shop small saturday//Christmas decor

It’s tuesday morning.  Kevin is here working on turning the old laundry closet into a real closet.  We moved the washer and dryer downstairs in the basement.  It will be convenient to have a coat closet in the livingroom, with cubbies for backpacks and shoes.  It’s cold outside this morning, with bright sunshine.  I’m sitting in the corner of my bedroom in the leather recliner by a window and I can hear the wind chimes outside moving in the wind.  As soon as I sat down to blog, our gray cat came in and curled up on my lap, so the computer is now balancing on the arm of my chair as I type.

On Saturday, Rich and I took Ethan and his girlfriend Tessa downtown for “shop small Saturday”.  I was feeling a little blue after the excitement of Thanksgiving, and this was the perfect way to get outside with my camera and enjoy our beautiful town and the little shops.  We saw several people we knew, had some coffee, found some bargains and enjoyed some lovely Christmas decorations.

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Christmas is such a beautiful time of year.

I’m thankful I can enter into the season slowly and mindfully.

 

a wonderful weekend for Grace

IMG_8560I have not stopped giving thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

Grace’s boyfriend Caleb has been far far away in Texas.   He graduated from Air Force basic training in June and then spent the rest of the time in tech school for security forces.  Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Grace graduated from High School, spent the summer working, and began her freshman year of college, in Pennsylvania.  Despite the distance, the two of them were in constant contact using their smart phones, even going through several books of the Bible together during their own personal Wednesday Bible studies, and using FaceTime and texting to keep in touch.  But it just wasn’t the same.  They missed being together.  It had been too long.  Six months and five days, to be exact, according to Grace.

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So of course, this weekend, when Caleb was finally coming home to his parent’s house, Grace was going to try her hardest to get home, too, and had an AMAZING and GENEROUS friend drive her back as a surprise for him.  He walked into his house Saturday evening and found not only a “welcome home” party with friends and family but also……coming in the side of the room last, as a surprise……Grace.  As soon as he saw her, he took her into a hug and walked a few steps out of the kitchen into the dark hallway and….. there they stayed for quite a long moment.  I wasn’t there to witness this, but I saw the video and showed it to her Dad, too.  It made him feel awkward watching it as the seconds ticked by and by.  “What are they DOING out there?”  I laughed at him.  Oh Grace.  You’re in love and it’s sweet.

The next day Rich was away at our sons’ college in VT for a wrestling clinic.  I had football games to attend for Seth and Caleb, and Seth was going to a birthday party that afternoon, too.  I was able to spend some time with Grace that morning and then again, briefly, when I came home to pick up Caleb and Sarah.

As I drove back down the road to go to the game, I pulled over to take a photo of Grace and Caleb, who were out walking in the beautiful fall day with Tessa and Myranda (Grace’s excellent friend who drove her home).

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Grace and Myranda had to leave that afternoon, and Caleb plans to visit her again next week.  He’ll be based in New Jersey, which isn’t THAT far from Pennsylvania.  2.5 hours, according to Grace.

She sent me this photo later on in a text:

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“If there is anything that is a miniature picture of heaven upon earth, it is a pair of
Christians happily united, whose children grow up in the fear of the Lord, and render
to them increased comfort and joy every day. Oh, how much some of us owe to the
gospel for the happiness of our homes!”    ~C.H.SPURGEON

Grace, your Dad and I pray for you (and Caleb) each time you come to mind.   You and your siblings truly bring us “increased comfort and joy every day”.  Thanks be to God.

 

my boy and my boy only

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Let’s just stare at this one for a few minutes.  Can you even???????

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I took this one through the window at the school.  The graduates were waiting in the cafeteria and all the guests were waiting in line for the doors to open to the gym.

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Rich and I sat on the left hand side on bleachers with Caleb, Seth, Sarah, David, Tessa, Emily, Grace, and Jacob.  We were thankful to have enough tickets for the whole family to watch Ethan graduate but I doubt the little kids were thankful because it was a long and pretty boring night for them.

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Zach is Ethan’s red headed best friend.  They were even in the same Kindergarten class.

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Caleb is also one of Ethan’s best friends.  They were friends for years before he and Grace started dating.  He looks pretty serious in picture but then we yelled his name and he smiled.

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The young men wore blue robes and the ladies wore white.

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*Zach receiving his diploma. (He is attending college this fall).

The graduation began at 7pm and went on for approximately two hours while we were sitting squeezed together on the bleachers.  It was kinda funny.  Rich was uncomfortable the entire time…too hot and the bleachers were too hard and his hip was hurting and then Sarah got on his lap and the face he made as she explained she had to sit there because she was “too squished” was so funny…….

David and Caleb coped by reading books.  Aren’t they so handsome???

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We sat right behind the family of the Valedictorian which was exciting (to me).  His speech was very well done.

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Caleb receiving his diploma (he is going into the Coast Guard this summer).

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Ethan waiting for his turn to get his diploma and my heart was bursting.  He wore cowboy boots and decorated his cap with the American Flag.  (one of the girls did the very same thing, boots and flag).  Very fun.

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I stood up with my camera to take pictures while Rich and the kids all cheered as loudly as they could for our E.

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This is one of my favorites of the night…Ethan clearly in the middle of the photo leaving the room with a classmate on his arm.  The kids were all so happy.

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I managed to get through the crowd in my very high horrible heels and found Ethan drinking chocolate milk at the reception.

We got a phone call from the school this morning saying they had Ethan’s class ring in the office (he didn’t even know he had lost it).

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Ethan and Mitch

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My daughter Grace with her boyfriend, Caleb.

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Ethan with his girlfriend, Tessa.

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Jacob and Ethan

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Ethan and his Dad

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Ethan and his Mom.

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Ethan and all of us.

(Incidentally, earlier that evening while we were still home, Grace got Sarah ready while I was getting ready and we ended up all three matching.  The next day the same thing happened, we all three ended up wearing yellow shirts without even planning it.)

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Ethan and his little sister, Sarah Joy.  Sarah is wearing a dress that used to be Grace’s.

All in all it was a very exciting night.  We left as soon as we could.  My feet were killing me and Ethan went to a party that the school arranged through “Safe Grad”.  He stayed up all night and slept until 11 in the morning the next day.

I didn’t cry or even feel like crying.  But I had a headache and was buzzing with emotion regardless.  My mind could only hold the essentials; “Ethan” and “Graduation” and “taking photos”.  I was so embarrassed because I met a man and his wife in line before the graduation…we introduced each other and everything….by the end of the night I introduced myself to them AGAIN.  And the lady said, “Whatever you are drinking, I’ll have some, too.”  Which was rather rude but it just goes to show that I was in tune to my boy and my boy only.

****

Today is the first day of summer vacation.  It is sunny but oddly windy.  Caleb and Seth were invited to a friend’s house for a morning of play.  I drove them there and then took the girls with me to the thrift shop where we spent three dollars on an aquarium (for nature studies at home) and a bag of books (for summer reading).  Also today:  David made homemade funnel cakes fried in oil (Aunt Colleen’s recipe), I made a double batch of blueberry muffins, Jacob and Emily took Sarah for a canoe ride on the pond and they threw bread to the fish.  I saw a pair of cardinals and ate three wild strawberries.  David had stomach ache by this afternoon so he is taking his second bath (he thinks maybe he ate too many funnel cakes but refused Pepto Bismal).  Ethan is at his girlfriend’s house, Grace is at Caleb’s house, Jacob is at work, Emily is also at work, and the three youngest are now watching Zootopia after begging me all day.

Oh my word, I am in my room typing this and I could hear the dog whining at the door to the house but I didn’t think anything of it and guess who just came in, and it’s only 4pm!!!

My husband!!!  so happy!

Gotta go.  Bye!

blues (a little)

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I don’t want to write, because the stuff in my heart will come out through my eyes.

oh, feelings!

My darling, my joy, my pride, my second born, my son, is graduating from high school in four days.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super proud of him, I’m not sad in the least.  He is ready, he’s 18 years old and ready to move on to the next chapter in his life.

What I’m grieving is the little boy I used to know.  The one who used to pick me flowers and hug me around the waist.  The one who was a happy sidekick to his brother Jacob.  The one who was busy catching turtles, boiling up the random cray fish, writing funny stories, reading The Series of Unfortunate Events and other books, making rafts, being 100% nature-boy.  Dirty bare feet, happy cookie eater, pancake maker, mama’s boy.

Ethan has changed!!!!  He is a man, the strong, silent type.  When he does speak, I can’t hardly make out what he’s saying because his voice is low and quiet.  I say, “What?” and then get it.  He’s in love!!!!  And his extra attention goes to his girl.  I never know what he’s doing unless I outright ask!  Sometimes when I think he’s texting his girlfriend, he’s really playing Tiny Tower and that makes me smile, because he recently discovered it again after playing it a lot when he was like, 11.  flashbacks!

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He’s 18, of course this is the way it’s supposed to be!!  I’m happy for him.  He’s a man now and does not need his mama.  Rich says, it’s enough for E just to know I am here and proud.

But I miss him.

I have three more younger boys!  Who are very similar to how Ethan used to be at that age.

But I miss my E, the way he was as a youngster…..pure goodness, pure sweetness.  It went by so fast, I enjoyed every moment, but it went by too fast.

I know he has a lot on his mind, changes ahead that he will be experiencing on his own.  He is internalizing a lot these days.  But I hope he realizes that he will always be, just a little bit, my own little boy, always.  And I vow I’ll be here with the cookies and the pancakes, ’til death do us part.

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Ethan took Tessa to his Senior Banquet on Friday and I was able to have some quiet time with them (and the camera).  Standing in front of the pond he grew up in.

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The natural progression of time……it’s a beautiful thing.  Just makes a mama’s heart ache now and then.  You know.

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He’s so happy with Tessa!

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And she’s such a sweet, fun girl.  I couldn’t be happier for them both.  They make such a good twosome.

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*****

With his sister……(Grace went to the banquet with her boyfriend)

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Well, once again blogging has surprised me.  Writing has surprised me.  I’ve got it all sorted out at the moment (my heart, that is).

 

You’ve got to give a little, take a little,
and let your poor heart break a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

You’ve got to laugh a little, cry a little,
until the clouds roll by a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

As long as there’s the two of us,
we’ve got the world and all it’s charms.
And when the world is through with us,
we’ve got each other’s arms.

You’ve got to win a little, lose a little,
yes, and always have the blues a little.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love.

 

 

birds of the air

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The other morning, I was looking for my computer cord and I ended up outside birdwatching.  We all know how these things happen.

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It’s exciting to see birds at my bird feeder but even more exciting to find them out in nature living their little feathered lives.

I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
Psalm 50:11

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They all look at me with such suspicion!

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There is a lot of stuff in the air this week, it lands on the top of the stream and gathers in front of logs across the water….that white stuff is all little fuzzies and bits….the ponds are the same way, covered with a film of allergens.

I see a football, too.

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In the very bright sunshine, Jacob and Emily helped me dig up a little Pinxter bush from the side of the road!  I was very excited, truth be told, Jacob did ALL the work.  But he had a captive audience and Emily had a tiny speaker clipped to her belt buckle so we listened to tunes, too.

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We planted it right by the bench that Ethan put together for me.  I’ll never forget this day that we planted it together, me, my son, and his girlfriend.  It was fun and I look forward to seeing it grow and grow through the years.

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While I was birdwatching, I found this perfectly good board on the side of the road.  I brought it home and washed it and asked Jacob to paint it.  We are going to hang it up by the pond where we have many frogs and the occasional toad.

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short n sweet

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If we triumph in the little things
of our common hours,
we are sure to triumph in our lives.
~Anonymous 

Happy Friday!

I took this photo of Seth after school one day this week.  He’s hugging Gentleman Gray and eating a snack of Pringles, raspberries, and strawberries, on a vintage amberstone (“sister” of fiesta ware) small plate.

Yesterday, at the end of the day,  I did a five minute photo shoot of Jacob’s girlfriend, Emily.

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♥ with Sarah ♥

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♥ with Jacob ♥

Em and J

I’ve been making homemade coffee creamer and it is delicious!

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It’s one can of sweetened condensed milk, mixed with two cups of half n half, and a 1/4 teaspoon of extract.  (I used vanilla the first batch, and almond the 2nd batch).

Rose bud vase,
marigold java mug.

 

a cat, Ethan wrestling, Grace’s friend, & my books

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We can’t keep kids or cats away from our beautiful Christmas tree!  And it makes me smile.

Hello my friends.  Rich and I are together today.  We went downtown for breakfast and then to the mall to finish up our shopping.  We are home now.  He has his feet up on the coffee table and my feet are on his lap along with his laptop.  And, I have my laptop, too.  Parker is next to me licking his leg loudly and Gentleman Gray is curled up on a blanket at the end of the couch.  It’s dark and pouring rain outside.  Poor Caleb will not get snow for Christmas this year, I’m afraid.

Have I mentioned that Rich is the head coach for our school’s wrestling team?  The first tournament was on Saturday and I got right up at the crack of dawn with him and rode with the team on the bus to the location, which was an hour away.  Seth and Sarah came, too.  Grace came along because she’s the team manager.  It’s a family affair.

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Here is a picture of Ethan after he won a match.  The assistant coach is talking things over with him, his name is Jim.  Little brother Seth is hanging around wanting to say “good job” to his big brother.  ‘Cause that’s what you do.

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Ethan is pretty intense so it’s nice when he cracks a slight smile.

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handshake

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Later on, Ethan got bloody and lost a match.  There’s his Dad in the background, and Coach Jim is about to take his arm and lead him to the trainer to get cleaned up.  Oh and there’s Seth again.

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Here is a picture of Ethan right after he won another match.  All in all, he did very well.  He wants to do nothing but win, his heart is in the right place, but this time he lost 2 and won 2.  Ethan is a senior this year and we have high hopes that he will continue to do well in wrestling, and then he will move on to baseball.  Before we know it he will graduate, and I hate to say this but it looks like he’s heading for the service after graduation.  I’m trying not to think about it but stay tuned because by God’s grace that blog post will eventually be written.

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THESE TWO ARE SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Grace and her suitor.  I took their picture from clear across the gym because I can’t help myself.

*****

I hope your Christmas plans are all coming together.  I have decorated the house.  I have bought and wrapped the gifts.  I have planned a Christmas Eve brunch.  I have made cookies….but they have all been eaten so I plan on making more if I can gather up enough interest…I feel as though I don’t really need to eat anymore cookies.  I’ve been reading books instead of baking.  One of my favorite authors is Janice Holt Giles, who wrote books in the 1960’s.  “Pre internet” fiction is my favorite, it seems less spoiled and more sincere.  I read her book, Hannah Fowler years and years ago–many times, and finally got around to reading several more of her books which I picked up at library booksales.  I finished Tara’s Healing yesterday and then started Savanna.  I would be interested in knowing if there are anymore Giles fans out there!

David’s bus will arrive in half an hour so I have just enough time to read a few more chapters before the late afternoon rush of children/homework/wrestling practice/dinner begins.

You are loved.  ~Shanda

If you’re alone, I’ll be your shadow. If you want to cry, I’ll be your shoulder. If you want a hug, I’ll be your pillow. If you need to be happy, I’ll be your smile. But anytime you need a friend, I’ll just be me. ~Author Unknown

what family means to me

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Once again, never to be taken for granted, Rich and I and all seven of the children were together in our warm and cozy living room — to decorate our Christmas tree, purchased in town at the Fire Department for 30 dollars.

It was delightful chaos.  Talking, bossing, laughing, non stop movement to and from the tree to the ornament boxes which were all along the couch.

Seven times we experienced the miracle of birth, births of our own flesh and blood, baby girls and boys from a man and woman whom God joined together as one.  As the children grow and develop into their own individual selves, we are all the more thankful for each and every moment with them.  They teach us so much, they remind us of what we have forgotten–that life is an adventure from sun up to sun down.  Very little worries, seldom any cares, only exciting things to look forward to and absolute trust that Mom and Dad will love and nurture them.

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From the oldest to the youngest, we are their Parents until death do us part.  To support, guide, enjoy, and yes…even step away (but never too far away) in order to give space for them to make their own decisions in life.  They will become stronger and independent, knowing that we are there to cheer them on their journey of living.

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Firstborn Jacob’s 19th birthday is the last day of the month.

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While the youngest, Sarah, is only five and a half.

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Each child is a gift, so unique, so amazingly precious to me and to their Dad.

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They have brought so much gladness and light into our lives.

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As their Mother, their pains are my pains, their joys are my joys.  Their love is my love.  One of the most romantic things I have witnessed occurred last night and oh, last week at this time I would have never dreamed that my darling daughter would very soon have a loving, Christian boy humbly ask and receive the blessing of her very protective Dad to get to know her……….and my heart gives grateful praise even as I sneak upstairs to read their text messages after she goes to school.  *sigh* soooooo sweet

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taking off the hats

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discussing the hat with Ethan the 17 year old.

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still discussing the hat

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I gave the hat back.

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MERRY MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS