weekending

I just got back from Agway.  The kids don’t have school today so I took Sarah with me.  She talked to me in the car, all about her future in which she wants “ten cats, including kittens.”  She’s trying to figure out what sort of job she should get that will allow her to take care of her cats and spend as much time with them as possible.  She dreams of mealtimes when she has them all sitting around the table with her “eating chicken scraps” while she “eats potatoes”.  She showed her love to me by generously telling me “I’ll give YOU a kitten if you want one.”  I told her she should write all of it down and title it “Sarah’s hopes and dreams.”

*****

I wanted to post photos from Saturday and Sunday on here because we had a nice weekend.

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On Saturday Rich was at a wrestling tournament with his team.  I had begged him to take Caleb along, as he sometimes has a struggle with boredom at home with me and his two younger siblings so…….. off he went with his Dad, somewhat reluctantly.  This left me with just Seth and Sarah for the entire day which was lovely.  They were good company for each other and for me.  We went to Barnes and Noble because I had bought Sarah a book as a Valentine’s gift but alas it was a book she already owned.  Thankfully, when we made the return, the one she wanted was at the store, but we had a few nervous minutes while the lady looked in the back for it.  Sarah LOVES the Warrior books by Erin Hunter just like her big sister Grace did at her age.

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I took them to Chick fil a for lunch and snapped this photo because Sarah cutely complained, “The chicken keeps slipping from my grasp” which I thought was an adorable way to explain the situation.  She ended up putting it down in the box it came in and eating it with a fork.

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The rest of the day was spent at home quietly with cats and books.

THEN ON SUNDAY;

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We actually had time to relax in bed that morning for an extra hour or so.  Rich fell back to sleep after taking Seth and Caleb to their coaches house, I looked at magazines and Sarah read her new book.

Then we got ready and went to see Jacob and Ethan wrestle!!  I was so excited to see my two biggest boys.

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Look at them!!!!  They are wonderful.  My heart was happy all day long even though yet again, I was in a wrestling gym.  🙂

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They had the best time together.

David alternated between hanging out with his brothers and his mother.  Sarah was all over the place, coming back to me now and then when she wanted a dollar or two.  She loves buying snacks from the concession table.  I think she bought Doritos, and a piece of pizza for lunch.  Her pizza looked so good that when she was done I had her go get me a piece (BECAUSE David wouldn’t!!  He said if I was a young pretty girl he would get it for me but because I am his mother he felt that I should be getting HIM a piece.  We laughed and laughed).

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I found Sarah sitting in a lounge area reading her book.

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I was up in the stands (bleachers were packed) watching my boy Ethan.

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He won easily.  I was cheering so loudly that Rich told me that at one point Ethan’s coaches stopped watching Ethan wrestle to look around and wonder who was yelling for him.  🙂

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He knew right where I was in the stands and made eye contact with his mom after his win.  So dear.

Later, we were sitting in the extra room where mat #5 was when Seth and Caleb were dropped off by their coach.  They had BOTH qualified for States AND they BOTH won 2nd place!!  It was very special to me because Seth was a little quiet and pensive the night before the meet.  I noticed and told him he didn’t have a thing to worry about and to “just do it for your hometown”.  About an hour later I was tucking him into bed and he told me he would “do it for his mom”.    So when he came in he gave me his medal.  In the photo I actually have Seth’s and Caleb’s medals around my neck but later on I let Sarah have Caleb’s.

Michael and Zach were at the meet, too, so they could see Jacob and Ethan.

The only one missing was our dear Grace.  I missed her so much.

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Sarah frolicking across the mat.  🙂

Jacob wrestling.  He’s so strong.

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So many people I love in one photo……Ethan had just gotten done with a match.  Rich and Jacob were busy discussing some wrestling technique with Caleb, Seth, and Michael looking on.

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Later on when the  meet was over……one last photo of Rich and his five sons, not wanting the day to be over just yet.   After we left them, we took the kids to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and then grocery shopping.

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Yesterday the children played in the newly fallen snow.

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Cats were sleeping everywhere.

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David cleaned his room without anyone telling him to do it, and he printed and taped up all these inspirational quotes above his bed.

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Yesterday I made pancakes, remember?  This morning it was waffles.

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And David got breakfast in bed again,  now with a nice clean bedroom.  I’m still in shock that he cleaned it.

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It’s a beautiful morning and there’s so much to look forward to.

As I type I can hear David playing the piano and the other kids fooling around on my bed.

“What is done in love is done well.”  Vincent Van Gogh

 

 

 

jacob’s 22

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Happy New Year’s Eve!  Most of us are currently in the livingroom because Rich and Ethan are in the mood to watch Mr. Bean videos.  Nothing gets Rich laughing harder.

22 years ago we welcomed our firstborn into the world on this day.  Today is his birthday and it’s fun that it falls on a holiday and he can be home on his special day.  He and Brittnee went downtown to the coffeeshop for a little date, too.  We had pasta for lunch, played Phase 10, and just had a most delicious cake.

But before I share photos from today, I wanted to post a few from the wrestling tournament on Saturday.  Jacob drove me and the kids in my vehicle to the school where Rich and David and the rest of the team were warming up.

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David lost his first two matches and then won his second two.  It was a day of blood, sweat, and tears for him but it ended well.  (In blue singlet on the right).

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Seth and Sarah have spent a lot of their childhood in wrestling gyms and always find a spot to watch (rarely the bleachers next to me).  I keep an eye on them and smile.  Seth helped keep time at one point during the day, and even got to run the score clock once, as well.

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David recovered after a loss next to his sister.

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After a win, and then telling his Dad no way did he have any interested in doing an exhibition match against a 160 pounder.  (Dave was 138 on Saturday).

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After his second win, I took this photo from the bleachers of Dave listening to whatever Jacob was telling him (Ethan and Rich are nearby on the edge of the mat wearing gray long sleeved shirts).  Rich loves it when the boys are home and can help coach.   Jacob thought the shoot David did in this match was the best he ever did and Dave said it was because he “didn’t shoot from the bleachers” meaning he wasn’t too far away for it to be effective this time.

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Sometimes I just sit and take photos of whatever happens in front of me.

We stopped for a nice BBQ lunch on the way home and that was Saturday.

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Then, on Sunday evening Jacob invited friends to the house to begin celebrating his birthday.

Rich took them to Costco to get party food and they came home with shrimp, clams, and salmon, along with chips, dips, crackers, cheese, drinks, and a cake.

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Ethan got to work making coffees with his Christmas espresso maker while Jacob steamed all of the clams.

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Grace cozied up on the couch reading a book.

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And Rich watched the football games.

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Today Jacob turned twenty-two.

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They played games most of the day.  It’s been nice.  Our favorites have been Listography and Phase 10.

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I didn’t have twenty two candles so we put two and then two more.  I love this photo so much.  I was about to take it and Rich went and found the tripod so I could be in it, too.  Real-life romance.

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Grace lit the candles and someone turned off the lights.

We all started singing.

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And then Jacob blew out the candles.

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Seth was being silly.

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Dave went right back downstairs to Skyrim but don’t worry, “I’ll leave the door open so I can still hear you all,” he said.

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The cake was delicious!

jake’s haircut

We convinced our son Jacob to get a haircut.

unkempt:

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kempt:

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much better!

*****

I love you, Jacob, and even though you’re grown up now and gone most of the year at college, I’m glad for the times you’re at home and we can enjoy your company and take care of you in little ways like driving you to Joe’s for a nice haircut.

*****

Don’t worry about anything; instead, PRAY about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.  Then you will experience God’s PEACE, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

*****

 

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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