my parents, my friends

“Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life.”  Aurelius

Good morning, it’s 7:50am and 38 degrees here in our neck of the woods.  I didn’t get to see David and Caleb this morning as I got up after their bus came and left.  I woke up Seth with a kiss and he asked his typical, “Can you  make me an egg sandwich with cheese and ham?  Do we have bacon?  No?  okay, than with ham?” and then he took a 20 minute shower.  I had to go back upstairs to knock on the door and tell him, “Your egg sandwich has been done for ten minutes!”  Sarah Joy didn’t sleep well last night, and neither did I.  When I got up at 2 to drink some milk, I found her sleeping on the couch.  The dog was a few feet away, snoring and snoring.  It was rather cozy I must admit.  She was back in her bed this morning and didn’t want to get up.  The sooner she realizes that she can live life even when super- tired the better.

They have left for school now, leaving me home alone.  I’ve been feeling rather lonely lately and think I’ll try making a list of things to do in order to fill up my day and feel more productive.  This morning I want to blog, shower, get some groceries, clean the coat closet, go for a walk, and get some laundry folded.  Then this afternoon I’ll have to think of some more things to get done.

Sherlock the orange cat is stretched out on my art book, which I keep out on the table in front of the window here in the livingroom.  I have paints and pens and papers, my Bible, note cards, glue, and books all over the table and he seems to feel at home there.  Our black cat Bagheera is curled up next to me on a red wool blanket.  I am sitting cross-legged on the couch with a pillow on my lap, with the computer on the pillow, typing away………at times I reach out and stroke his beautiful black fur and he always purrs in reply.

I’m thinking about what I was doing last week at this time.  I was at my parent’s house and mom was frying us eggs.  She fried four; one for me, one for Dad, one for her, and one for the dog.  Dad mixed a few nuggets of dog food in with the dog’s egg and put it on the floor for him.  Mom made gingerbread pancakes for me and herself.  Dad didn’t want one.  We all had bacon.  Just as we were about to eat, Aunt Carol came.  She lives just up the road from mom and dad and recently lost her husband.  She would normally walk down for a visit but it was only ten degrees outside so she drove.  Dad made coffee and we all enjoyed having a cup together.  Mom showed Aunt Carol the scrapbook she is working on and I enjoyed watching the two sisters look through it, sitting side by side, and talking together about childhood memories.

I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for my family, each one is so special in many ways.  I’m glad that we have each other.  I’m glad I have parents who love me so much and want me to visit them.  Mom took Monday morning off so she could be home with me and not have to go to work until I had to leave.

We looked at old family photos, ate a yummy St Patrick’s day boiled corned beef dinner, watched tv, worked on Mom’s scrapbook, talked, went for a wonderful walk outside, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

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With my dear Dad!!!

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Little me, with my mom and dad over forty years ago.

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A meaningful quote in Dad’s writing, found propped against his books.

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These words are engrained in my mind, as I remember reading this plaque through the years.  The truth of them astounds me now, and comforts me.

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The sisters looking at mom’s book.

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Mom and Dad tap maple trees and boil sap in the springtime, so we walked up to check the buckets.

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And guess what?

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The sap was hanging from the spigots as icicles!  Dad had boiled a few days before but knew he’d have a few days off since it was freezing cold.  I love that they make syrup, there’s just something so satisfying about it and they have mason jars full of the finished product to enjoy all year-long.

My brother David sent me photos from this weekend that I’ll share tomorrow of the boiling.

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There is something deep inside that is always put at ease when I am home again, especially outdoors.  I find myself again and I’m me, just me, my mind relaxes as I listen to quiet and smell and see all the familiar things.

“I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world—present and in awe.”  Anne Lamott

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Just Shanda, out on a walk with her Mom and her Dad.

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Dad was telling Mom about the tree he found to cut up for firewood and mom was telling him all the ways to do it safely.

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Mom stopped to admire this rock.  I smiled.

“I tell you the truth, if they kept silent their praise of the Lord, the stones themselves would cry out the message.”  Luke 19:40

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Beautiful morning frost on the moss.   I got right on the ground to get closer.  Look at the perfect patterns!

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There is loveliness all around us, we just need the eyes to see and hearts to appreciate.

“The earth has music for those who listen.”  Shakespeare

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Back inside the warm house…..I gave mom the mushroom Joanna gave to me!  I knew Jo wouldn’t mind, as she loves my mom, too.  It just goes so well with mom’s corner collection (the one from me and Jo is on the green leaf).  Look, she even has a mushroom planter which maybe I’ll try to steal next time I visit………….

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Mom made this recently!

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Look at the back!  This was all her creation, no pattern, just some lovely fabric and an artsy soul.

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Time for this girl to go home to her own house and family.

But first a hug from mom.

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And a hug from Dad.

Time with you is always precious to me.

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My parents.

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My friends.

snippets

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Dryer is humming.

Lights are on; it’s 5:30, very gloomy, and raining.

When cars go by they splash up rain off the road, a lovely sound.

I made chicken and dumplings for dinner.

Seth got mad at Sarah because she started to give him a candy and then took it back.

The coffee table is covered in books and toys.

I finished a book today, and started another.

Sarah acted so guilty as she walked by me that I asked her what she had in her hands.  It was a package of crackers, a package of fruit snacks, and a granola bar.  “I’ll drink some water after.”

Caleb watched numerous youtube videos of football clips when he got home from school.

Seth liked dinner for the second day in a row and gave me a hug.  “I’m on a roll this week,” I tease.  “You’ve been on a roll with me since I started eating your dinners,” he replies.

I tried calling Rich but he didn’t answer and then he called me back later to make sure everything was okay.  Practice is cancelled so he might take the boys for haircuts later.

I took David to the orthodontist this morning, and then drive-thru breakfast.

Then to high school—–HIGH SCHOOL!

I found a vintage fiesta teacup (no saucer) for 50 cents today.

I took a newly hatched butterfly outside.

Seth and Sarah are busy running a bath, for their stuffed animals.

This was after I said “no” to washing the cat.

They are calling it the Shower Pet Shop.  

There is a pile of shoes and backpacks by the door.

Mail on the counter.

I heard from Grace today, briefly; she had a quiz in math.

And Ethan got an “A” on a paper.  He had interviewed his Dad about being a Manager.

Rich says it’s his first college “A”.

I think Caleb fell asleep in his room.

I know David did.  I took his picture.

I normally don’t allow 5:30pm naps.

But today it just seems right.

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merry christmas and a happy snow day

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I love my home,
I love my nest,
In all the world,
My nest is best!

Good news!  Sherlock the cat is back home recovering from his ordeal.  We are all thankful to see him in the old familiar places…..and are fervently praying that he never again forms crystals to block his urinary track.

All the second guessing and questions were gone as soon as I witnessed the love and gentleness in the way the children cared for their pet all weekend long.

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He received much petting.

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Well, it’s our first snow day of the school year.  There was speculation all weekend as the children wondered if it would happen and checked the weather frequently.  As soon as I woke up this morning, I felt around in the dark for my phone on the table by the bed.  Rich left for work as soon as he possibly could as I was announcing to him, “It’s a snow day!  Stay home please stay home with us!” He was like, “bye.”

No matter, the children are currently still tucked in their warm beds, sound asleep, and I’m in my room typing away………….enjoying what will probably be the quietest hour of the day.

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On Saturday, Rich was away for a wrestling scrimmage with his team (he is the HS head coach) and I had a leftover roast chicken in the fridge so I set to work making homemade chicken and dumplings with a big pot of fluffy mashed potatoes.  The only reason I got the camera out is because Seth was amusing me.  He had helped roll out the dumplings and then ended up on the counter for a good half an hour playing in a cup of flour…….

Messy….but harmless fun for a boy in the kitchen.

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And a warm comfort food was enjoyed by all for lunch that day.

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When Rich got home from wrestling, he took a quick nap on the couch and then took the boys for haircuts…..

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The reason why Rich completely spoils and worships me is because I gave him five sons and two daughters who look just like him.  (okay, that is maybe just one of the many reasons).

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“Sarah get off my cat! Mom tell Sarah to get off my cat! No don’t take a picture of Sarah with my cat, that’s my cat!”  ~David is very possessive.

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Rich and David moved this little couch (dog bed) into the other room to make a spot for the Christmas tree.  It was about 28 degrees on Saturday afternoon so he could only get Caleb and Sarah to go with him to the fire department to choose the tree.  I could tell he was starting to get tired and not in the mood but after a little love-spat we got the decorating done.  It certainly wasn’t the same without Jacob and Ethan helping us and Grace saying things like “I probably won’t be here next year to help decorate the tree”.  sigh.  Not only that but the Heisman’s Trophy was going to be awarded at 8 and it was 7:55 so we were in sort of a time crunch.  (Caleb is a passionate football fan).

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Little by little the nest is getting festive.  Yes, those are legos.

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The painting from Aunt Colleen, vintage yellow fiestaware, a strand of lights, and my cookbook collection.

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While searching for the decorations they found their old board puzzles.

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A beautiful moment after the children were in bed…..a purring cat on my lap, candles, Sangria, and the lovely tree.

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(Caleb just came in here asking if it was a snow day.  After he heard the news he climbed up, “I want to snuggle with you.  Can I see your phone?  I want to see who won the game last night, I went to bed after the third quarter just in case it wasn’t a snow day.”)

So Sunday morning was blessedly relaxing.  Rich was watching a movie and after a while I noticed him doing sit ups on the floor.  This man works out EVERY DAY so I got a little bossy and said, “If you have energy I have something you could do instead.”

(Seth has appeared)

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And then later on, we were getting ready for church and Rich captured this special moment.  “When Moms do their Daughters Hair.”  Sarah needed two tissues to get through it.

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And when I showed her the photo of the final result she said proudly, “Is my hair really that long?”  so I knew she wasn’t scarred for life.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Snow Day!  I’ll blog tomorrow about all the things we did with our surprise vacation day from school.  (Meanwhile, Seth is asking if he can open one of his presents)………

 

feeling plump and happy already!

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I like to sit on the side of (our wrap around) porch.  There is a wooden bench here and as I look through the railings into the flower garden I can see things.  Further into the distance, but not too far, there is the road and the woods.  This morning the sky is so blue peeking through the leaves of the treetops, which are dancing gently.  My finger tips are cold this morning as I type.  It’s 72 in the sun and less than that where I am sitting.  I’m snacking on cashews and mint tea.  I’m thinking about home……

Yesterday as I was listening to the radio on the way to Costco, I heard a happy little news report about a nursing home in which the staff is attempting to make the residents feel more at home in the decorations, design of the building, and special lighting.  They want the residents to feel at home.  So interesting.

I named this blog “Good to be Home” because in my opinion, home is the dearest place on earth and in Heaven.  As you may be aware, we can sometimes feel homesick even in the most coziest of homes, and that is because we aren’t made just for earth, we are ultimately made for Heaven.

“The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father’s house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations…….”  ~Matthew Henry

Despite the hope and assurance that a better home (oh joy!) is coming, I believe it is important to “feather our nests” so to speak, in the here and now, as we live out our days.

My son Ethan is away at college now, and the very first thing we did when we took him there was to get his dorm room all set up.  It felt so good to make his bed, hang up his clothes, find a place for all of his things.  He had pictures and special belongings from home to keep with him and decorate with.  His roommate did the same, putting a big American flag up on the wall and choosing nice bedding and pillows.  They have a little refrigerator in their room for cold drinks.

Even if you are a college student you should still consider making your place homelike for yourself.  A small vase (jar/tin can) with something fresh from nature: a humble, small branch, tall pretty grasses, or a flower picked from those nice landscaped gardens would be sweet.  A “flameless” candle, a pretty throw pillow, a string of lights, all these things could be done at little cost to the pocketbook but to much benefit of the soul.  A special blanket and a stack of familiar books is nice, or an organic room spray for a fresh scent, a framed photo of your dog or sister or (mom)…..

I’ve considered making my big SUV more home-like!   I keep a blanket in it and hang an air freshener on the rearview mirror.  As a personal touch, the kids love to add stickers to the windows and doors and also scribble on them with pens (I’m being truthful but sarcastic now).

What about travel?  For me, these are the things required to be cozy (and at home) in a hotel: books, pens, notebook, iPhone and charger, and socks.  Poptarts are nice, too.  🙂

At my real home, I simply must have a cat or four, as well.

Oh yes, food!!  Food is a HUGE part of home life, isn’t it?  Food makes every event just that much more special.  Seth and Caleb have a football scrimmage this evening and I didn’t want to go until I realized that I could take a bag of some special snacks; homemade granola bars, cut up fruit, some hot tea in a thermos.  I have several Susan Branch cookbooks and I read a recipe, an actual RECIPE yesterday for a special garlic flavored popcorn…maybe I’ll try that, I mean it has to be good if she included it in her cookbook?

Maybe this is why some people ALWAYS take lunch to work from home.  It’s just cozier, all yours, special, made for YOU…….make lunchtime (any mealtime!) a special time, a nice break for yourself in the midst of a busy day.

Yesterday my kids watched a favorite TV show while munching crackers and cheese.  It’s so cute, the way they always have to eat the same snack during this particular show.  If you watch it, you will see why.  (highly recommended).

I love to visit my mom at work because she has made her whole office look cozy!  She has plants, lots of pictures of her family, framed maps (she loves maps!), and blue glass in the windows (it looks so pretty with the sun shining through them).  Her personality shines.

Sometimes I visit Rich at work (he has his own office) but I’ve seen the cubicles there…..and each one is such a reflection of the person who uses it!

Why do we put so much effort into creating these places for ourselves?  I have to believe it satisfies something in our souls that God put there.  A place that says “you are home, be at peace, you are secure, you can rest now.”  What a gift.

Not only that, but to do things like baking or decorating requires slowing down and being thoughtful, both of which are becoming harder and harder to do, but essential to well-being.  It’s much easier, when we are frantically busy, to grab drive-thru meals (I do it, too!!) which are not very nutritious or nurturing, to say the least.  What soul-satisfying moments we miss (both in the preparing AND the eating) when we don’t cook or bake our own foods.

To make a house a home takes time, mindfulness, and hours upon hours in the kitchen.  

It’s a job, yes, but like any job it can be done spiritually, with thankfulness that we are blessed and fortunate to even have nice homes and plenteous food!

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From my bench on the porch I had a hummingbird come to visit the zinnias.  Even a hummingbird has a nest to make, and to put babies in.

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With wings so fast that they hum.

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And a place to tuck their feet so they are completely out of sight (and out of the way for better aerodynamics!)

They are very fast fliers.

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It’s strange I know, but flying birds and their tucked-away feet just make me smile.

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I like the way the photos look with the railings blurred away but still there, like a frame.

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It wasn’t all hummingbirds.

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Time for another road trip!

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I took this photo last Sunday with my phone….we were coming home after taking Ethan to college and then spending a few days in Lake George, NY.  That big green thing in the back is a blow up Gumby — a prize from playing a game at Great Escape amusement park.

It’s these five who will be going with us to NY for a family reunion TOMORROW and to visit our friends Janice and James and their kids.  This will be the third weekend in a row we are away.  Jacob and Michael will be home taking care of the house and pets while we are gone and Ethan of course will be at school.

I’m baking later for football snacks AND road trip snacks.  (any favorite recipes to share?)

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The other day I was blogging in bed with these creatures at my feet.  (three cats, and Parker the dog who still smells a little skunky even after 2 baths).

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On a different “other day” I left to take Grace school shopping and Jacob called me on my cell phone because he had passed me as he was going home.  He had a starbucks coffee for me as a surprise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so I turned around to meet him at the gas station and he handed it to me through the window with a smile.  I’m still crying about it.

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This is so random…..I went to the library to put books in the free box and liked this display so took a photo of it.  I want to study these birds now!  And I want some to come live in my chimney!  Do you know this bird?  Have you ever seen them?

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And this (again at the public library) was fun.  Someone painted bricks to look like books– to use as bookends.  I loved how the Holy Bible was one of them!!  I’ve read all these (brick books) except The Notebook.  I refuse to read anything by Nicholas Sparks. (just one of my quirks–I hear he is a very good author–so maybe someday).

Happy Friday!  Happy Labor Day weekend!

 

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PS, something funny: the whole time I was writing this I was also texting my brother and planing on a gathering at Mom and Dad’s on Sunday evening.  He immediately thought “FOOD” and in no time at all he arranged the entire menu and told me that mama was making cookies.  “I’m feeling plump and happy already” he texted.  As we should be.

 

Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places…  Isaiah 32:18

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Psalm 23:5

 

back home

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Sarah’s first day back at home after surgery has been a gift.  Things like this always make me appreciate the little things in life even more.

 

When we arrived home, I noticed differences right away.

The morning glories are inches further up the sunflowers.
Gypsy moths are flying around.
My gardens and hanging baskets are dry and need watering.
Raspberries are ripening fast.
The grass was longer.

I know my house, my land, my gardens.  My roots go way down.

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How to heal a little girl; with snuggles, stuffed animals that fit just right in a small hand, books, back scratches, ginger ale, movies, smiles, brothers and a sister, games, rides in a wheelchair, naps, words of encouragement, leaving the hospital as soon as possible, pain medicine, a nest on the couch, getting clean with a shower, soap, and combed out hair, tempting foods like fresh garden peas and wild raspberries picked by a loving sister and mama.

flowers.

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When your big brother comes in the house with a visitor.

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And when your mom and dad leave, just for an hour, to go to a library used book sale.

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The top six were for her.

happenings

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LOVE

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JOY

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PEACE

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forbearance

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kindness

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goodness

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faithfulness

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gentleness

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self control

against such things there is no law.

Good evening, my friends.

Today is a wonderful day.  I am finally feeling more like myself.  Thank the Lord for doctors and modern medicine.  After I got the kids out the door for school, my oldest son Jacob got up and showered.  When he came downstairs he told me that he didn’t have to go to college today so I mentioned that I was going to go shopping in about an hour.  I had some photos to pick up and some things I needed to get.  He right away showed his willingness to go along with me without even being asked…he said, “Oh, than I can show you those legos at the mall that I wanted to get the boys for Christmas.”  It made me smile that he wanted to go with me.

He drove me after I said I would give him gas money.  Gas money is very important to 18 year old young men.  He talked to me the whole time we were together.  And if he wasn’t talking, he was singing along to his music.  He and his girlfriend share a spotify music account now, isn’t that romantic?  They also did community service together yesterday by picking up litter along some of the main roads in our area.

Jacob LOVES music.  He has quite a varied collection, from classical to Christian metal.

We went to several stores, including Starbucks and Five Guys (burgers) for lunch.  Then he drove us to his school so that we could pay for his next semester.  He walked me around and showed me the library.  He loves his classes, his professors, and the campus.  I’m so thankful for the way he is adjusting and becoming independent.  The place he works for originally hired him for the Holidays, but recently asked him to stay on full-time.  He loves his job and the people he has met.

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The chickens get bowls of old leftovers and they love it.  It looks sickening to us humans, though.  I always have to laugh when I hand a bowl over to a child and say “run this down to the chickens” and they do, while gagging.

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Just beyond the hens, in that spot that looks like briars, is a small little pond nestled down a bank.  I love that little pond, and so do the chickens.  They make their way down and drink from it.  Beyond that (the building you see) is our garage.

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Holiday FIESTAWARE display!

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precious children coming home off the bus

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Dear teachers, your students notice everything you do.  The other day I told Sarah she would make a good teacher someday and after sitting there thinking about it she said, “No I don’t think so.  It’s such hard work!  And I don’t know how to make a star!”

Tis the season for gingerbread men.  She brought another one home today.  It’s a paper plate painted brown, with a circle at the top of it for a head and oval arms and legs decorated with glitter.  Only it looks more like a brown turtle then a gingerbread man.

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Saturday morning these guys went to a wrestling practice.

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Grace brought her rabbit inside for a little while and we had such a time watching funny Gentleman Gray visit with him from the top of the cage.

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I put a small box inside of her cage yesterday and she had a great time chewing it up into a bed.

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beauty in an apple core

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beauty outside the door

Going back to the aloe vera plant.  Just a few months ago the planter contained one big “mama” plant that was so big that it was tipping the whole planter over unless I balanced it against the wall.  The appearance was beginning to bother me so I cut it right off and threw it away.  It has been a delight to see so many baby plants grow up in it’s place.  I hope to divide it soon and share with friends.  I’m sure there is a parable in there somewhere.

Tonight I am picking my dear friend Hannah up from the airport and I cannot wait.