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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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Island Love

It’s been really difficult to sit down and write about our island experience.  Words don’t seem capable of conveying or summarizing the depth of adventure it was for us.  I didn’t even wash my hair for a couple of days after we got home, because I didn’t want the sunshine and saltwater to disappear.  There is something magical about knowing the last thing to rinse through your hair is the crystal clear water of the Caribbean ocean.

We weren’t prepared for the wave of emotion hitting us in our gut as the airplane circled the island.

The tears were rolling down Matthew’s cheeks.  We both glanced around the airplane at the six beautiful bodies accompanying us on this epic adventure.  When I stepped out onto the tarmac and was met with the warm tropical breeze, the smell of jet fuel hugged me like an old friend, making me feel immediately at ease.

While getting our rental van sorted out, we saw a nice-looking young man who looked like he needed a ride.  After offering him a ride to wherever he was going, it turned out he was going to the same place we were going!  It later became very clear just how Providential a meeting this was when we arrived at our hotel.  For some reason, our reservation was coming up on their end for only one bedroom and they had no more rooms left.  Our new friend, Will, offered us his room and said he could easily find another room somewhere, but it would be pretty near impossible to find a place for 8 people for the next 10 days.  God bless Will.  2017-02-24 17.05.33The following days were spent playing “Where’s Will”, and we ran into him a couple times each day, somewhere on the island.

When we lived on Roatan thirteen years ago, we spent the majority of our time at the hotel where we stayed.  We visited a couple places, but didn’t play tourist very much.  This time we had a deep bucket list and hit just about everything on that list.  We reunited with old friends, went back to where we used to live, and took in gorgeous views of the island from our fantastic van.

One of my favorite parts was always being together.  Hot and sweaty and often sandy, but always together.

We absolutely adored being able to squeeze Harry’s chunky thighs as we ditched the winter garb for ten glorious days.2017-02-27 16.19.11Another one of my favorite parts of our time there was every morning.  We would wander downstairs to the cafeteria, which was under the hotel.  It faced the ocean, and we would order hot coffee or tea, a delicious breakfast, and simply be.  No agenda but to sip tea and snuggle a baby.DSC_0024

DSC_9884We really enjoyed going to a Gumbalimba Park one day, where we went zip-lining, held macaws, monkeys and more!  I was totally impressed by Betty, who fearlessly zipped her way through the canopy.

A huge highlight for the boys was swimming with the dolphins.  I learned that Matthew has always wanted to do this, so it was incredibly special to watch him fulfil that dream.

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The spaces of our days were spent in the sun, paddleboarding, cartwheeling, climbing, playing, snorkeling, eating, dreaming, talking, and enjoying every single moment to its fullest.

Never did we think this dream of returning to our Island home would come true.  But God knew we needed this time and provided incredibly for us to be here.  Many thanks to Matt’s employer, who made it possible to go.  So grateful, too, for my Plexus business which made it possible to buy passports for 8 and eat for 10 days!  Our trip home was bittersweet.

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Our not-so-comfortable layover in Texas

We now have our hearts all over the globe.

There is so much more I could write about, but it’s almost April, and I really need to hit “publish”.  We will treasure these memories and are blessed to be able to share a small bit of our adventure with you.

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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.