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Silver Belle

This past month has been absolutely overflowing.  We bought a house.  We had a baby.  He is one month old.

Oh, and one more big thing happened too.

Matthew told me he would be a little bit late coming home from work on Wednesday night, because of some Christmasy errands he had to do.  No questions asked on my part, because I LOVE surprises.  He came home with a small box in hand and a note rolled up.  I expected him to put it under the tree, but he went into the kitchen (looking back, it was probably to try to calm himself down) then came back into the living room where I was holding Harry on the couch.  He sat down next to me, took Harry, and gave me the box.  Nadine was standing next to me, recording on her phone.  I tilted my head and asked if that was really necessary.  Yes.  Yes, it was.  He told me to read the note first.

My beautiful Amy Lyn,
Just about 15 years ago you married a teenager.  What a journey it has been so far!  You have had to wait a little while as the boy you married became a man.  Haha!  You have lovingly stood with me through the most difficult and uncertain times of my life and for that I am extremely thankful.  I know I have not always considered the full weight of the responsibility that I have as your husband.  There have been times that I have not stepped up as I wish I would have.  This Christmas, this anniversary I want to renew my love for you, my commitment to you and express the overwhelming joy that I have each day to work hard for you!  With this ring, I want to express my unending love for you and resolve to always consider you.  Each time you see it, if we are apart, remember that I am working hard to come home.  I love you more than words could ever express.  The greatest blessing in my life is the prospect of growing old with you, my bride.  Merry Christmas!  
I love you!
Matthew

The entire note was interrupted by many sniffles on my part and more snippets of, “Does she really have to be recording this?” And, “Do I really have to read this out loud?” because I kept choking up.  When I read, “with this ring,” I got a bit fluttery inside.  We had talked about maybe getting a wrap for my engagement ring, to celebrate our anniversary in a couple of weeks.  But I knew there were other more pressing needs, so I was NOT expecting that.  I gulped and opened the box.  There was a silver ring, threaded through a gold-trimmed red ribbon.  Underneath all the ribbon, attached to the ring, was a key fob.  I just stared at it.  “Matthew!” is my favorite thing to exclaim when I’m a bit overcome or excited.  He told me to look out the window.  This is when the recording by Nadine starts to have a lot of excited movement as everyone rushed to the window.  There, on the street, with a big white bow on the hood, was parked a new van.

We had started talking and praying about this need a few months ago.  Well, pretty much the day we found out we were having another baby.  Oceanus only seats 7.  We had more recently been doing a lot of research on this particular make and model.  I had spent many hours reading and sending Matthew photos of different vans, all while he worked secretly behind my back to settle on this one.  So patient.

The kids immediately settled on naming her “Silver Belle”.  We all hopped in and drove to my parents to surprise them.

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We are all completely blown away.  Such a lot of change this year.  God gave me the word “Freedom” at the beginning of the year, and it has truly been a year of freedom for us.  He has set us free from many fears, unhealthy mindsets, and doubts.  He has restored things which were broken, and given us courage to ask, knock and seek.  Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (In A Nutshell)

The past month has been epic.  I forgot my camera for the first big event, but snagged a few of my sisters’ photos.  My brother-in-law planned a fabulous surprise birthday for my oldest sister.  The day before, my brother hatched a plan to fly up here for a couple of hours to surprise her.  It worked.  I picked him, my nephew, and niece up from the local airport an hour before the party started.  I felt like a little girl, back in the middle of Africa, waiting for him and my sister to fly home from boarding school.  My other sister and I would listen for the sound of the small Cessna flying in from where they went to school.  First a distant hum, then louder until we could see the plane circling over our station.  This was slightly different, since he was the actual pilot this time, and his son was texting me from the airplane.  But those distant memories were stirred from the corners of my brain, and I actually jumped up and down and screamed just like I did when I was Betty’s age.  From our house, I heard the airplane and saw it coming in for landing.  We raced to the van to drive the mile to the airport to pick them up and head over to the surprise party.
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Here we are, youngest to oldest.  It was such a treat to be together, even if it was only for a couple of hours.
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My nephews, the oldest and youngest of my parent’s 18 grand-kids, spanning 18 years apart.  So precious.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I took a secret drive to Valley Forge for a Christmas photo shoot.  I was excited at the forecast of snow flurries that day, and was imagining their white little selves falling on our noses and eyelashes in picture perfect clarity.  What really happened was a lot of this:
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Also a lot of shivering and red noses.  DSC_6083-2
Eventually we came up with a winner, where everyone was looking, no one was doing peace signs behind anyone’s back, no one was saying, “I’m freezing!” and no one was sticking out their tongue.
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Although, they’re all pretty fun.  We did one more shoot outside because the flurries were starting.  Everyone sat down and this happened:
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But then this happened, which is pretty sweet. DSC_6149-2
Oh, and the flurries stopped once they sat down.  Go figure.  DSC_6147-2
This month there has been a lot of this as well:
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The Sunday before Christmas there was another attempted photo shoot of the kids.  This one turned out great.
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The rest pretty much followed this pattern: DSC_6393-2
Christmas Eve was spent at the Weldon’s house with family.  After many attempts at getting a picture with Matthew, 99% of them being blurry, like this: DSC_6431-2
One finally turned out crisp and clear.
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Our yearly tradition of Santa coming to town was a success.  All of our kids know it’s really Uncle Jon, but they still play along for the most part.
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Christmas was a lovely day here at home.  We didn’t have to be anywhere and spent the day at home by ourselves for the first time ever.   We had monkey bread for breakfast, but I  pretty much left my camera on the shelf for the rest of the day.  DSC_6650-2
I have some treasured memories of squeals and hugs by appreciative hearts.  It was a beautiful day.  That evening for supper Matthew’s parents, sister and brother, and my parents came for dinner.  DSC_6645-2
We enjoyed a fun evening together and the Weldons spent the night.
The next day we went rock climbing.  This girl right here is a natural.  The boots.  The green tights.  The pony-tail.  I couldn’t stop smiling.
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All the girls were smoking it to the top over and over.  DSC_6686-2 DSC_6726-3
The next day was interesting.  We went to Jack’s wrestling tournament.  We had expectations of hanging out together for a few hours in the afternoon, cheering him on, then getting home in plenty of time for supper.  We can laugh now, but we weren’t laughing then.  I had thoughts like this going through my head:  “It won’t be long,” he said.  “It’ll be fun,” he said.  Looking back, it was fun.  The kids brought their walkie-talkies, and were able to get lots of fresh air, running around outside and testing them out while we waited for 130 matches until Jack’s first match.  The worst part of the day was right before Jack went onto the mat for the last time.  I glanced around and couldn’t see Betty anywhere.  I got a sickening feeling in my stomach as I looked all around the people-filled gym.  We had just walked from another mat to this one, and somewhere along the way, Betty got lost in the shuffle.  Jack was up to wrestle.  I didn’t want to panic in front of him and mess up his concentration.  I grabbed one of the walkie-talkies while Elijah and Nadine grabbed two more and we set off to find her.  All in all, it was about five minutes total before I walked down the hallway and saw her huddled behind the door to the gym.  She had her little stuffed puppy and was crying.  I scooped her up, emotions spilling out of every pore.  Jack was wrestling by then, and I just held her and we cried happy tears while we yelled encouragements to Jack.  My entire body was shaking.  I praise the Lord for watching over Betty.  We figured that as we walked to the mat and stopped, she must have kept walking until she got to the hall and didn’t see us anymore.  I told her what a good girl she was to stop and wait for me to find her.  It was a long day that started and ended about three hours later than we expected.  Jack won his matches and got a first place trophy.  His eyes said it all:
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After getting to bed close to midnight, our plans for the next day somewhat unraveled.  We were supposed to leave at ten o’clock in the morning.  Around ten thirty, the last of our five sleepy heads stumbled downstairs from their cozy bed.  Pancakes started.  Someone else desperately needed a shower, especially since they couldn’t remember the last time they did so.  At last, everyone was fed, so I headed upstairs for my own shower.  On the way, I met a special six-year old girl who was staring at herself in the mirror and said to me in a puzzled voice: “It’s like someone cut my hair!” as she fiddled with her brown silky mop.  I was about to just say, “Uh-huh”, but something stopped me in my tracks.  “Elsie, why is your hair so short?  Did you cut your hair?”  Her eyes showed a slight mixture of fear and debate about her answer.  The truth won out, and she told me she was just curious about how it would feel to cut it off.  I think she found out pretty quickly.  So, my shower was delayed for a bit longer while I opened up the hair salon in the bathroom.  By noon we were ready to leave, but we didn’t actually leave until one-thirty.  And THAT is how we roll some mornings in our house.

We arrived at Matt’s brother’s house a couple of hours late, but enjoyed time together and another visit from Santa.  Here’s Elsie with her new haircut:DSC_6761-2
If I could summarize the entire month of December into one photo collage, it would look like this:
December 2014
Joyous New Year!


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We have woken up to snow so many mornings this winter!  Today’s snow dumped another six to eight inches on top of what was already there.  A couple of weeks ago, the kids made a fabulous three-door hobbit home in the front yard.  Hours upon hours were spent carving it out of the snow with my garden trowel.  I love their creativity!
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After hours in the snow, hot tea or hot chocolate are a welcome treat.  Elsie is my usual tea-girl and loves it just like her mama.
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Last weekend we finally were able to meet the newest cousin on the Weldon side of our family!  Taylor Grace fought her way out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is home and smiling!  What a treat to snuggle and love her in person.
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We celebrated Christmas Part III, since she was admitted to the hospital Christmas Eve.  It was simply delightful.
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One of our favorite gifts: five little minion hats, crocheted by Aunt Heidi!  They are a scream.
January 2014

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A collection of life through the lens of my phone:
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Christmas Part II

Christmas, part two, was a delightful day at my sister’s house.  My entire family was together again.
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I grabbed my phone camera to capture this amazing outfit, hand-picked by Betty herself.

I grabbed my phone camera to capture this amazing outfit, hand-picked by Betty herself.

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I’m quite sure Elsie enjoyed being the only damsel amidst an army of soldiers.
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Each cousin picks the name of another cousin to give them a gift.  Jack was pleased as punch with a custom-designed lego airplane by his pilot-cousin, Aaron.
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My favorite present: An original painting by my sister-artist.

My favorite present: An original painting by my sister-artist.

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We didn’t get an entire family picture this time around, but we did remember to do a picture of all the sisters!
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The original Watt siblings.

Our new niece, Taylor Grace is having a rough week during her Christmas visit to the hospital.  She's a strong little lady, though!

Our new niece, Taylor Grace is having a rough week during her Christmas visit to the hospital. She’s a strong little lady, though!


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Christmas Part I

A few camera photos to begin our Christmas remembery:
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High heels are a traditional accompaniment to our Christmas Eve festivities.

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Lamb curry, veggies and ribs made for a delicious Christmas Eve dinner! Everything was paleo!

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Our Italy family sent us a traditional Christmas cake from their area. Before we opened it, it was wrapped in what looked like a lampshade!

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We dressed up the cake with espresso and melted chocolate. This was not paleo, but it sure was delicious.

On Christmas Eve we gathered at the Weldon’s house for a family celebration.  We missed our family in Italy and our family who had to spend Christmas at the hospital with their new baby girl.
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Christmas Eve ended with snuggles and began with snuggles.
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Elijah’s dream was to get an RC Helicopter.  He is improving his piloting skills every day!
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Face Time with our Italy family was a highlight of our day!
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Betty has a natural nursing ability.  She notices boo-boo’s, isn’t squeamish about blood, and loves to check everyone’s hearts.  I overheard her telling Matthew: Take a deep  breath.  Take another breath.  No joke.  This girl is a natural.
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You’ve Gotta Take Care of Those Kids

This was the other day in Target:
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I was pushing that train of a cart, gently bumping into the corners of aisles as it turned its wide arch.  I smiled brightly at the mom with one baby in her cart, sitting quietly on a clean cart-cover.  Betty held a receipt, which doubles as a “tag” in a pinch, so she can suck her fingers.  Elijah likes to hide under the cart.  Sometimes even the extra nearly hundred pounds I’m trying to push doesn’t clue me in on where he’s gone, so I start calling his name and he laughs from his hiding spot.  Switching seats, spotting sparkly boots, and constant chatter makes our trip the usual exhausting but profitable excursion.

Last night, armed with four very large containers of popcorn and Christmas jammies, we drove to nearby neighborhood to watch a local light show.  The lights were choreographed to a radio station, and it was pretty impressive.

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Tonight little miss Betty must have gotten bit by the giggle bug.  When the boys got home from grocery shopping with Matthew, it was close to 10 o’clock.  The little girls were still giggling up in their beds.  Jack looked at Matthew and said very seriously: You’ve gotta go take care of those kids.  I’m not joking.

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Betty keeps us laughing.  The other day she was playing with her little baby.  She had been tucked into bed for about five seconds before Betty leaned gently over her ear and made a soft rooster sound.  Time to wake up, baby!  She would say, after cock-a-doodle-doo-ing into her ear.
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Once when Betty was trying to get out of the kitchen, Elsie asked, What’s the magic word?  Right away she replied: Betty!
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Today, Matthew and I were trying to have a little bit of snuggle time on the couch.  We literally had five pairs of eyes glued on our every move.  There is a small sensor that goes off when we start talking or kissing.  Immediately, all bodies are within touching distance of ours, or there is some urgent sentence that must be uttered.  In the middle of our hug, Jack came over, put his arms around us and said, Group hug!  Which in turn led Betty to pile on some more love.  As Elsie would say: There’s room for more in this hug!  Once we started to kiss, however, Betty squealed, Let’s get out of here!  They’re kissing!
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The other day, Elsie was discussing age order.  Apparently, Elijah was of a “medium” age.  She then told Nadine: I remember you sucking your fingers!  When, in actuality, she wasn’t even born yet.
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This is the face I get when it’s time for bed.
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It is also the face I am giving, because I am not one who loves going to bed.  I’ve been enjoying the sewing machine and crochet hooks this month.  Super secretive things have been in the works.  There is much more on my mind to write… but it will have to wait.  Right now I’ve gotta take care of this mama, who needs some serious rest.


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Forever Young

Once in a while I am privy to the children’s imaginary games.  The other day Elsie was blocking the kitchen doorway so Jack couldn’t enter.  Apparently, there was certain criteria for one to enter the kitchen.  She began the interrogation:
How old are you?
One-hundred.
Do you have any children?
Yes.
Where is your mother?
At home.
And finally, the kicker.  The most important requirement for entering the kitchen: Do you have a grandma?
Yes.
You may pass through.

The other night they requested classical music and danced ball-room style.  They carefully choreographed the swing and spin.  It was fabulous.  DSC_7543
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When they were looking through old photo albums, both received major brownie points for their observations.
Mom, you  look so young now, said Jack.
She’s always young, Elsie countered, making my heart feel forever young.
  Betty also has her own specific interpretive dance.  First, with Elephant:
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Next, she likes to close her eyes… almost… and squint while her hands slowly raise into the air and she spins very slowly and purposefully.  A little toe raise here and there for good effect.DSC_7600-2 DSC_7604
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Then, when the audience starts to touch the rug one too many times, the entire dance is ruined and little ballerina melts into her own arms.DSC_7610
Everyone has been enjoying the new snow.  There have been snowmen and sledding galore!
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We had a marvelous Thanksgiving weekend with Matthew’s family, and then in New York with my entire family.  There were cousins, fun, and… of course, Grandmas.  I’ll save those pictures for another post soon.  I’ve been secretly working on surprises which have taken every waking minute.  And even when I have things to make and things to finish, somehow people still get hungry around here and their clothes still get dirty.  As I speak, the pizza is out of the oven, and we are ready to eat while the snow falls outside.