nurse shanda

Today I woke up as Rich was getting ready for work and he told me that when he went to let the chickens and ducks out he noticed that the chickens were in the wrong part of the coop–they were up in the loft, so, for whatever reason, (not a good one) he decided to get up there and shoo them down but when he did he fell against the inside wall and hit the top of his head on an exposed nail (the sharp end). It’s not bad, but it was the top of his head and he couldn’t see it. Consequently, that’s what I did first thing this morning. I checked his wound. It wasn’t a puncture, it was a scratch. That’s exactly what I told him.

I got up and dressed and got a box ready to mail to my dear friend, which I always love to do, pack up a happy box and traipse to the post office with it and see how expensive it will be this time (12 dollars). I invited Sarah to come along and off we went. We tried to listen to Dateline the podcast on the way but she said it was making her sad so we switched to her music choice; Taylor Swift. We stopped for gas and went inside for drinks. She got one of those egg candies that have a toy inside and guess what it was a beaver so she gave it to me. It’s so cute! I got a cheesestick and a low calorie gatorade. We continued on down the road…..

Consignment shop was the first stop, where she found a nice backpack for school. It was so large that all our purchases fit inside it to take to the car. She found some shirts that she liked (I’ve already taught her that she must try things on before making a decision, and to only say yes to the items that make her feel so very pretty and good in). I bought three pairs of jeans because I’m finally getting a mom-pouch stomach that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get rid of (I’d like to lose 10 pounds, not that I’m not beautiful the way I am, but because I just feel lighter, brighter, and happier in the 138 range). So theses jean will be nice for now, because they fit just right, not “a little bit tight” like my other ones. I also bought a few other little things to try to sell on eBay, which is something I am starting to try my hand at. It’s also nice to have a pleasant hoard of gifts ready to send out to friends who need a little pick-me-up.

After the post office we went to the Goodwill where Sarah found some “super hard to find” strange looking stretchy toys that she really likes, “Don’t you remember I asked Uncle Dave for one for my birthday?” she asked. She then found two pictures for her bedroom, “I just love decorating my room.” I found some odds and ends, my most exciting find being a ceramic (?) vintage squirrel holding an acorn, which I love, in the “bric a brac” section, my favorite. We then made our way to Starbucks where she ordered a Caramel Frappechino. She didn’t like it. It tasted of coffee. As we have purchased hundreds of drinks at Starbucks over the years, I figured just this once she could try to give it back and try another flavor, so she did, and they were happy to oblige even though Sarah wondered if they probably think she is “spoiled”. I assured her that I knew she was NOT. She ended up with a regular vanilla bean frappe with some caramel syrup. She was cute as she figured these challenges all out.

We came home, Seth was a little feisty as he thought we took too long (awww he missed us), he wanted the iPad. iPad usage is under strict surveillance for him as a curious young boy the google bar is very tempting. He had to wait until I got home for his time on it. He called twice to ask when I would be arriving. In order to curb this habit with the children, I always give the calling child a chore each time that they call. So he had some things to do for me, and probably only called twice for that reason alone.

David was still asleep so I woke him up and told him to clean his room and comb his hair and start going to bed earlier at night. He did as I asked and then went to the grocery store because he is in the process of making homemade dumplings for the first time. He made the dough last night. He also had to go get Caleb from school because Caleb was alway all day for a wrestling clinic. Ethan worked from home today as usual. I felt overwhelmed until I gave everyone jobs to do, and I myself undertook making a new recipe for dinner; spinach lasagna, which involved a LOT of processing. Squeeze the spinach, process it. Process the onion and garlic, saute it, add crushed tomatoes for the sauce and meanwhile, process the ricotta cheese with spinach juice, eggs, parmesan, etc. I never processed so many ingredients in my life……Rich and I loved the lasagna but not sure if the kids will eat much of it.

Brittnee (Jacob’s wife) has had a migraine for a couple days so she is out shopping for new glasses. She’s a go-getter. She had a doctors appointment and an eye doctors appointment both today, to try to get herself feeling better.

And then poor Grace texted me as well, saying that she went to the dentist with wisdom tooth pain and has to have them all pulled out because some are sideways, and some are impacted. And she’s in pain.

Ethan and Sierra went to look at a house (they are engaged to be married in April).

There is always stuff going on when you have a large family. Seth and Sarah are just over Covid; they had it conveniently at the same time and are all better now except for the coughs.

When Rich got home from work this evening he said “My head was bleeding and oozing all day, are you sure it’s just a scratch?”

So I had to look at it, again. I looked and examined. When he said “Ouch, why did you have to press on it like that?” I said, “Because I’m Nurse Shanda.”


How about Shanda-pleasing?

What would that look like?

It would look simple, and genuine. Relational. Glorifying to God. Grateful, reserved, unseen, known fully by only a select few. Quiet. Life in the kitchen, living room, at the art table, in the laundry room, at the piano, outside, in the forest, on paths, with trees and insects and birds, plants, in all weather.

Music, books, making a home. Conversations, exchanging ideas and things that matter. hugs and kisses, rest, nourishment, peace.

Feeding the hungry and loving everyone who is safe to love and needs what I have to offer, as a gift, my heart.

These sort of things, and more, please me, and delight me.

Rhubarb quick bread with cinnamon sugar topping

I just got back from delivering medicine and fluids to Jacob (who is married and has the stomach bug, two conditions which are, I assume, unrelated, as Brittnee says it’s food poisoning hmmmmm.). I was at home folding clothes like a good little housewife when Brittnee texted and asked me if I loved her and my son, I answered “probably not”, because I was already suspicious. Then she asked if I would drop off Pepto and Gatorade, since Jacob was so sick and she had to go to work. Naturally I said “sure” because I guess I’m going to keep being a mother even when the child is married, in his own apartment, and 25 years old.

I got home to find David watching a movie and I started a friendly conversation with him about calling the grocery store to get back to working shifts and making himself some money. I was so convincing that he made faces like HE was now the one sick, and asked, “where did you come from? and, when can you go back?” I laughed and laughed. I know he will follow my guidance, the children all know that my wisdom knows no bounds. So now Dave and E are gone to pick up a package from the Post Office. The mailman tried to deliver it here but I was gone and Ethan assumed it was the Schwans guy and ignored the doorbell. Jokes on him because it was his package. At least now I home alone for a half hour……

This morning when I first got up and still had my pajamas and red robe on, I went outside to do a little work in my garden. I have a couple sprouted potatoes planted, and I planted sunflower seeds the other day. This morning I planted a baggie of marigold seeds from a lady at church who saved all the heads of her marigolds and dried them to save the seeds. Two baggies of marigold heads equals approximately one million billion thousand seeds. I already scattered around one baggie in the flower beds. I don’t know what to expect. Marigolds everywhere. While I was busy with the seed planting, I also weeded around my strawberry plants and decided to harvest some rhubarb. I wanted rhubarb so bad, now I have it and now I need to use it. The pressure. Mr Gordon gave me some of his patch years ago and it’s such a thrill to see it growing each spring almost right away. then comes the responsibility to use it all up and not let it just grow and bolt into flower. I took a small knife out of my pocket and cut some crisp juicy stalks.

After gardening comes kitchening. It naturally happens. I’m so thankful I can walk right back into the house and be in my kitchen. I set to work making, believe it or not, MRS Gordon’s rhubarb bread. I had enough to make a double batch, which meant four loaves. While they were baking I folded laundry and by the time the bread was done I had already committed myself to taking care of Jake so I left with a small plate of warm sweet bread and ate it while I drove to …….Goodwill. I needed to see if they still had those Hummel figurines that I had left on the shelf yesterday. They did not. But they did have some art pieces for the wall, a country primitives lighted house, a tshirt for sarah, and an S letter for my mantel which will sit right next to the R that I already had found a year ago. The unfortunate part is that the R is gray metal and blends right into the stonework above the mantel, and the S is bright white. David says it’s even harder to see the R with the S next to it. If that’s not a parable for Rich and myself I don’t know what is. (teasing).

The grocery store is right next to Goodwill and I ran over and got the things for my sick child and drove them over. We hugged and I left him to try to get some sleep. Within moments I had a text, “I am so thankful for you.” And my heart melted and I was also thankful. Thankful for gardens, and children who need me still, a husband with a sense of humor, neighbors who share, a car my very own to drive whenever I want, this beautiful day, and the energy and desire to do good things for people I love. For smiles and a heart that’s full of cheer. And my cats.

Marigold seeds
I love how the cats come watch whenever I’m in the garden.
Mrs Gordon’s recipe calls for vegetable oil which is how the paper became saturated with it.. For several years I couldn’t even read it, but I also couldn’t throw away her handwritten recipe. After some time, like magic the ink came through just enough for me to use it again.
This is how I remove bread from the pan.
Mr Bones on the porch (I made the blanket).
Real paintings for two dollars each.
I loved this copy, illustrated by Charlie and Lola’s Lauren Child, of a favorite book.
The R and the S


1 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2/3 cup oil, 1 beaten egg, 1 cup buttermilk; whisk together.

Sift in a separate bowl 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.

Add liquid to flour, stir until combined and then fold in 1 and 1/3 cup finely diced rhubarb.

Grease two loaf pans and pour batter evenly into pans. For topping, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake at 325 degrees 45 mins or until done.

Happy Friday!

gratitude is nourishing

I stood inside the house, in the tub, to take this photo. Through a window.

There is a very persistent cat bird beaking itself into the bathroom window. He appears to be obsessed with getting inside. I tell it, “You don’t want to come in here. We have cats. Real ones.” It doesn’t listen to me. He’s in love. With me!! I say, “I’m a human.” He says “I’ve seen all you do for other birds like me. You are full of compassion, keep the feeders full, give treats, sing to us, and look at us lovingly.” I say, “A lot of humans are like me.” And he says, between knocks to the window, “there. Is.” he’s going to die if he doesn’t stop. I have to make him stop. Talking didn’t work. I’ll have to resort to action.

I’m sitting here thinking, “He must have heard me tell Sarah that catbirds are my very favorite.”

He’s driving me nuts and hurting himself. Toxic love at its finest. He truly doesn’t care about me, he just wants what he wants.

Aren’t relationships wonderful? Why yes, they truly are, until you get mixed up in an ugly one. Then you find yourself studying “trauma bond”, “narcissism”, “manipulation”, “sociopath.”

This is taking a very dark turn!!!

Let me just say to you; beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing! The lessons are numerous but the tears will be as waterfalls. Wolves I can deal with. The ones who dress up like sheep are truly scary.

Recovery is possible!! I suggest EMDR therapy. It’s working for me!!

Honestly, I’m still the same beautiful soul, I just have to learn to keep the guards in front of the door to my heart.

Thank goodness gracious 98% of the people I meet are good people. How rare, how precious, how worthy of praise are they? How blessed am I? So in living, my heart goes around on a path of uncertainty, but always ends up … that divine and nourishing place of gratitude!!


On a lighter note, my husband bought me a pint of Ben and Jerry’s cookies dough core ice cream the other day. And do you know what happened? I sat down and…..ate the core right out of it. Then I was in a fix. Who wants chocolate chip ice cream without the cookie dough? Not I! So I put it back in the freezer for a couple days. Until I was craving ice cream again. What to do? Have Rich go get me new ice cream? I knew the answer to that one……hmmmmmm

I pondered the situation and finally realized “At this point it takes me all of five minutes to mix up a bowl of cookie dough.” I have 26 yrs of skillz.

“no more core”
bowl of fresh cookie dough
refilled core
And an extra layer on top.

Time for me to shower and dress. Rich is working from home today, so is Ethan. David is also home working on college courses online. Seth has his first baseball game since Covid happened so we are excited to go watch him play later.

And tomorrow Caleb goes to prom.

((((My heart!!!!))))

You know it’s true friends, we are all so very loved.

“Oh God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” St. Francis of Assisi

soul full, heart full

I’m in my bed with Sarah, arguing with her, because I told her it was bedtime and she doesn’t want to go. I had been reading The Wind in the Willows to her and she almost fell asleep so off to bed she’s going for sweet dreams. First she needs a hug. Then she needs to complain because tomorrow isn’t Saturday. Then she needs another hug. So I listen, and hug, and pat, and finally she’s settled down and ready.

……She says there’s nothing she’s interested in more than space. She reads Google Space News every day at school on her chrome book. I know all about her interests, and pointed out a book for her when we were in Jekyll last month, it was a book about the constellations and how to identify them in the night sky. I’ll never forget what she said, “I don’t need that! I’ll make up my OWN!” I was stunned, I had never thought to stare into space at the stars and see what I could see, myself, without a book or old wise men telling me first.

She and I went for a little walk this afternoon. I found a chunk of an old bone off the beaten path, and a wonderful little den of sorts underneath the roots of a tree loosely sitting on the ground. We didn’t find any feathers, we didn’t see any beavers. But we saw the sparkling sun glittering on the water and it twinkled on our faces like magic.

Never underestimate a walk away from the house, or a drive away from home sweet home. Both are good for breezing the cobwebs out of the mind and soul. David and I took a little trip today. We drank healthy smoothies and went out for a bit of shopping. It felt so good to sit and talk and listen to music as we drove along. And when we came home we both took naps and I had food to make for dinner later in the afternoon. Frosted cinnamon rolls, fresh bread, seafood stuffed salmon, brownies, butternut squash.

Now it’s getting dark and the lights are on in all the rooms in reckless disregard for the electric bill. Everyone is off doing their own thing quietly. I can hear the boys in the kitchen finding snacks. They have music playing. I’ll be putting clothes in the dryer soon, and doing the normal nighttime things. Little by little everyone will slow down and cozy up in their beds and sleep. Thankful for another end to another gift-of-a-day.

Sarah the Sweet
glitter everywhere
a secret animal place in the woods
Peace, like a beaver pond, attendeth my way

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

cookie dough brownies 2

“God’s love is wrapping all around you, whether you notice it or not.”

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your Word.”


I’m on the couch. I put my book down because I can’t concentrate on it while Caleb and David are jamming; Caleb on drums and Dave on piano.

Today was lovely but on the chilly side. The sun came out now and then, the air was bright and made all nature look vivid, but the wind was cold. I went for two walks. One alone, one with Rich.

I found a dead fox over a year ago in the woods. I had wanted the bones but they were still being cleaned by bugs and worms so I left the skeleton by the stream for time to go by. I finally brought a selection of the bones home last week and today the lawn company came and accidentally ran over some of them, (I had them bleaching in the sun) but I still have the skull, a couple leg bones, and one jaw.

Sarah is excited her birthday and making plans for friends to come over. She will be turning 12 on May 30. She has a dance recital in June and she showed me her dance outfit today, it’s a red tutu and she will look beautiful. I’m so glad she’s been dancing this year, she’s learned a lot. Yesterday while we were walking into the grocery store together she told me about a certain tap-dance step that everyone who knows how to tap in the whole world knows. And I thought about dance and how it unties people and how beautiful that was.

I made cookie dough brownies today. David and I were craving something sweet. I’ve posted the recipe before here:

The book I’m currently reading.
Sherlock at my feet.
David got a gift in the mail from Aunt Josie; a weighted blanket. He loves it.
The cold walk.
Royal Doulton demitasse cups I found at the goodwill this week.
Caleby (one of my nicknames for Caleb)

The drumming is driving me wild!! 🙃. My heart aches with the joy of watching my boys be brothers, loving and protecting and spending time together. Thank you Jesus. Thank you that we are never alone.

Happy Wednesday my friends!

what can I say?

“All these earthly goods were medicine for what ailed me, evidence that the same God who had breathed the world into being was still breathing. There was so much life springing up all around me that the runoff alone was enough to revive me. When it did, I could not imagine why I had stayed away so long. Why did I seal myself off from all this freshness? On what grounds did I fast from the daily bread of birdsong and starlight?” -Barbara Brown Taylor

Am I sad? I’m always a little bit sad. Who isn’t in this messy beautiful world? But these are a few of the things I am finding joy in lately:

Therapy. Two weeks ago I shared with my therapist-healer a traumatic memory that even in sharing it two years or more after it happened brought my emotions to a ten. Last week we used tappers to go through the memory again, already it was, like magic, shifting. Already it was below a five on the emotional scale. Today it is hard to put a number on it. Anything below a five is so much of a relief it’s beyond even using a number. It’s using a hallelujah.

Books. This year 2022 I am reading more than ever. I have a red-covered notebook that Elisha gave to me for Christmas that I am carefully recording each title as I finish it. Some of the books are lackluster, but when I come across one that shines it makes my heart sing. Reading has always been good for the soul for me. I have quite a stack waiting for me and I look forward to them like I look forward to cookies to cool so I can eat one.

Family. Rich is my comfort, companion, love, and joy. He’s back to work in office now, and we both believe that even though Covid was heavy, it made our relationship better than ever. The children are doing well and keeping me challenged. I was thinking this morning about the simple words a friend shared with me the other day; “Don’t give up”. So often lately I have found myself impatient with myself as I mother my two youngest, forgetting that they deserve the attention and freshness that the older ones had from me. Instead of curling up with a book this afternoon I plan on investing in them, I know their hearts and I know the love we share can be rekindled and refreshed at any moment. We can go for walks, play a game, I can listen better to their stories that I often feel I have already heard a thousand times….but I haven’t. Not from them. Middle school life is new and exciting for them. Being 11 and 13 is amazing and wonderful for them. And for them, I won’t give up. Being intentional is half the battle. Poor things don’t know what’s coming. Lol

Nature. As always, a walk through the woods, or even something as simple as an open window letting in fresh air and birdsong lifts my spirits.

Cats. Art. Friendship. Food. Home. Music. Shopping at goodwill deserves its own separate post. Travel. Writing. The list grows even longer. Isn’t life grand?

But above all these things is love. 1 Corinthians 13

“moment by moment new mercies I see.”

Happy day my friends. Let me remind you and me both….we are greatly loved.

the fifth

The fifth cat that is.

I can’t believe it’s already almost a week since Grace and I tried to lure a stray cat to us with a bowl of dry cat food. To our surprise and wonder, it actually came. It was wearing a flea collar and was nothing but skin and bones. It meowed but it’s voice wasn’t a thing of beauty. It said, “Hello, I am a starving cat. I’ve been watching you for a month. I already met your other cats. The black one chased me away but I had a feeling you would welcome me inside.”

And I said, “Ohhhhhh my goodness, come on inside you poor poor little baby kitty, you’re so handsome and sweet you’re so thin, let’s feed youuuuuuuu.”

Seth wanted him so I said he could be Seth’s cat. Then Caleb came to me and said “I can’t believe you gave that cat to Seth.” He thought it should be his cat. Then Sierra sent me a text. “Can that be Ethan’s cat? We want it.” (They don’t know this but all the cats are secretly….mine). I tried to be a peacemaker the best I could but we started arguing about what to name him. Clyde? Clive? Lorenzo?

I’ve been calling him Mr Bones.

Yesterday I overheard Seth call him Little Sticks. I’m not sure which name will stay.

Seth and Sarah don’t like to pet him because all they can feel are his sharp bones jutting out. Shoulder blades, hips, and heels especially.

Within days I had him at the vet getting his rabies and distemper shots. On Tuesday he will be getting neutered.

He drinks from the toilet and eats from the kitchen sink and I wonder if his previous owner ever gave him a proper meal for cats, you know like actual cat food in a dish?. He’s obviously not partial to bowls and saucers. He only weighs seven pounds. He’s had butter, a leftover sausage, part of Davids egg sandwich including the bread, and some of my matcha latte. Who knows how long he was outside starving in the cold winter.

Regardless, he’s mine now. He’s been thoroughly adopted.

The day we met.
He has beautiful eyes.
I was shocked when he ate off dirty plates in the sink. Did his previous owner take care of him?
He’s trying to make friends.
He’s so thin.
He drank some of my matcha!!
I love him.

This morning I was making a cup of coffee when I noticed that my husband had written something on one of the fridge magnets:

He’s very patient.

good to be home

Peace knows your address.
Make sure you are home.
Be present within yourself. Move in. Open the windows. Let in the light. Freshen up the place.
Make yourself a place you’d like to stay.
Be a homebody.
~Jaiya John, Fragrance After Rain

PEACE KNOWS YOUR ADDRESS: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

MAKE SURE YOU ARE HOME: Our bodies tell us, with our nerves and emotions, when we are not “home”. (safe). There are many ways to work on safety. What works for me will not work for you. This is why it sometimes takes years to come to a place of healing; and that’s okay.

BE PRESENT WITHIN YOURSELF: You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are the only one who can take care of you. God, through Jesus Christ, wants us to live abundantly. He cares enough to know our hearts (insides) the number of hairs on our heads (outsides); shouldn’t we also care about ourselves so that we can be healthy & enjoy *messy-beautiful* life?

MOVE IN: close your eyes, get inside yourself with welcome and warmth, do you find yourself smiling yet?

OPEN THE WINDOWS: now open your eyes, open your heart, soul, and mind. Let the beauty of living come inside you.

LET IN THE LIGHT: “Jesus once again addressed them: ‘I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.” This is why our hearts soar when sunbeams flow into the room and across the floor, warming and brightening.

FRESHEN UP THE PLACE: I try to do this daily…..because so easily I become stagnant. One day will be a musical day, another day will be art, another day will be rest, another day will be hard work another day will be ………… you get the idea.

MAKE YOURSELF A PLACE YOU’D LIKE TO STAY: Again, figuring yourself out, knowing who you are, your identity as basic as “I am a woman” opens up a world of possibility. What does that mean to you? When we know our own unique and sacred self, we can nourish that and remain the one and only me/you there ever is or will be.

BE A HOMEBODY. Everything and everyone else is just icing on the cake.