first sledding of the season

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My brain woke up before the rest of me.  I was so tired it took me a few minutes to reach for my phone to see if school was cancelled this morning.  Nope, just a two-hour delay.

As soon as Sarah got up she went outside.

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She couldn’t wait to go sledding.

It was 7 o’clock in the morning.

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Our house sits on a hill so it’s been fun for the children all these years.  They can just sled from the porch steps all the way down……beginning with the oldest Jacob and ending with the youngest, Sarah.

Alas, no one else wanted to sled with Sarah this morning.  Seth got half ready and then changed his mind. “The snow isn’t good.”  “It’s too cold out.”

I watched Sarah through the window.  And then I went out on the cold wet porch in my socks.

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I was charmed to see her attempt something her big sister Grace would have also done at age 8; she decided to scoop up kitty Walter and take him for a sled ride.  After all, this is Walter’s first winter.  He has a lot to learn.

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He learned it really fast.

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Sledding wasn’t for him.

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Back inside, Caleb made himself bacon, cheese, and eggs.  A nice proper breakfast, served on a white fiestaware plate, with a periwinkle mug of ice-cold juice on the side.

 

They can’t cook at the same time without squabbling (G, right?) so after his big brother was done, Seth made himself bacon and eggs, too.

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Snowy outside, cozy inside.  Look at Parker begging.  LOLOLOLOLOL

PS, the first photo is of my garden gnome.  He can’t see right now.

nancy drew books

When I was around 10 years old my Grandma brightened up my entire world by giving me a set of Nancy Drew books, which I absolutely loved to read.  I got so I would read one a day….all summer long…the summer I was ten.

I love how as an adult you remember things you did as a kid and think, “I still do that!!”  I HATE endings, I hate finishing things that are extra-special.  Most of the time you just have to go ahead and end, but sometimes you have a choice and just can’t.  For example, I read Winnie the Pooh to my son when he was little and I never read him the last chapter because I just couldn’t.  Well, I never read the last Nancy Drew book from Grandma, either………I never will.  It would be over.

I kept them all on a bookshelf in my bedroom,  in an orderly row.  My baby brother Isaac went through a stage when he would deliberately crawl in my bedroom just to pull himself up and pull all big sister’s nice books down in a heap.  I wonder if we have a photo of that.  I would have to put them all back again every single day, half annoyed and half forgiving because he was so cute and I loved him.

I had neglected the books.  I had all but forgotten their existence.

BUT THEN.  My brother David went to a huge antique store in Savannah, Georgia and sent me these photos:

(by the way it feels so good to be seen and known and loved by family–by Grandma years ago, and by Dave in sending me these photos bc he remembered I had them)

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The memory of Nancy Drew books came back to me as I thought of how amazed I was when Grandma gave me the set, how I treasured them and read them.  I would study the titles and the pictures on each cover.  I loved the size and feel of the books in my hands and their nice hard yellow covers.  I thought how I’ve kept them for 32 years now…..but not on shelves.  Shelf space for Nancy Drew had run out years ago and other books had become more important because life was busy with raising seven children and I rarely had time to read anything but children’s books to them, and no time to enjoy my own collection of books, much less the ones from my own childhood.  I like to enjoy my books by looking at them, pulling one out to look through, putting it back, rearranging them, putting them in neat orderly rows.  Feeling that they were mine, all mine.

I texted him back:  “When I was 10 Grandma gave me the whole set.  And I read one every day.  I should put them on shelves instead of in boxes.”

I’ve been cleaning and cleaning the basement for days.  And as I did, I came across some of the books!

Yesterday, Dave (my son) had an appointment and afterwards had to go back to school, but, “It would be WRONG if we were right next to Goodwill and didn’t run inside quick.”

WE FOUND A BOOKCASE!  It was made of pine (light enough for me to carry myself) and only cost 10 dollars.

Once books are on a shelf no one notices the shelf anymore so any ol’ bookcase of any quality (as long as it is sturdy) will do for books.  When I showed it to Rich he asked how much I paid and I said thirty and he said “good” and then I laughed and said “IT WAS TEN!!!!” to surprise him and impress him.

It was wonderful to gather up my old Nancy Drews out of a dark lonely box and put them all in one spot for the first time in 20 years.  I opened them up to see my name written inside.  I admired the covers.

There were a BUNCH MISSING.

This morning I wanted to blog and could not find my computer anywhere.  David uses it more than I do these days so I kept muttering his name as I went from room to room looking for MY computer.  Ugh.  I felt just as annoyed as I did when I found all my books on the floor.  Boys!  Brothers and sons.  cute.  loved.

I remembered that he had gone to the garage where we have a work out room upstairs.  He goes over there every day to exercise and he is very proud of his resulting muscles.  “Maybe he took my computer to the work out room,” I thought.  I don’t like going to the garage and mainly stay away.  But I tromped on over to look and… since I was there… I looked in the storage closet and FOUND A WHOLE BUNCH MORE OF MY BOOKS.

Thanks Dave (1) for inspiring me and thanks Dave (2) for misplacing my computer and forcing me into the garage this morning!  It’s all because of you two that I’m getting this silly little project done!

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I carried them back to the house in this basket.

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Getting ready to add them to the shelf.

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the shelf I bought at goodwill for ten dollars is already filled up

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I wrote down the ones I am still missing.  It’s like a treasure hunt!  I bet they’re around here somewhere!

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the beautiful blue of an autumn sky

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Samantha cat has a sore paw.

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Seth

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David was using this tool to retrieve Seth’s football from the pond.  He wasn’t being nice. He knew he had to do it because he was the one who kicked it in.

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When he saw me up on the porch taking his photo with my zoom lens he did what he loves to do…….

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…..take his shirt off and show off those muscles from his daily work-outs.

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I have three brothers and these five sons. (photo from 8 years ago)

Why am I crying?  I guess it’s because I’m happy and life is beautiful…and fleeting.

full & good

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Things That Have Been Happening Around Here Lately:

  •  Rich has been away more than here. (business trips)
  • basketball with neighbor boys
  • Sarah had a brunch date with friends.
  • I bought a giraffe at an estate sale.
  • Someone gave me a gospel track — Rich said I must’ve looked in need of Salvation.
  • I yelled, “Get OFF the roof!”
  • I yelled, “WHAT are you DOING?”
  • One of our black cats ate a purple ribbon.
  • Sarah broke a rose fiesta bowl.
  • We had a warm weather day.
  • We had rain.
  • We had snow.
  • We had ice.
  • The boys had baseball practice.
  • We are listening to The Hobbit on audible to and from the fields.
  • Seth didn’t want to hold my hand on the sidewalk in town. (rite of passage)
  • This week is spring break.
  • David had an appointment this morning.
  • And is now back to bed.
  • I said, “If you ask me that one more time you are going to stand in the corner” to my 12 year old.

 

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’tis spring; come out
to ramble
the hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
About the hollow ground
The primroses are found.  a.e. houseman

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golden edges

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bluebird sighting at the suet

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One morning I could hear a bird singing and I sighed, “I wish I could identify birds by their sounds.”  The children got on the bus and a little while later I went to get in the car and was distracted by the bird that was making that same sound I had heard earlier!  So I learned what it was, a Red Headed Woodpecker!  I ran to get the camera……..

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It slipped the tip of its beak under the edge of the lichen to get bugs; making its calling noise the whole time.

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No human has a naturally red head THIS red.

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And then, a cardinal appeared.

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And a goldfinch.  It was a lovely bird morning.  I took the photos from the porch.

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The children spent the entire day outside on Saturday.  In my opinion it was our first spring day. . . . .absolutely gorgeous weather, bare feet, fishing, turtles, basketball, baseball.

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Caleb ran to show me the turtle he and Jack found.

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And like his big brothers before him, he named it and put it back.

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And then they caught a nice fish.

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I repotted some plants I started for my friends and family.  It’s been fun collected different planters and pots on my thrifting adventures.  I’ll have to do a blog post soon to show them off.

life is full and good

for the children

A wickedly lovely Halloween to you and you and you. . . . . .

I asked Sarah if she was a little witch today and she said, “You can be the witch.  I will be your cat.”

Therefore, I’m snuggled on the couch with a Sarah-cat on one side and a real-cat on my lap.  The real-cat is not Black.  When I ordered him from my Witch-Supplies Catalogue, I was certain I had checked off “Midnight Black”, but when he arrived he was as gray as the most foggiest of dismal mornings, but otherwise the very best witch’s cat companion as could be, so we kept him of course.

The sun is slowly coming up in a cloudy sky, clouds as gray as my gray cat.

Spooky beings fly by the house, not on brooms, but in cars.

It’s scary out there.

But the most scariest of all??????

No school for my little offspring.   “BOOoooooooo” they cry.

The weather was positively scary on Sunday night, the wind moaned and pushed, and as tree-pruning by wind power is most unpredictable, the roads are covered in debris— no school Monday or Today.

*********

So I write with inky words, the tale of Aunt Amanda-Witch’s Halloween Party.

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Aunt Amanda-Witch

She isn’t scary ALL the time, just some of the time.

She planned and she planned, she visited a few stores and bought supplies 70 percent off!  Good witches always spend their money wisely.

She set to work, happily making her party as nice as she could, and invited good little girls and boys to attend a most wonderful party.  Good witches work hard and shower children with love.

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A Black, Red Eyed Rat

ready to bite anyone who went upstairs.

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Gorgeous light, draped in the blackest netting……….

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The table was set with skeleton cups from the dollar store, pumpkins, black garland over a sparkly gold table runner, orange pumpkin paper plates. . . . . .

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Cobwebs completed the look.

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“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”
— Charles R. Swindol

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“The soul is healed by being with children.”
— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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“I added touches of sparkles–they always pop at a party–and the kids love the little details, too.”

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These spiders could be clipped on anything and were a favorite item from Michael’s.  She found most of her decorations at Michael’s and Dollar General.  She bought the spray paint (must be oil based so it sits on the water for the hydro-dipped pumpkins) and the piñata from Walmart.

Come to the party, four o’clock on Saturday, said the invitation sent by Magical Text Messaging.

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The children had so much fun!  They hit a piñata, and either carved or painted their pumpkins.

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Aunt Amanda-Witch thought of everything, she had even researched Youtube for exciting ways to paint the pumpkins.  Search HYDRO-DIPPED pumpkins and MELTED CRAYON pumpkins.

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And then there was a boys against the girls Bobbing for Apples contest!

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They ate donuts off strings!

There was also Halloween music playing (iTunes kid bop Halloween), a cheerful campfire, string of lights, and yummy s’mores for when it became dark outside.

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And a very spooky menu:

Mummy Hot Dogs
Veggie Skeleton
Ghost Fruit Kabobs
Zombie Boogers
Mummy Mini Pizza
Deviled Spider Eggs
Spooky Jello Jigglers
Dirt Worm Cups
Apple Cider with Eyeball Ice

At the end of the party, each guest received a special gift bag to take home, along with a caramel apple and their pumpkin.

Aunt Amanda-Witch and her husband Uncle Jason-Warlock really outdid themselves with this special party.  The children absolutely LOVED it.  When we had to leave, Sarah ran and frantically questioned Aunt Amanda-Witch if she was going to give any more parties sometime.  I think Aunt Amanda Witch should consider a side-job in party planning, don’t you?

What we remember from childhood
we remember forever —
permanent ghosts,
stamped, inked,
imprinted, eternally seen.
~Cynthia Ozick

 

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first day of school 2017

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8

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Blessings to the children, first of all, on another new school year.  You have each grown so much over the summer, but still young with lots to learn.  What bright and willing minds you have, eager for education and eager to have fun with your teachers and friends.

Blessings to the teachers, who work hard to make the school year as successful as they can, with patient and mature minds, eager to “go forth and conquer” all the challenges that come about each day.  Blessings to you as you prepare and teach. Your life’s work is importance and we thank you.  You are touching countless young lives.

Blessings to the families who let go and watch their children go forth and experience life, who do everything they can to help.  Blessings to the mothers and fathers who nurture and provide a home for children to come back to at the end of the school day.  May the afternoons be full of welcome and love.  And cookies.

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I like to imagine all the good things happening that no one will ever know.

The mom, busily packing school lunches, slipping in an extra package of snacks, “so you have something to share with a friend.”

A music teacher, choosing a special song with a certain student in mind.  “He’ll love this one.”

The office ladies picking up donuts to share with any parent who comes in during the day.  Adding fresh flowers from the garden to a vase to brighten up the space.

Cheerful volunteers who do what they can to help.

Children picking out their favorite outfits and wondering if their best friend will be in their class this year.  Such smiles when they reunite with their classmates.

Janitors keeping things extra clean, who get to know the children by name.

Teachers who purchase extra supplies just in case a student isn’t prepared.  Showing a caring heart.

School nurses who welcome the wounded and show patience to pretenders.

Dads smiling over the texts messages; photos of his dear ones.

Mothers left alone in a quiet house, quietly cleaning and working, preparing for when everyone gets back home again.  Or off to work, glad to have something to do, with thoughts of her babies always there.

And so on.

Secret prayers, deep thought, problem solving, strings pulled behind the scenes, all sorts of people taking an interest and making good things happen for their communities.

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. . . .encourage one another and build one another up . . . . .

“We can only see what we have grown an eye to see.” Rachel Remen

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This little boy wants to be just like his older brother, so he found Ethan’s old backpack and claimed it for this school year.

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Sarah only likes ponytails, so I took a quick picture just before twisting around the hair ties.

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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……encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all……

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Time again for an early morning “wave” from the next door neighbors as they get their kids off to school, too.  We’re in this together.

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……..anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad……

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Have a wonderful day!

You are loved.

 

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morning meditations (cheerful and bright)

(I almost wrote morning medications!)

So this morning I made my cup of coffee in a marigold java fiesta mug, let it get cold while I did laundry, warmed it back up in the microwave, and carried it outside to our “under the porch swing” with my current read.

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(As an aside, I want to explain my current read.  This book caught my eye at the thrift store in town because I thought I would mail it to a blog friend who is a big fan of Doris Day.   In fact HERE is her Doris Day pinterest board.  Godeliva is a friend of mine on Facebook and also has left notes on my blog for years, she lives in a different country so English is not her first language, she leaves charming little comments that I have to translate, and it’s because of her that at times I have Doris Day photos on my Facebook feed, along with other lovely thoughts, photos, quotes, and beautiful inspiration.  So anyways, she is the reason why I gave this book a second glance at the thrift store that day. . . .I don’t know anything about Doris Day other than she’s blond and cute so naturally I have started reading this surprisingly interesting book instead of mailing it out promptly.)

Because I am a morning person with lots of energy at this time of day, once my coffee was drained, I began to get antsy and my eyes left the words on the page (very interesting account of her first marriage which failed because he beat her and abused her even while she was pregnant) to wander around the garden just across the way, and the patio with the furniture rather haphazard and the ground beneath the swing which was starting to fill up with weeds.

I left the swing and began to weed.

I soon discovered there were about 100 or more legos mingled in the wood chips and weeds beneath the swing.

“Oh those boys, I’m going to get them out of the house and have the pick up every single solitary lego!”

The weirdest thing happened.  It was kind of like magic.  Or sorcery.  As I continued weeding, the legos became so sweet, so perfectly natural to MY life as a mom, MY boys that I love so much, that my heart. . . . .simply melted, causing my brain to decide OF COURSE legos must be scattered beneath the swing!!  Of course they must!

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In fact, I may just get another couple of cups from the toybox and scatter them under there, too!

Legos are part of the landscape here.  They represent a house full of children who have loved playing with them for almost 20 years.  20 years worth of legos, I say, we must have about a million pieces.  They.are.everywhere.  They really are.  They may as well be under the porch swing, too.

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So cheerful and bright.

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Look I even found a horse.

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Last week, (after I brought home my big box of Rose Fiestaware) I went through all my dishes and (believe it or not-this is shocking-) decided to get rid of a big stack of fiesta saucers of various colors and put them in a box to go to Goodwill.  A few days later, as I was working on the flower beds I thought “Hmmmmmm, this idea might be kind of redneck but perhaps those saucers that are in the box for Goodwill would make a nice border.”  So I tried it and yes Rich did ask a sincere “Why are your dishes in the garden?” but I think they look “so cheerful and bright” rather like…………….this just occurred to me………..LEGOS!

The mama has her fiestaware, and just around the corner down the path, the kiddos have their legos.

Perfection.

 

afternoon outing

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

We had thirteen young ladies stay here overnight last night.  They were from a NYC youth group traveling into New England to visit Six Flags, Lexington/Concord, and Vermont.  We knew some of them from years of camp so it was an easy “yes” to host them overnight.  Plus, they ate dinner before they came AND brought their own cereal and milk.  Grace very much enjoyed the visit and sat in on their *before bed* devotions.  I got lots of hugs this morning as they left in the rain…..thankfully it did clear up later on for their outdoor tour of historical battle grounds in Massachusetts.

After they left it was rather quiet, the maids came to do their weekly cleaning and the girls were asking for macaroni and cheese so I decided to take the kids to the diner just a couple miles down toward town.

David stayed at home and ended up using the time for a long bike ride.

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The diner has old black and white photos of the town on the walls and the kids were thrilled to see their friend Logan arrive to eat lunch with his Grandpa, too.

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The kids meals came with a free drink so Seth and Sarah chose hot chocolate, which meant they helped themselves freely to my coffee creamers….in no time at all we used up about 10 creamers.  I told the kids the waitress should have just brought us the carton.

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Waiting for the food is the most difficult part but thankfully it didn’t take long at all and the boys brought things to read.

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You may not think so by his face but Caleb has been so appreciative of this magazine subscription….every month I get a thank you.

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Grace read a book, too, by one of our favorite authors, Isabel Allende.

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Sarah ❤

(I was sandwiched between the girls–such fun)

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My lunch (actually, I had already eaten a salad at home so I simply HAD to get my favorite—strawberry sundae).

Sarah ate a pancake with french fries (I had to laugh when she ordered it) and the other three kids got hamburgers and fries.

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It became the *thing to do* to keep passing around the ketchup.  Seth and Sarah put it on their fries like toothpaste on a toothbrush.

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Grace’s lunch.

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Sarah had birthday money and bought this animal yesterday so she had to bring it everywhere with her today.  It’s name was Lee Ann but she renamed her Rosie.

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Seth’s is named Rufus.

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I ate all my sundae and then offered “the rest” to Seth….and he completely enjoyed the melted remains (all 1 teaspoon).

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Well, we were all happy and silly from a good lunch and decided to go antiquing at a “new to us” place in the next town over.  I was thankful to have such fun friends along with me.

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Right away I saw some HLC dishes, although not fiestaware, these are from the harlequin line.  So pretty.

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Seth saw some cool things, too!

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I always like these needlework things. . . but didn’t buy any today.

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Caleb found a Patriots football pennant and a football coin.

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Between the three youngest children I admit I said, “Don’t touch” about 1,000 times which made for a good discussion with Grace on the way home.  Did they touch things so much because I was obsessed with them not touching (and kept saying so)?  We decided that in their immaturity, they had a hard time obeying my rule, but as they get older they will learn self-control and be more obedient.  However, at the same time, there is also a truth that in the act of overstating/overemphasizing rules, we somehow make them more likely to be broken…..it’s simply human nature.  (see Sarah’s arm on the right of the photo holding the sharp gardening tool??  yeah…….)

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Tiny butter dish for a half stick of butter–so darling (didn’t buy).

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This vintage kitchen towel was only 2.50 so I had to buy it (it has a small hole that I can easily stitch).  (kids behind me….touching things….)  I know I do need to lighten up some, as well.

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I found a vintage fiesta lid!  (no one understands why I had to get it).  But I did!

Caleb’s Marshall Faulk coin (Rams football player).

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NEXT STOP….I found more fiestaware but this collection was P86 (periwinkle, yellow, and ivory) and overpriced.

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And then…..oh my goodness!   They wouldn’t sell just the serving pieces (I asked) so I was simply FORCED to buy the whole lot, thankfully I did get a great deal on it.

ROSE fiestaware:

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(back at home and unpacked)  I am so pleased with these beautiful dishes, Rose is discontinued and so nice to have on Valentine’s Day.  The mugs are not fiesta but still made by HLC (maybe restaurant ware?  I have to look it up–but its the same glaze).

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Kitchen towel, plus a vintage “radioactive” red fiesta mixing bowl (with chips) that I bought along with it at our first stop.  They go good together, don’t they?

The kids were great…we stopped at the gas station to get drinks along the way and they watched “Garfield the movie” in the car while Grace and I went into the second shop together.  (I couldn’t stand any more begging and touching).

When we got home Rich and Ethan had just arrived.  They were able to leave work early and now its the start of a nice long weekend.  They don’t have to go back to work until Tuesday.  I had dinner ready in the crock pot so I was able to feed the hungry men right away.

David got home safe and sound from his long bike ride, all hot and exhausted.  He said he “wasn’t going to do that again for two months.”

Ethan and Tessa are here, but Jacob is still at our friend’s house, as he is house sitting for them this week.

We are watching Little House on the Prairie and it’s super dark outside; a thunderstorm warning is in effect for the next hour or so and it’s raining.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.” E.B. White