Birthdays Feed

Summery Thoughts & Pics ... 🌞

St. johns wort 1

Happy mid-July, my friends! I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their Summer so far ...

I know my posting has been very slow lately, but all is well here - it's just a very busy, hands-on season in my life! Days begin early - end later than I'd like - and I'm afraid naps are just not a regular thing anymore, lol. I'm finding it a challenge to carve out blogging time these days ... but I am still here! And I appreciate all your thoughts and queries, both here and at my Facebook page. I do not have my blog email working yet, so if you need me, please contact me by leaving a comment here or at FB for the time being. :)

Well, I'm popping in today to say hi and share a few photos if I may. I'm working at the kitchen table right now, sipping some cold coffee and listening to my boys all around me. Little Bear is singing a Spiderman song with Crackerjack while they work on a puzzle on the family room floor ... Earlybird is working hard on math skills with his therapist in the sunroom ... and Bookworm is weaving in and out of the kitchen, getting his own day going ...

Free time might be hard to come by these days, but I'm awfully grateful to be here in this season of life. These full and blessed days go by all too fast ...

Ok. First up - here's a sun craft I made for the Summer Solstice:

Sun plaque 2

I have always loved those colorful sun and moon plaques you see hanging on the sides of sheds or garden gates ... but goodness, they are expensive! This one is handmade (and rather humbly so) with salt dough. We left it to finish drying outside under its namesake. I haven't had the courage to paint it yet, but once I do and it is sealed against the weather, I will hang it somewhere in our garden ...

Speaking of my garden, it's doing very well, too!

Bee balm

Above is the Bee Balm which started blooming just before Independence Day. I think it looks like little firework explosions! And boy, do the hummingbirds enjoy them ...

The herbs we planted last year are quite plentiful - I've been gathering them on dry days to hang over my kitchen window.

Herb basket

In my basket above is St. John's Wort (seen in top picture, too), Thyme, Lavender and Rose petals. The rose bushes out front really did well this season - in fact they are now mostly covered in hips!

Rose hips 1

I'll be researching what to do with rose hips, but in the meantime, I used the petals I collected to make some rosewater:

Rosewater 1

Doesn't that look pretty? 

Rose water 2

Very easy to do - I placed a cup of rose petals in a glass bowl, covered them with 2 cups boiling water and then allowed them to steep (with a dinner plate resting on top) until cool. Then I strained the water into a jar as seen above. I purchased some amber glass spray bottles which I plan to fill with a couple of different herbal concoctions, one of them being a "rosewater refresher" for hot summer days. :)

And here is the "pretty pink forest" growing in my front yard ...

Astilbe 1

These lovely blooms are Astilbe, and there is tons of it growing beneath the family room windows. And out back the Spirea is a veritable pink explosion:

Spirea 1

This whole area (which stands right beside the chicken coop) is a bumblebee haven!

A little more pink to be found along the front walkway ...


These are Cottage Pinks! I love their clove-like scent - and that they remind me of my grandparents' garden AND that they were a favorite of Tasha Tudor's. So much of gardening is creating and recreating fond memories, isn't it?

 Now, here's a very "interesting" visitor we had in our yard recently ...

Fox in yard 1

Yes, that is indeed a red fox - and we've never seen one before (even at our old house) but wouldn't you know, the year we finally get chickens ... this fella shows up?

One more garden pic ...

Faerie flower

This tiny plant popped up all on its own beside my herb patch, and I wasn't sure what it was, but after consulting google - and helpful friends on Facebook - we've identified it as "Straw Foxglove!" A tiny cousin to these beauties out front ...

Foxgloves 1

I love that it's a mystery how it got there ... :)

And here's a pretty picture from my living room, taken on Independence Day morning ...

4th of july morning

The summer weather has been wonderful here in New England - bright and hot for the most part. Maybe a bit too hot this week (mid 90s by Friday) ... so as much as I love open windows, I'm very grateful for air conditioning!

Speaking of gratitude ...

Magnetic letters

It's been many years since we've had magnetic letters on our fridge! I LOVE this age, don't you?

And how about a family pic? 

Happy birthday dad

We celebrated Bill's birthday last weekend, and I just love this shot of him surrounded by all his boys (and me)! In case you can't tell, he's lighting the candles on his cake - we couldn't fit all FIFTY on there! ;)

(Any longtime readers here astounded (as I am) at how big my boys are all getting? They were tiny when I started this blog!)

Parting shot, taken at my local Michaels craft store recently ...

Fall at michaels

Mind you, this was taken BEFORE the 4th of July! I am all for planning ahead - and you all know how much I love autumn - but even for me this is just a wee bit too early!

β€œLive in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

(His birthday was yesterday - aka National Simplicity Day - and this is a topic for a whole 'nother post!)

Well my friends, I am going to wrap up now, because if I don't push "publish" soon there's a chance it will be another day or more before I get this post up! (Remember how I was sipping cold coffee back in that third paragraph? Yeah, it's taking me a while to get this post done!)

Plus, I have supper to make, and tonight it's sloppy-joe biscuits, corn on the cob and waffle fries - a real "boys' favorite." I've been a little lax in the meal planning department and really need to get back on track. I'm at the food store more than I'd like these days! 

(Another topic for another day!)

But as always, I thank you for stopping by and reading, and I hope this post finds you well ...

See you here again very soon!

Playing Catch Up!

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! And for that matter ... Happy June! :)

Gosh, it's been a while since I've posted ... and I'm sorry about that. Everything is fine here, we're just extra busy as the year winds down and a few computer issues have slowed me down a bit, too. I hope to find more blogging time this Summer because I have an awful lot of ideas and things I want to talk with you all about!

But for today, I'd like to play a little catch up and share some pictures from the past few weeks, as this will give you a glimpse of what's been going on around here ... most significantly ...


Chicks 1

Our baby chicks arrived three weeks ago! Aren't they sweet?

We ordered six one-day-old pullets and they sent us seven. Unfortunately, one of them didn't make it so we now have the original six. They are doing quite well, I'm happy to report! They are getting so big and Bill and the boys are working hard to finish the coop and pen! 

Chicken pen

We've got a few more weeks to get it done ...

Here are my "Full Flower Moon" cupcakes from a couple of weeks ago. We baked these as part of our seasonal homeschooling rhythm. (That week's theme was "Spring Flowers.") You probably saw these if you follow me on Facebook, but they're too pretty not to share again! :)

Flower cupcakes

More flowers from the spring garden .... also gathered during "Spring Flower" week.

Flowers 1

I love pretty vases and old pitchers, but nothing is more charming than a plain old Mason jar. :)

Here is a lovely pond in our neighborhood ...

Morning pond

On this walk I had Little Bear with me as you can see. We were saying "Good Morning" to the geese and frogs and turtles and blackbirds ... and whoever else we could hear on this breezy May day!


Some of the pretty purple phlox that bloomed last month ...

O party 17

Oh, and here is Little Bear's birthday cake! My mum made the cake and I supplied the trucks and "rock wall." Mum added Oreo crumbs to make the construction site!

Rugs 1

And here is a close up of a braided rug set we purchased for our kitchen - I am so in love with these colors! Bill and I stopped in at a moving sale up the street and I just could not pass these rugs up. (Two runners and an under-table rug.) They look great in the kitchen! Braided rugs just say "cozy home" to me ...

Rugs 3

Thankfully, Archie approved the purchase ... ;)

Kitchen table with peonies

The largest rug fit our breakfast nook perfectly! It means a little more vacuuming, but I'm ok with that. :)

O and l reading 1

Oh and did I mention, Bookworm (our college boy) is home? He arrived mid-May and is with us till the end of August. It is SO good to have him home - to have ALL my chicks back in the nest! And of course, Little Bear is just soaking up all the extra big-brother attention. πŸ’™

But back to the garden ...

Yarrow 2

I love this little herb-and-flower patch, which I'm hoping to expand this summer. The yellow flowers are Yarrow, and the purpley things are Coral Bells, which the hummingbirds absolutely adore. They drink deep from those tiny pink blooms!

Peonies 3

On the other end of the scale - here are my gigantic pink blooms, our lovely Peonies! I wish they would linger longer ... they are the most photogenic flowers and do they ever smell heavenly!

But my Foxgloves are really stealing the show this Spring ...

Foxgloves sunshine

Foxgloves pink

Foxgloves 1

Foxgloves are biennial so they didn't bloom last year and the year before that was their first so they were fairly small. This year though, boy oh boy are they doing well! (And to think, we almost pulled them up thinking they were weeds!) Also known as Fairy Thimbles (or properly, Digitalis purpurea), this plant is one of my all-time favorites ... it reminds me of Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor ... a sweet, old-fashioned, country cottage kind of flower!

One last shot, here they are this morning under our glorious American flag ...

Flag day foxgloves

(Happy Flag Day!)

Ok, and finally, a little more wildlife news ... we have a woodchuck family living in our backyard!

Woodchuck 1

This is the mother - who, I think, wintered under our old shed on the hill and then spent the spring making herself a few dens here and there around our property. (We'd see her hurrying across the yard, with her mouth full of leaves!) Well, yesterday we watched her and her THREE babies enjoying our plentiful (organic, weedy) grass! They are so cute I can't stand it!

This picture doesn't really show them that well, but it was hard to get a picture through the sunroom window ...

Woochuck 2

I can't wait to watch them this Summer!

We also have a red squirrel family that visits our deck every day for the seed I scatter ... there can be up to six squirrels at a time! There are also lots of chipmunks and gray squirrels, of course. The usual songbirds - goldfinches, chickadees, titmice, mourning doves, woodpeckers, wrens, cardinals - and a pair of HUGE ravens that are so incredibly majestic.

Oh, and a gorgeous fox trotted through our yard the other night as we sat in the kitchen nook enjoying our dinner. We have never seen one before!

(And yes, we are planning to keep our chickens in a pen! They will be allowed to roam "free" with supervision.)


Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now! I hope you enjoyed seeing these pictures and I thank you so much for joining me. I can't promise when my next post will be up, but I hope it won't be too long ... I would like to do a Q&A roundup and show you all how the Day Designer is working for me now that I've used it for a whole two weeks. :)

I do hope you are all enjoying your June so far - has your Summer begun yet? - and I wish you all a pleasant evening (or day as the case might be) ...

See you here again very soon! 

Happy 3rd Birthday, Little Bear!

Mama and owen, three years old

Hello and Happy Thursday, my friends!

Today I'm popping in to wish my youngest - our Little Bear - a very HAPPY 3rd  BIRTHDAY! I can hardly believe he is three years old already! I am so grateful God blessed us with one more son to love ... here we thought we were "done," and along came our sweet "caboose" baby! β€οΈ

LB sure does keep his mama on her toes! He loves to be outside, loves his trucks and trains and digging in the dirt ... reading and coloring and playing silly games ... but best of all he LOVES his big brothers! And he has all of us wrapped right around his dear little fingers ... πŸ˜Š

Tonight there will be LB's favorite supper - American Chop Suey (made with whole grain pasta and grass-fed beef), tossed salad and garlic bread, followed by a yummy little cake I picked up at the bakery. And of course, his brothers will all help him blow out that big number THREE candle ... 

LB might be too little to wish for himself but his mama will gladly do so for him. My wish for my young son is that he continues to grow just as he is now - bright, kind, curious, happy, and healthy - that he always be filled with much joy, and surrounded by much love ...

God bless you, Little Bear! We love you SO very much!


My Birthday Tea Journal ❀

Bday tea 21

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your day's been a good one!

Mine has been very nice ... my dear family treated me to a lovely birthday today! By chance, everyone was home, and my folks came over for lunch (bringing said lunch - plus cake and presents!) and now, at the end of the day, I am sitting upstairs in a comfortable chair, sipping tea, blogging and listening to Bill and the boys making supper downstairs ... :)

So originally, I was going to do this big list - a kind of "favorites" quiz I found online, answering "47" things about myself (I'm 47 today!) but my time sort of ran out (and honestly, I'm not that interesting, lol) so instead, I am going to share a whole bunch of pictures from today with you all ... just for fun and kicks! :)

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"Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live."

Bday tea 2

❀ Afghans in lots of colors - this one knit by my grandmother many years ago.

Bday tea 3

❀ LL Bean tote bags - I adore them! This one is my favorite, though - for the color AND the monogram. :)

Bday tea 12

❀ Carnations are the January birth flower! This is a small $3 bouquet I bought for myself the other day at the grocery store - that's right, I bought myself flowers! - and I have never seen them in prettier colors. All my favorites: buttery yellow, soft peach and deep coral. "Sunrise" colors. :)

Bday tea 7

❀ Another shot of the front of my 2016 planner. I love what it says, I love the color of the text (that shimmery copper) and I love the background scenery ... This morning as I walked up the driveway, I realized why I love this notebook so much:

Bday tea 8

Look familiar? :)

"The best journeys take you home."

Bday tea 1

❀ And these guys ... well, you all know how I feel about these guys. :)

Bday tea 17 (1)

❀ My favorite hobby, I think, is journaling. I love adding bits and pieces of my days (words, ideas, observations, pictures) to this ever-growing tapestry in a three-ring binder. In the background is a mug I love - red squirrels are another favorite of mine!

"I can measure the quality of my life, at any given period, by how much or little I journaled. They go hand-in-hand." Stacy Duplease

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❀ My pretty penuche birthday cake - I think they tried to get all 47 candles on there! ;)

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(p.s. Penny, I will ask my mum for the frosting recipe - might be similar to the fudge - and the cake was "Golden Vanilla," Duncan Hines I think. All to say ... it was delicious!)

Bday tea 15

I am grateful, deeply blessed, to have all these healthy lungs (and the young men attached to them) around me!

"Sons are the anchors of a mother's life." Sophocles

Bday tea 16

And finally, one last "mug" shot ...

Bday tea post 20

❀ Bill found this cute little mug in one of the many boxes we still have yet to unpack since moving here 2 1/2 years ago. He presented it to me the other day as an early birthday "present" and he knew how it would make me smile. This came from my late grandparents' house and it was one of my favorites. The date stamped on the bottom says 1978, and like any child in the 70s and 80s, I just about LIVED for rainbows. I drew them, collected them ... wore them everywhere: on my socks, my pajamas, in my hair, on my suspenders. I'm so happy to have "found" this mug and will use it happily and remember my Gram ... who would have been 102 on Thursday. She was my birthday pal and for that and so many reasons, I miss her, deeply.

"Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud." Maya Angelou

I think this makes a mighty fine birthday resolution, don't you? :)


Well my friends, I am going to let you all go now ... you've been so good to humor me! So thank you very much for stopping by and I hope you all enjoy a pleasant evening ... I'll be watching a movie with my fellas in a bit and then hitting the hay early, thankful God has granted me another year here on earth. I look forward to seeing what He has in store for me on my new journey 'round the sun!

Next post - pinky promise! - a look at my 2016 planner! I took the pics today and everything! :)

See you all here again very soon ...

We're Celebrating Crackerjack's 16th Birthday!

Which means, I have a whole lotta pictures to share! But first, a little throwback, just to keep it all in perspective ...

Cj bday 2

Some of you may remember this wee fella from way back when I started blogging ... ten years ago (almost)? Well, as hard as it is for me to believe - let alone say - this little laddie is now a young man of SIXTEEN!

And let me tell you - though I know some of you know this - what a different experience it is planning a birthday party for a six year old as opposed to a 16 year old! There's far less planning and preparation involved - for example, there are no pinatas to hang or favor bags to fill, lol. Anyhoo, what we did this weekend was to have Jack invite friends over on Saturday to watch movies in the cool man cave ("cool," as in escaping the heat) and then on Sunday our family gathered for a simple cookout to celebrate our young man.

Jacks fam party 16

The Birthday Boy himself!

Jacks fam party 5

And the family gathered: my folks and Bill's folks and all our boys!

Jacks fam party 8

August means farm-fresh corn at every chance. Seriously, we eat it several times a week at this time of year! And baked beans are traditional New England fare in any season, but I love them at parties, and they are always a Little Bear favorite!

Jacks fam party 27

And here are some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from my friend Debbie's garden ... like jewels in the sun, so pretty in this bowl.

Jacks fam party 11

And voila the birthday party spread! Hot dogs, burgers, (sliced sweet onions, tomatoes and crispy bacon), sausages, potato salad, garden salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, chips-n-dip ... and crabbies (a family favorite)!

 Jacks fam party 7

The liquid refreshments and pretty glassware were set up on the kitchen jetty ... lemonade, sodas, iced tea, and wine. 

Jacks fam party 26 (1)

A tiny pumpkin from our garden! I love how it looks amongst all the summery-ness - a glimpse of things to come ...

Jacks fam party 14

Bill and I with our boys - a bit of Christmas card practice!

Jacks fam party 10 (1)

And here's our Bookworm, talking about his new TA position at BC this fall. He'll be quite the busy undergrad this year!

Jacks fam party 21

I just love this picture of Mum and I with Little Bear. I love that we laugh so much as a family ... we have a lot of fun. :) 

Jacks fam party 2

My brother Matt had to work all day but came up to the house after he got off of work a bit early. Earlybird was so thrilled he ran to the doors to let him in - with a big hug, natch. :)

(He brought some amazing grapes, by the way - he works at Trader Joe's, fyi - they are absolutely the sweetest I've ever had!)

Jacks fam party 3

My brother (aka Unc Matt) and the birthday boy.

Jacks fam party 26

Little Bear enjoying his bubba with his Papa. How sweet is this picture?

Jacks fam party 23

LB giving out hugs and fist bumps. This one was for his Great Aunt Anne.

Jacks fam party 19

What a happy day - love spending time with these folks! With my Dad and Bill's Godmother, Aunt Anne. 

Jacks friend party 1

For CJ and his friends, I made "monster cupcakes" - aka squash muffins with a simple powdered sugar glaze. They were a hit! (And LB was a bit obsessed with the candles.)

Jacks party 2

I am so grateful that CJ has such great friends and that they've been friends since they were little kids. Note the tiny guy on CJ's lap ... sneaking in where the action is. ;) He insisted on being at the table with the big boys. 

Jacks friends party 4

Here's CJ with his friend, Kurt - and a great new Disney t-shirt in his favorite color!

Jacks friends party 5

Crackerjack is a lot of things - kind, funny, thoughtful - but I especially love what a fantastic big brother he is. I think the greatest compliment anyone can be paid in life is to earn the love and trust and attachment of a young child. It says so much about a person when little ones feel safe and happy with them ... and as you can see from this picture, Little Bear and Crackerjack have a truly special bond. Fourteen years apart, but best buddies at heart. <3


Well I'll wrap up now, but I thank you for stopping by and sharing in our special day! I will be back to chat more another time - and I have pictures of my Day Designer to share (remember the daybook I bought at Target a while back?) ... I think I'm liking it!


Enjoy your evening, my friends and see you again soon!

Posting Schedule - Update!

Rosa rugosa 1

Blessed Sunday, my friends!

I hope you are all enjoying this lovely weekend ... it's a hot one here, and a busy one for us, too! Bill's birthday was yesterday so we spent a happy day celebrating with family. And today we have a house project going - the boys are helping Bill clean the gutters! - and later on we have a baseball game to attend ...

All this to say - I'm going to delay the "pocketbook post" till Tuesday, and that will give me tomorrow to pull it together. So if you were hoping to send me something for the post - you have an extra day! :)

Before I go, here's a pic of the birthday boy himself - with all HIS boys!

Bills bday 17 (1)


Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and I will see you here again very soon!

p.s. That's a rosa rugosa shrub in bloom at the top ... I'm hoping to get lots of hips in the fall!

Happy Birthday, Bookworm!

Some of my longtime readers might remember this little guy from when I first started blogging ...

Liams bday 1

Well, would you believe this boy just turned TWENTY years old?!

(I know, I can hardly believe it, either!)

Here we are Monday night, enjoying dinner at Bookworm's favorite restaurant. We took this picture at the very moment he turned 20 years old!

Liams bday 4

How quickly he's grown ... from that quiet, quirky, happy boy - to this quiet, quirky, happy young man! We are so proud of our son for all he is ... kind, patient, funny and wise. For always being himself, and comfortable in his own skin. Humble but confident. And so good to his family and friends! We just love him so much and are prouder than we could ever say ...

I may not want to stop time, but I wouldn't mind slowing it down - just a little. Our kids grow so fast - in the blink of an eye he went from a babe in my arms to a junior in college! I may miss those early years, but boy am I excited to see what his next 20 years bring!

My friends, may I ask each of you to say a little prayer, think a happy thought, for our Bookworm? That this "new year" brings many blessings for our boy?


Thank you so much, everyone, and, as always, I'm grateful you stopped by! I'm wishing you all a good week ... and will see you here again very soon!

Time Flies - and Little Bear turns TWO!

O party 7

 We can hardly believe that our littlest man - our happy surprise baby - is now a TWO YEAR OLD! Time does truly fly when you're having fun ... and boy, is this boy FUN! I'd like to share some pictures from his birthday if I may? 

O party 13

Here we are, my Little Bear and I, taking a moment during the party to relax under a shady canopy. You might notice the bottle in his hands ... well, he did wean himself from nursing around 19 months ... but giving up the bubba is not as smooth a transition, lol! But we're working on it ...

Ah, but before I get too far with the party pictures (which took place last weekend), here is our Little Bear with all his big brothers on his actual birthday night, reading cards and having a little birthday cake after supper ...

O birthday 3

O birthday 2

O birthday 1

He actually didn't eat a bite, lol! Little Bear's not the one for sweets ... give him some hummus or pasta, however ...

But now, back to the party ... our theme was "Things That Go!"

O party 6

Because Little Bear just LOVES all things that move, particularly trucks and trains. I placed vibrant red Gerber daisies in blue and green mason jars alongside some party store decorations ... so simple and pretty. Every table got bubbles as well because Little Bear just LOVES to chase bubbles!

O party 15

My mum made this cake, topped with her famous fudge frosting and some construction vehicles "on the job" ...

O party 24

There were also plenty of buttercream-topped chocolate cupcakes (also made by LB's Nana) with tiny vehicle picks for decoration ...

O party 5

There were balloons aplenty, natch ... 

O party 4

And because it was such a nice day, we were able to enjoy the outdoors and hold the party on the patio and in the yard ... You never know in June hereabouts, but we dodged the rain and got ourselves a dry day!

O party 48

More balloons! This one was tied to the mailbox ...

O party 3

The main tent was set up on the patio and that covered the dining tables ... we also set up two smaller brown canopies where we had a "bar" and casual seating. Note my herb containers off to the left ... more on those very soon!

O party 24

 So as I mentioned before, my mum made the cake and cupcakes ... I did the arranging and I think it came out rather clever! Those are chocolate sprinkles being hauled around by the trucks. :)

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Here's the little guy joining family at the table ... that was my grandmother's tablecloth - a soft white terry adorned with strawberries and yellow flowers. I love it for summer entertaining.

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And here are my two oldest sons with the birthday boy ... :)

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Here's my Bill manning the grill, catching up with our friend, Paul, my cousin Kate's husband. Our party menu featured burgers and hot dogs and sausages along with all kinds of sides.

Here's the buffet table in the sunroom as it got piled up with food. I lined the windowsills with favorite truck/train/boat/plane books and toys.

O party 59

There was, of course, punch!

O party 16

And after lunch came presents - present-opening is very much a family affair around here. ;)

O party 44

 Little Bear received many thoughtful gifts - trucks, books, finger puppets, summer tees and even a wading pool!

O party 26 

And then it was time for cake! Note the face, lol ...

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... and then some yard games ...

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As well as some quality time in the sandbox!

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It was a lovely day spent with people we love, celebrating the littlest member of our family.  Time is indeed flying fast and I am grateful for every day - every simple, sweet, slow (or not) day I get to spend with my dear ones. And oh, how dear is this little one ... in all of his two year-old glory?


Well, my friends ... that's all for now! I'm hoping you all have a good week and thanking you all for stopping by!

I'll see you here again very soon ... 

Thank you!

Cloche 1

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I wanted to say thank you for all the lovely birthday messages yesterday, both here and at the Facebook page. It was a lovely day. :)

I also wanted to show you the present I received from my boys last night, shown above ... a pretty glass cloche for my nature displays! (Right now it's protecting a primrose from wandering mitts and paws.) I can't wait to set up a lovely little winter scene inside and set it somewhere sunny - out of reach of the aforementioned mitts and paws, of course - it is made of all glass!

Well, I hope you all enjoy your Tuesday - very cold here today, in the teens or perhaps the low 20s at best. But bright and sunny, with just a smattering of snow out there ... it looks like January should! I'm working on that follow-up journal post and should have it ready by later today or tomorrow. Sorry to be so slow with my posting these days! It's just the way things are right now ... But please let me know if you have any questions or post suggestions, I'd be happy to add them to my drafts folder.


Have a blessed day, everyone ~ see you here again very soon!

Masterpiece Monday: Downton Abbey, 5.2

DA season 5

Good Monday morning, my friends! I hope this post finds you well and enjoying a lovely start to your week ...

So I must confess right off ... I only kind of watched Downton last night because a certain little Little Bear was awake through the first half, and a certain sleepy Mama was half-asleep through the second half! But despite my inattention, I wanted to get this post up early so we could all start chatting ...

Some key plot points to discuss (if my foggy memory serves) ...

Mary and Tony (and Charles) ...

Daisy and Miss Bunting (and Tom) ... 

Edith and Marigold and the Drews ...

Rose and the Wireless ...

Lord G. and Carson and the War Memorial ...

Cora and Some Art Guy ...

Violet and Isobel and ... ? Quite missed what's happening there.

I'm going to re-watch the episode tonight so I'll hopefully have some more "thoughtful" thoughts to add to this post tomorrow! But please, if you'd care to leave your impression of last night's show, I'd love to hear it and get the conversation rolling!

Before I go though, may I show you something first?

O project 11 (2)

Today is my birthday and yesterday after church, my folks came over for breakfast. Bill brewed coffee and my mum made French toast for us all as well as bacon and fresh raspberries and a lovely lemon-glazed gingebread. This beautiful Irish sweater was my birthday gift from Mum and Dad and I don't think I've ever owned anything finer - I love it so much! And the little guy on my hip snuggled right up against it. It's quite soft and warm. :)

Ok, on with the day now ... I am typing this up in the dark of the wee hours ... a second cup of coffee is in order, I think (and possibly a third, we'll see). If my birthday holds true to form, there will be snow today ... and maybe a little more cake.


Have a good one, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Our Earlybird's 13th Birthday!

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It's hard to believe, but the little boy who was just four when I started this blog, is now 13 years old! Earlybird shares his birthday with my dad, and so we always celebrate these two special guys together. On Sunday we had a lovely brunch and I thought you might like to see how we celebrated this happy day.


First of all, up top is the "snowy marshmallow mountain" cake I made for our two train buffs. My dad is a model railroader and Earlybird has loved trains since he was tiny. He loves them as much as - if not more than! - the planets! As most of you know, our EB is autistic, so while he may be 13 in physical age, he's developmentally much younger. So even at this milestone birthday, it's hard for me to say - "Oh my goodness, my boy is a teenager!" - because really, he's not. He'll get there someday, I know he will ... but this is not that day. And that's OK - I pray to God daily that it will be. 

You all know this is a positive place. And I don't mean to sugarcoat things, because parenting a special needs child is very hard at times. (Many of you understand that, I know.) But I mostly try to share how joyous our life is with EB ... how well he does in certain areas. We struggle with many things, though - make no mistake about that. It's easy (easier) to be home in our comfort zone, working together on simple projects - baking, crafting, playing, asking and answering, observing - and learning about life at his speed. But things like outings, restaurants, road trips, community events, church and parties - not to mention doctor's appointments and testing and meltdowns and rigidity and extreme emotional behavior is not. The list of things he (we) struggle with is long, but we take it all day by day (and sometimes hour by hour).

It's hard sometimes not to wish things were different, but what I try to focus on is that we love him, dearly, for all he is right this minute. And for all that is inside him even when he can't get it out. We try not to worry about where he's not - but we work on addressing his challenges while cherishing all of his strengths.


Ok, enough of the heavy - on to the pictures!

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 Getting ready to make wishes! As you can see, EB is a bit apprehensive. He does not like the "Happy Birthday" song (we have to promise not to sing) and only recenly became comfortable with the candles.

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Here I am with my dad, who is so important to me - to all of us. He jokes that it's no longer his birthday - that he's given it to Earlybird, but I am so grateful to celebrate both of them together. Every year is a blessing.

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My brother making funny faces at Little Bear. (With a half-decorated tree in the background!)

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Three of my best guys - Crackerjack, Little Bear and Bill. Bookworm is in his finals week at BC -  we'll have him home for break later this week! (There may have to be another cake ...)

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The boys gave their Papa a "Papa Bear" mug for his coffee. So cute! :)


And for Earlybird - some dvd's, a book, a Monster Truck, a terrarium kit and this jacket - a gift from my folks and us. He can't stand wearing zippers so we're always on the lookout for a "button-up" (or snap-front) coat. This one will do nicely - thank you, LL Bean!

Having family support makes such a huge difference - not just in the life of a special needs person, but to his immediate family as well. We are so grateful for our support system, and that we never feel alone on our path. This was a lovely day, a memory to treasure - certainly not perfect, but really and truly good.

And remember yesterday's post? I count it all joy.


Enjoy your Tuesday, my friends - thanks so much for stopping by!

To my mother, on her birthday ... ❀

Mum and I at kate and paul's wedding

Today is my dear mother's birthday, and as many of you know, I am very close with my mum and so grateful for all she has brought to my life ... beginning with my own life, of course! There's that to begin with, of course!

My mother, Maureen, has always been my best friend, and I talk with her every day about ... well, pretty much everything! Bill and I are grateful for how involved she and my dad are in our family's life but, truly, it has always been that way ...

My friends, may I reminisce a bit while I have a moment?

My brother Matt and I were so blessed to have Mum at home with us and I can honestly say my childhood was pretty much idyllic. My parents have a wonderful marriage and my mother was truly happy raising her children and taking care of her home and family. I could not have asked for a better role model and I knew from a very early age that what I wanted more than anything was to be a mother just like her. Because to my mind, and from what I saw and experienced, nothing could bring greater happiness.

I loved how she read all the time, and seemed to know so much about everything. I loved how she sang along in the car as we drove around, but especially when she sang folk songs with my dad and his guitar. I loved how she was always doing something creative - crafts of all kinds. I loved how she fed us and and to this day I wish I cooked as well as she does ...

I loved how my brother and I always felt involved and important to our parents. Our opinions counted and our feelings mattered. I especially loved how - even when we chose paths that were slightly off center, my parents supported us and encouraged us ...

I loved how my mum was always volunteering in the community and especially at my school - as leader of my girl scout troop, or a chaperone on field trips, or the mom in the front office making photocopies. I loved knowing she was close by and involved in my life. It's no wonder my house was the one all the kids wanted to be at! It was bright and happy and inviting and I was just so proud that she was my mum.

I loved how she had such a friendly and lovely way about her - whomever we met - whether it was familiar friends at a party or a perfect stranger in a checkout line, she was always gracious and kind. I hoped to emulate her as I became a woman myself.

As I got older and became a mom myself, I loved watching her become Nana. I love the special bond she has with my children and that she knows them so well (and they her). I love how I feel I can always ask for her help when I need it (though it's often offered before I even have to ask). I love learning from her and sharing our thoughts on everyday and worldly events. I loved watching her care for my grandparents as they aged and grew fragile ... I loved how she took on every responsibility without question and always with much love. Setting another example for me to remember and emulate as life moves forward ...

Most of all, I love how she loves us. I felt it then without thinking about it much - a child takes their parents' love for granted perhaps - but these days I find myself thinking about it all the time. I know how blessed I have been and continue to be every day I have my mum in my life.

Happy Birthday, Mum. I hope you don't mind that I just blathered on about you here, but I really felt it in my heart to share you with my readers today. I share a lot of myself here and who I am here is all because of who I have been my whole life: your daughter. β€

With Much Love and a Grateful Heart

~ Dawn

 Blessings to all on this snowy Thanksgiving eve ... thank you so much for stopping by!

A Party for Little Bear!

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Good Monday morning evening, my friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend. :)

Today I have a GINORMOUS post for you, all about Little Bear's birthday party ... I hope you don't mind a bit of "oversharing," lol! As many of you know, Little Bear turned one back in May - but for a few reasons his party was moved to August. Luckily the day was not too hot or humid as August can be here in New England - in fact, it was just about perfect!

Our party theme was "animal crackers" because LB just LOVES animals and animal sounds of all kinds these days. Orginally I toyed with an owl theme, inspired by my boy's love for this book, but we decided animals would be A. easier and B. more fitting right now. :)

So anyhoo - here we go, on a "little" tour of Little Bear's party ...

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We were expecting a good size crowd (40ish) so we rented the tables and chairs. The price was not too bad and this way everyone had a place to sit down and eat, all together. We purchased the tent (which came with windowed sides you can lower or raise) - it was basically the same price to buy as it was to rent and it fits our patio perfectly. 

The tables were set with soft shades of green, blue, yellow and orange.

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The centerpieces were also multicolored and relatively inexpensive:

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First I laid down a small felt mat in animal stripes or spots. The vases were candy-hued mason-style jars (set of 6 on sale at AC Moore for $5) filled with sunflowers and mums purchased at Trader Joe's. The small wooden frames I found at AC Moore ($1, unfinished) and were painted by my mother. She applied colorful animal stickers once the paint was dry, and I picked out favorite pictures of LB through his first year, one for each frame. Not shown is the tiny Beech-Nut "Just Bananas" baby food jar (emptied and washed) filled with tiny asters from the garden.

Here's a look at all the frames together, six in all:

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And I found these wooden animal masks at JoAnn Fabrics for $1 - Crackerjack painted them for me and we stuck them in big pots of sunny marigolds.

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Most of the party was held outside, but I'm not a fan of serving food al fresco (bugs drive me nuts, lol) so I set the buffet tables up in the sunroom.

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(This was taken early in the day before everything was ready.)

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A small table set to the side held plates, napkins and mason jars filled with plastic cutlery ...

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Windows and walls held (more) pictures of Little Bear taken throughout his 1st year!

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Appetizers included light fare such as chips, salsa, veggies and dip, shrimp with cocktail sauce and cheese and crackers ...

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... while lunch consisted of "heartier" fare: shredded barbecue chicken and sloppy joes (served from the larger crockpots) and baked beans (in the small slowcooker). (Love this Honey-Peach bbq chicken recipe! So easy and makes a ton.) Sliced garden tomatoes and onions, assorted pickles, soft rolls, turkey and ham calzones, fruit salad, green salad, pasta salad and deviled eggs. All typical New England fare. :)

Now, the drinks we arranged outside, under a canopy ...

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Another reason I was so glad the weather was nice! 

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Bill set up a couple of tables for beverages and some comfortable seating nearby.

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Now, you might have noticed, I have a real thing for Mason jars lately! They're fun and look "vintage" but they're quite practical, too - I find so many uses for them. Here I used them for serving drinks ...

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My mum and I made little name tags from golden scrapbook paper and tied them to the jars with twine. Folks coud jot down their name and have their own glass for the afternoon.

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An old (but pretty) tea tin held paper straws ...

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... and a wooden zebra kept the napkins from flying away.

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In addition to this "Bear-y Punch" we also had pitchers of "Lion-Ade" and "Tiger Tea." (Fruit punch, lemonade and iced tea, respectively.) My new beverage jar ($20 at Paper Source) was perched on a rather old garden pot. :)

It was such a nice day for sitting and chatting ...

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... and lawn games.

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Little Bear was all over the bocce balls!

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This was supposed to be my "zebra-safari" outfit but I think, perhaps, I looked a bit like a gondolier, lol.

Next it was time for presents!

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 And then of course, it was time for CAKE!

For Little Bear's first birthday I made an assortment of "small cakes."

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I baked chocolate and "funfetti" cupcakes and made up a batch of buttercream frosting. I also had a couple of cans of "key lime" and "blue raspberry" frosting in the pantry so we used them as well. We added some colorful sprinkles and animal crackers. Fun!

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Happy Birthday, dear Little Bear!

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This was his face when we sang to him:

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 Shy boy. :)

We also served up a few tubs of ice cream from a local shop - freshly made peach, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry! All fruit was picked at farms in the area (save for the blueberries - they came from Maine where everyone knows they grow the very best blueberries). :)

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Little Bear waltzed around sampling flavors ...

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A little bit from Mama, a little bit from Nana, a little bit from Aunt Ami ...

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Hey you, cameraman? You have any ice cream for me?


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A lovely day - so nice to spend time with our loved ones ...

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It's a blessing to share Little Bear's sweetness with our family and friends. I think he had a really nice day ...


Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and look through my photos. I am now onto my next "project" which is school reports and ed. plans due this month. (How did it become August already?!)

Have yourselves a lovely evening, my friends ... see you here again very soon! 

3 Cheers for the Bonnie Prince!

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Yesterday, the wee Prince of Cambridge - aka George, or William and Kate's boy - turned one! And to celebrate - because we're a bit English ourselves, and we have a little prince of our own - we made some wee carrot muffins for a late morning tea. (And by "tea," I really mean pear juice for the younger boys and cold coffee for me. The older boys had milk.)

Of course, Prince Little Bear had to bust out his crown for the occasion ...

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He also practiced his newly acquired (and very prince-like) skill of pointing ...

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 Cake, Mama ... I want cake.

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And so ... cake was had.

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It's hard work being Prince ...

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But someboday has to do it!


Enjoy your Wednesday, my friends ...

Happy Monday!

Hello, my friends ... long time no chat! I'm sorry I haven't had much time to post lately, we've had a lot going on and I haven't really had a chance to just sit down and write. But I wanted to pop in quickly this morning afternoon to say "hi" and let you know I am still here! And all is well - just busy with the family, the house, and lately, some birthday celebrations. :)

For instance, this past weekend we celebrated Bill's birthday ... with a nice family lunch on Sunday and a "Date Night" on Friday (our first in a LONG time). His birthday cake request this year was ... not lemon, not butter-whiskey, but ... banana bread, lol! So I made it a bit sweeter than usual and my mum whipped up a delicious cream cheese frosting. A few sparkling candles ... and it was a hit!

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For Sunday lunch I served crockpot barbecue chicken on soft kaiser rolls - a new recipe that I'm happy to report was quite delicious! Even the baby liked it! (It was very mild - I left out the red pepper flakes.)

Things on my "docket" this week ... working on The Plan for the baby's big party next month (fyi: owls are out, elephants in) and ed. plans and reports ... and a new batch of File Crate Folders! I'm adding some new things to the FCS this year and I will post about all that just as soon as I can. :)

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Well my friends, I do hope you all are keeping well and enjoying your summer ... thanks so much for stopping by and for your patience during my slow times. I will see you here again sometime soon!


A Little More Birthday ...

 My friends, would you indulge me just a few more pictures of our birthday boy's big day?


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Well, he first had a wonderful Birthday Breakfast. There were pancakes with mixed berries and vanilla whipped cream. Red, white and blue for Memorial Day!

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A bit later that morning he had A Birthday Bath ...

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All fresh & clean, and decked out in his holiday romper, having a little fun with his Daddy. 

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After a quick cookout (chicken dogs and turkey burgers!), it was time for ... Birthday Cake! We're having Little Bear's "official" party in a few weeks, but for today, we of course HAD to indulge in a special cake just for our sweet little guy! This was an organic lemon cupcake, topped with buttercream frosting ... delicious, but he mostly just mushed it around. 

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And then, just before bed, a few Birthday Presents!

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So lucky to have big brothers to help ...

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Little Bear received three new books and a soft, stuffed elephant.

(We have a thing for elephants, Little Bear and I.)


Thanks so much everyone, for all the kind birthday wishes! Little Bear is now offically, ONE - a toddler I guess. *sigh* Where on earth did that year go, honestly ... ?

I hope you are all having a nice week ... thanks so much for stopping by and sharing in our joy. I will see you all here again very soon!

Happy 1st Birthday, Little Bear!

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My friends, today our littlest man is ONE year old!

I can hardly believe it ... it seems just like yesterday I was asking you all to "sit down" because I had a "little news" to share ...


And now here he is... learning new things and doing new things ... sprouting tiny teeth, climbing all over, bouncing to music and humming when he eats ...

I can never thank God enough for blessing us with this dear child.

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He is such a joy!


On Grandma's 100th Birthday ...

Do you ever wish there were visiting hours in heaven?

Longtime readers of my blog will know how very close I was to my maternal grandmother ... "Gram" or "Damee" (as my boys called her) would have been 100 years old today! She passed away several years ago, but I miss her so much, and especially so at this time of year, when we would share our "January birthdays" celebration.

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My brother Matt and I with Gram - I think I was maybe 12 or 13?

If you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of the things I remember best about my grandmother. She was a huge part of my life, every step of the way ... 

We read Anne of Green Gables together.

We shared a Victoria magazine subscription for years.

(How she would have loved Downton Abbey!)

 We enjoyed a beautiful dollhouse together for years - first mine and then later, hers.

In the summers she took us to Concord & Lexington where we immersed ourselves in the local history: the Orchard House and the Revolutionary War.

We'd visit family and friends up in Maine - often returning with delicious lobster (her lobster stew was THE best) ...

From the time I was a little girl, she'd take me with her to her weekly "hairdresser appointment" and what fun I'd have there ...

Grama and Grampa traveled a lot and on every return trip they had a doll for me, one that reflected the country's culture ... 

She grew up one of the older children in a large Irish Catholic family ... and she loved to share stories. I loved to hear her talk about her family members, their home, and her life stories ... long afternoons sitting in her den, sharing tea and conversation.

When we'd go out to dinner she always let me have the cherry from her "amaretto sour." ;)

It was Grandma who took me out for my driving lessons ...

She taught me about making lists (she was the most organized person I've ever known) and about staying on top of household chores ...

She was the BEST homekeeper you can imagine ... her home was neat and clean but always so welcoming.

She was always on top of the current news and very politically minded (and opinionated!). She read a couple of newspapers every day - checking off articles to return to ...

Her pantry at the foot of the stairs was filled with everything you could imagine, all organized and well maintained.

She was thrifty (living through the Depression taught her that) but knew the value of quality ... no "mongrel" brands for her family! She and my grandpa were also the most generous people you'd ever know ...

She was the one who broke the truth to me about Santa ... she was that kind of confidante, a dear friend as well as a grandmother ...


 All of these things make up my memories of my grandmother, and it's fun to reflect ... but sometimes I get sad too, because I wish I could go back and just have a little more time with her ... how I'd love for her to know Little Bear.

But when I look in the eyes of my children, and as I look around my home, at how I live my life now ... I know her love lives on in me. As I carry on being the best mother and wife I can be, giving all I can for my family - in this way I keep her alive in my heart.

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!

A Lovely Birthday Breakfast

My friends, I am blessed indeed! This very morning I was treated to a lovely birthday brunch right here in the comfort of my own home - my mum did all the cooking and the boys did (most of) the cleaning! You know, whether we're turning 4, 5 or 45 (eek!), I think birthdays are truly special, and I hope I'm always able to spend mine with the people I love. What greater gift can there be? Life and love all around you!

So if I may, I'd like to share some pictures from our morning ...

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Here I am with my boys ... the three that would help with the candles, that is!

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And now with my photo-shy Earlybird ...

It's hard to tell (because one of us, ahem, is wearing his shirt backwards), but Earlybird and I are sporting "matching" t-shirts - from King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont. My folks got them for us, knowing how much we love to "bake" together.

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Pretty pink candles (stuck in a lemon-crumb cake) ...

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... and pretty pink and gold packages. :)

(We have a saying in my house - if it's pink, it must be Mama's!)

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 Papa and Earlylbird enjoying a train video together ...

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 Our Little Bear "catching up" with his Uncle Matt. I think he was fascinated with the cap.

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 My beautiful Mum, scrambling up eggs in my kitchen. (She makes THE best eggs!) We also had bacon, ham, scones and biscuits with jam, and lots of freshly brewed coffee!

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Little Bear with his bib and his Daddy - ready for his breakfast, too!

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Nothing in this world makes me happier than spending time with my family ... and so this has been a very happy day, indeed.


Well, I hope you've all enjoyed your weekend, too! Are you all ready for Downton tonight? I can't wait ... I think the new season's off to a great start!

See you all here again very soon ... thanks so much for stopping by!