green dress

The Sunday before Christmas, when the majority of the church people wear festive colors. I like to see the men in fun ties, too. The church is decorated with trees and poinsettias, candles and greenery, lights and garland. We sing hymns and listen to Scriptures proclaim the glories of God, His son, born a King, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.

I said before that I would post my Sunday outfits. I’m sorry I did not do it last week but by the time we got home from church I was worked up over thoughts of the Sunday School lesson, I won’t get into it, it was meant well and was an important study, but for me it was a trigger from years ago attending a legalistic church. We are now attending a very healthy grace-filled humble little church and thriving, but last Sunday I was in tears once again over past hurts. So I took my clothes off without a photo. I wasn’t in the mood.

But today, this morning, Sarah took these photos for me, wasn’t that nice of her? And the last one of the back of my hair, I had a “peekaboo” blue dye put in on Friday. I love it. It’s very subtle and almost unnoticable but it’s enough for me!

I’ve had the green dress for years, I bought it at anthropologie. I think maybe it will remain in style always, don’t you?

“I just want my hair long this morning.”
“MOM! Brush from the bottom to the top.”
“I promise if you don’t like them you can rip them out.”
“That sounds painful.”
“You look adorable.”

She kept them in.

Lillian, on the way to church. (Grace’s middle name is Lillian and I like to use it once in a while.)

Grace and Michael C sang a duet today. We got to church early so they could run through the song and I took this photo because Seth and Sarah were near their sister, listening. Seth made us laugh because all of a sudden he was inspired enough to make his face and hands look like he was singing an opera song (for a few seconds) mimicking his sister. Goof.

Here is their song, I can’t wait to hear what Kara thinks of it! ūüôā

Naturally, we thought they sounded brilliant.

Caleb and our pastor, Gary, rocking their bowties.

This year’s family photo, just taken today a few hours ago……..

And one with dear Brittnee, too. Someday I hope she really is an Ives (shhhhhhhh!) but either way, she will always by one of my “adopted” ones.

We got our tree. We cut it down on Friday, it was so friged that I made a beeline to the very first tree I thought might look good enough and that’s what we cut down. It’s beautiful and perfect. The children helped decorate, it wasn’t peaceful or magical but it was real and messy and family and fine.

Grace is sound asleep on the couch by her Dad, who is listening to a sermon on his ear pods. Michael and Jacob are leading the children in a nerf fight (I’ve heard things like “I’m bleeding out” whilst I type). Ethan and Dave are sitting in chairs and talking to each other. My heart is at rest, I am holding and treasuring each moment in my heart, and refusing to eat anymore Christmas cookies for the rest of the day.

I love you, dear friends.
May your days be merry and bright.

grace at the christmas house


I dragged myself out of my cozy bed this morning to go wake up Seth for school, and wake him up I did, out of a sound sleep. ¬†We came upstairs together to find Caleb in the rocking chair, “There is a two hour delay, mom,” he says. ¬†Seriously, I could have stayed asleep. ¬†Ugh. ¬†But once up, I stay up and I made pancakes and bacon and hugged everyone. ¬†I heard a report from Caleb and Grace that “Sherlock was meowing all morning and wouldn’t stop. ¬†Jacob finally put him outside.” ¬†After the children all left for school I found the cat under the porch, in distress. ¬†“What is wrong with this cat?” I wondered, and then thought to myself, “He did bite Caleb not long ago, maybe he has rabies.” ¬†The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that he had rabies and since he bit Caleb, Caleb naturally had rabies as well. ¬†I called the vet and sure enough, his rabies vaccine had needed updating a year ago. ¬†I made an appointment to take the cat to the vet and also put in a call to the pediatrician to let them know Caleb was bitten by a cat that didn’t have his shots up to date and probably had rabies but I didn’t know because I was on my way to the vet with the cat. ¬†I had to leave a message and left to travel to the vets with my sad cat.

I was crying when I explained to the technician that I feared that my cat had rabies and that he had bitten my son. ¬†She quickly left the room to send in the vet, who came in saying, “Sherlock was vaccinated for rabies in the past and there is no way he can get rabies or pass rabies on to your son especially since it has been over two weeks since he bit your child.” ¬†She felt Sherlock all over and announced “Oh this is his problem, your cat cannot pass urine, he is blocked.” ¬†So I cried some more and tried calling my husband to ask him what to do and if we could spend 800 dollars to get Sherlock on the road to recovery. ¬†Rich grew up on a farm and values all living creatures, but only to a certain extent. ¬†ha ha. ¬† Providentially for the children and I, he did not answer his phone, so I called my son Jacob, who after all is a man now. ¬†After talking it through with Jacob we decided to go ahead and get treatment for our cat, as the only other option according to the vet would be to put him to sleep. ¬†All of us love Sherlock very much and since he had a sickness which could be treated, we decided that even though it would cost 800 dollars we felt responsible for his care and knew that in this instance it was the right decision to help our dear pet, after all he probably only bit Caleb because he was grumpy about his condition.

I drove home without Sherlock, who was being busily sedated and catheterized by the vet and her assistants to remove his blockage, which, as explained to me, was a multitude of crystals in his urine that had built up over time. ¬†In fact, the vet was a dear older lady who became a vet later in life after her own cat had the same condition. ¬†She told me that she was so impressed by her cat’s vet that she decided to become one as well. ¬†She was very nice, I liked her a lot. ¬†I’m wondering if now I will become a vet, too. ¬†ūüėČ


I came home and ran 2 miles on the treadmill while texting my brother Dave in order to settle myself down again.

I am now sitting cross legged on my bed attempting to blog about Grace at the Christmas house.

Grace is part of the Madrigals singing group at her school and they dress up in victorian clothing and sing Christmas carols a cappella in exquisite harmony at many different venues.  They were scheduled to sing at a lovely decorated museum on Saturday so I went and took Sarah with me.  Rich came a little later, as well.


I loved the wall paper.


There were decorations everywhere, and a little gift shop in which Sarah spent a few dollars on matching Menorah necklaces for herself and her sister so that Grace, “would never forget me.” ¬†She said this with such sad eyes that Grace quickly told her “I could never forget you, Sarah, you’re my sister.” and then I cried a little. ¬†It was one of those moments.


The acoustics in this room were divine.


When they were finished with their performance, I took a few photos of Grace who was dressed so beautifully.

She was the queen.


There was an older gentleman in the room watching us who invited Grace to sit on the couch (museum furniture is not typically to be sat upon) for a photo.


The music director’s daughter MADE this dress for herself when she was the queen in high school.



Grace with her friend, who was coming to get her for a group portrait outside in front of the house.  I gave the camera to Rich and asked him to try to get a picture of them for me while I went to go help Sarah with something.

And this is what I recieved:


~Merry Christmas~

look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!


singing we go along life’s road

I took Sarah to the doctors this morning and she has exactly what Seth and David had. ¬†It’s this weird cold that fills their heads up with mucus, I know that sounds gross but honestly….when I gave David mucus relief pills it would run out his eyes and nose! ¬†Sarah has pink eye from it. ¬†They are swimming in fluid, it’s so odd. ¬†It’s like the cold from “the bad place”…Evil Cold. ¬†LOL ¬†Sarah had fluid in her ears, one was infected, her left lung had bronchitis, she coughs like a bad muffler (?), pink eye, and sinus infection..her nose does not run, it goes right down the back of her throat.

I went to Target to get her meds and cans and cans of chicken soup and Ramen noodles. ¬†I never buy those ramen noodles anymore because they are basically empty calories but you would have thought I bought home shrimp and steak the way six of my kids immediately made themselves a pot of noodles after school. ¬†Makes me kinda wonder why I slave in the kitchen…….(not really)…I want my kids to eat healthy, and we do…but Dr. said lots of chicken noodle soup so that’s what they’re getting. ¬†Along with decongestant, antibiotics (for those that need them), saline spray up the nose (each with their own labelled bottle). ¬†Lysol, etc, bleach, fumigator.

When we got home she fell asleep in my bed. ¬†I had to wake her up an hour later to go get Jacob and Ethan. ¬†Seth had a “thing” at school today at 2. ¬†I wrote a note telling the teacher I couldn’t go but when Seth realized it he said with big troubled eyes, “You have to go!” ¬†So I ripped up the note and I got Jacob from school early (his last class didn’t matter) so he could watch Sick Sister Sarah. ¬†Ethan is sick so I picked him up early along with Jacob.

I’m so glad I didn’t miss Seth’s event. ¬†The parents had to wait by the main entrance and their child came to them with flowers saying, “thank you for coming”. ¬†So Seth did that, it melted my heart, he was so proud and wasn’t sure if he should hold my hand or not. ¬†He wanted to, I know, but was a little shy about holding Mom’s hand in front of his friends. ¬†He sat me down at a placemat that he made himself and we filled out our food requests for a snack. ¬†Did we want fruit? ¬†yes. ¬†Did we want cheese? ¬†yes. ¬†Did we want pretzels? ¬†yes. ¬†Did we want Summer Juice? ¬†“What’s summer juice? I asked….”it’s lemonade”. ¬†Yes.

The children were all called forward to receive a Kindergarten Certificate and their memory books.  Then, the children served their parent(s)  the snacks.  After we ate, the kids sang us a song.

I had the great joy to sit with a friend who is going through the same thing as I am: ¬†a child graduating from 12th grade, and a child ending Kindergarten in the same year. ¬†In fact, this woman’s daughter was Jacob’s prom date last year. ¬†She’s so friendly and kind, too bad I found out today that she is moving away. ¬†But it was fun to chat with her. ¬†It was all special and I felt sad to think I almost missed out and caused Seth such a let-down, can you imagine him with no one? ¬†thank you Lord. ¬†And thank you to the boys for watching Sarah.

I was back home after an hour. ¬†Sarah was in my bed again, sleeping. ¬†She’s still sleeping as I type. ¬†Seth is outside the window riding his scooter, Grace is still at school, Jacob and Ethan are sleeping, and I don’t know what Caleb and David are doing but I have to take them to the fields soon for Little League games. ¬†(Dave has been on antibiotics for a week so he’s perking up).

Anyway, Grace and I sang a duet last week at our piano and we recorded it for our FB friends, I thought I would post it here, too, so my bloggy friends can watch, and my parents, too.

“It is easier to sing your worries away than to reason them away. ¬†Why not sing in the morning? ¬†Think of the birds–they are the first to sing each day, and they have fewer worries than anything else in creation. ¬†And don’t forget to sing in the evening, which is what the robins do when they have finished their daily work. ¬†Once they have flown their last flight of the day and gathered the last bit of food, they find a treetop from which to sing a song of praise!”

“Oh that we might sing morning and evening, offering up song after song of continual praise throughout our day!”¬†

(quote from page 182 of Streams)


PS, Grace just got home from school and is making herself Ramen noodles.

{this moment} home life

Rich and I were on the couch, I was resting my head against his shoulder and listening to the beautiful sound of my children singing together in the other room…..I never dreamed I would be sick this long (this is the 6th day). ¬† I am very sleepy and weak. ¬†It took much strength this morning just to take this video of Grace and Ethan singing….such is the pull of music.



madrigal feast

Good day to you. ¬†It is drizzling cold rain outside and as a matter of fact, the children had a two our delay from school this morning because of icy conditions…… and, it was quite the morning, let me tell you. ¬†There was a flurry of activity as the children did their best to enjoy the extra hours. ¬†They are now gone to school and Sarah is playing in her room, so I have a few moments to give a report on the Madrigal Feast.

The music director at our local High School has put on a weekend of Madrigal Feasts for the last 28 years. ¬†Grace was involved for the first time last year, as a Freshman, and I was so impressed by it that this year I bought tickets for Rich and I, plus Grace’s six siblings. ¬†The tickets were 15 dollars a piece and the kids perform three times over the weekend to a packed house. ¬†It is a great fundraiser for the music program, and they also donate money to a local charity. ¬†The first two Feasts were in the evenings. ¬†Rich and I went on the third day, Sunday afternoon, to avoid having the children out late.

On Sunday afternoon, while Rich (I love him) conveniently fell asleep and took a nap on the couch, I got the four younger children looking presentable.

Here is darling Sarah, all dressed up in her little dress, white tights, matching shoes, and itchy hair band.


After the 10 minute drive to school in the backseat with her brothers, she looked like this:


I mean, you just have to laugh, right?  I took the itchy hair band off the poor girl and then everything was fine.

When we arrived at the door to the cafeteria, where the feast took place, we told the doorman our name and they called out in a loud fanfare, “The ‘Smith’ Party has arrived!” ¬†(only they used the correct last name; our last name is not Smith, by the way) and in we marched through two columns of choir children, to our assigned table.


We each had a name card at our place, where a salad and fruit plate were waiting for us.  I sat in between Seth and Caleb.  Seth did everything in his chair but stand on his head, but it was nice for the most part.  David became cold and had no coat.  Jacob kept making eyes at his girlfriend.


Grace and the rest of the choir were singing up front all during the salad course.  I felt shy, so I asked if one of the children could walk up to take a nice picture.  Seth was the only volunteer.  Thank you, Seth!


When the singers filed past our table I took a quick picture of Grace, using the flash.  LOL Ethan.


There was a wonderful song all about wassail.  Every member of our table asked me what wassail was, including my husband, who was in attendance last year and should have remembered that it is a nonalcoholic hot cider drink served in a punch bowl.


Seth had three glasses of wassail and two full glasses of water, consequently he had to use the bathroom several times and was also too full to eat his feast.


The number of wonderful songs being sung one after another were like a lullaby to Sarah.

We ate chicken, stuffing, a baked potato, bread, and mixed vegetables. ¬†For dessert there was chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream. ¬†As we ate, the choir performed beautiful songs, skits, dances, and jokes for our entertainment. ¬†There was a king and queen, a group of wenches, a jester, and so on….we were to imagine that we were in old time London.

In this picture, on the far left, you can see a door with a sign, “face painting”, which is where Seth was taken to sit and have his face painted like Spiderman (his choice).

Also, this is the picture I took during the final verse of “Silent Night”, when our Grace stood front and center to perform sign language.



There were many, many items raffled off. ¬†David had put tickets in several jars, trying to win things, but when he discovered that the winners had to go up front to claim their prize and perhaps do something embarrassing, he hoped and prayed he would NOT win. ¬†(he didn’t).

OVER TWO HOURS later, the feast was over.  I had thoughtfully volunteered Rich to help tear down the sets so we hung around for another hour or so, until the cafeteria was a cafeteria again.

Mrs. Jones, the choir director (not her real name) is an AMAZING woman, so strong and capable, the children respect and adore her. ¬†She wrote a little poem about each and every senior and had it read in their honor…provoking tears from every mother’s eye. Grace is her assistant this year and she made sure to tell me how much she appreciates Grace and her work ethic.

I can’t begin to tell you all the little ways Mrs. Jones makes the feast special for everyone involved. ¬†It truly amazes me.

After the performance, every photographer took pictures of their children. ¬†ūüôā



The yearly groups form a close bond and Grace was thrilled to see graduating students return to visit;



LOL Jacob (far right)


I took the little ones out to the hall and sat as they ran around, waiting for the clean up to be over.

I had to laugh by the end of the evening I had a huge stack of coats, purses, shoes, etc, in front of me on the table to “watch” for the kids……

Spiderman!!  (make up remover wipes took it off just fine)




This was embarrassing. ¬†David, my magician, came to me with this plastic tie around his wrists and asked me to tighten it for him. ¬†Even though my inner motherly instincts were screaming “NO DON’T DO IT” I tightened it. ¬†“More than that, mom”. ¬†Okay, I tightened it more, as per his request. ¬†Well, he thought he could use magic to break free, but it never happened… he struggled, another mom came by to say hello to me, and to my horror, noticed Dave whose hands were turning an unnatural shade of pink, “Oh, that’s not good, David, you shouldn’t have that on your wrists.” ¬†“It’s MY MOM’S FAULT,” he replied, “She’s the one who did it.” ¬†Nice, Dave, nice. ¬†We finally found some scissors and Emily cut it off.

It was eventually time to leave and we all left like a herd, 10 of us, a big family full of never ending excitement, the stressful kind AND the good kind.  Deep in my heart I appreciate each and every moment with these people.

We went home and decorated the tree (pictured in the previous blog entry).



a proper photo, by another parent




I snapped these frosty photos the other day.  Down at the edge of the pond the grass and leaves had beautiful long lashes of frost.




Guess what our little artist, Sarah, has been doing these days?


The first time she tried tracing her own hand I told her it looked like the hand of a monster.  I did most of the tracing but eventually I became reluctant about stopping my own projects to trace *yet another hand* for her, so she decided it was more time-efficient to do it herself.


‘Mom! ¬†I did it! ¬†And it doesn’t look like a Monster-hand!”

(it doesn’t?)

I taught her how to draw pretty jewelry, and fingernails, too.

This one doesn’t have fingernails. ¬†But it does have a ring on each finger.



All that is required is paper and colored pens/crayons.  It kept Sarah busy for a long time and it gave her lots of practice with tracing, drawing, and designing.




I traced two sets of hands on some of the pages, trying to save time and paper.

As you may have noticed, Billy-Cat came over to see what I was photographing.

He communicated to me that it was a much nicer idea to photograph a handsome cat.


*lick-lick making myself ready for my portrait*


*wait, let me pose first*


*this is my best pose*


*how’d it turn out?*

I have happy cats because Sarah and I went to the grocery store to buy them food.  They ran out yesterday and had to gag down dog food.  All four of them have full tummies and are in various places in the house, sleeping it off.


This is what our mantel looks like right now. ¬†Jacob did the painting. ¬†I love how the red in it matches the mushrooms. ¬†Grace and Dave went for a walk and brought me the piece of wood (to the left of the painting, it’s the same color as the rocks so hard to see), they called it an octopus and plan painting it purple (I admit it would be easier to see). ¬†My felt mushrooms are from the Masonville General Store in NY. ¬†I pulled up some greenery from the woods and added artificial flowers along the mantel, too. ¬†The “give thanks” banner is from Pottery Barn (last year). ¬†I love how if you take the “e” off the end of “give” and then next four letters from “thanks”, it spells my son Ethan’s name. ¬†Sometimes I move those letters to the middle just for fun.


fiestaware in the sunshine

Tonight, I’m making meatloaf for dinner, with spinach and mashed potatoes.

I’ve shared Sarah’s hands and now I will share her song:


Won’t you give her a hand?