“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were……..”

I just had to push kitty over off my lap to make room for the computer…..sorry kitty!

Today is Wednesday — ALREADY.

Seth and Sarah almost weren’t ready for the bus this morning; we were having too much fun together.  Seth is making a binder for his “comic club” and I gave him animal stickers to put on the cover.  And Sarah was happy that she remembered how to tie her shoes (she usually wears velcro) but it took much longer to get her sneakers on this morning.  We also put together a little gift bag for her lucky teacher who will be receiving a beautiful beaded necklace made by a 7 year old devoted student.  I cautioned them to walk carefully because the driveway had a thin film of ice on it from overnight freezing.  Seth happily wore head to toe black and Sarah wore a green shirt that said “bloom” on it, and luluroe tomato leggings.  I told her she looked like a garden today.

The house is quiet, the outdoors is quiet too, I know just by looking out the window.  Although the tops of the trees are gently swaying in the wind, it’s a calm breeze, cloudy sky, quite gray with brightness through the cracks in the clouds.

*****

On Saturday, Grace had one last morning at work.  The children would be with their Dad when she got done, so she said goodbye to her siblings who all ADORE their big sister Grace.  She had flats on her feet so the boys came up from the snowy lawn where they were sledding, to give her hugs.

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Seeing this, Sarah got upset and hid under a tree so we got in the car and drove down to the lower driveway.

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The same tree that Grace spent her hiding times underneath.  I watched the scene from in the car and I admit my heart ached with love. . . . .seeing that after all, Grace DID get her feet cold and snow-covered for her little sister’s sake.

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Just so thankful for a family that loves.

While Grace was at work, I got the kids ready and drove to the HS wrestling meet.  We arrived just in time to console Dave, who was standing in the busy hallway outside the gym with his Dad, recovering from his second loss.  It’s so hard this year for him because he went from youth wrestling where he was the oldest and more experienced, to High School, where he is the youngest as a Freshman.  But he is so strong of body and heart and oh how proud Rich and I are of him.  Our own Davy-do.  A joy.  I left after just half an hour, and I left the three youngest with their Dad because I needed him to take care of them for the rest of the day.

I stopped at a second hand store on the way home and found (not that I needed them) EIGHT fiesta ring handled mugs.  I did buy them, because they were half price and I knew I could save them for the older kids who might set up house keeping for themselves sometime within the next few years.

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Persimmon was exciting because I only have one other piece of that (retired) color, and cobalt (yawn–I have tons)…..I got home, snipped the tags off their sweet circle handles and popped them in the dishwasher……….

“We have too many cups,” groaned Caleb two days later when I told him to empty it.

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I picked up Grace from work at 3.  The vehicle was all filled up with the things she needed to take back to college with her after a generous Holiday break.  We were excited because we were heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to spend the night.  Alas, the moment we got on the highway we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.  It took “forever” to clear up.  In fact, by the time we got moving again I had to take the next exit and find a bathroom…..We ran in and ran out of McDonalds, laughing.

We had smooth sailing and arrived at 7pm to be lovingly greeted by my parents and the family dog and cat.  I had the magical feeling of slow-time.  The house was warm, calm, and still decorated for Christmas.  Every corner cozy.

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Mom served us delicious chili for supper and tea cake for dessert.  We visited and watched tv until about 10 and then went to bed, Grace and I together one last night.

Next morning was Sunday and as soon as he could, Dad headed across and up the road to their sled run.  We watched through the window and then went out, too, deciding to forgo Sunday school (a video) for some fresh air and togetherness.

 

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It makes me so happy to know my mom and dad have fun together.  They were outside for hours on their “luge” trails this weekend, knowing with warmer weather coming they wouldn’t last.  Dad drives the four-wheeler up with the dog in his crate on the back and then lets him run loose.

We stopped sledding when Dave came to pick up Grace.  He was so good in offering to drive her the rest of the way to college to save me some time and also give him an excuse to visit a great Greek place in the same town as college.  He sent these photos to me as they ate lunch together.

I went to church with my parents and what a blessing that was.  The people are so nice and the sermon was edifying.  Just wonderful.  The best part is that Rich and I have visited so many times through the years that I have the feeling that it is also “my” church, too.

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THE BEST STEAK EVER

Dear parents spoiled me with an absolutely wonderful lunch after church.   I could cry just thinking about it.  Mom and Dad on one side of the table, me on the other, conversation, love, a fireplace, busy waiters and waitresses, an amazing quilt mural on the wall, and people-watching.  Great food!  What more could we ask for in an afternoon?  I wanted to pick up the bone and gnaw on it when my steak was gone, it was that good.  🙂  We also had french onion soup and freshly baked rolls with a lightly sweetened butter.

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We went back home for coffee and Dad turned on the football games.  Mom and I went out shopping at our favorite Masonville General store.  I bought some chai tea mix and a lunar calendar and Mom bought one of her friends a gift and some pantry items for her kitchen.

By the time we got home it was getting dark.  Dad was still watching football and so mom and I found something to do on the couch together;

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I’ve been wanting to crochet again (always this time of year) so she got out her stuff and we each made a dishcloth.  Mom encouraged me by saying “You don’t need directions, just do what you want!  Make something up!”

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She got done before I did so she ran off to the kitchen to warm up soup for dinner and work on her puzzle.   I sat and crocheted and tried to keep the dog from sneaking away with my spool of yarn, which he thought was his.

We finished the tea cake.

We watched Victoria on PBS that night and I fell asleep on the couch, with mom and dad snuggled up on the other one watching their show.

****

more photos:

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Dad has been collecting penguins for years and years.  With five children gifting them, it didn’t take him long to have a rookery.

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Aren’t they cute?

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Mom’s jungle of houseplants and handmade wooden houses that an elderly man makes and paints in large quantities.  He makes so many that he gives them away to classes of children at school, too.   Aren’t they bright and happy?

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mid-yawn

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another christmas corner with a homemade paper garland and tree collection on top.  Mom has such fun arranging things in just the right way and has a great eye for decorating and turning a house into a cozy home-nest.

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Her office.  Above the desk.  I love.

also:

~brother Dave telling me I looked good and asked if I had gotten my hair done (he noticed!)

~Dad playing his drums as I looked through photos after mom left for work

~mom leaving the light on over Grace’s fish so it didn’t get cold in the night and then worrying the next morning that it got TOO hot.

~last thing mom said to dad as she left: Don’t get on the roof, Gregory! “I won’t!” he replied.  “does she always say that to you when she leaves?”  “only when there’s snow on it.”  (he sometimes has to clear it off)

~feeding the birds on the porch railing; they get a FLOCK of mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees, etc and never allow themselves to run out of bird seed

~mom sneezing so loud from the other room that frankly I got scared and we laughed and laughed

~putting together a puzzle

~playing foosball with dad

~listening to mom’s memories and writing a few down in my book

~listening to mom worry about Grace after she was gone, “Did you give her money?  Does she have everything she needs?”  “yes, mom”

~hugs and the words, “come again anytime you get cabin fever!”

~stopping by my cousin Erika’s house to pick up a rose cake plate that her husband found for me and getting to see her family

~stopping to hug Marissa and to give her a couple books for her mom and sisters

~driving on the familiar back roads toward home

******

(I drove back on Monday.)

And my children and husband were happy to have me back.  so sweet.

We had to laugh as Sherlock kept lazily digging his claws into Caleb and inching his way off the couch and onto his lap.  Also, more crochet!  I can’t stop myself.  I’m going to work on it today, too.  Along with folding the bazillion loads of laundry that I washed yesterday.  I might do some dancing around in my empty house, too.

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Caleb reading Michael’s story that he wrote.

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Seth decided all on his own that his special job for “moo” is to wash the dishes and so I took his photo yesterday as he busily scrubbed and got water all over (I don’t complain, I just grab towels).  He’s so wonderful.

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One of Jacob’s teachers knows of a little boy who has a brain tumor.  The boy’s dad created a hashtag and wants photos sent, so Jacob made a sign and had the wrestling team hold it for a photo during practice last night.  I have to say, Jacob has a beautiful heart.  Things touch him deeply, and he got a text from his coach later saying he was proud of him.  We could easily identify Jacob in the photo but Rich insisted Ethan wasn’t it in it, so I did my best to draw a circle around E, but circled him plus four other boys which made us laugh and laugh.

We sent back this photo:

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tuesday evening, January 23, 2018

*****

And thus concludes the photos I downloaded this morning from the long weekend.

****

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”  P Mercier

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”  Sarah Desson

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”  Maya Angelou

“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”  Homer

 

 

romance and reality;

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To live content with small means;

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to seek elegance rather than luxury,

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and refinement rather than fashion;

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to be worthy, not respectable,

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wealthy, not rich;
to study hard,
think quietly,
talk gently,
act frankly;

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to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages,
with open hearts;

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to bear all cheerfully,
to do all bravely,

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await occasions,
hurry never,

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In a word,

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let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,

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grow up through the common-

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this is my symphony.

~William Ellery Channing

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reality:

(While I wrote this Seth made hamburgers and dropped a spatula on the floor 32 times.  Sarah’s burger broke in half.  David said “ha ha” to her.  She cried.  Seth threw a mitten at me.  David kept tapping his feet and drumming his hands.  Seth yelled out strange noices and did strange dances.  We are about to leave to take David to a wrestling meet.  He is hungry.  I feel rushed.  Seth tapped his burger fingers on the clean glass door.  My nose is running.  Sarah yelled at Seth.)

 

walking in the woods

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***

We decided to go on a family walk through the woods.  Rich had to caution Seth several times because a broken collar bone doesn’t slow him down anymore.  Gentleman Gray made us all happy by coming along with us and being a funny cat.  We followed the trail.  David brought one of his sharp knives which gave me anxiety about someone getting accidentally cut but all in all it was a nice little walk.

***

This morning I almost forgot to get David and Caleb to their physicals.  I had just enough time to shower, go get them from school, and take them.  They are old enough that I sit in the waiting room.  The nurse took them back first to get their weights and heights, and check their ears and eyes, then she took them back to the doctor.  She returned to the waiting room to tell me, “I just love your boys, I had to tell you, they are such good boys.” Of course this made me proud and happy so when David came out, done with his appointment first, I told him what she said.  “I’m sure she was referring to ME,” he said with his nose in the air.  “I’m sure you’re right,” I said rolling my eyes.  “You gave birth to warriors.” he continued……….    (I really gave birth to funny people)

***

I found several good recipes in the Family Circle magazine while I waited in the doctor’s office.  I took pictures of them;  Roasted Kale and Butternut Squash,  Pork with Cauliflower and Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Jamaican Coconut Collard Greens.  I’m trying to eat lots more fruits and veggies.  I had a smoothie for breakfast; canned organic pumpkin, ice, milk, frozen banana, cinnamon and nutmeg.  YUM

***

I need to get myself organized for Thanksgiving dinner, which I am preparing this year for my family.  One good thing is that I’ve done it enough to know what I’m doing.  I just have to get that big grocery shopping trip done.  What are your plans for the day?

***

The first photo is of *the first ice of the season*, which is always celebrated, on the stream.  The children said it looked “like South America.”  Sarah has been going outside every day to skate around on a frozen puddle at the end of the yard.

***

Rich is working late tonight.  David has already told me he wants to make dinner; spaghetti with meatballs.  And no doubt we will watch some of Monday night football.

 

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 

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Jacob and Ethan came home for a visit.  They arrived Friday night and left Sunday morning.  Ethan was busy with his girlfriend, but we were able to have a nice long visit with Jacob.  Here he is with his girlfriend, Brittany.

Jacob has been away from home for several months now, and this is his first time living away from the family.  He is almost 21 and is attending the same college as Ethan after living at home, working, and doing community college.  He loves the campus, he and Ethan share a dorm room, Jacob is finishing up a football season and will be joining Ethan in wrestling soon.

We knew as soon as we saw him that he had gotten bigger.  He wondered if he was taller than his dad, so I got something to stand on and measured them both against the wall.

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And a milestone was reached.

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Naturally, I had to measure David, Ethan, and Caleb, too.  And then I thought I may as well also get added to the wall.  As you can see, Ethan and David are the same height.  Next one down is me (Jacob measure me and wrote Momma) and then, Caleb.    (Seth and Sarah’s marks are down further and Grace wasn’t home to be measured so I’ll get her next time.)  We also measured the dog.

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When Jacob and Ethan went back to college, we followed behind.  It was a nice drive to Vermont, and we watched Ethan’s wrestling team scrimmage.  We arrived back home Sunday night and went to bed.  During the night there was enough of a heavy wind and rain that trees and branches fell all over the town and surrounding towns, causing the children to miss two days of school and have a two hour delay on Wednesday.

This is the first quiet morning I have had at home since last week.  It’s been chaotic, but God’s grace has been sufficient as it always is.

We were thankful not to lose our electricity for very long.  It went off for about 5 minutes at a time.  Other homes in our area have been out of power for days.

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We had time for a nice pancake breakfast.

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And some nice family dinners with sports practices cancelled.

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**warm blankets and companionable cats**

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**reading and turkey sandwiches**

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I had to take a photo because the kids and I found it amusing that Samantha-Cat was growling at the boy-cats to keep them away from her canned cat food.  They kept their distance and respected her.

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I had to take Caleb to the doctors Tuesday because he has been limping. . .turns out the pain in his heels were only growing pains, so we were thankful that he hadn’t suffered injuries during football. We went to the Goodwill store where Sarah Joy found these two mermaid toys.  She got them both for a dollar…..the reason this is worth recording is because when she got home, she took 2 hour long bath with them.  She won the family record for bathing the longest.  I kept knocking on the door to see if she was okay.

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Then, I had to take Seth to the ER on Tuesday.  He and Caleb were playing football on the neighbor’s yard and Seth ran out for a pass and ran into a big wagon wheel that they have propped against a white birch tree as a decoration.  He cut his head above his ear –but back a few inches in his hair.  Caleb walked him back home and I rushed for paper towels.  “Here hold this on your head,” I said.  “Ouch, I can’t move my arm!” he replied.   Upon inspection I saw that his collarbone had a bump on it and I knew with the cut and the strange bump we would be going to the hospital for an X-ray.  Sure enough, he had a fractured collarbone and now has to have his arm in a sling for four to six weeks.  His head wound required 3 staples to close.  He has been a much quieter boy since it happened almost 2 days ago.  He’s had the wind knocked out of his sails, so to speak.  When the Motrin wears off he is still in pain because of his collarbone, but his head hasn’t bothered him at all.  I think it helps that he can’t see the cut or the staples.  Today was his first day back to school.  I wonder how it’s going. . . . . . .

That night, Rich took only Sarah out trick or treating.  Seth and Caleb had already had “tricks” and weren’t going to get any “treats”.  (Sarah did give them some candy when she got back).

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Baseball cards are a nice activity for a one handed boy.  Seth is right handed, which is the arm in the sling, so the next few weeks will be a little bit of a challenge for him.  I’ve already seen him adapt with his left hand quite well.  He even ate 4 tacos without making a mess.

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Sarah is being WAY too thoughtful and helpful to Seth, offering to put his seatbelt on him in the car, telling him to be careful, encouraging him that he CAN go to school with a broken collarbone (she asked her teacher), getting things for him (“don’t move” she cautions), and so on. . . .it makes me laugh and irritates Seth.

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In the meantime, I came across these two butter knives on the mantle as I was cleaning.  David did it.  He took them out of the drawer, sharpened them and put points on them like steak knives.  I was not happy about my knives and told him not to take things out of my kitchen anymore.  “The thrift store has lots of metal objects you can get for almost nothing.  You can get some there and sharpen them.”

He also shaved the side off a penny.  I’m not sure HOW he’s doing these things. . . . but David is that sort of person who is endlessly learning and getting interested in things.  For now, it’s knives (making, sharpening, etc), soccer, music, and sometimes mouse traps.

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I’m currently reading this. . . .

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….and drinking tea.

And I’m trying to fight a cold.  Sarah and I are leaving tomorrow afternoon to go visit Grace for the weekend.  I cannot wait.  I think I need a weekend off.

*****

Corrie Ten Boom Quote:

Someone said to me:  “When I worry I go to the mirror and say to myself:  This tremendous thing which worries me is beyond solution; especially it is too hard for Jesus Christ to handle.  After I have said so, I smile and am ashamed.”

 

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depths and riches

Our daughter Grace is doing very well at college.  To no ones surprise she is handling things with cheerfulness and above all, quiet confidence.  She enjoys her classes, has a pet fish named Snape, recently got a care package from her boyfriend, joined the volleyball team, has time to read her favorite books, was asked to volunteer once a week as a student editor in the english department, and has had achieved high grades on her writing.   She is a secondary English education major.

She is attending a Christian university in Pennsylvania and before she left I told her it would be the most wonderful experience…..to be surrounded by classmates and teachers with the same foundational beliefs.  There are still many many differences in personalities and non-essential beliefs (which is a good and wonderful thing) but to be with so many others who first and foremost love Jesus….wow what a blessing.  She is learning so much.

I knew she would love it because before Rich and I were married I was able to squeeze in one year of Bible college at a local school in New York.  I lived on campus and had such fun.  In fact, that is when I met my forever friend Joanna.  She was doing the same one year program before marrying Steve.  We had a lot in common and got to know each other throughout that year.

One of the blessings of my Christian college experience was the dorm Mom.  I absolutely loved her…..instantly I knew she was someone I could trust and talk to about anything.  And all of us girls felt the same way.  She was an older lady with grown children and a husband who was a Professor on campus and she took all the students under her wing, especially us girls.  She talked with us about Jesus, showed us the love of Jesus in her care for us, and also talked to us conversationally about what it meant to be a godly woman, wife, and mother.  I remember sitting under the trees outside as she spoke gently and with a great sense of humor and love to a handful of us engaged girls about practical “newlywed” type of information….everything from laundry to the bedroom.  Even thought I also had the best upbringing of my own dear mom, I appreciated it Mom P’s extra knowledge much.  She was an excellent dorm Mom.  In one of her notes to me she wrote, “I do not push myself on anyone, but any who want me, can have me.”  And that is certainly how I felt around her….”she’s a friend, she loves me, she cares.”

After I was married I continued to keep in touch with her.  When Rich and I had our second child I experienced Post Partum Depression.  At the time I didn’t have the name for what I was feeling –but it was terrible–and my dear Dad encouraged me to go and talk with Mom P.  So I did.  I remember sitting in her office and soaking up her encouragement and love.  And most of all I remember how she took newborn Ethan in her arms and we walked downstairs to the cafeteria where she happily showed him off to everyone.

After Rich and I moved away from the area I sent her Christmas cards and I believe I talked to her once on the phone, or maybe in an email, asking for a church recommendation, and we had a nice time catching up.

Then FB became a “thing” with people of all ages and she and I found each other on Facebook….she continued to show an interest in me….asking about the kids, loving the photos, showing true interest and joy in my life.

She and her husband retired a little while back and moved further south and I felt a twinge of sadness knowing she “wasn’t there” at the college any longer.  To me, she was something of a college institution and should never leave it.  🙂

This story is getting longer and longer, I just wanted to tell you a bit about Mom P, because I had the best surprise last week.

In each dorm building at Grace’s school there is a set of “parents” who are there to provide any type of basic need that a student might have in the dorms….a married couple to stand in the gap for the students who are away from their real parents for probably the first time.  I met Grace’s dorm parents when we moved her into her room and it was a good feeling to know that they were there, living with their young daughter just down the hall from Grace and all the other dorm girls.  I saw a bunch of photos that Grace’s dorm Mom took of “her” girls on their first few days of school.

So imagine my complete and utter surprise when my own Mom P. sent me a message on FB on October 3rd:

Hi dear Shanda, I just met your sweet daughter Grace. She is in my son & d-I-loves dorm. They are wonderful with the girls if I do say so. Grace is so precious and beautiful like her Mom!! Look forward to seeing her more this week!! God bless you all!

and from Grace:

“My dorm Dad is Mrs. P’s son.  I just met her and she told me all about how amazing you are.”

OF COURSE after laughing and crying at the same time I BEGGED FOR A PHOTO:

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When I sent the photo and little story to Dad via texting, this was his reply:

“Oh the depths and the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God……..”

 

 

snippets

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Dryer is humming.

Lights are on; it’s 5:30, very gloomy, and raining.

When cars go by they splash up rain off the road, a lovely sound.

I made chicken and dumplings for dinner.

Seth got mad at Sarah because she started to give him a candy and then took it back.

The coffee table is covered in books and toys.

I finished a book today, and started another.

Sarah acted so guilty as she walked by me that I asked her what she had in her hands.  It was a package of crackers, a package of fruit snacks, and a granola bar.  “I’ll drink some water after.”

Caleb watched numerous youtube videos of football clips when he got home from school.

Seth liked dinner for the second day in a row and gave me a hug.  “I’m on a roll this week,” I tease.  “You’ve been on a roll with me since I started eating your dinners,” he replies.

I tried calling Rich but he didn’t answer and then he called me back later to make sure everything was okay.  Practice is cancelled so he might take the boys for haircuts later.

I took David to the orthodontist this morning, and then drive-thru breakfast.

Then to high school—–HIGH SCHOOL!

I found a vintage fiesta teacup (no saucer) for 50 cents today.

I took a newly hatched butterfly outside.

Seth and Sarah are busy running a bath, for their stuffed animals.

This was after I said “no” to washing the cat.

They are calling it the Shower Pet Shop.  

There is a pile of shoes and backpacks by the door.

Mail on the counter.

I heard from Grace today, briefly; she had a quiz in math.

And Ethan got an “A” on a paper.  He had interviewed his Dad about being a Manager.

Rich says it’s his first college “A”.

I think Caleb fell asleep in his room.

I know David did.  I took his picture.

I normally don’t allow 5:30pm naps.

But today it just seems right.

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