hour delay.

As soon as Sarah got up she went outside.

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She couldn’t wait to go sledding.

It was 7 o’clock in the morning.

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Our house sits on a hill so it’s been fun for the children all these years.  They can just sled from the porch steps all the way down……beginning with the oldest Jacob and ending with the youngest, Sarah.

Alas, no one else wanted to sled with Sarah this morning.  Seth got half ready and then changed his mind. “The snow isn’t good.”  “It’s too cold out.”

I watched Sarah through the window.  And then I went out on the cold wet porch in my socks.

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I was charmed to see her attempt something her big sister Grace would have also done at age 8; she decided to scoop up kitty Walter and take him for a sled ride.  After all, this is Walter’s first winter.  He has a lot to learn.

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He learned it really fast.

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Sledding wasn’t for him.

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Back inside, Caleb made himself bacon, cheese, and eggs.  A nice proper breakfast, served on a white fiestaware plate, with a periwinkle mug of ice-cold juice on the side.

 

They can’t cook at the same time without squabbling (G, right?) so after his big brother was done, Seth made himself bacon and eggs, too.

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Snowy outside, cozy inside.  Look at Parker begging.  LOLOLOLOLOL

PS, the first photo is of my garden gnome.  He can’t see right now.

autumn photos

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Last week Amanda and Cassandra came and we went for a walk outside.  Look how baby Elena is looking at her aunt.  She knows that we will have fun together through the years.

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Such a delightful warmth in the arms.

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Diaper change before we go!

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Cassandra is trying to remember how to put the baby wrap on.

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sisters

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Sweet mama with her first baby.

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We sat for a while and enjoyed the view off the mountain.

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Elena is two months old now.  Since I took these photos she’s grown even more bright and aware.   Babies change quickly….and so do the leaves on the trees.  There is more red out now to join all the yellow of a week ago.  Some of the trees have already lost most of their leaves.

I couldn’t get her to look at me so I turned around to see what was so interesting.

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I was so tickled to see that it was a mirror!

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Another diaper change, lunch, conversation, and it was the end of our sister morning.  We loved every minute.

*****

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Grace is the gift of feeling sure that our future, even our dying, is going to turn out more splendidly than we dare to imagine.  Lewis Smedes

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(poor moulting chicken)

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“Mom, what makes a rainbow?” asked Seth.  “Sunshine and rain,” I answered.  Sarah added, “And tiny evaporators.”  We were going to music lessons.  I stopped the car three times to take photos.

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It is good that the heart be established by grace.  Hebrews 13:9

 

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morning of the waxwings

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*Jacob and Brittnee*

I took their photos right before my trip to Alaska.

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They make a nice couple, don’t they?  Brittnee is such a joy.  This year she is enrolled at Christian college in Pennsylvania WITH GRACE.

She was Grace’s friend in High School before she and Jacob started dating.  And now they go to the same college!  I would have never dreamed.  God truly has a way of making this sad and dreary life delightful.

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They were all dressed up to go out to a nice dinner together to celebrate their anniversary.

*****

I still have Alaskan photos to share but I haven’t done it because, in my mind, once I blog about the rest of the trip……. it will be truly “over”.

When David was a preschooler I read him Winnie the Pooh, just the two of us, and could never bring myself to read the last chapter.

I’ve learned that being highly sentimental is a gift.  It takes all kinds of humanity to make the world go ’round.  Each individual is a blessing to the family in which they belong.  I’m so grateful for each grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, parent, cousin….. both my husband’s and my own.

And each friend and neighbor, too.  We belong to each other.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:24

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Sarah forgot her school folder the other day.  It was mistily raining.  When I went outside to the car to take the folder to school I heard a racket almost like crickets or maybe birds, so I walked around the back of the house to peer up into the tall trees that grow between our house and the neighbors.  After a short time, I saw that the sound I was hearing was tiny birds, up high and partially hidden in the leaves. “Probably just sparrows,” I thought, but because I couldn’t see them very well I thought I better grab my camera and get a better look.  But what about Sarah’s folder?  My curiosity won out and I retrieved my nice long zoom lens from the house to take a photo and discovered these weren’t ordinary sparrows (are not five sparrows sold for two cents? yet not one of them is forgotten before God), but baby Cedar Waxwings!

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Their mother came with some food and the birds became even noisier.

Behind our house is a bank and the trees grow up from the top of it, so it’s rather high up and proved cumbersome to aim a heavy camera almost straight up into the mist for photos, so I went upstairs to Sarah’s room to lean out her window.

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Meanwhile I was also texting with my brother so I sent him this silly selfie.

I thought about going out the window onto the roof of the addition but decided I was too scared.

I wanted to see if my better vantage point would result in better photos but from the window I couldn’t see the baby birds at all.  They were lost behind all the leaves. However, I got a pretty decent photo of the adult.

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She was at the very top of a tree, probably to stand guard, ready to defend her babies from the Lady with the Camera.

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The nest close by with another baby inside of it.  Oh it was just wonderful to see and experience, and photograph.  And yes, Sarah DID get her folder.

*****

Yesterday when I went outside the birds were all gone.  I still feel that the 20 minute part of my morning the other day (the morning of the waxwings) was a great gift….I’ve never seen baby cedar waxwings and when I see the adults (once a year) it’s always a thrill.  They are such lovely birds and don’t visit the bird feeder because they eat mostly fruit and insects.

*****

Since I have my camera right next to me as I type, I looked up from the computer to check the bird feeding station we have on the porch just outside the window.  Maybe today I’ll see another unique visitor…….

….but this is what I saw……

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A Very Bad Kitty!

I brought him right back inside and now he and Sherlock are looking out the window at a cardinal eat sunflower seeds.  The tips of their tails are twitching.

Time for me to eat breakfast and clean the house!

Happy Thursday!  Maybe you’ll see a bird!

walking and cooking

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Seth plays video games every day for a couple hours but his time doing it is controlled by his loving mother to a certain extent.  This morning, he asked if he could have “his time” at 9am and I said, “sure”.  But at 8 he had eaten breakfast, showered and dressed, and he didn’t know what else to do with himself so we went for a walk together.  Grace was awake but Sarah was still sound asleep.  (Seth is an early riser)

It always happens that the boys will pick up a stick and start battle on trees and such.  From Jacob to Seth, they were all the same in that regard (and still are).

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pretty pretty Indian Pipe flower.  The website (linked) adds: America’s eminent poet, Emily Dickinson, called the Indian pipe “the preferred flower of life.” In a letter to Mabel Todd, she confides, “I still cherish the clutch with which I bore it from the ground when a wondering child, and unearthly booty, and maturity only enhances the mystery, never decreases it.

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I told him how to pose on this fallen down birch tree and he was obliging enough to humor me, still with his weapon-of-a-stick in his hand.  He looks pleased.

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He even likes hitting the caps off wild mushrooms with his stick, he calls it mushroom golfing.

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This is that same fallen down birch tree, I wanted to see the wood where the tree broke and fell.  What a wonderful home for God’s smaller creatures.

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little things of interest on the forest floor…..

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He walked barefoot.

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There are even orange mushrooms.

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Big healthy ferns are squeezing in on the path, reminding me of childhood games and forts in the woods.

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Teeny tiny white mushrooms

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some mushrooms had red caps

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This one looked shy.

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mushrooms on a log

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This large mushroom was broken off and on the ground……Seth’s barefoot show how big it was.

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Seth spied these gorgeous Cardinal wildflowers before I did.  They bloom at this time of year on mossy rocks in the stream and I always delight in them.

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Almost home!

He was a good sport and I found myself thinking, “I do so enjoy walks with a child or two or five or seven, and my camera!”

Dinner Tonight:

Crock-Pot Gingered Beef
2 pounds round roast, trimmed
2 onions, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup ketchup
6 T. brown sugar
3 T. vinegar
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef on all sides (I skipped this part).  Place sliced onion on the bottom of crock pot, place roast on top.  Mix remaining ingredients in bowl and whisk together.  Pour over roast.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender and can be shredded with a fork.  Pour cooking juices into a saucepan and simmer on the stove until reduced, about 10 minutes.  Serve over the top of the beef.

I haven’t made it in a while but in the notes I wrote “Yum, E approves.”  So I’m hoping he still approves tonight when he gets home from work and eats it for dinner.

Grace and I have been enjoying this today:

Black Bean and Rice Salad
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 onion, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, pressed, sautéed until translucent
3 cups rice
salt and pepper

Mix together in a big bowl and serve each portion with a spoon of salsa on top.

Both recipes from my ever-favorite cookbook Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely

I’ve done lots of laundry (don’t you love hanging clothes outside on the line?) and still have some to fold, which I will do while the Waltons are on TV.  Seth and Sarah are outside playing.  I fell asleep reading a book on the couch with Seth next to me earlier and now Grace is in my spot, reading her book:  Messenger, by Lois Lowry.  She says it’s nice to read a book that doesn’t task the brain like some of the old classics she’s been reading.    I am reading Dead End in Norvelt, which is a Newbury award winner.  I’m almost done with it and it’s been delightful.  I love it.  Maybe you would, too.

 

PS, ANOTHER WALK WITH SETH that’s kinda making me cry right now.

 

 

 

lovely things

Jeremiah 32:17   Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rosebuds waxing bloom,
Shadows stealing softly
In a darkened room;
Dragonfiles on rushes,
Stars in dark blue skies;
Hatching, fuzzy birdlets,
Love in sweethearts’ eyes.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rainbows in the sky,
Violets shedding fragrance,
A soft breeze waltzing by;
An apple tree in blossom,
Sunsets all aglow;
Moonlight on the water,
Falling soft white snow.

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Lovely things are silent…
Foam clouds in the sky,
Hummingbirds at flowers,
Butterflies gliding by.
A spider’s dainty spinning,
Wild flowers on a hill.
I bow my head in silence
And in my heart I’m still.
~Betty Fox Solberg

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The cobwebs look blue in this light.  I’m down on my stomach in the woods to take a picture of a mushroom and I ask God to show me one more thing and I turn my head and see another tiny mushroom pushing up the leaves that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was walking…….

I like this feeling of walking without being in a hurry.  The woods around me are so still.  And I’m becoming still as well……..

I stand in one spot and don’t move anything but my eyes.  

Shanda, July 13, 2018 6:26pm

 

day cruise with my friend

GLACIER:  an extended mass of ice formed from snow falling and accumulating over the years and moving very slowly, either descending from high mountains, as in valley glaciers, or moving outward from centers of accumulation, as in continental glaciers.

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Hannah and I took a Stan Stephens cruise and it lasted all day (from about 10am-7pm).  This was toward the end of the week but I was excited to see the photos so I’m going to post them today.

We had some beautiful weather days during my 10 day adventure, but it was raining the day of the cruise.  The cost of the ride included unlimited hot beverages and a nice lunch and a cup of soup in the evening.   The hot beverages were greatly appreciated on this cold rainy day.   There were seats outside and inside.  Naturally we spent most of the time inside, but we got up now and then to take photos of the views; waterfalls, animals, fishermen, mountains, and the glacier.

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massive waterfalls tumbling down the mountains; if I were sitting at the top I would be a dot.

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Seals

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“Do you see the goat?”

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I actually enjoyed the “not so nice” weather days, as the mist and rain and fog gave a beautiful mood.

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Just in case you’re like my daughter I will tell you like I told her, “It’s just a boulder”.

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“Glacier ahead!”

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“Hannah in a red coat”

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We heard creaks and groans as we bobbed in the sea watching the ice.  Now and then, large pieces of it dropped off and into the water with thunderous splash.

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The birds flying in this photo above the water make it easier to see how huge the glacier was.

MEARES GLACIER (click for more information)

 

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Sea Otter

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Whale

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Everyone was in awe to see a mother whale and baby.  We stopped and stared at the sea for so long it is permanently & forever etched in my mind.  You only have a second or two to take a picture.  Don’t blink, you might miss it!

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Sea Lions

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with lovely brown skins

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Seals are funny.

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Geese

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more sea lions, they were also thunderous (like the glacier) and made such rude sounds that reminded me of my sons for some reason.

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It was really relaxing but Hannah got a little sick for a while on the choppy water.  She recovered well though and we both agreed that it was an amazing day!