first sledding of the season

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My brain woke up before the rest of me.  I was so tired it took me a few minutes to reach for my phone to see if school was cancelled this morning.  Nope, just a two-hour delay.

As soon as Sarah got up she went outside.

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She couldn’t wait to go sledding.

It was 7 o’clock in the morning.

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Our house sits on a hill so it’s been fun for the children all these years.  They can just sled from the porch steps all the way down……beginning with the oldest Jacob and ending with the youngest, Sarah.

Alas, no one else wanted to sled with Sarah this morning.  Seth got half ready and then changed his mind. “The snow isn’t good.”  “It’s too cold out.”

I watched Sarah through the window.  And then I went out on the cold wet porch in my socks.

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I was charmed to see her attempt something her big sister Grace would have also done at age 8; she decided to scoop up kitty Walter and take him for a sled ride.  After all, this is Walter’s first winter.  He has a lot to learn.

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He learned it really fast.

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Sledding wasn’t for him.

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Back inside, Caleb made himself bacon, cheese, and eggs.  A nice proper breakfast, served on a white fiestaware plate, with a periwinkle mug of ice-cold juice on the side.

 

They can’t cook at the same time without squabbling (G, right?) so after his big brother was done, Seth made himself bacon and eggs, too.

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Snowy outside, cozy inside.  Look at Parker begging.  LOLOLOLOLOL

PS, the first photo is of my garden gnome.  He can’t see right now.

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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one dollar photo shoot

“I live to enjoy life by the littlest things, feeling the grass between my toes, breathing fresh air, watching the wind sway the trees, enjoying the company of loved ones, a deep conversation, getting lost in a good book, going for a walk in nature, watching my kids grow up. Just the feeling itself of being alive, the absolute amazing fact that we are here right now, breathing, thinking, doing.”   ~Marigold Wellington

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On Wednesday the temperature reached 63!  I was too hot at times!  And the very next day the temperature dropped 30 degrees and by that afternoon it was snowing enough that all after school activities were cancelled.  I looked out the window from the couch, where I was cozy with a soft blanket, and saw the big wet flakes falling straight out of the sky.  It was so pretty.  I remembered how I would have Grace dress up so I could take her photos out in the snow.  Sarah was downstairs playing video games.  I sighed.  I didn’t feel like bothering to ask her.  I was too tired.  I knew it would take some convincing on my part to do a photoshoot with Sarah.  Therefore I watched the rest of my movie.

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Well, lo and behold about an hour later I had to shut in the chickens because there were no mature children home to send instead.  As I pulled on boots and took my coat from the closet, Sarah came upstairs.  “Where are you going?”  “I have to go shut in the chickens.”

“CAN I GO WITH YOU?”

“Sure!”

And so it happened!

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After the hens were properly shut in she asked,

“Do you want to see Ethan’s secret hiding place?”

“Sure!”

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It wasn’t very far away but traveling there was was rather difficult.  I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get past some of the branches.  I had to remove briars from the both of us at times, too.  We were crawling through the bushes and trees to get to Ethan’s secret hiding place.

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It was a big tall white birch tree.  Caleb discovered it once a long time ago when Sammy the cat led him to it by meowing.  And then he in turn showed Seth and Sarah.  It’s all a secret.  They knew what it was by Ethan’s name scratched into the bark.  It said, “Ethan loves……”  and I’m not going to tell you the name because it’s a secret, too.  By the time w got home I had forgotten it was a secret hiding spot so I told Ethan about it and he laughed and Sarah said, “Did Sammy show you the spot, too, E?”  And he said, “I think a cat did lead me to it actually.”

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FOLKLORE:  the traditional beliefs, customs, and stories of a community, passed through the generations by word of mouth.

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Isn’t it amazing that in just one afternoon enough tiny snowflakes can fall to cover the ground and the trees?  A million little things………all together can add up to something significant.

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the mom

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Sarah Joy age 7 years and 9 months.  On a small walk with mom to the chicken coop.

Thanks for letting me take your pictures, Sarah!  I love you!

PS, I had to pay her a dollar.

we belong to the day (1 Thess. 5:8)

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Glory of the world makes life meaningless
Glory of God fulfills it.  ~CH Spurgeon

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Toys, books, videos, art supplies, blankets, music, and hot chocolate are ready and waiting.  It’s another snow day in our neck of the woods today.  The children and I are sitting inside a giant snow globe; outside the windows of our warm house are millions and millions of tiny white snowflakes shaking down from the clouds of heaven.

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“I see that if I would be happy in God, I must give Him all.  And there is wicked reluctance to do that.  I want Him–but I want to have my own way, too.  I want to walk humbly and softly before Him and I want to go where I shall be admired.  To whom shall I yield?  To God?  Or to myself?”  Elizabeth Prentiss

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain……”  Psalm 119:36

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:2

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“The way upward in true life and honor is to go downward in self-humiliation.  Renounce all, and you shall be rich; have nothing, and you shall have all things.  Try to be something, and you shall be nothing;  be nothing, and you shall live; that is the great lesson which Jesus would teach us, but we are slow to learn…… CH Spurgeon

“I believe that selfishness is the front-door key of despair.”  Spurgeon

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“As long as we have the itch of self-regard we shall want the pleasure of self-approval; but the happiest moments are those when we forget our precious selves and have neither–but have everything else (God, our fellow humans, animals, the garden and the sky) instead.”  CS Lewis, letters, 1954

God
our fellow humans
animals
the garden and the sky

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“…..the burdens of my heart rolled away….”

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Whenever something is bothering me, and I’m in a moral quandary, I dig out the ol’ journal and pen and start searching for quotes, verses, and other writings that have to do with my current topic of interest.  I talk things over with Joanna or Rich and that helps, too.  I love that I can keep my Bible near and read it for comfort and correction at any time of day or night.

A balm for my soul that always heals.

I come away feeling so much lighter and free.

*****

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(Dear Brother Dave, these are the sneakers Seth bought with the birthday gift card you sent him.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2018

“Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”

most delicious chocolate cake

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Seth’s birthday

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had a backdrop of pure white and a sky of baby blue.

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It was absolutely magical in the woods.  Photos just do not do it justice as a photo turns everything flat and motionless and room temperature.  Reality has endless depth, layers, temperature, smells, sounds, feelings of expectation, exploration. . . . .

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nature’s playground

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here comes the sunshine

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They insisted on the short cut back home which involves a perilous crossing of the stream.

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No one got wet.

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For dinner that night……looks amusingly not that good….creamy scalloped potatoes with pan fried sausages on top.  Yum!

Birthday cake for dessert; two round cake layers with fresh whipped cream, sweetened strawberries, and homemade fudge sauce.

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topped with chocolate dipped strawberries.

I made everything myself except I did use a cake mix for the chocolate cake.

((((presented upon a Scarlet fiestaware cake plate))))

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It was truly as delicious as it looked.

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One piece remained but was quickly eaten the next day.

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“I got no cake.”

“I only got this dumb green streamer in my collar.”

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We took a photo that night at 9:20 pm, the exact time of his birth, nine years earlier.

 

 

 

no school today (wednesday)

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David is practicing a song on the piano.

A candle is flickering on the coffee table.

Outside the window all is gray (sky) and white (snow) and black (trees).  We are fast losing daylight.  It’s 4:10pm.

Time to turn on lamps, think about what to made for dinner.

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This morning Caleb asked to make breakfast.  He made bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches for himself and younger siblings.  Seth wrote up the menu and took orders.

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This book is so good!

Since today was a snow day but the roads were clear, I took the three boys to our favorite barbershop for haircuts.  Only two boys complained at the news and said, “I don’t want to get my haircut!”  I asked them if they were still three and said go get in the car.  Soon we were on our way. . . . .listening to music, going to the ATM because he only takes cash payments, and pulling into the parking lot.  There were 4 haircuts ahead of us so we had to wait a while.  Thankfully I had my book.  Sports TV was loudly playing and it was fun to watch the boys get their hair cut.  He gave me a notebook and pen when we were done, and the boys each received a piece of very hard bubble gum and a lollipop.

What’s for lunch?  Two boys wanted Dunkin Donuts egg sandwiches but Caleb and I ran into Chipotle for burritos to go.

Back at home, Jack came over and the younger kids went outside to play.

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David, Grace, and I watched Myths & Monsters on Netflix (highly recommended).

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Dave with a new hair cut.  (he has a scrubbed face (eye) from wrestling).

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After the first episode I fell sound asleep on the couch and the kids came back inside to play.

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Rich just came home early.

Happy Snow Day!

 

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deep down joy

fullsizeoutput_4e37A sibling may be the keeper of one’s identity, the only person with the keys to one’s unfettered, more fundamental self. ~Marian Sandmaier

Brother Dave came the day after Christmas and stayed until Friday morning.

He’s a brother in every sense of the word.

I noticed that Sarah in particular had to be close to him as much as she possibly could.

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He hardly had room for his arms at times.

It was like she could sense that deep down inside, Uncle Dave could use another human Right There.  Us Grown ups all seem to have a little bit of sad vulnerability within us that is healed by the love and simple phrases of a child.  “Sit by me!  Can I come, too?  Will you read me a story?  Let’s snuggle.  Can I have a taste of your smoothie?  Will you play a game with me?  I don’t want you to go!”  Healed.

If a child is not available, any ol’ human will do.  “It is not good for man to be alone.”

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Right away we had Christmas again.  Dave had already sent cards with money to the children but he brought the gifts from our parents that we all enjoyed opening up.

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Sarah received the most adorable green umbrella with piggies on it.

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The men received new shirts.

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Rich tied the ribbon around his head.

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Grace received beauty products.

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By the time we opened our gifts Rich was ready for a nap.  He had already been awake for hours and had worked out with his wrestling team.  He likes to trap Seth in his arm on the couch when he goes to sleep.  Seth either falls asleep too, or waits quietly until he can sneak away.

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Big family dinner all around the table.  I used the crock pot.  Flank Steak, sliced onion and green pepper, sliced fresh mushrooms, minced garlic, and a pat of butter slow cooked all day and then served over your choice of rice or mashed potatoes.

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After dinner we sat at the table and visited and I ended up french braiding Dave’s hair like a Viking.

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We went downtown for breakfast at the diner.

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“When your breakfast is brought last.”

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After eating we were filled with happy energy so we gave Dave a little driving tour of our town.

Meanwhile, it was so cold, in the single digits.

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We made a stop at the thrift store.

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I took this photo of Hess trucks to show Rich later to see if he had any of them as a boy.

And to show Seth what they used to look like.

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And this one for my son David who likes knives, especially sharpening them.

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Sarah found some boots for one dollar and a couple of books.  David found and purchased a big print of ships on the ocean.  Grace shivered.

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Then we stopped at the coffee shop.  (This photo was taken across the street from it).

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When I think back on our visit with Dave, the coffee shop stands out as a very pleasant memory.  It was warm and busy, art work on the walls and fairy lights around the windows was beautiful.  We had a corner table by the window, it was light and bright inside.  We played cards and talked and waited for our warm drinks.  Oh it was just so good for the soul.  Completely comfortable and relaxing…..so needed after a busy week/month of Christmasing.

Quick photos with five of his nephews and our dog Parker who also loved Uncle Dave.

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Another very special memory was the walk we went on, just the two of us.

It was, I say again, icy cold outside.  But we bundled up and walked briskly in the freshest of winter air.

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It was a delight to see tracks everywhere in the forest.

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Shards of snow

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Visiting the stream deep in woods is always a winter wonder.

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sister and brother

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We ended up at the chicken coop and I walked back to the stream to get a bucket of water.

DSC_1025Our brothers and sisters are there with us
from the dawn of our personal stories
to the inevitable dusk. ~Susan Scarf Merrell