seth’s shoes fit me

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me, the dog, and seth, looking down at our feet

Let me remind you that Rich and I already have three grown-up children.  They are Jacob (21), Ethan (20), and Grace (18).  They are out of state, in college.  We also have two “middle aged” children David (16), and Caleb (13).

Seth and Sarah are the babies.  Seth (9) and Sarah (8).  babies.

I am fine with having grown up children.  I’m okay with having the middle aged ones, too.  But the babies I have to keep.  They’re mine.  They still get pulled onto my lap at least 2-5 times a week.

Last night it was time for football practice when out of the blue I got hit in the heart by a train.  I had gone into the closet to get my shoes on when I looked down at shoes I had just bought for Seth.  They looked strangely big next to mine.  “No.” I thought.  I lifted my bare foot and slipped it right into Seth’s shoe.

“Seth!  Seth! Come here!” I called.  For a moment it was funny and I knew baby boy would sure be surprised to have feet as big as mine.

But as soon as he walked toward me……I looked at his face…..his eyes looked into mine…..and I opened my mouth to say, “look!”…….when the tears came…..

“Seth!  Look at my feet!”

He looked down, Sarah came running.

“Your shoes fit me!  How do your shoes fit my feet!  Seth!  What’s happening!  Seth!”

“Mom…….you’re crying,” he said gazing with wonder (and half a proud smile), at my face.

“Mom, don’t cry,” laughed Sarah.

I stood there, as they cheerfully comforted me as best they could.

“Mom, your feet are just small!”

“You’re still TALLER than me!”

“Your feet are still BIGGER THAN MINE!”

And, finally,

“Take it off.  So you can stop fussing.”  ~Seth

*****

P.S. When he came home from football practice, he ran right over and sat on the couch next to me, making a big show out of taking off his cleats and socks, proudly lifting each foot, wriggling his toes, looking back and forth from his feet to my face, and making sure I was noticing his big feet and trying to get me to cry again.

15 minutes of bird-watching

I have sorrow in my heart that these photos aren’t great but that can’t stop me from posting them!!  This isn’t National Geographic, this is an ordinary housewife taking photos because when she waved her children off to school she noticed it was a great morning for birdwatching.  I heard the most beautiful morning song calling to me but alas I never did figure out who did the calling.  However, since I was out there anyway (heeding ‘the call’) with my camera, pajamas, & barefoot, I meandered around to see what else I could see.

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At first I was annoyed with the wires but then I thought they added something cool to the photo……and plus it was so neat to see a woodpecker and a nuthatch in the same frame!  The woodpecker was cool and collected, the nuthatch scurried smoothly around the tree like a mouse.

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Thanks to my camera lens, (which is useful like binoculars) I could SEE this bird.  Without the lens it really did look like a mouse.

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…a little bit of red beauty hiding in the bushes…

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mysterious

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This bird doesn’t come to the feeders, I spied it flitting about in the trees behind the house.    It’s a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

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flying away

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gone

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I love morning-glories.

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The rose-bush is doing well.

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A charming juvenile cardinal….

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Chewing on a twig!!!!  It’s so cute.  I love how he uses his tail as a support so he can reach out and chew the twig.

*******

a scripture that meant a lot to me this morning:

“But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely………..since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each of us is an original.”  Galations 5

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something of one’s own

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It’s October.  This morning a soft mild breeze brought down 100 yellow leaves, tossing and turning them before they landed with a papery sound on the driveway.  I saw Walter Kitty looking up, up, up, his head turning this way and that, watching the leaves.  His first autumn.

The way water reflects colorful leaves and sunshine, like a stained glass window, is breathtaking.  Every scene is much lovelier than a video, or painting, or a photograph.  There are no smells of earth, or sounds of nature, in a mere picture.

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“Woman’s life today is tending more and more toward the state William James describes so well in the German word, ‘Zerrissenheit–torn-to-pieces-hood.’  She cannot live perpetually in ‘Zerrissenheit.’  She will be shattered into a thousand pieces.  On the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today.  Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work.  It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself.  It need not be an enormous project or a great work.  But it should be something of one’s own.  Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day–like writing a poem, or saying a prayer.  What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive.”

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, page 56

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Like most mothers, my days are busy from start to finish.  Yesterday even more so.  The children didn’t have school so I left a list of chores for David and Sarah to complete while I was gone, and took Caleb, along with Seth, to his orthopedic doctor’s appointment, 45 minutes away through morning rush hour city traffic.  The appointment was over an hour long in a tiny room, mostly waiting, with Caleb leaving twice for xrays.  We left with the orders that he could not throw anymore until his shoulder heals, as he has what’s commonly called “Little League Shoulder”, which means that the growth plate in the shoulder is inflammed by over-use in throwing baseballs and footballs.  Ironically, I was suffering from a stiff neck all day and still am this morning.  We ate lunch,  relieved to finally know why Caleb’s shoulder was hurting and happy that with rest it should heal up nicely.  We did some shopping and came home with just enough time to get ready for music lessons, and then on to football and cheerleading practice.  Then, loud and happy goofing around in the house afterwards as they ate a bedtime snack, took showers, and David chased the family pets around the house, scaring them half to death with his dragon hand puppet.

*********

In the midst of this day of mine,  I took out my camera and enjoyed God’s lovely world in the small green grassy yard by the music building downtown.  Seth and I saw a pretty creek, trees with bright leaves, unusual mushrooms, and we took each other’s picture.

Now I’m taking a quiet moment to write here, feet up on the coffee table and dishwasher running in the kitchen, and I’m quite positive Anne Morrow Lindbergh would approve.

 

 

 

 

new baby//old baby

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On Sunday afternoon Rich and I finally got to meet our new niece, Morgan!  She is my brother Nathan and sister-in-law, Melissa’s, third child.  At the same time, we were able to watch their son Greg play a game of football (he’s a star athlete already!)

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Sarah held a baby for the very first time in her life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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It was such a joyful moment.

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Caleb held the baby, too!  I love this photo so much!

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Me, Melissa, and Morgan.  What a gift to be able to hold her and to visit with Melissa.  I love you, sister!

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And we got to see Makayla Lynn, their oldest daughter, & our beautiful niece.  Sarah adores her cousin and they had a nice time playing during the game.  Sarah wishes she could visit her cousins every weekend!

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David and Seth were the only ones who didn’t want to hold the baby, (why?!?!) but here is Ethan with his little cousin.  She looks so tiny in his arms.

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And here’s Uncle Dave with Morgan!!  This was his first time holding her, as well.  He’s so good to all his nieces and nephews.  We are so blessed to have Morgan in our family and thankful for her safe and happy arrival.  I already posted photos of our other new baby, Elena, yep…..two of my brothers had baby girls within just a week and three days!  My parents were thrilled!  I cannot wait to have them both in the same room and take their photo together like twins!

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Greg, as usual, scored a gazillion touchdowns.  Between a new baby and an exciting game for Greg, our family was having a great day!

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I’m proud of my brother Nate, the way he coaches football, and most of all the way he loves and takes care of his family.  We love you, Nathan!

*********************

I’ve spent the morning preparing for our OLD baby’s birthday.  Yes, our dear baby David Lloyd turns 16 years old TODAY.  He is a bright and wonderful part of our family.

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Here he is with his brother Ethan.  David on the left, Ethan on the right.

He requested chicken and dumplings for dinner and either a cheesecake or ice cream cake for dessert.  I went out this morning to get the ingredients for dinner, plus a cheesecake AND a small vanilla cake AND a small apple tart.  Can you believe it, I forgot the vanilla ice cream but I DID remember the candles!  I just got done wrapping his gifts.  He’ll be home at 2:30 and then the party can begin.

PS, sorry for the excessive use of exclamation points!  At times it cannot be avoided.

 

up on the hill

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On Sunday morning, Rich and I and the kids plus Brittnee (basically we have eight kids now) met brother Dave at the Crackerbarrel, where he had already requested a table for eleven.  Crackerbarrel does a great job handling large families and oftentimes (including this one) gives us two waitresses, one for each side of the table.  The kids had big mugs of hot chocolate with whipped cream and in no time at all we were eating a most enjoyable breakfast.  I had an egg sandwich with eggs, tomato, mayonnaise, and their sourdough toast, with a side of fresh fruit and some bacon.

When it was time to leave, we all went to Mom and Dad’s house and I rode in the car with Dave so we could continue our visit together and stop by Uncle Brian’s to give him a and Aunt Carol a quick hug.  Rich and Jacob followed soon afterwords in their cars.  Mom and Dad and sister Amanda, who was also visiting that weekend, were waiting for us at home.  I think we might have overwhelmed them a little (especially Aunt Amanda) with energy and noise.  Dad has a drum set and Caleb, who was so excited to play for Grandpa, got right on it to show off a little, but soon was told to stop.  David, Grace, and Ethan took turns on Grandpa’s keyboard, too.  So amongst talk and laughter there was the background music of amateurs.  Dad played foozeball with the boys.

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Jacob had a couple of shirts with him that had torn on the seams and I had told him I would mend them at Grandma’s house but Grandma did it instead.  She has her sewing machine kept out, ready to use, at all times.  How convenient!  By the time she was done, the shirts were as good as new, you couldn’t even tell they had been ripped in the first place.  Thank you, Grandma!

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Mom was bright and happy and said several times, “My heart is full!”  We told her we wouldn’t need any lunch because we knew Crackerbarrel food would keep us full for half the day at least, so she had a nice set up on the counter with her homemade pickles, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, cheese and crackers, and other snack foods.

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(Mom makes enough dill pickles to last the whole year, using a family recipe and her own garden cucumbers, garlic, and dill.)

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We went outside to see the garden.

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We met Dave and Sarah walking around on the lawn, looking at things and talking.  Sarah was so happy.  She spent most of the time at both her grandparents’ houses this weekend, outside.  She loves exploring.  I was thankful Uncle Dave stayed with her to keep track of her.  The lawn was so wet that they wore muck boots.  Sarah had grandma’s boots on!  We thought she was so cute and funny.  Poor Uncle Dave, his boots had a hole in them.

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Mom and Dad’s vegetable garden is surrounded by a homemade rustic fence and flowers.

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IMG_3006thank you for the photo, amanda!

They use chicken fencing, pallets, and suitable sticks woven throughout, to try to keep out deer, who love to eat garden foods, too.  This side of the garden had beautiful gourds ripening.

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Uncle Dave and Sarah went across the road to the blueberry patch and when they came back, we noticed that they had swapped boots….why?….because Sarah was trying to be helpful about the hole in her uncle’s boots and suggeste that he take her boot.  She wasn’t wearing socks so it didn’t matter to her if there was a leak.  I took the picture as she was telling the story.

We went for a walk down the road.  What a beautiful morning!  We could hear birds and chipmunks and saw some orange salamanders in the road, too.

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Soon it was time to leave and go to little Greg’s football game and meet baby Morgan.

Thanks, mom and dad, for a lovely visit!

*****

“Those blessings are sweetest
that are won with prayer
and worn with thanks.”
Thomas Goodwin

love is effortful

IMG_1480“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”  JK Rowling

I don’t mean to brag or anything but we had a great weekend and it was all because of me.  I am the personality type that has to have family gatherings, has to keep in touch, has to have contact, has to visit and see faces, and my husband focuses on work and weekends at home, his schedule is constant and his weekends are the time to slow down a little and enjoy the fruits of his labor.  He would rather not take a weekend and spend most of the time….in the car, traveling yet again.  I am not better than he is, he is not better than me, every person in this grand ol’ world is different and we need each other.  He needs me to balance him out and I need him to balance me out!  He needs me to get his butt back home to see our family!!

He and I both came from the same hometown and in our young married life moved here to our home in CT (about 12 years ago).

To go back home is about a 3 hour drive, not bad at all, but somehow months and months and maybe even a year will go by before the two of us together get around to visiting again.

I positively ache if I go too long without a visit, as a result, many times I go home by myself or with just a couple of children.  Rich would either be gone that week (at camp with the older kids) or home with the children that didn’t go with me that time.

But this past weekend I put my foot down.  I was going to be stubborn.  I wanted to go to NY to visit family and I wanted to see my entire family, too, RICH’S FAMILY, and by golly he was going to go with me!  He was away last week on a business trip so all the arrangements were made between the two of us by texting.  It took a few days but he finally came around with an “if it means so much to you than yes, I will go”.  I dabbed in the empty house with the phone in my hands.  He made hotel arrangements.

I was adamant about this weekend because the kids had no football games, as it was a bye week.  And, it providentially turned out that Jacob also had a bye week at college so he and Ethan came, too.  And since our hotel was just an hour from Grace and Brittnee (Jacob’s girlfriend), Jacob and Ethan drove there first (getting in an accident on the way) on Friday night and brought the girls back with them to the hotel, on Saturday.

The NUMBER ONE reason to visit was to see our new baby niece.

Then, to watch our nephew play football and to see Uncle Brian, who is sick.

And, lastly, to visit all of Rich’s family (it had been way too long) and my family, too.

Thus, after everything came together, we were all set for a whirlwind weekend.

It’s work to get the clothes and car packed and ready, something always goes wrong, (this time it was Seth taking his oldest pair of junk sneakers with the sole that flapped as he walked), Rich and I are always a little tired from lack of sleep and our lifestyle in general as busy parents, but it’s worth it.  We have found that we can do a lot and still be happy and make memories even when tired.

It’s important to make the effort to see your family.  It’s invaluable to give children the opportunity and gift to see grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Life can change in the blink of an eye.  We need to seize the day!  It’s so worth it.  Parents should visit their children and children should visit their parents.  Yes, it will be loud and sometimes annoying but that’s normal and understandable when you get a house full of youngsters. They are simply too excited to slow down and need to feel the attention and love of their grown-ups.  The music will be loud……. but all the more opportunity to dance.

*****

Friday, Rich finally made it home from his 3 state business trip including a terribly postponed flight, we took David to get his passport, J and E got into an accident and Rich fathered them through that over the phone, we went to pick up Rich’s new glasses from the mall, and the kids had practice after school, all the day before our trip.

Saturday morning we left.   We always stop at Starbucks along the way.  I’ve been getting their matcha green tea latte lately and they are SO GOOD.  Seth ordered, then Sarah, Dave, Caleb, myself, and Rich.  Then, we waited for our orders and Seth’s sandwich never came so I wondered if he even ordered it loudly enough and asked Rich for the receipt, which he didn’t have.  But the barista said, “Oh, it’s okay, I’ll just make it for him, no problem”, so kindly.  She asked what we were doing for the weekend since it was only 7:30 and there we were in Starbucks, all six of us.  She was sweet and pleasant and we were soon on our way, feeling happy because of their good service.

The children had things to do in the car.  Sarah read books, Seth and Caleb had kindles.  I let David use my phone.  Rich and I used his phone with a pair of ear buds, one for his right ear and one for my left.  We listened to Dr. Death, the podcast, and it was horrifying and riveting because the surgeries “Dr. Death” killed or maimed people with was the same type of surgery Rich just had this summer.

Every time Rich turned his head to check his side mirror my ear bud fell out.

We stopped in Albany on the way to our hotel and went to Barnes and Noble.  In fact, I was able to go twice this weekend, to 2 different ones, and I bought four more books for our family Newbery collection (they are getting harder to find and I order most of them from the internet now).  I also finished reading one titled The Thief.  I read several chapters out loud in the car to Rich.  He liked it, too.  It was a great story, creative and adventurous, set in Greece.

We ate lunch at the Spiedie and Rib pit in Vestal, one of our favorite hometown food places.  The spiedies are amazing.  And  then we went to our hotel, where, oh joy,  Jacob, Ethan, Grace, and Brittnee were waiting for us with a box of Krispie Kreme donuts.  THANK YOU ETHAN!

 

Jacob and Brittnee went to the bookstore with me and Jacob bought a book titled Le Morte D’Arthur, written in the 1400’s.  He is currently very interested in Arthurian literature, which I think is so neat.  I hope to read his book eventually.

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After a couple of hours at the pool and relaxing, and our trip to the bookstore, we headed to Dad and Leslie’s house.  His three brothers and their families came, too, and our whole big family had a pizza dinner and lots of fun talking and visiting while the cousins ran in and out of the house to run around or visit the pigs in the barn.

priceless photos

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Seth, Grandpa, and my sister-in-law Elisabeth all sat on the couch to visit.

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This beautiful family dog is always so good with the kids.

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When she saw the sky, Elisabeth came in the house to find me.  “Shanda, you have to see the sunset!”

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Back inside, more visiting, and family everywhere.  Rich was smiling.

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Our little nephew, brother Jason’s youngest son.  He played with trains so nicely and we loved watching him.

 

David and Ethan got silly.

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Words of life, on Leslie’s kitchen windowsill.

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ALL OF US!!!!!!  Thank you to the picture-taker, dear Brittnee!

*****

That night when we were in bed going to sleep, I listened to Rich tell me how much the evening meant to him.

*****

“When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion – through the fact that for that someone (or for ourself) we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful.”  M. Scott Peck