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Memory Lane Colliding With Today

Today I’m feeling nostalgic.  Eight years ago, what was going on?  Well, Jack was five months old and a crawling maniac.  Elijah was into drinking tylenol, and wasn’t quite sure what hospitals were for.

Four years ago, we had recently moved.

Three years ago, we couldn’t imagine life without Betty.

Two years ago I publicly confessed my dislike of showers.  I am also reminded that it’s time for another secret invitation soon.

One year ago, a baby was born.  The pictures into my children’s personalities are still so similar, it is uncanny.

Today, these five keep me overwhelmed with joy to be their mama.

This year we decided not to do Awanas.  The little girls were disappointed, and all on her own, Nadine initiated starting a “girl’s club” with Elsie & Betty, where they will memorize verses, do crafts and study the Bible together.  She has it all planned out, and I’m excited to see her organize something like this!  Tonight she even sewed a little vest for Elsie to wear during club.  She will be starting her first steady babysitting job tomorrow, and is also involved in a Bible study/horse club with girls her age.
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Elijah has definitely hit a new phase of life.  Between moodiness, possible changes going on in the voice department, and a little more moodiness, he is growing up… and sometimes that can make one unsure of themselves.  One thing is for certain: that boy can play the piano!  Only three weeks into starting lessons, and he is already grasping it in a remarkable way.  I’m really proud of him.  His musical talent doesn’t only lie in his fingers.  He memorizes songs like no one’s business.  In his own words: “I know this song like I’m breathing.”  He also knows how to tell jokes and make us laugh.
In looking back at pictures, I noticed that Jack is still wearing the same orange shorts he wore about three years ago.  He keeps growing taller, but his waist stays the same.  He can more often than not, be found upside-down.  Today I gave him a chair to carry out to the trash, since it had broken beyond repair.  Not too long after that, I found him, armed with spindles.
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Yesterday he came up to me and asked, “Mom, has my voice changed?”  I told him, no.  He said, “Oh, good.”  Then Elijah piped up: “We already talked about that, Jack.”  His reply: “I know. But not with Mom.”  He also asked me if I could see any hair on his chest yet.  I hugged my little boy with the smooth, beautiful face and feet as big as my own, and wanted to bottle up his boyish ways forever.  When I asked him to vacuum off the front porch the other day, I noticed the sound of the vacuum was going on for a lot longer than the task required.  I peeked outside to see him doing this, using the front door as a mirror:
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I love the dirt under his arm-pits and the sweat and grime covering his body.  He is one-hundred-and-fifty percent boy.

Elsie still likes shoes, still likes to work hard, and is still enthralled with hair.  On Sunday night, she came downstairs after being tucked in and asked if she could “tidy up a bit.”  I thought about it for about a half second.  She proceeded to pick things off the floor, put them away, sweep the kitchen, wiped this and that, and made a huge difference in the outlook of the downstairs.  She voluntarily pulled out each of her baskets and folded all of her clothes just perfectly before putting them all back.  This girl is my inspiration for organization and cleanliness.  She is also a singer, and often sings Betty to sleep at night.2014-08-29 17.08.49
Betty loves to learn.  She can read, “I am Betty.”  She often adds an “H” somewhere in her name, because she just loves to write H’s.  She can also sing entire songs, and I am amazed at her memory.  Don’t be fooled by the frilly shirt and patent leather shoes.  This girl can climb.  In fact, the entire time she climbed the eight-or-so-foot fence, she sang: “I’m a climber, I’m a climber…”  Yes, yes, she is.  September Phone Photos1
It’s been awhile since I put together a sleepy collage.  I love to sneak pictures of my beautiful babies when they’re asleep.  Just looking at them is making my eyelids droop.  The only one who sleeps pretty much the exact same way every night is Nadine.  One morning, Betty came downstairs and giggled, “Mama, Elsie’s head was on my tummy when I woke up!”  They are so funny when they sleep.
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Home School in High Speed

Have you ever wondered what it is like for our family to homeschool?  It is difficult to capture, but I did my  best.  One morning last month, I secretly set up the camera to record my five diligent students, hard at work.  This does not include the living room, where someone else was working for a while, or the mayhem that is also called “lunch”.  Yes, I ruffle my hair sometimes when I’m getting tired.  Look for it.  So, here you have it, in high-speed.  ONE day in our life.  Every day is different, so maybe I’ll do another video in the future.  I hope you enjoy!


School Room Makeover

It’s been about a year since I gave a little tour of the downstairs of our home.  The past month has been full of much rearranging, as we attempt to utilize our space in the best possible way.  I’ve been waiting to post pictures when it was “perfect”.  Then it hit me how this will never happen, so it was time to just take pictures.  The biggest change is that we switched the living room and school room around.  As you walk in, you are greeted into our cheery school room:
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Each child has a locker, and we also store coloring books, craft items, and other untouchables (like tape!) in the top lockers.  I recently scored an amazing deal on Craigslist which included six IKEA expedit shelving units for the price of one!  The shelves under our chalk board contain all our schoolbooks and readers, divided by subject into each square.  The shelf as you walk in to the schoolroom contains space enough for everyone to have one bin for their shoes.  The flip side has squares and bins for my school books, clipboards, portfolios, and a few other things.  Each person has a filing cabinet with six drawers, divided into categories by school subject.

Here is a blurry wide-angle view, as my wide-angle lens is not a precise fit.
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Moving on to the living room… it is a tight squeeze to get a good picture.
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Through the living room, is the kitchen.  Earlier this month I woke up one morning and decided to paint our kitchen!  There was a new can of paint (bought for Nadine’s dresser makeover), and all the kids were sleeping.  What is a girl to do?  So, a quick makeover was in order.  It is super happy now.  We added a book shelf to store some larger items we use often but would love to not be on the counter-top.  Nadine painted the mirror and everyone helped to spray paint the chairs.  Matthew was pretty surprised when he got home that day!
My favorite decoration is my “new” vintage hanging scale.  Eventually we will move it in front of the window so it’s a bit easier for everyone to pull fruit from its base.  But for now there was already a hook in the ceiling in the corner.
Up next: a tour of the upstairs!  We now have an office and sewing room, thanks to Nadine giving up her personal space and sharing with her sisters.  It is still in the organizing stage, so I will post pictures when it is finished.  Hope you can stop by sometime!

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A Happy Time

I don’t recall what we were about to do or where we were going to prompt Elsie to say it, but she made me chuckle with this:  I’m going to have a happy time, even if it’s boring!   Now that summer is in full swing, the words “I’m bored” are about as allowed as some other unmentionable words in the urban dictionary.  When they are uttered, a math lesson is swiftly pulled up on the computer, or perhaps the boredom quickly fades as they don a pair of goggles, pull out monopoly, shoot a home-made movie, or delve into the many library books I keep constantly in flow.  DSC_2041

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This week was so full I feel like I’m bursting a little bit.

Any week where we can be altogether for six days in a row is going to be good.  Unfortunately, every kid had a fever sprinkled into the entire week at some point in time.  Thankfully, no throwing up, but a lot of laying low.  Matthew finished my laundry room window, fixed this and that, hung this, moved that… basically filled up my love tank with acts of service mingled with quality time.  I worked on various projects: crocheting a rug out of old sheets, making some chalkboards, beautifying our front porch, and organizing our school room a bit more.
Next, our dear friends, Ruthie & Jamie, arrived from Ohio to share our vacation time with us.  We enjoyed the front porch, got wet, went to a water/amusement park, and laughed a lot.  One night I even had the privilege of being a doula with an incredibly special couple and their precious baby girl.
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The kids found a turtle and named it Road Runner after they rescued it from trying to cross the street.
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While at the park, I learned how much Betty loves roller-coasters.  If she was a bit taller, she would have gone on everything, but she was content to do the roller coaster her size.  Her smiling face as she swooped down the hill of the coaster was absolutely priceless.  Falling from 148 feet with Jack and Nadine was also a highlight.  I’ve learned that I’m a bit more scared than I used to be of heights in general.  Phone Photos11
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Nadine came down for her breakfast today and was asking me how Matthew made her bagel.  Do you know how Daddy made that bagel yesterday?  Because it was amazing.  It was because there was a hint of Daddy in it.  I know he used butter…  When I asked her how it tasted after she made it, she said,  It wasn’t even close.  Sometimes she takes my breath away.DSC_2462-2 DSC_2460-2
One of my painting projects was a “new” dresser.  I got the dresser for $10 at a yard sale and surprised Nadine with it.

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As all the fevers floated around, I overheard this funny conversation between Elsie and Betty:
I have a headache, said Elsie.
Where? asked Betty.
Right here in my head! said Elsie with a mixture of exasperation and amusement.

When Elsie struck up this conversation with Betty she was just stating a fact, which apparently was missing a very important detail in Betty’s little mind: You were sick, she stated.
No I wasn’t!
You you were!
I were last night!  Of course.  Last night.  She likes to be precise.

Betty is learning her numbers, and I couldn’t help chuckling when she got to twenty-nine and said: Two=dy nine!
As June turns the page into July, there is more fun in store!  Summer is such a happy time!

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From Kayaks to Clark Kent

It is most definitely time for a photo dump.  Halfway through June, and so much has happened!  We went to Marsh Creek during Memorial Day weekend and had a fabulous time!  The weather was gorgeous, and Betty was so cute in the canoe.  Elijah experienced solo kayaking for the first time.
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There have been moments of frustration and moments of sweetness.  We still have Toby, who loves to go on walks with his little vest and leash on his back.   Phone Photos9
The Weldons recently had a family reunion/anniversary party and there was a fabulous glam cam there.  We took full advantage of the fun:June 2014
And just because I love it:
The kids and I recently went on a field trip to Harrisburg.  What a beautiful building and fascinating history!  The photo of the bookshelf is of a treat I found on it one day: superglue, super-glued to the wood.  On Father’s Day all Matthew wanted to do was have a workout in the park, so he and a friend met there and did just that.  Elsie and Betty continue to be “twins” every day, and it’s hard to keep their two “twin” outfits clean… but on the days they are dirty, they seem to figure out another way to manage the job of looking as much like the other as possible.Phone Photos6
The small photo of the girls sleeping is a tiny glimpse of what has been filling my weeks.  We have rearranged five rooms of the house to accommodate an office for Matthew.  As his business grows, so do the papers and the need for a spot to do his at-home work.  Happy Father’s Day to him!  I will post pictures o the finished product soon.  As an exclamation point to our week, Jack got glasses!  We are excited to see if they help with the challenge that school has been for him this year.  We may not have Mary Poppins living here, but Clark Kent is in the house.Phone Photos8

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The Wind is Blowing Our Faces Into a Smile

There are many lost journal entries this month, as I’ve either been too exhausted to sit down and write, or I’ve been too wiped out by the end of the day.  One of those two.  Starting with tonight and working my way backwards, however, I will attempt to do a brief overview of our May Days.

The weather today has been awesome.  Matthew experienced hail the size of small golf balls where he was working, and we experienced sunshine and dark clouds, changing back and forth all day.  I had to explain to Betty five times tonight where all the snow went.

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Elsie is my helper.  I told her if she wore goggles while she chopped onions, they wouldn’t sting her eyes as much.  The other day when we were driving and smelling cow manure which wafted through the open windows, she said: If I could pop my nose off whenever something is stinky then put it back on when something smells good… Well, that would be great.  Speaking of smelly, Nadine had this descriptive offering of armpit odor: they apparently reeked of rotten chemicals with hotdogs dipped in mayonnaise.  Yum.

Right now my dad is in Africa.  In fact, this week he was able to visit the station where I was born and raised.  Partly because I was feeling especially nostalgic, and partly because the kids have been begging to pop into our “old house”, I decided to do just that.  We stopped in, and it is now a dentist office.  Everything is bright blue from the outside.  The downstairs is completely different, but the upstairs was just the same.  It’s hard to believe I stood on those stairs in my wedding dress over 12 years ago!  In my old bedroom, the inside of my closet door still had the glow-in-the-dark paint signatures of my siblings and friends, from back when I was a teenager.  There were even a set of my nephew’s baby footprints, glowing in the dark when we shut the door and stood inside the closet.  The same day, my same nephew, had just flown his first solo flight!
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School is winding down, with our last week stretching out before us!  I have learned way more than the kids, I’m sure.  Nadine has become a much more confident reader.  Elijah has improved in his math skills.  Jack is reading and writing.  Elsie is also reading and writing.  Betty loves books and can write a few letters of the alphabet.  She told me the other day: I don’t want to take it easy.  I want to take a break.  They love games, and have really improved in so many areas.  I have a nice-sized list of things I am changing for next year.  As my ever-wise husband has told me: this teacher and mama must keep a tight ship.  This week Betty also overcame some of her fear of bugs.  She managed to pick up fuzzy “calipitters” for hours on end with her second cousin, and she also willingly let an ant crawl onto her hand.  She told me very excitedly the other day: Mom!  Mom!  Guess what?  Lady bugs climb on trampolines.
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Besides book work, we are out and about for so many activities.  Nadine’s horse club has been a huge blessing for her.  Elsie & Jack have even gotten a turn to ride when we pick her up at the end of the day.  Field trips, archery, friends, blowing bubbles, picking flowers, and riding bikes leaves mama pretty exhausted some days.  I am no longer the endless source of energy that I see in my children.  I remember having it.  I know it once existed.  But it has been sucked out of my veins and into their own.  So now they just borrow my phone to take pictures of their tired mama.Phone Photos4
We do have a lot of fun around here.  The beautiful moments of this month I think can be summed up in this one picture of Jack:Phone Photos5

Our windows are down.  The wind is blowing our faces into a smile.  Summer is just around the corner.

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We have woken up to snow so many mornings this winter!  Today’s snow dumped another six to eight inches on top of what was already there.  A couple of weeks ago, the kids made a fabulous three-door hobbit home in the front yard.  Hours upon hours were spent carving it out of the snow with my garden trowel.  I love their creativity!
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After hours in the snow, hot tea or hot chocolate are a welcome treat.  Elsie is my usual tea-girl and loves it just like her mama.
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Last weekend we finally were able to meet the newest cousin on the Weldon side of our family!  Taylor Grace fought her way out of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is home and smiling!  What a treat to snuggle and love her in person.
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We celebrated Christmas Part III, since she was admitted to the hospital Christmas Eve.  It was simply delightful.
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One of our favorite gifts: five little minion hats, crocheted by Aunt Heidi!  They are a scream.
January 2014

A collection of life through the lens of my phone:
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