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.

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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.)

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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Grace and Jenna, baking cookies yesterday.

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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.

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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).

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His favorite author is Bernard Cornwell.

My favorite 19 year old boy is Jacob.

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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.

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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.

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You can see a green one in the background.

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*gold*

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Doesn’t it make you smile?

*****

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

of muffins and monarchs

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“There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.” ~J.Calvin

Sarah Joy had a check up yesterday with her surgeon.  I hate to admit this but I did bribe her to be nice to the poor doctor.  Ever since her first surgery, Sarah has had a very negative reaction to all the nurses and doctors.  Dr. K, her main surgeon, has been so polite, kind, sweet, and loving to Sarah every step of the way and has felt Sarah’s dislike keenly, although she completely understood and did her best to reduce contact with her, keeping her conversations directed toward me and Rich instead.  I bought Dr. K a necklace and had it wrapped up very prettily, with a bow.  I gently explained to Sarah that she was going to bestow this lovely gift to her doctor with a smile and a hug, “OR ELSE YOU ARE GETTING NOTHING FROM THE GIFT SHOP after your appointment!!”  “WHY do I have to give her a hug?” she cried.  “Because it will be good for YOUR HEART to be kind!” I said, wisely, with a prayer that this would work.

Success!  What a joy!  She was more relaxed and talkative to the Doctor than she has ever been.  She made Dr. K so happy with the necklace, but most especially with the smiles and conversation and hug.

Sarah was told that she was healing very well and could now do anything she wanted to do, as long as it was okay with her parents. We were given lollipops and then went skipping down the hall to the gift shop, where Sarah happily chose a 1.99 bracelet as a reward for her good attitude.  The brothers were with us, too.  Caleb chose Jolly Ranchers (making me remember an old xanga friend), and Seth chose a stuffed animal.

*****

When we got home, the only thing Sarah wanted to do with her renewed freedom  was go wild-berry picking with her Mama.  We walked up to the raspberry patch and picked big beautiful jewels of berries.  When we came back home to put on bug spray, she saw that Seth had turned on a movie and decided to take a rest from berry picking because she wanted to watch the movie, too.  (It was “Home”).  I went in my room to relax and when her movie was over she came in, looked into my eyes, and said, “Are you ready for a berry-walk?  Or do you still need to rest?”  I looked at her and thought, “I’m not the one who just had surgery.  If you don’t need any more rest, I don’t either.”

Off we went to pick BLUEBERRIES this time!  The bushes in the woods are small, and low to the ground–nothing like my parent’s property covered in nice tall, fat and mature bushes.  But we found “just enough” berries and the sun was at the golden hour…..making everything glow like magic.  We found blueberries of all shades.

*****

This morning I woke up to my daughter right in front of my face, telling me it was time to wake up and make muffins.  My mind was willing but my body felt leaden.  I tossed and turned for a few minutes and then got out of the covers, not so much to make muffins, but because I was curious about how my monarch caterpillars were…….

I found Sarah waiting for me on the little couch and I kissed her face.  Together we went into the kitchen to make the muffins she naturally knew we just had to use the berries in.

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She sat on a stool to scoop out batter with an ice cream scoop.

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She kept tasting the dough and saying “yummmmmmmm”.

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I filled the regular sized muffin tin and soon they were baking in the oven and we called up the boys to have their breakfast.

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*****

I ate a warm buttered muffin with a cup of coffee, perched on a stool in front of the aquarium which held a dangling caterpillar, two chrysalises, and a caterpillar.

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I knew this caterpillar was very close to shedding it’s skin so I determined to wait and get it on video.

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These two attached to a stick that I put in the aquarium.  They were the compliant caterpillars, the other one was a rebel and escaped the whole set-up to attach to a iPhone charging cord.

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When I saw what it had done, I draped the cord over the top of the tank.  (I had blocked half the top with a cutting board.)

I sat for a while watching the dangling caterpillar gently convulse.  I knew it was almost time and called the children over.  We were able to get the whole process on video.

As I sat, I couldn’t help but think about how astonishing God’s creation is.  Why did he make these detailed, intricate creatures, and millions more beside?  He is The Creator–Creators MUST CREATE.  Just think of the things humans make and how we get “in the zone” as we sing, or draw,or sew, or garden.  That urge to create came from Father-God, we are like Him, in a very small way, because He made us in His image.  It is good and we enjoy it all.

So God created humans in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.  Genesis 1:27

He brought the most mind-boggling things into existence—plants, humans, animals, all of these things reproduce and continue the cycle of life.  Self-sustaining creation.  A-MAZE-ING.  Overwhelming.  No one is like Him, but we have a touch of the divine within us, allowing us to enjoy life, and all parts of living.

No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. Jeremiah 10:6

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“If you have been afraid that your love of beautiful flowers and the flickering flame of the candle is somehow less spiritual than living in starkness and ugliness, remember that He who created you to be creative gave you the things with which to make beauty and the sensitivity to appreciate and respond to His creation.”  Edith Schaeffer

monarch caterpillar update

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It has started to dangle!!

My friend Amy and I went up to the dam to try to find more caterpillars (there is lots of milkweed growing there) but we didn’t see anything but red milkweed bugs.

Then, this evening I sent the boys outside to play and David found two more!

He was the special person who found the first caterpillar yesterday.

I told him he had the eyes to see them.

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I texted Amy right away.  I told her I had triplets.

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They live by the sink.  We all stop to look at them frequently.

birds of the air

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The other morning, I was looking for my computer cord and I ended up outside birdwatching.  We all know how these things happen.

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It’s exciting to see birds at my bird feeder but even more exciting to find them out in nature living their little feathered lives.

I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
Psalm 50:11

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They all look at me with such suspicion!

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There is a lot of stuff in the air this week, it lands on the top of the stream and gathers in front of logs across the water….that white stuff is all little fuzzies and bits….the ponds are the same way, covered with a film of allergens.

I see a football, too.

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In the very bright sunshine, Jacob and Emily helped me dig up a little Pinxter bush from the side of the road!  I was very excited, truth be told, Jacob did ALL the work.  But he had a captive audience and Emily had a tiny speaker clipped to her belt buckle so we listened to tunes, too.

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We planted it right by the bench that Ethan put together for me.  I’ll never forget this day that we planted it together, me, my son, and his girlfriend.  It was fun and I look forward to seeing it grow and grow through the years.

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While I was birdwatching, I found this perfectly good board on the side of the road.  I brought it home and washed it and asked Jacob to paint it.  We are going to hang it up by the pond where we have many frogs and the occasional toad.

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marvel: to be filled with wonder

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It was the perfect summer day full of small marvels.  Caleb went off with a fishing pole and his little sister followed him.  I was in the house with an illness….diagnosed as the “urge to clean”.  Eventually I worked it out and flew outdoors to try to clear the smell of bleach from my respiratory system.  Jacob and Ethan were cleaning the chicken coop.  I could hear Jacob happily whistling as he worked.  Caleb and Sarah were coming out of the woods and I walked to meet them.  They were on their way to see me with a present.

They had discovered a big, handsome wild mushroom.  They found it while they were looking for fishing bait.  I thought they were the sweetest children to think of me.  I went to get my camera so I could take a picture of it.   It was about 6 inches tall and weighed about 1.5 pounds.  We rarely see mushrooms this healthy.  The underneath was full of tunnels and I saw a glimpse of a very scared bug wondering how it’s large meal/home had been disturbed.

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While I was studying the mushroom under a pine tree, Seth brought over a toad.

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Then they began to fish.

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But they didn’t catch anything.  Caleb said he thought it was because the fish were not hungry.

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Many hours later the children were outside making a fort in the woods.  I went to go check on them and do a little spying.  First I admired my newly cleaned coop and checked on my chicks, all of which are growing up nicely.  They still make their peeping sounds and are about half grown.  We let them spend the day outside in their fence now and then.  It takes some work on our part because they don’t voluntarily go back into the coop at dusk and we have to catch them and/or retrieve them from trees.

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I found Sarah and Seth talking in the stream.  Seth had gotten a sliver in his foot and was soaking it in the water.

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We went over to see how the fort was coming along.  The children were busy chopping and gathering suitable sticks.  They worked on it until supper time.  I left them to it and went up to the field by myself.

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It is a wonderful place to see so many ordinary but (if you take a closer look) fascinating wild flowers and grasses, insects, butterflies, and birds.  This flower had heart shaped petals.  There was a bee on it with legs as golden as the flower, covered in pollen.

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This colorful insect that bore an uncanny resemblance to SpiderMan was on a milkweed plant.  As I bent to look closer, it scurried underneath the leaf of the milkweed to hide from me.  We played “chase” like this until I finally just slowly bent the plant over to take a picture.  It was fun.  Outsmarting an insect is so satisfying.  🙂

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The white spot on this moth (?) is actually shiny silver.  Look at it’s eyes and antennae.  (if you click on the photo you can see it bigger).

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There were the most gorgeous orange butterflies.  But they were hyper-active.  They never landed.  How on earth do butterflies manage to not rip their wings as they fly around?  I decided to ignore them but all throughout my walk one would catch my eye and I would grieve that I couldn’t possibly get a good picture.  This one was the best I could do.  Do you see it?  I showed the picture to Grace and we laughed and laughed.  Caleb said it looked like a flying slug.  (He was traumatized by a slug when he used one for bait that morning.  He could not get the slug slime off his hands and it bothered him for hours..another nature marvel).

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I almost saw a snake, too.  As I walked over to the stream, something dropped down to the ground to slither away…I didn’t see it…but the grass was slithering as it traveled away.  I’m sure it was a large snake.  For the rest of the walk there were imaginary snakes everywhere I went.  There is always an element of creepiness when one walks in fields of tall thick grasses and flowers.

In my mind, I looked like this in the field:

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Reality was quite different, but this is the cover of the book I am currently reading.  It is rocking my world.  I grew up reading the Little House books, in fact they were the first books I read myself as an 8 year old girl.  They are as known to me as my mother’s home cooked meals.

I found out yesterday that Pa GAVE JACK AWAY to the man who bought Pet and Patty!  He didn’t stay with Laura until he died like in the books!!!!!!!!!  They had another dog named Wolfie!!!!!!!!!!!!!   To find out more you’ll have to check the book out yourself.  Needless to say, I’m loving it while being mildly disturbed, and learning a lot about editing and writing one’s story as a piece of fiction based on truth.

 

greetings from the sick house

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Saturday.  Myriah’s last day with us.  Oh how we enjoyed having this beautiful girl stay with us during her spring break.  She fit right into the family…we had such fun.  My favorite memory of her visit was her genuine interest in our family photos.  We spent a cozy afternoon looking at hundreds of pictures together, she would take her phone out and take pictures of her favorites.

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Mitch brought Ethan home from baseball practice and the kids played some basketball together on the driveway.

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Sunday.  I was unfortunately coming down with the flu.  Remember how I wrote the other day about Grace being sick?  We took her to the docs again on Saturday and she was tested for flu and it was positive.  So that’s what we are dealing with here.  I have spent most of the last two days in bed.  Yesterday was  my personal first day of sickness and it wasn’t as bad as today has been….the weather was absolutely gorgeous so I ventured outside now and then.  I just had to see what the kids were up to.  Emily and Jacob were in their own little world in the canoe, determined to break up the last of the ice on the little pond.  I sat on the dock to watch and be amused.

Look who joined me after she woke up from her nap.

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She adores Emily and said to me, “Let’s just sit here and watch Emily until she gets back out of the boat.”  You know what else she did?  She asked me if she could make a wish with a rock.  I said no, only with a penny.  So when Emily did get back out of the boat, she gave Sarah a penny to throw in the pond to make a wish.  She wished for “a cat pet” of her own.  She is still wondering today when it will come true.

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Soon Ethan appeared.  He got his first phone on Saturday…. a rite of passage for today’s teen.

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Emily and Jacob moved to the other pond for more canoeing.

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I was thrilled when Rich pointed out this butterfly to me.  It was glorious to see, I love how it looks like it is truly edged in gold….and those beautiful blue spots along the wings.  So masterfully designed in every way.

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Seth played catch with anyone he could possible get to play with him.  At one point we had five children all playing…I had to move back out of fear of getting hit by the ball.

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This morning was rough.  After a terrible night’s sleep I got up to get some tea and almost passed out.  I broke out in a cold sweat, turned white, and was sick to my stomach.  Rich was getting ready for work and I asked him if he could please stay home….the children are on spring break and I didn’t know how I could care for them properly.  He graciously agreed and was able to take the boys to practice, go to the store, he bought the little boys a whiffle ball set which kept them busy outside….although I am sick it has been a wonderful day.  The best part of being temporarily sick is the blessing of slowing down.  Looking around the room.  Listening to the conversations. Having people come in to visit me.  Having the dog lay on the floor next to my bed, faithfully.  The cat giving itself a bath at my feet.  Reading a book.

The picture is something Grace drew for me today, I asked her to add a verse and now it’s by my side of the bed on my nightstand.  Along with all my drinks and vaseline for my dry lips.

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There is the nicest cat curled up at the end of the bed.

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Jacob is making dinner tonight; maple salmon and broccoli.  It smells so good.  The windows in my bedroom are all open for nice cool air.  The children have run wild today and it’s been so good for them to spend most of the day outside.  Seth crashed about half an hour ago on the couch, he’s sound asleep at Ethan’s feet.

Ethan’s getting sick now, poor boy.