wall of children

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

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

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

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

God is so good to us.

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THE SONS

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

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

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

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

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

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AND THE DAUGHTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I find myself staring at their faces quite often.  🙂

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

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

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

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

BE BLESSED TODAY, FRIENDS
YOU ARE LOVED.

 

 

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

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friday

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

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

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

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The dorm has a great view of the sports fields.

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

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

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

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

We arrived home and that was the end of Friday.

Saturday…..

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

I took a photo of a pretty mushroom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Someone was happy to have his boy back.

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

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

sunday

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A happy Sarah cheerleader!

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

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

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

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

this very morning;

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

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

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21st birthday

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I took this five minutes after I said to my children, “I wish a cardinal would come to the feeder.”  (we hadn’t seen one all winter)

It was such a vivid reminder of what prayer is.

It’s about Father-God hearing our honest hearts, and isn’t it true that so often what we think are “not prayers” really ARE prayers because HE KNOWS and understands us better than we know ourselves.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words……..Romans 8:26

When I said that I wished a cardinal would come I didn’t realize at the time that what I was doing was praying a very basic and child-like prayer to a personal God who cares about everything big and small.

This is why I do not worry about the eloquence or religiousness of my prayer life.  I am His, so I cannot help but pray on purpose and quite unaware at times, too.

Maybe everything we say and think and feel is a prayer and the answers are all around us.

“To the poet,
to the philosopher,
to the saint,
all things are friendly and sacred,
all events profitable,
all days holy,
all men divine.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Dear Jacob turned 21 on the 31st of December.  Like he does every year, he once again invited a group of his nearest and dearest for an all day and all night gathering here at home.  They played lots of games, visited, talked, ate good food, had a secret santa gift exchange, and so on.

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Jacob and Brittnee

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Ethan and his girlfriend Tessa.

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Michael after saying something sexist just to get a rise out of us ladies.

He is lucky he wasn’t told to leave and never come back.  😉

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volleyball in the house is never a good idea

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sweet Sarah watching a tv show

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please Dave, please let me take a photo of your face

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thank you????????????

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Found Seth with the whole bowl of fruit with an expectant dog waiting but being ignored..

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such dear faces, each one

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singing the song

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making a wish

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blowing out 21 candles

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now time for the epic nerf battle (annual event)

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Caleb and Ethan

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He didn’t know his sister was just around the corner……

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Jake and Zak

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

other sights around here lately:

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Sarah’s safari watering-hole playset was a big hit for Christmas.  She can spend an hour or more at a time, making up little stories with her animals.

sunbeams

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watching our son wrestle with the magic of live-streaming online video

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Another Christmas present that Sarah LOVES is a fairy garden set.  It came with everything she needed, including soil and seeds, to grow a little garden.  The seeds have already sprouted and because she learned about growing seeds at school, she insisted we use a growing light, too, which turns everything underneath it one of her favorite colors. She checks on her seedlings constantly and even said good night to them (while giving me a mini-lecture complete with wide eyes and hand motions on what TRANSPLANTING means) last night before bed.

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Happy Tuesday, dear friends.  You are loved.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K Chesterton

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efforts on the last day of summer

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“….a little boy grows up so fast….”

I was secretly calling Saturday the last day of summer because it was our oldest son’s last day at home before leaving for college the next morning.  So I made the effort to take some photos of the ordinary family living that I hold so dear to my heart, knowing deep down that while life will go on just as beautiful and ordinary as ever, parts of it were ending and beginning anew in other parts of the world…….not too far, thankfully.  Jacob and Ethan will be at college together in Vermont this year (3 hours away), and our sweet Grace will be in Pennslyvania (about five hours distance).  As the children grow up, things within the home change, but the bond we have stays true, and the love we share will never die, and indeed, my deepest desire and hope is that it will continue to grow up and out as our family grows up and and out.

So these efforts were made by me in the realm of photography, and the only other effort I made personally was to be “hands off” on the day and let it be as normal as possible, because I have finally learned that while deep in my soul I am in a type of motherly mourning for the fleetness of the years, no one else in the family necessarily needs to know.  🙂

So what did we do?  Jacob headed for work, sicker than a dog, and Rich left for the chiropractor’s with Ethan (they are both getting work done on their backs) and Caleb (who needed a hair cut after the doctor’s appointment).

DSC_1346Confession:  somehow, even though I was truly trying,  I just realized this morning that I took not one single photo of Grace, so I am inserting this one from last weekend, when I caught the sisters sharing a moment over pancakes.  In reality, Grace was so busy on Saturday….she had driver’s practice in the morning, and then worked all afternoon until 7pm….that I somehow didn’t take any pictures of her.

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The brightest red wildflower is in bloom down by the banks of our stream.  It’s like a jungle down there so I can’t get as close as I’d like……

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I watched busy buzzing bees collect pollen all over the wild and tall Joe Pye Weed and then, saw the most beautiful dragonfly I’d ever seen…..

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RED!  DARK RED!

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with shimmering wings!  I admired it until it flitted away.

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Next to the garage we have a tiny wild pond where bullfrogs hang out all day.  I enjoy sneaking  around to spy on them and they always freeze like this and stare at me.  I want to sit down there sometime and see what they REALLY do……

And then, the guys finally got home and went to work on Rich’s car.  Yep, that was the real theme of the weekend;  “Put The Motor In”.

Rich has been itching to do it all winter long and had big boxes in the house which were all delivered and saved carefully for The Day.

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Nice haircut, Caleb.

Now get to work!

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Nothing makes Rich more annoyed than not being able to find his tools because the children have been running off with them and not returning them to the proper place.  Nothing that is, except maybe water running through the ceiling because Seth didn’t have the shower curtain in the bathtub and was getting water everywhere on the floor upstairs…..ask me how I know this…..so the first thing they did was find Dad’s tools, while Rich and Ethan organized and Sarah cleaned.

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The car is under the tarp.  Waiting for it’s motor.

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I’m pretty sure this is it.  🙂

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Sarah was very conscientious about sweeping the floor.

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Seth wasn’t as conscientious about finding Dad’s tools.

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David

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Oh and Jacob was able to get out of work a little early and he went straight to bed, spending his last day at home SICK and asleep.

(I think it’s amusing that the dog is in a lot of these photos being ignored.  But he gets his revenge later.)

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Bringing the boxes out of the house (finally!) and into the garage.

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Finally they were ready and the younger boys snuck away.  David was called for duty now and then, but Ethan was the main helper of the entire day all the way up until it was too late to visit Tessa and he was secretly annoyed.

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I mean, as his mother, I could sort of tell.  But Rich, as his father, certainly didn’t care.  He needed his son and Ethan has vacation days coming up this week to visit his girlfriend.  (It reminded me of when Rich and I were dating all those summers ago and he had to bale hay all weekend for his dad while I was left to my own amusement at home…..so I took pity while Rich just felt like it was the only natural thing to do; helping Dad…there’s no way out of it, not even girlfriends.)

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The younger boys hung out on the patio between the house and the garage.

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And I found Sarah had vanished to her room to play the DS.  So I sent her right back outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

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They made a cake.

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Eventually, hours and hours later, I picked the camera back up to take a picture of CHICKEN that I grilled myself……

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And this is where the dog got his revenge for being “ignored//neglected” all day.

After we all ate, he stole the leftovers off the kitchen counter, eating the chicken and neatly leaving the sticks on the carpet in the living room.  We all got mad because that was really good chicken and I had made a ton so we could enjoy the leftovers, not feed them to the dog.

We ended our day by watching TV on the couch in the dark, all tired out.

*****

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This is where things get sad you might want to turn away.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to see my son off.  Rich was already awake and in the garage with his car but the rest of the family was asleep as Jacob finished packing his car to leave, although I did hear Seth stir and call out, “Bye, Jay!” from his bed, as he will greatly miss his big brother, too.

I followed him around, back and forth to the car and house, not unlike the dog, silently and with wishful eyes.

We hugged twice.  We held it together.

It was a beautiful morning, with bits of pink in the sky.

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I looked at his dear possessions everywhere in his car, that say “Jacob” to me in so many ways……his collection of hats from working at “LIDS” all summer….his new sneakers that I bought for him during a quick shopping trip we had together last week.

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His music, his new fridge, all his clothes and books (he took a big box of books, which made me smile and touched my heart…I remember when he read them all…and sister Grace struggled with sharing some of them..namely the JRR Tolkien books…), my dear 20 year old son, how thankful I am that I had all of these years with you before you moved on to new adventures taking classes and playing football at college.  I am blessed to call you son and friend.  We’ve had such good times together, haven’t we?  Your downstairs room in the basement is too quiet and still already but we’ll keep it ready for those visits back home!

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“So the life of the true home flows on, sometimes in the bright sunshine, sometimes in the deep shadow; yet whether in the sunshine or in shadow it brings blessing.  It shelters us in the day of storm.  Its friendships remain true and loyal when adversity fails and other friendships are broken.  It lays holy hands of benediction upon our heads as we go out to meet life’s struggles and duties.  Its sacred influences keep us from many a mistake.  Its memories are our richest inheritance.  Its inspirations are the secret strength of our lives in days of toil and care.  Then it teaches us to look toward heaven and the great Home in which all our hearts, hopes, and dreams shall be realized, and where the broken ties of earth shall be reunited.”  JR Miller

 

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thrifting finds

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This picture doesn’t go with the rest of the post but I wanted to slip it in.  I am enjoying the birds every day, and yes we had snow on April fool’s day.   It’s all gone now.

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I drove to Vermont on Friday to get Ethan from college.  He is home for the week.  You may have seen the photo I put on instagram of all seven of the children.  I’m glad the older ones are starting to do their own things but there is nothing like those moments when all the family is together again.  It’s been even busier than ever at my house, hence not as much time to be on the computer.

This morning after getting the kids off to school and cleaning up spilled evaporated milk from all over the fridge, I had to go to the Post Office.  I asked Ethan if he would like to go along with me.  He insisted on waking up Jake and the three of us went.

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We went to the coffee shop first and I read them trivial pursuit questions while we enjoyed lattes and Jacob had a sandwich.  It brought back good memories of homeschooling.  I could sense myself slipping into that “mama teacher” feeling.

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We walked to the Thrift store to see if I could find any treasures.  The boys didn’t just walk, they jumped up on bridges and things……

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They can finally do what they wanted to do when they were five years old *but Mom would stop them so they didn’t kill themselves*.  I kept having flashbacks.  (By the way, Jacob is currently 20 and Ethan is 19).

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BACK HOME after thrifting and mailing books out to my friends…..

…..and here are some photos I took of *some* of my thrifting finds from today.  I was most excited about the framed needlework that I found, which I promptly added to my collection (after hunting house and garage for a nail.)  I used a rock as a hammer.

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The collection is growing slow because I am very particular.  Not only does it have to look right, the price also needs to be right.

If you are observant, you can see the word “mom” written in red by my bedroom door.  What you can’t see is the “X” next to it.  When I asked little Seth why he wrote “X mom” by my door he said, “Because you weren’t in your room.”  Made sense to me!  I can’t tell you how many smiles I have gotten out of that simple red sharpie “X mom” scribble by Seth since he wrote it a few years ago.

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Ceramic Bunnies!!!  They say 1983 on the bottom and the woman’s name, Eve, who painted them.  The lady at the thrift store said ceramics were a trend during that time period and there used to be a ceramics place in town.  Aren’t they so cute and perfect for this time of year?

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I didn’t even look in the book when I chose it, I just saw the words, “Holly Hobbie” and knew it was for me and added it to the books I already had in my hands…….here is a look inside at some of the illustrations;

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I love them all so much.  Holly Hobbie has been a favorite my entire life.  This book was published when I was a year old.  And I also love nursery rhymes.  It will be fun to read this book out loud to Sarah and hopefully even the boys might listen and enjoy.

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Lastly, a couple baseball books for Seth.  I also bought two books for myself.  The bunnies, the needlework, and the books cost me 3 dollars.

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I bought potted hyacinths at Trader Joes last week and they bloomed.  They smell of springtime.

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Still watching the geranium buds…..

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Kitchen window display of things that make me happy.

“I don’t really collect, I’m attracted to certain things, I get them, and they accumulate.”  ~Natalie Gibson

longer story

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The Impact of Food….Or Family?

At my home, our eating habits as a family have changed a bit over the years.  I am the oldest of seven children, and as a result our household is one of constant, noisy hustle and bustle.  My dad is a hard worker, and has worked his way up in the company that he is a part of, therefore we are reasonably well off.  We don’t really have to scrimp and save to get what we need.  However, my parents both come from families that had to live frugally while they were growing up, and so they both have the habit of frugal living etched into their DNA.  The kinds of food that we eat and the close ties that I have with my family help to enrich my experience with food.  It is very safe to say that it is not the food itself that keeps me coming back to certain places and certain dishes, but the strong memories and pleasant experiences that I have had over the same plates and in the same restaurants with my family and friends.

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I was born in upstate New York, the state my parents love, and also a state that is known for it’s cultural foods.  My Dad is a great lover of pasta and pizza, and pizza is a favorite food of my family’s.  One favorite pastime of ours when we go to New York to visit our extended family, is to meet at our favorite pizza restaurant and to catch up on the latest events around a fresh, hot pizza pie.  Thin crust is, of course, the way to go in New York, and it is usually topped with flavorful sauce and heavy mozzarella cheese, with the occasional topping of pepperoni, mushrooms ,bacon, or sausage.  I have countless great memories of the restaurant, which my parents and grandparents have been providing with service since that day that it opened it’s doors.  I have countless pleasant memories with pizza in general.  I have spent some time up at Castleton University, since it is where one of my numerous brothers goes to college.  One of the first things we did together was explore the various places to eat in the area.  To our great delight, we found a wonderful little pizza shop only about 10 minutes away from the college.  As soon as we opened the door, thick, warm, and familiar scents of tomatoes, cheese, and meat flooded our nostrils. Smiles instantly leapt onto our faces as we cheerily said hello to the staff.  It was an environment that made us feel at home, and it was just one more pleasant experience with this wonderful food.

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This brother and I are very close, he is only a year younger than I, and we’ve had our fair share of experiences when it comes to food.  When we were very little, we used to spend a lot of time in our Grandmother’s blueberry patch.  We call it “hers” because it is conveniently right across the road from her house, however it is entirely wild.  My Grandfather painstakingly grooms it.  He is always keeping the grass around the huge blueberry bushes mowed short, and is constantly making new pathways upon which to walk through and around the bushes, and lengthening, widening, and improving existing ones.  The blueberry patch is quite large, and my Grandparents share it with other animals of the forest.  Bears, deer, rabbits, turkeys, foxes, and countless songbirds are all appreciative of my Grandfather’s work at making the blueberries accessible, and they can be found in among the bushes on a daily basis.  My siblings and I have many fond memories of walking through this blueberry patch with our Grandma, oftentimes joined by the occasional Aunt or Uncle.  We would comb through the bushes, looking for the biggest and ripest berries, which we would pluck and place in a bucket to bring home.  Grandma keeps large quantities of berries in her freezer for the off-season, and she uses these to bake into pies, muffins, or pancakes, which she always treats us with whenever we visit.  Her pancake recipe is one that she has perfected, and is one that my Mom uses to this day.

This same Grandmother keeps a large garden, in which she grows corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, radishes, and any other vegetable that she decides to grow on a given year.  My mom has a small garden every year as well, but Grandma’s garden has always been the garden to us.  She is always finding creative ways to cook vegetables from the garden into her home-cookies meals, and she also takes great pride in her pickles, which she makes in batches every year from her cucumbers.  These cucumbers were always a source of pleasure for me as a kid.  I looked forward to being able to pick and eat them whenever went to Grandma’s house.  They are the perfect snack, crisp and crunchy and as fresh as they could possibly be.  Half of the fun was hunting through big, thick, and rough cucumber leaves to find them, and then snapping them off the vine and washing them thoroughly with the garden hose before eating them.  She gets all of her seeds from a local market which is open at certain times of the year and contains all manners of plants and seeds, along with locally produced syrups and honey.  This market is another favorite place to visit for us, and whenever we go to visit my grandparents in the fall we usually make a pit stop there at least once or twice.

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When it comes to cooking, I would like to say that I’m decent, although my cooking skills have never really been put to the test.  I can read a recipe and produce an edible result, but my Mom is the one who does most of the family cooking.  Usually, her meals are pasta-based since these are the meals that my Dad tends to enjoy, in fact, if he ends up cooking for some reason or another, we will most likely end up eating spaghetti (or pizza).  My Mom makes all manners of pasta, from the favorite spaghetti, to lasagna, ziti, or stuffed shells.  When she doesn’t make pasta, she’ll make savory roast beef or sweet and salty pulled pork, or she’ll make various dishes with fish.  She is quite a creative cook and has a whole bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks.  She is always looking for new recipes that the family will like.  My Mom used to be a lot more strict when it came to junk food than she is now.  When I was little we almost never had candy or soda.  Now, although it is still by no means prevalent in the home, it is not sanctioned as heavily as it was back then.  My cooking tends to include lots of pasta as well.  I’ll usually make penne, bow tie pasta, or spaghetti, and serve it with marinara or vodka sauce along with meatballs if I have them.  I also make a splendid teriyaki salmon dish, which is made with maple syrup and teriyaki sauce marinated and baked into it to give it a wonderfully sweet flavor.  I also make salad a lot when I’m with my friends; iceberg lettuce combined with carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cheese, and croutons topped with caesar, ranch, or french dressings.  This is by  no means the healthiest salad in the world, but we consider it a healthier option than fast food at least.

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My brother and I used to be somewhat explorative with our early cooking.  Mom used to let us play around with ingredients and make our own homemade soups.  We would gather our desired ingredients, usually a mix of vegetables like peas, corn, beans, and potatoes, and we would usually use hamburger and beef broth and explore how these ingredients worked with each other to produce unique flavors.  Mom would always be close by and would assist us if she felt like we needed more experienced help.  Once, when Mom was out of the house, my brother and I decided that we would try our hands at baking a cake.  Unfortunately, we had little to no knowledge of baking, and I have since forgotten the exact ingredients that we used.  All I know is that we used far too much cocoa powder, and the result was a disaster of a “cake.”  Mom returned as we were contemplating where we went wrong, and she was extremely amused.  Years of living with many kids have taught her not to be surprised when we do things that she’s not expecting.

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These experiences that I had while growing up have shaped me to be the person that I am. Walking through the garden and the blueberry patch with my Grandparents, creating wonderful failures with my brother, trying different pizzas and pizza shops with my Dad, eating my Mom’s home cooked meals; these are all positive encounters with food that I have had that have moulded my culinary techniques and tendencies.  Our experiences with and around food are some of the strongest ones that we have, and these memories with those that we love are what keeps us connected to the foods that we eat.

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Jacob wrote this yesterday for college composition.

I was making homemade meatballs while he worked.

easy afternoon snack

I remember my mom making these for us when I was a child.

I broke the muffins apart and let Sarah do the rest.

Then, biggest brother came along and added even MORE cheese.

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English muffin pizzas

all you need is English muffins, pizza sauce, cheese, and an oven

to have happy children with full bellies

a good cook knows it’s not what is on the table that’s important,
it’s what is in the chairs.