Sunday, September 30, 2007


Yesterday Priscilla and I took a drive down to the town of Angelica, NY where many of our ancestors once lived. We had lunch in a wonderful little coffee house and visited with a couple of local residents. Angelica is described as "a town where history lives". It is an old fashioned town, I'm not sure there are any new buildings in the center of town. We arrived to find that this weekend was the Harvest festival in the park. The park is located in the circle in the center of town and is surrounded by historic buildings.

We visited Until the Day Dawn cemetery and found the gravestones of both our great-grandparents as well as the headstones of some great- great- great-grandparents.

The house, where Great Grandma lived with Uncle Leo and Timothy the cat, still stands on Main Street. Priscilla was rather dismayed at its appearance. My curiosity got the better of me this afternoon and I looked up real estate in Angelica. I was surprised to find Grandma's house for sale as there was no sign out yesterday. It is a multi-family dwelling which may account for the fact that it is not so grand as others in the area. What fun it would be to take a tour or even buy the house and fix it up... Hey Priscilla, didn't you say you wanted to open a gift shop?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Babysitter Test

It's been a funny day, a little sun, a little rain, a little more sun, a little more rain... We went for a short orchard walk this morning while the sun was shining. The grass was just starting to dry out and it looked like it would be a beautiful day. Ten minutes after we returned home, the thunder started.

I took Nate out to Newark for a doctor appointment this afternoon and left Troy in the charge of Ben and Hannah. James was here too so there was an adult on the premises. Hannah was making cookies and Ben was upstairs giving Ellie a bath when Troy went into the bathroom. I guess he had been in there quite a while when somebody decided to check on him. There he was, trying to clean up the mess he had made on the toilet seat, not being very successful, and crying softly "I want my mommy..."

Ahh, the "Babysitter Test"! Hannah excused herself from clean-up duty by claiming it would "contaminate" the cookies. Somebody decided since Ben was already upstairs in the other bathroom, that's where Troy should be too. Lucky Ben! Ben stood Troy in the shower and said, "You know what happens now, don't you? You wait for Martha to get home." Well, by the time I got home Troy was asleep, shirtless, on the couch. I knew something was up because the laundry was going, the bathroom window was opened, and there was a line of "doo doo" on the underside of the toilet seat. I made a quick deduction and came to the conclusion that the "Babysitter Test" had been administered. All things considered, they didn't do too bad.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Today begins the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, so last night at church we built a booth with our Wednesday night kids class. I'd imagine its not quite kosher. Not only did we build it inside we also forgot the table, but we did the best we could considering. On Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jewish people are supposed to "dwell in booths for seven days". This is to help them remember how their ancestors wandered in the desert for forty years. The Sukkot is supposed to be outside (of course) but we didn't have permission from our pastor to put it out in the church yard so ours was built in the Sunday school room. We'll have to imagine being able to see the stars through the roof at night.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Falling Asleep

Yesterday it was mid summer, today it is early fall. I didn't get a nap today but I did fall sound asleep at my mom's dining room table on Sunday afternoon. Someone sneaked in and took my picture while I was dreaming.

I've dried my eyes and put the tissues away (for now) and hope to get back into a normal routine tomorrow. I have been slightly distracted the past few days... What I need now is a good hot cup of coffee and what I'll need later is a solid night's sleep. After that everything will be all better, right?

The Whole Enchilada

Well, here they are, gathered for a group photo on Monday night. I have decided that saying good bye is an exhausting experience.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Saying Good Bye

Food and fun, laughter and tears, prayers and long hugs.
I held it together until my kids started crying. So many things have been going through my mind...

Yesterday was Jim's 26th birthday. We were celebrating his life and dreading his departure. In some ways he was dreading it too. It isn't easy for him to leave but growing up isn't always easy... and letting go isn't easy either. Now we look forward to the day when he returns and pray that he will be led by the Lord in his journey through life.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It Was On a Monday

This has not been an average Monday. I haven't accomplished much at home and feel as though I have been doing a lot of running around. I have dropped Nathan off at work, been shopping in Webster, thrown a roast in the crockpot, picked up Troy from school, and eaten lunch at that nice little diner in town. Oh yes, and I have also picked Nate back up again.

We had a nice little lunch at the Candy Kitchen. I ordered Troy a hotdog, fries and chocolate milk and then went over to retrieve him from preschool. He kept us well entertained during the meal. The waitress was wonderful, as usual, and didn't bat an eye when Ben ordered a "flaming rum punch". She mixed up several different flavors of soda and served him with a smile. His only complaint was that it was cold.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Farewell Party

The party things have all been put away. Not really, but the party is over. The reality hasn't yet sunk in and Jim plans to leave for Minnesota sometime tomorrow. I'm not sure how I am supposed to react. (That's the "blank mind" I mentioned in an earlier post.) Maybe I'm the type who lets things sink in a little at a time...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just Thinking

It's hard to see the dirt on my own face.

Wednesday night we taught the kids class at church. There were three boys; one 10 year old and two first graders. Part of the lesson was about the Day of Atonement and part revolved around giving to people who are in need. We made small boxes in which each child could place money for the poor. James and I won't be there to see what goes into the boxes and neither will the boxes come back for us to distribute the money. This was just to encourage the children to give on their own or at least think about it. I was a little bit taken back by how reluctant these particular kids were to possibly go without a snack at the church cafe or sacrifice some of their own money in order to give a small gift to someone less fortunate than themselves... but am I willing?

I have often prayed that the Lord would use me, my money, my home, my kids... but when it comes down to making the sacrifice, well, that's the hard part. It's easy to talk about giving... it's even possible to give reluctantly... but giving from a pure heart? Not so easy. Yes, there's dirt on my face too. If I would just take the time to look in the mirror maybe I could get it cleaned off.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scary Man

Okay, here he is. Jasmine has looked him over and decided that he is not a threat, at least not that she can tell. He is a little on the thin side. We'll have to see if we can fatten him up somehow.
Today I am tired. I did my shopping this morning while Troy was at preschool. I have gulped down a cup of coffee and am hoping it soon kicks in and wakes me up. I will need lots of energy in order to bake up a slew of pies for Saturday's party. Good thing Bethany is here to give me a poke in the ribs when I start to doze off. (Hey, Beth! Wake up!!!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Slower Pace

Yesterday I was doing a boogie and today is a little bit more of a shuffle. I don't think I could ever pull off two days in a row like yesterday, besides I need to rest up today for the marathon I will be running this weekend. Jim's birthday/ going away gathering is this Saturday and I'm sure to be busy baking pies (likely Thursday or Friday) and cooking up a big pot of chili. The family will be here along with a bunch of friends, stop by if you can and say hello (or good bye). Actually, I'm trying not to think too much about Jim's leaving and instead remembering that he won't more than a phone call away. It's just too easy for a mom to get emotional and I don't want to cry again. I want to send him off with a hug and a smile instead.

The corn fields here are slowly disappearing and the pumpkins are showing up on front porches. I didn't plant any corn myself this year, no pumpkins either, so I may have to go in search of some fall decorations sometime soon. My usual thing is to wait until there isn't much left to chooose from. I just plain don't like spending the money but I do love how pretty they look. With a party here this weekend, I might have enough incentive to actually do it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting Something Accomplished

Its been a bright and sunny almost autumn day. Yesterday we went for a walk, today we did not, at least not yet... Last evening I went to a local farm market in search of some hot chile peppers and came home with just under a half bushel. The woman at the stand wondered why in the world I would want so many hot peppers. Today I fired up the grill and roasted what I didn't get to last night. They will soon be resting in my freezer waiting to made into something scrumptious, maybe huevos rancheros, chili con carne, or green chile stew. I have a pork roast simmering in my crockpot (a nice easy meal), a batch of salsa brooding in the fridge, and an apple pie baking in the oven.
The kitchen doesn't look too bad and the clean towels are waiting to be taken out of the dryer and folded. My floor needs a good sweeping and the rug could use a pass with the vacuum cleaner. Troy's mom will be here any minute and Alysa will be coming off the bus in half an hour. I think Ben and Hannah did school today. I saw them with their books... Tomorrow I'm going to take the day off.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Lighter Side of Homeschooling

Homeschooling has brought us some slightly "unique" experiences. I love the memories and I hope my kids treasure those days as much as I do. We've been on countless field trips, even one to a local cemetery where some of the kids found an old bone. (Yikes! Remember the Teeny Tiny Woman?) We visited museums, farms, and local businesses. We've escaped to the beach, walked the orchards, met at the park, and organized our own group classes. There were Gym Nights and trips to indoor playgrounds. The kids played soccer and baseball, danced and took swimming lessons. We've read and written stories, worked through too many math books, and watch dozens of documentaries. Sometimes the kids made their own home videos, they organized trips to the state fair, or simply had a tea party in the flower garden. On "Mondays" I often want to throw in the towel, but then I recall all the wonderful memories and figure I can hold on for another couple of weeks... at least until we can get back to Mendon Ponds and feed the chickadees again.

Monday, Monday

Today is Monday. Monday and homeschooling do not get along. For all those out there who feel as though you could never homeschool, most of us who do feel the same way. We worry whether we are teaching our kids what they really need to know. We worry that the school system won't be satisfied. We wonder whether it is okay to take the kids out to the store on Tuesday afternoon. We fend off questions from those who ask, "No school today?" and "What about socialization?" We walk a thin line with family members who choose to send their children to public schools. We choose to have our children home because we feel it is the better choice, not necessarily because we "want" to. Most of us are well aware that teaching our kids at home will not "save" them. We deal with rebellious children too. Sometimes the pressures of every day life tempt us to put our kids in school, but instead we keep plodding on... There are times when it seems as if the job will never be finished. There are times when we want to run away. There are times when we have to put the school books on the shelf and escape for the day. And then there are the good days, days when the rewards are great and it is worth the effort afterall.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chile Weather

Long sleeves and sweatshirts felt good today. Along with the rain came the chilly winds. It's time to cook up a batch of nice hot chili, serve up a bowl, and top it off with some grated cheese and a spoon of sour cream! Mmmm, mmm, mmm! Don't forget the tortilla chips...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Letting Go

Watching my children grow up has been an incredible experience. There have been times of joy and wonder, and times of heartbreak and utter frustration. I treasure the memory of each new birth and smile when I recall a house full of noisy children. I've learned so much from my kids, probably far more than I could ever imagine. Oh, I haven't forgotten feeling buried under piles of dirty dishes, mountains of laundry or being so exhausted that I literally cried. There were times when I longed to escape the daily chaos and then there were the wonderful, crazy moments that I wouldn't trade for all the world. We've laughed together, played together, and made a lifetime of great memories.
In my life's treasure box are seven priceless gems. I know they aren't mine to keep. Someday I have to let them go. We have already watched two of our seven children get married and move out on their own. Eight years ago we sent out oldest off to college and were blessed to have him return home afterward to live and work. Now we are letting him go as he sets off for a new life in a faraway place. Letting go is hard. Sometimes I feel the sting that comes with it, but I know this day must come, and as my son grows with the experience, so will I.

(In case you're curious... top photo- Bethany, Jim, David
bottom photo- Josiah, Nathan, Ben and Hannah)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Time for a Walk

It was a beautiful morning, one of those mornings that is too nice to waste, so I decided we should go for a short walk before picking Troy up from preschool. If time was no object and gasoline didn't cost an arm and a leg, I would spend my late summer and fall days hiking through the woods and orchards taking pictures of God's beautiful creation and just enjoying the outdoors.
I love the sunshine and fresh air and long to be out there, but I have obligations here at home. School keeps us busy most mornings and babysitting calls me to be at home during the afternoon. Unless I carve out a specific block of time, I don't typically get away. I'm told that one day I'll look back and long once again for these busy days, and I know that's true, but I'm not trying to get away from my home and family, just longing to breathe deep and relax a little bit along the journey.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Looking for a Handout

It was a great day for a hike outside so Bethany, Shelly and Jessi, and Rachel joined us for a walk in the woods. Years ago I was told that the little chickadees on the Bird Song Trail at Mendon Ponds will eat seeds out of your hand but I had never tried it. How cool to have such a tiny bird land on my fingers, take a seed and fly away! Hannah and Jessi had great fun feeding the birds and Troy took a turn at it too. Once he turned his hand over, dumped the seed into my hand and said, "It's too scary." What a funny little guy, afraid of a chickadee!

The birds weren't the only hungry creatures in the woods. There were plenty of squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about looking for something good to eat. They all seem to like sunflower seeds. The chipmunks move so fast and are so small that they almost look like leaves blowing across the trail. They stuffed their little cheeks with seeds and then went running off through the underbrush.

Ben ventured on ahead of us and spotted some deer hiding in the trees but by the time the rest of our somewhat noisy group caught up, the deer were nowhere to be seen.

Feels Like Fall

It is a cool, crisp morning. We have packed a lunch and charged the camera batteries. Soon we will be on the road...

PS. Hannah is learning how to write in "webdings". See here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Quiet Noisy Day

The sky is overcast and threatening rain and I'm still worn out from having a migraine for the past couple of days. It would be a wonderful day to curl up on the couch and take a nice long nap. That's what I feel like doing, but Troy is here and he is feeling wound up and full of energy. He has been bouncing off Ben and playing silly games with Hannah. He is loud and ready for action. At the moment he is playing train tracks with Ben and trains, as you know, can be quite noisy. In another two hours he will be winding down. We will sit on the couch, snuggle up with a soft blanket, and read a story. After that it will be nap time. If I am lucky, I will get a rest too, otherwise I will be doing a math lesson with Ben and Hannah and continuing the job of sorting through boxes and bins of "who knows what" in the computer room. Someday maybe I will get the task completed. Right now I need to make a batch of cookies for our trip to Mendon Ponds tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Little Practice

After my inability to get a good picture yesterday, I decided to find out how to work my camera. After napping away my headache, I took a few practice shots this afternoon. Gotta learn how to use this thing before the end of October.

The oppressive heat wave has moved on and the rain brought in some very comfortable weather, nice for sleeping and breathing too. Notice the long sleeves?

Baby Stuff!

Saturday we cleaned the house, yesterday we partied, today we recover... (I have one of those "State Fair" headaches today, probably too much excitement yesterday... or maybe I just failed to drink anything other than coffee.)

Babies sure are spoiled these days! I don't know where Beth and Adam will put all the stuff they took home yesterday. Good thing they have a basement! There were all kinds of presents... I'm overwhelmed and I don't have to figure out what to do with everything. I guess all she needs now is diapers (I should have bought those).

When I had my babies we had a crib and a bassinet, a baby swing, and an umbrella stroller. Oh yeah, and a car seat, although Jimmy didn't need one until he was about a year old. Things sure have gotten complicated.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Clean House

Tomorrow is Bethany's baby shower. Today I spent all day cleaning the house and throwing things out. I'm not done yet but I am done until Monday. I have a beautiful new computer room, thanks to my hard working husband and my dear son, Nathan. Too bad I had to hide so much junk in here to clear out the dining room. This will be my project next week, sorting through all the garbage we have collected up. James thinks we need to host more baby showers...
The rain Kim said was coming has not yet made it from Minnesota here, or maybe it has passed on by? We had a shower last night and it looked like rain a few times today, but so far we haven't seen any thunderstorms. Maybe tomorrow. We sure could use a few good hard rains, the grass is beyond crunchy now. Teal Lake seems but a distant memory.

Friday, September 07, 2007

September Summer

I know the kids have all gone back to school, but its kind of hard to believe that summer is really over when it is 90 degrees outside. It feels like we should be sitting by the pool with children splashing in the water rather than watching the clock for the return of the school bus. The cicadas are buzzing and the fans are blowing... Where is my glass of iced tea?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


School has begun. Ben and Hannah have been working on math and English this week and I have begun the task of fall cleaning. (The fact that we are hosting a baby shower on Sunday afternoon is an added incentive for me to clean out the dust, dirt, and grime.) Next Wednesday we are planning a field trip to Mendon Ponds. I think Shelly and Jessi are coming, maybe Priscilla and Bethany, and possibly Rachel. Sounds like fun, anyone else want to come along? We're leaving home at 10 am.

Troy had his first day of preschool this morning. We picked him up at noon. He was wearing his backpack and smiling. He informed me that he did not cry. I guess he's matured since VBS! That's a good thing.

Sara and Alysa didn't get off the bus until nearly 4:30 yesterday. They were a good half hour plus later than normal due to a changed bus route and new kindergarteners. They were smiling too and sporting new backpacks.

I remember the excitement of returning to school too. There were always new bookbags filled with fresh crayons, pencils, erasers, glue, and a package of wide ruled notebook paper. The folders were flat and bright. We had a few new outfits and likely a new pair of sneakers too. The air really did "smell like school" and I always looked forward to seeing my friends again.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My Beautiful Bethany

This is my beautiful daughter Bethany. She is expecting her first baby in late October. This will be our first grandchild. How exciting! I think being a grandma will be fun and I can hardly wait to snuggle a brand new baby again.

Bethany surprised us when she was born by being a girl. We already had two little boys and I so didn't want to be disappointed that I prepared myself for a third boy. For a very brief moment I was almost disappointed that she was a girl. That didn't last long. I looked forward to dressing her up and putting her hair into barrets and pony tails. The only problem was she forgot to grow hair. It wasn't until she turned three that she had enough hair to do something with. When she was one year old we had her ears pierced and thought maybe people would stop asking if the little child dressed in flowers was a boy or a girl. They just kept asking.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fruit Farm

What would Jesus have me be?
Am I the apple or the tree?

For every tree is known by its own fruit. For [men] do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sunday in the Park

It was a beautiful day, too nice to sit home and do nothing, so yesterday afternoon James and I decided to take the kids out to Mendon Ponds for a walk. Since the park is rather large and we don't know our way around, we stopped at a little office to get a map. I hopped out, took a map and turned back toward the van just as a mother deer and her fawn happened by. (This is the only picture I got the entire day as I am still struggling with Jim's camera.) They didn't seem to be afraid, in fact the little one stood right in front of me waiting for me to take another picture, but the screen had turned black and I missed the opportunity. Oh, how frustrating! We hiked down by Devil's Bathtub (a glacial kettle) and then went over to the nature center and walked the Bird Song trail. We should have taken some birdseed as the little birds will eat right out of your hand. We also saw a little garter snake, squirrels and chipmunks. I'm looking forward to going back again. Maybe I'll take Troy so he can feed the birds.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In My Purse

Tracy's comment made me wonder what really is in my purse, so I'm checking... Hmmmm... I have my wallet (which contains mostly cards and my license...), a nearly empty bottle of water, an Our Daily Bread devotional, Bert's Bee's lip balm, a boondoggle key chain minus the ring, Chapstick All Natural lip balm, 3 packs of gum (2 fruit and a spearmint), a bright green marker, allergy eye drops, 3 hair clips, a Walmart smiley sticker, my checkbook, allergy medicine, Ibuprofen, a mini calculater key chain with 2 keys to I don't know what, used tissue, my keys, lots of old gum wrappers, loose change, a little red lake stone, Ginger's business cards, medical cards, a Subway card, more business cards, a greeting card, 11 store receipts, 5 bank receipts, a coupon, and instructions from a doctor.

I've now cleaned out the receipts, the old Kleenex and gum wrappers, the coupon, the boondoggle, the Walmart sticker, and the water bottle. I need to add a pair of reading glasses so I can see my Bible at church tomorrow and maybe a fresh tissue. What does all this mean? I have no clue, but my purse is clean now and I still have plenty of gum to go around.