i just love a good story (but not this one)

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

One of my perfect children came home from school with a funny story to tell me.  It began this way:  “Mom.  Do you remember a while ago when I had you sign that form for Science?”  

Okay, so……I sign A LOT of forms.  And when I sign them I promptly forget about them.  Unless of course there is something I have to remember like a field trip, which in that case I run to my calendar right away and write it down because if I don’t I WILL forget about it promptly.

So I said to this child, “I think so?”  And he continued on with this amazing story about how he had the form in his backpack for a while and then when the day came that it was due to be handed in he couldn’t find it.  So the teacher said, “You’ll have to stay after school with me today.”  (in another word:  detention).

So then my perfect child went off to his next class and (he told me this) when he took out his folder for that class, out fell the missing form!  As soon as he could, he ran back to his teacher to hand it in.  Wow, that was close!  He almost got a detention!

I just love a great story, I laughed through the whole thing, believing every single word with my whole heart!

Later on, the perfect child told his dad the same story in the kitchen but my mean husband didn’t believe the story like I had!!  He was suspicious!  I jumped to my perfect child’s defense!  This child would NEVERRRRRRRRRR lie like this!  He wouldn’t even THINK of forging my signature!  Never!

Then, true to my nature, I promptly forgot the whole thing until this morning when I got the following email from his teacher:

Good Afternoon,

Last Monday students were given a form explaining some exciting STEAM work we have the opportunity to partake in over the next 2 months. Parents/students were asked to read and sign the form that they were informed of what this opportunity was all about, it was not a permission slip.  Students were asked to return the form on Friday, Dec 7.  ***** didn’t have his in on Friday.  ***** also didn’t have his form Monday or today.  He mentioned you had signed it but he couldn’t find it.  He came to me after 6th period with the form signed.  There is a copy attached.  It doesn’t appear to be your signature, but I thought I’d check with you.
I dearly wish I could show you the photo of the form with “my” signature written on it but the perfect child had the wherewithal to include our last name, so I cannot.  Suffice it to say it looked NOTHING like my beautiful signature!  It looked sort of the way I would have written it…….. when I was a little kid!
I could NOT believe it!  This child told me a story and I believed every word!  My mom instincts failed dreadfully.  I can usually determine truth from fiction just from a child’s face!  Honestly, there is still part of me deep in my heart that still believes him, so stay tuned!!
I contacted the teacher and my husband, both of whom have consequences to deliver.
Rich didn’t think any of it was funny, which is very ironic because he forged his Father’s signature all the time when he was growing up.  ALL the time.  Which actually gives me hope because if that little signature forger can grow up to be such a good man, I guess his son can, too.
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This past weekend Grace and Brittnee had their holiday concerts at college and Rich and I were not able to attend.  So I was delighted to receive some music clips, videos, and photos from Joanna AND my brother David!
Happy is the heart that can rely on family and friends to stand in the gap!

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I love this one of Joanna’s husband Steve with my brother, both with their amazing beards!!!!!

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My daughter Grace,  Brittnee (my son’s beautiful girlfriend & Grace’s BFF) and my BFF Joanna (who is also Grace’s second mother while she’s away at college!)  God is SO good.
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My beloved brother Dave, with dear sweet Grace.
One more thing before I go:
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Happy Birthday (yesterday) to Brittnee!
I’m so glad you’re in our lives.  You are a blessing.

it was a month ago…..

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Ask her what she craved and
she’d get a little frantic
about things like books,
the woods, music.
Plants and the seasons.
Also freedom.
~Charles Frazier

Grace turned nineteen on November 4.

When she was home from college for Thanksgiving break she said, “You didn’t blog about me on my birthday”.   So here I am, better late than never, with my sincerest apologies to you, dear Grace!

Grace was born in the very early hours of the morning all those years ago, our first daughter after two sons.  Born at 38 weeks, but so tiny that everyone stopped to admire her and call her “Peanut”, I delighted in being her mother.  I found a white bib that had a small peanut embroidered on it and of course I had to buy it for her and I bet it that bib is still here in a box somewhere along with many other keepsakes from that precious time.

She’s all grown up now and in the middle of her second year of college and doing very well.  She has her own dorm room this year which has been nice for her, but she keeps so busy she’s rarely in it except to do homework and sleep.

She’s healthy and strong, with lots of dear and close friends.

She loves to read and write, sing and play piano.  She loves to be useful.

I hadn’t taken many photos of her lately so when she was home for Thanksgiving we got the camera out for a couple of “Now You’re Nineteen” photos.  We were downtown that day for “small town shopping”.

The quotes are from Grace’s own personal collection of favorites.  (she has hundreds) ❤

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“Come, let us have some tea,
and continue to talk about happy things.”

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Don’t be so cool you can’t cry.
Don’t be so smart you can’t wonder.
Don’t be so set on your sunny days
That you can’t love the roll of the thunder.

He has made everything beautiful
in its time.   Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

“no days off”

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We all woke up this morning at 6 and couldn’t sleep anymore!  We don’t know why!

To break up the day we decided to go out together to first and foremost get chicken feed, and then do a little shopping, and have lunch.  I bought Sarah a cute dress, Seth some stylish sweatpants, myself some earrings, a vase, a liquid measuring cup for baking, and a couple of shirts, and Grace a brown bandana for her hair.  The tacos at Moe’s have gotten smaller but lunch was filling and delicious.  We listened to happy music on the way home.

David and Caleb are away at camp this week and Rich is on a business trip until Wednesday.

Grace went out for tea with a friend when we got home and we are having quiet time now because this evening is Seth’s first football practice for the season AND Sarah is doing cheerleading for the first time!  She’s nervously excited.

I am watching the Waltons and filling out their sports forms.  Mondays are always a “catch up on laundry” day and we’ll have chicken patties and veggies for dinner before we leave for practice later.

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My shirt says “no days off” and I wear it when I’m in a humorous mood because I didn’t buy it because I work out daily in the gym, I bought it because I’m a mom. And while it’s true that my current stage in life (“motherhood”) allows for almost no days off, I cannot complain as I constantly count my blessings, the first of which is that I get to be mom of these seven children of ours.  There are many busy and even chaotic moments in each day, but there are also many peaceful and quiet ones to recharge, like right now, while I’m blogging and watching TV……….or reading, petting the cats, scrapbooking, baking, walking, or taking off for a morning of shopping with the kids.

life is good and I’m glad I can flop on the couch in between laundry, cleaning, and dishes!

Happy Monday!

 

this is the sweet face of great relief

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“I feel like a huge burden that I’ve had since I was a child was just lifted off of me.”  

 

Here are the memories she doesn’t want to forget about learning to drive:

That time when her Dad had her drive around and around and around an empty parking lot at school backwards, this way and that way until she cried, and then he had her do it more.

The time she and I were going to the plant store and I didn’t tell her how long it was going to take to get there and she drove for an hour.

When she first really drove it was with her older brother Jacob and it was raining but she didn’t know how to turn on the wipers and when she did turn them on they went so fast she got nervous and asked Jacob for help.

She went to the H.S. to practice backing into parking spots and no one was there so her Dad got out of the car and walked laps while she practiced parking which was exactly what she needed…to figure it out on her own.

She had two college friends (April and Ryan) and Caleb and Kylee praying for her before her test this morning.

She and Caleb talked on the phone and went over traffic rules the morning of her test.  And he reminded her to turn on her lights and put on the emergency brake which were the two things she did wrong on her practice test last weekend.

To help them with their nerves, they had a movie going in the waiting room for the students about to test, and a box of munchkins for them to snack on, but she didn’t want to eat anything or watch anything …. but she did eat a munchkin because she felt she would be rude if she didn’t.  The movie playing was “Sing” and she was annoyed because she wanted to concentrate on her test but with the movie playing she started getting interested and watched it.

The songs she sang to herself while she waited for her test driver were, “Give me Oil in my Lamp” and “I love You, Lord”.

The man riding along to test was very nice; an elderly grandfather type.

She didn’t think she would do well, she didn’t think she would pass.

She and her dear friend Kylee both took their test on the same day and passed.  And when she walked in to the office to hand her paper sheet to the lady for her paper license the lady said, “Look at you, you little show off,”  because she got nothing marked wrong.

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She walked over to the garden center after her test to find me.

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mark twain house

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Grace and I FINALLY, after all these years, went to the Mark Twain house in Hartford, CT. It was easy to find, there was nice parking, and it was a charming destination for a half day exploration.  Grace has read several of Twain’s books and I read Volume 1 of his very large autobiography.  What a character he was, and what a treat it is to enjoy his writings.

We did the “Living Tour” with a man who was pretending to be the butler.  Indeed, he said he WAS the Butler.  (5 dollars more per person).  The house is heavily protected…..you may NOT sit on anything, you may NOT take ANY photos, also NO CELL PHONES, and you may NOT carry a pen in your hand.  (pencils only).  Because it was a living tour set in the year 1897 we were NOT permitted to ask any questions that didn’t have to do with that time period.  By this time I was so nervous I said not a word.

The inside of the house was GORGEOUS.  So lovely.  I have no photos of it, though!

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Thank Goodness we could take all the photos we wanted, outside the house!  And that was gorgeous, too.

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Look at pretty Grace.

The tour ended in the basement where we were allowed to take photos again, ask any question we wanted, and touch things.  I slowly thawed.  There were photos and books on a long table and while there was a question and resulting discussion (involving math) about exactly how old Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was when he spent time in Europe, I took a couple photos.

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His daughters and their friends putting on a play.

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Mark Twain’s Scrapbook!

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My favorite rooms inside the house were the library, the nursery, and the conservatory.  I could only get outside-looking-in photos of the conservatory.  Incidentally, if you would like to see photos of the rooms you can do a quick google search and find them all.  Check out the wallpaper in the guest room and master bedroom, it’s so elegant and whimsical.

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beautiful white lace curtains and the outside brick of the house

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THIS IS MY MOST FAVORITE PHOTO OF THE DAY; Of Grace in her skirt, by the flowerbed at the carriage house.  Our tour guide made a point about how the family of Patrick McAleer, with seven children, lived upstairs in the carriage house back in the Clemens’ day.  So Grace and I were intrigued, as that is the number of children in our family.  We were glad we did not have to live in the upstairs of a carriage house.

Well, actually, I may have gotten the feeling that maybe Grace would have enjoyed it.  🙂

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It was a wonderful house and beautiful morning.

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We left and went to lunch at a place called Tangiers International, which was a Middle Eastern Market half a mile down the road.  We shared an order of stuffed grape leaves.  I had a lamb gyro for lunch and she had chicken curry.  We bought a couple boxes of Turkish Delight on our way out.  David had asked for some at Christmas time and I finally found some, 5 months later.

“I was born modest, but it didn’t last.”  Mark Twain

church, salvage, my sweater, more fiestaware, art journals

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Parker the dog woofed and woofed to let us know that our annual visit from the mallard ducks happened this morning.  I opened the door to admire the ducks floating gracefully on the pond.  He was still barking at the waters edge and I understood what he was trying to say so I called down, “I SEE THEM, Parker, THANK YOU!!”   Caleb, coughing at the end of the couch, also understood, “It’s a sign of spring.” The ground is covered in snow and the pond has a thin sheet of ice over half of it but this faithful visit from our old friends cheered our hearts.  It’s currently 31 degrees.  I will be leaving in about an hour to go pick up Caleb’s school work so he can do it this weekend and not get too far behind.  Thankfully, he is feeling much better.

As promised, this is a photo- blog- journal report on SUNDAY the 18th of March.  Grace and I had slept together in a hotel the night before and Joanna picked us up for church at 9:45. At church, we enjoyed singing hymns, listening to Scripture, and hearing a sermon before heading out for lunch at a popular diner.  Joanna treated us to a very filling meal and we sat by a big window, talking and laughing as we ate.

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Grace had a steak.  Joanna and I both had huge de-constructed gyro salads. (SO good)  (could not finish)

With very full tummies we headed out for a few hours of shopping.

olde good things

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Olde Good Things was a huge warehouse full of architectural salvage.  We walked through the door and immediately became inspired by the smells of dust, old wood, paint, rust, and metal, and invigorated by the cold temperatures of the warehouse.  The building was stacked floor to ceiling with everything imaginable coming out of old hotels, buildings, churches, and museums of the past.

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There was even a horse hanging from the ceiling.

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We explored to our hearts content.

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And as typical of her, Grace climbed into every upper level, no matter if the floors were uneven and stairs steep and deadly.  I kept expecting her to fall or have things fall on her.    18 years old and she still awakens the “I must keep my child alive” nervousness in me.  She has always loved climbing, so much so that one of her childhood nicknames (which she hated) was “Grace Goat”.

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Some of Olde Good Things’ salvage jobs have been The Plaza Hotel in NYC, the JFK International airport, and Rialto Theatre, Times Square NYC.  Check their website for all the interesting details.  Joanna has been following them and visiting their warehouse for years.  I was once again impressed by her design sense, she has great instincts and ideas.

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a feast for the eyes

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We were upstairs in a “door section” (the stuff was all very informally organized) I arranged Grace (in my favorite sweater) in front of a white wooden door, I imagine it must have been a back kitchen door as someone resourcefully covered it in blue linoleum.

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This upstairs floor was loose sections of open iron grating, giving us a strange feeling of fear, we were up so high but knew we were safe enough because after all there were thousands of doors, wooden pillars and posts, and so on.  But then to see, instead of “safe” steps, an unsecured little ladder leading up to yet another level and the words BE CAREFUL WATCH OUT. . . . .it was amazing.

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Everything about this place was inspiring to all three of us.

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a treasure trove of old metal

***

NEXT STOP WAS

on and on vintage, antiques, repurposed, handmade marketplace

in Scranton, PA.

This place was wonderful, not just because of the stuff they sold, but because the owners were so warm and cheerful and obviously liked each other, their shop, and their customers.  They were due to close in five minutes but happily stayed open for us. (!)

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Right away Joanna asked if they had fiestaware and the lady led us straight to a few displays.  I wanted the vintage green covered casserole quite badly but sadly there was a big chip on the lid.  It was 25 dollars.  I did find two place-setting bowls in retired colors, Seamist and Chartreuse, still shiny and perfect.

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We wondered why These Happy Golden Years wasn’t in the box.  Laura Ingalls Wilder fans for life!

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The combination of the chair and the quilt stopped Joanna in her tracks.

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Lastly, Joanna took us to two local Indian grocery stores where we had a great time buying some snacks, drinks, and treats to take home with us.

We went back to Joanna’s house feeling full in every way; physically, mentally, and spiritually. . . . .

We had just an hour or so to do the one remaining thing on Joanna’s list of things she wanted to do with me during our visit.  

art journals

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She set to work painting pages in my book while I looked through her art book, and Chloe’s, too.  Grace did her homework across the table.  Steve and the older boys were in the living room and the littles came in and out to see what we were doing.  It was cozy with beautiful music that Joanna turned on for us, filling the air with hymns and praise songs. . . .

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She was on her mom’s shoulder like this for a long time. . . .so dear.

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Joanna’s art supplies purchase recommendations for the next time I go to AC Moore.

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Behind me was the wall she started recently for the little ones. . .tiny art in tiny frames, carefully arranged way down low, eye level for toddlers.  Just right for the small ones in the family.   Mini-art gallery perfection.

Grace and I had to leave at 7:ish so that we could get her things from the hotel and take her back to college before 8.  I took her to the grocery store quickly for some healthy snacks and drinks and some cash so that her Grandma and I could have peace of mind that she had everything she needed.  I took her to school and helped her get her things back into her dorm room, taking away her Christmas tree.  We hugged outside the building in the dark and even after all day of me saying “don’t forget you have to change out of my sweater before I drop you off” she somehow still got away with it.  In leaving my beloved, I forgot my sweater.  We had a good laugh about that the next day.

Thank you again for a great weekend, Joanna!  I was touched by the time and thoughtfulness you put into making plans for us.  It was truly appreciated way down deep.

And God bless you, Grace, as you finish up your first year of college.

 

 

 

 

 

drink them in

“The kitchen door opened.  Marilla looked up expecting to see Mrs. Lynde.  Anne stood before her, tall and starry-eyed, with her hands full of Mayflowers and violets.

“Anne Shirley!” exclaimed Marilla.  For once in her life she was surprised out of her reserve, she caught her girl in her arms and crushed her and her flowers against her heart, kissing the bright hair and sweet face warmly.  ‘I never looked for you till tomorrow night.  How did you get from Carmody?’

“‘Walked, dearest of Marillas.  Haven’t I done it a score of times in the Queen’s days? The mailman is to bring my trunk tomorrow; I just got homesick all at once, and came a day earlier.  And oh!  I’ve had such a lovely walk in the May twilight; I stopped by the barrens and picked these Mayflowers; I came through Violet-Vaile; it’s just a bowlful of violets now–the dear, sky-tinted things . Smell them, Marilla–drink them in.”

Marilla sniffed obligingly, but she was more interested in Anne than in drinking violets.

“Sit down child.  You must be real tired.  I’m going to get you some supper.”

“There’s a darling moonrise behind the hills tonight, Marilla, and oh, how the frogs sang me home from Carmody!  I do love the music of the frogs.  It seems bound up with all my happiest recollections of old spring evenings.  And it always reminds me of the night I came here first.  Do you remember it, Marilla?”

“Well, yes” said Marilla with emphasis.  “I’m not likely to forget it ever.”

“They used to sing so madly in the marsh and brook that year  I would listen to them at my window in the dusk, and wonder how they could seem so glad and sad at the same time.  Oh, but it’s good to be home again!  Redmond was splendid and Bolingbroke delightful–but Green Gables is HOME.”

~Spring and Anne Return to Green Gables, Anne of the Island

Grace drove us to Logee’s greenhouse last week.  It was a 52 minute drive and when we were almost there she finally asked, “WHERE is this place?”  I hadn’t told her how long she would be driving just to see if she would ever mention it.  We had a nice laugh and five minutes later hopped out of the parked car in anticipation.  I asked the woman at the counter if I could take photos and she said, “Of course!”

As I looked through the many photos this morning, after a weekend of taking Grace back to college, the old Anne quote came to my mind.  Like Anne, Grace is our own dear college girl now, and it was a deep down joy to have her home for spring break.  However, we did not experience the music of the frogs, only the falling of more and more snowflakes, and a charming “Froggy” begonia which you will see in the midst of the following pictures.

Drink them in:

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mature citrus trees in the green house

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triggering the fly traps. . . .

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I love the look of rusty iron, cool green pot, and green plants everywhere….

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another carnivorous plant

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mossy terra cotta 

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narrowest of stone paths

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curls

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Here it is!  I took a baby “Froggy” begonia home with us.  I’ll share a piece with you eventually, mom, and anyone else who would like one.

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up above our heads

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….and down beneath the grates. . .plants plants everywhere.

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the gardenias smelled divine

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joyfully admiring an unexpected plant growing from a coconut shell

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leaves that look like flowers or flowers that look like leaves?

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they also smelled divine; grapefruits growing 

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blossom with fruit

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“Mom, this looks like the tree on Horton Hears a Who!”  link here

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We took home a Kumquat plant.

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one of those photos I could look at all day…….

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charming

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cascade of blooms

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truly stuffed with plants and a maze of narrow walkways

Grace said, “I didn’t know how much I needed this.”

and “I want to bring all the people I know here.”

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“I see you”

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Grace came up close to me and brushed pollen off my nose.

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oh this mossy pot

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bringing to mind the lanterns on Tangled

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we smiled at each other over a cute couple, also wandering around, admiring the plants.  what a fabulous date idea!

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holding my begonia, with my camera

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Time flies in a green house, we didn’t want to leave, but Grace had other plans for the afternoon so we reluctantly said good-bye ….

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…bringing home 8 new house plant babies to nurture and fuss over.

 

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”  ~Frances Hodgson Burnett