“time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life”

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It’s a peaceful morning inside and out.  The sky is overcast and a fine, almost imperceptible mist of glittery snow is falling.  Wild birds are busy helping themselves to the feeder on the porch and a cat inside is watching them through the window.  The dog is snoring and twitching next to me.  I’m sitting in the corner of the couch with my laptop, in my pajamas and red robe, warm and cozy under a vintage quilt.  The TV is on for company, but muted.

This week has been week of lots of children and lots of sickness.  I’ve been understandably distracted and haven’t been able to blog much, but my camera has still been busy as I all-the-time see things that I want to remember.  My darlings, my life, my home, my heart.

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I had Sarah on my lap one morning and it felt so good to hold her.  She’s a big girl now, a joy and a blessing to me and everyone else in the family, although her brothers wouldn’t agree at first.

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It was son Seth that was sick the longest.  Last Thursday the school nurse called me to come and get him.  He explained to me that his “legs felt wobbly and he felt tired”.  I’m afraid to say that sometimes my perfect children pretend to be sick in order to be home with their mother, so I didn’t wholeheartedly believe him until we came home and he went to bed and fell sound asleep.  Then I believed.  Seth doesn’t sleep during the day unless he’s sick.

He ended up being sick for six days with a fever.  It wasn’t his stomach although he didn’t have much of an appetite and lost a few pounds.  His main complaint was his head and he woke up every night with feverish nightmares.  Rich was away Saturday night and Seth came to my room so many times that I finally said “Get in bed with me” and when he woke up for real that morning he said, “How did I get here?”

We survived with the help of Jesus, cats, the couch, warm blankets, LOTS of snuggles, Tylenol, water bottles, ginger ale, and Dude Perfect.

He missed wrestling in States, which was disappointing as I’m sure he would have done very well.

Caleb was also sick and also missed States, but he wasn’t as sick and it didn’t him as long to recover.  He missed a couple of days of school and still has a cough, though, while Seth didn’t get any respiratory symptoms.

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He had his arms around me.  How could I ever be sad or lonely with such love in my life?

Even with sickies in the house, everyone has to eat, so I did get a few photos from the kitchen this week as we had Michael here for a few days, and Tommy, a friend from school, who has been staying with us while his mom was in the hospital after back surgery.   Tommy fit right into our family effortlessly and it’s been a joy to have him here and seeing him and the kids get along so well.

ALSO Jacob and Ethan have been home all week from college!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s been wonderful cooking for 10 again.  LOL  But see the photo with Michael?  He made dinner one night and it was great.  Every noodle was consumed by a hungry family.  On another night I roasted three pork tenderloins, made a big pan of homemade scallopped potatoes, and a pot of mixed veggies.  Last night was a big pot of chili and the night before was chicken and rice.  We had homemade brownies with ice cream for dessert.  Lots of chocolate milk in the fridge and egg sandwiches for snacks.

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A favorite moment of the week was on Wednesday when Seth finally made it back to school (in tears) and I sat on the couch with Ethan in a silent room.  No TV, no talking, just sitting together in perfect peace with the dog and a cat and blankets.

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I got up once to make us hot chocolate.  (it’s been so cold outside!)

Wonderful Hot Chocolate

2 T. sugar
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (just realized I forgot to put it in!)
Mix cocoa, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until mixture boils.  Cook and stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in milk until warm but do not boil.  Remove from heat and add vanilla unless you forget like I did which is fine you won’t miss it.

Give a big mug to your son and keep one for yourself and all your exhaustion (from being a mom-nurse) will wash away.

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Their little acts of service melt my heart!!!

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I was frying bacon when I got a hug from behind!!  From a small boy!

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AND THEN JACOB GOT SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He came down the stomach bug and was sick for a few days, sleeping nonstop.  I was thankful to have him home so I could take care of him.  He’s all better now, thankfully.

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busy kitchen, full tummies, full hearts.

They were talking about school and their teachers and laughing.  I sat across the room and listened with a smile.

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Sarah Joy in the morning.  First she came, then the dog, then the cat.

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CAT NIP!!!!!

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Rich called me a cat lady and I was fine with that.  🙂

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A rare photo of Caleb!!  (he doesn’t like me taking his photo, so I always have to ask and get approval)

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Yesterday…….oh how wonderful…..finally got out of the house on a bright sunny day.  The boys and I went to Trader Joes and the mall.  Ethan got some new Converse sneakers and Jacob got a Stephen King book.  We sat for a while drinking our Starbucks.  I looked at magazines while they went on their phones.  Now and then they would show each other things and laugh (which I loved).

My Ethan Gregory.

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I turned around quick to snap a completely unstaged photo, my favorite kinds.  It was wonderful to spend time with my two oldest children who are now 22 and almost-21 (in five days).

PAGES FROM MY LATEST ART/SCRAPBOOK:

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I keep all my stuff out on the little table that I have in the livingroom and I can’t tell you how relaxing it is to sit down and add a few quotes or do some gluing of photos while the children are busy around me or watching a movie.  I have a stack of these “commonplace books” now, with the intention of giving them to my kids and grandkids someday, if they want them.

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Laura Ingalls page

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On the left is wrapping paper from the birthday gifts Joanna gave me, along with printed photos, and on the right is ribbon and the homemade envelope and card my Mom gave me on my birthday.  I treasure everything.

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“….a work of beauty and grace upon the heart of the giver……”

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….ordinary life….

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she was beautiful.

Well, that gets us all caught up here in blog-land.  Today is Friday and I hope that your weekend is full of everything that fills your soul.

You are loved.

 

 

 

lovely things

Jeremiah 32:17   Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rosebuds waxing bloom,
Shadows stealing softly
In a darkened room;
Dragonfiles on rushes,
Stars in dark blue skies;
Hatching, fuzzy birdlets,
Love in sweethearts’ eyes.

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Lovely things are silent…
Rainbows in the sky,
Violets shedding fragrance,
A soft breeze waltzing by;
An apple tree in blossom,
Sunsets all aglow;
Moonlight on the water,
Falling soft white snow.

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Lovely things are silent…
Foam clouds in the sky,
Hummingbirds at flowers,
Butterflies gliding by.
A spider’s dainty spinning,
Wild flowers on a hill.
I bow my head in silence
And in my heart I’m still.
~Betty Fox Solberg

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The cobwebs look blue in this light.  I’m down on my stomach in the woods to take a picture of a mushroom and I ask God to show me one more thing and I turn my head and see another tiny mushroom pushing up the leaves that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was walking…….

I like this feeling of walking without being in a hurry.  The woods around me are so still.  And I’m becoming still as well……..

I stand in one spot and don’t move anything but my eyes.  

Shanda, July 13, 2018 6:26pm

 

outside & inside the house

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Grace and I found a Garden Center yesterday pretty close to home.  It was big, exciting, and bright and full of ladies of all ages filling their carts to the brim with annuals, perennials, potting soil, pots, vegetable plants, fertilizer, tools, and mulch!  I said, “I’m NOT going to get distracted by wanting alllllll the flowers!” and then I admit I did indeed became a tiny bit distracted which made her wander off to some flowering trees over in the quiet back corner while I made up my mind, eventually, to buy two huge RED hanging baskets and two RED watering cans planted with RED geraniums.  They look wonderful against our YELLOW house.  I now have the Memorial day//July 4th bunting up, too.  Home Sweet Humble Home.

Meanwhile, inside the house:

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I also picked up this little cabinet from a (new-to-us) Thrift store.

It has become our Scrap/Art-booking cabinet.

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Grace promptly ran off to find some books to put on top of it.  Mary Oliver poetry, a book I’m reading, a book she JUST finished, and one of her beloved Dictionaries.  (She has a weakness).

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Inside the cabinet there are removable shelves for our books and papers.

My scrapbook is on top, then Grace’s and then Sarah’s.  We each have one.  We glue anything and everything inside of them.  Someday I’ll take a few videos of them to share. Joanna does them with her girls, too, and when we’re together we love to spend time looking through each other’s books.  We also mail each other papers to include in them, too.

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Again at the thrift store, I couldn’t resist this 1070’s child’s tablecloth with Raggedy Ann and Andy on it.  Seeing it made Sarah remember that she had a Raggedy doll (which used to be Grace’s).

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***

Guess what?  My Christmas Cactus is blooming again!  It gives me great joy (rather like a christmas joy!)  Two buds; one small and one just-about-to-open.

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Sherlock sleeps in his favorite bed all day long (he reminds us of a taco in a shell, so his new nickname is Taco-cat which is the same backward and forward, David told me).

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Parker was sleeping so soundly on my bedroom floor that I had to stop and check his breathing.  He’s fine just really tired.

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My current read; Grace and the boys listened to the audiobook when they were still homeschooling years ago and I remember how much they loved it.  I was in the mood to try reading some Newbury Award books that I missed as a child, so I pulled this one off their shelves.  I think of them as I read it.

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I found this one just sitting on the couch.  I’m guessing Grace is reading it because I mentioned that I wanted to go see Laura and Almanzo’s house next summer but that she probably wouldn’t want to go with me because “you never really read the books like I did as a child.” To which she became slightly offended and said yes she did too read them.

This morning Grace couldn’t find packing tape.  I told her where to find it.  She couldn’t find it.  I went to check and found it promptly.  Then she could not find her shoes.  I bent over to look under the coffee table.  “They’re right there under the coffee table.”  “HOW DO YOU DO THAT?”  She was impressed.  “You’re like a MEDAL-DETECTOR of lost things!”

I felt really proud of myself.  Someday when you’re a mom you’ll hone this skill, too, Grace.

HONE:  refine or perfect (something) over a period of time.

..we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good..

DSC_0325“I am anxious, and it soothes me to express myself here. It is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time.” —Mina Murray in her journal

Sunday morning.  I had considered going to my parent’s house for the day as it was only an hour and a half drive from where we were in Pennsylvania.  But I was suffering with a cold and we decided to stay where we were.  Grace showed us a nice coffee shop and the three of us had breakfast together there.

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We spent the rest of the morning at a bookstore and Grace bought a journalling Bible with a beautiful cover and nice wide margins for her thoughts.

She was craving macaroni and cheese for lunch and we went to Ruby Tuesdays.

By this time, Joanna’s family was back from church and she was able to meet us with her daughter.

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I love her.

Joanna took Sarah along home with her.  Grace and I went to the hotel to get her things so she could do homework at Aunt Joanna’s house.  And then we spent the rest of the afternoon until bedtime with them.  It was as cozy as could be with all the family and me and my two girls all together in the cozy kitchen, dining room, and living room.  We had delicious Dominoes pizza for dinner.

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We love to exchange our big journals and look through them as we visit.  Joanna’s journal is big and heavy and full of quotes, pictures, found papers, and art.  Coco stayed by us and was inspired enough to get up and find things to glue into her first journal.

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((red shoe))

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Inspiration, Idea, Execution (the top corner of her journal shows a picture of how she came up with the art on the wall—her own photography))

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(green page)

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(brown)

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(old recipe)

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(photo by Jo)

“Some may say [journal keeping] is a great deal of trouble. But we should not call anything trouble which brings to pass good. I consider that portion of my life which has been spent in keeping journals and writing history to have been very profitably spent. If there was no other motive in view [except] to have the privilege of reading over our journals and for our children to read, it would pay for the time spent in writing it.” —Wilford Woodruff

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“Never forget that writing is as close as we get to keeping a hold on the thousand and one things — childhood, certainties, cities, doubts, dreams, instants, phrases, parents, loves — that go on slipping, like sand, through our fingers.” —Salman Rushdie

friend

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N A T U R E   W A L K; God gave us 60 degree weather and we wore our boots.  We smelled pine needles, picked up birch bark, peered down into deep springtime puddles and streams.  The best part?  Sitting for a while on the same big boulder in the middle of a rushing stream.

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J O U R N A L S; hers is HUGE and full of the best magazine clips, quotes, photos, art, and words.

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A B A N D O N E D   H O U S E   A D V E N T U R E; there is an old house nearby that is empty of people but full of stuff of every kind.  The teenagers came with us and we explored to our hearts content.

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A N T H R O P O L O G I E; one of our mutual favorite stores… and we had the best time looking at everything and getting inspiration from the walls, bedding, clothes, books, stationary, etc.

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B A R N E S and N O B L E; in which we chose a huge stack of books and magazines, & talked, while looking through everything.  We drank a chai latte.

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We found a picture of us as children in a magazine! (dreams)

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P A N E R A   B R E A D; for an early dinner.

And so many other things seen and heart-noticed but unphotographed.

We’ve been friends for over 20 years beginning when we first met at Bible college in upstate New York.  Like with all my soul mates, I remember the exact moment I first saw her.  After college we each got married and started our families while keeping in touch using lovely handwritten snail mail letters (nice and fat) because there were no computers or email back then.  When we did get our first computers we emailed almost daily.  Now and then we would enjoy a nice chat on the phone.

We had visits when we could.  She drove to my mom’s house once when our Grace and Jeff were babies (they are 17 now).  Rich and I stopped at her family’s place on the way to amish country a few times.

EVERY visit was ALWAYS photographed.  Pictures have been a huge part of keeping in touch.  I have a whole album of photos she has sent me through the years.

Now we use FB messenger to text and send (miraculous!) *instant* photos of what we are doing that day…the kids, books we read, food, selfies.  Yes indeedy, it’s such fun.

The snail mail has slowed down but we still spoil each other with a letter now and then, oh and boxes of gifts at christmas and birthdays, too.

She drove to my house on Friday afternoon for a long awaited visit (three years!),  I had already been to the doctors that day and was put on antibiotics for strep but that did not put a damper on our visit which lasted until Sunday morning.

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Joanna has soul depth and wisdom.  She has strength with an endearing touch of vulnerability.  She is a forever friend.

She’s also at the doctor’s today, getting checked for strep throat.

sixty years ago and more

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My mom read the last blog post and said maybe Jean’s recipes were still at the Thrift store so naturally I went down there this morning to see if they were.  I said to myself, “Also, if there are anymore of those scrapbooks I will buy them.”  There were no recipes anywhere and I came away with 20 or so scrapbooks and two books for 3 dollars.  I felt rather like I was getting away with something.  These books are a treasure trove of history.

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I sat on the porch for a long time this morning, quietly turning the pages and only getting through two of them.  They are delightfully engrossing.

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“Afghans watch television at an American exhibit in Kabul.”

Look at their eyes.

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Jean was a teacher.  And as of the scrapbooks that I have, she was not married.  There aren’t any personal things about her in the books but some cards and little notes given to her by friends and/or acquaintances, and a couple small certificates.  There are no personal opinions or notes.  The only key to her personality are the clipping she saved.  Things like politics, weather, historical sights, antique furniture, poems, quotes, comics, bible verses or prayers, and animal photos.  “You can know a lot about a person by the things they collect.”

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“the information that he had been stricken by what is commonly called a stroke was camouflaged in medical double talk.”  

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“Grant us the grace of perspective as we listen to the centuries rather than to the hours.”

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He’s so cute, he’s the same age as my Seth!!!  So adorable.

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“Photographing Animals is a Fascinating Hobby” I can agree to that.

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“The duck has established an imaginary boundary line and every time Frank crosses it, the duck jumps in front of him and quacks loudly until the child turns back.”

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“There is nothing too little for so little a creature as man.  It is by studying little things that we attain the great knowledge of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.”

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“Mrs. John F Kennedy moving from the White House with her two children today.”

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“We are tired of television and of staring stupidly into the screen.”

“We aim to get together and have some fun instead.”

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I stared at the date on the calendar when I came back inside.  To my surprise, it was 2016.

Have you ever had that feeling before?