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Ruby Romper

Have you ever been flabbergasted? That happened to me a few times today.  I’m not sure which moment tops them all, but it’s somewhere between the romper and going upside-down.  This evening Jack and I went to Elijah’s last basketball game of the season.  Afterwards, the boys wanted to go to the mall.  This has been a twice or thrice yearly occurrence in our household, in my estimation.  I’ve been wanting to try on a pair of jeans for a few weeks now, so thought I’d utilize this opportunity to do so.  I grabbed what I thought was a super cute shirt to try on as well.  Since I was there.  It was super challenging to pull over my head and felt very twisted around.  After taking it off and examining it a little closer I found out it was indeed a romper, not a shirt.  I had stuffed my entire body through one of the legs.  I kind of felt a bit flabbergasted to be wearing a romper.  I think the last time I wore one, I was my daughter’s age.  But it was cute and the red color made me think of another moment of shock I had today.

It was the afternoon chaos of snack time and getting myself ready to head out the door to Elijah’s game, when my cell phone rang and the caller ID read “Arizona”.  I almost always answer my phone, because you just never know who might call.  My surprise wore off about five seconds before I hung up the phone.  So basically, for the entire call, I walked around with a big grin on my face while making wild and crazy hand motions at my kids.  Harry was crying in the background.  It was Plexus corporate calling to congratulate me on last month’s rank up to Ruby.  There was a whole room of people cheering for me and I just stood there dumbfounded and shocked.  I knew it had happened, but the past two weeks have zoomed past me like a bullet train and it hasn’t sunk in for real yet.  What a special treat to receive such a fun phone call!2018-02-12 21.08.25Every day I’m flabbergasted by the insane amount of growth I see in each of our kiddos.  Harry especially makes me chuckle and sigh all in the same millisecond.  He trots around with confidence and can’t decide whether he loves books or snacks best. 2018-02-11 14.12.20-1He loves to drag things around, like heavy bags of rice, or his little toy train attached to a string.  Ninety percent of his vocabulary consists of the word, “buggah”, with the inflection on the “a”.  It means everything from hungry to bagel, to water, to milk, to every other food besides banana… which of course is “nana” or “noo-noo”.  His lips make the most darling “oooh” shape and always get a kiss when he says it.  His baba is his pacifier and his bobo is his elephant.  His elephant which I hope we never lose, because it is no longer made or sold by the UK-based company.  He takes after his brother Jack by eating a man-sized portion of oats every morning.  I have never used soap on his skin before, since we only use water and everyone has their own special body cloth for all of their showering/bathing.  This week he got a bottle of shampoo, which I thought was empty, and there happened to be some suds left in it.  I peeked over to him crying in a pile of bubbles, unsure of what was going on around him and scooped him up laughing.  Fifteen months old and he’s never had a bubble bath.  2018-02-08 15.51.55Another flabbergasting moment today was when I found myself actually flipping upside down in the basement on our pull-up bar.  It’s been a couple years since I did that move.  The best part?  When Elsie exclaimed, “Mommy’s still cool!”  Then Jack looked at her and said, “She’s always been cool, Elsie.” Insert as many laughing emoji’s as possible here.  What a way to make this mama feel amazing!  Because at that particular moment, every muscle was yelling at me for the strange contortion I had put it through and my inner ear buzzed a little at the notion of being upside down.  But this mama has goals, and they don’t happen by being sedentary.

There is always more to write, but I need sleep like I need that romper… or something like that.

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When Sparks Fly and Cracks are Backed

It’s two o’clock, and I am finally eating lunch.  The quiet scribble of one person doing their writing homework is like music to my ears, while the hot tea is like medicine for my harried brain.  Outside, the boys are reading on the trampoline.  You know, between jumps.  This morning was full of dictation, reading out loud, and lots and lots of math.  Math four times around each day has both enriched my  brain and caused it to temporarily shut down for the day.  A few facts I have learned today:

The moment I have to use the bathroom is the moment everyone has a need of great importance.

Informative speeches are impossible to write.  (That fact is up for debate.  Maybe the person claiming it should write a persuasive speech to prove their point.)

It is not difficult to make deodorant, and it smells amazing.

I often wipe my nose on my sleeve without even thinking.  Please tell me this is something moms with small kids often do.

Receiving a big box with a smile on the side is a huge reason for celebration.  Especially when the box contains a new heating element for the stove.

Ah, the stove.  About a week ago, I was testing out some recipes for my first ever cooking class.
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As I preheated the oven for some grain-free corn bread, I noticed a small flame dancing inside the oven.  This would not be a problem if we had a brick oven, but ours happens to be electric.  I tried to blow it out, because this has worked in the past.  When it seemed to get bigger and start spreading, I called Elijah to grab the fire extinguisher.  I ordered everyone outside, while we unsuccessfully put out the sparking flames.  Finally, I told Elijah to run get our neighbor, while I called 911.  Fortunately, I was able to tell the dispatcher never mind, as our neighbor ran over with a big fire extinguisher and the grand idea of flipping off the breaker connected to the stove.  The second he did that, the fire fizzled into nothing.  What a bunch of excitement.  And mess.
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Of course my cooking class was in about ten hours, and I was now without a stove.  Enter: wonderful neighbors again.  Thankfully, their stove was just fine, and the classes were able to go on as planned, with just a little extra walking.  I also paid double to have someone overnight a new heating element.  How exciting it was to receive the box.  The thrill died about as quickly as a blown-out candle when I pulled out a completely bent element that would not work at all.  Thankfully, you can return things in this country.  The box we received today with the smiley face on it contained a just as happy part, which will be responsible for much delightful baking this fall.

Now, seven hours later, I can hardly believe another day has passed.  Often you can find out what filled my day, by glancing at the open tabs on the computer: Aromahead Institute, Patchouli, Artemisia, DIY rope rug, Amazon, Crockpot Bacon and Goat Cheese, Elderberry Syrup, Hillsong Acoustic Sessions.  The other way to find out what has filled our lives the past couple of weeks is to dump some photos from my phone:
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Winter clothes turnover day, many Betty faces, our own William Tell, walking Toby the rabbit, school planning squeezed in during piano lesson time, late night Bible studies, and lots of tea.2014-10-18 17.14.27
This week we also saw our whole Weldon family, including our Italian family and the college boy, which was a huge treat!

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Sleepy head Betty, and her outfit of choice this Sunday: red silk and black velvet Christmas dress, blue cotton tights with pink flowers on them and black patent leather shoes.  She has been asking a lot when Christmas is coming.  She asks in such a way that makes it sound like a person is coming to visit us very soon.  My week has also been full of aromatherapy school, pumpkins and the chiropractor.  Whenever we go to the chiropractor, Betty grins, gives a big sigh, and says she loves getting her “crack backed”.
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This year, the four bigs have also been involved in a homeschool co-op.  Their science teacher took these great pictures of them in his class as they were learning about density.

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This was the scene around the table tonight.  We’ve got four readers, taking turns reading around the table.  It is one of my favorite parts of the day.   As is this time: hanging out with my man.  Good night.


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A Crazy-Hair Day

A week ago I wrote this, before being interrupted for another week:
Right now one boy is blaring classical piano music throughout the house.  Two kids are playing a board game, and the other two are building with blocks and dancing at intervals.  I snuck out to the front porch, literally hiding a brownie in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.  Just five minutes of peace would be super.  It’s been a long afternoon of school, apple-sauce-making, supper-cooking, and I’m not even cleaned up yet.  Time for tea and an undisclosed chocolatey snack.

It sounds all too-familiar, like I was about to type the same words now… as I lick the melted chocolate off my spoon and swallow the last sip of afternoon tea.  The kids are all in their rooms practicing how to be quiet.  I had a long but beautiful day being a doula yesterday, arriving home close to 2AM.  Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted.  The last thought I had before drifting off to sleep was: I hope I get breakfast in bed.  My super amazing daughter must have known (you see, when you pray, the Holy Spirit is listening, and can communicate that need to someone else who is listening to Him).  Her sweet self prepared this breakfast for me, and we enjoyed a lovely morning in our PJ’s.
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By lunch-time, however, my lack of sleep started to kick in.  I started making scrambled eggs and dropped one on the ground.  I snapped at the children I loved so much.  Then, I stopped and apologized for my grumpy attitude.  Everyone suggested maybe I needed a nap.  Then Nadine smoothed the air even further with her honest comment, “You know, Mom?  Your hair looks CRAZY today!”  I burst out laughing.  It still looks crazy, by the way.

The text I sent to Matthew, which prompted my apology to the children.

The text I sent to Matthew, which prompted my apology to the children.

So, Betty and I decided to take a nap, even though she is “never tired”.  Like the other day, when she told me, “My tummy hurts.  I’m tired of falling asleep.”  Then this happened:2014-10-02 13.08.58

Today she told me she wanted to “talk” before we fell asleep.  Thus began our conversation: “I have a question.”
“Yes, Betty?  What’s your question?”
“When will I be six?”
“After you’re five.”
“Will I always be six?”
“The whole time you’re six, yes.”  We then proceeded to practice counting up to six on our fingers.  She is dead set on being six.
She says some pretty hilarious things these days.  The other night she lamented in a very sorrowful voice, “Everybody makes me so sad.”  When I asked her what would make her happy, she replied, “If you make chicken.”    She asked me this out-of-the-blue question the other day: “Mom, can I put this rock in my pocket?”
“Um, sure,” I replied, puzzled.
“Just in case I need it for something.”  Good to know she’s prepared.
When I asked her if she wanted apple sauce or yogurt for a snack she answered, “Hmmmmmmmm.  I think my body wants yogurt.”

Last weekend, Matthew surprised me with one of my favorite date days ever.  We were given tickets to Chester County Day, and drove all around the area touring historical homes, barns, and grounds.  It was so beautiful, inspiring and refreshing.
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I’ve been slightly obsessed with Instagram the past two weeks.  The photos aren’t a false impression of my life, so much as they are a bit of an incomplete picture of it.  You might see a shot of apple crisp, but in the background you can’t see the piles of dishes I just washed or have to still wash.  You might see us reading books on the front porch, but you can’t see the dirt on the ground, or feel the mosquitoes trying to bite us.  You might see the photo of a budding piano-player, but only we can hear the same three songs being played hundreds of times on the keyboard.  You see the flower, but not the weeds.  October phone photos
This week’s favorite photos are as follows:
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Jack’s ongoing collection of shiny things.  A healed bone in Nadine’s big toe.  Rock-climbing date with my Elsie Rose.  Nadine’s 12th birthday, complete with crepe cake.  Love and Daddy.  The baby-waiting game.  Beautiful clouds that make me wish I was a bird.

The boys just dug out some old CD’s, and we’re rocking out to the Kry, one of my favorite 90’s music memories.  The girls are “secretly” rearranging their room (even though I could hear the furniture scooting all around their room from where I lay in bed while attempting to nap).  My hair is still crazy.  My heart is full.


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Memory Lane Colliding With Today

Today I’m feeling nostalgic.  Eight years ago, what was going on?  Well, Jack was five months old and a crawling maniac.  Elijah was into drinking tylenol, and wasn’t quite sure what hospitals were for.

Four years ago, we had recently moved.

Three years ago, we couldn’t imagine life without Betty.

Two years ago I publicly confessed my dislike of showers.  I am also reminded that it’s time for another secret invitation soon.

One year ago, a baby was born.  The pictures into my children’s personalities are still so similar, it is uncanny.

Today, these five keep me overwhelmed with joy to be their mama.

This year we decided not to do Awanas.  The little girls were disappointed, and all on her own, Nadine initiated starting a “girl’s club” with Elsie & Betty, where they will memorize verses, do crafts and study the Bible together.  She has it all planned out, and I’m excited to see her organize something like this!  Tonight she even sewed a little vest for Elsie to wear during club.  She will be starting her first steady babysitting job tomorrow, and is also involved in a Bible study/horse club with girls her age.
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Elijah has definitely hit a new phase of life.  Between moodiness, possible changes going on in the voice department, and a little more moodiness, he is growing up… and sometimes that can make one unsure of themselves.  One thing is for certain: that boy can play the piano!  Only three weeks into starting lessons, and he is already grasping it in a remarkable way.  I’m really proud of him.  His musical talent doesn’t only lie in his fingers.  He memorizes songs like no one’s business.  In his own words: “I know this song like I’m breathing.”  He also knows how to tell jokes and make us laugh.
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In looking back at pictures, I noticed that Jack is still wearing the same orange shorts he wore about three years ago.  He keeps growing taller, but his waist stays the same.  He can more often than not, be found upside-down.  Today I gave him a chair to carry out to the trash, since it had broken beyond repair.  Not too long after that, I found him, armed with spindles.
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Yesterday he came up to me and asked, “Mom, has my voice changed?”  I told him, no.  He said, “Oh, good.”  Then Elijah piped up: “We already talked about that, Jack.”  His reply: “I know. But not with Mom.”  He also asked me if I could see any hair on his chest yet.  I hugged my little boy with the smooth, beautiful face and feet as big as my own, and wanted to bottle up his boyish ways forever.  When I asked him to vacuum off the front porch the other day, I noticed the sound of the vacuum was going on for a lot longer than the task required.  I peeked outside to see him doing this, using the front door as a mirror:
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I love the dirt under his arm-pits and the sweat and grime covering his body.  He is one-hundred-and-fifty percent boy.

Elsie still likes shoes, still likes to work hard, and is still enthralled with hair.  On Sunday night, she came downstairs after being tucked in and asked if she could “tidy up a bit.”  I thought about it for about a half second.  She proceeded to pick things off the floor, put them away, sweep the kitchen, wiped this and that, and made a huge difference in the outlook of the downstairs.  She voluntarily pulled out each of her baskets and folded all of her clothes just perfectly before putting them all back.  This girl is my inspiration for organization and cleanliness.  She is also a singer, and often sings Betty to sleep at night.2014-08-29 17.08.49
Betty loves to learn.  She can read, “I am Betty.”  She often adds an “H” somewhere in her name, because she just loves to write H’s.  She can also sing entire songs, and I am amazed at her memory.  Don’t be fooled by the frilly shirt and patent leather shoes.  This girl can climb.  In fact, the entire time she climbed the eight-or-so-foot fence, she sang: “I’m a climber, I’m a climber…”  Yes, yes, she is.  September Phone Photos1
It’s been awhile since I put together a sleepy collage.  I love to sneak pictures of my beautiful babies when they’re asleep.  Just looking at them is making my eyelids droop.  The only one who sleeps pretty much the exact same way every night is Nadine.  One morning, Betty came downstairs and giggled, “Mama, Elsie’s head was on my tummy when I woke up!”  They are so funny when they sleep.
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200-ish Miles and At Least One Shower

I mean to take showers every day.  Really I do.  But I often tell myself that it will happen after I exercise.  It’s a lovely treat to wash away all the stinky sweat after a good run.  But when I forget to shower… I mean, exercise… I will usually be reminded by my sweet 6-year old.  It’s pretty bad when she looked at me yesterday afternoon as I stretched my arms in the air and said, “Mom!  This is like the fifth time I’ve told you… You need to shave your armpits!”  Oy!  My oldest sister used to remind me to take showers.  Now my daughter does.  As I’ve said before, it’s not my favorite thing to do.

This little girl is the queen of pull-ups!  She can do three dead-hang pull-ups in a row, and at least a dozen times a day I see her going down to the basement to practice yet again.  She is a funny girl.  The other day she said to me, “My life is changing.  Everything I used to like I don’t like anymore.”  I think we were just having a meal she wasn’t too fond of eating, but from her point of view, it was much more dramatic than that.  She loves to sing and dance and do one-handed cartwheels.  She is growing out her hair and can hardly wait until it’s down to her waist.
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“I don’t want my hair in a pony any more,” Betty said to me.  “I want it in my ears.”  I think she meant “behind my ears”, but that’s ok.  I understand her sweet three-year-old vocabulary.  Which is really quite astounding.  She is a precious girl with a lion’s heart.  She can count very fluently until about ten, then she says things like, “Eleventeen, twelve-teen, thirteen…”  But she is improving daily on her school work, and sits for HOURS at her little desk.  She isn’t afraid of bugs.  “Real bugs fly like this!” she told me one time, flapping her arms like a bird.  “I really like ants and lightning bugs.”  Betty reminds me to use special things every day, because every day is special.  Like when she wears her most beautiful dress.  It’s a creamy butter yellow with tulle all around it.  I used to think it should only be worn on very special occasions.  Now it is worn to ride bikes, climb trees, and during sword-fights, because every day is special.

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Our week was short but very full.  The boys find reading much easier dressed in soldier gear.  On Sunday, we had the privilege of meeting Jay, from Kenya!  He was a graduate from Compassion International, and we heard his story last week at the mobile experience.  Nadine has her boot off at last, and this morning the stitches came out too.  She isn’t up to running yet, but not having crutches or a big boot is a huge blessing!  Getting back onto a horse, bareback, was a huge highlight for her this week.
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This weekend, Matthew and I will be running in a 200 mile relay with other people from his work.  I am runner #2 of 12.  Here is a look at my three legs of the race:2014-09-10 15.20.15
I’m a little bit nervous about it, but excited too.   This weekend I got my longest run in that I’ve had since March… so I hope I survive!
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Nadine told me to take lots of pictures of this weekend.  I’m mostly excited to be with Matthew for a a couple of days, even if it is doing something rather crazy.  And in honor of Elsie, I’ll be sure to get at least one shower.


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Home School in High Speed

Have you ever wondered what it is like for our family to homeschool?  It is difficult to capture, but I did my  best.  One morning last month, I secretly set up the camera to record my five diligent students, hard at work.  This does not include the living room, where someone else was working for a while, or the mayhem that is also called “lunch”.  Yes, I ruffle my hair sometimes when I’m getting tired.  Look for it.  So, here you have it, in high-speed.  ONE day in our life.  Every day is different, so maybe I’ll do another video in the future.  I hope you enjoy!


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From Kenya to Valley Forge

Yesterday we traveled to two countries.  Compassion International has a mobile experience where you can walk through two lives of children and hear their stories through an audio tour.  It was amazing.
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It was difficult to hear of their circumstances, as Elsie’s eyes show so clearly.  It was plain hard.  But so good for them to experience life outside their own.
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We highly recommend the Compassion Experience, and encourage you to consider sponsoring a child!
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After a successful trip to the Dr. for Nadine’s toe, we celebrated its steady healing by having a picnic at Valley Forge.  We have never been to Washington’s Headquarters before, so we really enjoyed exploring around his house.
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Then Jack really wanted to see the “squirrel’s house”, so we headed in that direction.  Yes, he did hand-stands along the entire way.
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Elijah was such a good big brother, giving piggy-back rides to all his sisters!  This one was especially hilarious.
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Betty was hot and tired.  And cute.
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At last we found the squirrel’s house.  (That’s what we like to call it).  We knocked and knocked.  No answer.
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What a delightful day, overall.  In the words of Elsie: “You wore us out, mommy!”  I am so thankful for my children, and for each day we can spend together.