30 Days of Thanks, Day 29: Grace

I am such a flake. I made it for 28 days in a row, and on the day after Thanksgiving, I dropped the ball: I completely forgot to post.
But that gave me something to be thankful for. I am thankful for grace, both from God and from those around me. I am thankful for God’s kindness to forgive my sins and shortcomings, and for friends and family who reflect His grace in their willingness to love and forgive me.
Forgetting to write a thankful post is hardly a cardinal sin, but it’s just one tiny illustration of my fallen nature: I failed to follow through in a simple, specific goal: 30 Days of Thanks. And the fact that no one I know of is shaking their head with hands on hips, muttering about how disappointed they are in me – this is the grace from friends that makes me thankful.
I fail daily in countless ways, and there’s no excuse for that. But I am thankful for friends, family and a God who love me anyway.

Day 31: Halloween

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower



Today is the last day of October.  It’s entirely possible that this is the first time I’ve ever posted for 31 consecutive days, and I loved it.  I used to think that I needed to come up with something meaty, something deep or spiritual at least every so often, and this actually stopped me from posting more regularly.  But I’ve had so much positive feedback over this series, I am feeling very encouraged about the idea of continuing to post daily.

That’s not a promise, but if you all are actually interested – and if you don’t start sounding bored after a few more posts – I’ll try to keep sharing a few photos and highlights of our everyday life on a somewhat daily basis.

Parker’s reaction when he heard that not only was he going trick-or-treating tonight, but one of his best friends was coming with him:

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Wait, that’s blurry.  Let’s try again.

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Still blurry.  Once more:

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And since you never see pictures of The Dad, here he is bandaging his road rash from last week’s soccer game.  He did a dramatic slide-block-y sort of move, and a week later it still looks pretty nasty.  But he stopped the ball, and that’s what counts.

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Parker is enjoying his new muscles.  Did you know he is actually stronger when he wears his Spiderman suit?  I got this for a dollar last year at a yard sale and saved it for his birthday because it was much too big at the time.  Then I forgot about it, until his sisters discovered it. Five months after his birthday, it’s a perfect fit.  See how handy a bad memory can be?

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For Halloween Calvin be dressed as…can you guess?

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Maybe if he would behave and hold still for a minute…


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Different subject: Becca helped Bethany start practicing for next year’s talent show, put on annually by our church.  Bethany was devastated that she didn’t have an act to perform last year, so she’s getting a head start on the game this time around.

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I ran a secret errand this afternoon.  I had to brave the mall, which never fails to give me the heebie jeebies and bad feels.  I hate the mall.  I think I finally figured out why, but that’s a story for another day.

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My destination:

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My mission had to do with a certain girl who has a birthday tomorrow and an iPod with a cracked screen.  I waited in there awkwardly, ashamed to let everyone see my Android phone or my inability to operate the MacBook in front of the seat where they told me to wait.

Last words from her iPod:

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Shiny new, 3 minutes later.  At the moment I snapped this pic, the birthday girl was sitting at home steaming over the nerve of Megan, whom she thought had taken her iPod on a babysitting job.  Kaitlyn knew the truth of the matter and was loving every moment.

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Later in the evening: The grand event they’ve all been waiting for: they’re off to gather loot.  Tyler, Deanna’s husband, is on the far right.  A few friends joined us.  My sister came over with her 3 kids too, because our neighborhood rocks.

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Fairy Princess Kaitlyn stayed behind to hand out candy for a bit, then went with Ugly to catch up with the rest of the gang.


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Their bodyguard: Blackbeard.  Or maybe the Dread Pirate Roberts.  Or some other scary guy you don’t want to mess with.



The haul?  A modest fourteen pounds, not counting what they ate or the stash that Lydia held back.

More 31 Days here

Day 30: School desks, busted lips and jack-o-lanterns

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

This morning, Parker gave his dad the sweetest kiss goodbye.  I saw it and said out loud, “I need a camera that I can keep in my brain so I don’t miss all the best shots.  Do they make one like that?”  Then I realized that I had my phone in my pocket.  I could have had that picture if I wasn’t busy whining about not having my camera handy.

My ever-accommodating family gladly re-enacted the scene for me.

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After Perry left for work, Natalie and I left on an errand of our own.  She was insanely excited by her discovery of real school desks on Craigslist, with emphasis on the insanity part.  She and Becca used their own money to buy themselves desks for their bedroom.


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What’s that?  You think you see more than two desks behind us?  I…errrr…how did those get there?  Shhhhh.

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It doesn’t matter where I went or how long I was gone.  My front door ALWAYS looks like this when I get home.



Poor Calvin busted his lip this evening.  Now that the bleeding and crying have stopped, Dad is consoling him by demonstrating the creation and use of hand puppets.  Not the kind that go over your hand, but the kind you draw on your hand.  Can you see his fat lower lip?  It was actually much more gruesome in person, and more traumatic too.  For me, that is.  We’re all better now.



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Also in the news: Calvin’s fever finally broke during the night, but Kaitlyn, Lydia and Rachael are feeling pretty rotten today, with headaches, fevers, and at least one sore throat.  This is bad because:

a) Friday is Lydia’s birthday.  The possibility that she might still be sick on her birthday really bums her out, and

2) Kaitlyn, Lydia and Megan are leaving for our church’s family camp on Friday morning.  It’s always a whirlwind weekend, and they really need to NOT be sick. To add insult to injury illness, they already paid for their food and lodging, which is nonrefundable.

And here’s a bit of fun, carved up by Kaitlyn for the little ones.

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Because I know you’re going to ask: I don’t celebrate Halloween, but the rest of the house does.  I do, however, eat chocolate offered to idols.

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More 31 Days here

Day 29: Grocery shopping & a scary pic

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower
As I suspected, yesterday’s headache was part of the mystery virus that seems to be toying with us.  Only Parker has hurled, but there have been several complaints of headaches and a few stomachaches, and last night PerryBoy and Calvin both had fevers.

Poor Calvin is still miserable, but the rest of us are mostly better, some of us with ibuprofen in our bloodstreams and others without.

Moving on:

Yesterday Natalie made me a notebook, following the instructions in her book Paper Made!: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper.  I let her decorate it with pages from a Calvin & Hobbes book that had been loved to death.  She chose mom-themed strips for my cover.  I love it so much I almost don’t want to write in it.  Maybe I’ll save it for something special.

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She hand-stitched the binding.

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And made a flap to hold it closed.

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Megan and I went on a grocery shopping trip late this morning.  Our first stop: Chick-Fil-A, where I used a gift card I received last Christmas to treat her to a breakfast sandwich.  We were supposed to share, but she ate too fast.  I forgive you, Megan.

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We got to Costco at 9:30, and I thought I had discovered the secret to avoiding Costco crowds.  Yes, arriving 30 minutes before the store opens does tend to help with crowds, but it’s hard to get groceries that way.

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We went to another store first, then came back and found the parking lot full, as usual.  I think our city just needs another Costco.

In the afternoon, I took not one, but two kids out to celebrate completion of books.  Rachael finished her first chapter book, and Perry finished his math book.  They could have gone separately but thought it would be more fun to go together and share both treats.

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Perry went for a doughnut, and surprised me by choosing a modestly sized one instead of the bear claws, apple fritters, cinnamon twists and other jumbo options that fell within the acceptable price range.  I think it was the orange icing and sprinkles that got his attention. Rachael chose a half-price Cherry Limeade during Happy Hour to keep it around the $1 price point.  Perry was duly impressed, and told her so.  “Whoa, that was a good idea!”

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Remember when I said I hate having my picture taken?  That’s because they usually look like this.  Go ahead, shrink back in horror while chuckling nervously.  I did.

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Dinner tonight was a rotisserie chicken from Costco with homemade artisan bread, roasted green beans with garlic (not as good as they sound; they were tough and under-cooked), mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.  The chicken bones are in the freezer, waiting for some onion peels and celery trimmings so I can make a pot of chicken stock.

If you’re wondering why I never mention dessert, it’s because three members of the family are fasting from sweets this month.  We’re all eating much less sugar this month, partly out of courtesy and partly because one of the fasters is also our primary dessert cook.

After dinner, Perry and the older girls went to Krav.  The six of us usually take turns, but I stayed home tonight to be with my sick little guy.  To pass the time we did dishes, read several chapters of The Tale of Sandy Chipmunk, and sold some exercise equipment. Now my little sicko is sleeping peacefully in his playpen next to me, and I’m off to bed.


More 31 Days here

Day 28: Headache

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

You know what happens when Mom has a headache?  Not much, and even less of it documented with photos.

This morning I called the $15 Miracle Chiropractor at 9 AM and booked Megan an appointment for an hour later.  That’s not the real name of his office, but I still have to pinch myself to make sure we really found a chiropractor who does adjustments for that price – and he always has openings for the same day!  If you’re in the San Antonio area, you really should check out Oak Haven Massage.  They specialize in massage therapy, but they also book appointments for the chiropractor a few doors down, and I’m constantly amazed at what he can fix in a “3-5 minute Brief Adjustment.”

After Megan’s appointment, I took PerryBoy to McDonald’s to celebrate finishing a  schoolbook.  I love this tradition, and look forward to every celebration.  It’s not fancy or expensive.  I give them several $1 options to choose from: an item off the Value Menu at McD’s, a treat from the Dollar Tree, a doughnut or pastry…it’s more about celebrating an accomplishment than what we buy.

After that, I came home and tried to pull together a lunch of leftovers for those who couldn’t fend for themselves, but I felt the headache coming on.  I took some ibuprofen but after Perry had come and gone on his lunch break, I crumpled into a heap of pain on the loveseat.  I even took a naproxen tablet, although I find the warning label pretty scary and very rarely take those.  It was no help.  I stayed on the loveseat for most of the afternoon, with the living room lights out and the drapes closed, hiding from all forms of noise.

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Noise, embodied.

I did a reading lesson with Bethany snuggled next to me on the loveseat, but kept my eyes closed most of the time and just peeked at her book one line at a time before closing my eyes again.

Dinner was bean and cheese burritos, so all I had to do was start a pot of beans after lunch, sprinkle in some taco seasoning after they were soft, and puree in the pot with my immersion blender.  I didn’t even bother dicing tomatoes.  Perfect dinner for a headache day.  We always try to eat a formal dinner around the big table, but tonight the big girls decided to treat Dad and the little ones to Despicable Me 2 in the dollar theater, so dinner was a common plate of burritos in the middle of the table, eaten quickly as people dashed around getting ready.

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Parker is rockin’ the pajama pants.

They left me and Kaitlyn, my partner in pain, to enjoy the quiet house.  They even took the Pterodactyl Tyrant, whose screeches can pierce the very walls.  I hope he doesn’t get them kicked out.  In the meantime, here I sit in front of the computer, scowling because of the tension behind my eyes.  I always scowl when I have a headache.  I promise, I’m not as mean as I look.

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Pterodactyl Tyrant

More 31 Days here

Day 27: Sunday again

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

Would you like to be a fly on the wall in our house?  This morning just as we were about to leave for church, Perry and I shared a quiet moment just inside our bedroom doorway.  We heard PerryBoy’s voice call out as he went down the stairs: “Hurry up and finish your smooching! It’s time to go!” Then he let out a malicious squeal as he dove into the kitchen with his dad hot on his heels.

We got to church in plenty of time for Sunday in spite of our smooching.  Instead of drawing battles scenes and dragons, PerryBoy actually took notes this week.  We learned about Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in AD 405.  His notes say:

405 (the year the Vulgate was finished); Rome (where Jerome began his work); Bethlehem (where Jerome lived after he left Rome); Damassus (the pope during Jerome’s time); La[t]in (try pronouncing it like an American; you sort of don’t say the T);  Left Rome (what Jerome did when he fell out of favor); Sick and died (what happened to a wealthy widow who followed Jerome’s teachings on asceticism, part of the reason Jerome fell out of favor).

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The bread was beautiful and delicious this week, as always.  I remembered to get a picture of it this week, something I don’t always do.  And by “don’t always” I mean “never.”

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Natalie set up communion this week with the help of a friend.

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The communion table.  A church member made a set of hardwood trays many years ago, so we serve communion by household.  The head of house goes forward and gets enough for the entire family.  There has been talk of changing the way we do it so that each member takes the elements for themselves, but I like the logistics of doing it this way, and I think the trays are a nice touch.  🙂

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After the worship service is over, the pastor hands out candy to the little ones every week.  It’s one way that he works to establish a personal relationship with each and every member of the congregation.  He takes his job as a shepherd very seriously.

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Calvin was miserable at church due to teething, but we got home and he was miraculously cured.   He slipped out the front door as soon as possible and found a willing minion to pull him around in the wagon.

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Bethany looked like a princess today in the dress Kaitlyn made as a birthday gift for Rachael years ago.

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Perry burned his hand this afternoon on the edge of a hot pan.  He shrieked, and Kaitlyn quickly turned on the faucet behind him, telling him to hold his hand under the running water.  When he shrieked again, she realized it was running hot.

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No fear: his burn was mild enough that even *he* thought it was funny.  What?  He’s like his dad.  He *is* smiling.

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Have you ever read a book to a one year old?

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whole book?

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Me neither.

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More 31 Days here

Day 26: Baby shower!

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

This morning, Kaitlyn and Natalie stayed home from soccer to do some emergency cleanup because we were out late last night, and thought that our Krav class was going to be at our house right after soccer.  As it turned out, Krav was at the gym, so it was all for nought.

Calvin didn’t mind, because he got a free wagon ride out of it…after he wrestled Kaitlyn for the seat.

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Forward, minion!

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A few minutes later, the soccer-mobile arrived, and instantly transformed into the Krav-mobile.

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And they’re off!

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I stayed home today even though it wasn’t officially my turn, because Parker was sick during the night.  If he was still feeling ill, I wanted to be here to take care of him.  He was fine, so I spent time doing makeovers on a few craigslist purchases.


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I cleaned up a few other items too, then as the others arrived home from Krav the girls and I rushed to get ready for a baby shower.  The boys stayed home with their dad.

Our church really knows how to party.

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The little girls let out a loud chorus of “Awwwww!” as each gift for Camille’s unborn baby girl was opened.

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Even the breast pump.

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After we got home from the baby shower, I listed a few items on craigslist and we had freezer pizza for dinner because everyone was exhausted, then bathed the little ones and tucked them into bed.

Barely an hour later, I was shaking hands with a very happy craigslist buyer.

Now the older people are winding down for the evening, mostly by congregating in front of a mindless television series on Netflix.  What can I say?  At least we’re social when we veg.


More 31 Days here

Day 25: Craigslist, antique mall, wine and cheese party

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

It’s after midnight and I’m just now doing my post.  That’s not because I forgot, but because I was at a party.  But I should probably start at the beginning of the day and end with the end, right?

This morning, Megan read Green Eggs and Ham to Parker before breakfast.  Then she decided it would be cute and fun to actually make green eggs for breakfast.  It turns out, Parker does not like them, Sam-I-Am.  He does not like green eggs and ham.

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Until we finally talked him into tasting them.

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After breakfast this morning, Lydia and I took Bethany and Rachael on a Craigslist pickup.  Lydia went as my bodyguard, and the two little girls would serve as diversions if  our seller was a creeper and Lydia and I couldn’t beat him up ourselves.

Just kidding.  I have yet to meet a creeper on Craigslist, although I have been contacted by more than one Nigerian prince who needed my help to claim funds left by his late parents.  They really need to overhaul their inheritance laws in Nigeria.

When we got home, I hired Lydia to assemble the weight bench we had just bought.  She had to do it without instructions of any sort, based just on an image she found.  She did just fine, of course.

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See?  Problem solving, critical thinking, geometry, and math.  I paid her ten bucks.

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Later in the afternoon, I heard Parker calling out in distress.  He needed help with a wardrobe malfunction.  I told him how funny he looked and asked if I could take a picture for the blog, but he objected.  When I told him that our readers would see it and wish they had a 3yo who got himself dressed, he consented to be a role model for your 3yo and the object of your admiration.

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These next few pics are a little random, but this afternoon I had to shop for a baby shower gift.  Right next door to the store where I planned to shop was a craft/antique mall that I had never visited.  I convinced myself that it would be a good place to look for a baby gift.

This sweet dress caught my eye.  Wouldn’t it be perfect for the bride in a simple country wedding?  I didn’t buy it – I only took pictures.


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And boot jewelry?!  Only in Texas.  Hmmm…white bejeweled boots to go with the dress above?  Now I just need a daughter to get engaged or something.  Not that I expect that to happen any time in the foreseeable future.  Honest, I’m not dropping clues.  I’m just thinking ahead.

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Is it my imagination, or do my older girls collect elephants?  Maybe I just keep thinking that because they painted their bedroom African Elephant Gray and Kaitlyn draws adorable baby elephants.

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I took a picture of these because I wanted to buy them but couldn’t justify the expense.  Now I’ll have them in digital form forever.

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I also managed to fall instantly and desperately in love with Fiestaware.  I thought I loved my white dishes from IKEA, but they chip and break easily, and my second set already looks very, very sad after a year.  Now I love Fiestaware instead.

After browsing every booth in the building, I had to admit that there were no suitable baby gifts, so I went next door and found a great deal on a pink and brown dress with little pink and brown shoes to match.  ::LOVE::


Oh – and the party I mentioned?  It was a wine and cheese party.  I met some new people, had fun being not-quite-a-wallflower and we didn’t get home until midnight.  Of course I forgot to take any photos except this shot of my favorite bottle of the night.  I don’t know how much it costs, but it’s good stuff and I highly recommend it.

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More 31 Days here

Day 24: Drawing en plein air at the McNay Art Museum

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower


This morning we had Baked French Toast for breakfast, made ahead last night and popped into the oven this morning.

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Then we finished up chores.  I started a load of laundry and headed outside to finally, finally try my hand at separating and transplanting two baby Sago Palms that had grown up next to the bigger one in front of the dining room window.  Natalie helped me, along with PerryBoy.  The fronds are razor sharp, so I needed someone to hold them back with a shovel handle as I worked.  As it turned out, there were three babies nestled in there.  We potted them all and set them in the shade.  This one is the middle child, not too big and not too small.

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Dad came home on his lunch hour and received his usual enthusiastic welcome, with kids crowding around him as if they hadn’t seen him in days.  It was so sweet that I wanted a picture.  Of course I missed the moment when I ran for my camera, so I made them all pose and pretend that Dad just walked in and they were excited to see him again.  I promise it looked better the first time.

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He only stayed for a few minutes, then went to have lunch with Deanna today.  After our own lunch, the kids and I met up with two other church families for an art lesson.  They practiced drawing en plein air, as the French say: in open air.  They drew outside.

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I think the shorts under the skirt were a very good idea.  They coordinate so well with her shirt and shoes, the dark brown skirt almost looks like an afterthought.

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Rachael put a lot of time and detail into her sketch of a bench and lamppost.

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Calvin was determined to be right in the middle of things.

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He finally found a buddy to hang out with.

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I think Bethany nailed this piece of modern art.

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What was on your schedule today?

More 31 Days here

Day 23: Ice cream

button1 Day 11: A few random photos, and we attend a bridal shower

First, let’s get this over with.  Here’s a pic of me, because I never publish pics of me.  I think I was saying, “No, don’t take a picture of me.  I hate pictures of myself.  I always make a weird face.  Am I making a weird face?”  And as Rachael clicked the camera button she said, “Well then, you probably won’t like this one.”

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While I sat there on the front step, I took pictures of people who are much cuter than I am.


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Perry sat down next to me for a few minutes to remind where he acquired each of his favorite cars.

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Calvin had fun running around the front yard like a big kid.

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After all, he’s one now.  He’s one of the big kids.

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This was actually taken yesterday, but I didn’t work it into Calvin’s birthday post.  I was toying with the idea of a new header photo, but I wasn’t serious enough to actually break out the real camera and pose them in a long line that will work as a header.  This was just snapped with my phone.




While the kids played outside, Calvin and I enjoyed a sneaky cup of ice cream.  This was actually to go with his cake last night, but we forgot.  I took care of that little problem today.

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Calvin is examining a cut on Perry’s toe.  A mere flesh wound.

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Becca made Rich Egg Bread for us today.  We enjoyed it with a big pot of Cream of Broccoli Soup.

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Also today:

I went to the chiropractor, for real this time.  When I went on Monday, it was because I forgot that I had rescheduled my appointment to the previous Thursday and had therefore already been adjusted.

Deanna invited me out to lunch, where we ate free using her coupon.  But I paid the tip, so who really got the free lunch?

Megan spent 3 hours getting to know a 15 month old girl she’ll be watching every now and then.

Kaitlyn and Lydia spent the afternoon doing some paid household chores for a friend.

Natalie did 9 lessons of math.  She is trying to finish a new math book in 4 months.  She doesn’t plan to keep up this pace the whole time, but wants to move very quickly through the first part which is mostly review.

Perry is attending our church’s monthly men’s meeting.

I am working again on a cookbook project I started several years ago.  If we published a cookbook, would you buy it?  I’m still trying to pinpoint our USP: Unique Selling Point.  What would make my cookbook different from all the others out there?  I have a few ideas, but I would love to hear your ideas.

More 31 Days here