wall of children

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I look like such a big head in this photo but that’s selfie photography for you!  Poor Sarah didn’t make it into the photo.

After all the planning and organizing and hosting of Thanksgiving, we were all ready to get out of the house on Black Friday and it was absolutely the best day because we were all together, Rich and I **without even one child missing**.

The line at Starbucks was a little long so I got silly with my camera and my mama-joy.

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Rich and I both felt deep down meaningful gratitude over spending time with them, our biggest blessings of all.  Each so different and yet, together, a special group of siblings.  That’s how all families feel about their children, and rightfully so.

God is so good to us.

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THE SONS

At the mall!  I like to do things fairly so I said to Rich, “The girls go with me and the boys go with you!”   (I’m sure the boys were utterly relieved)

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Sarah insisted on getting this blanket for “someone” on our Christmas list!

I’m thinking if it were a fluffy sweater in Sarah’s size she would look dashing!

(Note to Self:  Sarah looks good in mauve.)

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She found her perfect dream dress.  And thank goodness I liked it, too.  It’s plain and simple but with the best twirling skirt ever.

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AND THE DAUGHTERS

So.  I had a secret mission for this mall outing.  I wanted more than anything to get updated portraits taken of Jacob and Ethan.  They are both Juniors in college this year and it’s been since High School that I had a nice professional portrait of them.  Grace’s senior photo is still on the wall looking fabulous, along with the other school-age children who just brought home their updated school portraits.

I had five 8 by 10s hanging up in the livingroom, but was very much missing the two eldest boys.

I wasn’t sure if we could just walk into the portrait studio without appointments but we tried it and had SUCCESS!  All I wanted was one 8 by 10 of each of them and we were in and out of the studio in no time at all, pictures in hand.

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They turned out so nice!!!!!  Here’s Jacob’s portrait.  He will be turning 22 next month.

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And here’s Ethan’s portrait!  He’s 20 years old.

I love how they go together yet they aren’t matchy-matchy.

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I find myself staring at their faces quite often.  🙂

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This is exactly where I am right now, sitting in the chair draped by a white and blue blanket that Aunt Colleen crocheted for me in our local school colors so I could take it to cold outdoor games.  In the mug I have hot spiced apple cider, and to the left of my laptop you can see the jar candle, and then my phone propped up, which is playing my friend’s video to me this morning.  What a great way to start the day, with photos, conversation, laundry, and blogging.

To be honest, I have also been to the vet to drop off poor Walter.  Today our kitty has to have his special operation that will help him grow up to be a nice, tame, good-smelling male cat who can’t make babies.  We’ll go pick him up again later.  🙂

Also, Seth is home for the second day in a row.  He’s feeling better but had a fever yesterday so has to be home one more day.  I have to admit I really really like having him home with me.

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
CHARLES SPURGEON

BE BLESSED TODAY, FRIENDS
YOU ARE LOVED.

 

 

friday: boys dorm, saturday: book sale, sunday: football

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friday

I left the house at 8:30 in the morning on Friday to drive to the college that our two older boys attend.  After a three hour drive, and a couple of stops, I arrived around 1:00pm for a quick visit.  The purpose of the trip was to get Ethan and bring him back home with me for his week long break.  Jacob stayed on campus for football practices.  The drive to Vermont is easy and the views are so pretty.  I listened to a Wuthering Heights audiobook there and back, (all but the times when my phone lost cell phone service).

After I parked in the lot at the boys’ dorm, I let them know I had arrived.  They showed me their room and then they took me to a produce stand just down the road about a mile and I saw such picturesque farms along the way.    I posted photos of the stand on instagram.

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I love their room, it’s so typical of them.  They both agreed that they need 1) a broom and 2) an area rug.  I could have added more to the list.  Sometimes they take an entire couch from the common area and put it in their room.  It’s easier to play video games that way.  And maybe even study, too.  But you have to be sneaky about it and return the couch before room check.

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The dorm has a great view of the sports fields.

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Ethan and I left and ate lunch together in Rutland.  Then, an hour or so down the road, we visited a large antique center.  I bought a little bag full of black and white photographs from the 1930s, a vintage flour scoop, and a small vintage sifter for my mom.  I took photos of some fiestaware I saw but didn’t want or need (it happens).

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Admittedly, the vintage red shakers were in very nice condition, but I wouldn’t pay 30 dollars for them.

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I wasn’t sure what to think of this taxidermied chicken!!!  Would this be a fun addition to my house decor?  Or disturbing?  The tag said it was an old advertizing display for a store.

We also visited the Vermont Country store for cheese samples, coffee (oh how I needed it at that point!  And it was worth the wait–maple flavored;  everything’s maple flavored in Vermont), and sweets.  I had a delectable lemon bar.  The filling was creamy and not too tart, and the cookie base was soft and buttery.  So good!  So bad!

We arrived home and that was the end of Friday.

Saturday…..

……..was a nice, easy sunshiny family day.  Rich took Seth to a birthday party at a trampoline place and Seth had just the greatest time.

I took a photo of a pretty mushroom.

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And then, I took Sarah with me to a library used book sale.  She put new laces in her sneakers without any help from her Dad, and put a cute little dress on.  She was pleased to go look for some books with her Mom.  It’s odd at times, because Grace is at college now but when she was Sarah’s age she was the only girl in the family, and now it’s the same for Sarah.  She’s 8 years old and Grace was 10 when Sarah was born.  Sometimes I get flashbacks and think I’m back in time with Grace again.  Even their little voices sound the same to me now and then.   And I told Sarah when we got in the car, “I’m so glad God gave you to me.”

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The library ladies at the table gave me a dollar and fifty cent discount for being a mom of seven, which in their eyes, deserved the teachers discount.  I mean, every teacher AND mom should get a discount, am I right?

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We were able to add three more books to our Newbery collection.  I think it’s amazing and good that Newbery medals are awarded to all different reading levels and genres.  For example, Millions of Cats is a children’s picture book and story for the age range of 2 to 5 years old, and only 32 pages long.

Here is a quick video that I did this morning, showing all of the books (except the Newberys which I already put on the shelf.)::

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Our kitty Walter Felix Disney just meowed and meowed in gratitude when he saw his new book that we bought for him.

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But Sherlock didn’t care.  He knows the books about HIM are 100 times better.

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Someone was happy to have his boy back.

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Rich and I took full advantage of our Saturday together because on Sunday he had to leave us for a business trip.

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I’m sort of consoled because Ethan is home this week and also Rich’s trip includes the L.A. airport and we all know what that means……more RAMS merchandise for yours truly!

sunday

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A happy Sarah cheerleader!

I am sad to say that although it was a beautiful day for football games, we lost them.  Caleb and Seth seemed to enjoy it anyway, especially because they both came away with a bunch of new bruises and Seth’s calf muscle on his left leg got run over very impressively by cleats and he has scratches and bruises.  It seemed to invigorate them and they came home and later on played even more football with Jack until it was too dark to see outside.

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David and Ethan dropped off Caleb, played soccer together on another nearby field, and then left to go to the Guitar Center and go visit Zach, Michael, and the rest of the gang at their “2nd Mom and Dad’s ” house, Chris and Caroline.  I didn’t see them again the rest of the day because by the time they got home at 10pm I was in bed finishing my latest book.  (shown on instagram).

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Seth on the field.  He did so so good.  Coach George made it a point to sing his praises to me later on and said how good Seth was, both as a player and a person.  It meant so much to me to hear his coach say what I know in my heart to be true.  He’s a good boy.  You know, he sat right on my lap this morning when he got up.  They love it when I wear my soft red robe.  It prompted me to make up a song titled “the best chair of all is a mom chair.”  To which he replied, “Can I see your phone so I can check my fantasy team?”

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I found this Seth-Selfie from yesterday on my phone.  He had my phone in the car and was listening to a Boxcar children book while waiting to warm up.

this very morning;

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST a photo that I took so I could show Sarah how excellently I did her braids this morning.

“Every kind of work can be a pleasure.
Even simple household tasks can be an
opportunity to exercise and expland our caring,
our effectiveness,
our responsiveness.
As we respond with caring and vision to all work,
we develop our capasicy to respond fully to all of life.
Every action generates positive energy
which can be shared with others.
These qualities of caring and responsiveness 
are the greatest gift we can offer.”
~ Tarthang Tulku

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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

cinnamon rolls

Ethan learned from my mistake and decided if he was going to make cinnamon rolls then he better triple the recipe.

He and Jacob are done with their wrestling season and are home this week on break from college.  One of the things Ethan enjoys doing when he’s home is baking and cooking in the kitchen.  As soon as he got up yesterday morning he started looking through our Top Secret Recipes cookbook by Todd Wilbur and thought he would make either donuts or cinnamon rolls.  I have to admit I was relieved that he decided on the latter, as the deep fat fryer is a big pain to clean up afterwards and even though Ethan does use the kitchen, he rarely cleans it up afterward.

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We had a house-full; Ethan, Jacob, Michael, David, Caleb, Weston (my nephew), Seth, Sarah, and myself.  Somehow the cat was able to get a nap in now and then although with any alarming sound he would bolt his neck upright and look around the room with big eyes.

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Cinnamon rolls take hours to make.  While the dough was rising the first time Ethan went down the road to get his girlfriend Tessa.

Then it was time to form the rolls.

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I had to leave as the cinnamon rolls went through their second rise.

It was a day I had been waiting for:

At my last cleaning my dentist sent me to an orthodontist because of over crowding and the Doctor agreed that I was a good candidate for invisalign.   I had braces as a teenager but through the years my teeth had shifted and I’m thrilled to get them straightened again.

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I came home to a counter full of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  And boy were they delicious. . . . .

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The weather was so nice that I immediately went for a walk on the road so as to burn more calories for more cinnamon rolls.  These two passed me on the street; Jacob and his best friend and our perennial weekend houseguest Michael.

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Two more pictures from the day; Dave on the laptop.

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And Sarah Joy telling me that “Michael only won once.”

‘Twas a lovely day.

shop small saturday//Christmas decor

It’s tuesday morning.  Kevin is here working on turning the old laundry closet into a real closet.  We moved the washer and dryer downstairs in the basement.  It will be convenient to have a coat closet in the livingroom, with cubbies for backpacks and shoes.  It’s cold outside this morning, with bright sunshine.  I’m sitting in the corner of my bedroom in the leather recliner by a window and I can hear the wind chimes outside moving in the wind.  As soon as I sat down to blog, our gray cat came in and curled up on my lap, so the computer is now balancing on the arm of my chair as I type.

On Saturday, Rich and I took Ethan and his girlfriend Tessa downtown for “shop small Saturday”.  I was feeling a little blue after the excitement of Thanksgiving, and this was the perfect way to get outside with my camera and enjoy our beautiful town and the little shops.  We saw several people we knew, had some coffee, found some bargains and enjoyed some lovely Christmas decorations.

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Christmas is such a beautiful time of year.

I’m thankful I can enter into the season slowly and mindfully.

 

beginning with the nighttime moon

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“Oh, if there’s only one song I can sing,
When in His beauty I see the great King,
This shall my song through eternity be,
“Oh, what a wonder that Jesus loves me!”  ~Philip Bliss

This hymn is stuck in my head this morning and I’m just so happy because today I have absolutely nothing pressing…..in the last week this family has had a total of 10 appointments (mostly dental, one doctor, and others) and I’m ready to have a peace-full morning instead of getting ready to go…….I’m a home-bird…..

I have a steaming Scarlet fiesta mug of green tea on the coffee table in front of me, and a curled up chocolate lab snoring by my side on the couch and I’m ready to let my fingers tippety tap along the keyboard….I love blogging…everyone should do it.  Life is so interesting.

Last week, Rich was gone on a business trip for five days straight and our college son Ethan was home for the week, too.  After Caleb’s dentist appointment and right before his doctor’s appointment, we had time to sit at the bookstore and drink hot coffee beverages.

(Caleb had no cavities but was put on antibiotics for a sinus infection).

(a page from the latest Victoria magazine–I was so tired last week that I had to read this quote like 5 times before it made sense.  And… Seth, waiting for the bus one morning).

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Hanging out on the porch with Sarah.  She was blowing the whistle CONSTANTLY.

She gets to learn how to play the recorder next year at school and the whistle is a tiny recorder.  So she would blow and then take a break to say things like “Can I buy my own recorder, Mom?”  “I’m going to get a pink one.”  “Did Caleb buy his?”  “Where is it?”  “What color was it?”  “Seth doesn’t bring his home.”  “He doesn’t like to play it.”  and so on.

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These muffins were yummy.

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Rich took this at the football games on Sunday.

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Reading on the porch with my kitty.

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Ethan was home all last week and so (because I’m a good mom) I thoughtfully made him a dentist appointment for a cleaning.  (he was less than thrilled because has bad luck always at the dentist).  He drove himself.  I was at the grocery store when they called me, “Hello we have Ethan here and he has a couple cavities that he didn’t get filled last time and the dentist has time to do them now if you’d like us to do that?”  And naturally I said, “Oh yes, that would be awesome, and please have the Doctor check Ethan’s gray front tooth.”  Then we hung up.  After another hour or so, Ethan came home with his eyes sad and face blank.  He put his papers from the dentist down on the counter.  Ethan doesn’t talk much so I had to pry.  “What did they say about your tooth?”  “They said the roots are a little shorter and it might fall out eventually so I have to go to a specialist to get it looked at.”  I ran over to the referral paper, and called the number right away just to see if perhaps they could get him in while he was home.  And yes, they were able to get him an appointment on Thursday.

So Thursday came.  The appointment was at 8:30 in the morning.  As soon as the kids left on the bus at 7:30, Ethan and I got in the car to head to his appointment, which was on the other side of Hartford.  Ugh busy city traffic.  We had no time to go through the Dunkin Donuts drive- thru.  So we battled on through the traffic and got to the Endodontist with just enough time to park, find the office, and fill out papers.

Ethan was called to the back for his appointment and I followed, simply because, like I said, Ethan doesn’t talk much and I wanted ALL the information.  The dentist took an X-ray, and tapped on his front teeth.  Then he held a tiny piece of cotton with his dentist tongs and sprayed icy cold air on it.  “I’m going to put this on your tooth and you raise your hand when the pain is unbearable, okay Ethan?”  He pressed the cotton on Ethan’s gray tooth and Ethan never raised his hand.  “The reason you feel no pain is because that front tooth is dead,” the dentist explained.  “You will need a root canal and then eventually we can bleach the inside of the tooth the next time you are home from college.  I can’t just put the bleach in it this week or you might end up with a brilliantly refrigerator white tooth and that would be worse than the gray.  I need to check the bleaching process every few days so we can take the bleach out once that tooth matches the other ones.”  Wow, this was getting interesting.  Ethan didn’t say a word.

We left with a root canal appointment for the very next day.  Ethan’s bad luck at the dentist continued but you know what?  It had to be done and it is all done now.  The two of us had breakfast together that morning and then went to the mall and consoled ourselves with new shirts (Jcrew for him and Anthro for me).  Rich came home that night and took Ethan the next day for the root canal and now he’s all set until he can get his tooth bleached.

Why was his tooth gray in the first place you might ask?  He cannot remember the injury, but at some point when he was younger he bumped the tooth hard enough for it to die.  With seven children and five of them boys, it’s a wonder any of them have white teeth.  Seth had a gray tooth for a time, too, but it was a baby one and fell out.  My brother David says Ethan should just get a gold tooth and be done with it.

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I bought this vintage wool hook rug at an antique store this weekend….it’s now on the pantry floor and I love it.  I’ve been waiting for just the right throw rug for my pantry.  The outer part of the rug is dark gray, then a beautiful dark blue and light blue design, with light gray after that and a bunch of bright flowers in the middle.  The blue matches the blue glass bottles in the window.

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YESTERDAY it was Seth and Sarah’s turn at the dentist……(and tomorrow is my turn).

For prizes, they got teeth.

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And then we went to the grocery store.  I made them leave the teeth in the car and when we were checking out, Sarah turned to Seth and cried, “Seth, we can go to the car and put our teeth in now!”

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Back at home…… (with a fogged up camera lens again, it was so damp and rainy)

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David was on the roof.

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He was bouncing a small basketball off the house and trying to make a basket down below, with the help of Caleb and Seth.  He made it once.

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(I took this one through the window)

It was pouring rain.

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Last night my husband went downstairs to check on Seth, who was crying in the basement.  He and Caleb had been fooling around.  David and I looked at each other with alarm when we heard Rich yell, “DON’T PLAY FOOTBALL IN THE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!” and Sarah came running upstairs laughing.  “What happened?  Sarah, tell me!”  “Seth hit his head again and it’s bleeding a little bit right here,” she pointed to her head, “on the side of his head.”

Sure enough, Rich marched Seth upstairs, who already had a goose egg forming next to his temple on his forehead, and got him an ice pack.

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This morning it already looked much better, but you can see the remainder of his injury next to his eye.  (he had a bump up higher on his temple, and a scrape by his eye).  I mean, at least it wasn’t his tooth.

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7:15 this morning as I put away the dishes.  “Mom, take a picture!”

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Kids left on the bus.  All is calm, all is bright.

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The sun is shining!  After a long weekend of rain, it is pure delight.

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We end with the morning moon.

Happy Tuesday, friends.
You are loved.

 

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