Caleb, 12 years old today

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We have a birthday boy today; Caleb James turned 12 years old.

It goes by so fast.

But it’s all very good.  Each year is a gift.

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And there is lots to look forward to.

Grace had her graduation party yesterday so her purple decorations served another purpose today.  We bought the festive cupcakes at Sam’s Club.

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Younger siblings looking on….eating more cake.  (we had cake yesterday, too).

They have started to take the frosting off the top and run for the milk.

Enough is enough.

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Mine was lemon.


Thank you, Jesus, for this boy of ours!



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Caleb is 12 and Seth is 8, they are always together.  They play video games, baseball, football, swimming. . . .get along very well with arguments started and ended throughout the day, too.  So much learning going on.


comic relief from all Mom’s portraits


Tom Brady, Jr.

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action shots:





“Take one of me jumping over Seth!”


Happiest birthday to you, Caleb!   Mom and Dad love you so very much.


**super bowl party pictures**

Another full to the brim weekend!

I took the younger kids to a college wrestling meet on Saturday because Ethan was there…oh how wonderful it was to see my son after a month of being apart.  He looked great.

After the meet we stopped at Costco to quickly get some food trays for Sunday.  As soon as I got out of the car, my brother Isaac was saying hello from just across the lane in the parking lot.  That was fun, and we hugged.

On Sunday morning, Rich and I were able to sleep in until 7 and then relax with coffee because we elected, after his head injury, to not have Seth wrestle this weekend.

However, David and Caleb had a meet in the afternoon and they both won second place medals in their weight brackets.  The school did a great job of moving the meet along at a quick pace so everyone could get home (we live in New England, after all, and had a big Super Bowl to watch)……..

We got home just in time to do a quick run around for a last minute tidying up.  And then the Super bowl party.  We were all cheering for the Patriots so the first 3 quarters of the game were pretty disheartening.  But then!  Wow, Caleb (the biggest 11 year old fan I’ve ever met), was so happy when the Patriots finally got their groove and won the game in overtime.



We temporarily moved in the little couch behind the big one for more seating.  Rich invited his HS wrestling team and four of them are in this picture, along with Caleb who is sad because the Falcons keep scoring, Tessa (Ethan’s girlfriend and our neighbor) and my husband waving.


Michael, Zach, Caleb, and Grace sat at the kitchen island where most of the food was located.  We put the cookies in the other room on the table and the crock pot of meatballs (thank you, Louis) was on the counter near the drinks.  We bought 2 cases of seltzer and a case of Coke, guess what got drank up the fastest???  Yep, the soda.  All gone in one night.


My brother Isaac and his wife Cassandra, who brought the best chocolate chip cookies.

We had two sheet pizzas, and wings, too.  Two fruit bowls, and two veggie trays from Costco.  Lots of chips and dip.  Baked sausage and sauce.


Caleb turned to me and said, “Now they have no chance of coming back, Mom.” after the Falcons scored again.  Uncle Dave texted him telling him to keep his chin up, they could still make a come back.


While Rich and I were at the boys meet on Sunday, Grace taught Sarah how to sing from the hymn book.  She found a ready audience in her Aunt Cassandra.  Sarah’s favorite hymns to sing are “Come Thou Fount” and “Joy to the World.”

She is also learning to play the piano.


Jacob got out of work at 7 and got home by 7:30.


Me, Sarah, and Allie (who was the most vocal about her opinions on how the Patriots were playing).  I never knew she was such a fan.  🙂


This old guy was on the hunt for food bits.  I was holding up a cheese cracker for this photo.


dear friends.  Caroline brought the yummiest hot broccoli cheese dip, and a taco dip.

And fantastic cookie bars.


future crazy cat ladies of America…Grace, Allie, and Tessa’s beautiful sister Emily.





Isaac and Cassandra left at half time so I took a quick photo of my brother and my firstborn.  They look similar, yes?


Playing “open your mouth and let me see if I can throw this cracker into it.”


Well, we all know how the fourth quarter of the game played out.  Caleb, bless his heart, came out of half time with a terrible stiff neck from playing nerf football and wrestling downstairs with the guys, so he had to stay motionless on the couch as he watched the most exciting comeback in Superbowl history.  However, he was able to raise his hand in victory as the final outcome of the game was decided.


sooooooo cute


best memories; his face while watching Tom Brady after the game.

And, another photo to add to our yearly Superbowl portraits;


gosh, it was a fun night.


You cannot always have happiness, but you can always give happiness. ~Author Unknown



super long but I promise you will enjoy it


On Tuesday I had to take Grace to the doctors because she was awake half the night in agony.  Turns out she had a full blown ear infection.  She stayed home from school for two days in a row because of it and is on antibiotics.

On Wednesday, Rich and I drove to Vermont to watch the very first wrestling event at Ethan’s college.  We watched him wrestle in the exhibition matches before the main event.  He lost to his opponent and then by the end of the night the varsity team ended up losing by a distant tie breaker. It was such a close competition.  The gym was packed and I loved how the refs encouraged all the young kids in the stands to come down and sit right by the mat to watch.  So, this was my favorite photo of the whole night, just because of this dear little boy who reminded me so much of Seth:


After the meet Ethan was about to faint from hunger (slight exaggeration) and all he could do was think about food, so we took him to the college cafe and ordered two pizzas.  He wolfed down three pieces and then we got him a Ben and Jerry’s frozen yogurt to take back to his dorm room to eat in bed while watching Netflix.  Rich and I drove back home and were in bed by 1:15 in the morning.


Moving on…..this post is actually about my son Caleb, who is rarely featured on my blog anymore because he is a little camera shy.  My early posts were pretty much all about him because he was my baby at the time.  Always a mama’s boy, always with a tender heart toward others.  Of course he has his silly side, and has made a name for himself at school and at football as “the boy who can make realistic chicken sounds.”  I’ll record it for you one of these days.

I LOVE KING ARTHUR FLOUR!!!!!!!  Caleb is in 6th grade and King Arthur FLOUR came to his school and taught the children HOW TO BAKE BREAD!!!!!  Can you even imagine?  What a blessed change from assemblies about “bullying” and “whatever social issue needs to be discussed” –not that there is anything wrong with that but you know what I mean.  They learned to bake bread!

Each child was given a fabric bag filled with goodies to take home.  Inside, there were two little bags of flour (so cute!) a flexible plastic scraper (I never knew how convenient they were!), yeast, and an instruction booklet written on a level for children to learn and understand (amusing!)

UNFORTUNATELY for Caleb, he was bit on Wednesday night on the hand.  By Thursday it had become infected and was pink and somewhat swollen.  He told me it was a scratch and as I am a “oh you’ll be fine” sort of mom, we set to work baking the bread together.

After he washed his hands with powerful soap over and over under my watchful eye.



“Mom, the dough is like pancake batter.”

We kept adding the flour.

One cup at a time.  No mixer, just a bowl and a spoon.


He learned at school how to use the edge of the scraper to level off the cup.


The bag of flour was too small to fit a measuring cup inside of it so we dumped each bag into a mixing bowl.


“Mom the dough is like cake batter now.”

He was very observant.  And you can tell he is experienced in all kinds of batter, too.  Comes from years in the kitchen with Mom.  🙂


“Mom you stir it now, my hand hurts.”


Here is the entire free download of recipes if you would like to try Caleb’s bread:

CALEB’s BREAD (King Arthur Flour booklet of recipes for kids)


Naturally, because of *infection-hand* I did the kneading as well.  (Caleb didn’t touch the dough)


The finished dough ball.

Truth be told, as I spent time with my son, I realized that his hand was worse than my original diagnosis.  So, I called the doctors and took him in to get it checked while the dough was rising in the fridge.

I was sort of apologetic at first that I didn’t wait to see if it would clear up on its own but the doctor said, “No. I am so glad you didn’t wait on this.  Always trust your gut.  I know you and you have a good gut.”  

Thanks to the mother’s gut, it was antibiotics and an excuse note to miss Football practice for Mr. C.


For those of you who do not know yet (young moms) if you see a red streak (like what is on Caleb’s wrist) coming from the wound, you should take your child to the doctors sooner rather than later.

It was at the doctors that I learned that his “scratch” was truly a “bite”.  He didn’t want to tell me that he was bitten.

Guess who bit him?


Therefore, hours later, after the doctors, after football practice (during which Caleb sat out), we finally baked the bread.


Second rise, right before popping it into the oven (after removing plastic wrap, of course).


Half the dough was used to make a loaf, the other half to make cinnamon rolls.


This loaf was taken to school today to be donated to someone in need.


While the rolls cooled, we naturally watched a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED show full of bready goodness for all ages: Wallis and Gromit’s of A Matter of Loaf and Death.  (it’s on amazon prime I believe)


The cinnamon rolls were soooooooooo good!  Oh it was a gift, to “snuggie” (that’s what I say, I say, “Seth come snuggie with me.”) on the couch with Caleb and Seth to watch a nice show and then eat cinnamon rolls together right before bed.


tired mama, but happy mama, & precious boy o’mine

By the way, I rubbed pressed garlic on his infection twice last night and by this morning it was looking much better.  Of course it could have been from the one dose of antibiotics that he had after his appointment, too.  He’ll be on it for 10 days.

Aren’t you glad it’s Friday?  I sure am!

just a little walk with caleb.


You may not realize this, but I have a son named Caleb.  He is son #4.


I cannot imagine the family without our Caleb.  He respects everyone; man, woman, child, and animal.  He notices things; beautiful things.  He not only holds my hand but it’s all his idea.  He is 11 years old and likes to hug and lean against his mama, still, like a much younger child would.  He knocks me off balance when he does because he’s such a very strong, solid boy.  When he walks we can hear him stomp.  When he jumps he lands with a thud.  When he laughs the sun comes out.  When he sleeps he buries his face in pillows.  He tells the truth.  He chews his nails off to the quick.


He and Ethan had cleanings this morning at the dentist in town.  They both hate the dentist so I had to go along to give the poor babies love and moral support.  Caleb had his teeth cleaned first and when he came back I asked him if he would go outside with me to stretch our legs while we waited for E.  Even though he was all set to read about football he readily said yes.


I’m thankful for my son Caleb.


He’s a great kid.  I can tease him, say no to him, lecture him, or love on him and he never complains.  This summer he has listened to JR Tolkien audio books every night and he is currently reading several books, including The Hobbit.  He goes to football practice every afternoon and during the day he plays with his siblings.  He loves to play video games.  He likes his things to be neat and organized and gets very upset when his siblings disturb his legos.  He sneezes a lot so I give him Zyrtec in the morning and that helps.  I think his favorite color is green.  Sometimes when he is silly he makes a “buck-hack” sound like a chicken, which is super annoying.  Seth does it now, too.   Caleb is always asking to have friends over.  He absolutely loves the family dog; Parker gets a lot of attention from his boy Caleb.



We discovered a nice stream by the dentist office.  It was shady under the trees and the water was warm.  We studied the sumac plant (first pic), admired a tall mushroom, sank our feet in soft moss, and showed each other our best jumping skills.




It was much better than sitting in a waiting room.

life is a continual feast


This morning I was in my pajama pants and tank top, my hair was pulled up in a very messy pony tail.  I was making the children color pictures at the island while they waited for their breakfast.  I was feeling rather full of myself as I expertly cut up their french toast and dribbled Trader Joe’s cherry pie filling over the top.  “I have to admit,” I said happily, “I’m pretty awesome.”  And guess what?  Little ears were listening……..

“I’m pretty awesome, too.” said Sarah, promptly and agreeably.



These nature photos are from last week.  We were searching for more monarch caterpillars.  The first photo was of milkweed bugs and then this one is of a flowering bush which I have not identified.  It has small, bell shaped baby pink blossoms.

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very very very interesting brown moth.  look at it’s eyes.


It was Sarah Joy’s first long walk after her surgery.  She got tired, and dear Amy gave her a piggy back ride all the way back home.


We found wild black berries.  They tasted sour and Seth loved them.


These baby birds are living in a nest on the gable of the chicken coop.

When I stare at this picture I can’t help but squeal from the cuteness.  There is something about that pouting bird face and the other bird that doesn’t even know I’m there but I can see it’s little bottom and heels.


Last week was very very very very long.  Rich was on a business trip from Monday to Thursday night, and then from Friday morning to Saturday night he was gone with Ethan to college registration.  Come Saturday I just wanted to go someplace where I could sit and look at magazines without having the kids need me.  So off we went to the playground, stopping for a big iced coffee on the way.  (it was hot and muggy.)

As is typical, as soon as I got out of the house with my camera I still couldn’t focus on the magazines because the kids were all of a sudden adorable instead of exhausting.

Sometimes you just need a change of scenery and a little fun to brighten up a long week.






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This is a big deal for Sarah, she has conquered her fears at the playground.  There were years when she wouldn’t ever take risks like this.


Seth, on the other hand, has been climbing before he could walk. (some of the pictures won’t show unless you click on them)…

Happy Monday, friends!


PS, here is my current favorite photo:


A friend of mine took it at an antique store because she thought of me!

the dishes *swoon*


For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
Proverbs 15:15

we ate a snake



2005 was an eventful year for our family because that was the year I gave birth to offspring number five; a beautiful little son whom we named Caleb James.  Oh how we loved having babies and those sweet days of holding a newborn in our arms.

Caleb been so excited about his birthday (for months) and we were very pleased//relieved that we were able to celebrate it the way he wished; with some of his favorite friends.  They had a nerf gun fight, went for a walk, played football, went swimming, and played video games.


Caleb has the best mother in the world, if I do say so myself, because I made him a homemade snake cake today even though I was exhausted, worried and grumpy (de-stressing from Sarah’s surgery).

Or, even more likely, this is God’s perfect timing because He knew that nothing would cheer me up more than making a snake cake for one of the best boys I know.  It turned out so well I just had to smile………smile at a cute snake.

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It’s body was made out of a sour cream chocolate cake, baked it in a bundt pan.  After it cooled, I cut it in half and turned one half to the edge of the other half to make an “S”.

Then I gave it a skin of homemade butter cream frosting, dyed green.

The yellow spots are m-n-ms and skittles, which was a nice surprise for the kids as they never knew which one they would eat next.



The eyes were made with one marshmallow, cut in half and striped with a toothpick dipped in black food coloring (the book said to buy a tube of black frosting but this worked).

Mr. Snake’s tongue was made with a fruit-by-the-foot, trimmed at the end to be forked.

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We had to call the boys up out of the pond in order to have the cake, which is why Caleb has a towel around his waist.  (summertime birthdays are the best.)

As an ode to the good ol’ days, I scattered some of Caleb’s beloved Thomas the tank Engine trains down the table as decoration. All the boys had fun picking them up with their forks attaching to the trains’ magnetic ends.


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I served out the cake and Rich served out the ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Caleb!


PS, Sarah is continuing to do very well, although I had some cause for worry this morning.  After I talked to the doctor, had a good cry, and baked a cake I felt better.  (She was never worried in the least).  She’s happy.

what excellent parents we are


Last night while Rich was in bed next to me falling asleep, he burst out laughing.  What’s so funny?” I demanded, as I tried to read my book.   “I was just thinking about Caleb….”and he shook the bed with laughter.  Then we argued about who’s fault it was.

Seth had a baseball game that afternoon.  Our family has been going back and forth to the little league park so many times over the years that, at this time of year, it almost feels like home away from home.  I pull into the parking lot at the field and everyone runs off to their perspective places.  There are three games going on at once and lots of parents and kids having fun.  There is a food shack with grilled foods and snacks and drinks.

Yesterday, I got there first with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  Rich came about 45 minutes later and we leaned against the fence talking and laughing as we watched Seth and his team play.  At one point, we talked to Caleb because he had come over to us to ask for money.  I gave him a five and he came back with a lollipop for Sarah.  Meanwhile, I told my husband every detail about my day and he in turn told me all the latest with work.  We cheered for our Seth as he batted, played shortstop, and did some pitching.  Seth was having a great game.  In fact, he ended up getting his third game ball of the season.

Sarah and I had already played with a caterpillar, sticks, stones, and leaves.  We had “made a castle” for the caterpillar.  I had forced her to drink a water bottle and played with her on my lap in the chair Rich had brought.  She did math on a piece of paper and kept asked me questions.  I informed her whenever she got a math problem wrong and she would say, “How do YOU know?” like she didn’t believe I had ever gone to school.  (she’s never seen me there.)  ‘Round about 7:45 we started getting bored and when she said she was getting cold I jumped right on it and said immediately to my husband, “I’m going home with Sarah, she’s cold.”  And I left.

Sarah had a snack and then I tucked her into bed.  The lawnmower man came to the door to be paid and I wrote him a check.  Grace called and needed to be picked up so I passed the message on to Rich so he could get her on the way home.   Forty five minutes after I got home they arrived and Grace came through the door full of energy and song and conversation.  Seth came in with his game ball and a treat from McDonalds.  Jacob and Emily were home, too, and soon the five of us, Rich, Grace, myself, Emily, and Jacob were warming up dinner, talking, teasing, and catching up with each other’s stories.  It was 9:00pm and there were about 3 conversations going on all at the same time and lots of action as we all used the fridge and microwave.  I made strawberry/banana/pineapple milkshakes for Rich and myself and we drank them out of tall mugs.  Grace sat cross legged on the kitchen island and talked about how she wished we could always live together, all of us in one big house.  I sent Seth off to go take a shower.

And then……..BOOM…… Caleb burst into the house.  “YOU GUYS DITCHED ME!” he exclaimed.  All conversation stopped and we all looked at him as tears began forming in his eyes.  I started screaming as I realized what had happened.  Come to find out, his Dad left him at the park because “I didn’t tell him that I was leaving without Caleb when I took Sarah home.”

After the games were over, people were leaving and Caleb left his friends and wandered all over the place looking for us until he found Noah, who is Seth’s best friend and the son of Seth’s baseball coach.  So Noah took Caleb to his Dad, who tried calling and texting us.  But we were busy partying in our kitchen and never got the messages.  Coach brought Caleb home.

Grace and I ran to our poor poor boy and gave him a long and comforting hug.  After all, it was a two hug problem.  He started saying, “It’s okay, I’m okay, I’m NOT CRYING!”  Emily told him not to feel bad, one time her aunt got left behind in Canada.

Rich was laughing later on that night instead of sleeping because he was wondering how long it would have taken us to notice that Caleb wasn’t home.  He had truly believed that I had brought him home with me and I had truly believed that Rich had brought him home with him.  I had assumed that Caleb was playing outside instead of coming in the side door with the others.  Looking back, I remembered that smart Seth had asked, “Where’s Caleb?”  but I had truthfully replied, “I don’t know” because, like I said, I thought he was somewhere around the house, I just hadn’t seen him yet.

I went on and on as much as I could to make Rich feel guilty about forgetting his own son but it didn’t work.  After laughing about it in bed, he confessed, “I did tell him I was sorry when I tucked him into bed.”  I reached over to rub his back and told him he was a good Dad.  “He told me it was okay”, he continued, “he knew it was your fault.”  Then the back rub turned into a smack as I told him he was a jerk, “Caleb would never say that!”

And thus ended another day.