46 photos if I’m not mistaken



Today is a “catch up day” on the ol’ blog of all the photos I want to share from the last week and a half.  I have 46 photos in this post.  Life is good, full, beautiful, cherished.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  Psalm 1:9


Mom, as she always does, made homemade meals when I was visiting; soup on Friday.


pumpkin bread on Friday evening; I grated the nutmeg and ground the cloves.


pizza on Saturday night


with homemade sauce preserved last fall from her own garden tomatoes



It was so good I was almost crying as I ate it.  Tears of joy and of sadness because I can’t make pizza like she does and I have been trying for years.  Mostly joy though, I ate three pieces.


She showed me how to make breadsticks using leftover pizza dough.  She divided it into pieces and we rolled it out thin (like a snake), drizzled lightly with olive oil, and then twisted it and pressed it through a sprinkling of spice mix of mom’s own choosing on the counter.  I remember smoked paprika, fennel, sesame seeds, pepper, poppy seeds.  We put them on a cookie sheet to bake and they ended up delicious and fragrant.  The next day Mom and I each took one and used it as croutons on salad by crumbling it on top of the greens.


Salad fixings on Sunday afternoon; asparagus, seasoned chicken, tomatoes, cheese, homemade salad dressing.


I went with Dad to his drumming lessons with Kubla the dog.


And for several walks with my parents.


And a nice long walk by myself on a sunny Sunday.




Sunday morning we woke up to frost and a pileated woodpecker!  God knew what would get us outdoors in that kind of weather…Mom and I quickly pulled on our coats and boots and had a lovely walk before church, birdwatching.  In fact, come to think of it, I do have more photos of that morning but they are on another memory card so I’ll have to share those maybe tomorrow, if ever.

It was a thrill to see the pileated woodpecker; they are the largest woodpeckers in our area and so pretty with the red hat on top.


Mom and Dad’s cat Asian.


Mom’s vegetables started at the window.  She uses cut down milk cartons to transplant the tomato seedlings into as they grow bigger.


Dad keeps busy doing wood and keeping the fire going.  Even this is picturesque with the wood sheds and rock path, wood smoke, forest in the background, and Dad in his pop of orange.


Sunday afternoon was fun.  The frost had melted and the temperature had risen enough to make being outdoors the very best place to be.  We worked in the flower bed by the driveway.  Mom has a “Rusty Garden” with a collection of old rusty things that she uses as decoration.  It’s a fun theme.  We took everything out and threw it behind us on the grass.


You can see the different objects she has, most of which came from her Dad’s farm and land years ago before they sold the property.


We cleaned up the edge of the bed and thoughtfully replaced everything in new spots.  By the end of summer the plants will fill in among the decorations and be so pretty.

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Back at my own home; last week was The Week of the New Lens.  The first day it came it was raining outside.  (sobs) But then the weather cooperated and I was able to try it out. (cheers)

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I was quite far away from these birds and I am thrilled with the photos.



Baltimore Oriole!  I stood and listened to it’s beautiful voice before I finally saw it.  It was hard to take a photo through all the tree branches–my camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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It’s too bad that the roof of the car was in the way but nonetheless, I was so happy to get this photo of a female cardinal and her mate. In my peach tree.


And then on Friday there were four ducks on the pond!  I sat on the bench and snapped bout 50 pictures with perfect ease.  🙂

I texted Rich “this lens is awesome!”

He texted back, “I love you, too.”

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It’s so funny when they go “bottoms up”.




Rich was on a business trip and sent me this selfie!  🙂


Thursday was “take your child to work day” and Seth was the chosen child this year.  He went to work wearing clothes just like his Dad wears and with his hair slicked back all handsome.  By bedtime he was asking/begging me (and not Dad) to tuck him in and I understood he had had a huge dose of Dad that day.  His little love tank was full to overflowing.


Which leaves us with photos from Saturday; Little League Opening Day!  It was hot and bright all day long.  I went to Home Depot before the game and to my sister’s house.  I picked up Naomi and Weston so they could watch the games, too.

The photo of Seth is from the National Anthem.  Rich took it with my new lens.


Caleb at bat.


I was sitting on the bleachers!!!  So happy with my camera!


After making a double play!

This boy is very verbal and keeps his attention on EVERYTHING, encouraging his teammates and getting them ready and watching for the next plays.  He gets VERY into the game, even at home it’s all about baseball with this boy now.

(By the way, he’s a Yankees fan)  LOL


I’m going to get him that black stuff that you smudge on your cheeks.


POOR SETH!!!!!!!!  He gets TERRIBLE allergic reaction to the dust; his eyes were so red and swollen by the end of the day.  Bless his heart.  I’m giving him allergy medicine and eye drops now.  He’s a good ball player, too, and got to pitch for a few innings.

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And that dumb string was dangling all day long.  I never did get close enough to tell him to put in inside his pants where it belonged.  🙂

Isn’t he so cute!?!?!

Last, but not least; DAVE!  He is 14 and on Juniors this year.  He’s known for his speed around the bases, he runs around them just as fast as his dad did when he played.  He’s like the Flash (his favorite show on TV).

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LOOK at that face of intensity!


I’m so proud of my baseball players.  There is practice and/or a game every evening but it’s all worth it.  We get outdoors, talk to friends, and watch our boys do great things.  In every game there are impressive catches, scores, etc.  The moms laugh and try to keep track of everything.  Even when the team loses it’s fun simply because they are working together and learning so much.  Pastor says baseball is a spiritual sport because “you’re trying to get home”.


ALSO: in pond news:  the toads came and mated and then left again (leaving their long strings of eggs behind to hatch and grow on their own)



I had a moment of peace on Saturday evening down by the pond with the toads.


It’s May 1st so try to include flowers in your day or better yet surprise someone else with them.  That’s my advice for the day.

Time for me to get off my behind and get to work.  Be blessed, my friends.  🙂

life is a continual feast



We found out on Monday that Sarah was born with a congenital obstruction in her right kidney.  And she also has reflux on that side.  The mystery of how she had the stones in the first place as been solved.  Unfortunately, this obstruction has caused her right kidney to lose most of it’s function.  Thankfully, the other kidney is doing the job of keeping her healthy.  (kidneys are amazing)  The next step is to meet with the doctor about doing surgery on the ailing kidney to help it drain better…..because with no treatments she will most likely end up with ongoing infection.  There is a chance that she may lose the kidney, but the doctor believes that even though it has lost significant function, it still appears to be healthy and he is leaning toward surgically fixing the blockage.  We meet with a second doctor next week for her thoughts as well.


Of course, I am not a doctor and I don’t know much.  I do not have the wisdom of the doctors, but I do have the wisdom of a mother.  As a mother, I was very upset by the results of these latest tests.  Truth be told, I did a lot of crying and lost my appetite for a day (but in the midst of it I felt I would be sad forever–strong emotions & dramatics have always been a talent with me).  But the doctor and nurse were both calm and reassuring.  As specialists, they told me that they see children all the time with the very same situation as Sarah so they know she will be okay.

Jesus was and is always near, so near, and I had time reading the Bible yesterday in which I read many verses that comforted and stayed my soul.  I also had a nice long talk with Gary (our pastor) and my dearest mother (with Dad listening, too).

Jacob’s girlfriend Emily comforted me as well.  I told her some of my imagined fears and rambling sad thoughts and she exclaimed, “Don’t think about those things!”  Which is such simple advise, but TRUE, and I tell you, do not be afraid to share (some) things with your teenagers because they very often have just the words you need to hear, sweet simple childlike faith……..”out of the mouth of babes”.

Enough about that.  All will be well.  Doctors are a gift from God with God-given healing wisdom and talents.  What a wonderful world we live in, where there is knowledge and support for so many medical conditions!  This world is full of people trained to help in many ways and I am thankful for everyone I meet who shares a smile, or a kind word, or gives time and energy to be active in the schools and community.  These sorts of people make me always to want to do the same.  The world is much bigger than a kidney.  🙂  You can quote me on that.

And by the way, Sarah Joy is pain free and completely healthy.  Like I said, the healthy left kidney is taking over for the lack in the right one.  So this is a huge blessing!  And she is on a daily antibiotic to keep infection at bay.  She’s happy and growing and active.  Not only that, but she’s still young enough that she isn’t worried about a thing (until we are in the doctor’s office!).




Last week, Rich took me to the Brimfield antique show and we had such a nice afternoon together.   I saw these Tasha Tudor books and looked through them.  I didn’t buy because they were on the pricy end (probably worth it but not to me).


Birds we love.


Necklaces made from odds and ends.


Just as we are.


What we purchased on that day.  We came home and I scrubbed everything up.

The disc pitcher and 7 tumblers are vintage and are for display only.  I did tell the children that when they grow up and have a baby we will do a toast with them at that time using these valuable tumblers.

The covered casserole and three light yellow bowls are retired yellow.

The mugs were chosen by my husband — two lapis and one shamrock.

The divided vegetable bowl is a retired piece in Ivory.

Three cereal bowls in lemongrass, white, and paprika.

And then two pasta bowls in paprika.


I put the disc pitcher up high, next to my priceless Lilac one.


My sweet Grace.


darling cat paws


nature is confused…we had a second round of toads this year.


Remember the vultures?  We searched for the Death Thing and we found it… a very dead muskrat waving in strips in the stream.  EWWWWWWW


My children; 19, 18, 16, 13, 10, 7, 5


Rich and I went on a date Friday and found a restaurant close to home that we enjoyed very much.  My salad had roasted potatoes, tomatoes, crumbled cheese, and grilled shrimp on it.  Rich had a seafood pasta.


Like I said before, nature is confused this spring.  We have toad nurseries in BOTH ponds now.  I took this picture because the toad was funny.  As soon as it sensed my presence it completely froze in this position.


Rich and I went to a Farmer’s market and I was completely impressed by this handmade jewelry—made by tatting!  I bought an ankle bracelet for Sarah and she hasn’t taken it off.


Grace is going to Prom on Friday.


“For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.”  Proverbs 15:16


another summer day


Currently, Caleb and Seth are playing with the dog.  Sarah is pretending to be “an angel wolf named Angel but she doesn’t have any wings.”  Grace is getting ready for the dentist.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 and couldn’t sleep anymore.  I quietly opened the door to our bedroom and saw that there were no teenage boys sleeping on the couch.  How nice it was to be the first one up.  (Rich had already left for work).  I got out the thick yellow “Life is Good” mug and made a cup of coffee, ignoring the very messy kitchen.

I went outside with my cup.  One of the things I love to do is walk around looking at my gardens.

This summer has been such a joy.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but with Sarah now five, my body has been free from the demands of pregnancy and nursing for 3 1/2 years now.  I feel better than I have in almost 20 years!  I loved being a mom of preschoolers so much and God’s grace has always been abundantly enough for that stage of life, but I’m still honestly thrilled to be moving out of those years….enjoying the seven children I have….and having a little extra time these days to enjoy other things, as well.

Nothing important, really, just quiet simple living.  Gardening, reading to myself and the kids, spending time with friends and family, learning more and more about Jesus and His life-freeing ways, stumbling along daily in need of His grace….free from guilt and condemnation.  Yes, it’s been a wonderful summer.


My friend Alyssa is so good about joining her children in their activities and fun.  I thought of her when I went swimming in the pond yesterday.  Why don’t I jump in more often?  It’s not that I don’t like ponds….it’s just that I guess as MOM I feel like I’m better off on the sidelines as Watcher of the Children.  Of course, I’m not really the athletic type, either.  I’m just not.  I don’t like running or spending time deliberately exercising.  The only sport I ever really loved was gymnastics.  So I do continue to turn those cartwheels.  But I really do admire my running friends!  (and husband)


The water was like bathwater on top.  I swam along the top of the water, noticing the little water bugs skimming along on their magic legs, smelling that pond smell that will always remind me of my childhood.

*A Little Walk*



It was an Evening of Toads….during our walk we saw about 10 of them, all in various sizes.  The spring away quickly, making us laugh, but we always catch them and say hello.








all those bare feet


Pictures I Took This Morning While Drinking my Coffee


I love this spot in my flower beds, especially the morning glories which are now in bloom just underneath the sunflowers.


I’ve never grown a watermelon before.  It gets bigger every day, we (the whole family) love to look at it.  Pat it like a baby.  It’s going to be strange to eat it later on this summer.






Seth woke up.  And then I had a friend to walk with.

Together, we thought about how the older kids were going to camp soon, and the funny ways of our dear departed Billy-Cat, and then we saw our cat Sam.  We thought about church and I told him why I love to go.  (because I love to be around people who love Jesus just like I do)  He doesn’t like church because it’s too long.  We watered some of my plants together, made up silly songs, and he let me join him on the swing.  We saw a spider and watched it work on it’s web.  I thought of knitting needles and zip lining but the spider is an expert.


Baby boy was holding a cat.  He said he’s not a baby.  But I said he was my baby.  “I’m not your baby anymore.”  Suddenly I felt like writing a sad country song.  I’m sure it would be a big hit.


“Don’t wish me happiness.  I don’t expect to be happy all the time……it’s gotten beyond that somehow.  Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor.  I will need them all.”  Anne Morrow Lindbergh



my favorite amphibian


The moon was quite distracting two nights ago.

Spring in general is quite distracting and I mean that in the very best of ways….after a quiet winter all nature is alive with growing things, singing birds, visiting ducks, opening buds, blooming flowers,,,,,,,and procreating toads.


I have an affection for toads.  Thanks to the fabulous Handbook of Nature Study, I have learned some charming basics of their simple yet fascinating ways.

“Whoever has not had a pet toad has missed a most entertaining experience.  Toad actions are surprisingly interesting; one of my safeguards against the blues is the memory of the thoughtful way one of my pet toads rubbed and patted its stomach with its little hands after it had swallowed a June bug.” page 170

Every time I read the above quote I am filled with longing for a pet toad of my own.  I need an aquarium and a toad.  This would currently be the ideal time for finding a toad, I could take a pick from a very many many many of them right out of my own pond.  But soon they will be done with laying eggs and hop away again and we will only come across them randomly in the woods as we walk along.


Toads lay their eggs in very long strings of black dots.  Soon a jelly will form around the eggs and the tadpoles will develop, tiny at first and then growing little by little until soon a miniature  toad will be perfectly formed about the size of a pencil eraser.  When that happens, they will hop out of the pond to make their way in the world.  It’s so fun to watch year and after year.


Male toads are smaller than the females, which are plump with eggs.  All the single males sit on the side of the pond and sing a magnetic song….with the purpose of calling to himself a lovely female.

I sat and watched this one for quite a while, it never moved, and never attracted a female.  I hope it had success after I left.


The males are so ready for action that when the kids catch one it immediately hugs their hand or  wrist, and needs to be pried gently off.  Interestingly, if a male tries to “hug” another male, he knows something is wrong right away and lets go almost as soon as it grips.  “begs pardon”


Our dog Parker came to investigate along with us and caught a couple of toads in his mouth.  While Sarah and I were yelling at him, he rushed away up the bank with his prize.  But very soon he dropped them and started gagging repeatedly and foaming at the mouth.  I was telling my friend about this and she said that her dog did the same thing.  She found out that the toads spit some kind of nasty fluid which make the dogs drop them….a lovely defense mechanism.

I learned more this morning:  “The warts upon the back are glands, which secrete a substance disagreeable for the animal seeking toad dinners.  This is especially true of the glands in the elongated swellings above and just back of the ear, which are called the parotid glands; these give forth a milky, poisonous substance when the toad is seized by an enemy, although the snakes do not seem to mid it.”  page 173

Other toad facts:

It eats insects and worms.
It doesn’t drink water, it absorbs it through its skin.
It burrows into the ground, typically staying there during the day and coming out at night to eat…also, it burrows deeply into the earth to sleep all winter….awaking in the warmth of spring.
It breathes air by swallowing it into the lungs.
It sheds its skin as it grows, and eats it.
It likes having its back scratched gently.
Its chief enemy is the snake.

(all facts from The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsword Comstock—a highly recommended book for all nature lovers)


Dandelions and Violets


Please pet me, little girl. ~Billy Cat


I like to sleep in the garden amongst the tulips.  ~Snickers



This little boy SETH is recovering from ear infections, bronchitis and a cracked nose (trampoline collision with Caleb)…but nothing slows him down…usually has a glove and baseball at all times and dirt on the knees and under the fingernails.  Very rare boy, one of a kind really, and belongs to a proud mama and papa.


baseball, chicks, Tarzan, garden, toads


Guess what I am listening to right now?  You’ll never guess so I will tell you.

a hundred, give or take, TOADS.

You see, every spring, toads hop to our property to mate in our two ponds.  Part of this mating ritual is the continuous singing and calling sounds that they make to gather each other from hither and yon area lands.  The sound is a long sustained high note that falls a half step.  Sounds kind of scary, sort of sci-fi.  In fact, it makes me tense.  I’m trying to enjoy it, though, because it is another sign that spring has in fact arrived.

I’m sitting on my bed with Billy cat grooming himself next to me.  My windows are open and gusts of wind blow through, making the wind chimes rattle on the porch.  I hung clothes outside on the line for the first time this year.

This weekend was nuts.  This was our agenda for Saturday:

1. Take Ethan to SAT’s half an hour away.
2. Target for much needed supplies
3.  Doctor’s appointment for Seth, where we learned he had double ear infections and bronchitis.
4.  Little League Opening Day for David and Caleb
5.  Baseball game for Ethan
6.  Pick up prescription at Pharmacy
7.  Grace to be at the H.S. at 4
8.  Mom and Dad coming from out of town.
9.  Go to H.S. for Grace’s play:  Tarzan.

And this was just Saturday.  Rich and I had to work separately, so he took Ethan to the SAT’s while I did numbers 2, 3, 4, and 7 by myself.  No one went to E’s game.  Rich was also preparing to preach on Sunday.  I went to half of the opening day, and when Rich arrived I left in order to be home to greet Mom and Dad.


David in the parade.  (the only player looking at me is my Dave).


And Caleb.  It was fun, the weather was great, and thankfully Jacob was home to watch Sarah.  I only had to keep track of Seth…who is a special challenge these days because he can hardly hear, what with the ear infections.  They aren’t slowing him down any though.


Dad and Mom with my two youngest.  I love it.  Mom brought me a bunch of perennials from her garden for which I was extremely thankful.  Dad played some whiffle ball with the kids outside.


Mom and I



Jacob with his Grandma, who was laughing over the height difference.  🙂


Mom and Dad at the High School.


Sweet Emily and Jacob.


The drama kids performed Tarzan this year.  Grace was a gorilla, a spider, and a plant.  She also performed sign language for one of the songs.  Here is a video of it, but it is important to note that she is not doing the SINGING, only the SIGNING.

I wish it were taped better but this at least gives an idea of the beauty of the song and signing.





They did so well, it was wonderful, I was so proud of them all.


Mom hugging Grace after the show.


Dad and Mom with Grace the Gorilla.


Yesterday was the final performance of Tarzan and I attended it with my brother Isaac and his wife Cassandra.


Meanwhile, I have baby chicks.  The post office called on Friday morning at 5:15 am and I went down to get them.


There are 30.  And they are so very cute right now.  We like to go in the garage and just sit in front of the cage and watch them.


Do you see in the very back of the cage, there is a dangling piece of cardboard paper…little chicks take turns trying to get it off.  It’s so cute.




This is what I have:

FIVE each of Barred Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Brown Leghorn, and Easter Egger.  Then, I have NINE Cuckoo Maran, and I am most excited about these because they lay a darker shade of brown than any I’ve owned previously.


Discovered in the woods as I picked up trash this morning.




As I was walking by the edge of the pond I scared a toad (not this one) into the water where a fish promptly grabbed it by the legs and went down deep with it.  I gasped as I watched it happen… the poor toad was held by both his back legs, which were half inside the fish’s mouth.  It’s little front arms were straight out to the sides with stiff fingers, it was the picture of terror as it was carried away.  I watched for a while and it appeared once again with two fish in hot pursuit.  I don’t know the ending to the story.  I sat by the edge of the pond for a while and also saw a turtle.  But the horrors continued when I put my hand in the grass to stand back up.  I narrowly missed putting it down on two disemboweled toads!  It’s truly a life and death world out there……..


Last but not least, Mom, as I promised I did plant all the plants on Sunday.


This is a little garden Rich made for me a few weeks ago.  It was empty and I ordered the animals and flag from amazon.  I bought 2 perennials but all the rest were from Mom.


The armadillo makes me laugh.

Happy Monday!