amazing

It had been a long while since I had gone to the woods by myself so I practically ran.

I spent so much time over the holidays inside malls, inside the house, inside the car, doing, doing, doing.  It was time to just “be”.

I took all of these photos on Friday.

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First stop was the chicken coop where I found some eggs.  Walter begged and begged to go on the walk with me but I said “no” right away because I knew (from what Grace had told me) that all he would do is feel lost and scared and meow a lot.  Therefore,  I put the eggs and the cat in the house.

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I’m so thankful to live close to running water.  In fact, I was outside again yesterday in the cold sun, laying back on the frozen ground with my eyes shut, listening to the sound of it.

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The tree I hugged.

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self-portrait

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funny icicles hanging down from a fallen pine tree

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Looks like snow or styrafoam, but it’s really some kind of fungus.

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more pretty pretty fungus on a fallen tree

The sunshine was really lovely to see on this walk, after several gloomy days.

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I am an admirer of ice.

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In fact, I ate a bite of it.  It tasted good, like pine, but later on when I gave some to Sarah she spit it out and said it “tasted like the stench of the forest.”

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As I made my way around to the stream again (the same stream from near our house, only deeper in the woods)  I found that it had flooded the day before, well beyond its banks.  Then, it froze overnight and the next morning when the water started to recede, it left its coat of ice spreading across the ground.

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I stood up on a bank to take this photo, looking down across the ice.  I closed my eyes and could hear it falling and cracking.  It almost sounded like someone else walking throught it in the distance, but I was alone.

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I got as close as I could to the water and sat on a frozen moss covered boulder for a while.

(A good thinking spot.)

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I didn’t see any birds but the closer I got to the field the more I could hear them.

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The trees had sheets of ice hanging off their lower branches.  Sometimes a wind would blow gently through and shake the ice enough to make a sound like soothing wind chimes.

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It was all such a delight and my face was pleasantly cold.  It felt good to BREATHE.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say over and over again.  Everytime I go outside for a walk I get surprised (and smile a lot) over something in God’s big beautiful world.  Which is why I always take my camera along.

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My heart, mind, and soul go back home refreshed.

“If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

~Mary Oliver

 

 

 

smart bird

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In the early part of winter I had cut a big armful of winterberry branches from the side of the stream and put them out by the birdfeeders.  Actually, I had originally put them in the house for a natural Christmas decoration but the cats wouldn’t leave them alone so I ended up putting them outside.  They looked pretty out there and I’ve enjoyed seeing them each time I looked out the window; delightful bright red berries.

Look what came to visit yesterday!  I was on the couch minding my own business when out of the corner of my eye I saw it fly to the tree by the bird feeder.  I said, “What in the world?”  I’ve never had a Robin come to the feeders as they don’t eat seed, much less a Robin in the dead of winter on the most coldest of days.  I thought maybe it was a curious, sociable Robin and was trying to see what all the other neighborhood birds were doing on my porch.

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But it really came to eat the berries.

Smart bird.

..the dark sacred night..

dsc_0188I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world  

Good morning, it’s -5 outside, ice coating everything, sunshine lighting up the trees so they look all-over silver.  The most beautiful world outside, do the little wild animals in the woods enjoy it, too?

My heart is overflowing with joy.

I stayed up last night taking photos of the moon.  This morning I woke up to the children being so charming; Sarah already outside with her hair yellow and glowing down her back, Caleb and Seth laughing and fooling around together downstairs, David trying to make a fire using foil and batteries (“it only made smoke”).  Sports Center blaring on the TV, cats eager to be fed, and a movie playing on the small TV in the addition with no one around to watch it.

Good morning texts on the phone from my beloved sister and brother.  Today is Weston’s birthday, I can’t believe my little nephew is eleven today.

I couldn’t wait to look at my moon photos.

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Dear Joanna watched it with me, way way faraway in Pennslyvania.  My family all fell asleep.

The magical moon.

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It was so cold that I went out the front door, said hello, took a few photos, and then went back inside to warm up for another 10 minutes or so.

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I didn’t bother with a tripod.  I just tried my best to get the settings on my camera correct and then *didn’t fiddle around* simply because it was too cold and I had no mittens on my hands.

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It really does look as if it’s hanging in the sky.

 

I have needs and hopes and wishes and wants and complaints.  But last night when I was standing under an inky black sky, under a beautiful moon, in my slippers on top of a cold hard snow and my nose was freezing and my hands were freezing, and I was wearing a coat and a robe and a hoodie, I thought to myself………..

God is 1,000,000,000 bigger than any of my petty problems.

Vast, immeasurable, mighty, and……. and amazingly…….He loves & cares for you and me!

 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders You have done, and the plans You have for us–none can compare to You–if I would proclaim and declare of them, they are more than could be numbered.  Psalm 40:5

snowflakes (a sense of awe)

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snowflake on a spiderweb

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In the fading late afternoon, a light snow is falling.   Caleb is giving Sarah a helping hand down to the pond because she’s teetering on ice skates.

She’s going to skate back and forth along the edge while he watches to make sure she’s safe.

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snowflakes on dry leaves

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On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on Your wondrous works,
I will meditate.  Psalm 145:5

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snowflakes on ice

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snowflakes on Ethan’s truck

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and on a pine tree branch

Oh the loveliness of snowflakes!!  So silent, so gentle.

The moments that I feel the most imbued with a sense of awe are always the moments when I am outdoors. I can’t help but feel a certain sense of wonder – I become almost filled with it.  ~ Kathi Appelt
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recommended podcast episode that goes along with this post:  3 Ways to Feel Less Busy 

(the first way is to “give yourself a shot of awe”)

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!