voting with a nine year old

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The kids don’t have school today so I took a little buddy with me bright and early to get this important task completed.

Seth always knows what to do to have the utmost fun….. so I waited to see where he would put his sticker and then I put mine in the same spot.  Then he showed me that when I was filling in the ballot he had stolen the car keys out of my purse without me knowing it.

He thinks the voting age “should be five.”

We went to the grocery store with our stickers on our foreheads.

Next up, a trip to the barber with brother Caleb.

Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light…….

something of one’s own

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It’s October.  This morning a soft mild breeze brought down 100 yellow leaves, tossing and turning them before they landed with a papery sound on the driveway.  I saw Walter Kitty looking up, up, up, his head turning this way and that, watching the leaves.  His first autumn.

The way water reflects colorful leaves and sunshine, like a stained glass window, is breathtaking.  Every scene is much lovelier than a video, or painting, or a photograph.  There are no smells of earth, or sounds of nature, in a mere picture.

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“Woman’s life today is tending more and more toward the state William James describes so well in the German word, ‘Zerrissenheit–torn-to-pieces-hood.’  She cannot live perpetually in ‘Zerrissenheit.’  She will be shattered into a thousand pieces.  On the contrary, she must consciously encourage those pursuits which oppose the centrifugal forces of today.  Quiet time alone, contemplation, prayer, music, a centering line of thought or reading, of study or work.  It can be physical or intellectual or artistic, any creative life proceeding from oneself.  It need not be an enormous project or a great work.  But it should be something of one’s own.  Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day–like writing a poem, or saying a prayer.  What matters is that one be for a time inwardly attentive.”

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, page 56

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Like most mothers, my days are busy from start to finish.  Yesterday even more so.  The children didn’t have school so I left a list of chores for David and Sarah to complete while I was gone, and took Caleb, along with Seth, to his orthopedic doctor’s appointment, 45 minutes away through morning rush hour city traffic.  The appointment was over an hour long in a tiny room, mostly waiting, with Caleb leaving twice for xrays.  We left with the orders that he could not throw anymore until his shoulder heals, as he has what’s commonly called “Little League Shoulder”, which means that the growth plate in the shoulder is inflammed by over-use in throwing baseballs and footballs.  Ironically, I was suffering from a stiff neck all day and still am this morning.  We ate lunch,  relieved to finally know why Caleb’s shoulder was hurting and happy that with rest it should heal up nicely.  We did some shopping and came home with just enough time to get ready for music lessons, and then on to football and cheerleading practice.  Then, loud and happy goofing around in the house afterwards as they ate a bedtime snack, took showers, and David chased the family pets around the house, scaring them half to death with his dragon hand puppet.

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In the midst of this day of mine,  I took out my camera and enjoyed God’s lovely world in the small green grassy yard by the music building downtown.  Seth and I saw a pretty creek, trees with bright leaves, unusual mushrooms, and we took each other’s picture.

Now I’m taking a quiet moment to write here, feet up on the coffee table and dishwasher running in the kitchen, and I’m quite positive Anne Morrow Lindbergh would approve.

 

 

 

 

“no days off”

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We all woke up this morning at 6 and couldn’t sleep anymore!  We don’t know why!

To break up the day we decided to go out together to first and foremost get chicken feed, and then do a little shopping, and have lunch.  I bought Sarah a cute dress, Seth some stylish sweatpants, myself some earrings, a vase, a liquid measuring cup for baking, and a couple of shirts, and Grace a brown bandana for her hair.  The tacos at Moe’s have gotten smaller but lunch was filling and delicious.  We listened to happy music on the way home.

David and Caleb are away at camp this week and Rich is on a business trip until Wednesday.

Grace went out for tea with a friend when we got home and we are having quiet time now because this evening is Seth’s first football practice for the season AND Sarah is doing cheerleading for the first time!  She’s nervously excited.

I am watching the Waltons and filling out their sports forms.  Mondays are always a “catch up on laundry” day and we’ll have chicken patties and veggies for dinner before we leave for practice later.

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My shirt says “no days off” and I wear it when I’m in a humorous mood because I didn’t buy it because I work out daily in the gym, I bought it because I’m a mom. And while it’s true that my current stage in life (“motherhood”) allows for almost no days off, I cannot complain as I constantly count my blessings, the first of which is that I get to be mom of these seven children of ours.  There are many busy and even chaotic moments in each day, but there are also many peaceful and quiet ones to recharge, like right now, while I’m blogging and watching TV……….or reading, petting the cats, scrapbooking, baking, walking, or taking off for a morning of shopping with the kids.

life is good and I’m glad I can flop on the couch in between laundry, cleaning, and dishes!

Happy Monday!

 

in the kitchen

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For years I’ve been making dinner with children underfoot.  Isn’t it grand.  Indeed, if it isn’t a child, it’s the dog.  Or maybe even both.

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David is almost 16.  He knows if he wants some attention, he just needs to lay on the floor in the middle of the kitchen while I’m making meatloaf.

I asked him to peel potatoes.  He got frustrated because he didn’t like the peeler.  I got frustrated because he peeled them on the floor.  But he cleaned the floor when he was done.

Dinner was great.

Since the oven was already on and hot for the meatloaf, I made a chocolate cake for dessert, too.

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I baked our family favorite chocolate cake recipe and coated it with a newly found recipe for Glossy Chocolate Frosting, which tastes great with the cake.   It ends up being like a thin layer of not-too-sweet soft chocolate fudge.  And stays shiny!

Glossy Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
3 T. cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup boiling water
2 1/2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, salt and add water.  Cook until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat, add butter and vanilla.  Spread on cake while hot for a glossy frosting which stays soft and smooth.  This recipe is enough for a 9 by 13 cake.

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I took the kids to the local library today.  Seth and Sarah always play a silent game of hide and seek in the library without running.  They always do this…. why don’t they sit and read books is what I want to know.

David read a book about weapons.  I recently bought him a new white t-shirt covered in dark red roses and he looks handsome in it.   He stayed by my side in the kitchen last night and at the library this morning.   He’s a great friend and son and always makes me laugh.  He tried to insult me the other day by saying, “I’m this way because of YOU.” but it just made my heart melt, as I took it as an ultimate compliment.

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Grace looked at a book about Art and I picked out two books on home decorating.  Weapons for Dave, art for Grace, and home decorating for me were all conveniently located in the same area so we sat on the floor together.  Caleb came over to us now and then to add to his pile of books which he left with me (Garfield, football)….

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I checked out the books while the children looked at charming paintings and talked to each other.

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And I thought to myself, “They love their sister.”

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I went to the farmer down the road next for some packs of nice hamburger.  I am going to make Dorito chip Salad for dinner.  Seth and Sarah know if they come in with me they can ask the farmer (or his wife) for a popsicle and they will say “yes” and cut the top off for them.

When we got home I took another cat portrait, this time Sherlock was with David, rather reluctantly.

Seth is standing here with his arm around my neck waiting for me to be done typing.  We are about to make another cake because there was only one piece left this morning and he wanted it.  However, I ate it in a weak moment (it was so good, so worth it) and I told him we could make another one.

Brittnee is happy.

Brittnee is always happy (says Seth).

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little league days and nights

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We’ve been doing little league with the boys ever since David was about 5 (he’s now 15).  Jacob and Ethan got a late start in baseball and we’ll probably always have some regret about that.  However, David started very young and played every year but one, and Caleb and Seth also started as soon as they could (although we did skip t-ball).   It’s not always fun for me to drive to the fields almost every night of the week, and sometimes in not the greatest weather.  In fact, we still have cold evenings and we shiver as we watch the boys play.  But then, we’ll have evenings so hot people are holding up umbrellas for shade.

Rich especially LOVES to watch the boys play.  He mourns having to leave on business trips and missing the games.   This is when it’s so nice to have the phone.  I can easily take short videos of the boys at bat and send them along to Rich.

On game nights, we eat an early dinner and drive the boys to the field early to warm up and then I walk and walk and walk (with my headphones in my ears, listening to podcasts) until the games start.

Here are some photos:

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Seth (9 years old, 3rd grade) started out as pitcher on Friday night.  It was very hot after several cooler game nights and the boys were rather wilting toward the end.

Seth had an “off night” as pitcher and was visibly relieved when the coach put someone else in.

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He’s a very good all around player.  And he will play every position if possible.

One time they were warming up and he was at shortstop and he and his teammate called “Got it!” at the same time and Seth ran into the kid to catch the ball.  “Seth’s a show off!”  I heard.  He’s not necessarily a show off, but if he yells “got it” he’s going to get it, even if his teammate said it at the same time.

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Seth’s face looked so worried as he ran to first base after getting a hit but knowing he won’t make it to the base in time.  When Rich saw it, he got right up to go get him a cold Gatorade from the food booth.  Usually does magic.  🙂  It’s so much better than mom’s warm water bottle.

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He got a nice hit this time…..I heard someone in our crowd say “beautiful!” as we watched it go…..

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This season, Seth had to break the habit of watching what the other team was doing with the ball as he ran the bases.  Seeing him run to base with his neck twisting this way and that was silly.  “Watch the base!” we would yell.

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******my heart*******.

Now for Caleb., who is almost 13 and in 7th grade.

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Everyone loves Caleb.  He’s a team player, he is quite vocal about encouraging the team and telling them when they’ve had too many errors.  He’s also a lot of fun and can be too goofy at times.  I heard his coach get on his case once when he struck out at bat and then went to the dug out and started goofing around.  Sometimes Caleb will dance after getting a good hit and making it to first base.  Caleb is well-known for his realistic chicken noices and as a result, his nickname is “Chicken”.  Even his coaches call him Chicken.  Not because he’s scared and timid like a chicken, but because he SOUNDS LIKE ONE.  Rich groans and groans.

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He’s such a calm player and rarely makes mistakes.  He DOES make them now and then, but as his mom I’m always very surprised.  (every mom thinks their kid is practically perfect).  He looks great in all three of his positions that he plays; first base, pitcher, and catcher.

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No home runs yet this year….oh how we are waiting!!  Last night he got walked three times.  He was SO annoyed.  He and one other boy on his team have red cleats so I’m always squinting down at the field and saying, “Is THAT Caleb?”  Caleb is number 11 and his cleats used to be Ethan’s.  I took these photos with my long zoom lens.  He looked so very handsome with that game face.

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Here he is jogging to first after getting walked……Caleb wants a home run so bad!!!!!

The white pants have been fun to wash all season.

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Pitching

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As I’m writing this I’m thinking I should ask my brother Isaac to do a pitching clinic with Seth and Caleb.  He was an excellent pitcher when he played years ago.

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Caleb as catcher.

Here is a video from last night.  He was warming up the pitcher and looked so cool and confident.  I LOVE THIS VIDEO and so does Caleb.  He said, “Send that to Dad.”

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Jacob dropped off Seth and Sarah at the game yesterday after church.  I had stayed home to get Caleb to his game on time and he helpfully took the other kids to church (Rich had to leave for a trip).  So Sarah looked like a princess in her church dress.  She had a hamburger for lunch from the food booth, and took off her shoes as soon as possible.

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I went to a tag sale before the game and bought a bag of old linens and she found this piece of lace and her princess attire was complete.

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Happy golden days.  Lots of times chaotic, but all the time worth it.

i am made aware of another mothering mistake

I simply love it when the children and I have time to chat without distractions because it gives them the chance to air their little grievances.  This morning Seth and Sarah were all ready for school with about 10 minutes to spare.  I stood by the door watching for the bus while Seth sat on the floor and Sarah sat on the couch.  The family dog was flat on the floor, sound asleep and exhausted after a busy day yesterday when he escaped through his hidden dog fence and ran around the neighborhood for hours.  We have since figured out that his collar is broken so in the meantime, we were discussing how we cannot under any circumstances allow him go outside when the bus came, as he usually does, and having Parker as the topic of conversation reminded Seth of something that hurt his feelings…..and naturally, it was my fault.

From the floor, he spoke up.  “Mom?  MY favorite animal is the dog.  Caleb’s favorite animal was the SNAKE but then as soon as I decided MY favorite animal was the DOG he changed HIS favorite animal to the dog, too.”

(Caleb is his big brother and almost 4 years older than Seth.)

I turned away from the window to look at him.  “Well, you can both have dogs as your favorite animal, besides, I’m sure that Caleb still likes snakes better.”  But as I said this I realized that Seth was correct; Caleb has become a Dog Expert and watches lots of videos on youtube about……dogs.  And has been begging me…..for a dog of his own.  Well, it’s beside the point.  Having siblings means having to share your favorite things with them.  Life isn’t fair, ya know.

“And I feel ignored….” Seth continued, wide eyed.  “I feel ignored because now, when you see a dog, you say, ‘Caleb, look at the cute dog’ and….. I’m ignored.”

He began to get actual tears in his eyes over this thought.  It was obvious it came right from the heart.

As he buried his face in his hands, ashamed to be crying, I looked at Sarah, shrugged my shoulders, and bugged out my eyes, meaning;   “Can you believe this kid?”  She raised her eyebrows at me and it quickly became clear she was on “his side.”

She said, in a lecturing tone,  “Well, Mom, the name Caleb MEANS DOG.”

“All this is MY FAULT?” I asked.

“You could have named Caleb Seth and Seth Caleb.”

I was stunned.  So I raised my arms and said dramatically, “I would like to apologize to the entire room, especially YOU Parker, because you ARE a dog and you have to listen to all this. From now on,”  I turned back to Seth,  “If you and Caleb are together with me and I see a dog, I’ll say SETH LOOK AT THE CUTE DOG.”

Parker is elderly now so it touched my heart that between the three of them, he was the only one to slowly creak to his feet and walk over to me in order to accept my apology and get his ears rubbed.

Seth was smiling again, no doubt imagining Caleb’s face when he realized Seth took back his favorite animal and he would no longer receive motherly notifications about dog sightings,

then……thank heavens…..the bus arrived.

~snow in March~

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Ah, the changeable weather of March.

This is what we woke up, nothing too terrible, but school was already cancelled and for hours and hours we felt rather let down. . . . .in fact, the roads were perfectly fine when I ventured out with Sarah for her dentist appointment at 11.

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Next door to the orthodontist is a small floral shop so the two of us ducked inside to look around before heading home.  It was warm and cozy and we met a cat named Penny.   Sarah said, “Penny is a great name for a cat.”

No one appreciates flowers like a Northerner at this time of year.  They are a feast to the eyes. . . . .

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We came home with this arrangement. . .and a soy candle.

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back at home. . . . .

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David and I played Monopoly with Seth and Sarah.  It was laborious.  And not fun.  By the time I had a total of 2 properties, everyone else had like 7.  I kept landing on non property spaces.  Seth played like he lives life, with no regard for keeping things orderly and neat, flipping around on the floor, spilling his iced tea, and so on.  He also got tired of the game even though he was doing very well.  We eventually congratulated ourselves for quitting at the half way point.  (we made it that far)  But isn’t the penguin token so cute?  I thought of you, Dad.

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“Why aren’t these kids in school?”

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“I can’t relax in these conditions.”

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The Christmas Cactus surprised me with one more blossom!  (in a cobalt fiestaware planter)

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Rich got home from Dallas just in time for the big snow-day.  Everyone was glad to have him back. . . .including Parker the dog.

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Eventually the snow picked up.

Rich went out with the children to buy a mattress for Joanna’s visit (tomorrow) and I had a nice hour or so to watch the snow fall and read my book (Don Quixote) which has been a highly amusing literary surprise.

“Published in two volumes, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published.”  ~wikipedia

I picked up a copy at the thrift store for like 5 cents.

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When they arrived home with the mattress, I had just put chicken enchiladas in the oven.  Everyone was so hungry.  Enchiladas were never anticipated quite like this.  We looked into the oven every 30 seconds to see if they were done.  Meanwhile, Rich told me all about his wonderful deals at the mattress store.  The man in charge gave them his full attention because, as he said, “You will probably be my only customers today.”  Rich told me his story as the children all hovered around, listening and watching for Mama’s reaction, after all they were so proud of their Dad and knew I would be, too.

Alas, just as Rich finished up his report and concluded by saying, “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”,  Seth “ate his chair”, in the words of our 15 year old son.  He had been rocking back and forth on his stool, leaning on it instead of sitting on it, and it slipped out from under him and landed on him with a loud crash.  We all looked down at Seth on the floor as he started saying, like he was trying to convince himself or maybe pray for a miracle, “I’m okay, I’m okay!  I’m okay!”  Rich helped him to his feet and dusted him off.  It was dear little his nose, the part right between his eyes.  It swelled up slightly and bled a little but was not broken.  “Wow, he totally ate that chair,” said Dave,  “Is the chicken done yet?”  Seth went to look at himself in the bathroom mirror.  A picture would be nice right about now but I wasn’t in the position to be photographer at that point, I was too busy congratulating my husband for buying 2 mattresses, 2 pillows, 2 sets of sheets, a mattress protector, arranging free delivery and old mattress pick-up, all for the PRICE OF JUST ONE MATTRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!  “Wasn’t that a good deal, Shan?”  “Wait, I’ll tell you just as soon as I feel Seth’s nose to see if it’s broken………….”

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I’ll just post this photo again.  Boy was dinner good.  They all dug in and enjoyed as they ate in front of the TV and got up for seconds and thirds.  Yes, TV is totally okay during meals on snow days.

The rest of the day passed lazily.  PTL

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The snow continued to come down heavily and we woke up this morning to yet another snowday.  Rich plowed the driveways and headed to work after telling me, “No, I cannot take them with with me,” and the children went right outside before 8,  after breakfast to make hyenas.  (I don’t know but they took the bag of carrots, I saw Parker running around with one in his mouth)

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I filled up the bird feeders and admired little cat tracks.

I’m blogging in front of the window with my slippered feet up on the sill.  When I look outside I have to squint a little, the snow is so white and bright it puts our ideas of “white” to shame.