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September Snapshots

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


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Weldon Homeschool Academy

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

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


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


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Sweet Summer

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


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Cleared For Take-Off

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

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


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Halfway To Seventy

Every time March rolls around, I get very excited.  I love birthdays and am not afraid of them.  I am now officially halfway to seventy:
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Today we got a foot of snow for my birthday.  It was PILES of fun, and I’m thankful Matthew was able to work from home!  This week was full of surprises.  It began with an early birthday cake, made especially by our cousin, who owns The Master’s Baker.  Seeing as though we didn’t even have a wedding cake, this was my first experience at receiving a professional custom-made cake.  Isn’t it gorgeous?
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Since winter is here and all, we decided we would take it by the hand and have fun with it.  My next surprise was a night away with everyone at Bear Creek mountain resort, for our very first family skiing adventure!  2015-03-02 20.20.03-2
The last time I went skiing was on my 19th birthday.  My best friend, Rebecca, was giving me clues on what to do to prepare for this epic surprise she had planned with my sister.  She told me things like, “Make sure you shave your legs,” and “Dress nice!”  When my birthday rolled around, they blindfolded me and brought me downstairs to the kitchen where I was met by Matthew, his brother, and Rebecca’s brothers.  Matthew handed me my “treasure map” to the surprise: a map of the ski place we would be going to that day!  I laughed and said, “Good thing I shaved my legs!” before running  back upstairs to change.  It was a great memory.  That may have been the time I kept skiing backwards and couldn’t figure out how to turn myself back around, which only came in handy when I wanted to wave at people as I passed them.  It also may have been the time I accidentally went down a black diamond, without knowing how to slow down at all.  I do remember flying past Matthew, and truly hoping I would make it down to the bottom in one piece.

Funny how time telescopes when you find yourself in the exact place you have been in the past.  I wasn’t skiing backwards or even down a black diamond.  Yet all of a sudden I felt the same freedom mingled with danger, and I was 19 again.  Except when I fell.  Then the nostalgia went poof like the snow in which I landed, and I was definitely thirty-five.  And I definitely had five people I had birthed from my body, sharing the ever-expanding niches of my heart.  I don’t remember what it is like to be completely separate from those feelings of mother-love.  To do anything apart from my mind, body and soul being so deeply connected with another human being.  I would rather be halfway to seventy and not remember what it’s like to be independent of those feelings, than be nineteen and have no idea what I’m missing.  And as exhausting as motherhood can be, it’s even more exhilarating than that.

My breath caught more times than just when the wind whipped my face.  As I skied next to Elsie while she zipped to the bottom of a hill, red cheeks, one strand of hair constantly falling out of her hat and helmet,  I smiled at her bravery.  She went from being scared to death to go down the hill, to falling, to dusting herself off and saying, “Let’s do it again!”    It caught when I saw Nadine gracefully maneuvering the snowy hills, her tall self looking so beautiful.  She was so helpful with Betty, both on the slopes and the night before, when we had supper together.
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She’s a wonderful big sister.  So is Elsie, who is also not afraid to perform interpretive dance in the middle of a restaurant in pj’s and socks.
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I laughed at Elijah, my crazy, creative boy, who thought to video himself while he skied and then simultaneously wiped out at the bottom.
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I found it hard to breath as I watched Jack plow recklessly and fearlessly down hills and over jumps, creating a puff of snow when he fell.
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He wore his t-shirt around his face for most of the day.
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I found it especially hard to believe my baby bear is growing up enough to have a ski day of her own.  She absolutely loved it when Matthew held her waist all the way down the hill.  I almost cried when her little voice called down to me from the ski lift and she waved her little mitten hand and went higher and farther away from me.  When her daddy was not able to ski with her, this is what she thought about the whole idea:
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Yes, this is her “I’m-happy-and-I-know-it-but-just-not-about-skiing” face.

Our day ended abruptly when I got a call on my phone, just as I had sat down in the lodge with Nadine and Betty and a hot cup of tea.  It was Matthew, and he said Elsie had fallen getting off the ski lift and he wasn’t sure if her arm was broken.  My throat had a lump in it when I saw the snowmobile with a red cross on it make its way to the ski patrol, a tiny bundle on its sled.  I told Nadine to pray and then ran over to meet Matthew.  This darling little thing was getting checked out, and we still weren’t sure about her condition.  After a lollipop, an ice-cream bar, and many attempts by the sweet ski patrol medics to get her to smile, Matthew got the rest of the crew packed up and we left.  I experienced one of the most frightening and harrowing drives through ice and sleet and snow, but made it to the hospital near our house.  Long, happy story short: her arm is not broken!  We are so grateful to God.
March 2015 phone photos
When Matthew and I collapsed into bed, he sighed, “That was the best day ever.”

I would have to agree.  And this time, I didn’t even have to shave my legs.


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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (In A Nutshell)

The past month has been epic.  I forgot my camera for the first big event, but snagged a few of my sisters’ photos.  My brother-in-law planned a fabulous surprise birthday for my oldest sister.  The day before, my brother hatched a plan to fly up here for a couple of hours to surprise her.  It worked.  I picked him, my nephew, and niece up from the local airport an hour before the party started.  I felt like a little girl, back in the middle of Africa, waiting for him and my sister to fly home from boarding school.  My other sister and I would listen for the sound of the small Cessna flying in from where they went to school.  First a distant hum, then louder until we could see the plane circling over our station.  This was slightly different, since he was the actual pilot this time, and his son was texting me from the airplane.  But those distant memories were stirred from the corners of my brain, and I actually jumped up and down and screamed just like I did when I was Betty’s age.  From our house, I heard the airplane and saw it coming in for landing.  We raced to the van to drive the mile to the airport to pick them up and head over to the surprise party.
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Here we are, youngest to oldest.  It was such a treat to be together, even if it was only for a couple of hours.
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My nephews, the oldest and youngest of my parent’s 18 grand-kids, spanning 18 years apart.  So precious.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I took a secret drive to Valley Forge for a Christmas photo shoot.  I was excited at the forecast of snow flurries that day, and was imagining their white little selves falling on our noses and eyelashes in picture perfect clarity.  What really happened was a lot of this:
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Also a lot of shivering and red noses.  DSC_6083-2
Eventually we came up with a winner, where everyone was looking, no one was doing peace signs behind anyone’s back, no one was saying, “I’m freezing!” and no one was sticking out their tongue.
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Although, they’re all pretty fun.  We did one more shoot outside because the flurries were starting.  Everyone sat down and this happened:
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But then this happened, which is pretty sweet. DSC_6149-2
Oh, and the flurries stopped once they sat down.  Go figure.  DSC_6147-2
This month there has been a lot of this as well:
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The Sunday before Christmas there was another attempted photo shoot of the kids.  This one turned out great.
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The rest pretty much followed this pattern: DSC_6393-2
Christmas Eve was spent at the Weldon’s house with family.  After many attempts at getting a picture with Matthew, 99% of them being blurry, like this: DSC_6431-2
One finally turned out crisp and clear.
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Our yearly tradition of Santa coming to town was a success.  All of our kids know it’s really Uncle Jon, but they still play along for the most part.
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Christmas was a lovely day here at home.  We didn’t have to be anywhere and spent the day at home by ourselves for the first time ever.   We had monkey bread for breakfast, but I  pretty much left my camera on the shelf for the rest of the day.  DSC_6650-2
I have some treasured memories of squeals and hugs by appreciative hearts.  It was a beautiful day.  That evening for supper Matthew’s parents, sister and brother, and my parents came for dinner.  DSC_6645-2
We enjoyed a fun evening together and the Weldons spent the night.
The next day we went rock climbing.  This girl right here is a natural.  The boots.  The green tights.  The pony-tail.  I couldn’t stop smiling.
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All the girls were smoking it to the top over and over.  DSC_6686-2 DSC_6726-3
The next day was interesting.  We went to Jack’s wrestling tournament.  We had expectations of hanging out together for a few hours in the afternoon, cheering him on, then getting home in plenty of time for supper.  We can laugh now, but we weren’t laughing then.  I had thoughts like this going through my head:  “It won’t be long,” he said.  “It’ll be fun,” he said.  Looking back, it was fun.  The kids brought their walkie-talkies, and were able to get lots of fresh air, running around outside and testing them out while we waited for 130 matches until Jack’s first match.  The worst part of the day was right before Jack went onto the mat for the last time.  I glanced around and couldn’t see Betty anywhere.  I got a sickening feeling in my stomach as I looked all around the people-filled gym.  We had just walked from another mat to this one, and somewhere along the way, Betty got lost in the shuffle.  Jack was up to wrestle.  I didn’t want to panic in front of him and mess up his concentration.  I grabbed one of the walkie-talkies while Elijah and Nadine grabbed two more and we set off to find her.  All in all, it was about five minutes total before I walked down the hallway and saw her huddled behind the door to the gym.  She had her little stuffed puppy and was crying.  I scooped her up, emotions spilling out of every pore.  Jack was wrestling by then, and I just held her and we cried happy tears while we yelled encouragements to Jack.  My entire body was shaking.  I praise the Lord for watching over Betty.  We figured that as we walked to the mat and stopped, she must have kept walking until she got to the hall and didn’t see us anymore.  I told her what a good girl she was to stop and wait for me to find her.  It was a long day that started and ended about three hours later than we expected.  Jack won his matches and got a first place trophy.  His eyes said it all:
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After getting to bed close to midnight, our plans for the next day somewhat unraveled.  We were supposed to leave at ten o’clock in the morning.  Around ten thirty, the last of our five sleepy heads stumbled downstairs from their cozy bed.  Pancakes started.  Someone else desperately needed a shower, especially since they couldn’t remember the last time they did so.  At last, everyone was fed, so I headed upstairs for my own shower.  On the way, I met a special six-year old girl who was staring at herself in the mirror and said to me in a puzzled voice: “It’s like someone cut my hair!” as she fiddled with her brown silky mop.  I was about to just say, “Uh-huh”, but something stopped me in my tracks.  “Elsie, why is your hair so short?  Did you cut your hair?”  Her eyes showed a slight mixture of fear and debate about her answer.  The truth won out, and she told me she was just curious about how it would feel to cut it off.  I think she found out pretty quickly.  So, my shower was delayed for a bit longer while I opened up the hair salon in the bathroom.  By noon we were ready to leave, but we didn’t actually leave until one-thirty.  And THAT is how we roll some mornings in our house.

We arrived at Matt’s brother’s house a couple of hours late, but enjoyed time together and another visit from Santa.  Here’s Elsie with her new haircut:DSC_6761-2
If I could summarize the entire month of December into one photo collage, it would look like this:
December 2014
Joyous New Year!


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When Sparks Fly and Cracks are Backed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sleepy head Betty, and her outfit of choice this Sunday: red silk and black velvet Christmas dress, blue cotton tights with pink flowers on them and black patent leather shoes.  She has been asking a lot when Christmas is coming.  She asks in such a way that makes it sound like a person is coming to visit us very soon.  My week has also been full of aromatherapy school, pumpkins and the chiropractor.  Whenever we go to the chiropractor, Betty grins, gives a big sigh, and says she loves getting her “crack backed”.
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.

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