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Cheveux Blancs

Yesterday we went to an auction for the kids’ school.  It was full of incredible things to buy and I found myself more than once getting caught up in the heart-pounding adventure of raising my little number and making eye contact with the auctioneer.  A quick nod to stay in the running.  Swifter and less complicated than figuring out if a credit card is facing the right way and much faster than signing my name.  Then the words, “SOLD!” and a nod to my trembling little self as I REALLY hoped I followed the auctioneer’s sing-song voice correctly.  Yes, I paid twenty dollars for two homemade pizzas.  Not one-hundred and twenty.  Big sigh of relief.  A few times I wasn’t positive.  Or I was sure the number was at fifteen when it in fact had soared to FIFTY.  I didn’t walk away with a few of the items I had my eye on, but some delicious pizzas and a home-cooked chicken BBQ dinner to be picked up in a couple of weeks, were some of my claims.  Harry fell asleep on my chest, lulled by the smooth cadence of the auctioneer’s voice.  I found myself toe-tapping a few times because it was just that catchy.


Speaking of school, Nadine and Elijah absolutely love it.  They are making friends and growing deeper in their own personal ways.  It is a joy to watch.  Their teachers are incredible and it’s very evident they love what they do.  The bus comes bright and early for them, and that’s been a nice break for me to not have to drive them each morning, but I still pick them up occasionally, because it’s a consensus that the drive home is one of our favorite parts of school.  To hear about their day, talk about deep teenager things and debrief about life.  In a year someone will be practicing to get their driver’s license, and I know this job won’t be mine anymore.  My stomach kind of does a weird flip flop when I think about that.

Nadine is playing junior varsity soccer after school every day.  She is a fantastic babysitter on the weekends, and is an incredible big sister.  She knows how to make her little sisters feel loved, whether it means asking Elsie to help her with her homework (which is her cup of sweet tea!) or reading Betty a story.

Elijah has a natural bent towards photography, and is enjoying taking a class about it in school.  He is even acting as a pinch-hitter for the toothfairy… who kind of retired about five years ago.  And he’s much more creative too, leaving teeny tiny fairy-sized notes.  Last month we had the privilege of having my dear sweet childhood friend, Nadine, for a night.  It was a joy-filled 24 hours.2017-08-06 17.33.19

Jack practices his math skills, then works on flips.  He reads through his spelling list, then works on flips.  He plays with legos, then works on flips.  He eats an apple, then works on flips.  About half of his day is spent in flipping motion. IMG_4048[1] His hand is all healed from the last break, and he promptly did the trick which broke it in the first place.  A living breathing example of not letting our fears of past failures paralyze us from action.  Wrestling started up again, and it’s a privilege to have this one-on-one time with him when I drive him to practice.  He has a favorite play list of songs and I can guess which ones he will pick for our drive.  The other night he told me he wanted to treat me to a coffee after practice.  So we drove through Starbucks and he bought me a drink with his own money.  He’s practically my size, but how did it happen so fast?  I’m sitting here on our living room couch with his baby blanket wrapped around my legs.

Elsie had her hair cut this week for the first time in a long while.  She also got new specs, which make her look older.  It’s hard to believe in only 6 months we will have FOUR children in double digits.  Right now we’re sitting at half and half, but the ratios are changing and our tribe is maturing.  Elsie keeps me inspired.  She loves order and neatness and has always had an eye for design.  She rearranges furniture like a pro, and I’m not sure between the two of us, who is more excited for our living room renovation to be completed.  2017-09-21 22.30.51

Betty keeps our world going around, with her practical no-nonsense self and sage-like wisdom.  She can’t be intimidated by a messy diaper, a blood-gushing wound, or a stomach bug.  However, keep her up past her bedtime and things can unwind rather quickly.  2017-09-12 17.07.20-2She cracks us up with her dry sense of humor.  The other day I remarked about Elsie being my right hand girl, since she had been cleaning all day.  Betty replied in her dry way, “She’s a lefty.  I’m a righty.”  I about died.  She snaps her fingers too.  This morning she woke up with a smudged rainbow sneaking out from under her bangs from the fair yesterday at school.  She’s trying to “collect money” which is why she is “trying to loose teeth”.  2017-09-20 13.56.36

Harry.  Just saying his name makes me smile and chuckle and wonder what he will learn and pick up today.  Every day it’s something different.  He can communicate when he’s hungry, say please and thank you in sign language, and blows us kisses.  When he says thank you, he swings his arm vigorously against his cheek or ear.  He knows so many words!  Banana, bath, ball, bus, hot, and can mimic everyone’s names… although most of them sound like “Elijah”.  He is a huge fan of Alexa, the Amazon Bluetooth speaker.  Sometimes he yells at it with a smile: “A-le-le!” and when we tell it to say, “Hello, Harry,” he can hardly contain himself.  He loves to purse his lips and whistle.  I’ve never had a baby who can whistle, and he surprises himself every time.

He loves to eat everything.  Enchiladas, chili, curry, sweet potato pancakes, guacamole, African food, bagels, yogurt, kefir, crepes, fruit, peppers, lemons… he loves to eat.

And all the praise hands: he is sleeping through the night now, for about 11 hours.  Not exactly sure how it happened, but about a month ago he just did.  Right around the time when I started weaning him.  He nurses once a day now.

Matthew’s work is going very well.  He has had a lot of doctor’s visits as well.  We’re actually excited about having another surgery at the end of October to dilate his epiglottis which will hopefully help his breathing improve!  We had a lovely experience this month called Dîner en Blanc.  It was a magical night in a cleared out section of someone’s backyard forest, with long wooden tables and white lights strung throughout the trees.  Everyone brought a picnic supper and we shared our table with friends dressed in white.  2017-09-14 09.15.40That’s not the only thing that’s white around here.  As I type, Betty is brushing my hair.  She keeps me humble with her honest chatter: “I just saw a GREY HAIR!”
I asked her: “What do you think about it?”
“Weird.” Then she yelled across the room:  “Elsie! Mom’s growing white hair.  What if dad is??  You’re both getting OLD!”  It is our motto, after all. Grow old with me.  Old and white-haired and better by the day.  I’ll hold up my number to that every day, heart pounding, until my dying breath.

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Milk Bath

This morning I woke up a little after 4 o’clock, feeling very uncomfortable and wet.  “Oh no,” I said out loud, not really sure why I wanted sympathy, but just that I did.  Matthew was sleeping too soundly to hear me, though.  Yesterday I had washed and line-dried our sheets.  Of course.  This morning I woke up in a puddle of milk.  Which meant one thing: Harry had slept through the night for the first time in awhile.  He had been doing really well before we did our traveling to Nevada, then Tennessee.  So, I was glad for the sleep, but super uncomfortable.  Somehow I managed to go back to sleep for a couple more hours, and woke up to a chattering baby, who had happily slept 12 hours.  I had prayed the night before with the girls: “Father, please help Harry to just sleep.  He’s chubby enough and doesn’t need the milk.”  We all burst out laughing at the cute picture instantly painted in our mind’s eye: thighs for days that squish and squish.  He answered our prayer, though!

Harry is certainly chubby.  We squeal over him every day.  He is seven months old and loves to babble and crawl and get into everything everyone is doing.  He is a tiny human vacuum cleaner.  Whatever doesn’t stick to his onesie, gets put into his mouth.  Today alone I’ve fished out a tortilla chip, a rock, a dice, and a bug.  This morning he found an apple core and was like a puppy who had found a bone.  I watched him chomp on it for awhile, but once he started to bite off pretty substantial pieces, I had to take it away.  He did not like that.  He is a foodie through and through.  He eats and loves whatever you put in his mouth.  We do a little pureed baby food, but he would prefer small bites of chicken, or curry, or eggs, or chili, or lemons.  He loves them all!

This week the two oldest kiddos are away at teen camp.  It is so quiet!  Betty burst into tears yesterday because she missed Nadine so much.  It is SO much fun having teenagers.  There are stormy moments, but we are all learning this together.  We encourage communication, not stuffing of feelings.  If someone is being selfish, serving someone else is a wonderful antidote.  Late night porch talks are their favorite thing.  A big change is on the horizon this year.  Nadine and Elijah will both be going to Linville Hill Christian School this fall for high school.  It was a huge decision but one we are all excited about!

Jack had an acrobatic accident last month which landed him with a spiral fracture of three bones in his right hand.  Nadine recorded the flip before the flip that broke his hand.  It was impressive.  After a month in a cast, he has only one more week of a brace.  He is back to flips and tricks.  Can’t keep a strong young man down!  The only positive side to having his hand in a cast was that he was opted out of writing assignments the last month of school.

Elsie is my resident interior designer.  She rearranges their room almost weekly.  She actually rearranged the dining room last month with smashing success.  I came home to a new look and liked it even better than how it was before!  She has an eye for design with clothing too.  She is starting to bake more, though she prefers riding her bike or swimming.

Betty is a proud second grader.  She loves to read and reads well! Sometimes the words that pop out of her mouth surprise us with their seasoned-sounding wisdom.  Other times she just makes us laugh with her dry sense of humor.  The other day the girls were walking around with their clipboards taking orders and having us sign our names a hundred times for various reasons.  She came up to me and asked if they could have a bowl of pretzels.  “Sign ‘yes’ or ‘no’ next to your name.  Don’t write maybe.  This is a yes or no question.”  I about died.  Then she asked me, “Is your name Amy?  Can I call you Amy?”  This morning we were moving out a bookshelf I had sold online.  Betty took a look at it and said, “How old is that?  It looks like it’s from 1994!”  The laughing emoji face is constantly circling around my head when that girl talks.

This morning Matthew finished up with his third out of four infusions.  His voice seems to be a tad bit better, though we only have symptoms to base any improvements off of right now til he gets his next round of bloodwork done.  We sometimes battle discouragement, but we know that doesn’t get us anywhere.  Yesterday I read a familiar and comforting verse: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”  It always pops into my daily reading at a time when something larger than I can comprehend is happening.  I remember when Matthew and I were dating and it seemed like we would never be able to get married.  He was, after all, a teenager.  It was one of the hardest waiting times of our life.  Each season is a stepping stone to the next.  Like trees coming to life in spring and then preparing themselves for fall and winter… each season has a purpose and a beauty all its own.  We can declare with surety and confidence that up until today, the Lord has helped us.  He will never quit being Who He is.  He is worthy of our trust and confidence.

We’ve done a lot of traveling already this year!  Matthew and I enjoyed traveling to Las Vegas for the annual Plexus convention.  I’m over halfway through my studies to become a CNHP (Certified Natural Health Professional).  Ever since highschool, I’ve been passionate about how our bodies work.  I’m absolutely thrilled to have this avenue of study to learn more and this area of work to help people with gut health!  It’s so exciting to hear all of the stories that come my way every single day.

Hopefully it won’t be so long between the next journal entry!  Here is a small camera dump of the past month!


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Island Love

It’s been really difficult to sit down and write about our island experience.  Words don’t seem capable of conveying or summarizing the depth of adventure it was for us.  I didn’t even wash my hair for a couple of days after we got home, because I didn’t want the sunshine and saltwater to disappear.  There is something magical about knowing the last thing to rinse through your hair is the crystal clear water of the Caribbean ocean.

We weren’t prepared for the wave of emotion hitting us in our gut as the airplane circled the island.

The tears were rolling down Matthew’s cheeks.  We both glanced around the airplane at the six beautiful bodies accompanying us on this epic adventure.  When I stepped out onto the tarmac and was met with the warm tropical breeze, the smell of jet fuel hugged me like an old friend, making me feel immediately at ease.

While getting our rental van sorted out, we saw a nice-looking young man who looked like he needed a ride.  After offering him a ride to wherever he was going, it turned out he was going to the same place we were going!  It later became very clear just how Providential a meeting this was when we arrived at our hotel.  For some reason, our reservation was coming up on their end for only one bedroom and they had no more rooms left.  Our new friend, Will, offered us his room and said he could easily find another room somewhere, but it would be pretty near impossible to find a place for 8 people for the next 10 days.  God bless Will.  2017-02-24 17.05.33The following days were spent playing “Where’s Will”, and we ran into him a couple times each day, somewhere on the island.

When we lived on Roatan thirteen years ago, we spent the majority of our time at the hotel where we stayed.  We visited a couple places, but didn’t play tourist very much.  This time we had a deep bucket list and hit just about everything on that list.  We reunited with old friends, went back to where we used to live, and took in gorgeous views of the island from our fantastic van.

One of my favorite parts was always being together.  Hot and sweaty and often sandy, but always together.

We absolutely adored being able to squeeze Harry’s chunky thighs as we ditched the winter garb for ten glorious days.2017-02-27 16.19.11Another one of my favorite parts of our time there was every morning.  We would wander downstairs to the cafeteria, which was under the hotel.  It faced the ocean, and we would order hot coffee or tea, a delicious breakfast, and simply be.  No agenda but to sip tea and snuggle a baby.DSC_0024

DSC_9884We really enjoyed going to a Gumbalimba Park one day, where we went zip-lining, held macaws, monkeys and more!  I was totally impressed by Betty, who fearlessly zipped her way through the canopy.

A huge highlight for the boys was swimming with the dolphins.  I learned that Matthew has always wanted to do this, so it was incredibly special to watch him fulfil that dream.

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The spaces of our days were spent in the sun, paddleboarding, cartwheeling, climbing, playing, snorkeling, eating, dreaming, talking, and enjoying every single moment to its fullest.

Never did we think this dream of returning to our Island home would come true.  But God knew we needed this time and provided incredibly for us to be here.  Many thanks to Matt’s employer, who made it possible to go.  So grateful, too, for my Plexus business which made it possible to buy passports for 8 and eat for 10 days!  Our trip home was bittersweet.

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Our not-so-comfortable layover in Texas

We now have our hearts all over the globe.

There is so much more I could write about, but it’s almost April, and I really need to hit “publish”.  We will treasure these memories and are blessed to be able to share a small bit of our adventure with you.

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September Snapshots

This week in school has been busy!  We made gliders in Science class one day to learn about drag and experiment with a long skinny wing vs a short and wide wing… which flies further?  It’s always fun when school can be brought outside.
September 2015
Our sidewalk always needs a sweep, and we have a few kids who adore sweeping.  I love her joy and I also love her outfit… which has been going strong for three days now.  I think it’s one of her favorites too!  DSC_7828-2
I’m thankful for homeschooling, but by three o’clock my brain is toast and I need a few minutes of alone time.  The other day Betty, who’s middle name is shadow, said, “I really want to follow you because I have a lot of stuff to say to you!”  I mean, really.  How do you not squeeze someone like that?  She’s also very perceptive of when I need a break.  A couple days ago, she happened to be walking up the stairs behind me as I retreated to my room for a few minutes of silence.  She immediately said, “I’m not following you, mom.”  I laughed on the inside, and her wit started the process of melting away the stress of that day.  She is loving Kindergarten.  She constantly wants to do more and learn more.
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Elijah continues to invent, experiment and build.  He got over his fear and mastered a front flip off the diving board this summer.  He almost made me dive headfirst into our grill while I was flipping hamburgers the other night, when he snuck up behind me and scared the living daylights out of me!  He’s a great big brother.  He loves music and his guitar lesson is the highlight of his week.
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Nadine is doing great in school.  She loves her time with her rabbits.  Yes, Oreo is really jumping into the air.  He races around our front porch and Nadine says he’s happy when he does that.  I don’t speak bunny, but she does.  She occasionally babysits now, which she enjoys very much!  She is super into coloring to de-stress, and continues to be the best letter-writer in the County!
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Jack keeps improving on his reading.  He is strong and a perfectionist.  He enjoys competing with Matthew and one day he will beat him, I’m sure!  He totally beats me in pull-ups, push-ups and the like.  He loves to play with coins and carry them around in a sock.
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Elsie is a great big sister.  She and Betty still enjoy twinning some days.  She is very much into gymnastics, even though not officially taking lessons. She watched some YouTube videos and learned how to do a back bend, and how to do a back pullover on the bars!  She has turned into a bookworm, and I love that her favorite book right now was one of my favorite books when I was her age: Annie Oakley!  She constantly is tidying up around the house, and more than a few times I have come upstairs at the end of the day to find the bathroom scrubbed, or my bed made.  She is a strong girl with a lot of determination!
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In a few weeks Matthew & I will be running the Ragnar relay again.  So I’ve been running a lot.  Since we started taking Plexus and my blood sugar has been stabilizing, I actually sweat now.  I never used to sweat, and so this is a new phenomenon for me and I text way too many pictures of my sweaty face to Matthew because it tickles me… literally!  When I’m not running or teaching school, I’m IN school or in our kitchen.  Things I study: I’m still studying to become a certified aromatherapist, which I love and dive into when there’s a free evening.   Also, constantly researching gut health.  My favorite beverage is a tumeric latte, which helps with inflammation.  It’s a sad evening when the whole thing spills all over the table and dyes the floor yellow.  It’s amazing stuff.
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Time with Matthew is incredibly precious.  The other night we were able to slip away for a little date.  I pulled out some shoes I haven’t worn since I was a teenager.  Fun times!
In closing, I’ll attach a video we made yesterday.  In science we decided to conduct a little experiment about a product in our house we generally think is “healthy”.  But is it?  Check it out to see our amateur video attempts.  This was our first run through, and the kids thought the humor was fun so here it is.  First cut.  Enjoy!


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Weldon Homeschool Academy

School has started in full swing this week.  We’re reading, incorporating more fun, and lessons are shorter and more varied than previous years.  It’s pretty exciting to be coloring a map and have to say, “Ok, put your map away until next week!” and hear groans all around the table.  Today in school, besides reading about the Oregon Trail and decimals, Elijah made this fabulous K’Nex slap shot set-up and we had fun filming our version of Dude Perfect.

In science we learned all about air pressure. The moving air across the top of the straw could not press down as hard on the water in the straw. Since the water inside the straw wasn’t being pushed down as hard as the water in the cup, it was pushed out of the straw!  The spray surprised us all!


Reading, writing, drawing, coloring, making movies, and much more have been scattered across the hours.  Right now our house looks like a whole lot of action has been had inside its walls.  Canning and running and sweating were all a part of our day, and my body is aching to fall into bed.
September 2015 phone photos
A little chalkboard fun; making a movie about The Enlarging Machine, Jack is a master builder with pennies; Betty was proud of her sunshines she made out of K’Nex; coloring, sword drills, and a little Pink Drink make our mornings fun.


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Sweet Summer

Since school is beginning very soon, I thought now would be a good time to do a quick overview of our summer so far.  It’s been delightful to say the least!  June started out with a half marathon, which I completed with two friends.  It was much harder than anticipated, but I finished and was thankful for the challenge!June 2015 phone photos
July was full of some sickness, but was trumped by the ocean, soccer camp, girls’ camp, wrestling camp, and family time.
July 2015
So far, August has been beautiful.  Our dear friends came to visit us from Ohio.  Ruthie and I go all the way back to age ten.  Lots of front porch talks, a trip to the beach, and seeing our kids play with each other was such a joy.  The garden is bursting with color.  Matthew made the girls’ room a lot more fun by hanging their bed from the ceiling.  It is only accessible via a ladder and monkey bars.  Notice, my oldest daughter has to bend over a bit to look like the same height as her mother.  Matthew is doing marvelously well health-wise.  More on that later.
August 2015
God has been so faithful and good to us.  Summer isn’t over yet, and it’s been grand so far.


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Cleared For Take-Off

Since it’s almost been a month since we went down to North Carolina, I thought it was high time to get my pictures together from our trip.  Oceanus did well driving down there.  We missed one exit, which gave us an extra long and lovely drive.  We even touched into Tennessee, which was unexpected.

A few of the highlights of our time with my brother and his family was of course seeing them, and also touring the airport where he works and serves missionary candidates.  The ministry he helped to found is called Compass Aviation, and its goal is to give training and experience to pilots and mechanics who are wanting to serve on the foreign mission field.  Please, check out their website to learn more and pray about how God can use YOU to get planes flying and pilots and mechanics to their destination.  Here is my amazing brother:
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It was an honor to hang out with my super-cool nephew (who is also a pilot and mechanic).  I watched this young man grow from babyhood on up, and I am thrilled to see him going on strong for the Lord.
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One evening, we all headed to the airport for some plane rides.  Betty had never been, and was the most excited to fly.
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John let Elijah talk over the radio and even let him fly for a bit:
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Funny story: when I was in the plane with Elijah & Betty, my brother did a CRAZY swoop during take-off which made all of us scream SO loudly.  It was fabulous.  Betty loved every second, the thrill-seeker that she is.DSC_7347 2015-05-29 20.14.11
She loved it so much, in fact, that this is what she did for most of the time she wasn’t in the airplane:
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The evening was filled with beauty and joy and an immense amount of fun.
On Saturday, we celebrated Aaron’s graduation from High School.  It was one of the most blessing-filled ceremonies I have ever attended.  My brother and sister-in-law homeschooled him, and did a fine job indeed.  Our whole family was very inspired.
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So proud of you, Aaron!  “You are now cleared for take-off!”
It was hard to drive away from our Southern family, but our memories with them are incredibly sweet.  I am beyond words of thankfulness for the blessing of our family and all its extensions.  At a rest stop on the way home, we stopped to stretch.
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Excited to see where these kids will fly in life.