cold feet

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I just got back from taking old cornmeal muffins to the chickens.  I did what every other New Englander would do when it’s March 24, sunny, and 39 degrees.   I threw on a jacket….and sandals.

Parker the Dog couldn’t get any closer to the hens because of his Hidden Dog Fence.  He was very much longing for an old cornmeal muffin.

I have sent various children to the coop for the last three days and they all skipped back to the house cheerfully saying, “No eggs!”  “None?”  “No, they ate them!”  “Did you check the barrel?  They’ve been laying in the barrel lately.”  “Yep, there weren’t any!”

Just to be sure, I also went in the coop.  I found seven in the barrel and 3 each under two brooding hens.

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I put them into the same bag I had brought the muffins.  By this time I was calling myself Stupid because my toes were turning pink and icy and I had sandy textured snow in my berki’s.  There was a bit more darn snow than I had anticipated.

I kept my eyes on the warm dry dock as I slipped toward it, planning to warm my feet.  Upon arrival, I kicked off my sandals to get rid of the snow and dry off.  One of them slid right across the dock and….into the pond.  Thank goodness for cork bottoms.  While Parker stood on the bank and leaned across the water with his nose stretched out toward my shoe doing nothing, I also leaned over the edge of the dock stretched out my arm to retrieve it.  “Stupid” I called myself.  I tapped my shoes on the wood to get as much snow and water off before slipping them back on to walk back to the house, keeping in as many of the bare patches as I could.  This must be why the children are always skipping into the house after they go to the coop.

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I washed my dishes and 13 eggs.

And put socks on.

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everything is this, now

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I cannot tell you how happy I am

to see the sunshine this morning!

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Dishwasher’s a hummin’, the dog’s a snoring’~

it’s going to be a nice day, I can tell already.

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This picture is from a few days ago when it was raining.  We had a squirrel come to visit stuff his little cheeks full of sunflower seeds.

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I never realized how brown their heads are.  I though they were all over gray.

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A delegation of mourning doves.

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“Hour one”

I took a few hours to admire our sleeping buddies yesterday.  They were on this chair together for most of the day.

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“hour two”

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“hour three”

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“hour four”

David arrived home from school.

“Dave, you’re wearing all black today”

“Yeah, but I wore my blue hoodie to school instead of this black one because I didn’t want them to send me to guidance thinking I was depressed.”

This boy thinks of everything.

And he made the middle school baseball team!  We are all so proud of him and can’t wait to see him play.

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Parker the Dog is flat on the couch snoring as I type–tired from the morning.  He helps get the kids off to school, you know, by barking when the bus comes and stealing their breakfast bagels.

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This morning’s gently clouded striped sky.

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This morning I attempted to scrub a marker drawing off Seth’s arm, “It’s not coming off,” I muttered, “Put it under the water,” he tried.  No such luck, but it is lighter at least.  We stood in front of the mirror and I styled his hair with rosemary gel as he squirmed and groaned.  He’s wearing his baseball shirt; ’tis the season.  And this is truly his technique; he either misses entirely or it’s a good big hit.  “Don’t over swing, Seth!” is the advice he gets from his coach repeatedly.

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We finished The Children of Noisy Village, by Astrid Lindgren.  It took us a very long time to get through it because we had misplaced it for about a month and forgot about it; such is life.

A very dear book, however.

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On the last page.

“TEN IS MY STUDENT NUMBER!” she explained in a loud voice.

“OKAY, THAT’S FINE,” I answered in like manner.

Our next book?   One Hundred and One Dalmatians

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Hope is a geranium about to flower for the first time in a year.

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I started a new book last night and LOVED this quote:

“Children don’t know the meaning of yesterday, of the day before yesterday, or even of tomorrow, everything is this, now: the street is this, the doorway is this, the stairs are this, this is Mamma, this is Papa, this is the day, this is the night.”  My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, page 29

a teeny bit of home this morning

In a little yellow house in Connecticut, there is a family.  And in this family is a mom and a dad, along with a big sister, a big brother, a regular brother, a little brother, and a little sister.

(((There are also two bigger brothers but they are far far away, in Vermont.)))

Snow is blizzardly blowing around the house today, filling the darkened air with bits of white.

The dear dad is busy working from home.

Hi, I’m the mom.  And I literally just suggested to Grace and David to  “Go put together a pretzel.”

Then, Caleb came upstairs to tattle on Seth.

So I bought them a new movie (via a smart TV and amazon prime) to watch and now I’m in my room to do a quick blog and then go make lunch and gallons of popcorn……….

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Grace has been in this same spot all morning, blissfully reading, napping, looking at her phone, and petting the cat.  “I looooove himmmmmm” she purrs.

I decided to pick up the camera and take some photos but be aware that everywhere I look is life abundant in the form of stuff everywhere…not mess, but life….papers, coloring books, crayons, puzzles, stuffed animals, boots and shoes, dishes left out, a baseball glove or two or three, jackets, laundry to be folded, cereal boxes left out, a sock here and there, the smell of bacon, etc.

It’s all good!  It’s FAMILY!

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They play together all the time and I most-of-the-time love it.  It’s constant laughing, problems, trying not to involve mom when working things out, and play.

(the dog yawns when he’s embarrassed and/or shy))

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((The dog was anxious about Seth getting too close.))

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Then, I sent the kids back about 7 feet and ((the dog was happy to have been released.))

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Seth     Caleb     Sarah

8     11     6

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I took a photo of him through the glass door.  He was on a conference call.  (those arms)

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11:45 and look who just got up.  He told me that last night after everyone went to bed he made a frozen pizza and “ate the whole thing.”  To which I replied, “Sodium city” and he said, “Yeah.”

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I guess it was the duct tape.

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A Happy SNOWY Tuesday from me to you.

you are loved

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

a skunk tale

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(9 years ago)

Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of God
no matter what the conflict.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, home again.  And I worked like a machine yesterday getting this house on the pathway to order and cleanliness so I’m going luxuriate in a morning of blogging (a ridiculous word of which my definition would be: play with pictures, put my thoughts in order, type, enjoy the sound of the keys clacking whilst three cats sleep on the bed at my feet and the cool morning sun shines through the curtains).

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My children have beautiful souls.

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I took these photos on Thursday, right before we left to take Ethan to college (three hours away).  Jacob wasn’t able to go with us and had to say goodbye to his faithful sidekick of eighteen years.  They are brothers in every sense of the word.

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And look who was at his boys’ feet.  Another faithful friend.

Speaking of which, when we were gone the dog Parker fulfilled a lifelong dream; he killed an animal.  We all know this was a dream of his because he has had to make do by busily “killing” the children’s stuffed animals all these years.

This summer, not only have I had to spend time with the smells of six boys, but also a stinkier than normal skunk.  This skunk sprayed Parker about a month ago and Parker has vowed revenge ever since.

Well, the skunk would periodically wake us all up out of a sound sleep in the very early morning hours.  The smell, like the gray of the morning, was everywhere and very depressing.  We cursed the skunk.  Little did we know, Parker had a secret plan (secret, only because he cannot talk).  If he could talk he would say, “No worries, family, I have a plan.”

And it came to pass, while Rich and I were away with five of our children and crying over leaving a sixth at school, that we were notified by the seventh that “Parker destroyed the skunk.”

We were elated and I was determined to bring our good dog home a treat.

UNFORTUNATELY……..

Even though three healthy and strong young men (Jacob, Michael P. and Ethan S.) knew of this “destroyed” skunk, they all decided to IGNORE it and LEAVE it to fester right by my house…..and as a result, as we pulled into the driveway Sunday evening, our happiness to be home again was shattered as the smell of skunk PLUS rot filled our beings.

How to make a man rage: put him in charge of cleaning up old destroyed skunks.

Rich doesn’t yell at me very often but he did on Sunday night.  I was in the garden picking all the ripe tomatoes while he took care of the skunk by making his way to our trashcan with it in a shovel.  “Don’t put that in the garbage!” I said.  No response.  “Don’t put it in the garbage!”  Fast walking toward garbage can.  I hold my breath.  What will he do with it???  He puts it in the garbage.  “Rich!  Don’t put it in the garbage!”

WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO WITH IT THEN????? He yelled, ferociously.

“You have to bury it in the woods!!  That trash can will never be the same again if you leave it in there for two days!!!”

So he pushed the can over with all his might (to remove the skunk?) and did what I told him to do.

We didn’t exchange words for the rest of the evening.

 

My point being…….the entire house was nasty.  The smell of skunk had permeated everything.  The only thing to do was clean, clean, clean.  I had to get rid of the smell.

So, on Monday, not only did I take Caleb to the dentist and go grocery shopping, I also:

hosed down the walkway outside, twice.
washed all the bedding in my room (the window had been open).
washed the couch off with leather cleaner wipes.
Grace washed the stinking dog.
We spent the entire day putting him outside.
He spent the entire day finding a way back inside.
I took all my sewing stuff out of my room and packed it away (which had nothing to do with the skunk…but the smell drove me to do things I hadn’t planned on doing, I was out of my mind).
I hired maids to come on Friday to clean and encouraged Jacob to contribute to the cost.
I made the children clean their rooms with threats.
I put clean sheets and bedding on Ethan’s bed.
I did 1,000 loads of laundry.
I spent hours in the kitchen, making tomato sauce, and a nice dinner (good smells to replace the bad one)
Grace cleaned the bathroom with Pine-Sol “Something smells like A1 sauce” said a small child.  (I rejoiced! He didn’t say skunk!)
Every single garbage can was emptied from every room.
We opened every window and turned on every fan for the entire day.

By the end of yesterday I was tired to the bone.  Rich and I had made up via texting and we went on a date to Rita’s while Seth and Caleb were at football practice.

All in all, the skunk situation did wonders in channelling my busy mind into thinking of other things besides the fact that my family seems to be shrinking and I made enough meatloaf to feed a small army when I only had 6 mouths to feed (three of which don’t even like meatloaf).

I am reluctantly thankful for the skunk.

*****

Grace is now a senior in High School so here we go again with the heart pulling and tugging.  I’m not complaining, mind you.  It’s just….so true…that life goes by fast, there is no stopping the merry-go-round.  Sometimes it makes one nauseous.  But most of the time it’s fun.

She left yesterday afternoon to go with her boyfriend’s family to drop him off at basic training.  He is going into the Coast Guard.  She looked so cute as she waited that I did a mini photo-shoot with her on the porch.

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I love you, Grace!

And I love all my friends who visit me here.
Happy Tuesday!

Yesterday is ashes, tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire
burn brightly. Live Today!
– Old Eskimo Proverb

 

alive

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Everything is flowing — going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches; the air in majestic floods carrying minerals, plant leaves, seeds, spores, with streams of music and fragrance; water streams carrying rocks… While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood…in Nature’s warm heart. John Muir

Hello, it was one of those weird weeks when things are sort of crappy but sort of unexpectedly nice, at the same time.

Rich was away for five days in a row and we dealt with the stomach bug while he was away. Sarah was supposed to go in for surgery on Thursday morning but as things would have it, I went to bed that night and NEVER SLEPT because my stomach was roiling.  My stomach felt as if it contained a turbulent, oily sea.  I was looking forward to vomiting.  Sarah had been sick on Monday, then David, and then Ethan.  They shared it with me!  I called the hospital at 4 in the morning so I could stop thinking about it.  They kindly rescheduled her surgery for this next coming Thursday.  I was happy.  I thought to myself, how nice, Rich will be back by then and I won’t have to go with Sarah alone after all.  I thought this for about 24 hours before I found out that Rich will be in Baltimore on that day.  I just have to laugh.  At least he will be home that evening.

I spent Thursday on the couch, with Ethan on the other couch.  It was the most relaxing sickness I think I have ever had.  This was the unexpectedly nice part.  The throwing up went away and I was left completely spent…..totally wiped out but with a smile on my face because I had no energy to even OVERTHINK…praise the Lord!  😉  I didn’t feel guilty in the least for not cooking dinner, not cleaning, drinking lots of sugar laden ginger ale, not tucking the boys into bed, watching too much tv, not showering, etc, I was just plain too tired to care!  LOL  (and so was E).

I fell asleep on the couch with Sarah at 6:30 pm Thursday, it was truly heart achingly sweet to be snuggled up with her.  We woke up and went to bed at 8 (when the little boys got home from wrestling practice thank you Jess) and I slept until 10:30 Friday morning.  It was awesome, and even better–Rich got home during that time.  He got out of bed in the morning to get the kids on the bus and then came back to bed and we both slept in.

Today is Saturday and he took the kids out for a little while.  Ethan broke his iPhone dropping it while playing basketball so they went to take care of that and to go shoot bow.  He sent me a picture of them eating lunch at Buffalo Wild wings.  He has David, Ethan, Tessa, Zak, Sarah, Seth, and Caleb with him.  LOL -the more the merrier-  Grace is at school  helping out at a band retreat and Jacob is working today until three.

When they left I watched a little TV and then went outside for a walk.  Yes, I’m feeling much better and it was wonderful to be outside.  Cold, but wonderful.  (34 degrees currently).

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Dried Queen Anne’s Lace

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I didn’t charge him a portrait fee.  In fact I paid HIM for sitting so nice.  I gave him a warm hen egg from my pocket.  He loves them.  (he eats them)

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I try to point my nose to the ground AND up to the sky, so as not to miss much.

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Granted, I’m a pretty loud walker (trying to scare away bears) so it’s a miracle if I can get a bird within 35 feet of me.  Today I had a short lens but I cropped this pic….see the titmouse on the branch?  There were several of them, including some chickadees, and they were being quite communicative.  They were clearly mad that I was walking with a cat.

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Sam had a great time running around, up and down trees and boulders, leaping over streams and such.

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One of my favorite colors—dark brownish yellow–

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Who knew the inside of acorn caps was such a pretty brown?

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curling thin papery tree bark with veins of moss

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moss under a sheet of ice (turns out we had two storms Thursday night…one in my tummy and one outside the window….tons of rain, thunder, lightening, and wind)…all that rain left puddles to freeze up again so prettily.

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*prettily*

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Someone has a very nice home.

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I spoke to a cardinal.  It seemed quite happy.  As it flew after a female, I understood why.

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Another type of moss (growing by a running stream).

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Beautiful icy water

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See the ice on either side of the photo?

I looked down and saw this:::

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So then I looked up and saw this::

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It’s my favorite picture of the day!

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And then I came home and saw the first FLOWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Very exciting.

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Inside pics.

Cats giving each other baths.  Candles lit.

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Card from dear friend. Thank you Dawn.

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An entirely gray cat.

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FIRST GREEN EGG from this flock of chickens!  Isn’t it lovely?

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I repotted the string of pearls plant and put it in a red hanger.

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flowers by the sink

lastly,

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crocheting a dishcloth.

“Just to be alive is a grand thing.”  Agatha Christie

 

animals, brownies, & liberty fabric

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Ideally, my blog posts should be nicely organized by single topics.  But I have all these pictures that I’m anxious to share, plus a brownie recipe, so we will have a post devoted to three topics today:

  1. Animals
  2. Brownies
  3. Liberty Fabric

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It would be a crime NOT to have chickens on this property.  Every morning, I let them out of their coop and the entire flock spends the day making rounds to all their favorite places; the pond, the nice dry leaves under the trees, soft dirt in order to take dust baths, under the wild berry bushes, the bank behind the house.

Whenever the urge to lay an egg happens to a hen, she makes her way back to the coop for a nesting box or the garbage barrel.  Sometimes there are a few eggs in the box when a chicken arrives, and I find them kicked out later on…..at least I imagine that must be how they end up on the floor amongst the wood shavings?

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I’m happy to gather the eggs in my shirt, some of them still warm, and bring them back to the kitchen like treasures.

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Gentleman Gray took an all-day nap in the sock basket.  He dreamed he was back in his litter, curled up with his brothers and sisters.

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Sherlock the big and handsome bright orange cat, sleeps on my bed all day.

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Ethan with his dog.  Or shall I say Dog with his Ethan?

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Emily our neighbor friend, with her big beautiful boy dog, Benji.  Benji comes for playdates with Parker.

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The day after playdates always leaves Parker and me kinda tired.  So we took naps on the couch yesterday when everyone was back to school.  (they had the day off on Wednesday).

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So, what to do with all those delightful eggs?  The #1 thing to do is make a big batch of brownies.

2 cups vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp vanilla
8 eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Blend oil, sugar and vanilla, then add eggs and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Pour into a greased 11 by 13 inch pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  All brownies are best slightly under baked.

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I first fell in love with Liberty Fabrics after seeing the blog Posie Gets Cozy.  The lady on that blog (Alicia) has made so many beautiful things with that fabric line and I only dreamed of doing the same.  Alas, that dream has still not come to fruition, because I did not MAKE Sarah’s little blouse, I bought it on super-duper clearance and I was so happy to do so!

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It’s thin and light and perfect for her because she gets too hot at school sometimes.  It makes a nice layering piece and it’s so pretty.

Yes, I have a lot of fun with my little girl.  Rich teases me.

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We think the kitten is saying “help me”.

why seth is home today (the very long version)

 

All is pearly blue, silver, and sunshine outside.  It’s currently 8:17 in the morning, and 32 degrees.  Seth and Sarah are watching a Christmas Thomas the Tank Engine show on Netflix while Mama (in her red robe) puts her feet up and tries to get some words out of her head, through her fingers, and onto a blog post…….

Why is Seth home from school, you ask?

Grace has needed to fill her prescription for much-needed new glasses for over a month.  I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and thought I would make use of the trip by taking her out of school to go to Lenscrafters.  She also asked if she could get her hair trimmed.  I was pleased to be able to take care of my beautiful, very busy daughter, but as soon as my doctor’s appointment was over, I had to take a phone call from the elementary school nurse.  She told me that Seth wasn’t feeling well; he was complaining of a tummy ache.

I texted Rich; he was busy at work and couldn’t get him.  Time with Grace is very rare, so I decided that the glasses were of utmost importance.  We went quickly to the mall to chose a pair.  I told the man that I would pick them up the next day and we left.  As soon as I got the girls back in the vehicle and turned on the car, Rich texted me back and said he could get Seth after all.  This was happy news, so back into the mall we went and the girls both had hair cuts.  And we had time to pick up the glasses, too.

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I need to tell you that I found my jar of Vitamin B12 gummy vitamins in the bathroom later, with the top secure, and with only 2 left in it.  I had a panic attack as I googled “Vitamin B12 overdose” into the computer, wondering if Seth had eaten them and was sick from them….there were about 35 missing and to this day NOT ONE CHILD IS ADMITTING to eating them!!  (David said he ate one).  I eventually discovered that overdose can result in panic attacks and heart palpitations, because the B12 is an “energy” vitamin.  Seth was doing the opposite (sleeping in my bed).  They are also water-soluble which means the excess gets urinated out rather quickly.  But this experience added to the drama-trauma of the evening.  I took the boys to wrestling practice and went back home to my sick child.

I let Community Bible Study know that there was a possibility that I wouldn’t make it the next morning to decorate my tables for brunch or facilitate my group.  I was disappointed, but by the end of the evening Seth’s fever had broke and he was acting like his normal self.  He slept good that night, so I sent him to school with a note and let Paula (from CBS) know I was able to attend after all.

I did all the one million small things to get ready by 8:15 am; loaded my little gifts for the ladies into the car along with a beautiful centerpiece for the tables, cut up a pineapple, packed up the creamers, sugar, tea, coffee carafe, and so one.  I took my shower, put on make up, got Sarah dressed, started my car……

AND THE NURSE CALLED ME TO COME GET SETH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She said he couldn’t go back to school until his fever was gone for 24 hours.

I wasn’t going to study after all, but I couldn’t contact Paula.

Then, I thought, well…maybe my friend Caroline is available today.  She usually has to work but after a text and a phone call, I found out that she was indeed home, waiting on a stove delivery.  She agreed to take Seth, so I drove to school to get him, and drove to her house to leave him.  Paula called me back and I told her I was running late……

I drove 40 minutes to the church, loaded my arms with all my stuff, rushed to the gym to my tables…and found that they were completely done and decorated.  “Oh Shanda, I tried to call you back to let you know but you didn’t answer your phone!”  My sub core leader got the message that I wasn’t coming and never got the message that I was coming, so she had decorated the tables.  I felt like she was my Christmas Elf.  Despite the frazzled morning I was glad to be there and the morning was a blessing to my heart and soul.

My bible study friend Lisa is a baker.  She gave everyone in our group a delicious quick bread for Thanksgiving and yesterday she handed around small paper boxes decorated with glittery star stickers.  She told me, “These are Homemade!” when she handed me my box.

Needless to say, after I was back home again with Seth and Sarah, I opened the little box, and almost cried.  The box was filled with the most delightful darling chocolates.  There were two generous layers of beautiful HOMEMADE chocolates.  I squealed and exclaimed.  I thought about the thank you card I would send.  I couldn’t imagine the work it took to make them!  I ate one; it was raspberry filled!  I ate another; it was coconut!  I gave one to Grace and Sarah and put the box on the bookshelf, my own personal little guilty-pleasure that I intended to savor and linger over the next few days.

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entirely homemade and beautifully detailed

Eventually, David and Caleb were home, too, and it was time for me to make dinner.  Rich and the boys were at wrestling practice and I had recently *dropped the ball* with dinners so I wanted to put some thought and care into the food.  I roasted a chicken, filling it with three garlic cloves, salt, rosemary, and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  I placed a sprig of rosemary on top and basted the chicken carefully every fifteen minutes.  For a side dish, I made tomato rice; 2 cups of chopped onion, a chopped yellow pepper sautéed in olive oil.  I added a cup of rice, a tin of whole tomatoes, and half a tin of water and let it simmer until the rice was creamy and perfect.  With a salad and the pineapple I had cut up that morning, we had a lovely meal.

But Jacob and Ethan didn’t come home.  They had Subway and went back to school for the basketball game.

We have a housefly problem in the house.  As I made dinner I concentrated on killing flies.  My son David advised me to aim cleaning spray on them to render their wings useless; so I did that and then stepped on them.  I hate the dirty flies; I am becoming obsessed with them…I imagine maggots….I MUST GET RID OF THE FLIES….I was getting up and down from a stool, bending, spraying, cleaning, killing…..

After serving the little ones their dinner (Seth had five bowls of salad and nothing else, weirdly) I was simply done with it all…done with the day…tired…head was buzzing…I collapsed on the couch with my kindle and let the kids watch a Phineas and Ferb Christmas special.  When Rich came home at 7pm, he found a tired mama and five (never ever tired) children.  He did enjoy my dinner, which was nice, but still I wondered, was all the fuss worth it?

I went to get a chocolate; I couldn’t find them.  I looked all over the place.  Nothing.  I asked the family.  Nothing.

I wanted one of my special, homemade chocolates.  I deserved it!!

You’ll never believe.

I found the box.

I found the wrappers.

They were on the floor.

Behind the bookcase.

Every chocolate.

GONE.

I screamed.

I asked the children; their dear little faces looked at me in blank innocence.

When I showed the box to the dog he wouldn’t look at it.  He wouldn’t look at me.  He went straight to the door to be let out.

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“I won’t make eye contact with my mom because I ate all her homemade chocolates.”

I will never get over it.

At six this morning I stumbled out of bed and came out to the living room to ask if the Dog was still alive.  I’ve read everywhere that chocolate kills dogs.

He was fine.

But Seth had just thrown up.

And that is why Seth is home today.

springtime and baseball

It’s funny how the thoughts go back back back to childhood … today was opening day for little league (after church) and I couldn’t help but think so much about my own younger brothers and all the years of watching them play at the fields.  Our sons Jacob and Ethan are too old for little league, today we concentrated on David and Caleb….Jake and E weren’t even with us.  SO WEIRD.  They are growing up and away, little by little.  Yes, the older boys stayed after church for the fellowship lunch, and then Wally was going to go over some Javelin tips with Jacob again.  Jacob throws for school, and with Wally’s help he beat his own personal record on Friday at the meet.

It’s quite chilly outside today so after several hours I asked my husband if he would drive me, Grace, and the little ones back home.  I am currently and happily under a blanket with my feet on a warmed up corn bag with Seth at the end of the couch.  Grace is on pinterest next to me and continuously laughing at someone’s “funny” board.  Sarah Joy is sitting next to her, watching a movie.  (“Once Upon a Forest”)  Billy Cat is stretched out so softly next to my legs and Sherlock is curled in a ball by Sarah.  We all have our pajamas on already.

I was on pinterest and somehow got to thinking about Trailing Arbutus.  Do you know that lovely wild flower?  I remember my Grandmother liking it, and it grew in the woods near our home when I was a child.  It grows close to the ground, but getting down into the forest leaves to smell it is worth it.  It smells wonderful, better than apple blossoms even.  I haven’t seen the flower in years and years.  There were pictures of it on pinterest so I pinned one and then thought about Yellow Violets.  As a child, I remember finding them just one time.  I had walked deeply into the woods on Grandpa’s property and was thrilled to discover a bunch of yellow violets…at that time I had not known there was such a flower.  I picked one and added it to my bouquet.  On the way back home I stopped and showed it to Grandma and she smiled.  She knew exactly where I had been.   It is a nice memory for me, I felt that we shared a secret delight together.  I learned a lot about the flowers and things from my mother, who in turn had learned them from her Mama.  And now, when I go for walks I cannot help but point things out and tell my own children about them.  Beauty from God.

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We spent time outside on Friday.  It was a beautiful day.  I found the children up on the hill behind the house exploring,  and then Sammy jumped up on the fence from the neighbor’s side.  She was exploring, too.  Isn’t she pretty against the bluest of blue skies?

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Daffodils are in bloom and the fuzzy buzzy bumble bees love them.

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I am amused by the lengths a bee will go in order to collect pollen.

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When we walk by the edge of the smaller pond, hundreds of bullfrog tadpoles ripple away, out of the shallow water.  Going up closer to investigate will scare the last brave ones from the edge.  Once they swim into the deeper water, it’s funny to stay and watch them go up to the surface to breath.  There are SO MANY, if they all develop into full grown frogs I am afraid we will have a Biblical proportion of them (like a plague).  Parker the dog enjoys the challenge of catching one in his front teeth.  He does not let the tadpole touch his lips at all, just the teeth.

He detests bullfrog tadpoles.

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After he brings one back into the grass and lays it gently down, he gags in deep hisses.

He can’t resist the urge to pick it up again with quivering lips and dainty teeth.

He plays with it a minute, rolls on it, and then goes back to get another.

No, he can’t bring himself to do it twice.  Once is enough.

Tadpoles are cold and slimy, and they disgust him.

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We look at wild flowers next.

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Sarah likes to ask me if she can pick one.  I say “yes”.

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Seth goes across the monkey bars and I ask him if he can go all the way.  He has to work, and I marvel at the bodies of young children, so light and mobile and strong.

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I tried to help him once but he panted, “I want to do it by myself!”

He made it across and was proud of himself.

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After throwing tiny pinecones into the long pond and watching the fish grab them and pop them back out of their mouths, we headed to the stream.

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A hen came over to see what was up.  So very nosey!  What a busy-body!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The next day, Saturday, it rained and rained all day.  The boy’s Little League Opening day was cancelled.

It was today instead.  We went to church, came home to quickly change, and then headed to the park.

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It was a big to-do with “thank you’s”, dedication of benches (in memory of those who passed away over the last year), trophies, a presentation of the banner for last year’s winners, etc, etc, National Anthem sung, players name’s announced (including our Davy’s) and then….finally….the first games of the season.

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Caleb

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David.  Please keep me in your thoughts as I try to keep these pants white all season.

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Sarah had a ring pop.

The movie is over, it is time for me to serve a little something for dinner.  It will be an early bedtime for Seth and Sarah tonight.

Have a blessed evening, my friends.

You are loved.

 

 

 

the dog had a problem and was possibly bleeding

I talk to him when I’m lonesome like;
and I’m sure he understands. 
When he looks at me so attentively,
and gently licks my hands;
then he rubs his nose on my tailored clothes,
but I never say naught thereat. 
For the good Lord knows
I can buy more clothes,
but never a friend like that. 
~W. Dayton Wedgefarth

I just downloaded some photos to my computer while sitting in the living room with Rich, David, Caleb, Seth, Sarah, and Grace.  Our dog, Parker, was at my feet but I didn’t notice him at all.  He is always there.  The kids were watching Phineas and Ferb and I needed to think so I could write this blog post so I got up to go to our new addition.  As soon as I stood up, Parker did too, and he is the only one who followed me into the room.  He is lying at my feet again, oblivious, as I type this post all about him.

We got him when he was a puppy and he is almost 7 years old now.  After he grew up out of puppydom, I was so very busy with homeschooling and having Seth and Sarah that he was tied up outside at a doghouse, and left there.  That sounds bad.  Really, the issue was that if he was ever free, he would run away immediately, up the road, to visit people.  It was terrible.  We would try to let him in the house with us but if we were not careful, he would literally bolt out the door *like the house was on fire* every time it opened.  Consequently, he was tied up at his doghouse more often than not.  He had daily walks, many of them, probably four or five a day (or more).  We all walked the dog, and Rich took him running.  He had plenty of exercise but he was sad, for he was a family dog and wanted to be with his people all the time.

One time I took him for a walk with Sarah in the stroller (not my smartest decision).  It was fine until he all of a sudden bolted and tipped Sarah over into the ditch.  She survived it, but the dog almost didn’t.

Another time I tried walking him and he was so excited he started racing as fast as he could down the hill.  I was so scared (determined not to lose him by letting go of his leash) that I w#t my pants.

He ran up the road and the neighbors called animal control and he was impounded.  (two or three times)

He ran up the road and got into another person’s house and tracked mud on her carpet.  She came down and yelled at me.  I offered to pay to get it cleaned but she just wanted to yell.

One time he got loose when the little boys were getting on the bus and he went right on the bus with them.  I could not get him off it (in my pjs of course) until the driver opened the back.  I cried all morning, so upset, thinking of the lawsuits that could have happened.  Yes, I can laugh about it now but at the time I was thinking about slipping sedative drugs into his dogfood.

Seth and Sarah grew.  I had some time to think and solve Parker’s problem.  The family (I think it was my sister) encouraged me to look into getting a hidden fence and I finally made some calls and Linda saved Parker’s life from one of boredom to one of luxury.  Parker soon grew fat from stealing pizza and butter out of the kitchen at every opportunity.

Training him to obey the hidden fence wasn’t hard once Rich convinced the trainer that he needed to simply be run into it a few times.  After he understood his boundaries, life (cue music) was grand again.  The guilt I had felt for so long over this animal was gone.  Parker was no longer tied down at his dog house or terrorizing the neighborhood.

Truly, he is all reckless love, and never hurt anyone, but his great adoration of humans made him desire freedom and visits at all costs.

He has been a house dog, a true family dog, for a few years now but can go outside any time he wants.  He scratches the heck out of the front door whenever he wants to come in.

He is Ethan’s dog.  I cannot understand his devotion to me.  I don’t snuggle with him or coo at him like his boy.  But he is always there.  Always by my side.  Have I ever told you that I prefer cats?  I don’t like dogs, especially big ones?  But this dog…..(do I dare say?) has  pretty much won my heart.

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He loves stuffed animals and has bitten the eyes out of almost all of them.  The kids LOVE their animals and never throw them away so we have quite the menagerie of eye-less stuffed animals in this house.

Another thing he enjoys doing with “his” stuffed creatures is burying them outside.  I am always startled when I finally notice him silently standing by the door waiting for me to let him out (he sometimes has to wait a while).

It is an event, and it usually takes some time for him to settle on the most perfect spot to bury it.

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This is one that the kids rediscovered and brought inside to show me.  See Parker’s paw? He wants it back I bet.

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Playing memory.

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Being a foot rest.

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Showing me his special eye-glowing trick while being Too Close to Cat for Comfort.

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Making sure everyone is okay.

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He loves to go to the coop with me and always begs for a nice fresh egg.  If I give him one, he carries it in his mouth gently until we get to the driveway and then he lets it drop (gently) so the egg cracks and he can lap up the goods.

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I was treating my puffy eyes with tea bags with kids all over me, and a cat, and still. … he was there.

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Being a good armrest.

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Yesterday, Parker was bleeding from the mouth and I did not know why.  He was lying on the floor just like you see in that picture, only he was on the hard wood in my room next to me while Seth and I were busy sewing a pillow.  He made a whining noise and when he got up I noticed two small puddles of watery blood on the floor right where his nose/lips had been.  My heart lurched as I touched it, believing perhaps it was just a dried up dirty spot that I hadn’t cleaned up yet (because I keep my floors oh so spotless).   No, indeed the spot was wet and slimy.  I immediately told Seth to wait a minute so I could look into Parker’s mouth.

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(reenactment)

I didn’t see any cut but when I looked at my fingers they were red.  He definitely had some sort of bleeding, and I guessed it was internal.

My dog was sick.  My dog had a problem.

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(dramatization)

I was uneasy for hours, keeping an eye on him.  Every time he plopped on the floor to rest I thought he was getting worse.  I knew I would have to call the vet if he continued to “suffer”.

UNTIL.  Later on, I walked through my room and noticed THIS:

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And I knew.

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He had eaten a marker in his spare time.  I asked him about it later and he said nothing.  But his eyes said, “They are irresistible, can I have it back, pleeeeeeeese?”

In my utter relief, I was proud of him for using such a big word and being so polite about it.  I also realized once again that in this house I am usually the only one with problems!

***

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This is the pillow Seth made.

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This is Seth.

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And this is an early spring day.

Jacob and Ethan are at wrestling, the rest of us are home but Grace has a singing event later.  I have a hair appointment at 3:30 and I can’t wait.  I think I will get there early so I can sit in the fireplace room and read fashion magazines (not my typical reading material).  Seriously, we have about 12 inches of deep snow but the sun is shining and the birds are all singing deep in the woods and around the house, they are happy and I take my cue from nature:  SPRING IS COMING!  Thank you, God.