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We left at 8:15 this morning to drive through rush hour traffic to go to the DMV testing center.  The weather was astounding; pounding rain and in the 50’s after days when everything was frozen solid and not even 10 degrees.  We drove through it together, my hands on the steering wheel, his hands clutching the laptop on which the driver’s manual was displayed.

Neither one of us slept much last night for whatever reason.

When I tried to make conversation he said, eyes on the computer screen, “Shhhhh, stop” and so I just reached over and patted his shoulder with a laugh.  I’m glad he’s safe and comfortable enough with me to be true.

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We arrived 15 minutes before the doors would be unlocked and Dave thought it was just way too long of a wait.  He was nervous.

Just as I knew he would, he passed easily.

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“That was incredibly nerve wracking.”

“My hands were shaking the whole time.”

“Okay now I gotta do my History homework.”

And that’s what he did.

We also got Dunkin Donuts coffees and listened to music.

Me and my buddy Dave.  How I love him.

I dropped him off at school and then got groceries…and very wet…..came home, and crashed on the couch.  I didn’t do a thing for the past 2 hours but watch TV and snooze with a cat on my lap.

When Caleb got home from school, he joined us.

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This is the view from here.

Happy Thursday, friends.

this is the sweet face of great relief

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“I feel like a huge burden that I’ve had since I was a child was just lifted off of me.”  

 

Here are the memories she doesn’t want to forget about learning to drive:

That time when her Dad had her drive around and around and around an empty parking lot at school backwards, this way and that way until she cried, and then he had her do it more.

The time she and I were going to the plant store and I didn’t tell her how long it was going to take to get there and she drove for an hour.

When she first really drove it was with her older brother Jacob and it was raining but she didn’t know how to turn on the wipers and when she did turn them on they went so fast she got nervous and asked Jacob for help.

She went to the H.S. to practice backing into parking spots and no one was there so her Dad got out of the car and walked laps while she practiced parking which was exactly what she needed…to figure it out on her own.

She had two college friends (April and Ryan) and Caleb and Kylee praying for her before her test this morning.

She and Caleb talked on the phone and went over traffic rules the morning of her test.  And he reminded her to turn on her lights and put on the emergency brake which were the two things she did wrong on her practice test last weekend.

To help them with their nerves, they had a movie going in the waiting room for the students about to test, and a box of munchkins for them to snack on, but she didn’t want to eat anything or watch anything …. but she did eat a munchkin because she felt she would be rude if she didn’t.  The movie playing was “Sing” and she was annoyed because she wanted to concentrate on her test but with the movie playing she started getting interested and watched it.

The songs she sang to herself while she waited for her test driver were, “Give me Oil in my Lamp” and “I love You, Lord”.

The man riding along to test was very nice; an elderly grandfather type.

She didn’t think she would do well, she didn’t think she would pass.

She and her dear friend Kylee both took their test on the same day and passed.  And when she walked in to the office to hand her paper sheet to the lady for her paper license the lady said, “Look at you, you little show off,”  because she got nothing marked wrong.

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She walked over to the garden center after her test to find me.

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happy birthday

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(The boys in our family plus their Dad)

Today is Ethan’s 20th birthday.

When I think about each of the children God has given me my heart is overwhelmed.  It’s 100% true that each and every child is a gift and a blessing, no matter if you have one or seven or more.  Each life is of endless value.

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In years past I have had so much fun taking high quality photos of Ethan on his birthday but this year we shall have to be content with iPhone snapshots because with him being a full time student in Vermont it isn’t as simple as it used to be.  When he’s home he’s busy with more important things like cooking in the kitchen, eating, playing games, relaxing in front of the TV, going on dates with Tessa, goofing around with his siblings, catching up on sleep, and shopping trips to the mall………

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Ethan has a unique way of scrambling eggs which leaves a solid piece of cooked eggy skin stuck to the bottom of the pan which I HATE.  But look at that face.  Okay, I will clean the pan for you, E, since you say this is the very best way to cook eggs.

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Rich and I took him to the mall where he picked out some new clothes from Hollister.  Jacob, Brittnee, Sarah, and David also went along.  It was a fun evening together.

(Have you noticed all the florals this year?  I love it!  Even 20 year old guys can get away with roses (and serpents) on their shirts.  And I bought the prettiest T-shirt for myself with big red roses on it.  A must with rose scented perfume!)

We had Ethan’s cheesecake (requested) on Saturday night after the shopping trip because Rich was leaving for a trip on Sunday morning and on Monday (today, Ethan’s real birthday) the boys would be back to college.  He blew his candles out with so much lung power that there is STILL candle wax on the counter.

Happiness is a big family singing your birthday song.  We love you Ethan!

(We missed sister Grace who was at college but we will see her soon.)

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Yesterday, Ethan was able to squeeze in a quick visit with Tessa in the morning and then I took the kids to church and lunch at Ethan’s requested restaurant, UNO’s.  It was me, Caleb, Seth, Ethan, Jacob, Sarah, David, Michael, and Zach.  Nine of us all together in one big booth and THANK GOODNESS for Sarah or I would have been the only female.  🙂  We had a yummy meal and when the waitress asked if we wanted dessert we were much too full but asked for a piece of cake for the birthday boy.

“But you don’t have to sing to me,” begged Ethan.

“Do you want a candle?” asked the waitress.

“No, that’s okay, but thanks.” he replied.

We were rather let down that Ethan appeared to get away without spectacle but the waitress must have sensed our true wishes and ignored the wishes of the birthday boy, much to his dismay.  However he recovered quickly and was a very good sport about it.

She gave Ethan a HUGE piece of chocolate cake along with NINE spoons so we could all share it!

I gave her a nice big tip because she really did deserve it.  I’m still smiling and I hope that Ethan is, too.

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Seth took this photo as Ethan and Jacob were getting ready to leave for school.  We are so thankful that they have a car and can come home now and then.  It’s just not the same around here with the three older ones so far away but we wouldn’t change a thing because they are learning, growing, and thriving.

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Happy 20th birthday, Ethan!

There is no one like you in the whole wide world.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day. Your thoughts – how rare, how beautiful! God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them – any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!  Psalm 139

David 15

ImageSon, you outgrew my lap, but never my heart. ~Author Unknown

DAVID

turned 15 yesterday.

The night before, I read him all the blog posts I have done in honor of his birthday.  The first one was….. when he was FOUR.  FOUR!!!!  I cannot believe I have been blogging for 11 years.  It’s so nice for the children to look back on the different days they remember and see photos.  It’s nice for me, too, but I get sad.  As I was reading to Dave, he was on the couch about 2 feet away but leaned over so he could see the photos and I felt all sentimental as I read the words I have typed over and over, “I love you” “I’m so proud of you” “my dear son” “you’re so special”. . . . .

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Rich has been traveling a lot lately and the thing that I’ve loved is that at the end of the day, David is the last child awake with me and we visit.  We talk or read our books.  He likes to sit in the rocking chair and he says things to me during these quiet times.  He’s interesting without being overwhelming.  I’ve lately started to ask him for his opinion on things and he replies with wisdom.  Like today, I asked him what he would do if someone he cared about told him that he hated himself.  He said that if the situation had been going on for a while then he would try to comfort, but if it was the first time he was confided in, then he would analyze the situation and then proceed.  I also asked him what he did when he was so tired at school that he desperately wanted to put his head down and nap.  He said that he would do something to hype himself up….like talk with one of his friends or something.

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I didn’t blog yesterday on his actual birthday because guess what?

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He got his braces off TODAY.

He was very hesitant and embarrassed to smile for the camera, it was almost like he didn’t know how…..he’s been smiling with his lips together for years.

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We went to Target right after his appointment, and then to Panera, where he ate cheddar broccoli soup in a bread bowl for the first time in a very long time without braces.  I had a cup of autumn squash soup with a chunk of bread.   The soup came with a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.

I took more photos of dear Dave outside the mall.

Davehood

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David loves his friends and cares about them.  For this reason, he likes school.
David loves his family but is easily annoyed by his younger siblings especially if they 1) enter his room, or 2) eat the last of something he wanted.
David plays soccer, baseball, and does wrestling.
David is a freshman in high school.
He has no phone.
He is currently reading Percy Jackson books, but his current favorite books are the Rot and Ruin series.
He can do back flips and does them during gym class sometimes when the teacher isn’t looking.
He absolutely loves music.
He plays the piano quite well–by learning songs through youtube.
He sings but only in the bathroom and sometimes when we’re in the car if the volume is turned up high enough on the radio.
He is funny in a dry, conversational sort of way.
He is quick and bright.
Through the years he has done origami, made homemade candy and slime, drawn comics, and made homemade walking sticks also useful for doing battles against trees or an armed sibling, and his latest thing is sharpening knives and sharpening the two collectible swords Ethan owns from the antique store.
He loves attention but gets all awkward when he gets it.  Like, he tries to avoid my hugs but once he gets one (because I don’t give up easily) he walks away with a smile on his face.
He is a night owl, if I forget to send him to bed he’ll be up half the night.
He likes watching the Flash, Arrow, and Glee on TV.
He likes nature and wild life, and has been my #1 butterfly helper when we were raising and releasing monarchs.  He brings me things to look at like toads, cool caterpillars, and rodents.  He helped get a chipmunk out of the house this weekend.

Most of this is typical 15 year old guy stuff….but not to me….to me he is the best and most interesting 15 year old guy I know.

 

ode to a milestone

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twenty pacifiers

twenty matchbox cars

twenty laps around the house

twenty times watching Busy Town

twenty naps resisted

twenty days of Kindergarten

twenty little green army guys

twenty light sabers

twenty lego sets built

twenty fish in the pond

twenty walks with the dog

twenty books read

twenty trips to the orthodontist

twenty pizzas eaten

twenty pictures drawn (with sharpies)

twenty albums bought for your ipod

twenty acts of kindness

twenty sweet kisses

twenty days of your first job

twenty songs sung

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and only one you.

Happy 20th birthday, Jacob!

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

rich’s special night

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“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough
to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles,
the character of an honest man.” –George Washington

On Tuesday, Rich was honored by the people in his office with a special dinner at a local restaurant.  Very soon, he will be changing job positions and the people who have been working for him over the last several years wanted to have a chance to say “thank you” to him for all he has done.  This was a very rewarding and satisfying night for my husband, who puts his hard work ethic, heart, and soul into his job.  Everyone had such kind and respectful things to say.

When he was away on his latest business trip, one of the women called me to invite the children and I to attend the dinner.  She requested that it be a complete surprise to Rich.  I asked the older children to clear their schedules so that they could come along.  Jacob was fine, Grace pushed back a little because she felt obligated to her music event after school that day, but after a discussion and a note written to her teacher, she was all set.  Ethan refused to miss his soccer game so “fate” managed to make him cut his toe really bad and he was able forced to miss the game.  All set!  *whew*

I decided to go shopping and buy the kids all new clothes, which they needed anyway.  (they really did!)

I thought it would be fun to dress each of the boys in a blue dress shirt because that is what Rich typically wears.  He has always loved searching for the perfect blue dress shirts.  I went to Old Navy for the purchases….new shirts for all the boys, plus new corduroys for the three younger boys, and a complete outfit for Sarah.  Grace didn’t need anything, as I had taken her shopping the weekend we went to Stockbridge.  I washed everything and ironed.  I wanted everything perfect, which meant I did everything with just a tad touch of overzealousness.  As for myself, I had a basic black dress already in my closet, but I did buy some new black pointed toe flats.

I drove the children to the restaurant and parked in an empty business lot next door so Rich wouldn’t see our car.  When Ali texted me the “all clear” we drove over, parked, and walked inside.  Ali met us at the hostess table and walked us to the room where everyone was waiting and chatting.  Rich had his back turned away from us.  Caleb reached him first, and tugged on his arm.  Rich stopped his conversation and looked down and saw his son.  It was such a special moment.  I was beaming as I watched his eyes *bug out* in shock.  He was so happy and it was such a surprise to see the two worlds he loves so much collide.

We were the center of attention.  None of the people who worked for and with him had seen him surrounded by his all of his family at once.  Everyone loved the children.

(Oh I forgot to say …. that morning as he was getting ready for work I was asleep in bed praying that he would choose a blue shirt that day…and he did!! )

As soon as we were there and the initial greetings were over, several people gave speeches in Rich’s honor, thanking him and telling funny stories.  Of course Rich, who truly has a tender and sensitive heart, cried, and it was so good for the children and I to come to a better understanding of how much good Rich does for the company, and how much he is loved and appreciated.  I was so proud to be standing by his side.

After the speeches there was a sweet slideshow and that was fun, too.  The man who put it together gave me a copy to take home (on a flash drive).    Rich was given a plaque and the whole family was given a nice wooden bench to put outside by our pond.

Then we ate dinner and socialized.  The kids were great.  The only embarrassing thing that happened was Seth drank and drank too many shirley temples and in a coughing fit at the table, he threw up a little.  That was really embarrassing because I was talking to a nice lady with my back away from Seth and she was the one who alerted me to the problem.   Oh and Sarah was kind of shy at first (would not make eye contact or speak) but she warmed up after a good dinner.

PICTURES:

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Everyone you see in the pictures were part of the event…….

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His picture was on the cake….

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Caleb requested the piece with his Dad’s face.  And he ate it, too!

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Sarah made a connection with one of the ladies.  Later one she offered to babysit Sarah if we ever needed one.  🙂

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And this nice lady who is talking to Dave in the photo lives in the same town as the college Grace wants to attend in a couple years and offered to help her out at any time, and maybe even let her stay with her.   (!!!!!!)

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There were about 8 people in front of us, several of whom were taking photos.  “Okay, you and your 80 children get ready for a picture” someone teased.

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I love you, my husband and friend.   I’m so glad the children and I were a part of your special night, as I know we are always a part of your life whether home or away.  I’m happy to support you and share this busy but joyful journey of ups and downs with you.  Always.  Thank you for who you are and the work you do to support our family.