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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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

this morning

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(woolly bear caterpillar on the road)

Amanda came over for a few hours this morning.  She brought her dog Lloyd.  The three of us went on a nice walk together.

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The air was crisp and clean.  The kind of morning when you want to breath deep.

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my sister ~ my friend

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scenes from the neighborhood

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“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands”
~Christina Rossetti

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“How beautifully leaves grow old.  
How full of light and color are their last days.”  ~John Burroughs

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My sister almost stepped on a lizard!

I was so thrilled and promptly took photos from every angle.

I looked it up when we got home and discovered it was a “Spotted Salamander” and Connecticut’s largest salamander.

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Just look at the spots!

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Maybe it was trying to find a little warmth on the road?  But the road is a very unsafe place to be, so I saved its little life by putting it in the leaves on the edge of the woods.

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heading back home

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I made pumpkin cookies this morning, too, from a 1972 Pennsylvania State Grange cookbook.

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If anyone knows Mrs. Robert Conaway tell her I used sunflowers seeds instead of nuts, and I also included one egg.  They were delicious.

 

a preview of the winter to come

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There was a chill in the air that could only mean one thing……snow.  Here, the green grass of yesterday has been drifted over with a covering of wet snow.

After reading by the fire for an hour, with a cat on my lap, even though I was determined not to get cold again, I found myself bending down to get my boots out of the closet.  Warm vest, warm down coat, and a camera.  Alone because the boys wanted to go outside later when there is enough snow on the hill to go sledding.

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Wood is stacked on the side porch, ready to be used in the fireplace.  I pick up sticks from the woods when I go for walks, to use as kindling.  The fire is such a mesmerizing thing, with wisps of smoke, cracking, popping, in high notes and low notes.

On a snowy day it is rather cozy-like.

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Turtles and frogs are hiding under the mud in the ponds, not to be seen again until spring.

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Wild berries as red as anything will soon be gone……as the birds slowly pick them to eat.

The bees, grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, and bugs are all gone.  The earth is quiet as it snows.  Although if you stand still and listen you can hear the falling of it.

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Sarah planted marigold seeds in a paper cup during Kindergarten and we transplanted them into the spring garden.  All summer long it was a gift to watch them grow.

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I celebrate the last of the blossoms from the garden, what resilient ones these are to survive frosts and snow.

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fall turning into winter

green turning into brown

warm turning into cold

“To everything — a season,
and a time to every delight
under the heavens”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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To expect unchanging happiness in a changing world, must end in disappointment. To bring ourselves to our state in life, is our duty and wisdom in this world. God’s whole plan for the government of the world will be found altogether wise, just, and good. Then let us seize the favourable opportunity for every good purpose and work. The time to die is fast approaching. Thus labour and sorrow fill the world. This is given us, that we may always have something to do; none were sent into the world to be idle.  Matthew Henry

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when the snow flies

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Rich wanted to take us to Pinkberry at the mall on Monday evening (the kids had no school again on Tuesday so we could stay out late).  Sarah and I didn’t want anything from Pinkberry (she said it was *too cold*, and I had already had ice cream at home-twice).

A few weeks previously, I had unfortunately and unwisely mentioned to Sarah as I zipped up her too-small winter coat from last year, that I was going to get her a new one.  I say that was unwise of me because she promptly held on to that information and never let go, bringing it up in conversation as much as possible.

Since we were at the mall and didn’t want Pinkberry, we decided to search for the winter coat.

It had to be just right.

The first one she tried on had way too many buttons.  I almost lost my sanity just buttoning it up for the photo.  It was very well made and pretty, though.  (Jessica Simpson girls Peacoat, at Lord and Taylor).

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I don’t remember who made this one but it was a definite “no”, although the zipper was nice.

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I loved this one from Gymboree, but Sarah immediately deemed it “too hot”.  She could not wait to take it off, which is quite the opposite of what we were looking for in winter wear.

It was a very nice coat, though.  Perfect, really.  Unless you have a child who easily gets too hot.

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Then we tried a black jacket in a short length- also from Gymboree.  I liked it but she did not.  Then I got to thinking about the whiteness of the fur collar….and how annoying it would be to watch it get dingier and dingier as the year went on.  It was short, but a little too short.

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A very lovely coat at Norstrom’s made by The North Face….the lining was super soft and it was reversible.  Too hot though.  I probably would have gone back to get this one if we hadn’t found The One later on in the shopping trip.

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She tried on this super cute mini boden shirt.

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She hugged this headless mannequin several times.  They had an instant connection.

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She tried on a vest…I loved it…so soft….she said it looked like a sheep…the lining was gorgeous!  However, it was not a coat.

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This was my personal favorite, as Rich said later, “it looks like you, Shan”.  This is the coat I would have bought if I were shopping for myself and not a six year old.  From JCrew.

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Hanna Andersson.  I LOVE their clothes, the quality is so good and their things are adorable.  It’s the kind of shop in which I want to buy everything in sight.  I fell in love with this coat instantly.  I’m not sure why she was sad in the photo.

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Same coat in peach…and adorable mittens.  Sarah got more thrills from accessories than the main purchase.  In fact, she walked out of this store with *a purse and gloves* AND a coat.

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We were done and went to go find Rich and the others.  As we waited for Grace and her friend to show up, Rich was telling me a story.  I’m not sure what he was saying but I thought he was super handsome so took a photo….making him stop and ask “What are you doing?” in mid-conversation.

Seth was doing wrestling moves in his chair next to his Dad.  At one point his shoe went flying.

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So what coat did we chose?  I took a little portrait of Sarah with my good camera yesterday, but first…some nature photos.  What a gorgeous fall day it was, and as I went down to the chicken coop I sighted a new-to-me bird.  After using my handy dandy app (Merlin Bird ID) I figured out it was this:

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Isn’t it so cute?  There were about five of them in the same area of the lawn, busily eating lovely wildflowers which had gone to seed.

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The design of it’s back feathers (wings) is so pretty.  And I love the touch of yellow.

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I was on my stomach in the cool green grass as I watched them.

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The hens are usually fenced in but I let them free range yesterday afternoon, which they obviously enjoyed.  It made me nervous the rest of the day for fear something would attack them.  We watched them well and they stayed safe and a had nice couple of hours scratching the ground and eating whatever they could find that looked tasty.

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“Mom, come and see how I get on this all by myself!”

noooooooo thanks darling!!!

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Chipmunk down by the stream….what a nice place to live; water, rock ledges, holes, acorns abundant, and tunnels, all so convenient.

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It’s a great time of year to go bird watching what with the beauty of the trees, good smells of autumn, and busy little birds trying to fill up their tummies.

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black spotted back.

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fresh running water….a haven for birds and animals.

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Sarah’s final selection…..the pop of bright blue flowers makes it special.

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It is thick and warm for the upcoming winter months.  Inside the coat there are drawstrings to tighten the waist, and she selected adorable little gloves to match.

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She couldn’t wait to take it off….goodbye coat, see you when the snow flies!

 

 

 

 

my new garbage disposal

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“There is often more wisdom to be found at the edges of life than in its middle.  Life-threatening illness may shuffle our values like a deck of cards.  Sometimes a card that has been on the bottom of the deck for most of our lives turns out to be the top card, the thing that really matters.  Having watched people sort their cards and play their hands in the presence of death for many years, I would say that rarely is the top card perfection, or possessions, or even pride.

“Most often the top card is love.”

My Grandfather’s Blessings, by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

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Good morning, friends.

When I first woke up this morning, I sat in my bed with a cup of hot coffee and listened to the wind.  It was a lovely autumn wind, yellow leaves were flying past the windows.  Wind chimes were loud enough to hear and their music was saying, “It’s a windy morning!”

It has died down some, and the rain of yesterday is past, leaving clean fresh air and a brilliant blue sky.  It’s hardly 50 degrees and feels invigorating but chilly.

I’m eating lunch as I type; vegetable soup.

The children are home from school for Columbus Day.  Sarah Joy had a dentist appointment at 9, which I was not looking forward to after her year of kidney stone adventures.  She was so sweet and brave until the last when the tears came…..she was worried that the dentist would pull her loose tooth out right then and there.  The dental hygienist was sweet and understanding with Sarah.  As a mom, that meant the world to me.

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On Saturday we spent the entire day at the football field.  Rich, myself, Sarah, Seth, and Caleb.

Rich officiated Seth’s game.  Seth made several good plays as a quarter back (at his level, the boys take turns trying different positions).  I was able to get this series of photos showing an impressive pass to his teammate, who did a great job at catching the ball.

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Seth with the ball……

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…..ball in the air……

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…..with a catch and first down!   Not bad for 6 and 7 year olds!

We had time to leave and eat dinner before Caleb’s game, which they won brilliantly.

It was raining on and off the whole day and we were soooooo ready to be home afterwards.

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I love this little girl with all my heart.

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And this one, too.  Rich took Grace with him to go get a new garbage disposal.

The other day I was tired and grumpy but trying very hard to not say anything.  Zak was here and he played a prank on Jacob in the kitchen.  Jacob had left his cup of coffee on the counter while he went to the bathroom, and while he was gone, Zak put coins and butter in his coffee.  I was in the kitchen, working, saw everything, and became annoyed.  Jacob came out and dumped his coffee down the drain, and into the garbage disposal went the coins.  I continued to be annoyed and I said to Jacob, “YOU put your hand down there and get the money out.”  I assumed he did and the next day when I used the disposal it of course made (along with me) a terrible noise of distress and woe.  I instantly knew what had happened and was mad this time.  I put my hand down there and retrieved two almost unrecognizable pennies.  I got the broom and used the end of the handle to try to get the disposal moving again, but no.  I sent Jacob a text saying *no friends this week* (it was last week now) and he was still saying things like “It wasn’t me, it was Zak”…. like I cared WHO it was, which I did not—as long as I was not the one to have to deal with the messes of teenagers.  “It was only one penny” they insisted.  Rich was alway on a business trip and now my garbage disposal wasn’t working at all.  As a homemaker, this was very unsettling.  I called the plumber and he fixed several things (like a drippy faucet in the bathroom) but said he would have to get to the disposal in a few weeks.  When Rich had time to look at it on Sunday, he discovered a QUARTER stuck so tightly in the disposal that there was nothing to be done but buy a new one.  Thankfully, the disposal was old anyway and honestly needed to be replaced or I would still be annoyed at this moment.  (I am over it and Can Now Laugh).

Rich and Grace came home with a garbage disposal so quiet I don’t believe it’s even working because I’m used to my old one that was as loud as a chainsaw and dripped gray water into a bowl under the sink each time I used it.

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While they were out shopping for the disposal, I had asked Ethan *which would he rather take back to college with him, brownies or cookies* and he picked cookies and said, “Thanks Mom” which completely melted my heart.  He kept coming in the kitchen to eat the dough.  My kitchen was a mess because the disposal wasn’t working.  True!  Really!  🙂

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I made the best chocolate chip cookies ever and even snuck in some wheat flour.  I pressed pumpkin seeds on top of a dozen (kids won’t eat them, of course).  Ethan took about a dozen with him to school.

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This is an easy snack for the kids….buy a loaf of garlic bread at the store and bake it according to the package directions.  Then, open up the loaf and put some sauce, cheese, and dried basil and bake it again until it’s done.  Glorified french bread pizza.

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I watched David play the piano.

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And noticed Gentleman Gray sleeping in an odd place with his leg sticking out.  🙂

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We ended up sitting on the floor in the corner together, petting the cat.

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Jacob made the trip to Vermont yesterday with his brother.  They took Grace and Tessa along, and Zak, too.  Although it was sad to have to say goodbye to Ethan again, I heard this morning that they had a very nice time together on their little road trip, listening to music and stopping for coffee and a buffet for dinner.

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The view from the porch yesterday evening was stunning.

Love.

“Blessing the life in someone usually requires a deep respect for their uniqueness, an openness to allowing them to uncover who they are rather than shaping them into who we want or need them to be.  Innately, blessing life confers a greater freedom on those we bless.”  ~Rachel N. Ramen, M.D.