the babies

There’s a small hole in the kitchen, right in the corner where the dishwasher meets the cupboards.  Our cat Sam hates the other cats in the house and has taken to squeezing herself into that hole, ending up in the cupboard for hours a day.   The hole is too small for the other cats to follow her, so she feels safe.  Seth is home sick, getting over the flu, but wanted a cat so much that he went to pull Sam out of the cupboard, knocking over a bottle of sesame seed oil.  The cap broke on the floorm the bottle spilled, and so…. guess what…………I’ve already cleaned up half a cup of seseme oil off the floor!!!  Not a pleasant smell, either.  Seth was sent back to the couch without the cat.  In order to clean up sesame seed oil you need:  paper towels, Dawn dish soap, hot water, more paper towels, and cleaning spray that smells stronger than the oil.  (I used Mrs. Meyer’s Lilac)

I have to leave in an hour for a doctor’s appointment but am determined to post these photos.

My brother Nate and his family came out to Connecticut this weekend to visit my brother Isaac and his family, and the baby girl cousins were together!



We had a wonderful time sitting around the livingroom visiting each other and admiring the girls.


As soon as I walked in the house and saw them in their matching outfits I laughed.  They were impossibly cute!!!!!


Isaac took all the photos.  Thank you Isaac!


Isn’t it a joy to have a cousin to grow up with?  Cousins are the best.


Seth named this photo “milk and cookies”.  He said Elena was thinking of milk, and Morgan was thinking of cookies.  He asked me which baby I thought was cuter and I said it was impossible to choose and then I asked him which one HE thought was cuter and he thought about it and couldn’t choose, either.



They’re even cute when they cry.


This morning we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful snow.




Happy Monday, friends.

You are loved.


tiny music maker


Lately I’ve been feeling blessed by family in so many ways.

Look who came to visit Aunt Shanda today!


The three of us sisters sat and visited over tea.


And then I took the baby to the piano and showed her the keys and what they did.

She figured it out easily.

It was a beautiful moment, to see these tiny baby hands making baby music.




She absolutely loved it, and so did we, as we watched her delight.

We played a few hymns, including Jesus Loves Me.

Then we took her out to the livingroom and ate cookies (she couldn’t eat one so she had some milk) and then she fell into a sound and happy asleep.  She had an exciting morning.





We also put her hair in a pony tail.

Ah it’s such fun to play with real live baby dolls!

Thanks Amanda and Cassandra and Elena for visiting me today!

isaac and elena

Rich and David have been in Jamaica since Saturday night and won’t be back until this Saturday night and I’m starting to feel withdrawals.  I was in the bathroom this morning after the kids left for school and actually cried about 5 tears down my face when I decided to text Isaac to see what he and Cassandra were doing today.  I ended up going to their house for four hours!  It was warm and cozy.  We visited.  Isaac and I went to Chipotle to get food for lunch and he drove and paid.  We took the food home and ate in the livingroom with sunshine pouring through the windows and the Great British Baking show on in the background.  I held the baby all through her nap.  It was the most relaxed I’ve felt in a long time.  I’m still half asleep, typing this.



so blessed.

a very special September 16th


new mama


first baby!!


My brother Isaac and his wife Cassandra had their baby!!! and invited us over yesterday to meet her.  Rich and I left David in charge of Caleb, Seth, and Sarah at home, and spent about an hour and a half visiting our new little niece.




It was wonderful to hold this beautiful baby girl.  She’s perfect.


Rich had a turn holding her, too.  I think he was surprised that I would share.


Isaac with his baby girl.



I took these portraits after she took a little nap and was relaxed, calm, and content in her Daddy’s arms.  Rich remarked to me after we left how sweet it was to see her obviously know and love her parents.




Welcome to the word, sweet Elena!  You are loved beyond words.



When it was time to leave, we went in the backyard and had Isaac take some photos of us, as it was our 23rd wedding anniversary.

It was a very special September 16th, and one we will always remember because it was the day we met baby Elena.

Praise the LORD!
Oh give thanks to the LORD,
for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Psalm 106:1


recipe = yum yum!!!


A nice whole grain, nutritious, and flavorful salad~

First of all, you need to cook your wheat berries by combining 1 3/4 cups water with 1/2 cup rinsed soft white wheat berries and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a pan.  Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour or until tender.  Drain and set aside to cool.

((I used Bob’s Red Mill wheat berries, and this is the recipe on the back of the bag.))

Wheat Berry and White bean Salad

Salad:  1 cup cooked wheat berries
1 cup cooked white or navy beans (I used one whole 15oz can of white beans)
1/2 cup green onion, chopped (I used regular minced fresh onion)
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1/2 cup tomato, diced (if you’re still trying to use up summer’s bounty, you can increase tomato)

1/2 cup olive oil
2 T. lemon or lime juice
2 T. white wine vinegar
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. honey mustard (I used 1 T. honey plus a half teaspoon of mustard)
2 T. minced shallot (I omitted)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix the vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients with a whisk or blender.  Add the salad ingredients and mix well.  Let chill several hours or overnight.


I’m not the only one who liked it; my sister in law asked for the recipe, & Rich liked it, too.
The four of us went to Sturbridge this afternoon to get coffee and visit the Yankee Candle seconds store.  It’s becoming a yearly trip for us and quite fun.  Fall weather is beginning here in New England, the air is clear and hot during the day,  chilling down at night.  We also visited a few other quaint shops, too.

Now we are home.  Isaac and Cassandra left and Rich and I are reading on the porch.  I’m wearing soft wool socks which feel extra comfy after a day in flip flops, a pair of sweat pants, and a gray shirt.  Hair up in a ponytail/bun.

Caleb is frying hamburgers for himself and the kids– and I can smell them through the open window.  The neighbor boys just left with hamburgers in their hands.

There is a cool breeze and over in another chair is our cat busy giving himself a groom.

Rich is reading a book about Revelation.  Our arms are touching.

I heard an owl hooting!  Every few seconds it does it again, it’s off in the distance in the woods and I wish I could see it.  There are quite a few birds in the garden taking seeds from the hanging sunflowers.  I wish owls liked sunflowers seeds.

I should go get my camera and take pictures of the birds.

Make the salad!




“This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus’ words in John 15:12

We had a house FULL from Friday night to Saturday morning.  We had our own seven, plus seven extra teenagers.  They were staying the night in order to be at the church bright and early.

This is camp week for our teens and Rich is also there as a team leader.

I’m spending the week here at home with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah.  My oldest son, Jacob, is also home because he is now too old for camp.  He’s driving up on Friday to see everyone, though, and keeping himself busy with work, music, friends, and helping his mama at home.

This morning I am taking the kids to the one dollar movie and then to get the boys’ their football cleats because tonight Football practice starts for Caleb and Seth….and I am so glad because they need activity at this point.  No more lazy-daisy summer evenings for them!

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On Saturday morning I drove the campers to the church to get on the bus and then Seth and I went to the bakeshop nearby.  The gardens on the property were stunning!  I wish my front beds looked like this!  Dreams for next year…….


full and luscious flowers beds.


Seth chose a cupcake and we took home a blueberry pie.


For whatever reason, I am determined to keep moving and stay extra busy & active this week while Rich and the kids are away…perhaps to keep those “I’m missing you” feelings at bay?  And to get so tired I have no trouble sleeping in the big bed all alone?  So on Saturday I took the kids on two walks.  It was pretty warm outside so we kept them on the shorter side, but we still saw some pretty sights, the kids climbed big rocks, and the boys found sticks to sword fight with.

Aren’t pond lilies pretty?


That photo which Caleb took that made me realize just how tall and how big my youngest is getting!


When I was a little girl, a happy time for me was going for adventure walks “up to the big rocks” in Grandma and Grandpa’s woods.  We would all go, Grandma, the aunts, mom, and the cousins.  We had the best time exploring the rocks and daring ourselves to jump over the crack between two tall rocks.

The rocks we discovered on Saturday reminded me of those days.  My own children loved the experience just as much as we did years ago.


Soft, dappled sunlight over moss and leaves.


Caleb helped keep Seth from getting lost because our boy Seth runs ahead and OFF the trail just from the joy of being free…….


Sarah Joy took this photo of me….it’s the best, out of focus!


She always has to be holding my hand.  It makes her feel stronger and safer.


This is Seth making a “tough guy” face when I asked to take his picture.  He is nothing but muscle and bone….he’s the one who gets cold first when they go swimming…has boundless energy and his Dad calls him “Scrapper”.   Our very own state wrestling champ!


Yesterday I spent the day with my brother and his wife.  We went out shopping, had drinks from Sonic, bought chocolates, ate donuts, and generally ate more sugar than usual.  Back at home, we played a game, drank coffee, ate pie (!), sandwiches, and watched a movie with the kids.


Before they left we took a couple of photos outside in the sun.



The kids were flopped on the couch, tired out, while I walked down to our stream to see the Cardinal flowers.

They are a yearly event for me (perhaps I’ll start throwing a party) because they are such a GORGEOUS wild flower, as red as can be.


They liked the wetness of the earth by the stream and at this time of year the stream is  low and it is easy to get down the bank and stand on the rocks to take photos.

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The wild day lilies are almost done.


Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod is everywhere.  I like to stop and study them because they are almost always entertaining bugs, which if you stop to see them, can be very interesting indeed.

**Queen Anne’s lace remind me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

Each season, each month of the growing months has its own flower-time.  Starting with the tiny spring flowers up until the sturdy flowers of fall.  I love to welcome them each year and watch them come and go and come again……  year after year.

God’s creation is always exciting, but also solidly dependable, too.


Swallowtail off in the distance, tiptoeing all over this tall, wild  “Joe-Pye weed“.

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My house, my gardens, my rock wall, my ferns = I love it here.  We’ve been at this place for ten years now and my heart is home.  I thank God constantly for our life here.


I don’t care if Anne (of Green Gables) thought zinnias were stiff and horrible….I LOVE THEM!

“Look at that wave of poppies breaking against the garden well, Miss Cornelia.  Susan and I are very proud of our poppies this year, though we hadn’t a single thing to do with them. Walter spilt a packet of seed there by accident in the spring and this is the result.  Every year we have some delightful surprise like that.”
     “I’m partial to poppies,” said Miss Cornelia, “though they don’t last long.”
     “They have only a day to live,’ admitted Anne, “but how imperially, how gorgeous they live it!  Isn’t that better than being a stiff horrible zinnia that lasts practically for ever?  We have no zinnias at Ingleside.  They’re the only flowers we are not friends with.  Susan won’t even speak to them.”  ~Anne of Ingleside, chapter 15

I love them because they last practically forever.  So there, dear Anne.  (I’ll always love you)


Back in the house, I admire my own dear sturdy boy, snuggling with a very loved and spoiled Gentleman Gray kitty.

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So thankful for these children o’ mine.  Can you imagine if we stopped at four?


**Queen Anne’s lace reminds me of Great Grandma’s crocheted doilies.

YOU ARE LOVED, dear friends.
A very happy August 1st to you!

old news

Super bowl sunday was an entire week ago but I must blog about it because it was such a fun day.

First of all, that morning Rich had a wrestling tournament to coach.  He had Seth, Caleb, and David with him.

Second of all, Sarah Joy woke up with the stomach bug.  Horrors.

Third of all, Isaac and Cass wanted to come to church with me which left me in a quandary because I typically don’t leave sick babies home with older siblings.

HOWEVER, she wasn’t sad or overly grumpy so Rich and I decided just this once that she would be fine if I left her home with Grace to take care of.  Mike had spent the night that night with the boys so when I left for church that morning I had Cass in the front with me, then Mike, Ethan, and Isaac in the middle, and Jacob in the back (soon to be joined by Emily, whom we picked up on the way).

We talked and laughed all the half hour way to church.  It was such a joy to me, as I spend most of my time with younger people (four year olds).

After church we went to the Chinese buffet where Isaac ate so much he got the “meat sweats”.  As I predicted, he ruined his appetite for Super Bowl food.  Anyway, it was hilarious and I took this group selfie when we loaded in the car after eating……


When we got home Cass and I started getting things ready for the party.  We made a salad and some hot artichoke cheese dip.


Zak was one of our guests for the day.  He is on the wrestling team and a friend of Ethan, Jacob…..and Parker the dog, too.  🙂


There was nonstop partying going on once everyone arrived.  Another wrestler, Dom, came, and our good friends, the K’s came, too.  Amanda and Jason came with their friend Inna, and their three kids, Abbie, Naomi, and Weston.

I was very distracted but tried taking some pictures of the evening, in the midst of socializing, keeping the kitchen going, and helping Sarah throw up.  (Sarah was quarantined in my room.)  Multitasking!!!


Isaac brought me a Christmas gift from Dave, which was in the blue container seen on the coffee table in the picture.  ^^ It was a bottle of fancy cherry balsamic vinegar.  Thank you, brother!

We piled on the couches, and the guys in the back of it were sitting at the black bookcase behind the couch, on stools.  The game was great….so exciting!


I made Jason very uncomfortable by taking his photo.


Today is actually their six month wedding anniversary!!!!!!!  Let me gush for a moment just because I’m their big sister……Isaac and Cassandra are such a great couple, I get all teary eyed thinking about them.  They are in love like lovers, best friends, AND siblings…they tease, laugh, and snuggle constantly.  Isaac won’t let Cassandra open her own car door.  I mean, they are just the most encouraging people to be around if you have doubts about true love these days.  They have it, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.



Our good friends, Caroline and Chris, are in fact Jacob, Ethan, and Grace’s “second parents”.  🙂  They live just a few miles away from us and have two teen children.  We love this family so much.


I kept trying and trying to take a good picture of Gracie and Abigail and finally settled on this one.


Weston ADORES his big cousin Jake.  He was so thrilled to sit next to him for a picture.  As you can see, he also respects him highly, too.  😉


Rich and Jason, (my husband and my sister’s husband)….these are all around GREAT men in the workplace, family, and community.  So thankful.


We had so much food it was ridiculous.  I only took one picture of it and here it is.  THE CRACK.  It’s funny because Isaac and Cassandra make this as their specialty.  It’s graham crackers with butter and chocolate and I don’t know what else….we call it crack.  It was pretty much the hit dish of the night, along with Caroline’s meatballs.


Those two lovely ladies were adorable all night long.  Love them.  They helped out so much, too, making veggies and dip and bringing lots of food, and sangria, for the party.



We kinda want to have a Super bowl party every weekend!  Love you guys!

a beautiful day, part 3

“My love is deep,
the more I give to thee,
The more I have, both are infinite.”
William Shakespeare

Isaac and Cassandra’s reception was held up on the hill at our parent’s house, across the road at the blueberry patch. A white tent was set up with decorated tables and we had a delicious chicken dinner, served buffet style. Cousin Erika made the wedding cake, and my cousins gave me their extra frosting. In the midst of food and fun, we took many family photos to document the occasion. The sun was shining and it was a warm, bright afternoon. The happy couple drove off in their blue mustang with waves, smiles, and blessings, at the end of a beautiful day.

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a beautiful day, part 2


Such is Isaac’s lot in life, to be the “baby” of our family….I am sure that for him it is sometimes the cause of frustration, to more than likely be treated always as “the younger one”.  But, for the rest of the family, having a baby such as Isaac to enjoy and be proud of has been a source of joy and gladness.  I was almost 12 when he was born, and oh how big sister doted on her baby brother.  I had begged mom to “have another baby!” and the Lord had answered the desire of my young heart.  I have three other younger siblings, but they arrived during my even-younger years, so that there is a hazy mist covering over much of those memories.  But with Isaac, I can remember clearly many parts of his babyhood, and childhood.

All this to say, as his big sister, I delighted in his wedding.  I felt proud and cheerful, as I witnessed his joy in his beloved bride, Cassandra.  The two of them are a lovely couple.  She looks at him, and he looks at her, with love, friendship, and peace.  As they are both Christians, their relationship is full of the Holy Spirit, and His fruit.  I was talking to a friend at church the day after the wedding and he spoke from his heart when he said he looks forward to seeing great things from Isaac and Cassandra’s marriage.  Not that they are any more special than any other Christian couple, but it is what Christ himself does for all relationships in this world that makes life, and living in Him, and because of Him, beautiful.  To follow His ways, the Scriptures, and to let those truths grow in us, is the way to LIFE abundant.


My dear friend Joanna was the master of this woodland photo shoot, her pictures will be the perfect ones, I almost feel guilty in sharing my own because they are a poor reflection of the magic she can do with her camera.  If and when she posts her final product online, I will be sure to share the link, or to share them here, with her permission, on my blog.  I think she was up on a ladder during this portion of the shoot.  I was holding it with one hand, and my camera in the other.  We opened the shoot with a prayer of God’s blessing on these images, that Isaac and Cassandra would look back on this day and see in the pictures exactly what they were feeling in their hearts.












Even though Joanna and I kept our camera’s eye on them the entire time, and we four all had fun together, the two of them truly had eyes only for each other, which I noticed and found so dear.  They talked to each other, but it was mostly Isaac keeping up the banter, helping his Cassandra to feel relaxed, with an honest smile on her face (it can be awkward to keep smiling for pictures!)

Which is why I especially love this next picture, because they are in their own little world…….talking a little bit, leaning in close, and she looks a little puzzled, all in good fun.


Then, to face the camera with their smiles::



“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  We know that we live in him and he in us, because of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 11-19

Looking at these photos, and meditating on love this morning, has refreshed my heart to do good for my own family.  I hope and pray that my friends who visit this blog here today will also feel those same emotions, and make this day a beautiful one for the ones you love.  Light the candles, cook the food, share a hug, snuggle up to a child, read good books, enjoy God’s creation…..a phone call, an email, ANYTHING to show that particular loved one that YOU CARE, can be done at anytime, and the amazing part is, it does good for your own soul, as well.  “It is more blessed TO GIVE…….”

This world can truly be a lonely land, and one good word, or even a smile, is sometimes all it takes to put an extra bounce in someone’s step.   To be an encourager is to spread God’s love in this dark place……….




a beautiful day, part 1


The bride and groom—
May their joys be as bright as the morning,
and their sorrows but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
A Book of Toasts, 1902


It’s almost 7:30 in the morning.  I am sitting cross legged on my bed in my pajamas, hoping to get this blog done before the majority of my children are awake.  A cartoon is playing on the TV for the first one up (Caleb), and the dog is lying on the floor by my bed, happy that his family is back home from a weekend away in NY.  A mug of hot coffee is on the bedside table, sun is streaming through the windows.  It will be a beautiful day.

Rich and I packed the children into the vehicle Friday afternoon and headed back home for the happiest of occasions.  My youngest brother Isaac was getting married to a lovely woman, someone that he grew up with in the church, and fell in love with over these last few golden years.  The two of them are the pride and joy of their parents, family, and friends and are richly blessed with many prayers and good wishes at this beginning of a new life as man and wife.

The wedding was at 1 pm on Saturday.  Rich and I slept until about 8:30 and then woke the children up for breakfast at the hotel.   Thus began several hours of ironing, fixing hair, getting small children properly dressed, hearing complaints about new shoes hurting, fingers getting pinched, getting ourselves put together, and so on.  It was a pretty amazing morning of chaos for my family of nine, in two rooms at the hotel, with a connecting door.  At one point I saw Grace in front of the mirror with David holding up her braids so she could put in the bobby pins.

However, after a stop to buy socks for Ethan and a new memory card for the camera, we made it to the church an entire HOUR early.  The first person we saw was Pastor Chris, Cassandra’s Dad.  He was buzzing about, getting ready to put the tux on……we chatted, and I asked him where Isaac was…..and this is where the day began for me as “sister of the groom photographer”…

Dear Isaac was sitting at a table with his groomsmen and my Dad, already dressed and waiting for the ceremony.  I hugged them all, and we visited for a little while, happy to help them get through some of the anxious time of waiting.   Rich eventually left with the children and I stayed behind for a few minutes to pin the boutonnieres on my Dad and brothers…….I took a few pictures and then left to go upstairs and watch people arrive.




My sister Amanda arrived with Abbie, Naomi, and Weston.  Her husband Jason was in the wedding.


My handsome brother Nathan was also in the wedding.   He and his wife Melissa have two children; Gregory and Makayla.

After saying hello, I went inside the sanctuary to sit with my family.  Rich and the children were in the row behind me.


Growing up in church means forming close relationships with people; everywhere I turned I saw people we love……


My handsome boys.


Aunt Mary, Elisha, Megan.

It’s funny how little things can make you cry on wedding days….one of these moments for me came when Mom was walked down the aisle by my brother Nathan.  As soon as she was seated, she asked Amanda and I where her sisters were.  Grandma and Grandpa are gone now, and her sisters are her closest and dearest family from childhood…..she needed to know they were there and I thought it was so sweet.


We noticed Dave peeking through the side door, getting an idea of how full the church was….


My mother, looking on at her beloved husband, sons, and son in law….as we wait for the bride to appear!


Mother of the bride…..and one of the bridesmaids….looking back at Cassandra.


Cassandra’s two sisters are on the right.

Here comes the bride!



As Pastor Chris was giving his daughter to be married, Dad opened up the ceremony with words, Scripture, and prayer.


In the very small town in which this wedding took place, just at this moment, a string of loud motorcycles zoomed by.


And then, Pastor Chris opened the wedding with the words of the Princess Bride “marriage” scene, complete with “the funny voice”.


Every wedding ceremony should contain laughter……..


and a sentimental tear or two.


It was fun to sit behind my parents and imagine their thoughts and feelings as they watched their youngest get married.  How they prayed for this happy day!


The ring ceremony.


The kiss, THE KISS of kisses~  to seal the vows as husband and wife~


Prayer with the parents~




And then, we moved outside for the receiving line.


Isaac and Jacob




Gracie and her new Aunt Cassandra (notice Isaac touching his ring=so precious)


With the receiving line behind them, (cool) Nate and Jason posed for my camera.

I love how in the background Dawn is taking a picture of the sisters.

And Dave is peeking at me, too.  🙂


My husband Rich, talking to old beloved friends.  Rich and I were married in this same church, 19 years ago…and these friends were at our wedding, too.


This is the last picture I took at the church before heading up to the hill with Joanna to take pictures of Isaac and Cassandra in the woods.

Perhaps one day these two little girls will be beautiful brides.  Stay tuned!

TOMORROW I will post the Wedding Forest Pictures.



“Who, being loved, is poor?”  Oscar Wilde

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.”  Robert Browning


Have a delightful day, my friends!  Remember that God loves you so very much and has poured out His abundant blessings.  If we but open our eyes to them we will be overwhelmed by his goodness.  My heart gives thankful praise.

((You are loved.))