christmas time happenings


“I don’t have any good photos to blog with,” I thought.

“Well you do have some on your phone,” I replied.

“They aren’t that great of quality though,” I continued.

“But they are priceless and of great value, since they capture the moments authentically,” I said wisely.

“Oh fine,” I sighed.

And then got all emotional looking at them because there were over twenty photos, twenty moments during which we were living life and I grabbed the nearest camera, my phone, to record something quickly and easily.   I honestly LOVE this stage of life.  My youngest is 7 and without any toddlers daily life is much calmer, however with seven children it is still busy enough to never be boring and to always have that feeling of “what’s next” — you really can’t prepare, there are surprises every day and lots of laughter.


Handsome son Dave, who was dressed in his High School wrestling clothes for the first time in his career.  And, by the way, this door used to be a curtain hiding our laundry area, but the laundry room has been moved downstairs and now this is a big spacious closet just off the kitchen.  I’ll take photos eventually because I really like how it turned out.


Sarah Joy arriving home from school.  “Christmas Porch” with a wreath, and a snowman flag.  She made me and her dad an ornament made out of a glue/cinnamon dough that smells so good.





I gave him the present; a chocolate fish and a card that I had prepared for the Amazing Pickle Finder.

“Keep looking for hidden treasures your whole life and you will be amazed at what you will see and discover.”

“I am really good at finding things,” he agreed.  (debatable, I thought)

Sarah was holding back the tears because she didn’t find it.



We had SUCH a good time.  We got manicures ; my nails are so pretty now, a deep red with red sparkles similar to Dorothy’s shoes on the Wizard of Oz.

We talked and talked and laughed and just felt so comfortable together; “This is good for my soul,” she mentioned.



We had bison burgers and freshly cut french fries for lunch.  I indulged in a diet coke.



There was a giant Christmas tree at the outdoor shopping center.  We did a little shopping and I bought Caleb, Seth, and Sarah some nice warm mittens/gloves for outdoor play at LLBean and they liked them so much they literally spent HOURS until dark outside everyday until our snow melted a couple days ago.  Wise purchase even though the line was long.  With a sister/friend the lines go fast.  More time to talk!


My dear Hannah sent me and my family a Christmas box.  She lives in Alaska and has visited me 3 times and I haven’t visited her yet.

So guess what I asked Rich to give me for Christmas?!


We spend time together like this every chance we get.  In fact, he’s next to me as I type and he’s rather insulted because a laptop is on my lap and not him.


COLLEGE SON ETHAN IS HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  As of two days ago!


AND COLLEGE SON JACOB my FIRSTBORN is here as well, the person I gave birth to 21 years ago at just this time of year.  CHRISTMAS and JACOB’s BIRTHDAY are all wrapped up in my heart during this season.


Uncle Dave always sends cards for the children under 18.  The rest of us get a family card.  So now there are “only four” in the tree waiting for Christmas morning even though they keep asking me if they can open them NOW.


WRESTLING MEET on Wednesday, two days ago.  David was .5 over so there was a little bit of unwanted stress in making certain he made weight and then come to find out he had no one to wrestle in that weight class.  (he did make weight, however)

But eventually they did exhibition matches (which don’t count in the team scores) and Rich bumped him up to give him experience.  I could see Dave giving a little shake of his head “no” but Rich didn’t give him a second glance and got him right on the mat with someone who weighed 5 pounds more than him…..and Dave won.


He won right in front of his big brothers who also wrestle for college.


Right in front of his big brothers AND their girlfriends.


AFTER THE MEET it was time to play.  Ethan wrestled with his little brothers but what really gives me joy in this photo is Bruce the man on the left just walking out of the camera frame with a smile on his face.  He’s one of the custodians of the school and is ALWAYS so quietly kind and friendly.  We notice he turns a bucket over and sits on the side of the gym during meets, we think he must like wrestling.


^^ Jacob and Seth on the left and Ethan pinning Caleb on the mat.  And it took me a long time to get that sentence out right.  (names LOL)


Seth’s turn to wrestle with E.  It was such a fun night.  We were only missing Grace because she was at work.


We are forever trying to hug Dave and he is always this reluctant, but we know he secretly enjoys it.  Tessa is a good sport.  Such a dear girl who, along with her sister, has grown up with my own children (they live nearby) and is in love with Ethan. ❤  She’s a senior this year, while David is a freshman so she sees him now and then and tries to get hugs.  You can tell (sort of) that he’s warming up to her.  (no, his arm never got higher than it is in the photo).


HERE SHE IS!  She got back on Tuesday (thank you to Michael who went to get her from college).  Yesterday she and I went shopping with Ethan and we took this photo as we were waiting for him to finish up his hair cut.

(I prefer myself with bangs but when I am too lazy to deal with them I pin them back).


When Seth got home from school yesterday he had a sore by his mouth which immediately freaked me out (internally, I didn’t show it to him) because it wasn’t there when he left in the morning.  He complained that he thought his jaw was broken and his cheek hurt.  But he pointed to the sore spot by his lip as the place where it hurt.  (I don’t think he knew what “a jaw” really was) I was thinking “Oh my goodness my child caught a contagious skin rash during wrestling” and took him to the docs who told me it was basically NOTHING.  I mean, it was infected slightly (like a pimple actually but he’s too young for them just yet).  She gave us a prescription for an antibiotic cream but Rich didn’t get to the pharmacy in time so we just rubbed neosporin on it and this morning it looked much better.  I’m still picking up the prescription though, don’t worry Mom.  I’m sure it will come in handy.  Seth has had chapped lips so the Doc thinks he was touching his face with dirty hands.  (8 year old boys are generally dirty) I do tell him to wash but when he’s at school who knows. . . . . .

The whole experience ended up giving us a nice time together.  His appointment was at 6:10.   WHY is it SO DARK he kept asking.  We agreed that it isn’t a pleasant feeling to be going to the doctors when it’s dark outside.  Scary.

I took him to Dunkin Donuts after, it was just a short jaunt down the sidewalk from the office.  He ordered himself a bacon egg and cheese on a plain bagel, toasted, and five glazed munchkins….and a hot chocolate and he looked so cute as he waited.  He didn’t want help carrying his treasures.  He ate and drank everything.  He hugged me.


We went to the Goodwill store next and he and his bright eyes saw a wrestling head gear for Caleb (who needed one) for ONLY A DOLLAR.   Jacob said they are twenty at the sporting goods store he used to work at.   So Seth got the deal of the day.  Grace scrubbed it with antibacterial wipes this morning.


Then we met Jacob, Grace, and Sarah at the pet store.  WHAT are the girls looking at, you ask?

Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I typed all this at the end of the couch at Ethan’s feet.  He sleeps on the couch when he’s home even though he has a perfectly good bed in a bedroom upstairs.  I think he finds it cozier to be on the couch.  He’s sound asleep.  Listening to him breathe gives me joy.  He stretched his feet out and pushed against me, waking up just enough to look down at me and say sorry.  I said, “I like it.” and gave him a pat on the leg.

Merry Christmas!



the weather


off in the distance I see lighting that I have never seen before.

I head up, briskly, to the field.  The sky opened up above me and I am surrounded by marbled blue and gray.


I see a white birch tree, a solitary tree amongst so many…..a single white line, and I marvel that I had never noticed it before.  I’ve always loved white birches.



birds flew away from the gray clouds…..hurrying.

I stand with the wind whipping around me as it suddenly begins to hail.

My heart rises with the birds.

Tiny bits of hail, about the size of baby peas landing with rapid pits and pats on the earth.  I look up, I look down, I pick some up to study.  They are perfect little pieces of frozen nature-art.  I eat some.  crunch crunch.  I walk home in the hail.  I feel alive.

“The awareness of life’s passing makes the now sweeter and more important.”  David Budbill

without even trying

The blog is a spiritual practice of sorts; because with it, I can intentionally go back through the moments of daily living, remember and savor them, and press on with gratitude.

Picking up the camera creates a feeling of expectation that there will be an image to record.  An image just for me, a moment that speaks to my heart as a woman, a child of God, a homemaker, or a mother.

Each time I download, edit, study, is an opportunity to say “thank you”.

If other people happen to read it, enjoy, relate and want to be friends; that’s the icing on the cake!


The kitchen is where I go when I want a safe place….cooking shows are what I watch when all of life seems painfully overwhelming.  Eating and drinking is something I never take for granted.  To eat food without discomfort in the mouth or stomach; what a reason to praise!  I love cooking and baking and serving.  (cleaning up, not so much; only because my kitchen NEVER stays clean, it’s too busy).

I made kuchen on Saturday morning (we were having a snow day).  It was a buttery yeast dough, pressed into a pie plate and left to rise.  Then, a sprinkling of fruit and a topping of sugar mixed with egg, cinnamon, and cream.  Baked in the oven, and eaten with whipped cream.


It was gone in no time at all.

I want to make it a few more times before I post a recipe because I made it according to the cookbook but want to tweak it a tad before I am satisfied.  Although, even as it was, it was super delicious and my husband said over and over that it was good (and he’s not a sweets type of guy).


I gave David a photography lesson on taking pictures of cats that don’t want to look at you.  “shake a plastic bag up by the camera”….. nice shot, Dave!


“Mom, can I make one of those orange things that smell like pine?” asked Seth.

It took me a little bit of questioning before I figured out that he was thinking of pushing cloves into an orange, and it was so adorable and random that of course I right away said yes and jumped off the couch to find my jar of cloves.

meanwhile, outside the snow was falling, falling


And Seth was in a laundry basket, working on his orange while the rest of us watched a live steam of Ethan’s wrestling tournament on the internet…….


The other funny thing Seth needed on Saturday was iced tea.  Nothing would make him happier than some iced tea….so I got out my Aunt Colleen’s recipe and made it.  I tend to think that cravings have a purpose and for the most part, should be satisfied.  He also requested that he drink it “from that white owl mug”.  As you wish, little prince.

And lest you think I spoil him, I did NOT let him stay home from school today even though he did his very best to try to convince me he was in agony with a stomach ache.


Sarah was asking her Dad all that snowy day if she could go outside with him as he plowed the driveway.  The next morning, bright and early, her wish came true!  It was adorable.


“How did you know I was taking your picture through the window?”

“I saw the light on your camera!”


On Sunday, we traveled about an hour to take Seth, Caleb, and David to their first wrestling meet of the season.  On the way there, I told this long story about the unsatisfactory fiction book I had finished (it was mixed in with “pulitzer prize fiction” search on amazon!! and it was a piece of garbage!) UGH.  I told him the whole story very animately and how ridiculous it was and when I was done Sarah piped up from the back seat and asked if the name of it was If God is Good.


I am constantly thrown off kilter by my children.  How on EARTH would she think such a thing??

“Because I saw that book on the coffee table.”

“OH.  No, Sarah, THAT book is really really good.  The book I was talking about was called The Life we Bury.”

And I thought to myself, “She notices stuff I didn’t realize she noticed.  Nothing gets by her.”



Now that’s some flower!  I’ve had the grandest time watching this Christmas Cactus grow an itty bitty bud to a big, strong blossom.


“What’s this, Sarah?”

“My New Years Resolution.”


So it was pretty funny that the chapter we read this morning was about two little girls who decide to make other people happy.

The housekeeper said it would make her happy if they left the kitchen so she could scrub the floor.

The Mama said she was already happy.  But they wanted to make her happier.  “Just keep being my good little girl and then I’ll be quite happy enough.”

The old Grandfather said he was happy just to see them come and visit; but this time they insisted on DOING something to MAKE him happy so they cheerfully decided to take him for a walk outdoors until…. he asked if they didn’t think they had walked enough?  He was so weary he went to bed and they tucked him into it.  “What was the best part of your day, Grandfather?”  “Getting into this nice warm bed, I’m very tired.” was his answer.  They THOUGHT he would say, “Being taken for a walk.”

Then, the sick neighbor didn’t become happy when they sang many many songs (until they were hoarse!) to her.  She was expecting the typical basket of food and not a never-ending repertoire of singing.

They give a bouquet of wildflowers to the hired man; later they find them in the compost heap.

They decide to give up trying.

But then they learn of a sick classmate and they made her happy by giving her a doll and a book.



My word of the year 2016 was COMPASSION and it especially pleased me to see this in Seth’s homework folder recently…..

“Your child is learning that people can show their compassion or others by saying something kind or doing something helpful.”

“Learning about how to show compassion for other people helps children take action on their feelings of empathy.”

I thought to myself, “what is the difference in *making people happy* and *showing compassion* and I think the answer is *the heart*”

Making people happy comes from ideas in your head.  It’s a job you decide to do.

Showing compassion is feeling empathy in your heart and THEN acting on that feeling.

However, it DOES make people happy when you feel empathy and compassion toward them and DO something to show you care.  How funny!

I think I’ll explain it better to the children later on today and see what they think.

I do know that Sarah was cold yesterday.  As I rubbed her little bare arms with my hands she said, “Your touches make me warm.”

That’s all it takes, and I was blessed by her sweet words.


Happy Monday!

“I’ve had enough.  I’m not going to make any more people happy.”
But we did, all the same, because the next day Miss Johnson told us that Martha, a girl in our class, wasn’t coming back to school for a long time.  She was very, very sick and had to stay in bed several months.  That night, before I went to sleep, I lay awake thinking about Martha, and then I decided to give her Bella, my most beautiful doll.  This was because I knew that Martha didn’t have any toys at all…..In the morning when I told Anna that I was going to give Martha my doll, she went to get her nicest story book.  And after school we went over to Martha’s house……My, oh, my how happy she was!
“When we were outside the door, I said to Anna, “Isn’t it funny, now we’ve made someone happy without even trying.”

The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren (who also wrote Pippi Longstocking!)

{this moment}


I remember the first time we took baby Sarah to the ocean.  She crinkled up her eyes in disgust and would not put her hands down to touch the sand.

We took the children to the beach yesterday and five year old Sarah was busy enjoying herself the whole day long.  Digging in the sand, collecting every shell in sight, swimming even though the water was cold, playing with nearby little girls, twirling her new hula hoop.  We were there for six hours and she cried when we had to leave.

She loves the ocean.

{this moment}

{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


that time when she was four and she took a handful of animals to a “human concert” (her words)

{this moment} I’ve never found a child in this place before

I know the photo quality is terrible…this was taken at twilight yesterday…if you read yesterday’s post you know I’m dealing with a house full of sick people this week.  Well, Seth is healthy now and not only healthy but twice as active, impulsive, and mischievous as usual.  (I’m blaming the meds he’s on for his cold)…anyway, after an afternoon of dealing with his shenanigans, it was finally almost-but-not-soon-enough-for-Seth time to go to wrestling practice.  I still had to go to the bathroom, put on my shoes, and grab Rich’s dinner, so I sent hyper Seth out to wait in the car, with the admonition to “not turn it on!!!!”

*I’m impatiently going out the door into the frigid air to go on my THIRD trip of the day to the High School.
*I’m leaving sick children calling out to me for one more act of service before I vanish.
*I’m crying for my mom.
*I’m cursing the stomach bug.
*I’m hating the sport of wrestling.
*I’m limping on my bad knee.
*I’m feeling old ugly and worn down.
*I’m hungry and need a warm meal.

When I see this:



All of a sudden, the Lord restored unto me my sense of humor, I took a crappy picture, drove him to school, and was still laughing about it in my bed last night as I fell asleep.  Dear, dear little boy.

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.  Don’t stop them!  For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”