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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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The Time I Almost Killed My Husband

Sometimes text messages can be a bit confusing and misconstrued.  A quick reply without an associated emoji can almost come across as being snippy. Wait too long to reply, and someone might think you’re purposefully ignoring them.  Reply too quickly, and it might arrive in the wrong order.  Like the time Matthew wrote: “I am so in love with you, Amy, and so very proud to know you as my bride!”  Which came through just as I was hitting “send”, in reply ANOTHER message which required me to apologize.  It read, “I know.  I’m sorry.”  And thus miscommunication is born.  Thankfully, we were able to laugh about that one, but there have definitely been times where miscommunication almost killed us.  Literally.

We were married for only a few months when the first instance occurred.  Matthew had been working so hard and was exhausted.  Naturally, he fell asleep at bedtime like any normal hard-working man would do.  I had been home by myself all day, rather hormonal, pregnant, and having loads of things to talk about.  (This was before texting, for all of you young readers out there).  He lay there next to me, his deep and steady breathing signaling to me that sleep had overtaken him.  I, on the other hand, just lay there wide awake.  I started to think things like this:

Doesn’t he KNOW I’m here?  Doesn’t he KNOW I want to talk to him?  Doesn’t he realize I have things on my mind?  I huffed and turned as noisily as I could, flopping this way and that, hoping my movement would make the point my thoughts were screaming.  He just lay there.  Breathing so peacefully.  Blissfully unaware of my needs.  The more I focused on how insensitive he was to fall asleep when I wanted to talk to him, the more angry I became.  Finally, I rolled out of bed, stormed out of the room and slammed our bedroom door as hard as I could.  I heard a huge crash and quickly turned around to open the door I had slammed.  Matthew was sitting up in our bed, looking dazed.  The gigantic bookshelf which had been above our bed, full of VERY HEAVY books, had fallen.  On his head.  Strong’s Concordance was laying on his pillow.  He looked at me and yelled: “Are you trying to KILL ME?!”  Immediately, I burst into tears.  Of course I wasn’t trying to do such a thing.  I just wanted him to wake up.  Well, he was awake.  And thus began lesson one of many called: My husband doesn’t know what I’m thinking unless I speak it out loud.

Then there was another time during the same first year of marriage when we were driving home at night in our white Subaru station wagon.  We lived in a tiny apartment in Northeast Philly.  We were both really tired, and Matthew was driving.  As we were approaching a stop sign, there was one person ahead of us.  At this point, Matthew closed his eyes for “just a few seconds”.  In those few seconds, our car drifted forward and hit the car ahead of us.  It wasn’t a huge accident, but it warranted pulling over to make sure the other car was fine.  I was about eight months pregnant at this point in time.  I remember looking over at him and probably saying something unkind.  Then, I opened the door, got out of the car, slammed the door (see a pattern?) and walked home.  Looking back, I can hardly believe I was so rude.  Matthew was left with the owner of the other car, dealing with the small fender bender, while his pregnant wife walked home in the dark to our apartment, a few blocks away.

There have been many miscommunications since then as well.  They have made us stronger and more determined than ever to be open and honest and gentle in sharing our hearts with each other.  It seems so simple, but the less time we spend on hoping the other person will catch our emotional drift, the more time we have to actually voice what we’re thinking.  Not assuming what the other person is thinking could actually save you from being hit on the head with a five-pound concordance.  And if all else fails, try yelling the word “Bubbles” in the angriest voice possible.  It’s impossible.  And you might just start laughing instead.  And the best part of every miscommunication, argument, or disagreement is making up again.

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Milk and Algebra

Nursing a baby and helping with Algebra.  Two things I never thought I’d be doing at the same time.  Okay, I should be honest here and say I’m not actually the one helping with Algebra.  It’s super helpful to be married to a man who gets excited over lower case letters jammed between parentheses.  I thought math was about numbers?  Anyway.  My expertise is milk production.  I do love having teenagers in the house, though.  Nadine is awesome with Harry.  They have a ton of fun together.  She gets some great pictures of him, too.

Then there’s this teenage scientist.  When he’s not building legos or playing with his brother… he’s thinking about what else to build.  One day I came home and he had dyed his hair blue.  It was a fun experiment.  Very thankful for our fantastic hair stylist.  She always has fun with his hair and does something different.  Elijah also has a special bond with Harry.  There is a precious gentle side that exudes when he’s around him, and he can’t stand to hear him crying.  They look so much alike!  The other day we discovered that somehow he is about an inch from surpassing me in height.  Every hug feels more and more like I’m hugging a young man and not a little boy.

Jack is extremely excited to have mastered a standing back flip.  And a round-off back handspring.  He is completely self-taught, with just YouTube videos to help guide him.  The gumption to do it is all him and isn’t something that can be taught.  He turns 11 this month and though his hands have been bigger than mine for a year or two now, his body is also swiftly catching up.  Matthew’s family rented out an ice hockey rink last week, to celebrate the April birthdays. He and Harry have a unique bond as well.  Today he read stories to him on our bed, while Harry played with his feet and listened intently.  It was precious.

Elsie is a great big sister.  She and Betty are pretty much inseparable.  I love their bond.  They’re always into building forts and changing outfits and planning great adventures.  She loved the VR headset Elijah made out of an old cereal box and duct tape.

The other day Betty came up to me and asked me if I heard her whistle.  I said, yes.  “Then why didn’t you answer?!”  I had to laugh.  “Um.  I didn’t know you were calling me!”  She says the funniest things.  Like, “On it!” when I ask her to do something.  Or, “No can do!” when she knows she can’t or shouldn’t do something.  She’s reading up a storm, and it’s so much fun to see the lightbulbs going off in her head.  I asked her to please not read my text that had come through and she looked at me with a very straight face and said, “You want me to learn to read better, don’t you?”  She loves her baby brother.  This was a for real conversation: “His head is the most touchablest.  Mr. Harry, you are the most cutest baby I’ve ever seen.  You’re so heavy because of all your eats!”  Elijah put it very well when he said this about her: “I’m absolutely sure there is no one else on this earth like Betty.  I mean, she is so unique.”

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Then there’s Harry.  He makes us laugh with some of his non-facial expressions.  He can be so deadpan!  He can also be hilarious.

We can hardly imagine or remember life without him.  He’s starting to sleep 8-10 hours each night which has been fabulous.  In fact, I need to capitalize on that amazing fact right now and go to bed so I can enjoy some rest!  I will close with this meme which cracks us up all the time.

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Happy Spring!


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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.