Monday, June 30, 2008


When my oldest children were small and my husband worked full time, I spent many evenings down at B. Forman Park. I watched the kids throw rocks in the lake, pushed them on the swings, and caught them at the bottom of the slides. Sometimes we were alone and sometimes the park was full. It can be a peaceful, lonely kind of place or bustling with activity.
Years back seagull strutted along the shore squawking at us in hopes that we might throw them a piece of bread. I don't see many gulls now but the "evidence" of Canada geese lies in the grass along the water's edge. The playground equipment, at least the swings and slides, has stood the test of time and has likely been there since the days of the dinosaur. Only the merry-go-round and springy animals are gone. I suppose these were deemed dangerous and hauled off to where ever old playground equipment goes. The beach, although changed by the action of the lake, remains covered with small round stones perfect for skipping or tossing into the water.
On the western edge of the park are private homes and cottages. Some of them look very much like what one might see along the Atlantic coast. Driftwood washes up on their beaches and they always have a perfect view of sailboats and sunsets. Spectacular thunderstorms dance over a dark lake on hot July nights. I think I would like to lie in bed, thunder rumbling, rain pelting the roof, and watch the lightening flash.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Watching Sky

It seemed the perfect day. Ben, Hannah and I decided to take a ride down to the park, skip some stones, and watch the sailboats. The sun was shining and the park full of people picnicing and celebrating graduations. Children laughed and people called out.

Not long after we arrived the warm, gentle breeze gained strength and cooled. Storm clouds rolled in and blocked the sun. The water no longer glistened or shimmered, instead the surface began to ripple and the waves lapped at the shoreline. It was beautiful.

I took several photos of the storm clouds. Do you see what I see?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rapunzel's Place?

While out gallivanting with my daughters this afternoon, I spied what looks possible to be Rapunzel's tower. We drove down for a closer look, got out of the vehicle and called out "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" but no golden locks came flowing down from the tower's lofty heights. The tower sported a bight yellow sign warning passersby to "Keep Off". I wondered why someone had placed all those footholds up the wall if scaling the summit was prohibited. We retreated to the safety of the van as the residents of the neighboring retirement home kept watch on the structure. Maybe I will return again at a future date to see if there is ever any action down there.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Hole in One

Some Friday nights Ben and Hannah go to the teen group at church and some Fridays we choose to have them home with us. Tonight they stayed home with James and I and we went out to play miniature golf. I don't know who actually won the game, none of us did very well tonight, but I did get a hole in one. Only one of the eighteen holes wins a prize and this happened to be it. The prize? A slice of pizza from the NY Pizzaria up in town. Maybe one day, if I can find some more coupons, I'll take the kids up for pizza.

On our way home James stopped for ice cream. I had a chocolate/vanilla twist. Yum! We don't often stop for ice cream so it is always a treat when we do. Our normal practice is to buy our ice cream and cones at the super market, hopefully on sale, and bring them home to make cones. You might say having seven children has encouraged a certain amount of frugality.

Feeling Slightly Helpless

This morning Ben and Hannah each had an appointment with their doctor for a yearly physical. They will soon be headed off to camp for a week and a physical is one of the unwanted but necessary requirements. Now that my children are older I normally let them go back for their appointments alone and wait for the doctor to call me in if she has a question or needs me to sign for immunizations or something. Hannah had three shots this time and Ben just two. I came back to sign the consent forms. When Ben was finished we all stood up to go but Hannah had a strange look on her face and said, "I can't see." A million things ran through my mind at once! I had just read the shot information... Or maybe she was just reacting to a blood pressure change? The nurse hurried back over just in time to catch Hannah as she crumpled to the floor inside the exam room. The doctor assured me it was not likely the content of the vaccines, but the actual "poke" of the needle. They did seem concerned but not overly nervous. As my daughter came to I began to feel a sense of relief. They had her sit up and finally got her back on her feet. She was asked how she felt and said "good" but her color was off again... We almost made it to the exam table this time, but not quite. There she was on the floor again. I wasn't sure what to think but was thankful the Lord had Ben recieve his shots after Hannah. The short lapse of time between her shots and his meant we weren't yet back in the waiting room when she passed out or worse, the parking lot. We did find that she hadn't eaten breakfast before the 10:30 am. appointment (they gave her a Tootsie Roll and some water) so that may have been a contributing factor. Whatever the reason, she sure gave me a scare. I'm so glad she is okay!
After looking around online a bit, I am not altogether convinced that Hannah's reaction was not from the injection itself. I was hesitant to allow the HPV vaccine anyway, but have now read that as many as 10% of girls who receive it have a reaction like this. I think she'll not be getting the final dose.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Passion's Fruit

I recently read a book, Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado. This book has left me pondering once again, wondering what really is my passion in life? What is it that I was specifically created to do? It isn't a question that others can answer for me, rather a question whose answer lies deep within myself. There are, of course, numerous clues which will eventually lead me to the answer, but the journey may take some time and will definitely require much thought. Not all of life depends on my passions, no matter what they may be, and there are plenty of jobs which need to be done whether I enjoy them or not. I have been told that my passion will overrule and crowd out those "other things" but I have not yet found that to be true. Often "other things" call louder and clearer, and appear much more urgent than what I love to do, so much so that my gifts and talents have become all but lost in the crush.

It's Thursday. A good day to make a list of things I love, some to do and some... some just things that I know are connected in some presently unseen way.

1. Blog- I think it's really the writing I enjoy. The feedback makes it all the more worthwhile.
2. I used to write poetry, especially when I was in 5th grade up through high school. Once in a great while I will still write something, but once it was a passion.
3. Read. I don't do much reading anymore as it feels like I am accomplishing little to nothing when I do, but I love a good novel and usually can't resist telling others the story as I read it. I do miss reading to my kids too.
4. Drawing. My dad instilled in me a love of drawing. At a very young age I learned to look for pencils and papers. My skills are not honed and I feel very inept, but I'm pretty sure its in there somewhere, just waiting
5. Decorative painting. This is actually just another type of drawing only I'm using paint instead of a pencil or pen. Mostly I use someone else's pattern, but once in a while I paint from a photograph or other picture/drawing.
6. Pottery. I took a class a few years ago and tried out the wheel for the first time. I fell in love, closed my eyes and felt the clay spin between my hands...
7. Sculpting with clay is another love. I have an ample supply of clay and a small kiln out in James' spray booth but haven't pulled anything out in what seems like years. Some of my things have yet to be fired. Honestly, we've only fired up the kiln once. I don't know much about ceramics except that I love how clay feels in my hands.
8. The woods. Another thing that's hard to explain. When I was a little girl I loved walking through or playing in the woods. It is a land of fantasy and imagination.
9. Although I was often exhausted by the time and effort invested, I loved having a house full of kids and I loved my babies. They provided the perfect excuse to think childlike, go childlike places, and do childlike things. (O yes, and read those childlike books; Otis Spofford, Homer Price, The Not-Just-Anybody Family...)
10. Making crafts. The dilemma here is that I like a craft worth making, not just things that get tossed in the trash a few days later.
11. I loved walking on my wire wheel.
12. I love making things look cozy and welcoming. Some people hate knick-knacks and "dust collectors" but I find they have a place and make my house feel more like a home. Sometimes they come in the form of pillows or blankets on the couch, sometimes they are actually a basket of toys in a corner. Whatever they may be, they say something about who I am.
13. Music boxes. I don't know what it is about them either but I used to be mesmerized by them. Now I'm too distracted.
14. Ha! Taking photographs needs to be added here too. I love capturing a beautiful moment and putting it on film. Hurray for digital cameras!

Anyway, I am thinking, pondering, musing... One day I'll have an answer to my search.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Caged Animals

It was a perfect day. Perfect sunshine, perfect temperatures. Josh came to play this morning. He is no longer content to sit on a lap or in the stroller. The high chair occupies him for only short periods of time while the Cheerio supply holds out. He wants to move.

Seeing as my home is not very well baby proofed and I preferred to be outdoors, today we set up "the cage". I can't recall where I picked up this particular life saving piece of apparatus, but I think it may have been the church dumpster a few years back. We lay an old bedspread out on the floor of the back porch and stretched out the pen. Add a few toys and voila! a perfect place for Josh to play. (As you can see, we are aware of the dangers that come with the diamond shaped openings and he was not left unsupervised.)

This was Troy's last "Martha Day" and only Alysa arrived on the bus at noon. Sara and Tyler both went home with friends. So, now school is out and the fun begins. I need to figure out some fun days in July so I will know when I am available to watch little girls who must attend summer school and when I will be off gallivanting...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Keeping the Bases Covered

There are days when I feel as if all I ever do is run from one end the house to the other picking up and putting away, sifting through and sorting, cooking meals and cleaning up afterward. There are days when I long to get away from it all for just a little while. Then there are also other days, days when I am perfectly content to stay at home, putter around, bake some cookies, and dust the furniture. The laundry must be washed, groceries must be inventoried, and dirt must be removed. The bases must be covered, but do they have to be covered before I relax or can I relax first and then worry about the bases being covered?

Years ago when I babysat and my husband worked full time away from home, before my homeschooling adventure began, my days were filled with what may have looked to others like play. Of course I still cleaned, washed clothing, and cooked meals, but I spent a lot of time reading books to and playing toys with little people, dancing to kid tapes, walking around the block, and sitting outside just watching the kids play. We walked to story time at the library, went to visit Grandma's house, or drove down to either the park or the playground. Somewhere between those days of "play" and here I lost my ability to take it easy and not worry about the fact that I am sitting down. Is it really okay to sit and read a novel for hours? Can I pull out my paints or clay before the morning chores are done? What if I feel like jumping out of bed one morning and taking off for a day at the beach or a hike through the woods? Aren't those productive activities too? I think they are. This summer I hope to make a return to the days of "play" and maybe I'll take my grandson along.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Blue Heaven... almost

On my way to town this morning, I took a detour and drove along the lake. I stopped to take a photo at the Pultneyville Yacht Club where I could almost make believe I was sitting on the shore in Maine or Nova Scotia. I believe the yacht club has sailboat races on Thursday evenings during the summer. I've seen them coming in before but haven't yet taken the time to sit and watch. Maybe I will...

As gasoline prices continue to rise, I think more and more about my own surroundings, places I often take for granted because they are so familiar to me. For my entire life I've lived a short distance from a beautiful lake that looks more like a sea or an ocean. Over there somewhere is Canada but I can't see it from here. The lake was rather calm today, but there are times when it is rough and wild, times when the water crashes against the shore spraying anything and everything within reach. There are winters when chunks of ice float in the water and the spray freezes on fences and trees turning them into icy monsters. Along the shoreline are privately owned homes, marinas, parks and orchards, lighthouses and even a lonely cemetery.

As I strive for simplicity this summer, you just may find me somewhere along the southern shore of Lake Ontario taking in what I otherwise may have missed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Winding Down

The school year is slowly winding down and coming to a close. Although Ben and Hannah continue to do math and work on other things, the year-end tests have been taken and I am ready for summer vacation. Troy will be here on Tuesday and Wednesday and then he will be home with his parents for July and August. When he returns it will be half days. Sara and Alysa will finish up school this week too. It is highly likely that I will not have them for the summer months as their schedule will keep me in limbo more than I would like; summer school, riding lessons, day camp... I am hoping to have time to do some visiting and take a few day trips before settling in again in the fall. I'm also thinking about doing some artwork or maybe painting my living room. Maybe I'll find a few good books to read and enjoy some time on the back porch, go out to lunch with my husband, or sit by the pool with Rachel. Perhaps Shelly and I will take a hike or Gudl and I will walk through the Little Forest. Maybe I will meet up with Apple and Country Girl when I take my kids to camp in Oswego. Do you suppose I might find my way to visit my friend in NY City or Grandmanita in Halifax, Nova Scotia? Anything is possible if you only believe...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Twenty-Seven and Counting

Happy Anniversary to my best friend.
We've been through ups and downs, good times and bad, sunshine and rain. Through it all God has been with us, leading and guiding us, providing for our needs, keeping us together when we wanted to throw in the towel, and bringing us through to the other side.
Twenty-seven years sounds like a long time in so many ways and yet feels so short in others. Wasn't it just yesterday I fell on your lap when we played hide and seek in the cornfield? Wasn't it just yesterday we hid beneath the weeping willow and watched your Uncle Carmen ride past on a bicycle looking for you? Wasn't it just yesterday that our first beautiful baby was born, and then the second, and third and... ? Wasn't it just yesterday that we bought our first car? That we moved into our first apartment and then house? Somewhere along the way we must have grown up. I don't recall when or where it happened. I guess I was so busy enjoying the journey with you that I didn't notice.

The Crazy Week

A busy week is almost over, but not before a final hurrah. We started out Sunday with a Father's Day gathering at Rachel's and will be finishing up tomorrow with a birthday/pre-graduation party for Nate. He wanted to have a gathering of friends before everyone goes their separate ways. In between we have babysat, picked strawberries, made jam and shortcake, fought an allergy headache, shopped for clothes, taught at church, celebrated a birthday with the family, gone grocery shopping, and today is James and my 27th wedding anniversary. (No wonder I'm feeling scatterbrained.) I'm not sure if we are going out or staying in, but I've told him that I think we should get married again and make it on a quieter kind of week. Of course, the activity level seldom slows to a real quiet, it just merges into a new level of motion.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"My Birthday's June 19"

This was a common phrase when Nathan was a little guy. He doesn't tell us this anymore, but for several years it was his favorite thing to say. Today he turned 18. Wow! Where have the years gone? Yesterday I had a smiling two year old, baseball cap on his head, hands in his pockets. What a wonderful little boy he was. He is every bit as wonderful today, just slightly larger... As a baby he was enthralled by music, now he makes his own. A few years ago he learned to play the guitar and now he is teaching himself to play the piano. Music is his passion. I wonder where it will take him someday?

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shop Til You Drop

This morning we went out to the stores. Nate needed a few things for the up and coming missions trip to El Salvador and Ben was a little short on shorts. Whilst in K Mart, Hannah and I decided to try some shoes on Josh.
These look perfect to me. I didn't buy them cause I'm afraid he won't be wanting his feet inside of shoes too much during the summer months and he's sure to outgrow them by the time the weather cools off again. I wanted to see how he "walked" in them but he had a tough time of it with his feet tied together. Instead of shoes, I found him a nice bouncy ball covered with colorful pictures of Finding Nemo. Josh was very pleased with my purchase and took it home to play ball with his daddy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hail to the Chief and Straw Breeze

Yesterday brought thunderstorms and hail. First it was pea-sized, then marble, then nearly golf ball sized. It bounced off the roof and collected in the grass and driveway. Thank God the storm was short lived and didn't chop our gardens to bits. It provided a little excitement (Troy had to get up from his nap to see) and cooled the temperatures down about ten degrees. Today is a sweatshirt kind of day with a cool lake breeze.
Speaking of "breeze" (strawbreeze...), it was a great morning to go berry picking. Nate, Ben, Hannah and I met Bethany at Burnap's and we picked a whole mess of strawberries. The season has just begun and already Beth and I have each made two batches of jam. I will likely freeze several bags of crushed berries and make more jam during those cold winter months. By then I should have some lonely jelly jars longing to be filled up with warm jam. I think I hear the strawberries calling me right now... Mmmmmm!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Gift of a Dad

Thank you, Lord God, for the gift of a dad. I can't imagine life without him, although I realize there are many who have never known a father's love. For this reason I am all the more greatful. Not only did You give me a dad, but he is the kind of dad I can be proud of, a dad who constantly models the love of my Heavenly Father, one who has loved me unconditionally though hurt and happiness. I wish all the world could have a dad like mine.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Wedding

This morning James and I attended the wedding of Bethany's good friend, Elisabeth. The skies were cloudy and threatening rain. Not good for an outdoor ceremony. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to bless us only with sprinkles of rain and not a downpour. Liz was beautiful and so were the girls. I did not bring my camera along, rather left the picture taking to others. Too bad because it really was a gorgeous location. Now I have to go back.
The pictures at the old lighthouse were taken nearly ten years ago when I took my children on a Saturday trip to the lighthouse museum. (Bethany should appreciate this... ) Hannah was about 4 years old, maybe not quite. Back then we climbed the circular staircase to look out the windows way up in the top of the tower and found a lot of ladybugs. I think it is time to make a return trip. Local field trips are a must with gasoline prices such as they are, and there are several lighthouses to visit here along Lake Ontario.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Play Day

Josh came to play this morning. He sure can get around! He loves to crawl and it won't be long before he pulls himself up and walks around the furniture. He loves Hannah (and the boys too) and crawls right over to her without any encouragement at all. Of course, she loves it.
I've been fighting some kind of sinus issue this week. I think next year I will take a vacation when the cottonwood flies. I do find that Musinex and Advil take the edge off the headache, otherwise I just want to sleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One- Two- Three- Four

Happy Anniversary, Dave and Leta!
It's hard to believe that it has been four years already since I was blessed with a beautiful daughter in law. She is a sweetheart and I wouldn't trade her for anything. I tell her she is my favorite daughter in law, and that's the truth! She used to roll her eyes and say "I'm you're only daughter in law." (I told her she can always be my favorite. When the other boys get married, I will call the others my favorite too, then I will look at Leta and wink, and she will know that she is always my favorite.) Now she calls me her favorite mother in law. Isn't that special?

When Christmas comes this year, we will be looking for a brand new grandchild. Dave and Leta are expecting! A few weeks back, on Mother's Day, Dave handed me a little piece of paper, folded in half, and said "Happy Mother's day." I was curious about the paper and opened it never expecting to see an ultrasound image. I think its pretty awesome.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where's Waldo?

A year ago all of my children lived with a 15 mile radius. This did not go by unnoticed or unappreciated, so last year on Mother's Day I thought it would be great to take some family photos. Have you ever tried to get a decent phot of 7-9 people? Someone always has their eyes closed or is looking the other direction... or in this case, goofing off. I knew it was hopeless to protest, so I told Rachel to keep on clicking and I hoped for the best.

My husband insists I taught them this behavior but it doesn't appear that he is trying to help...

And, although a serious picture would have been nice, there is something wonderful about the goofy ones. They make me smile.

Hey, everybody has their eyes open!

And to all who noticed Nathan wasn't in this picture, "Thank you." It's nice to be missed.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Freedom or Bondage

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, 'You will be made free'?"
Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.
And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever.
Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
John 8:32-36

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The One-Wheeled Wonder

If you read Bethany's blog then you know that we went out garage "sailing" this morning. Bethany found the greatest bargain, a unicycle for five dollars! Of course she hasn't yet mastered the art of riding (and I'm not sure where she is going to attach the baby seat) but she has secured an instructor who is more than willing to give her a tip or two. (No pun intended.)

Bethany comes from a long but little known line of circus performers. Her mother once walked the wire wheel and her father is quite accomplished at stilt walking. I've seen old movies of her great grandfather holding a stick in front of his body, one hand at either end, and jumping over it forwards and backwards. Her brother has also accomplished this difficult feat, well kind of... Uncle Chuck has a grand menagerie of trick bicycles and I can twirl the baton. She also has an aunt who went to clown school and a grandmother who can put both feet behind her head. Now if we could just get Hannah to take up the trapeze and Benjamin the high wire, we just might have a full fledged show!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The House at Pooh Corner

This old house reminds me of where Christopher Robin may have lived, after all, isn't that Pooh Bear's tree out front? I can almost see Christopher running through the long grass with a red balloon clutched in one hand and piglet in the other. Look up there in the branches of the old copper beech and you just might spot a big bee's nest dripping with honey. Lay out a checkered table cloth and all the animals can have a picnic. Even Eeyore will come dragging his tail behind him. Well, it's fun to imagine anyway.

This old house is for sale. We actually took a look inside back in the winter months. It needs a lot of work. It has been sold once and cleaned up since we looked. The overgrown bushes have been trimmed and the rooms cleaned. The last resident was an elderly woman with lots of money. I think she passed away and left her home to out of town relatives who auctioned her treasures (the real value) and then put the house up for sale. Along with the house comes an "out building". It was some kind of a fruit or vegetable processing center in the day, not apples, but something I can't recall. It could be a beautiful place, the realtor says it is a "diamond in the rough", but it needs so much work that I'm not sure it will ever happen.

Hot and Humid

It is 10:15 am and 83 degrees. We are looking for a high of 93 with a "real feel" of 97. (Wasn't I just shivering a few days ago?) Today I will be thankful for the cool, dark house I was complaining about just days ago. I will enjoy a tall glass of iced tea on my back porch and maybe I will find a good book to read. Perhaps I will make another stop at the local library to find some favorite children's books. Troy will be here next week and he likes a good story. I will be taking Hannah back to the doctor shortly. Her pink eye looks like it is coming back and the doctor wants to see her again. Fun, fun. I was hoping they would just call in another prescription. At least the pediatrician's office is only a few minutes away.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This Old House and Rip Van Winkle

This old house is not in good shape. It has surely seen better days and yet, although mostly vacant, has not been totally abandoned. Every year the little building looks a bit sadder, a few more shingles fall off and the grass and trees take over a bit more, but each fall someone comes to visit and stay in the little old house for a few weeks. On dark nights a light glows in the windows and a car is parked in the yard. I am always amazed and wonder who it is and where they come from.

Down the road and around the corner a mile or two is another run down house. This one has not been abandoned, just neglected. In the garage outside the second house are two old cars and a bunch of feral cats who enjoy sunning themselves on nice days. I have named one cat Rip Van Winkle because he is always asleep on the trunk of one old car. Rip will not be waking up any time soon. He has been sleeping there on the back of that car since early January. At first I was horrified by the fact that no one bothered to take care of him, now I am just amazed he is still there. Once or twice I had to laugh when I saw another cat using him as a cushion to sit on. (That was back in the colder weather.) Months ago I thought about calling animal control. I have considered taking his picture... Now I am just curious how long he will remain asleep on the trunk of that old car.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Cry in the Dark

You won't see anything in the video posted, but you will hear a hopeful cry in the dark. This is our mockingbird calling to his beloved in the still of the night. He is lonesome and alone, hoping someone out there will hear him and answer his call. We hope so too. :)

The mockingbird reminds me of another kind of cry in the dark, the cry of lonely, hurting people looking for someone or something to soothe the anguish of their souls, never realizing that Jesus loves them and died to wash away their sins. Jesus once cried out in the dark of the night too, in the Garden of Gethsemane. He cried out to His Father on the night before His Crucifixion. "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." But there was no other way to redeem a lost and dying world. Jesus, God's only son, had to die and be raised again to give us that hope. The pains and sorrows of life don't disappear when we give our hearts to Him. There is still pain and sorrow. But we, like Paul and Silas while they were imprisoned for their faith, can have a song in the night because we know that we belong to Jesus and He gives us hope.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Whale of a Tale

I was up early this morning to greet Troy and put his brother on the school bus in front of our house. (Tyler usually gets on at home before their dad drops Troy off here.) On days when I have to be up an hour early, I have a tendency to wake up two or three hours early instead and only half-sleep my final hours in bed. Rather than walk around feeling sleepy for the morning, I decided to take Troy out grocery shopping so we went to Webster. Between the road and parking lot in front of Wegmans are two ponds and today the fountains were on. "I bet its a whale!" Troy gasped. He was sure the spouting water was coming from the blowhole of a giant fish. I had to smile. Only a three year old could imagine a whale in such a small body of water. Not wanting to make him feel silly, I played along. Why not? It sounded like a fun game and reminded me of an old Dr. Seuss book, McElligot's Pool. Maybe some day we should get a couple of fishing poles and see what we can catch in one of those little ponds...