ready

Dearest Father in Heaven,
Bless this child and bless this day
Of new beginnings.
Smile upon this child
And surround this child, Lord,
With the soft mantle of your love.
Teach this child to follow in your footsteps,
And to live life in the ways of
Love, faith, hope and charity.
~Gaelic blessing

We had a full and fun summer with just enough boredom, chaos, and lack of schedule to make the first day of school somewhat of a relief.  Okay, maybe I’m speaking for myself.  I was wondering why I wasn’t sad in the least to have children get on the bus a few hours ago and I think it is because there were no major changes this year….no one is going into their senior year, no one is entering High School for the first time, no one is going off to college for the first time.  “Sigh” everything’s sort of the same as it was a year ago.

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David saw me get the camera and said, “No”, but even as he said it he was getting up off the couch to go to the door…….he knew it had to be done and maybe I’m fooling myself but I think he was glad that I was still going to take photos just like all the years before.  He is in 10th grade now and will turn 16 in a month.  Caleb is 13 and in 8th grade.  My heart swells with pride and love when I look at them.  They’re just so great in typical teenager boy fashion.

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Seth is in 4th grade this year and has the same teacher that his big brother Caleb did in 4th grade, and he’s excited that he has a man teacher for the first time.  We visited his classroom yesterday and he was thrilled to discover that he had several of his good friends in his class.  Seth took special care in putting together his first day of school outfit which I thought was adorable.  He grew a lot this summer, into a big solid boy.

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Sarah had an entire new outfit that I bought for her yesterday (she even picked it out herself with no help from me because I was busy chasing Seth around the store).  But at the last minute, she went with an old- but stain-free-, comfortable- but pretty-, shorts and shirt.  Then she grabbed the kitten and jumped.

Sarah is in 3rd grade and has the same teacher that both David and Caleb had in that grade!  She also has a male teacher for the first time and he’s just the nicest man, we see him and his family around town often.  It’s such fun to have repeat teachers, and really get to know them.

Jacob, Ethan, and Grace are all off to college and settled into their dorms.  The boys share a room which has no air conditioning so they sweat and swelter, and Grace has her very own room which I am sure is a relief to her after having to share with Sarah all summer.  I’ll do a better update about the college kids eventually.

After I waved the kids onto the bus, I got dressed, tidied up the house, gathered up laundry, and emptied the dishwasher.  I also let out the chickens, and had to shampoo Seth’s rug.  Now I’m done with chores I’m going to the garden center to spend my rewards cash before it expires in 2 days.  I guess it’s time to get some fall mums.

Thanks for stopping by, friends, it’s a beautiful day.

You are loved.

PS, kids I’ll be home and waiting with cookies when you get off the bus.

 

the fifth son

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No, it is not his birthday.

Seth will be not be 9 for two more months.

He is lively, bright, active, your- typical- boy -but -maybe- just a notch or two- more hyper.  He is a lot like my brother Nathan was at that age, always moving, always using the furniture as gym equipment.

By the way, let me remind you that he had three staples in his scalp and fractured his collarbone on Halloween?  He’s all better.  We had the trainer at the HS school check him out this weekend and he said he was good to go.  So he had his first wrestling practice last night.  On the way there he confided, “I feel nervous.”  “I think you’re excited,” I answered.  “Yes,” he agreed.

Last week after he got back home from school he put a paper on the counter and came over to me and said in a hesitant voice, “Mom, I have a note from school.”  “Oh no,” I thought.  “What is it, Seth?  Did you get in trouble?”  “Just read it, Mom,” he said sadly.  So I rushed over to the paper, picked it up, and learned that Seth had been awarded the Hall of Fame for good behavior and work in his classes.  So apparently my son is also a good actor because he had me fooled at first.

I squealed and hugged him and gave him a big ol’ kiss on the cheek.  He bounded away, “Mama’s proud of me.” he just knew it.

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He got dressed all nice for school.  I had bought him a nice Jcrew sweater from a consignment shop…..I’m dying to find out if it’s still on him for the assembly, which is TODAY.  IN 45 MINUTES!  You see the peek of orange underneath, I bet he’ll be wearing the orange t-shirt for his award.  ?????  I wonder????  It’s happened before with my other sons.  Seth is number 5 so he has to prove to me that I DON’T KNOW ALL THE TRICKS YET!  He’s an original, just like number one (Jacob) number two (Ethan) number three (David) and number four (Caleb).  We are surrounded by brothers.

I’ll let you know if he’s still wearing the sweater.

I noticed, too, that he PUT A NECKLACE ON.  Be still my heart.

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This was his favorite photo.

Instead of bouncing off the walls of the house, chattering and laughing and being silly as he waited for the bus, he was having his photo taken on the driveway!

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No, not because it is his birthday.

But because……..he is getting awarded for being a good student today at school!

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“No more pictures, mom!”

We turned to go into the house and saw………

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Miss Sarah!  Wearing the same pants she had worn to school the day before.  And needing her hair fixed.  “Oh yes, I have things to do,” I cried.  And sent her back upstairs to “put different pants on!”  Goodness.  Find your socks and shoes and grab the hairbrush.

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It’s the 6th day of December.

All is well.

 

first day of school 2017

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8

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Blessings to the children, first of all, on another new school year.  You have each grown so much over the summer, but still young with lots to learn.  What bright and willing minds you have, eager for education and eager to have fun with your teachers and friends.

Blessings to the teachers, who work hard to make the school year as successful as they can, with patient and mature minds, eager to “go forth and conquer” all the challenges that come about each day.  Blessings to you as you prepare and teach. Your life’s work is importance and we thank you.  You are touching countless young lives.

Blessings to the families who let go and watch their children go forth and experience life, who do everything they can to help.  Blessings to the mothers and fathers who nurture and provide a home for children to come back to at the end of the school day.  May the afternoons be full of welcome and love.  And cookies.

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I like to imagine all the good things happening that no one will ever know.

The mom, busily packing school lunches, slipping in an extra package of snacks, “so you have something to share with a friend.”

A music teacher, choosing a special song with a certain student in mind.  “He’ll love this one.”

The office ladies picking up donuts to share with any parent who comes in during the day.  Adding fresh flowers from the garden to a vase to brighten up the space.

Cheerful volunteers who do what they can to help.

Children picking out their favorite outfits and wondering if their best friend will be in their class this year.  Such smiles when they reunite with their classmates.

Janitors keeping things extra clean, who get to know the children by name.

Teachers who purchase extra supplies just in case a student isn’t prepared.  Showing a caring heart.

School nurses who welcome the wounded and show patience to pretenders.

Dads smiling over the texts messages; photos of his dear ones.

Mothers left alone in a quiet house, quietly cleaning and working, preparing for when everyone gets back home again.  Or off to work, glad to have something to do, with thoughts of her babies always there.

And so on.

Secret prayers, deep thought, problem solving, strings pulled behind the scenes, all sorts of people taking an interest and making good things happen for their communities.

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. . . .encourage one another and build one another up . . . . .

“We can only see what we have grown an eye to see.” Rachel Remen

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This little boy wants to be just like his older brother, so he found Ethan’s old backpack and claimed it for this school year.

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Sarah only likes ponytails, so I took a quick picture just before twisting around the hair ties.

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Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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……encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all……

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Time again for an early morning “wave” from the next door neighbors as they get their kids off to school, too.  We’re in this together.

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……..anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad……

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Have a wonderful day!

You are loved.

 

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grace (graduation)

It was about a week ago now that I met a homeschooling family at one of my son’s baseball games.  The mom and I had a nice visit together as we watched the boys play and at one point Grace came walking by with her friend.  I stopped her and introduced her to my new acquaintance.  “Oh, I used to be homeschooled,” Grace offered excitedly, “I loved it.  I never wanted to go to public school but mom made me.”

Part of me cringed to hear these honest words.  However, after last night, watching Grace with her class and teachers, seeing her bright smile, how mature she was, how capable, her light shining bright, it all became clear to me.

She bloomed where she was planted.

She took a difficult change in her life and made the best of it.

She had ups and downs, more downs, a few more ups, on and on for the six years she was in school, rather like a roller coaster.

She had fun, tears, anxiety, sleepless nights, songs, dance, silence, wide eyed wonder, false friendship, true friendship, romance, responsibility, headaches, dizziness, academics, good grades, good books, teachers who were kindred spirits, teachers who were her second mothers, and through it all…….she had her faith in an unchanging dependable Father God keeping her steady.

She did it.  Rich and I could not be prouder of our daughter.

*******

A month or so ago I was feeling a little desperate about Grace leaving home so soon and mentioned, half teasing, that she might like to take a year off from college and just stay at home with us (me).  After all, she did start school when she was four and was younger than a few of the juniors this year.  “We would have so much fun, Grace!”  to which she replied (and I quote because I wrote it down):

“I know we would but. . . .we have all summer.  And I need to move on with my life.”

I just had to laugh with respect, happy to have a child this steady and focused on her goals.  I know how much she adores her siblings and depends on her parents.  The relationships within the family circle couldn’t be better, which is to say, perhaps this is the very reason why she is confident in moving on; her needs are met so she is not needy or clingy.  Plus it’s just her personality in general.  She’s forward-moving.

She’ll be attending Christian college in the fall about 5 hours from home (not too far), easy enough to get her home for the holidays.  I know she will have the time of her life there.

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For our small town, the class of 2017 was rather large and cars parked all over the the place outside in the parking lots AND out of the parking lots.  I drove up over the curb with my big mama vehicle and parked in the lawn!  Saving seats was a hostile experience!  But we all got squeezed in and you can see my view from the middle of the room. . . . . .thank the Lord once we sat down I found that I could see Grace if I leaned over to the right and then forward in my seat.

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There she is!

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Recognized with the other scholarship and honers students.

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waiting in line for her diploma

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two hours after walking in……the class left the gym to loud & happy music.

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(dear girl; Emily–our neighbor and also Ethan’s girlfriend’s sister…kids rode the bus together for years)

and now for the fun photos:

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With gratitude to the teacher who understands that some families NEED more tickets, Grace’s siblings were able to attend this year’s graduation ceremony.  (all 9)  Her two big brothers visited the old HS stomping grounds and saw some of their teachers and friends.  (I say “old” but Ethan just graduated a year ago, and Jacob the year before that).

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After getting through the crowd and out of the gym, we found our girl.

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Oldest girl with youngest girl; oldest boy with youngest boy.

 

 

friends

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adoring little sister

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One of “our other kids” Zak, also graduated.  He is a close friend of the family.

My husband coached him in wrestling.

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brother Dave

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W E N D Y ! ! ! !

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I had left my purse unguarded in the hall so Jacob collected it for me.  Brittany is another dear friend of the family and graduated with Grace.

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Caleb and Seth got through the night thanks to the kindle and…..cheese.  🙂

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Ethan with his girl.

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My daughter, my friend.

Love you, Grace…

How hard the battle goes, the day, how long;
Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song. ~Maltbie Babcock

 

 

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grace (class night)

The washer and dryer are going, and outside skies are clearing up after being washed clean from a night of rainfall.

A mason jar of wild flowers, freshly picked, sits on the kitchen island.

A collection of baseballs over there on the end table from a now-ended season of little league.

Parker the dog is sleeping, with his head resting against my leg.

I scrubbed something disgusting off the porch this morning.

Sarah’s stuffed owl on the coffee table.

A stack of stuff emptied from someone’s backpack.

shorts, a tank top, freshly washed hair, and comfy birkenstocks on my feet

*****

Today is the last day of school.

Last days are a tad heart-wrenching, aren’t they?

(I swear they each grew a foot this year.)

Thankfully, “last days”……. are followed by “first days”.

*****

Grace’s HS graduation is tonight.

Rich and I were away for five days, we returned last night just in time to go to the school for a fun “Class Night” put on by the Seniors, for the Seniors.  Grace looked so pretty marching into the auditorium with the rest of the students.  All the moms and dads looked and looked until their eyes rested on their own dear child. . . . . . . .suddenly on the threshold of completing all those years of school.  We couldn’t help but take the time to remember the years leading up to this day, as they grew from little babies all the way up to the 17 and 18 year olds that they are now.  Lots of love was in the room.

After a 30 minute slideshow, the kids put on one last talent show up there on the stage.

I sat between Jacob and Ethan and it was fun, but today, right now, as I watch these videos of the two songs Grace sang with her friends, I’m a big puddle of mama-tears.

 

Grace wore a long white dress with roses on it.

 

don’t cry, kids

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I agree, it was a wonderful long dreamy dream of a summer; the summer of ’16.  But it’s over now and you must go back to school today.

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I love how Grace started High School with two brothers by her side and is ending High School with two different ones.

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She’s rather full of herself.  David said, “Will you please get off me?”  And I said, “Uh oh, Grace, I bet Caleb will be taller than you are by the end of the year.” and she lifted her head to try to gain a few more inches.  Then she ruffled his hair and said, “Caleb you have nice hair.”  “He has the best hair of the family,” I say.  “No, Ethan does,” she replied.  “What about my hair?” said Dave.  “And Seth has the nicest eyes,” Grace continued.

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There was wet stuff coming from the sky but it was only a gentle light rain.

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They go to two different schools this year so they ride separate buses.

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For the 7th year running, the winner of the “best eyes” in the family contest!

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They melt me.

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Seth got on his bus and then it was just the two of us….”Let’s sit on the bench together and wait.” she said.  So we did.

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“I’m going to make lots of new friends this year.” she decided.

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Of five little children, off to school  

Only one of them cried,

Can you guess who?

 

special

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EVERYONE say HI to RACHEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night at the winter sports awards Dave had my camera and she squealed, “Take my picture so I can be on your Mom’s blog!”

She’s adorable.  Grace tells me that Rachel is a devoted reader of this blog and for that I say, “I’m so very glad you enjoy it and yes you may save any photo you want!”  xoxo

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I had to run over to get in a picture, too, (along with goofy wrestling boys in the background).  Gosh, I look tired almost like I had spent half the day saving my flock of hens from a fox.  (true story)

Rachel is the fabulous Mary Poppins in our upcoming school play so she’ll make another appearance here soon…..stay tuned!

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It was a fun night honoring the winter sports.  We had pizza in the cafeteria, awards in the auditorium, and then broke into groups in order to honor individual sports.

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Rich was this year’s head coach for wrestling.  He presented each of his boys a certificate and told everyone in the room his favorite memory of the season for each of the boys.

Doesn’t Ethan look handsome? As soon as the night was over, Jacob walked up to him and said good naturally but emphatic, “Now get my brand new tie off, E!”  I laughed and laughed because Ethan doesn’t ask to wear his brother’s clothes, he simply takes them.

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Rich was told by another coach that his wrestlers were the best dressed team of the night.  I would have to agree.  🙂

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Caleb, Seth, and Sarah Joy wanted to be in a  picture, too.  I simply must mention that Sarah is amusing us lately by trying to be stylish.  She puts thought into her attire and dresses herself in certain outfits every day.  Today she carefully chose a dress to wear.  Last night it was all purple: pants, shirt, and sparkly headband.  She wanted to wear her earrings again after months of refusing to wear them.  Personally, I think she’s being influenced by a friend at school to dress up more fancy.  IT’S SO SO CUTE!!!

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Ethan proudly wearing his brother’s tie.

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I had my camera around my neck down low, shooting “blindly”, and this was the shocked expression I got from David when I said, “I’m shooting you, Dave.”  (with my camera, of course)

Caleb and Seth were busy fooling around in the hallways.  At one point, Seth was hanging upside down behind Caleb as Caleb held his legs.

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Grace and Caleb

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Me and my handsome, handsome husband who has a BIRTHDAY TODAY!!

Happy Birthday, love.  ❤