Last week I was tiredly standing in line for the bathroom at Trader Joes when I heard a man say cheerfully “We’re here for another free sample.”  I looked up from the floor and down the hallway to see a young Dad, dressed in a plain sweater, jeans, and a casual rumpled suit coat.  His hair was dark blond, long, and pulled back messily into a pony tail.  He had his little girl with him and she looked to be about four years old.  Her hair was cut in a bob with bangs across her forehead and her hair was charmingly windblown and messy.  Her face was clean, open, and happy and she was wearing a sweet feminine dress with a full skirt.  The free sample was for her, “I don’t know why but I just liked it so much I had to have another one,” she explained happily.

I was seeing with my heart.  Something about this little girl drew me out of my sad little world and into her pure and joyful one.

It was my turn for the bathroom and then I continued shopping.

As I paid for the groceries, the little girl and her Dad were just leaving their line at another register.  As she walked by me and my cashier, she flung a wilted dandelion on the counter for the cashier as a gift.  Not waiting or looking for a reaction, and with her Dad smiling at her, she continued to leave the store, flinging different flowers at each register, even the registers that weren’t open.  I had a distinct feeling this was all her idea, and my heart smiled to think of her busily picking flowers before going to Trader Joes with her Dad.  I also had the feeling that he had nothing to do with his daughter’s kind pursuits.  He was standing back and watching and keeping her in his sight with a proud smile.  It was like they were in their own quiet and beautiful little world.

I took my cart and left the store.  I was heart-worn and weary from days of crying and working through my own personal challenges.  I walked behind the two of them and headed toward my vehicle, leaving them behind me, my mind returning to it’s own gray thoughts again.

I heard the fast slapping of little running feet and before I knew what was happening, the little girl was at my side ……handing me a flower.  I looked down at her, seeing the innocence and happiness of a sweet angel child.  I bent down and asked her for a hug and she flung her arms around me and nuzzled her nose back and forth lovingly into my neck.  I’ve raised seven four-year-olds so I am an expert judge of their hugs and this one was as precious as any, and warmed my soul.

Rich was in the car waiting for me.  I put my head in his lap and cried as I told him what I had just experienced.  His heart melted too as he said, “Shanda, that little girl was you.  You are a giver and your loving and thoughtful personality is a gift to the world.  You and she are the same.”

The heart sees what it knows.  It recognizes.  It loves.

I’m almost positive the next time I go to Trader Joes I’ll be taking flowers, too.


“You have a place in my heart no one else ever could have.”  f. scott fitzgerald

one little patch of beauty

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The ministry of kindness is unceasing. It fills all the days and all the nights. In the true home, it begins in pleasant greetings with the first waking moments, and all day goes on in sweet courtesies, in thoughtful attentions, in patience, in quiet self-denials, in obligingness and helpfulness.

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Out in the world kindness goes everywhere with . . .
its good cheer,
its gladness of heart,
its uplift for those who are discouraged,
its strengthening words for those who are weary,
its sympathy with sorrow,
its interest in lives that are burdened and lonely.

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Some of us, if we were to try to sum up the total of our usefulness, would name a few great things we have done:
a gift of money to some benevolent object,
the starting of some good work which has grown into strength,
the writing of a book which has done good to many lives,
the winning of honor in some service to our community or to our country.

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But in every worthy life, that which has left really the greatest measure of good, has been its ministry of kindness. No record of it has ever been kept. People have not talked about it. It never has been mentioned in the newspapers. We do not even remember it ourselves. But wherever we have gone, day after day, if we have simply been kind to everyone, we have left blessings in the world which in the aggregate mean far more than the few large things we set down as the measure of our usefulness among men!

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Our Lord’s wonderful picture of the Judgment reveals another phase of the splendor of kindness. He tells us that the little things we do — feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, showing hospitality to the stranger, visiting the sick, and the other nameless ministries of love of which we take no account — if done in the right spirit, are accepted as though they had been actually done to Christ himself! He tells us that the godly will be surprised to know that in their kindly acts they had been ministering to the King, when they supposed they were only doing little things for needy neighbors. This revealing exalts to highest honor, the lowliest things of the common days, wrought in love for the Master.

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The best thing we can do with our love, is not to watch for a chance to perform someone fine act that will shine before the world — but to fill all the days and hours with little kindnesses which will make countless hearts nobler, stronger and happier.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12


I found a new podcast that I listen to as I walk and it never ceases to soften my heart.  The speaker simply reads excerpts from books or essays from various spiritual writers.  His voice is soothing but –be aware–the children will laugh.  I was listening to it when I picked up David from track practice and he dropped his head back on the seat pretending to be put sound asleep by the voice reading to us.

The name of the podcast is Inspirational Living.  Yesterday was a reading from J.R. Miller called Be of Good Cheer:  The Blessings of Cheerfulness.  Miller has been quoted many times on this blog, so I thought it was high time to quote him again.  There is a great website full of Miller’s writing you might want to go peruse it…GRACE GEMS.   Highly recommended.

PERUSE:  read, typically in a thorough or careful way.

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Lily of the valley is coming into bloom.  I found some in the ditch as I walked yesterday and picked one so I could enjoy it’s lovely scent.

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A little peak at the flower garden by the patio and garage.  Hens and Chicks, Phlox, and Iris.

The best part of the day, besides figuring out the Marco Polo app so I could video text with my friend Lea Ann……..

…….was these two fine young men returning home for the summer.

We were all so happy as we ran to the car to see them.  They had quite a morning of trying to load the vehicle with all their stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF.  They learned a valuable lesson or two for next school year.

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As soon as they opened the doors it started falling out.

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Ethan showed me his seat, he had no room for his legs or any movements on the 3 hour drive back home.

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For whatever reason even the hens ran over to investigate.

Seth, Sarah, and David helped them unload.  I had made hamburgers and pasta for dinner, and peanut butter cookies, but had to leave after just a few minutes to take Caleb to his game.

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This is how they brought their clothing home.  Stuffed in a hundred thousand plastic bags found in a trash can at school.

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JUST as I took the photo, Jacob threw his football to Ethan.  We couldn’t have timed it better if we tried…..

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Rich and I sat in our lawn chairs at the top of the hill and watched Caleb play in his game (they lost 9-7) and the rest of the kids (but Grace, who comes home this weekend).  Jacob talked to us nonstop about his recent college stories.  As I studied their faces I was filled with pride and joy.  “What do you think of these fine sons of yours, Rich?”  And we looked at each other and smiled.  If you have children, you know the feeling.  These moments make all the stressful moments worth it, tens times over.

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Caleb was hoping that his big brothers would come to his game.  And they did.

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They were playing catch with the football right in front of me.

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Sarah came to get me so she could take me to a tiny nest that she found.  Could the night get any better?

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David said “I finally feel like I’m not all alone anymore.”

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This photo recently caught my attention again…’s from almost 8 years ago…..I made Sarah’s dress.  And look at those arms and legs and that face.

Just a few more quotes before we go:

fullsizeoutput_54db 1“Our attitude is to be ever toward joy.”

DSC_0633 1“Shall we not seek for the bright side? There is really sunshine enough in the darkest day—to make any ordinary mortal happy—if he only has eyes to see it!”

DSC_0659 1There is no lot in life so dreary—
that it has not
at least its
one little patch of beauty;

or its one wee flower looking up
out of the dreariness,
like a smile of God.”

*J.R. Miller


you are loved.

first violets & secret garden quote


For all the February babies, including myself, my son and my friend ~Thia~

Mary did not ask any more questions. She looked at the red fire and listened to the wind “wutherin’.” It seemed to be “wutherin'” louder than ever.


I wasn’t even looking for them yet.  We’ve had almost entirely cold cold spring temperatures.  These grew in a warmer spot, by the kitchen door.  Oh it was such an encouraging moment to see these first deeply rich purple wild flowers.  I bent right down in the rain to pick them, knowing that soon there will be hundreds and thousands of them.

At that moment a very good thing was happening to her. Four good things had happened to her, in fact, since she came to Misselthwaite Manor.


She had felt as if she had understood a robin and that he had understood her;

she had run in the wind until her blood had grown warm;

she had been healthily hungry for the first time in her life;

and she had found out what it was to be sorry for some one.

~The Secret Garden

Sarah and I have been listening together and enjoying it very much.  A beautiful book.


“I found them in a book last night, these withered violets.”

I ended up closing the first spring violets in-between pages of poetry given to me by my friend Marcia, years ago.


frosty sunday morning

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Time to be, time to dream, time to do nothing but wander in outside, free, in nature.

It’s invaluable for young and old.

Doesn’t the red winged black bird remind you of an English Guard?

There is beauty abundant in each ordinary day……and it often stops me in my tracks.




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Tom the Turkey.

We wanted to see a Tom with his feathers all fluffed out but it didn’t happen during my visit at Mom and Dad’s until I was on the highway leaving Albany and I saw one on the side of the road with a hen.


“Then there were long, lazy summer afternoons when there was nothing to do but read. And dream. And watch the town go by to supper. I think that is why our great men and women so often have sprung from small towns, or villages. They have had time to dream in their adolescence. No cars to catch, no matinees, no city streets, none of the teeming, empty, energy-consuming occupations of the city child. Little that is competitive, much that is unconsciously absorbed at the most impressionable period, long evenings for reading, long afternoons in the fields or woods.”  Edna Ferber


a day for you

I believe, Lord, that you love to bless, comfort, and give.

Your word is my delight, your truth my inspiration.

You lift my soul beyond those things that would pull me down when I come into your presence in prayer.

Your Holy Spirit is there to fill me with the character of your own goodness and to fill me with joy.

I believe, Lord, that your people are there to help me grow stronger as one of your children.

You have given me friends to strengthen my relationship with you.

I believe, Lord, that as I seek you I find you.

You will always show me the way that is good for my life.

You will lead me along the right way and I know that you always love me.

You pour your love into my heart so that I praise you because of your faithfulness; my innermost being says ‘Thank you.’

Through the cross of Christ I have been brought back to you:  how I praise you!

Through the cross my life is transformed.  

For Jesus Christ’s resurrection and for my new life I praise you.

~Gospel Light Publications 1985

And happy are your eyes, because they see!  Matthew 13:16

The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.  Psalm 146:8

I know I belong to Jesus because I see Him everywhere.  I don’t just see Him in the Bible or in Church….I see Him constantly in my every day life.  I see Him in my children, in my siblings.  My husband.  I see him in the secular podcasts I love to listen to.  I see Him in the way He guides everyone’s life.  In the stories people tell.  I see him in movies, in books, in school, in the library, and online.

He isn’t always obvious, and that’s the joy of finding Him.

 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13

It’s amazing.

how sweet the sound

I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

I love that I can be HANDS OFF with my life, how freeing this is, how comforting.

I’m walking through the years with my eyes wide open.

And each little gift causes my heart to say “thank you, I know that was you, God.”


We had a snowy day yesterday and I kept an eye on this Cardinal.  It was sitting in the bushes for hours watching and waiting out the storm.  I was busy in the house but looked out the window periodically to look at it.  And then, it was gone and I missed it.


We did some reading; my book is on the pillow next to Dave; All the Light We Cannot See.

Very good.



Grace was reading a favorite of hers for about the fifth time.  The Likeness by Tana French

For lunch we had little fish sandwiches on potato buns with tarter sauce.

Dave had five.


Rich has a bulging disc in his neck and has to have a shot in it next month to relieve the pain.  However, after spending a relaxing day at home he felt better than he has in a long time.  It was good to see him take a nap on the couch with us.

He took a few calls for work and after the snow stopped he went outside and plowed the driveways.


Of all the places to take a nap!


Little Junco on Caleb’s bike which was on the porch to protect it from the snow.

But snow got everywhere yesterday.

Juncos are quite cute; it’s feathers are ruffled from the wind.


There is a bowl of sunflower seed under all that silly soft stuff.


We watched one of my favorite movies; Babe.  I study every scene of the house and barn.


And then it was time to go outside.



If I had words
To make a day for you
I sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day
Last for all time
Give you a night
Deep in moonshine
If I had words
To make a day for you
~Scott Fitzgerald

seventeen now


People who know Grace know what makes her special.

(Everyone is special in their own unique way.  Everyone.)

And Grace is special because of what is in her heart, her mind, her soul.

Her heart is full of love.  Ever since she was a little girl, she wanted a hand to hold and someone to listen.  She wanted to encourage, give attention, give hugs.

Her mind is bright.  It wants to lead.  It thinks of things that no one else does, because God gave her a gift, just as He gives each one of us a gift to use for this world we live in.  There is no one like Grace, there is no mind like her mind.  She has desire to busily learn and grow.  So many interests, hobbies, jobs.  Once she sets her mind on something, look out.

Her soul belongs to God.  She loves the holy Scriptures, the hymns, the worship.  Her spirit always rejoices, and produces the good fruit of love, joy, goodness and peace.

As her mom, that is what I see.


At first I thought, I’m not going to wax eloquent with this post, I’m just going to let the pictures speak their thousand words.

But who am I kidding?  I have words!  Must.get.them.out.


It just so happened that when she was born, and after the nurses made sure her airway was clear, they gave Grace to her Dad first……and I love that.  (She certainly is a Daddy’s girl.)   My husband placed our first little daughter into my arms.  And she was an absolute DOLL.  A teeny tiny doll baby………..

That was 17 years ago, today.


Happy Birthday, Grace!

I rarely see this girl of mine these days because she’s a busy busy senior in High School, and very very involved in Drama and Music.  When I got home yesterday afternoon, the bus from school had already gone by, and so I chatted with Dave in the kitchen and then made my way through the living room to get to my bedroom…..and there was Grace on the couch, reading a book.  Oh I was so excited, I admit I shrieked with glee, I grabbed her and we went outside to do her birthday photo shoot (I like to take good photos of my children on or around their birthdays).  Photos that I didn’t think I would have time to take because I rarely see her in the daylight hours.  Squeeeeeeeeeee!


“One can never consent to creep
when one feels an impulse to soar.”


Grace and I have a great relationship….although at times it is better for her to go to her Dad with things, as well.  (He and I make an excellent parenting team and often give each other high fives).

She adores her two big brothers, and her younger siblings, as well.  In my mind, I can see the relationships she has with each one.

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

That’s what mothers do.


Grace is applying to colleges and in a few weeks I’m taking her to visit one.  There is part of me that is already preparing for when she leaves and I’m not going to lie…’s going to be hard for our family to see her go.  But go she must, because she’s meant to soar.



(Grace’s cat kept photobombing)

Yesterday while the kids were at school, my mom and I were texting and trying to decide what kind of cake Grace would want me to make for her…..Mom said “vanilla with strawberries” and I guessed “chocolate with vanilla frosting.”  Hours later I was able to ask Grace.

She said she wanted a cheesecake, and even specified the temperature of it:  partially frozen.

partially frozen cheesecake!!!!  Never would have guessed that one.

I haven’t MADE a cheesecake in probably 20 years so this is going to be a fun day.




(one of my favorite photos, which came about because I said, “KITTYYYYYY!” a bit too frantically, trying to get the cat to look at the camera).  ha ha ha ha!  They have the same expression on their faces!



While writing, this song popped into my head:

Forever and ever, you’ll stay in my heart
And I will love you
Forever and ever, we never will part
Oh, how I love you
Together, forever, that’s how it must be
To live without you
Would only mean heartbreak for me.

~Aretha Franklin, “I say a Little Prayer”

I think I’ll play later and make Grace dance in the kitchen with me.  ❤

Happy Birthday, sweet 17.


a preview of the winter to come


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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








baked beans recipe (yum)


The sun was almost down behind the house, and in front of us like a living piece of art was a dusky early evening.  How many times have I stopped what I was doing in the house to run out on the porch just for a moment; to soak in the beauty, breath the fresh air, cool my busy mind?  Called the children to come and see the pretty sky?  So many times that now sometimes they do it, too.

“Mom, come look!”

s h a r e d  J O Y  i s  a  d o u b l e   J O Y


The darkest of blues and a world washed clean.


A year ago I put together a recipe file of all the baked bean recipes I could find in my cookbook collection.  I tried out a few of the recipes and then lost interest in beans for another year.  It is interesting to me how we become seasonally predictable.  All of a sudden I’m getting the urge to bake beans again–exactly a year later.

I selected the next recipe to try and for this recipe, I needed dark rum.  Rich and I drove downtown on Saturday to get some while the beans were soaking on the stovetop and the children played.  I sat in the truck while he ran into the liquor store for a nice bottle of rum.  Then we went downtown for coffee and a walk.


We ate dinner together around the table at the end of the day.  A big pot of homemade baked beans and fresh bread from Price Chopper.  The children all ate a plate of beans, so piping hot that they had to spread them all around their plates to cool faster.  They all liked them and several of us had seconds. It is a contented feeling to make such simple foods and have them enjoyed.

Rich and Jacob go to the gym three times a week and Rich told me that Jacob should probably not eat beans the night before, ever again.  Jacob replied, “It doesn’t matter what I eat, it’s going to happen.”

I thank my Aunt Mary for this recipe, because it came from a wonderful cookbook that she gave to me years ago as a bridal shower gift.  I’ve studied and used it so much that it’s falling apart now.  Every recipe I’ve made out of this cookbook has been extra delicious.

Molasses and Rum Baked Beans

1 pound dry navy beans or dry great northern beans
1/4 pound bacon (six slices) or salt pork, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup molasses or maple syrup (we used maple syrup)
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. pepper

Rince beans.  In a 4 1/2 quart dutch oven combine beans and 8 cups cold water.  (I also added a bay leaf).  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 1 hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

In the same pan mix beans and 8 cups fresh cold water.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 1 hour and 15 minutes or till tender.  Drain beans, reserving hot liquid.  Transfer beans to a 2 1/2 quart casserole or bean pot.

In a medium saucepan or large skillet, cook bacon or salt pork till fat begins to accumulate.  Add onion and garlic.  cook and stir over medium heat till onion is tender but not brown.  Stir onion mixture into beans along with 1/2 cup of the reserved bean liquid, molasses or maple syrup, catsup, dark rum, brown sugar, dry mustard, salt, ground ginger, and pepper.

Bake, covered, in a 300 degree oven about 2 and a half hours or to desired consistency, stirring occasionally.  If necessary, add additional reserved bean liquid.  Makes 10-12 servings.

NOTES:  I doubled this recipe.  I used a teaspoon of sandwich mustard rather than dry.  It took my beans much longer to bake.  Plan on this recipe taking an entire day from morning to night.  There is nothing worse than under cooked baked beans.  When done, the beans should be super soft and everything else in the pot should be melted together.  Add liquid as they bake so there is sauce.  Very delicious with bread and butter and cold glasses of cider.

recipe source:  Stay for Supper (Country Home) Cookbook


photos from walk yesterday, which was a warm fall day



the leaves I brought home with me


“….we must never pretend that things are better than they are-but I do want us to look beneath all that is difficult and see the miracle God has wrought in our hearts.  I want us to see that he has placed powerful urges to do good in the deepest recesses of our regenerated hearts.  That’s what the New Covenant is all about.  Something wonderful and beautiful and resilient is within us that no abuse, rejection, or failure can ever destroy.  I want us to relate to one another, not as moralist to sinner or therapist to patient, but as saint to saint, father to child, friend to friend, as true lovers, with the confidence that we can help each other believe that, by the grace of God, there is something good beneath the mess.”
Larry Crabb




I shut my laptop after the last blog post,
took a shower, got dressed,
went back on the porch……..


…..and discovered a new monarch butterfly.  Our first to emerge, out of the four caterpillars we had collected.

I sat and watched it for a long time, thinking about how much life is growth, so much growing and changing.  Butterflies only get to do it once, we get to do it over and over.  There are dark times when we are in our little stuffy cocoons, lonely, maybe perfectly willing to be all alone, needing *something* but not really knowing what it is.  It is a waiting time.  Then comes the “break through”.  Suddenly we have had enough of cocoon time and find that it’s time to get out from the covers, get out of bed, get out of our own minds, oh how it hurts to start breaking down walls but it feels so good at the same time….new air, new sights, drying wings…….freedom.


After the struggle to emerge comes the strengthening time…….those who are waiting for us almost lose their patience, we ourselves often lose heart, forget that God does indeed have a purpose for everything, but our Father knows, He understands, His children are ready (not in our time, not in their time) but in HIS TIME……..

He has made everything beautiful
in its time.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works. We mistake if we think we were born for ourselves; no, it is our business to do good in this life, which is short and uncertain; we have but little time to be doing good, therefore we should redeem time. Satisfaction with Divine Providence, is having faith that all things work together for good to them that love him. God doeth all, that men should fear before him. The world, as it has been, is, and will be. There has no change befallen us, nor has any temptation by it taken us, but such as is common to men.
Matthew Henry

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When we are finally strong again.

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We can enjoy life.  We can fly.


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Yes, the family and I have been spending a lot of time by the aquarium, watching & waiting for the butterflies to hatch and fly away.  Three of them have gone now, but the fourth seems to be stuck in the cocoon.  We think maybe it died inside.  We can see the wings through the (now clear) casing, but it should have come out a few days ago.


morning glory leaf

It’s been so fun to see my flower garden become a butterfly sanctuary AND a bird feeding station.

The most darling little goldfinches come to get a sunflower seed, but they are shy and at any hint of my eyes watching them they fly away making a chirping distress sound.

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As we have morning glory vines twirling up the sunflowers, it makes for a very lovely photo opportunity.  I had to take these photos from inside the house through the glass and screen doors……..

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my darling (while mama sits on one end, oftentimes they will be on the other end playing with their little toys).

I find myself watching butterflies, birds, and children every where I turn.

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Hosta flowers


currently reading:  Never Turn Your Back on an Angus Cow, by Dr. Jan Pol (good book, I love animal stories)

plans for today:  Grace and I are going out with David.  We are picking up her ring from Tiffany (left for cleaning) and then have to go to Target to get things for camp next week.

I just want you guys to know that I love you all and that you are so special.  I’m thankful for the friends I meet and greet along the way.  Friendship and connections of all kinds make life sweet.   

look around and be distressed
look within and be depressed
look at Jesus and be at rest

small things

Whatever you do,
do it in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17

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When you arise in the morning,
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive;
to breath, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Marcus Aurelius

We are currently enjoying a few rare summer days of no outside pressures or activity; no sports, nothing on the calendar for the next two weeks.  The children are wild n’ free and don’t need me whatsoever, and for the last couple of days, my mind went all kinds of “blah”.  A wonderfully delicious blah, (no anxiety! no pressures!) except that I didn’t appreciate it like I should have.  In retrospect, I am sure these sorts of stagnant days serve some sort of healing and function and I can be thankful……however….

When I tried doing even more laundry to give myself a sense of accomplishment; it didn’t work.
I tried watching TV and putting my feet up; it turned my mind even more numb.
I wandered slowly up the stairs to clean Sarah’s room; it took me twice as long as it should have; I felt sad when I cleared out the baby board books to make room for her big girl story books.
I thought about going for a walk in the woods; all I did was look out the window for five minutes, staring off into space.
I took photos of my pretty teenage daughter and her friend; they made cookies and I ate one.  I admit, that was nice.
I tried reading a book; I couldn’t get into any of the ones I tried. blah.
I hugged people (my children) that came around; that was also nice.
I decided to make dinner even though I didn’t feel like it; it was yummy. very blah though. (spaghetti for the 5,000th time)

These activities didn’t help much with chasing away my big stagnant feeling but do you know what did?

waking up to a FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh the possibilities!  The weekend is about to happen and Rich and I can do stuff together!  The two of us.  For two whole entire days.


This week I pulled the first two carrots.  Seth ran over to me to get one.  See him in the black shirt?  He felt he had to rush or maybe a sibling would get to Mom first (it happens).

I love how growing things and having to wait and wait for them to be ready makes the children desire their carrots like nothing else.  (we have a bunch from the store in the fridge, does anyone want to eat THOSE?  only Dave.)


Caleb had a friend over for the day.  They swam in the pond and then caught a chicken.

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The children hosted a water balloon fight.  It was rather amusing to see how much effort they put into “strategy”.  After they spent time picking two teams I was waiting on the porch with my camera expecting it to start but they took so long planning, and they spread out so far across the yard, that I never did take photos of the actual battle.



How to prepare beets: begin by washing thoroughly, which is quite satisfying as they are very dirty from the garden.  Then, cut the stems about an inch above the beet.  Trim the main purple stem out of each green; add greens to your next salad or cook like spinach.  Boil beets until soft.  Drain them in the sink into a colander and run under cold water to stop cooking.  Let sit in sink until room temperature, or move colander to counter on a pretty towel.  When cool, skins will slide right off the beets; trim off them stems and root end.  Slice for salads or continue with preparations for a beet recipe (like harvard beets; so good!)


This year we have morning glory vines growing up sunflowers; but I didn’t plant them purposefully, they are last year’s morning glories that went to seed and grew.  A fun garden gift.  I did plant the sunflowers and they are at the stage now where they attract little goldfinches and chickadees.  The prettiest way to feed the birds, I’d say.


While doing some long overdue weeding and watering, I was surprised to see that my hens and chicks plant had blossoms!  Such an admirable sweet, quiet combination of colors, too.


Grace and Jenna, baking cookies yesterday.


They did a great job and talked the entire time.  Sarah loved hanging around them, too.

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During my laundry work; MOM OF BOYS, many many boys.


Jacob worked an early shift yesterday and came home with enough time to put his feet up and read (he was very soon sound asleep).


His favorite author is Bernard Cornwell.

My favorite 19 year old boy is Jacob.


The best part of the day;  when Rich gets home, we eat our dinner, and then have a few hours to relax together before bedtime.  He eventually fell asleep right where he was on the couch, with me snuggled up next to him, the boys all around us, and Grace at our feet.

I think one of the best feelings of contentment come at the end of the day when we are surrounded by our children and everyone is happy, productive, and healthy.

Ethan was playing us songs on his phone (he has the best songs), Jacob was composing, and David was watching funny cat videos on youtube.  When Grace joined us I kept looking at her face and thinking how adorable she was.


Last but not least, as you can see, we have a Monarch at the end of its chrysalis stage; it has “turned black” and you can see it’s recognizable monarch wings through it’s clear, shiny casing.  I LOVE the gold details that God placed on the chrysalis.  Beautiful, like fine jewelry, tasteful and simple.


You can see a green one in the background.




Doesn’t it make you smile?


We can do no great things; just small things with great love.  Mother Teresa