all sorts

I probably shouldn’t use the word “crap” to describe this photo because the other day we were standing in a little cafe and Sarah said, “I don’t know what to order, everything here is crap” (She said this because all she could see were sweets and pastries and nothing healthy. if it’s not healthy it’s crap, apparently).

Hello and good day to you my bloggy friends! I’m awake but very tired after a restless night. It was one of those nights when Rich and I unwisely plunged into a heavy discussion right as we got into bed and then hours later in the night, Seth woke us up with a headache and stomach ache. Rich is working from our island home from here on out (for the rest of our stay) so he was up very early with the birds this morning and then just as I was falling back to sleep after that, Seth came in my room. I might fall asleep as I type.

Rich is right next to me typing on his laptop and Grace is across the table on Pinterest. The therapy of Pinterest, I should say, as she is adding to our mutual private board entitled “I am Independent” which is for us as we are both nurturing types that tend to forget ourselves as we love everyone else, and have a hard time putting up bounderies when being sucked dry in unhealthy relationships. (hows that for a mouthful?) Easier said than done, because we are both loyal to a fault, as well. To all the independent women out there reading this, we want to be like you.

We took the children to DQ the other day. To save money since there were ten of us in all, I said, “Eat a sandwich at home first and we will go just for ice cream.” Still, we overtaxed the workers. The cashier laughed as she gave the order to the ice cream makers. “That’s a lot,” she explained.

They almost got our order correct. And it was super fun. My peanut butter sundae was divine.

We were walking home from the pool.

Home Sweet Home

Naturally, we brought some of the vast fiestaware collection from CT to GA.

This area gets the most use BY FAR. We have another living room upstairs but the TV is downstairs so we are always on top of each other here, it’s fun and heart-healthy to have the family pile-ups. We still need curtains for these windows.

The giant shell decoration on the stand is where we all put the shells and things we collect. The door to the right is the girls’ room.

I just love it here.

This is the back of our home. We own half this building. Our building-neighbors are named Cindy and Clay and we have all met them, they are very nice. The place is well- built and solid, and they assure me that they hear nothing from our side. They gave us a lovely card and a Target gift card when we moved in. They told Grace about an app she could put on her phone which tells you the names of the boats outside on the ocean.

In the photo you can see David upstairs on the porch and Jacob on the lawn below. David and Grace like to be on the upstairs porch and tend to listen to music, play the guitar, talk, read, or chat with their significant others on the ipad/iphone together. They are good friends.

a new friend

Ethan with his beach hair. Rich and I took him out for an ice cream one evening.

a good book

We took Jacob, Brittnee, and Ethan out for seafood the day they had to leave.

We are all such good pals.

Faith Chapel on the Island

I’m getting overwhelmed with blogging all these photos. But it must be done. ūüôā

beautiful; it was the condensation on the windows that struck me…

Ethan took this one.

Jacob took this one.

While we were biking Rich stopped to read this little plaque tucked up on a tree branch.

“Kahlua

This area was a favorite of an amazing little dog. May you experience an unconditional love while here.

I’ll love you forever, Baby Girl”

Lunch at The Pantry over at the Jekyll Island Club.

Photography by Seth

my friend

I loved these jars (in The Pantry) I’ll be keeping an eye out for them while browsing antique stores in the area.

back at home…….our Jekyll home…..I miss my cats so I started a little cat knick-knack collection. The tails get me. The set of four (a litter) on the right have real bells upon their necks. And silly faces.

whimsical turtles (the red shell opens up!) I want to hide notes in there. Today I will. It will say “Happy Birthday Caleb” on it……I wonder if anyone will find it?

Naturally, Jacob being a friend to all and an extrovert, we had our first company while he was with us; his friend Alec from work in CT who now lives in FL along with his girlfriend Alex. I took this photo as they were coming back from the pool.

Everyone needs a Life Is Good shirt!!!! My biggest and my littlest (sons).

Life is Good shirt for G

Its the arm that gets me, and those faces, and they way they were talking to each other in the long long line for BBQ.

my heart!

Grace is DREAM of a daughter. We get along so well, we are so alike and I marvel at her.

the best……….loved my chopped beef brisket drenched in the sauce with a side of collard greens.

When you’re feeling kinda sad that afternoon and reading a book quietly and he reaches over and puts his hand on the hurt spot without saying a word …..and you feel the love, the healing love, in just the time you needed it.

This is my healing place. We all have them.

I think it’s brave

i think it’s brave that you get up in the morning even if your soul is weary and your bones ache for a rest

i think it’s brave that you keep on living even if you don’t know how to anymore.

i think it’s brave that you push away the waves rolling in every day and you decide to fight

i know there are days when you feel like giving up but i think it’s brave that you never do.

Lana Rafeala

misery and woe

ummmmmm…….. so thank you to those who have figured out and made the attempt to continue reading this humble blog of my life and thoughts.

I have been experiencing intense misery and woe but as I sit here I am filled with the desire to express it all with frankness and humor. If you can’t laugh about your misery and woe then it has its evil hooks in you and that’s just not a nice feeling ask me how I know this.

Gosh, life is hard sometimes!!!!! Isn’t it?

But then again, Jesus loves me this I know, and despite the misery and woe I find myself uplifted and laughing even after I stubbornly fold my arms in front of my chest, stick out my lower lip, and think, “I refuse and I’m simply NOT going to enjoy this day today.”

Saturday was one of those days! I simply failed to believe I would even smile. I had cried so much the afternoon and evening and night before that my eyes were practically swollen shut. I was not feeling pretty, or good, or worthwhile, or hopeful, or confident, or anything along those lines.

THE CHILDREN SAVED THE DAY. Why? Because Sethers had a baseball game. Therefore I had to get myself dressed and get my butt out of the house. Because baseball games are OUTSIDE, therefore the sun was shining upon me. (Try to be filled with misery and woe while sitting in sunshine, it’s hard to keep up.) ALSO, ALL MY CHILDREN (except David) went to the game to cheer on their little brother. (This sent not a little joy through the cracks of my heart.) Also, Seth hit a homerun!!!!! To be honest, it would have only been a triple but the ball was overthrown to third and he was able to get to home on that error. You should have seen his proud face when he came over about 10 minutes later. He silently approached with the look, “I’m coming because I just know my mom is going to want to tell me how awesome I am.” And he was right, I did. His Dad and I sat in our chairs, sat in the grass, sat on the bleachers (we get restless at these games) surrounded by our children plus our Brittnee and our Michael and had (dare I say) fun.

Grace kept bonding with tiny caterpillars.
Sarah played with new-found temporary friends (it’s what you do at your brother’s games)
RIch and Michael wrestled in the grass.
Jacob took his latest Steven King book and didn’t read it and then forgot it (but Sarah grabbed it for him)
Ethan, Caleb, and Jacob played catch.
We all got our first sunburns of the season to varying degrees. Brittnee’s knees especially.
The game seemed to drag on forever……but…..
Seth’s team won!

And then we all went out for pizza.

Here I am, in obvious misery and woe (and waiting for my coffee, also starving because I only had a yogurt for breakfast at 5:15am and it was 2 and I hadn’t had lunch.) Surrounded by the people I love.

Here I am wondering why my photo is being taken in such a state. And Ethan being Ethan, how I love him.
As I leaned across the table at her, I said, “I think what you’re asking me is “Can you play when you get home? “Yes” “Okay, then, you may”. Problem solved.
And then I laughed, what else could I do?
I forgot David wasn’t with us and I asked Michael to take a family photo of us outside the pizza place.
Being himself, he had to take one with himself in it.
….and then I said, “Brittnee, too!” I was so happy to get a whole entire family photo and we walked to the car while I looked at the photos and wondered why there were only six children surrounding us and then I realized, “Oh yeah, Dave is at a track meet!!” and my woe came back. Michael said “Settle down, it’s okay!” And I guess it was, but I miss David in these photos. By the way, he got another PR in hurdles.
I’m going to blog more about this, but here I am in the church downtown after a community concert to celebrate our towns 300th anniversary!!! Can you find me? I look rather pretty. (toward the left).
Rich took us girls out for ice cream afterwards and Sarah looked so picturesque that I asked him to take this photo. She’s wearing her sister’s boots and I think, “Pippi Longstocking” whenever I see her in them. (She wore them to school today)

Thankful for:
a healthy sense of humor even as I struggle
that toad I saw yesterday evening hopping purposefully toward my flower garden
the bookbag I’m carrying around everywhere I go that says “baby got books” on it and it’s indeed got books in it along with fine tip markers, a journal, Bible, and magazines. Gives me life.
my family and the things they do and say
rocking chairs on the porch
matcha tea lattes
my cats
and you, my friends

You are loved. Thank you for being here. Please pray for me as I will also pray for you today. Be encouraged, we have each other!!! and lots of love. We can do this! and the rewards of eternal life are unspeakable. Heaven’s not now……but it’s coming.

“How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in Him should ponder them.” Ps. 111:2

“If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36

“For the despondant, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15


you are my good days.

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The McDonalds in town was being renovated for months and months this winter and as soon as we could, Rich and I took the kids there to see what it was like after it was completed and open for business again.   While we were there, David took this photo of us.

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David taking a nap with Sherlock.

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Sarah and I made pies. ¬†As usual, my homemade crust was disappointing. ¬†I’ll never get it right.

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I was sitting in the recliner when Grace got home!!  After a flurry of activity welcoming her back, with lots of hugs, I sat back down.  Soon I noticed that children were all around me so I had David (who was also sitting on the floor in front of me) take a photo.  My heart was full to bursting.

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Weekend box of donuts.   Dave was so happy he ran around the house with them before settling down to enjoy.  I believe he ate three.

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Saturday. ¬†Sarah had a friend over for the morning. ¬†I took this photo as they were all enjoying Youtube videos and were so cute. ¬†David has my robe on. ¬†He’s like my twin or something. ¬†And you can tell Seth is happy to have his big sister home.

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We wanted a photo with Caleb but he wouldn’t cooperate.

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Michael and Grace, with sick Sarah in the background. ¬†Yes, we are still going through the *end of winter sick-bug* here. ¬†Currently, I am the last one recovering. ¬†I’ve been sick for three days but thankfully last night’s sleep was much better and I feel I’m at the end of it now.

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cookies!

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Grace and I went for a walk together on Monday.

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Sarah being cute.

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Grace in the morning with our beautiful Bagheera.

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Sick Sarah with her things all around her. (the loaf of bread is a squishie)

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I discovered Caleb sleeping in my bed one afternoon.

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Sick mom with a big ten year old on her lap. ¬†This was right before I pushed him off. ¬†ūüėČ

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Grace and I (and Walter) have been working on a puzzle.

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RIch was away for two nights and one of those nights I stayed up watching The Office with Grace and Dave.  It was fun.

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Then, I said I was going to bed so I went in my room. ¬†But a cat followed me, so as I was chasing him out, Grace and Dave got in my bed before I could! ¬†It was so funny. ¬†I love my children SO SO much. ¬†And I think they like their mom just a little bit, too. ¬†ūüôā

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Pretty Bags

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Me, last night after a nice long long bath.

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I had to share this photo of my brother.  He had a nice hair cut and beard trim and sent me a photo of himself.  This man is a constant comfort and friend to me, my dear brother Dave.

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Every morning when I get up I am attacked by three excited cats waiting for their one and only can of catfood for the day.  But yesterday we ran out so I had to post this sign by their food bowl to let them know.

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Last but not least, Rich got home safely last night and the dog Facetimed with Ethan at college.

 

HAPPY THURSDAY DEAR ONES!!!!

You are Loved.

“you. you are my good days.” ¬†~f.d. soul

 

 

 

week in photos

Good morning from my house to yours. ¬†It’s all of 21 degrees here but we are warm and cozy indoors, daughter Sarah is sitting snuggled next to me in the recliner as I type.

Rich has been gone all week on a business trip but came home in the night (around 2am) and because it was such a late flight he is able to work from home today. ¬†He’s in the other room now, working on his laptop. ¬†Our town’s McDonald’s had a makeover recently so we are planning on taking the kids there for lunch to check it out. ¬†Yes, the children are home today from school for a Teacher’s Conference Day. ¬†And the best part of all is our dear Grace and Brittnee are coming home for their March break tonight! ¬†We’ll have Grace home with us for a week, which will be nice because Rich has another trip to go on. ¬†She and I can get into all kinds of mischief together while he is away, which will probably entail a trip to the greenhouse and Barnes and Noble, that’s as wild as we get.

I wanted to share some photos that I’ve been taking throughout the week, some highlights of our days together, me and the children. ¬†Every day I am struck by the relationships I have with each one of them. ¬†There are stressful moments of course, but the closeness and love we share outweighs the hard times by far.

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On Monday we had a snow day from school.  David started a fire and for dinner Seth roasted himself a hot dog.

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One night when I was tucking in the children I took photos of them for Grace because Seth was reading one of her favorite childhood books……..

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And Sarah was reading Eragon with Grace’s cat,¬†Sammie. ¬†In Grace’s bed. ¬†(the girls share a room now and when Grace is home Sarah sleeps in the trundle-bed right next to Grace).

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Funny photo of Bagheera sneaking up on Sherlock.  He loves being stealthy and pouncing on Sherlock.  Sherlock always reacts with hisses and a punishing paw.

My current read is Unorthodox, by Deborah Feldman.

Caleb on the big drum. ¬† He’s so great, I kept my eyes on him the whole time, I notice as the fifth child he lives comfortably, knowing that “no one is paying attention to him” (not true, but when you’re #5 out of seven you do get a little more freedom as mom and dad are focusing on the older ones and the younger ones) so he’s relaxed and fun during the performances. ¬†He was chewing gum and I even saw him blow a big bubble!!! ¬†As a “good first-born” child I would NEVER have been chewing gum during a concert!!! ¬†He talked with the kids next to him, laughed at the 5th grade band’s charmingly rustic and off-beat number, helped one of other boys keep track of his beat and music, and so on. ¬† I was in awe of him.

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I had left David home with Sarah and when I got back I found him all dressed up in a suit jacket working on his homework at the table. ¬†Why? ¬†Because he “felt cool” (better) wearing it. ¬†I think he felt business-like while writing his school paper. ¬†David was sick over the weekend and missed school on Tuesday but is all better now.

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Sarah had been wanting to make cookies and we finally did it.  Oh boy were they DELICIOUS.  She carefully looked through the Taste of Home baking cookbook (from Hannah) and chose the recipe she wanted to try.

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They were impossible to stay away from.  She and I made them together and she learned how to separate an egg.  We put the completed cookies all on a vintage yellow fiesta round platter.

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My sister Amanda and I had been texting that morning and we both have this same shirt so we decided to wear them that day.  So I thought of her all day long.

IMG_7935I always write the date next to a new recipe and this time I let Sarah do it. ¬†We divided this recipe in half because I didn’t want to spend 17 hours in the kitchen rolling out cookie dough.

We took a cookie in to David but found him asleep in my bed. ¬†I was so amused by him I took a video. ¬†He had carefully put¬†relaxing music on my laptop and had it playing, like a lullaby, right next to him as he slept like a baby in my bed. ¬†The kids all covet my down comforter, in fact, Sarah’s birthday is in May and she’s already requested one for her 9th birthday along with a hoverboard. ¬†So funny.

Seth took a shower and when he was up there he got annoyed that Sarah’s horses were all over the floor so he took them out and cleaned up the shower. ¬†He was so proud he would NOT stop talking about it and even went up to take pictures. ¬†That evening I took him to Rite Aid so he could buy himself a new toothbrush (he wanted “one of his own”, which sort of confused me as there are about 25 toothbrushes around but we do seem to share everything in this family) some men’s body wash, and some men’s shampoo. ¬†I have a little man!! ¬†So charming to me. ¬†I can’t complain about a boy who wants to be clean!

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Still talking about the upstairs shower, he also thought about taking Sammie to school in his backpack.

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“Just as I am, without one plea.” ¬†And tired.

I did have fun yesterday with a friend, the two of us went to the mall together and walked over 2 miles and then shopped at Target.  We got Starbucks as we left and came back to my house where we worked on a puzzle and she read to me!!!!  It was relaxing and nice.

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After she left, and I ran to the school to get Caleb, Seth and I finished the puzzle together. We laughed at Walter because he couldn’t fit in the box.

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This puzzle is special because Joanna and her family put it together and then she gifted it to me to do. ¬†So I thought of her the whole time we worked on it. ¬†I love the birds. ¬†It was a fun one to do. ¬†Maybe now I’ll pass it along to Cassandra, or my Mom, or Amanda!

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This was good and easy!!  I made it for dinner yesterday.

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It’s a big big bowl of pasta goodness. ¬†The kids all liked it, and so did I.

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Last but not least, last night Caleb and I watched Spiderman: Homecoming together. ¬†It was the most relaxed I’ve felt all week and I even slept for a little while, so cozy with my son and cat keeping me warm.

Happy Friday!!!

 

 

 

“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. ¬†ūüôā

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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.

 

 

 

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. ¬†ūüôā

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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. ¬†ūüôā

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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. ¬†ūüôā

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

 

 

 

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. ¬†ūüôā

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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. ¬†ūüôā

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.

 

 

thanksgiving day, 2018

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

I can write again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Grace, laughing over the cheese tray.

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

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

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

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

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Dad and Sarah

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

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

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

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

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

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Rich and I with our children.

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My sister’s family.

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Amanda with her daughters.

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

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

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

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soooooooooooo funny

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

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we played Apples to Apples

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

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Jacob and Brittnee braved the cold for some photos outside.

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

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

 

 

 

family forever

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I’ll be away from this space for a little while (a week or so?) because there is so much going on, the most important of which is that I am going back home on Thursday for my Uncle Brian’s funeral. ¬†Although it will be nice to see everyone, it is under the most very sad of circumstances; to have to say goodbye to a much loved member of our family. ¬† Uncle Brian would tell me when he saw me how he enjoyed reading this blog and it tickled me to know that he read it and liked it. ¬†He always had a nice word and a cheerful hello for everyone and he will be missed so much. ¬†He will never be forgotten.

I’ve recently been in touch with a “long lost cousin” and he has been sharing many stories with me about our mutual aunts and uncles on my father’s side of the family. ¬†I’ve heard details and seen photos that I never knew before and it reminded me once again the importance of family. ¬†It’s a bond that can never be broken.

Store up your memories and then talk about them with each other, even the smallest of memories are meaningful!  As you talk about them, your heart will be filled with gratitude for what has happened in the past, and eagerness for whatever memories the future holds, as well.

God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough.
    There are no boundaries to his greatness.

Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
    each one tells stories of your mighty acts.

 

 

memorial day weekend

Our morning routine has changed since the college children have come home.  Ethan and Jacob have a work-out routine that they need to do for sports this fall so Rich gets up with them early (around 5) and they go next door to our garage.  The upstairs of our garage is set up with a variety of gym equipment; everything they need for their work out each morning.  They have leg day, arm day, etc.  When Rich comes back into our bedroom to walk through to the bathroom, I wake up and go out to the living room.  My intention is to make coffee and sit with my one-year-Bible.  I like to sit and read and sip my coffee while David and Caleb get ready for school and Ethan, Jacob, and Rich get ready for work.  This is also a good time for them to come to me with complaints.

  • We are out of bananas.
  • We are out of milk, cream cheese, and bagels. ¬†Also yogurt.
  • Jacob’s pants shrunk.
  • where is the cast iron pan?
  • where is the blender?
  • Ethan needs gas money. ¬†Ethan cannot find his wallet.
  • Caleb needs money for school lunch.
  • I made beans yesterday, causing Rich to have to run back to the house several times during his work out.

To be fair, these didn’t come across as complaints (except the food. ¬†David was truly annoyed about the bananas. ¬†He ate peanut butter toast with chocolate chips and when I questioned him he said it would have been healthier with …… the bananas.)

Jacob laughed about his pants.

Ethan was cheerful about his wallet.

David almost forgot his lunch money.

I still haven’t finished my Bible portion of the day because then Seth and and Sarah woke up.

Sarah came down the stairs happy that tomorrow is her birthday.

As she walked into the kitchen with Seth I heard her say slyly, “And Mom is NOT picking you up early from school with me.” ¬†It immediately became an argument.

When questioned, Seth told me that the other day when I asked Sarah to go to the house and get me my magazine, she had Seth do it, with the promise that “I will tell Mom to pick you up early from school on my birthday, too.” ¬†So Seth got the magazine for her and ¬†then she carried it the rest of the way to me, or I would have already figured this plot out. ¬†(The child I asked to bring the magazine brought the magazine so I was not suspicious.)

That was two days ago. ¬†In the meantime, Sarah had changed her mind. ¬†It’s her birthday, she doesn’t want Seth to get picked up early with her.

Seth was saying one thing and Sarah was saying another. ¬†She even pretty much lied about making the promise to Seth, I am very sorry to say. ¬†She said, “I don’t remember saying it like that.” ¬†hmmmmm

Rich came out of the bedroom so I asked him to be the judge. ¬†Except the man didn’t even know that I had told Sarah I would pick her up early. ¬†He takes school seriously and never lets the kids stay home unless they are truly sick. ¬†So, it should not have been a surprise to me that after he got involved no one was getting picked up from school. ¬†

I thought Sarah would be sad but she ate breakfast and perked right up. ¬†Everyone’s happy now.

But meanwhile, through all this, Parker (our dog) had tried to steal the cat’s can of cat food (the cats get ONE can a day, the rest of the day they eat dry). ¬†I sent Parker outside. ¬†Sherlock ate his can and then Samantha came inside for her can. ¬†Sammie is a really tiny female cat and Jacob stopped to cheer her on as she wolfed down her food, “Yeah, Sammie, get nice and fat!”……. and then to us, “I swear this cat only eats once a week.” ¬†She promptly turned away from the bowl and threw up the entire can on the floor.

All this while I’m trying to read the Bible!

Sammie ran off so we let Parker back inside the house to clean up the cat’s mess. ¬†After all, it wasn’t even digested, it was barely even chewed. ¬†But he didn’t even see it, he took the empty can and ran downstairs. ¬†Ethan decided he wasn’t hungry for eggs anymore.

I was hiding behind my journal on the other side of the room.

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Now everyone is gone and the house is quiet.  The dishwasher is going.  I took the silverware tray out of the drawer to wash that, too.  The vacuum is sitting in the kitchen as I have decided that today would be a good day to vacuum all the crumbs out of cupboards and drawers.  I am going to Costco soon for cream cheese, bagels, bread, butter, milk, mayo, paper towels, and yogurt.

Seth and Caleb have baseball games tonight.

The sun is out and it’s a clear, cool, and sunny morning.

*****

I did copy down one verse in my journal before putting morning Scripture reading aside:

All of us must die eventually.  Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.  But God does not just sweep life away; instead He devises ways to bring us bak when we have been separated from Him.  2 Samual 14

I LOVED THIS VERSE.

*****

How was your Memorial Day? ¬†I’m thankful that Seth and Caleb were in the parade or we may have not bothered to get out the door to attend. ¬†It’s always such a fun atmosphere in town when it’s parade day. ¬†We dropped off the boys at the parade start and then parked the car. ¬†We walked to the coffee shop for 1 soda (Dave), 1 apple juice (Sarah), 1 regular coffee in a mug that he returned after the parade (Rich) and 1 caramel latte (myself). ¬†Grace didn’t want anything.

Grace went across the road to sit with Dave and Sarah. ¬†Rich and I walked to a shop down the sidewalk a little ways and said hello to the lovely lady who owns the shop. ¬†I picked out a little gift for a sick friend and he bought his two girls each a bracelet. ¬†Then we joined the kids on the other side of the street, saying hello to Grace’s boyfriend’s parents on the way.

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Such dear girls. ¬†They have been close friends (same grade in school) longer than Jacob and Brittnee have been a couple. ¬†What I love about Brittnee is her good-natured cheerfulness. ¬†And she can hold her own in this family, too. ¬†For example yesterday Seth came over to say something and when he walked away she said accurately, “He’s so cute sometimes.” ¬†and we laughed and laughed. ¬†We’ve baked together and she and Grace are working on a garden (I have my doubts of whether it will be a success bc it’s like a mile away from the house).

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I took a photo of the garden behind us because I want to find the purple flowers which are on the left and the pink flowers on the right (growing tall out of the green leafy clump).  They are so pretty and would look just right in my flower beds.

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Seth in the parade standing close to his teammate (wearing Jays uniform).

Caleb was in the marching band playing a percussion instrument that looked like a plastic football with ridges that he had to rub with a stick. ¬†In the video you can see at the very last second he makes eye contact with me and sort of grimace-smiles. ¬†He will be 13 in July and is at the sad age when he leans away from me when I try to pat his shoulder, or put my arm around him or hug him or touch his cheek or make any sort of motherly contact. ¬†He LEANS AWAY without a word of complaint.¬† It’s quite painful but all part of the growing up process when the boy has to teach the mom to stop with the babyish personal contact. ¬†Motherly touches are now reserved for special occasions (severe injury, terrible sickness, at the moment of return after a long absence *or* birthdays) *or* when HE initiates. ¬†(He does still come to me for a hug now and then in the privacy of our own home).

I had to post the video because I didn’t get any photos of him for the same reason that I didn’t touch him. ¬†He wants no part of it. ¬†I didn’t want to beg.

Also there are no photos of our other son, Ethan, as he was away with Tessa all day long.

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Sarah made out pretty good. ¬†Grace and the brothers were amused that several little boys yelled, “HI SARAH” to her as they were in the parade marching and saw her on the sidewalk. ¬†They asked who one of the boys was and she said, “You tell me! ¬†I don’t know his name!” ¬†She has attitude. ¬†We don’t know what will become of her as she has had a very full life so far and she’s only 8. ¬†The youngest child is just as interesting as the rest of them, don’t you agree? ¬†So unique and fascinating. ¬†A little scary. ¬†In a good way.

Her dad calls her Sally.

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The other side of the bridge is a drop off down into the shallow stream. ¬†Like, if he fell he WOULD have been hurt pretty bad. ¬†But that didn’t stop him from running to jump up on the wall and walk around on it. ¬†I try so hard to keep my mouth shut………….. most of the time I fail. ¬†He had a big handful of Sarah’s candy in his sweatshirt pocket. ¬† Yesterday he told us he was growing out his hair long and I said “I always wanted another daughter” just to make him laugh. ¬†What I really wanted to say was “Please don’t”.

The beautiful brick buildings in the back are a church and the town museum.  The little road leading to the right is the entrance to a park.  I just love our town.

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Later on that day we went for a walk and Jacob found this bug. ¬†It was like 3 inches long! It’s so pretty!

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And I saw 4 lady slippers growing on the side of the road.  These two and then another two that were about 4 feet away.

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This morning Parker the dog was wandering around with a lollipop in his mouth.  Must be Sarah left her candy lying around on the floor.

He’s currently snoring flat on his side on the couch next to me. ¬† I think he’s relieved to have a quiet house today. ¬† He’s an old dog now, trying to keep up with his busy family!