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This is Not a Normal Life

“This is NOT a normal life!” she exclaimed from the back seat.  I glanced back at the stop sign to see what she was doing.  She had a small notebook and pencil.  Her legs were crossed, the tips of her fuzzy boots sticking up almost to her knees.  “This is NOT a normal life.”  She was playing MASH. With herself.  I laughed out loud while Betty told me how she was living in a mansion with THREE children and driving a Ford.  Oh, and she was married to Toby Mac.  When something is interesting or exciting for her and she wants me to listen she will say, “Hear this!”  Such a herald.  She is doing fabulously in school, reading sentences like, “The path led to the shed.”  She recently celebrated her 6th birthday.

Elsie is a great teacher and when she’s not DOING school, she is PLAYING school.  She has a vim and vigor for life.  A shaker and a mover.  Literally.  The other day she and Betty rearranged their room.  A girl after her mama’s own heart.  She is our pancake-maker, and does a fine job of it!

Jack is back into wrestling season full swing.  When he’s not wrestling, he is doing pushups.  Hundreds of pushups.  I’m excited when I do 30 in one day.  He’s not satisfied until he does 300.  We also recently discovered a Ninja Warrior gym not too far from us.  He conquered the warped wall the first day there, and loves to challenge himself with the other obstacles.

Elijah is my right-hand man in the kitchen.  We can throw together supper in less than half an hour.  I love teaching him stuff in the kitchen.  He gets my style of cooking, which doesn’t lean on recipes as much as a hunch on how different flavors will work together.  Having an instant pot has made dinner prep SO easy.  He is a geometry whiz, and we are looking in to some sort of coding class, as he is bent in this direction.  Sometimes he explains things to me and I have no clue what he’s talking about.  He’s also doing daily pushups and slowly inching closer to my height.

Nadine is our baby-whisperer.  Harry and her have a special bond.  She is convinced he can say her name, and it does sound pretty close.  I honestly don’t know how I could manage this house without her.

Harry adds the most perfect element of sweetness, joy and delight to our home.  When he starts to talk, everyone comes running.  He smiles and the sun comes out.  He is two months old already!  He is the king of expressions, and makes so many faces.  2017-01-12-10-21-55-2We’re slowly getting onto a sleeping schedule.

Though we often pass like ships in the night (literally), Matthew is my biggest support.  Between coaching, working, and being an amazing dad to these six… 2017-01-09-19-12-48
He is also the one whom my soul loves.  2017-01-21-15-35-34-1
It’s not hard to love him, but sometimes lack of sleep and the demands of being needed by 6 people can sometimes push me over the edge.  He is so patient with me.  It’s not tear-free, anger-free, frustration-free or hardship-free.  But it is full of joy, forgiveness, humor, and faith.  Had we been thrown the life we are living now, I might have also exclaimed: “This is NOT a normal life!”  But it’s the perfect life for me.
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Horses, Blue Hair, Kisses, Fashion & Fall

“When will this stop?!” I exclaimed, as I peered at the sweet little ankles of our youngest daughter, no longer covered up by her pant legs.  As the weather has cooled, all of the jeans have come out of hibernation, and reveal what we all know is going to be true, but is still surprising year after year.  About three inches too short.  High-water pants, without the water.  The funniest part of this observation was when she came over to me, threw her hands up in the air and returned my comment with: “It will NEVER end!”  I just stared at her, both amused and surprised at her accuracy and hilarity.  My old soul of a daughter, who knows a bit more about life than I do sometimes.

Indeed, fall is upon us.  I spied frost this morning, and I think not being able to perform my usual putting our garden to sleep for the winter, has made me feel like it can’t possibly be here already.  Thirty-seven weeks pregnant,  gardening is an activity that has been scratched from my fall to-do list.  Baby Chip is strong and low and starting to make me long for the end.  I want to see these strong legs that make sweeping movements even yet, across my belly, and make me wonder if he has six legs, they are so active and everywhere.  I can hardly wait to see if his hair is straight or curly, and what color eyes he will inherit.  Will he have that joker smile Nadine was born with, or dimples and a cleft in his chin?  So much about which to wonder and wait.

The children have been incredible as they have a lot more on their plates than normal.  Keeping this nesting mama happy with a clean house, washed dishes, and delving into their schoolwork each day.

Nadine has been back in the saddle and doing such an incredible job riding!  She is learning to jump and is almost to a canter.   The other day at her lesson, this horse kept me in very close company!
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She is really into puzzles, and spends hours doing them in her room.  We’re also working on a big one on our dining room table right now.  So yesterday we were sorting through pieces, and I was messing around with a pile of similarities.  She sat down, grabbed a piece out of the box of a thousand pieces, and put it in a spot, first try.  Five seconds later, same thing.  By the fifth time of doing this, I looked up and possibly glared.  How on earth?  She just laughed and shrugged.  Talent, I tell you.

We’re all taking bets as to whether or not we will have another teenager or a new baby first, since both events are due to happen the same week.  Elijah hopes Chip comes first so we’re all home together, and I agree.  Recently, he had the urge to dye his hair blue.  With permission (while I wasn’t home, because that’s just easier on my nerves), he gave it a go.  It was pretty hilarious, because his hair didn’t turn blue as much as his scalp and forehead did.  Eventually it all washed out.  During our family vacation, he was so much fun to photograph, jumping off the pier into the lake.  He is also such a patient teacher and helps me a lot with the younger kiddos during school.

Jack continues to grow like a weed.  He is involved in a pretty intense wrestling league twice a week.  A few weeks ago he got work out with and meet his favorite wrestler of all time: Olympic champion, Jordan Burroughs.  He inspires me to not quit, and I told him he will need to coach me back into shape after baby is born!  I love watching him and Elijah interact.  Elijah recently converted Jack to the love of hot sauce.  Now we will probably go through two bottles a week instead of just one.  This past night at wrestling practice, I stayed to watch him until Matthew could meet me there after work.  It was especially packed out, with more than thirty kids practicing.  I was just leaving and almost to the door when Jack came running up to me and gave me a kiss goodbye.  I think I left part of myself melted on the floor right there.  I don’t take it for granted that my ten-year-old son wouldn’t be the least bit ashamed to show his mama some love in a room full of tough boys and adults.  That’s the type of guy he is.  And yes, he still eats lots of apples.

Sometimes I forget that Elsie is just eight.  She’s incredibly capable and strong.  Her love for life and new adventures is hauntingly familiar.  She loves fashion, and I’m always amazed at the outfits she comes up with, because she certainly never asks my opinion about them.  She dreams of gymnastics, and we hope to be able to say yes to this soon, now that her arm is fully healed.  When she’s not doing her schoolwork, she is playing school with Betty.  She told Nadine the other day that she wants to be in eighth grade.  I realize I don’t take enough pictures of her.

Betty loves school.  She is reading and doing math.  The other day she was writing words with “X” in them.  She wrote “Tax”, then drew a picture of money and a sad face.  When I asked her what it was, she said, “The person has a sad face because they have to pay tax.”  Where does she come up with these things?  She is such a good sleeper, and fell asleep on the stairs the other night.  A dress, hole in the knees of her leggings, and sweetly crossed ankles describes her pretty well.  She brings us so much joy!

Tomorrow is a big day for us!  Matthew and I leave bright and early for a quick trip to Texas!  I’m pretending like our suitcase is being packed, when in reality my bed is unmade, the suitcase is just there, and I’m seriously pondering a second cup of hot tea.  We are so excited to get away and be with some dear sweet friends.  It is a business trip, yet also a retreat.  We need this time to connect and dream and plan before our lives completely change the next month.  God is so gracious to gift this to us, and yes, I’m praying we do not have a Texan baby.  2016-09-02-22-34-52
Stay tuned for more!


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The Best Chocolate Chip

The sound never grows old.  A faint, steady rhythm.  So tiny, yet so strong.  We call him “Chip”, because at one point, baby was the size of a chocolate chip. The name stuck.  Now Chip is bigger, and his heart is definitely beating.  Life.  Hidden and mysterious, but unmistakably there.  On Monday I had my first midwife appointment and got to meet Chip in a super special way, as the tears pooled in my eyes and his heartbeat met my ears.  Every morning for the past couple of weeks I’ve sighed a great hallelujah that my pants still button.  But thirteen weeks into this journey, and it’s time to expand my wardrobe for my expanding wasitline!  I’m definitely tired of sweat pants and feeling frumpy.
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The second highlight of our week was Tuesday.  Hearing a solid “well done” from the kids’ evaluator, marked another year in the books for the Weldon Academy of Natural Studies.  We now officially have one 1st grader, one 3rd grader, one 5th grader and two 8th graders.  Good thing I’m sitting down right now.  It’s been a huge year, full of much learning and growing.  We celebrated with lunch at the Green Street Grille.  What a HUGE accomplishment!  They’re growing up so fast.  In fact, the other day Jack asked Betty how old she wants to be when she grows up.  She thought for a moment and said, “Seventeen.”2016-05-10 13.20.18-1Last month, I had the incredible privilege of flying out to Portland to visit my dear friend, April.  We grew up together for a few years in the middle of Africa.  Her house was just a shout away.  In fact, we would often stand at the bottom of their hill and yell, “Do you have a roll of toilet paper we could borrow?!”  Or “Do you have butter?!”  You know, the essential things.  This is probably one huge reason I love my neighbor, Jen, so much.  I don’t think a week goes by without borrowing something from her… and it is often ONE egg, or TWO INCHES of butter, please.  Having someone who loves you and doesn’t think any less of you because you fail to figure out just how many eggs you’ll need each week… on a weekly basis… is pretty grand.

April and I have been friends for almost thirty years.  I don’t even FEEL like I’m 30 yet, so this is pretty wild for me to comprehend even still.  But we have, because Math doesn’t lie, or something like that.  She is one of the most genuine people I know.  I love her courage and gusto in life.  I love that she doesn’t let fear hold her down from following God’s leading.  That leading happens to be into the middle of the jungle of Papua, Indonesia.  I am so thankful I got to squeeze her and even run a mini “Amazing Race Portland” with her and a friend before she flew back across a HUGE ocean to her home.  As we prayed before she dropped me off at the airport, I was absolutely floored by the goodness and grace of God to weave and keep tight the bond of this friendship which has spanned more time and miles than I can comprehend.

As things grow and change in our family, this guy remains constant and steady.  2016-04-08 07.10.53-1We have had such fun dreaming together.  He is such an encouragement to me every day.  I don’t often feel what he sees, but I choose to believe him, because he’s never lied to me yet.  We are so excited to see how the Lord is going to work out the details of our future.  We sense His stirring in our lives and know He has something amazing in store.

Baby Chip is proof of that.


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Two Foot Bologna and Wolf Ears

Yesterday morning started off relaxed and chill.  Some kids listening to a story in one room, someone else slowly savoring their bowl of cereal.  I still meandered around in my sweat pants and two-day-old shirt, after having ignoring the little voice that told me I should get dressed immediately upon rising.  All of a sudden I got a panicky feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere.  I texted my friend to ask her if the kids had science class today.  I had checked the schedule, but must have read it wrong. Yes, science class began five minutes ago.  I jammed on my boots, didn’t even tie them, shrugged on another layer over my limp shirt, and shoved a hat on my morning hair.  Betty, who was in the middle of being a ballerina, put a coat over her stockings and leotard, and off we went.  It was harrowing.  Amazingly, they were only twenty minutes late for class.  Wearing my junky clothes (okay, pajamas) I still had to fetch a lunch for my poor students, so I ran to the nearest grocery store.  Somehow, in 15 minutes we managed to use a two-foot-long piece of bologna to whip other siblings in the meat department and we also were able to tip the cart on top of ourselves just before the checkout line.  We, meaning, those of us under the age of thirty-four.  The worst part of the morning was in the parking lot.  Just before our van, Elsie ran ahead of me by a few feet and as I called for her to stop, my voice quickly changed into a scream as an SUV pulled forward from behind another parked car and came within one foot of hitting her.  Praise the Lord for protecting us!  Praise Him too for fresh beginnings and new days.

January came and went, leaving a few fun memories behind in its wake.  Matthew and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.
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As a belated gift, I surprised him with going to see Les Misérables at a local theatre.2015-01-16 23.53.51 Processed with Moldiv

We were gifted with the treat of going to Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono’s with our family and some of Matt’s co-workers.  It was a super-fun memory with the kids.  Sadly, Elsie got pretty sick for half of our time there, so I bonded with our hotel room more than the indoor pool area.
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This girl right here turned four.  She multi-tasks like a natural woman, and makes us laugh so much.DSC_6883
What’s not to love about a girl who burps, giggles, then says, “Some girls have some burps.”  Or someone who plays in the snow and says, “My feet are soaking, soaking cold!”  Or calls firecrackers, “firecrackles”.  Sometimes when I overhear her and Elsie playing together I get such a kick out of what they say.  Once Betty exclaimed enthusiastically, “Hi!  You can call me Aunt Vicky!”  I have no idea where that came from, and I laughed so hard.  Some mornings I get woken up with this:2015-01-21 07.46.30-2
A little baby wolf with big brown eyes.  “Can you come downstairs with me?”
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Sometimes I wish she would stay bitty forever, but I do love watching her grow.

Today Matthew is having his second infusion of Rituxan.  He has no side effects from it, but he also hasn’t felt any better yet.  The big kids had a computer class last month, so Elsie and I enjoyed some one-on-one time.  The kids have also been having a blast each week at a winter class at Black Rock. Jack has been wrestling like a champ.  We went back to Matthew’s highschool in Philly and watched his old teammate coach the current team to Public League Champions.  It was very nostalgic watching those boys wrestle, just like I used to watch Matthew wrestle many moons ago.
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There is much more to say, but time to dive into February and all it holds.  Without the two-foot bologna.


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Don’t Forget To Wash Your Hands

December started out with a bang, as I supported an amazingly strong woman through over forty hours of labor.  My friend and fellow doula, Sarah, came to spell me for a few hours the last night of November.  Then on the evening of December first, another baby girl came into the world.  It was an honor to witness such strength and endurance as that mama displayed.  I am constantly reminded of the incredible stamina and tenacity we as humans possess.

After that sleepless weekend, we were presented with “the bug”, as my children so fondly have named it.  It really began Thanksgiving night with Betty getting sick outside, just as we arrived home from a wonderful day with my family.  The bug slowly made its way through all but two of us: Jack & myself.  So, after a few days of birth jet-lag and a few days of sickness, we made it to this week, where we have had to reel ourselves back into school again.  Our attempts have felt somewhat like crash-landings a few days this week.  There’s nothing gentle about reality.

Yesterday we had an adventurous trip to Trader Joe’s, where I was meeting Matthew’s mom who was going to take the kids for the afternoon.  Upon arriving, Elsie had to go to the bathroom, so we all trudged into the store.  After about five minutes of waiting, it was evident we were going to be there for awhile.  So I sent Nadine with the others to look for the stuffed hedgehog and claim the prized lollipop that comes from finding said hedgehog hidden somewhere in the store.  Five minutes later they returned, all sucking lollipops, and we hung out to wait for Elsie some more.  Others joined the small area, waiting for the bathroom to be free.  Then Betty, who really has no filter, put her face to the door and yelled: “Don’t forget to wash your hands after diarrhea!”  I quickly tried to shush her, while holding back laughter.  Of course Elsie yelled from the recesses of the bathroom: “What?!”  So Betty quickly repeated her reminder in the same volume.  I just about lost it, standing about ten feet from the eggs and milk section of the store, where busy shoppers were probably only wanting to think about food.  I never did make eye contact with the man waiting near us.

Tonight the girls were playing their most recent game of “Holly & Annie”.  Usually it begins with them meeting eachother after a long absence, and both of them determining how old the other is.
“Holly!” begins Betty.
“Annie!” Elsie replies, and they hug.
“I’m seven years old!” says Betty. (Elsie whispers: Seventeen)  “Seventy!” Betty corrects herself. (No, no! Seventeen, Elsie whispers again.)  “Seventeen!”
“Wow!  I’m eighteen!” gasps Elsie.
“Wow!  I’m almost bigger than you!” exclaims Betty, and so on it goes until they go to Hawaii or some such place.  It usually is Hawaii, actually.

Recently, an incredibly sweet young lady approached me with the offer of a lifetime: to come be at our home every week for a few hours to do whatever I need her to do.  That right there is an offer money can’t buy.  We look forward to our weekly visits from her.  Often she helps with school, or sometimes she is just another ear for this tired out mama to talk to and I know my words find acceptance and not judgement.  If ever there was opportunity for her to judge, it was last week.  She was supposed to come Thursday at 9AM.  I woke up at 9:05.  Every morning, I always lay in bed to try and remember what day of the week it is, where I need to go, who is coming here, etc.  I got to that last thought and sprung out of bed to look out the window.  Yep, her car was there.  I stumbled downstairs to find one of the kids had woken up before me and welcomed her inside.  She looked at me and laughed.  This here is what we call: real life.  Every day I don’t have it all together.  Every day I miss stuff, mess up, fall down, or give in to the pressure of life.  It’s important to be vulnerable about one’s humanness.  I do not wake up gracefully.  It was both humbling and hilarious to welcome a guest into my home with a sleepy voice and crusty eyes.  Whatever came out of my mouth, every word was really saying, “I forgot you were coming.  Forgive me while I go make some tea and clean up the supper dishes I was going to wash before you got here this morning.”  Yes, this real life stuff is just that: real. Not fake or put together.

The same person who saw me in my pajamas and morning hair also offered to help me clean and rearrange my room today.  I say this to encourage some of you who may be on one side or the other of this coin of life.  If you have time on your side, find a mama who looks tired and worn out, and offer a chunk of time to her out of love and not self-gain.  The rewards will be eternal, I guarantee you.  If you are a mama and someone offers to help you, take them up on the offer!  Nothing baffles me more than when we as women shrug off the need for help because we’re too proud to accept it, we’re too embarrassed to air our dirty homes, or we’re too busy to slow down and let someone into our life.  I was embarrassed to my core when she saw every single thing that was under my bed.  At the same time, I felt a freedom in letting go of my facade that I’m all put together.  Just like you, my clothes, my house, my dishes and my hair all get dirty.  If you didn’t know it, now you do.  It’s a constant battle, to admit my humanness and my imperfections.  I’d much rather have an instagram life, but just as quickly as you glance at that perfect picture, reality smudges the lens again.

All these imperfections make me long for more.  Thanks be to God, there is more!  There will be a day, where there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more mess-ups, and no more tears.  Excellence and beauty will never be tarnished by sin again.  Home will be perfect and complete because Jesus is there.  If you know Him personally, one day perfection will be your reality too.  Until then, let’s love eachother through the bad breath, messy hair, and clutter.  And let’s not forget to wash our hands after diarrhea.

So thankful for these five.

So thankful for these five.


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Flare-Ups, Squeaky Brakes, and Thankful Hearts

Fall is doing its steady march toward winter, and Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  I know time does not in actuality move any faster each year, but the feeling of it moving extra swiftly is real.

The past month has been full of life.  I’ve been staying up late at night, finishing projects that require silence, as silence is hard to come by around here before 10pm.  So naturally I’ve been sleeping in a bit later as well.  Yesterday, Betty came to snuggle with me.  She convinced me it was time to get up, because, “Look!  The sunshine is awake!”  She has been full of so many funnies, I don’t even write half of them down.  Yesterday there was a spider crawling on the ground.  Not a normal sight in our house, and she was more freaked out than I thought she would be.  After awhile of being on the couch, she starting dancing up and down and said how she had to go potty.  She didn’t want to leave the couch because of the spider (which was long gone by now).  She even tried to talk herself out of being scared.  “Spiders don’t live in houses.  They live on spider webs.”  It didn’t work.  “I’m scared of spiders.  I don’t know where to go.”  Elsie had the perfect solution: walk on the floor all around the carpet, and don’t touch the carpet where the spider was last seen.  Problem solved.  Their cute little feet tip-toed all around the carpet and walked to the bathroom.  She also loves to sing.  Sometimes she pulls out my guitar and sings all about Jesus.  At the particular moment one of these was taken, she was singing a song about Jesus and rock-climbing on a mountain.  2014-11-16 15.01.54 2014-11-14 18.23.40
We were looking at pictures yesterday, and Betty kept thinking photos of Elsie were of her.  We determined it was their hair that seemed so similar.  She looked at Elsie, stroked her hair and said, “I know.  Now your hair is growed up!”  I’m not the only one amazed at how time is passing.

This weekend we went to see some friends in a ballet of Snow White.  I took the girls, and it was absolutely hilarious sitting next to Betty.  She followed the story really well, but her ongoing commentary was a hoot.  At one point, she was watching one ballerina, who was supposed to be a bird, doing some flying leaps in the air.  She whispered loud enough for everyone around us to hear and chuckle, “How does she do that?!  You know, mommy, birds can’t dance.  They fly.”

Elsie is an avid reader.  Her favorite place to read is the top of the stairs, after everyone has gone to bed.  We can hear her voice, drifting down the stairs, and it usually gets louder the longer she reads.  She is keeping track of how many hours she reads, and I believe it is up to fourteen hours.  She certainly keeps us on our toes.  She is my faithful companion when it comes to running errands or tidying the house.  She has been reading a book about astronomy, which led us to a discussion about how the earth is floating, and she said in an awed voice, “God is just doing His powers right now!” 2014-11-20 14.36.13
Jack is wrestling again.  A few weekends ago, Matthew took the boys to a wrestling tournament and Jack got third place.  Elijah wrestled as well and got fifth place.  Jack has decided to stick with it for the rest of the season, and it’s fun to watch him.  He is also becoming more of a reader.  He even brought his book to the grocery store last week, and was seen reading in the cart.  This was a first.  Jack takes up a lot of energy, but his heart is solid.  2014-11-15 14.50.29
The blur that is Jack, pretty much sums up how he lives life.
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Elijah just turned eleven!  While the boys were at the wrestling tournament, the girls, Matt’s mom, and I all worked hard to switch up bedrooms to surprise them.  Nadine has her own room again, the girls came downstairs, and the attic is now a boy haven.  The exclamation point up there is the drum set we got Elijah for his birthday.  He is a gifted musician, and it’s fun to hear him improving on the piano and drums.  He is pretty sure his voice is changing, and though it’s scratchy some days, I’m not convinced yet.
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Nadine claims she is constantly hungry, which could be the contributing factor to the extra inch in height she has seemed to procure lately.  Yes, she is taller than me.  She loves to write, and is currently working on a fabulous chapter book for kids.  She babysits regularly and gets a lot of practice with her own siblings.  She is currently taking a small break from horseback riding, but is excited to get back in the saddle soon.  I love her zest for life, though it often makes me feel exhausted.  Much of what she says and does makes me chuckle, when I remember how similar I was at twelve.  2014-11-05 12.55.44
Matthew had a scare at the beginning of the month, which sent us down to Jefferson Hospital.  Turns out it was not as bad as we were thinking, but there was enough inflammation to get our attention.  Then this week his voice started to take a downhill turn again.  After today’s appointment with his Rheumatologist, it was determined he will begin Rituxan infusions again to see if we can nip this in the bud before it gets to be where he was a year and a half ago.  We are thankful.  When he talks and I hear his voice catch and sound hoarse, I immediately give my fears back to the God who knows exactly what’s going on inside his body.  Every day is so incredibly precious with this man I love.2014-11-04 16.54.17
The snow forecasted for today has started to fall.  Our van is in the shop, getting its embarrassingly squeaky brakes fixed.  I actually have gotten wide-eyed looks from people as I pull into a parking spot and come to a stop.  They look like they would like to throw something at me for the pain I’ve caused their ears.  I pretend like I didn’t hear anything.  Squeak?  What squeak?  Last month our friend did some body work on it.  I am embarrassed to say, but I backed into a boat trailer one September afternoon.  Thankfully, the trailer suffered only a broken tail light.  Oceanus was worse for the wear.  On top of that, I could barely get gas in the tank because there was a small metal flap that had broken off and was hanging in such a way so the pump nozzle would get stuck.  So, one night Matthew was trying to fix it.  He had a pencil in his hand to hold up one side of the piece, while he tried to bend it with some pliers.  It was dark.  He was holding three things with two hands.  It happened.  He walked in the door and I said, “You did not.”  He did.  The pencil dropped into the gas tank.  It was actually kind of funny.  Even more funny was explaining it to our friend.  He actually was able to fish it out for us.  Now we have a pencil-free and dent-free van.  Oh, and hopefully a squeak-free one soon as well.

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There is much to be thankful for today and always.  Happy Thanksgiving!


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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:
October phone photos1
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.