thanksgiving day, 2018

I’m sitting in a quiet house for the first time in over a week.

I can write again!

Our three older children were back home from college for Thanksgiving break and I’ve been busy, because we were able to host Thanksgiving dinner again this year.  The kids helped in many ways, especially in distracting me from my unfortunate tendency to get anxious over how everything would turn out.  They helped by:  coming down with hives, needing to go to football practices, piling up dirty laundry, putting interesting movies on for me to watch, being funny and entertaining, arguing over the newly arrived Playstation, forcing me to play lots of games of bananagrams, and so on.  The weather was also a factor as it dropped down into the teens for days.  Life is good.

It was son David who had the hives.  I never had a child with hives before.  For no apparent reason his hands and feet would become painful and itchy, break out in spots and a rash between his fingers, and then clear completely, only to return 3 or 4 hours later.  This went on for a solid week.  I put in several calls to the Pediatrician just to give us all peace of mind that he was okay and that he wasn’t contagious for our guests.

He felt fine except for the episodes.   In fact, he felt good enough to find a Sharpie and create Neville Squashbottom:

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That’s Dave crossing his arms in the background and saying, “NOW we can’t eat him for thanksgiving.”  Maybe this was his way of perhaps getting me to NOT make squash, which he doesn’t like?  He created a Thanksgiving Mascot.

Over the next few days I would come across Neville in random places and the children became attached to him.  I just laughed to myself.  Of all things, a squash.

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Thanksgiving morning.  I woke up, Rich made me coffee.  Seth was awake so I put him to work tearing bread into pieces for turkey stuffing.  Sarah had mentioned that she wanted to do it, too, but she was still asleep and I never wake a sleeping child unless absolutely necessary.  Somehow she woke herself up, came slowly downstairs to the kitchen, and sleepily began breaking bread.  After about five slices I noticed her stop to stretch and say to herself, “I’m not even awake yet!”  They filled up the bowl with bread, Squashbottom watching them, while I stood at the stove and sautéed onion and celery (which Jacob helpfully chopped the night before) in plenty of butter.  I poured them into the bread, added plenty of salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and a touch of broth, tossed it together with a wooden spoon, and then stuffed our 24 pound turkey with it.  The smell of thanksgiving morning is my favorite.

Just three short hours later, brother David arrived with my parents.

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And I found Neville on top of the fridge with a mortal stab wound.

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Grace, laughing over the cheese tray.

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Seth and Grandpa saying hello and catching up on each other’s news.

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Sarah, shooting some hoops.  The basketball hoop doesn’t get played with unless it’s on the closet door, right by the kitchen.  These kids just love me way too much.  (by the end of the day, the “by grace alone” plaque had flown off the wall.)

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Rich found me cutting the squash into quarters and took a photo to document his end.

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The ladies; Sharon (Abbie’s church friend), Brittnee (Jacob’s girlfriend,) Amanda, Abbie, Grace, Naomi, my mom, myself, and Sarah.

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Dad and Sarah

Rich was at the sink washing pots and pans, he was my number one kitchen-cleaner-helper this year!!!  As soon as Mom and I threw a dirty dish in the sink, Rich washed it.

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We put all the food on the kitchen island and served the meal buffet-style, after we all stood together and joinded Dad for a heart-felt prayer of gratitude.  We loaded our plates, the adults sat in the livingroom, and the children sat around the table in the dining room.

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My extensive collection of fiestaware was put to grand use.  All three gravy boats, lots of casserole dishes and platters, too!  More than enough plates for everyone!

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A pleasant game of football was on tv-but kept on mute so we could still talk and laugh and hear each other.

After dinner was over we took some time to shoot our annual “Who are the Guests of this Year’s Thanksgiving” portrait, and some other photos, as well.fullsizeoutput_5d17

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Rich and I with our children.

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My sister’s family.

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Amanda with her daughters.

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me with my brother Dave and our sister (our brothers Nate and Isaac couldn’t come this year)

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I love this photo of my mom and dad with their dog Kublai Khan.

Mom likes to pretend she’s jealous of Kublai so this was what happened when my sister said, “Lets put Kublai in the middle!”

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soooooooooooo funny

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Heads togehter, looking at the camera to see how the portraits turned out.

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we played Apples to Apples

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Mom was reading through the family genealogy and we decided that David looks just like one of our ancestors.  Especially with his ears that way.

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Jacob and Brittnee braved the cold for some photos outside.

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Sarah went out to play and was so cold she came back inside again and kept her coat on.  Here she is, enjoying Grandma’s homemade pickles made with her own garden produce.  Mom saved this big jar for our feast and let me keep it, too!  (pickles are gone and the jar is washed and put away).

Our beautiful thanksgiving day was over.  After many hugs, Mom and Dad left with Dave to go back home, and Amanda left with her family, too.  Rich and I relaxed on the couch for the rest of the evening and then we all went to bed except Jacob, Grace, and Brittnee, who went out at midnight to go shopping.

 

 

 

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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common hours

Write it down, when I have perished:
Here is everything I’ve cherished;
That these walls should glow with beauty
Spurred my lagging soul to duty:
That there should be gladness here
Kept me toiling, year by year. . . . .
Everything thought and every act
Were to keep this home intact.
Edgar A. Guest

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Saturday morning I woke up and Rich wasn’t in bed with me anymore, he was out on the couch.  Sometimes if he can’t sleep he will get up and move into the livingroom.  ESPN was on, quietly, and he was sound asleep and looked so peaceful.  I made some coffee and tip toed back to bed.  Shortly thereafter, Seth came in and got into bed with me.  We read stories on my blog for a while and then Sarah came, too.  I love these grateful days of having children small enough to still get into bed with me on a lazy weekend morning. . . . . .

We decided it was a good morning for pancakes.

 

 

Cornmeal pancakes and corned beef hash.  Rich ate the whole pan of hash himself….the kids kept saying, “WHAT IS THAT SMELL?” as it fried.  I haven’t made him hash in years.

Seth had the only complaint, “The pancakes are chewy.”

“Do you mean gritty?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s because they have cornmeal in them.”

I happen to adore cornmeal, and in case you do too, here is the recipe:

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cornmeal

2 cups buttermilk
3 egg yolks
3 T. butter, melted
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 cup blueberries

In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, egg yolks, and butter.  Add the mixture to the dry ingredients.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle and sprinkle with the blueberries.  Cook the pancakes until bubbles firm and start popping.  Turn only once and cook until done.

I used blueberries that I picked myself this fall at my parents’ house.  I had forgotten them in mom’s freezer and she thoughtfully brought them to me in a cooler at Thanksgiving.  I was sparing with them in the pancakes as I am hoping to make my four bags of blueberry treasures last until next fall when I can pick some more.

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Happiness is being able to sit on the couch and take photos through the window of your bird visitors at the feeder.

Also legwarmers.   Leg warmers are happiness.

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The children were ecstatic to see snow coming down and bundled up in their snow boots to go outside.  Sarah danced down the driveway.

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Seth was pensive.

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Rich and David went to get our 2017 Christmas tree.

At first, they sent me this photo:

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But they really came home with a nice large sized tree.

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Thank you, guys!

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I made tacos for lunch.

Rich and I went downstairs to find ornaments.

Later that evening we watched Elf and let the children decorate the tree.  Only three of them decorated this year.  It was amazingly non-chaotic and I must say, lovely.

Rich and I must be getting older because as soon as the Christmas tree was completely done we said to ourselves, “It’s like it never left.”  The time between trees is all too brief now.

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Our three tree trimmers.

Rich hung the lights.  I think I hung up one ornament, my glass camera one.  I still have to hide the pickle (I’ll do it as soon as I’m done blogging). . . .

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Sarah was excited to find her Sarah ornament but was very confused when she found the one that said Isaac.  WHY do we have this one???   “Because he’s my brother and I like to think about him at Christmas!”

Truth be told, at the end of the season when the ornaments all go on sale I buy the ones I can find with our siblings/family names on them.  It’s fun and meaningful to have them hanging on our tree.  Someday Sarah will understand, too.

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The first Christmas card tidings received in the mail this year were from our old neighbors.

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We were trying to get a photo of the children in front of the tree when Parker slinked over and sat in front of them.  One wonders how long he was in the background watching before he became brave enough to join his children.

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My heart missed the older children very much.  I hope they are just about ready to come home and get their photo taken in front of the tree, too.

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He’s so cute.

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Last but not least; Christmas cat.

***

“Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”  Francis P. Church

doxology

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It’s Saturday afternoon.  Joanna and I go back to her house and find her son Eti in the kitchen busy with dinner preparations.  Beebs the baby is playing with the trains I gave him.  Jeff is working on the computer and the girls are playing.  Her husband Steve has taken good care of everyone all day long while we were at church.

There is just enough light left outdoors for some photos.  We want to take pictures of the girls in their matching clothes.

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The children are happy all around us and us two mamas are laughing….we try and try for just the right picture.  And then we hand our cameras to them and let them try.

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I think about 20 years ago when I first met Joanna at Bible college.  I marvel at the longevity of our friendship and all the things that have happened since then; marriages, births, adoption, moves, and all the other events of living both big and small.

The biggest blessing of all to me is the soul and depths of two women sharing with each other what they are learning deep down in their hearts.  Truthfully enjoying motherhood, deeply loving our husbands, joy-aches, sorrow-aches, emergency prayers, understanding, wisdom read, copied, scribbled on slips of paper, sent through the mail, saved, savored, felt, journaled.

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We add the moments of this very afternoon to our collection of friendship memories with the knowledge that life is short, and full of holy experiences.  Our hungry eyes search for them all, each one worth praising God for; the innocence of childhood, the smells of good food in the kitchen, a loving man, adoring happy daughters, steadfast sons, a friendly dog, crunchy leaves underfoot, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness.

******

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

yes

It’s Friday, and I pick up my little travel companion from school early.  She’s so excited that she can’t stop talking.  We are going to see her best friend and her sister.  She’s holding my hand and skipping to the car.  Her joy is contagious.

We stop at Starbucks which is our tradition before every road trip.

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The drive takes us all afternoon.

At one point we go from sun to rain and I see a rainbow in the sky.

I listen to podcasts; she watches Shrek for the 10,000th time.

We stop at TJ Maxx for a curling iron because I forgot mine at home.  We leave with little presents for all five of Joanna’s kids…..and no curling iron.

Eventually we reach our hotel.  It’s getting dark and it’s cold.  But we settle into our room and get back into the car to meet sister Grace and her boyfriend Caleb for dinner at a Greek place just a few minutes away.  We can’t wait to see them.

At the restaurant, we order macaroni and cheese for Sarah, a pork chop dinner for Grace, and gyros for Caleb and me.  The food is delicious and filling and gives us energy.

After we eat, we go next door and visit puppies in a shop.

*****

It’s Saturday and Grace’s 18th birthday.

She has plans for the day with Caleb so I take Sarah to see her best friend and pick up Joanna for a women’s Bible conference.  She’s speaking and I can’t wait to hear her.

We drive to the church early and then sit in the car and talk while I put on make up.

It’s been a year since our last visit but it feels like we were never apart.

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We go into the church and find seats.  The tables are decorated with pretty lanterns and pumpkins and doilies.  There is cold water and coffee or tea to drink and miniature bagels and clementines to snack on.

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While she is away saying hello to some of the other ladies, I take a photo of our Bibles on the table and feel my heart bursting with gratitude for the moment.

The talks with other women are just what we need, the songs we sing help us to praise Him with the center of our being, and we pray together and learn more about Him.

We learn to say “Yes, Lord”;  yes, and amen.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 1:20

I am astounded once again, that He has said Yes to me.

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Joanna and I go into a little classroom after the conference and both of us take photos of an amazing mobile that has caught our attention; it is made out of a tree branch, and used for the church’s preschool ministry.  We both decide we want to make one, too.

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After the conference, we go to the hotel so I can change and then go back to her house to check on the girls.  Grace and Caleb will be joining us for dinner later and we have the whole evening to look forward to.

I just cried a little

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Brother Dave sent me this text last night:   _ _ _ _ _   _ _ _ _ !!!

We texted back and forth, playing “wheel of fortune” style but with only one letter guesses like every hour or so and none from 9pm-7am.  He was very strict.  If I tried to sneak in extra guesses I got a big huge red “X” back.

After all those hours, I finally ended up with this:  happy _a_ _ !!! and then while I was down taking care of the chickens waiting for the time I could guess again, the answer popped right into my head.

So then the mail came and there was a package.  I ran to the house, opened it up and saw a wrapped present, which revealed neatly folded yards of fabric:  one of cherries and one of cats.  Two things I ADORE.

This is from my brother.  He’s turning 40 in a month.   What 40 year old motorcycle riding manly man with a big beard and tattoos does this???  My brother that’s who.

He had driven our mom to the fabric store over the weekend and as she browsed, he selected and bought the fabric for me, took it back home with him, wrapped it in pretty paper, and mailed it.

I’m crying over the thoughtfulness and text him a big thank you.

He writes me back, “It’s the little things that mean the most.”

 

ode to a milestone

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twenty pacifiers

twenty matchbox cars

twenty laps around the house

twenty times watching Busy Town

twenty naps resisted

twenty days of Kindergarten

twenty little green army guys

twenty light sabers

twenty lego sets built

twenty fish in the pond

twenty walks with the dog

twenty books read

twenty trips to the orthodontist

twenty pizzas eaten

twenty pictures drawn (with sharpies)

twenty albums bought for your ipod

twenty acts of kindness

twenty sweet kisses

twenty days of your first job

twenty songs sung

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and only one you.

Happy 20th birthday, Jacob!

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit