Seth’s 14 now

I got up super duper early today at 6 just so I could see and hug and give gifts to my birthday boy Seth William. He’s just the most wonderful Seth in the entire universe. He’s fun and smart and dependable and very energetic and handsome. Since he was born I have laughed at least once a day just because of him. He has a few faults but we don’t talk about them in birthdays, do we.

Seth, this morning on his birthday

What does Seth request on this special day? I shall be picking him up early from school to go to the mall to try to find the shoes he wants. This has been the only request which I have listened to daily for days. Don’t I feel special, too, that he is glad to be with his mom today. I shall enjoy every moment.

I’m making him a red velvet cake mix cake, but with homemade frosting. (a combination that works for me as it’s easy with a mix and the little extra effort of homemade cream cheese icing offsets the mix-taste of the cake). He has wrestling practice at 3:15 which will be a little challenge because I am picking up my very first FB marketplace purchase off of someone’s porch at three. Stay tuned for what it is. I bet you can guess. What with the busy day and wrestling practice we won’t be able to sing Happy Birthday until around 8pm but that’s okay. It will be a birthday from start to finish.

Here is the video of his latest match. He has only had one loss this season, & has won three first place medals. Sports are a huge part of Seth’s life, with his energy levels he has a great time and we are very thankful to his coaches and teams for making it fun and rewarding.

Happy Birthday baby boy! See you soon.

Mama loves you.

PS. It’s also 14 degrees outside. Probably in honor of Seth.

it’s a love without end

Dearest Grace of mine,

We miss you. The house is not the same with everyone here and you so far away at college. I’ve often said that I am so blessed and satisfied with you children, that even if God just gave me YOU, I would have a heart overflowing with gratitude. I say this so that you know I deeply cherish YOU specifically, individually, you aren’t just the “third of seven”, you are my one and only Grace Lillian. My daughter, my friend. It’s my joy to love and care for you, and the rewards you give in return, just by being your own wonderful self, are uncountable.

When I think back, I remember a small pregnancy (my tummy always measured small with you & a lady at church never even realized I was going to have another baby until she saw the birth announcement in the bulletin, she wrote me a note saying “where were you hiding baby Grace?”), a small newborn (only 5 lbs, 13 oz), and a tiny girl (so petite, Grandma gently wondered in every conversation if I was “feeding you enough”—-I was!! of course I was)!

It’s no wonder the quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” reminds me of you. You have a zest for life and seem to be tireless with all the things you take responsibility for, and you never give up on the things you know need to be done. (this is sometimes annoying).

You have made a difference in numerous lives, and I am thankful to God that you’ve made a difference in mine. I learn just as much from you as you do from me. I am honored to take the things I see in you and “keep them in my heart” and I thoroughly believe that God gave me you and your siblings because He knew I could learn no other way what the realities of life with Him can truly be. I was born to be your mother.

I always have my birthday child in mind, when their special day comes around. My heart is bursting with thankfulness as I think about that priceless life I have been able to keep for just a little while. I take out the baby books and read the journals and the blogs about that special someone. I have been doing this lately in your honor, my November baby, here at home, studying your photos, your smile, thinking about the ways you have made your way through life so far, seeing the little signs of you all around the house. I took out the journal I kept from when I was a very young mom, pregnant for you, while caring for a 2 year old Jacob, and a one year old Ethan and read it, relished it, feeling like it was yesterday, amazed.

Later that day, your Dad sat on the couch next to me. The diary was still on the coffee table and I considered…….He’s never read my private journals, he knows they are mine and he respects that, I never thought to offer them to him. They are my own ramblings and scratchings of daily life, but I thought “maybe he would enjoy a glimpse back in time” so I handed him the book………

He sat and read with an amusement and interest I have never seen him have over the written word. “This is more interesting than a History book,” he said. He laughed at the antics of the boys, and my funny remarks about their mischief. He was truly disappointed in the times he would turn the page and find that “four years have passed”.

He read a lot of it out loud to us, laughing to tears, but the tears that came when he got to this part showed how much his little girl means to him:

“Grace is four years, five months. She’s starting Kindergarten this fall. Her hair is down her back, she wants to grow it out. She’s very sweet and I enjoy watching her and her Daddy interact. She has her own room, collects Minnie Mouse, (sometimes we call her ‘Minnie’), she likes to play with her dolls, and adores her baby brother David.”

April 15 2004, shanda’s diary

His voice broke and tears rolled down his face. Sarah asked in wonder, “are you crying Dad?” and he (flat out lied) said, “no”. But he was, and for the rest of the journal he was sober and serious.

Life truly passes by quickly, and it’s okay. It’s the way God made life. It’s a blessing and a good thing that our days are numbered. “….so that we may grow in wisdom…”

Love is beautiful and what makes life worthwhile. (God IS love) We love you Grace, and want you to know we are here cheering you on in every messy-beautiful thing you do, good or bad, safe or unsafe. (preferably unsafe) *wink*

Happy birthday dearest girl.

good things

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.”

Tuesday morning

listening to music

staring out the window, the eaves are dripping, dripping, dripping (in time to the music)

lots of photos to share;

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((for the people I love))

 

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On Friday night we were watching the Incredibles 2

I was sitting weary but happy at my favorite spot at the table when Seth came by and said “I want to sit on you” and he sat on my lap.  I couldn’t see the movie very well after that but I put my nose in the back of his hair now and then and breathed in this boy of mine.  I gave that look across the room to Rich that he knows means, “Take a picture!”

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The very next morning, he was 10 and opening his big bag of gifts with some of his best friends watching curiously.

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He was given Dude Perfect things to play with, a new outfit, a stuffed animal dog that breathes thanks to a battery (he named it Oliver), and other little things.

I mixed up his requested birthday cake, which was Red Velvet, and then off we went to the wrestling tournament at our High School.  Rich is the head coach and hadn’t slept a wink the night before in all the excitement……

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Here he is, opening up the day of wrestling.

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Meanwhile, the birthday boy had a good friend with him all day and they (along with other boys) had the greatest time in the gym and also in the wrestling room nearby, playing football and running around.  They came to me now and then, mostly to get money so Seth could buy himself stuff in the cafeteria.  Since it was his birthday I didn’t say things like, “Don’t get candy with this” like I normally would.

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David with his friend Tristan.  Best boys in the world (the whole team is awesome)

There is so much sitting around and waiting at these tournaments.  David stayed bundled in his warm ups until it was time to wrestle.

I found myself a spot at the top of the bleachers so I could rest my back against the wall.  Sarah stayed nearby and we played cards and she also had a book and her DS.  I was able to chat with another wrestling mom which was fun, her name was Shannon.

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Dave after a win, going to the center to take off his ankle strap and get his hand raised.

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“Mom, can I have your phone?”

“Only if you sit over here and have your picture taken with me, birthday boy!”

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David getting set up to pin.

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My wonderful son.

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Another wonderful son (Caleb)…..watching one of our guys wrestle.

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Later on that night (what a long day, also Dave got 4th place in his bracket), Seth blew out his birthday candles and we ate the cake.  I had been concerned that it wasn’t going to be perfect……..but it was.  (in all humility)

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Isn’t it just so pretty on a Shamrock fiesta plate?  By the way, the newest color is another shade of green and they named it “Meadow” and I cannot wait to get a piece of it!!!!

(((Walter pictures)))  This cat is adored!  He’s sitting on the floor staring at me as I type, too, it’s quite funny.

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Well, and then on Sunday we all know what day it was.  Superbowl number 53 and my team was in the game.  Every time my husband flies into L.A. he gets me merchandise so I was all set to wear Rams stuff from head to toe.

We cleaned and pushed furniture around, plowed the driveway, ordered pizza and wings, and prepared for a houseful of friends all day long!

I was tired out so around 4 I went to bed to rest.  I was highly amused by the frequent visitors I had……

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Seth even stole my hat!

Isaac was the first to arrive and pretty much the first thing he said after taking off his coat and hugging me was “is that a red velvet cake?” and he ate 2 pieces.  🙂

I sat right in between my sis and my bro and it was a delight.  It was also a delight to see our girlies play and have fun.  Naomi braided Sarah’s hair and then they made batch after batch of slime upstairs.  They didn’t even make that big of a mess….I just had to vacuum the next morning what with all the glitter and foam beads everywhere.

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This picture makes me so so so so happy!  Rich invited his wrestlers to come watch the game and we had some parents stay, too.  Our friends Chris and Carolyn came again this year (they have in the past as well) and it was great to see them and catch up.  We had TON of food to enjoy.  I’m just so thankful and happy to have good friends through our community.  Look at Seth and John standing on the bookshelf behind the couch.  And Sarah sitting with her Uncle Isaac.  And sweet Naomi sitting between me and her mama.  I really need to print this and put it on my fridge.  I’ll smile all day.

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Well, alas, I was disappointed in how the game turned out.  My team lost to my son’s favorite team and Caleb has such a sweet heart that he felt bad and just stood next to me in silence as we watched the Patriots celebrate after the clock ticked down and the game was over.  “You can be happy, Caleb!” said Rich, but Caleb didn’t have it in him.  I had to go get groceries the next morning so I thought I would see if I could get Caleb a shirt to show him I was a good sport.  😉

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I took this photo at 6:20 this morning!!!!

By the way, when you have wrestlers in the house they’re gonna wrestle.  Caleb got a huge goose-egg on his forehead and another boy hurt his thumb (Rich even wonders if it’s broken).   That shadowy spot on Caleb’s head is The Bruise.

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I went for a nice walk yesterday again, the temps reached 60 which felt so nice after days and days of frigid temperatures.  I even saw a Robin taking a bath in a stream in the woods.  The birds were happy, too.

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(after a long day) we were texting Michael and the kids and laughing on the couch.

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Pictures from this morning.  (see Walter?)  Grace, David got the ink pot unstuck from the table finally.

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I sang him a song about a Handsome Handsome Cat.

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I praised the sunrise.

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And a few minutes later, the morning golden glow.

 

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for all mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”

jacob’s 22

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Happy New Year’s Eve!  Most of us are currently in the livingroom because Rich and Ethan are in the mood to watch Mr. Bean videos.  Nothing gets Rich laughing harder.

22 years ago we welcomed our firstborn into the world on this day.  Today is his birthday and it’s fun that it falls on a holiday and he can be home on his special day.  He and Brittnee went downtown to the coffeeshop for a little date, too.  We had pasta for lunch, played Phase 10, and just had a most delicious cake.

But before I share photos from today, I wanted to post a few from the wrestling tournament on Saturday.  Jacob drove me and the kids in my vehicle to the school where Rich and David and the rest of the team were warming up.

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David lost his first two matches and then won his second two.  It was a day of blood, sweat, and tears for him but it ended well.  (In blue singlet on the right).

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Seth and Sarah have spent a lot of their childhood in wrestling gyms and always find a spot to watch (rarely the bleachers next to me).  I keep an eye on them and smile.  Seth helped keep time at one point during the day, and even got to run the score clock once, as well.

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David recovered after a loss next to his sister.

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After a win, and then telling his Dad no way did he have any interested in doing an exhibition match against a 160 pounder.  (Dave was 138 on Saturday).

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After his second win, I took this photo from the bleachers of Dave listening to whatever Jacob was telling him (Ethan and Rich are nearby on the edge of the mat wearing gray long sleeved shirts).  Rich loves it when the boys are home and can help coach.   Jacob thought the shoot David did in this match was the best he ever did and Dave said it was because he “didn’t shoot from the bleachers” meaning he wasn’t too far away for it to be effective this time.

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Sometimes I just sit and take photos of whatever happens in front of me.

We stopped for a nice BBQ lunch on the way home and that was Saturday.

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Then, on Sunday evening Jacob invited friends to the house to begin celebrating his birthday.

Rich took them to Costco to get party food and they came home with shrimp, clams, and salmon, along with chips, dips, crackers, cheese, drinks, and a cake.

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Ethan got to work making coffees with his Christmas espresso maker while Jacob steamed all of the clams.

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Grace cozied up on the couch reading a book.

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And Rich watched the football games.

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Today Jacob turned twenty-two.

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They played games most of the day.  It’s been nice.  Our favorites have been Listography and Phase 10.

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I didn’t have twenty two candles so we put two and then two more.  I love this photo so much.  I was about to take it and Rich went and found the tripod so I could be in it, too.  Real-life romance.

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Grace lit the candles and someone turned off the lights.

We all started singing.

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And then Jacob blew out the candles.

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Seth was being silly.

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Dave went right back downstairs to Skyrim but don’t worry, “I’ll leave the door open so I can still hear you all,” he said.

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The cake was delicious!

it was a month ago…..

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Ask her what she craved and
she’d get a little frantic
about things like books,
the woods, music.
Plants and the seasons.
Also freedom.
~Charles Frazier

Grace turned nineteen on November 4.

When she was home from college for Thanksgiving break she said, “You didn’t blog about me on my birthday”.   So here I am, better late than never, with my sincerest apologies to you, dear Grace!

Grace was born in the very early hours of the morning all those years ago, our first daughter after two sons.  Born at 38 weeks, but so tiny that everyone stopped to admire her and call her “Peanut”, I delighted in being her mother.  I found a white bib that had a small peanut embroidered on it and of course I had to buy it for her and I bet it that bib is still here in a box somewhere along with many other keepsakes from that precious time.

She’s all grown up now and in the middle of her second year of college and doing very well.  She has her own dorm room this year which has been nice for her, but she keeps so busy she’s rarely in it except to do homework and sleep.

She’s healthy and strong, with lots of dear and close friends.

She loves to read and write, sing and play piano.  She loves to be useful.

I hadn’t taken many photos of her lately so when she was home for Thanksgiving we got the camera out for a couple of “Now You’re Nineteen” photos.  We were downtown that day for “small town shopping”.

The quotes are from Grace’s own personal collection of favorites.  (she has hundreds) ❤

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“Come, let us have some tea,
and continue to talk about happy things.”

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Don’t be so cool you can’t cry.
Don’t be so smart you can’t wonder.
Don’t be so set on your sunny days
That you can’t love the roll of the thunder.

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

 

 

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.

 

vanilla cake, vanilla frosting

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What a special evening our youngest had with her brothers and sister.  They played games together, and big brother Jacob made the quick trip to the grocery store in town to buy some ice cream.  He came home with strawberry, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, and party cake ice cream.  Rich and I sat contentedly in the living room with the sounds of a full house all around us; doors opening and shutting, chatter, laughter, basketball bouncing on the driveway, footsteps walking or running, upstairs, downstairs, drinks in the kitchen, on and on, so much energy!  Soon it was time for the birthday song and cake.  Sarah watched her Dad light the candles.  She watched so intently as her siblings continued to be silly all around her.  Her face as we sang was precious to see, all sparkling eyes and big smile.  The cake was amazing.  Even Ethan agreed, and he doesn’t typically like cake.  The birthday girl was offended when I bragged, “I made it myself.” because she helped make the frosting.

Cake:

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

Oven set to 350.  Grease 9 by 13 cake pan.  Whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla in 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined.  Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until only pea-sized pieces remain.  Add half of milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Give batter final stir by hand.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bak until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely.  recipe from Cook’s Country Cookbook  (it’s the cake part of the recipe for Lane cake).

Frosting:

1 stick butter
4 T.  milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, milk, and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating until light and fluffy.  Makes enough frosting for one 9 by 13 cake.

great

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1.  Sarah Joy is our youngest child and was born on this date, 8 years ago.  She was named after her Great-Grandmother and the joy in our hearts when we knew she was coming into our family.

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2.  The last photo I took before having Sarah was of the beautiful blooming peonies in my flower beds.  This morning Sarah stood next to them, but spring was late coming this year and they are still only buds.  A hope and a promise.

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3.  Sarah is in 2nd grade and has very nice handwriting (her teacher said so).  She loves to read.  The last book she read was titled Waiting for the Magic and she liked it very much.  “The dogs talk.”

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4.  Her favorite food is macaroni and cheese.

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5.  She ordered light-up gloves with her birthday gift card from Uncle Dave.

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6.  She has requested a vanilla birthday cake with what kind of frosting?  “Vanilla”.

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7.  She used to be seven but now she’s eight.

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8.  Eight is Great.

 

happy birthday

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(The boys in our family plus their Dad)

Today is Ethan’s 20th birthday.

When I think about each of the children God has given me my heart is overwhelmed.  It’s 100% true that each and every child is a gift and a blessing, no matter if you have one or seven or more.  Each life is of endless value.

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In years past I have had so much fun taking high quality photos of Ethan on his birthday but this year we shall have to be content with iPhone snapshots because with him being a full time student in Vermont it isn’t as simple as it used to be.  When he’s home he’s busy with more important things like cooking in the kitchen, eating, playing games, relaxing in front of the TV, going on dates with Tessa, goofing around with his siblings, catching up on sleep, and shopping trips to the mall………

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Ethan has a unique way of scrambling eggs which leaves a solid piece of cooked eggy skin stuck to the bottom of the pan which I HATE.  But look at that face.  Okay, I will clean the pan for you, E, since you say this is the very best way to cook eggs.

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Rich and I took him to the mall where he picked out some new clothes from Hollister.  Jacob, Brittnee, Sarah, and David also went along.  It was a fun evening together.

(Have you noticed all the florals this year?  I love it!  Even 20 year old guys can get away with roses (and serpents) on their shirts.  And I bought the prettiest T-shirt for myself with big red roses on it.  A must with rose scented perfume!)

We had Ethan’s cheesecake (requested) on Saturday night after the shopping trip because Rich was leaving for a trip on Sunday morning and on Monday (today, Ethan’s real birthday) the boys would be back to college.  He blew his candles out with so much lung power that there is STILL candle wax on the counter.

Happiness is a big family singing your birthday song.  We love you Ethan!

(We missed sister Grace who was at college but we will see her soon.)

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Yesterday, Ethan was able to squeeze in a quick visit with Tessa in the morning and then I took the kids to church and lunch at Ethan’s requested restaurant, UNO’s.  It was me, Caleb, Seth, Ethan, Jacob, Sarah, David, Michael, and Zach.  Nine of us all together in one big booth and THANK GOODNESS for Sarah or I would have been the only female.  🙂  We had a yummy meal and when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert we were much too full but asked for a piece of cake for the birthday boy.

“But you don’t have to sing to me,” begged Ethan.

“Do you want a candle?” asked the waitress.

“No, that’s okay, but thanks.” he replied.

We were rather let down that Ethan appeared to get away without spectacle but the waitress must have sensed our true wishes and ignored the wishes of the birthday boy, much to his dismay.  However he recovered quickly and was a very good sport about it.

She gave Ethan a HUGE piece of chocolate cake along with NINE spoons so we could all share it!

I gave her a nice big tip because she really did deserve it.  I’m still smiling and I hope that Ethan is, too.

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Seth took this photo as Ethan and Jacob were getting ready to leave for school.  We are so thankful that they have a car and can come home now and then.  It’s just not the same around here with the three older ones so far away but we wouldn’t change a thing because they are learning, growing, and thriving.

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Happy 20th birthday, Ethan!

There is no one like you in the whole wide world.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them – any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!  Psalm 139