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Giving Thanks for Twenty-Seven, Road Trips and Scavenger Hunts

Thanksgiving weekend began with our Weldon family gathering.  Turkey vegetable tray, dangly earrings, a crackling fire, and games highlighted our time together.  We even managed to pull off a paleo thanksgiving breakfast, complete with monkey bread!
November 2013
Next, we took off for New York.  With new tires on the van and every inch packed to the gills, sipping joy tea, we listened to a Thanksgiving history audio book from my dad and enjoyed an almost completely argument-free drive up North.  It was delightful!
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We were welcomed by a happy sign:
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The highlight of our time together was the Mall Scavenger Hunt we did one day.  We divided into four teams, according to birth.  Various items on the list to find were: “something that smells good, the largest bug, and someone doing the best karate move.”  We also had to “plank” as a team and find Grandma and Grandpa who were wandering around the mall.  The team who found them first got… the honor of finding them first.  As leader of the 3rd-borns, I’d like to acknowledge we found them first.  We had one hour to scavenge the mall.  The creativity started flowing.
There were the firstborns:
Aaron's pictures
The second-borns:
Beck's pictures
The third-borns:
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The fourth-borns (and Betty):
Sherry's pictures
Besides the fun of the scavenger hunt, the daddies took almost all the kids ice-skating, and we enjoyed snow, games, and many delicious meals together.
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Our entire family:
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At the beginning of November, my dad reminded us of the news we received as a family twenty-two years ago: Get one small bag packed with all that you treasure the most.  Get ready to evacuate Nyankunde tomorrow!  As a girl of almost twelve, this was an exciting adventure.  It didn’t turn out how I imagined, however.  Our “quick” trip back to the United States turned into permanent.  It’s hard to imagine how twenty-two years later, our family of six has grown into a family of twenty-seven, with another on the way!  (My sister, not me!)  God has richly blessed us with a family who loves each other, drives great distances to be with each other, and children who think their other cousins are the absolute bomb-diggity!  I couldn’t be more thankful.

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In My Head

Yesterday, Elsie came down to the kitchen with a coonskin hat on her head, and a silky pink polka-dot cape around her neck.  In a very serious voice she asked me what I too have been wondering lately:  Mom, is it going to rain every day?  We’ve been caught in so many deluges the past two weeks!  I’ve hung up clothes, only for them to be washed a dozen times in the rain before finally bringing them inside to the spin cycle and clothes dryer, because I really needed that shirt.  I’ve gotten showered while running to move the car.  Finally, today I was able to bond with the dirt once again and discovered my first daisy!  Zucchini growing, flowers planted from seed, now blooming.  It does my soul good.

On Wednesday we made out with a huge bin of K’nex for $5 from a used sale.  Elijah has been skipping breakfast for the past two days in order to build this amazing contraption.

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He often leaves me notes on my phone, can fix bikes, and loves anything electronic.

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He also loves apricot jelly.  When he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for himself he saw me about to say something and interjected: I know, I know.  No more jelly.  That’s what you always say when there’s an inch of jelly on my bread.

I have a knack at going grocery shopping either dangerously close to lunch time, or at midnight.  This particular time it was right around noon.  Everyone was hungry.  As Elsie remarked, her tummy felt backwards. To make up for it, I let the kids pick out a few special items to eat, and we had a spontaneous picnic at the splash park.  As we sat on the grass, eating, Elijah looked at me with his orange fingers and said, The one thing that makes me think I’m dreaming is that you would never say yes to Doritos.  He grinned and licked his fingers.

Matthew’s youngest brother just graduated from highschool.  I’ve known him since he was three years old, which makes me feel very old.  What a wonderful young man Jacob has become.

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The other day Elsie asked me: Does God hear you when you talk in your head?  It’s a wonderful thing that He does, because most of my talking to Him is done that way!  While wrestling wet babies out of the kiddie pool.  While putting certain children on time-out steps and wondering what on earth to do next.  While wiping tables, bottoms, and countertops.  While slicing onions and running through a few recipes in my head.  While picking up again and again and again.  While driving with the background noise at a deafening level.  While running a few city blocks in silence.  While peeking in on sleeping cherubs in their beds.  While doubting, fearing, rejoicing, and giving thanks.  He hears our silent prayers.

The past week it seems like our kids have fallen asleep in the weirdest places.  While watching a movie, the boys fell asleep like this:

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The other night Elsie fell out of bed and kept right on sleeping.  I couldn’t lift her back onto her bed, and thought Matthew would before we went to bed.  He forgot, and the next morning Elsie informed me that she slept on the floor all night.  I felt bad, but it didn’t seem to bother her!  Then, one night Jack was determined to wait up until Matthew and I came in from the front porch where we were talking.  When I came inside to get something, I almost tripped over his sleeping body.
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Both Elijah and Jack had the privilege of going to work with their Daddy one day the past week.  Jack created a few things out of scrap wood.  Here he is, holding his “Goliath Sword”.DSC_1271-001
Besides all of the usual keep-the-house-clean-feed-the-bellies-do-laundry-pull-weeds-kind-of-days, I’ve been burning the midnight oil and writing papers to finish up my doula recertification.  I am one credit away from mailing in all my paperwork that I’ve been working on for the past three years.  I am so excited to check it off my list and delve into school planning for next year.  I sold all of my books which we used the past two years, and am excited for our new ones to arrive next week!  I am hoping to plan out the bulk of the year before truly relaxing for a couple of months.    Matthew has been an incredible support for me as I have pursued my dreams and goals.  We are enjoying doing cross-fit together and eating 100% paleo!  More on that another time!  I do just want to say how incredible Matthew’s health has been since zeroing in on his diet.  I have finally come alongside him in eating a disciplined diet and it’s such a blessing to be united in this area.  God is teaching us many things as we wait on Him and trust Him with our unknowns.  When He says, This is the way, walk in it… we have no choice but to obey.  It might just mean eating more vegetables.  It might mean how we do school.  It might mean staying put.  It might mean moving forward.
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