Thursday, December 24, 2009


Chris digging his way out to play basketball.

Last Friday found us all filled with anticipation. We were supposed to get a MAJOR snow storm. Our big ones always come from the south, and that's where this one was perched, ready to bring us yards of snow. On the announcements at school Friday morning, the principal warned us to take everything with us since school would be cancelled Monday and Tuesday if the storm panned out. We have been disappointed before. But this time, thankfully, there was no disappointment. Snow started Friday evening and kept up all day Saturday. All tolled, we had 17 inches of beautiful snow. I think they cancel school way too quickly for snow here, speaking as a mom, but as a teacher I was as excited as the boys. NO SCHOOL for TWO WEEKS!!! Woo hoo! That extra two days has done wonders for my attitude and my home. I have caught up on sleep that I've been missing. I (semi) cleaned the house. I'm ready for Christmas. This snow was my Christmas gift this year. Because there was so much of it, we'll have a white Christmas for the first time in 21 years. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We spent Thanksgiving with some of our favorite people.

I started a long-term sub position last Monday. I don't know how moms do it! Last week was full enough each evening, but to be gone all day on top of it made life crazy. When I subbed at the high school before, I made friends with another English teacher. When I left, she asked me if I would sub for her when she went on maternity leave. I told her "sure." It finally happened. When I went to back to school night, another English teacher was expecting and not due until the first returned to work. I thought I could do it--back to back full time from Thanksgiving through April. As the start day loomed, I realized ( and God convinced me) that that would not be a good thing for anyone. I backed out of the second job, so now I only work until February 1. My first day went so well that I thought, "Maybe I should take the second job as well." Then I got home. Again, God convinced me that being home and taking care of my family is more important right now. In the meantime, I'm Mrs. Sutton. The kids have been great. She is a good teacher and she organized everything for me. It's a great gig. I have learned a new appreciation and sorrow for working moms, though.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The boys (except for Josiah--confined to a stroller) Caleb, Nathaniel, Ben, Peter, Fred, Joshua and Sam
The Toth children making a pile on Fred

The beginning of the pile--Fred, Tabitha, Caleb, Moriah, with Hannah getting ready to pile on

Ben is 14 today and likes to play with the camera.

The Toth family was here briefly in November. Their son Caleb was a finalist in the Bible Bee in Washington DC. Due to unforseen car trouble, they weren't able to make it back to our house for the weekend, so we headed up to DC to spend some time with them. We toured museums and saw the Declaration, but the most fun, by far, was all 16 of us in a hotel room! The kids had a ball together. We look forward to more visits.

Today is Ben's 14th birthday. He's excited to celebrate with his friends and with family this week. He was born just after Thanksgiving--1:22 am. The nurses put me in overflow and were actually suprised that I was truly in labor rather than suffering from indigestion like the rest of the women there. At that point, I KNEW the difference, especially after laboring all day. I'm so thankful for this young man. God has blessed him and us!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday, or 40 Here I Come

Barbara, Helene, Donna, Paula and Kathy
Tomorrow I turn 40. Chris gave me the best gift ever--a party on Saturday. He missed my 30th. When we lived in Maryland, our group always celebrated 30 and the passing of the cane. It was tradition. We moved here before I turned 30, so I didn't get the cane or the party. I was very sad. Thirty was not a good day for anyone, so Chris was not going to miss 40. He was going to plan a surprise party for me, but decided that he couldn't pull that off, so he told me about it. A surprise party would have been very nice and a LOT less work. As I contemplated how I wanted to celebrate my birthday, I decided that less was more. Initially, I wanted to fly to Ohio for lunch with Liz, then fly to St. Louis for dinner with Cathy. Then enjoy time with my two prayer partners here. Realizing that was probably out of my range (although Chris did check on tickets and encouraged me to go), I decided to pare my list to just 4 couples so that I could actually enjoy time with them instead of trying to mingle with 20. I have to admit that at 2:00 on Saturday I was thinking, "I hope he NEVER wants to give me another party!" By 9 that night, however, I realized that all of the work was totally worth it. This was the best birthday party I've ever had. It was such a blessing. We enjoyed good food and great conversation. My friend Donna came up with a Scattegories game about me. Then she brought out a ball of yarn. She shared what I meant to her, and then passed it to me so that I could talk about her. Then we passed it around the room and made a web. I was so blessed and so humbled. It truly was an amazing night. I'm very thankful for my wonderful husband who would plan this for me, for my precious friends--those who were here and those who were not, and for the love of God poured out in my heart. So now I'm ready to face 40.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have always struggled in some way with Halloween. I wish I could just enjoy it, or not participate, but I seem to be wobbling back and forth. We have had so many fun Halloweens, so I can't say that the day is usually a bad one. This year I was determined that they were not going to trick or treat. Last year they did, and it was a fiasco. Maybe I have control issues???? This year we decided to have a party instead. It was so much fun for all of us and much more satisfying than trick or treat. I gave them money to buy candy, too. I wasn't a total scrooge. Fred had a couple of friends over, Ben had a friend and we had another family (our family away from family). We played games and laughed and ate pumpkin pie and caramel popcorn and caramel apples. This is how I wish every Halloween could be. For one of the games I had everyone blindfolded and handed them bits of food which they had to identify. Even the teenagers enjoyed it.

Friday, October 30, 2009


The colors this year are breathtaking. The leaves seem to be shouting at us to pay attention. Liz wrote a great blog on the leaves. There's just something about fall. It smells like football and fire and decay. The clear days are dazzling. The cloudy days are comforting. As we waited for the bus yesterday, we couldn't see the sun for the clouds, but the trees glowed. It made me feel as if I'd stepped into another world. The sunrises and sunsets demand applause they are so breathtaking. This Sunday Fred said, "Where's the camera? I have to take pictures of this." So he went outside to try to capture the wonder of fall, the blessing of God. Then we hopped in the truck and drove around taking pictures of people's trees. We had a great time and you can see some of the results. I feel like I've had a taste of Heaven. Happy fall.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homecoming and Caramel Apples

Ready for Homecoming Can you see the space between the two in the middle? He's so shy! And that makes me thankful.
Lauren, Jon, Bree, Fred, Sarah, and Denny. Zack is missing because he was told the wrong time. He got there shortly after we left.
Saturday was a big day in our house. Fred went to his first homecoming dance. He went with a group of friends rather than with a date, and he had a wonderful time. They didn't spend a long time at the dance, but they went out to dinner and then went to Lauren's house after the dance for a bit. It was fun helping to get ready and then hearing about it when he got home. He danced half of a dance, but didn't want to fight the crowds. I'm thankful that it's over, in a way. It was harder sending him off than I thought it would be.
I attended a "Revive our Hearts" conference this weekend. Nancy Leigh DeMoss spoke, and it was a great weekend. She talked about our need to be broken before God instead of being proud. I was convicted and refreshed. Now the hard part--practicing what I heard.
My only experiences with caramel apples include Kraft caramels or the wraps. This weekend, inspired by a post from Heidi last year and a conversation with a friend last Wednesday at Bible study, I decided to make them from scratch. Since Ben has braces and can't eat a whole caramel apple, and everyone usually just wants the caramel anyway, I just made the sauce into which we dipped apple slices. I didn't want to run to the store so the ingredients had to be on hand. I settled on two different recipes to try, just in case.

The first recipe said to heat a skillet and then melt white sugar in it. The only sugar I had was "Sugar in the Raw," but I decided to try it anyway. After the sugar melts, you pour in heavy cream. This is some of what I ended up with. I'm not sure if the lumps are because the cream was cold, or because it wasn't white sugar. The caramel that we got out of this pan was AMAZING, though. People would sneak back into the kitchen to eat the lumps of caramelized sugar!
The other recipe used the typical butter, brown sugar, milk combination. It looked better, but the taste was more that of artificially flavored caramel.

The finished product was so good! We ate a lot of apples that night. I think we'll devour the leftovers tonight.
Three subjects in one post is a lot, I know, but I need to post when the time arises!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The praying mantis decided to ride with us to Monticello. He was inside the va.
This flower from a bean plant smelled heavenly.
Fred said he wished we had a yard like this. We do! We just don't have gardeners working it every day.
This is the view from the vegetable garden into the orchard. Breathtaking!
Joseph's Coat. Jefferson labeled every plant with sticks.

This was the sunset on the way home. Isn't God amazing? I love His pallet.

Saturday we finally made it to Monticello. I've been hoping and planning for years to get everyone there. It's so beautiful and educational. Peter didn't have a game Saturday since it is Columbus Day weekend, so we bit the bullet and headed to Charlottesville. The house tour great, but we spent most of our time outside. The country is awe inspiring, especially in the fall. When I downloaded the pictures, I found that there is only one of the house. Ben took most of them, but Fred and Peter took some, and they are mostly of flowers and gardens. We took the garden tour this time and got to listen to a guide talk about the plants Jefferson experimented with while he was there. He had such an active, inquisitive mind. He planted many "experiments" there including a cigar tree. Someone on the tour asked how it was growing there since there isn't a lot of water and it's so far north. Our guide said that Jefferson didn't know Charlottesville is in zone 7. Food for thought. If you are ever near, Monticello is worth the time to visit. Fred wants to recreate the gardens at our house. That would be nice.

Friday, October 2, 2009


So I guess blogging has slipped waaayyy down on the importance scale. Also, I was mistaken about that whole vacation thing because only 2 are in sports. This week included subbing 2 days, parents on the weekend (for which I am very thankful), two trips to the dentist, 2 small groups on Wednesday, groceries, and laundry. Today I'm home. I love my home. I love being home. I don't know how working moms keep up. Honestly.

Fred is starting at tonight's football game, which I will miss. I'm very excited for him. He's worked hard. It's an away game, and I will have at least 4 boys here who don't want to go.

Our church is doing a study on worship. All of the small groups are doing a study on it as well. I've been moved to see how God is speaking to so many in our groups about worship. I'm still trying to figure out how worship becomes a lifestyle when distractions abound. Our exercise for this week is to say aloud, whenever prompted, "Praise the Lord. I praise you Lord for who you are." Just that statement has helped to bring me back to sanity, peace, coherence.... I want to understand worship in a deeper way, but I am guilty of putting things off until there is time. My prayers have been "on-the-run" prayers this week, and I miss that time with God. I need that time, but when? How? How will I be able to do this when I start subbing full time after Thanksgiving? I don't know, but I know that God can show me if I take time to listen. I hope for some of that today.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

School and such

Waiting for the bus.
Fred is driving to school this year, so he missed out on the pictures!!

It's time for school. Three are already gone. One is still in bed. So far, so good. There is much more homework in middle school than elementary school. Sam missed the bus already. He was in the library when they called his bus. He ran into traffic as the proverbial salmon tried to swim upstream. I'm thankful he wants to go to the library--but not at bus time. Ben is in two high school classes and thinks that there is a lot more work in high school classes. He's taking Spanish and Adv. Algebra 1. Fred seems to be having a hard time making the transition to school work. He was dragging while doing his little bit of work last week. Hoperfully he'll pick it up this week. He's off to a good start completing half of his AP American History work last night. It's not due until Wednesday. Peter is happy in his class. He's making new friends. He's learning that 4th graders are expected to do more and do it better than 3rd graders. There is a huge leap between those two years, it seems. I love his teacher. Ben had her in 4th grade. I'm very thankful that he has her and for the opportunity to speak into her life again. Since only Peter and Fred are playing on teams this fall, there is time at home in the evenings to work on homework and to read. I'm reading a book by Jerry Jenkins to the boys. I forget what it's called, but so far we really like it. It's very suspenseful. Having Peter home by himself in the morning is fun. The other three all leave around 7, but he doesn't go until 8:30. We are reading the biography of Eric Liddle together. It's a sweet time. How that time marches on, though.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

End of Summer

We took a trip to Keysville to visit my parents and brother and sister-in-law the weekend before Labor Day. We celebrated Sam's birthday at Todd and Kim's ice cream shop. The cousins were very happy to see each other again. The parking lot of the ice cream shop has become a playground. There are several bikes and wheel chairs that the kids use to entertain themselves. They were setting up accident pictures. Some of them were quite good.
This is the new ice cream shop that Kim and Todd run in Keysville. If you are ever near, stop by for some delicious ice cream.

Aren't they so good looking???

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Rainbow in the clear blue sky
The great wall of China
Aztec pyramid
We have been in out and up and down. These pictures were taken at Shark Fossil Beach in Westomoreland County. We went there last Sunday. Our friends go there often. There really are shark teeth fossils all over. We didn't look for them much this time, but just enjoyed swimming in the Potomac. The boys were fascinated with all the clay they found in the water. This area is replete with it. Sam found an interesting rock that had a baby crab inside of it. It was one of those relaxing days away.
It seems that the last several weeks consisted of running and cleaning and more running. Now as we gear up for school, some of that is done. Fred came down this morning and asked if we could celebrate. "Celebrate Saturday?" I asked. "Celebrate no football today," was the reply. He has been going non-stop from 7-2 each day. He's worn out. Truly today we can celebrate because we have no where to be, nothing to do, and the humidity is lifting. We may camp out back tonight since we haven't had a chance to do that this summer.
It feels as if we are in a holding pattern. School does not start for us until September 8. As all of the back to school ads and items are disappearing from the stores, it seems strange that we won't even know what many of the boys need until the first week of September. It's time for transition, for schedules, for routine. I'm winging it for the next two weeks!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


We had such a wonderful time for our anniversary. My parents sent us that beautiful bouquet of flowers. We got to dress up and drive to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains to the Inn at Little Washington. Because we were about an hour early, we strolled through the quaint town. It was first surveyed by George Washington in 1729, I believe. There are old houses and gardens and little out buildings there. It's a nice little town. We walked through the Inn shops across the street from the Inn, and discovered a book called 1001 Places You Must Visit Before You Die. The Inn at Little Washington was in the book! We can cross that one off the list. The Inn is run by a world-renowned chef, Patrick O'Connell. We were treated so well. We sampled about 7 tastes of things on the menu while we were waiting. The menus are printed each day, and the top of ours said Happy Anniversary to the Fultons. We got to keep them as a keepsake. I'm so glad, because I could never remember all that I ate. It was a three course meal with dessert at the end. We had things like "Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi, Green Grapes and Curried Walnuts," and Prosciutto Wrapped, Pan Roasted Loin of Pennsylvania Veal with Spinach Raviolini and Parmesan Broth." It really was fabulous. I didn't think I would be able to eat all of it, but the portions are smallish, so I managed. As we left, they gave us each the little paper replica of the Inn filled with cookies and candies. We strolled through the gardens and enjoyed the rest of the evening. What a great experience! Thanks Honey! I just wish I would have remembered my camera.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

20 Really?

So, what were you doing 20 years ago tonight? I was at my wedding rehearsal! then a wonderful dinner at Casa de Salucci's in downtown Newton Falls. My mom cried through the rehearsal. I was directing the action. Chris, my dear friend Suzanne and I went back to my house to talk and laugh with my family. They left me around midnight, when Chris was officially kicked out. I couldn't sleep most of the night. Neither could Tabby, my cat. She new something was wrong. We finally settled down on the living room floor about 3 am, Tabby and me. The next day was a blur of hair, make-up, friends, dresses and HEAT. One of my favorite pictures is of me sitting in the dressing room with a fan under my dress. One of my least favorite is my dad being too unwell to walk me down the aisle, but my grandpa stepped in so I did't have to go alone. I still remember him saying, out of the corner of his mouth, "slow down." The funniest memory is of my brother Phil quietly leaving the ceremony to lose his cookies in the hall (that wasn't the funny part) and then 1)one of my uncles who was "helping" my dad had to clean it up, 2)Phil swept in as the recessional was playing and walked his lady out of the church, 3)one of the groomsmen on the cake had fallen over when we got to the reception,
representing Phil's exit, and 4)my mom telling how she just took everything in during the ceremony, but didn't notice that Phil had been gone at all when it had been about 30 minutes.
I loved almost everything about that day. I felt like Cinderella, or Eliza Doolittle (I could have danced all night). And today I'm still living "happily ever after." Happy 20 Honey! I love you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Goings on

Ginger Grandma treats her like a baby, and she doesn't seem to mind.

I thought that I would get some rest and relax and enjoy the summer after camp. HMMM. That hasn't happened. It seems like all I do is run. From orthodontist to dentist to drama practice for church..... on and on it goes. My goals for the fall are a. learn to say "no" and mean it; b. don't schedule more than one day of appointments durning a week; and c. find out what needs to "go" from the schedule. I am contemplating working this fall subbing, and Chris reminded me this week that I would probably be home MORE if I were working than I have been the last week.

We added a new member to our family. When my parents were here, we took a walk at the park, and as we headed back to the van, this little thing just ran right over to me and started purring. Her tail curls up over her body. It's the strangest thing. The boys have asked and asked for a kitten. The answer has always been no, but when we did get one, it would have to be orange. She is precious. Even Chris likes her a little. He is the only one up early, and she sits on his desk while he works until someone else gets up. She has gone through a series of names--Blossom (Orange Blossom Special), Marmelade, Pumpkin, Willow (we found her at Willowmere Park), and now she's Ginger. I think this one will stick. I forgot how much fun kittens are.