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Hidden Burritos & Poly

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving.  It began in a very non-traditional way.  Usually we have a delicious breakfast and relaxing morning.  This year we moved our table outside into the yard and every other object out of the two downstairs rooms.  It’s been on the list to refinish the floors for a very long time, and the time worked out to begin.

Thankfully we were able to enjoy some family time at Matt’s brother’s house that evening.  2017-11-23 16.05.37-2

The rest of the week has been spent sanding, staining, and polyurethane the living room and dining room floors.  It’s been a puzzle, figuring out the timing of when to be home and when to be out. One morning, the oldest two went to school and Matthew finished the second coat of poly, while I stayed upstairs with the short crowd.  We didn’t have a ton of food, because I didn’t think it through very well, but we survived until the floor was dry enough for us to venture downstairs and leave the house.2017-11-26 19.58.26

Every Thursday the street cleaners clean our side of the street where we live, and we have to move our van from 10-noon.  I remember getting a ticket when I was 9 months pregnant with Betty.  Matthew was in Haiti, and I drove my pregnant self over to the police station to beg forgiveness, because we were that broke, and twenty bucks was almost at tank of gas.  Ever since then, I’ve been pretty vigilant about Thursdays.

Today, as I moved the van to the other side of the street, I glanced down to see an eighth of a burrito in a piece of foil on the floor of the van.  I grabbed it and went to the bathroom to get my shower.  I’m sure no one else has pulled this trick.  I hunkered down in the bathroom to “take a shower”, when in reality I just sat on the footstool with the five bites of burrito.  It was delicious, by the way.  Reminiscent of my hurried date with Matthew the day before, when I delivered a tool to him at work and brought him a better-than-chipotle-salad from our favorite Mexican joint.

I finally did shower, and by the time I was finished, Harry was awake.  This is kind of when things started spiraling rather quickly.  It might have been the clean laundry spilling onto the floor from the overflowing baskets (who’s idea is it to do laundry during a renovation??) or maybe the cans of polyurethane, or the broom handles, crumbs, coats, and papers which all acted like they had magnets built into them… the floor being their greatest attraction.  There was probably one more question asked, one more whine, voicing what was welling up inside my own spirit all day long.  I don’t even remember.  But I yelled: “Mommy needs a timeout!” and ran to my room.  After throwing some of the aforementioned clean towels around, I sat down and started to fold them.  I cried and complained about living in such chaos.  Then a quiet little knock on my door.  A kiss from Jack.  A smile from Harry.  A note from Betty.  A freshly baked cookie from Elsie.  Tears were dried, apologies were spoken, forgiveness was given.  We set out for a coffee shop to soothe the cabin fever which felt smothering to us all.  Because acknowledging the problem is ok and helpful.  But staying there is not.  2017-11-30 13.09.29

We’re all definitely ready to get the piano out of the kitchen (sounds cute, I know, but definitely not practical for our house, unless it doubles up as a bar stool for the island).  We’re ready to sit down together at the table again.  To have our couch back inside and not go to bed with the smell of fresh poly wafting up the stairs.  Will all this chaos and mess be worth it?  Absolutely!  If I’ve been reminded of one thing, it’s been this: every difficult thing we go through produces something beautiful.  If we let it. Some of the most beautiful things we enjoy have been forged through fire, heat, friction, water, repetition, monotony, blood, sweat, tears, and time.  And if I may add: sandpaper and polyurethane.

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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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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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Tapestry of Fall & Family

I was walking in between them, my arms interwoven with theirs, strong and beautiful, like a perfect piece of tapestry.  We laughed as the leaves fell around us, and I looked at them both and said, “I remember pushing you two in a double baby stroller!”  And here we are now, leaning on eachother, laughing at jokes everyone understands, and these babies are growing up faster than I can catch my breath.  We’ve always been held together by love, but now it’s not just me giving all of my strength to keeping them alive and nourished.  Now they are also supporting me with their love and wisdom and bodily presence.  I don’t want them to stop growing up, because I love each stage they’re experiencing.  Yet I want it to freeze sometimes, like a perfect ray of sunshine which captures a moment before winking at you and disappearing forever.  Time keeps winking at me.  Having the last say.  Making these babies taller than me, stronger than me.  Their hearts aren’t so grown up yet, and I relish their simplicity of thought.  I am humbled by their generous thinking well of everyone.  I love this time of shaping and molding and letting them sprout their wings a bit more and dream big dreams.

This girl.  She is so becoming and growing responsible.  This month she turned thirteen.  How is it possible?  A couple of weeks ago we couldn’t use water inside our house, and she washed all of the dishes with boiled water in a big bowl outside on the patio.  She’s a hard worker and loves challenges.  She always has room in her heart for one more person to love and makes them feel as if they’re the most important person in the world.  She is stronger than impenetrable circles, also known as cliques, because she has the courage to talk to the ones on the outside of them.  Things are not important to her.  Only hearts.
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This young man.  He is different these days.  Thinking deeper thoughts and dreaming bigger dreams.  If you are a close friend, then he has probably cried for you as he lifts you in prayer, because his heart is softer than any boy I’ve ever known.  He has been working so hard lately to be stronger in some areas.  Elijah also has the gift of music and making taste-buds sing.  He’s turning into quite the chef, and has made some pretty mouth-watering meals for us recently!  He made up a song for Nadine’s birthday, and had us roaring with laughter as he made up a verse for everyone in our family.
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Then there’s this other young man.  He gets through his schoolwork so he can hammer more nails to his fort, or create some inventory for his newest business venture.  On Saturday, he forgot to eat lunch because he was so intent on getting his business underway: selling homemade wooden toys!  Matthew was able to take him to work one day this week, which made our house a lot quieter.  The best part of the day, though, was when he came home, and everyone ran out to Matt’s truck to welcome him home, and swap stories around the dinner table.  Jack has a pretty dry sense of humor that is starting to develop more as he matures.  He isn’t afraid of throwing a dance party in our front yard, choreographed to whatever music is playing in someone’s car going down the street.
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Number four is as industrious as a worker bee, making our world much sweeter with all of her buzzing.  She loves to read and dance and do cartwheels.  She often prances around and says, “I’m SO happy!”  She loves life with every ounce of her being.  Whenever she receives good news larger than her heart can bear, she starts to cry and laugh all at the same time.  She is such a sweet big sister to Betty, and the two stick together like glue.  The other day, I had the ironing board out in our room.  Not one, but two of our children came in with wonder and curiosity on their faces.  Elsie stared wide-eyed and gasped, “What IS that thingy?”  I guess it doesn’t see the light of day much.
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Our sweet number five keeps us smiling and laughing all day long.  The other morning she walked into our room and woke me up by saying, “Mommy?”  Once I answered her she said, “I think I’m going back to bed now.” And tiptoed back to bed.  I lay with sleepy-dust and laughter both tickling my eyes.  When we were at the farm, feeding the animals, she exclaimed about the pigs: “They’re STARVING!” and gleefully gave the famished pigs more food.  She loves to help.  In the kitchen, around the house, if someone is sick or hurt.  She adores school and wants to “read” everything and paint every day.
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This past week was spent recuperating from a long weekend away last week.  What a blessing to have earned a trip to Washington DC with the company I work for, and have so many amazing memories tucked away from our time there.  Hanging out with good friends, meeting new friends, a concert by Jewel, being inspired by the humorous Rita Davenport, delicious food, and quality time with Matthew.

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Yesterday, we experienced Wyebrook Farm for the first time.  What a gorgeous fall day to be together and be spoiled by stunning scenery and delicious food!
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This guy.  He is so incredibly hard-working without complaint.  I love dreaming big with him by my side.
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Happy fall, from our family to you!
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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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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:
October phone photos3
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!

October phone photos4
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”.
October 2014
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.

October phone photos5
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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Only 179 More Days

Last night I pulled out the half-dead morning-glory vines and squeezed back tears.  My feet crunched dead-ness all around, and I fought the yucky pit in my stomach that creeps in every year around this time.  This morning I put on shorts, somewhat in defiance, but succumbed to long pants because my body just can’t take anything below seventy degrees.  Then I heard somewhere how today it’s fall, which means my favorite time of the year is over.  So I did what is only natural for an African-born gal to do.  I cried.  Mourning the loss of barefoot days, flowers in abundance, fireflies at night, and countless hours spent outside, without having to worry about a coat or something to cover my feet.  I may have even found a counter to check off how many days are left until spring.  There are 179 more days.  But who’s counting?

So, yeah, I cried over the phone to my ever-patient husband, who didn’t laugh at me for the hard morning I was having as a mom and as a summer-loving girl.  But I’m not the sulky eleven-year old that I used to be.  Yes, I still resist the urge to slam my bedroom door, and sometimes the door swings out of my hands a little faster than I was hoping it would, and makes a louder bang than I truly intended it to make, but I’m growing up.  So, when seasons change and I let my dislike of it get to my very soul, there is a problem.  I’d like to think there’s a problem with the thermometer or perhaps even the entire earth, but honestly, there’s a problem with me.  There’s this tricky little part in all of us that quickly gives in to difficulty.  It’s the part in us that needs words like, “In everything give thanks,” and “Endure hardship like a good soldier.”  So when everything is wrong with the world, and people who love fall move to my hit-list, there is  problem inside my heart.  I have failed to give thanks, to see the beauty in change, and to wonder at what this change will bring to my life.

Things that thrill me no matter what season: sunshine, my man, running, fresh veggies, aromatherapy school, my amazing children, and music.

So, I choose joy.  Even though I want to curl up in my bed, with chocolate and hot tea until the first day of spring, I simply can not.  I will embrace this colder season of life with dignity, grace and strength provided from the God who made me, knows me, and never leaves me.  I will keep donning my sneakers (along with many other layers) and run with endurance.  I have goals to accomplish.  Children to teach.  Things to learn.  Places to go.  Life can’t stop just  because the sun is further from my part of the globe.  It’s time to pull out my scarves, check my thankfulness-meter, and perhaps buy a few mums to brighten my dead-looking garden.