Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Cure for My Edginess

I started today pretty edgy. I was tired and the power was still out. We lost it around 9:00 last night during the storms, but the projection was it would be back on around 10:00. Then midnight. Then 3 AM. Then 5 AM. It is 4:50 PM right now and it’s still not on. (At this point Entergy says it’s supposed to be on by 4:00 PM – I think they missed it!)

The edginess has resided nearby all day, but I know how to combat it. It’s not an easy battle, but it does work.

It started with this morning’s shower. Yes, a hot shower. I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for gas water heaters!

Then I enjoyed my cup of Choffy, thanks to the gas grill with a burner attachment on which we could heat a nice big pot of water. Oh, and the French presses in which both Doug and I could make our warm beverages.

I can’t forget the battery backup systems that let us mostly charge up our cell phones as well as the corded phone that - in this age of cordless phones, cell phones, and internet phones that all must have electricity to power – allows us to still have phone service.

I must mention my children who have moved through the day without a single complaint.

There was also the fact that it was warm enough both indoors and out to open the windows and air out the stale, musty smell that the night’s storminess and humidity had shut into our home. Then when it got too chilly to leave the windows open anymore, the wonderful insulation in our attic kept the indoors temperature from continuing to drop. Oh, and the fireplace allowed us a spot to warm back up a bit.

The church’s power came back on before lunch, so we were able to cook lunch there instead of having to try to cook on the grill.

The sun peeked out enough the first half of the day to allow us to do school right by the windows with plenty of light. By the time the sun disappeared behind the clouds again, we were free to move everything up to church.

I guess you probably see the pattern by now. I’ve tried really hard to be thankful.

Our lives rely heavily on electricity. We just can’t help it. It takes a lot of intentionality and energy to move through the day when we lose it. But oh how God provides! I’m so thankful! I have forgotten that thankfulness a few times through the day, but He reminds me each time the edginess rears its head.

Entergy now says 7 PM. We’ll be at church til 8:00 or 8:30. We opened the fridge just once, so its contents should be fine until we get home. So, I’m just praying the power is on by the time we get home. Regardless, I’m thankful – it’s really been a pretty smooth day!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, January 28, 2013

In the great outdoors...it appears to be shaping up to be one of
those winters. You know, the kind where one day the shorts need to come out and the next it’s snowing. Which, for those of you unaccustomed to that sort of winter, also means lots of storms as the cold fronts come through. A cold front should come through tomorrow (but not cold enough for snow this time). Fun!

Within our four walls...quiet. The kids are all outside enjoying the day.

A heart of thanksgiving...for opportunities God is laying before us.

A heart of prayer...for peace in the busyness of the coming months, for my family and others.

Random observations...I love administration and organization. Almost as much as I love writing.

My silly children...truly love each other. That’s so precious to me.

Thoughts from the kitchen...simplicity this week. Still nourishing. Still good. But simple. Thankful to my darling hubby for laying out the plan for the week…and for making it simple!

On my bookshelf...well, actually, I have to ignore what’s on my bookshelf for a day or two while I catch up on the kids’ readers. This year all three sets of readers are unfamiliar to me, and I’m struggling to keep up. Next year, we’ll be down to two sets that I have to read because Steven will be back into familiar books. The next year, I’ll only have to read Olivia’s and then just skim back through Angela’s and Steven’s. How helpful that will be!

Projects...learning WordPress. Not to switch this blog – I like it right here. But I really think the minister’s wives blog I help administer will work better on WordPress. I’m excited about learning something new!

Sounds of the moment...doors opening and closing as kids come and go. At least the mosquitoes aren’t bad today!

We are learning...that dividing fractions isn’t as hard as it was originally thought to be. Poor Olivia just couldn’t get it the way it was being taught (multiplying the reciprocal). I showed her the good ole cross multiplying trick. Her eyes just lit up and she said, “That’s actually fun!”  Over the course of five minutes she went from missing every problem to getting every one right without a second thought. I’ll gladly admit - that just made my day!

A favorite thing from last week...receiving an article idea right about the time I expected to be choosing not to write one this time around. God’s timing really is perfect, isn’t it?

The planner...art classes resume this week, but Angela has been moved to the Tuesday class so she can do ceramics. She’s excited! We also have a meeting Tuesday night, but I think that’s about it. Maybe.

Because visuals are fun...I’d really love to post something here. But I just don’t have anything. Maybe later this week.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Alien Chef & the Astronauts

Steven was to write a space story today. This is what he wrote:

An alien chef stands on the moon

Frightens the astronauts to their doom.

He was quite proud of himself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, January 23, 2012

In the great outdoors...sunshine! Lots and lots of wonderful sunshine! It’s also a very mild day – in the mid 50’s.

Within our four walls...an attempt to really get back into routine, even knowing that the next few months will not see a single fully normal week. Or maybe they will – maybe a full, uninterrupted week is abnormal and at least one interrupted day is our norm. Maybe if I approached life with that reality in mind I would be better off!

A heart of thanksgiving...for a church of people who love my children. Because of them, I have been able to participate in ministry opportunities like never before. I love it!

A heart of prayer...upcoming projects; several friends/children of friends recovering from illness or surgery or chemo or…; Doug as he continues to fight through a couple of very challenging classes.

Random observations...when I am diligently following my daily routine, I post here more. Can you tell how diligent I’ve been lately. Yeah. Week before last was great, but in the months before that and again last week, I neglected that routine. It is as simple as making a plan, even if the plan must be flexed or changed. If I start with a plan I am more diligent. If I have no plan or if I neglect to pay attention to the plan, I flounder. The things I enjoy the most fall through the cracks, like writing on this blog and sewing. I’m determined to restore discipline to my life. My friend Lea Ann put it into words quite well as she shared her struggle with the same thing. Here’s her post: One Big Fat Resolution.

My silly children...have dotted the whiteboard (which is back up after a long absence due to what I thought was a broken easel – it just had a loose part. YAY!) with “I love you Mommy!” I just discovered it today because I had a piece of felt draped over it to use with our felt fraction pieces. They lifted up the felt, wrote their message, and then covered it back up for me to find. I’m such a blessed mama!

Oh, and Angie just walked in to ask permission for a snack. I gave it, and then she said, “May I also have a hug?” Um, OF COURSE!

And there’s Steven, bringing me an offering of four M&M’s. Too sweet.

Thoughts from the kitchen...teriyaki deer today with the last of our homemade egg rolls. Guess it’s time to make another batch. I love having them in the freezer.

On my bookshelf...new organization. Okay, so it’s a couple of weeks old now, but it’s still neat, so I guess that’s the awesome part! My desk shelves now only contain my personal “want to read” stash, extra journals, and resource books. All of my review books now have their own bookshelf! Well, except for the bottom shelf which has magazines and some craft stuff. Several other bookshelves are squeezed tight to allow this delightful phenomenon which will hopefully allow me to keep my review stuff organized. 2013-01-23 15.14.00

Projects…I’ve had some extra writing projects lately, so that’s where most of my focus has been.

Sounds of the moment...Olivia practicing the piano. I wish I could really teach them how to play, but at least they’re learning the foundations of music theory.

A favorite thing from last week...freezing rain was actually helpful last week. I missed getting to go out on Tuesday with the Gleaners for this month’s lunch, but the extra time at home was helpful. Then that night, Doug was supposed to go to a meeting. It ended up being cancelled. That was REALLY nice!

The planner...school and home the rest of this week. Catching up.

Because visuals are fun...Jack found a new favorite place during the cold days of last week.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Wedding

Saturday afternoon as I was finishing the library project, I heard much cackling filtering down the hall from Olivia’s room. Then I heard Angela, in her best Impressive Clergyman voice, declaring:

Mawwiage! Mawwiage is what bwings us togethah today!

Apparently, Ella and Oliver (Angela’s new sock doll) tied the knot Saturday in a lovely indoor wedding, with Alf the Calf officiating and Susan and William standing in as matron of honor and best man. The wedding picture I snapped on my phone isn’t the best, but you get the idea. (Olivia was the photographer or videographer, one or the other, so she might have a better shot on her camera.)

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And yes, the Impressive Clergyman (aka Alf the Calf, voiced by Angela) successfully completed the entire ceremony.

I love imaginations!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crafty Christmas 4–Steven

And last, but definitely not least, here are Steven’s Christmas creations. Obviously, he needed the most help, but even so he did an excellent job on the parts he could do himself. He came up with the ideas himself, as well, except for Doug’s. He didn’t know such things existed until the idea was planted in his mind. It didn’t take long for him to latch on and dive in with great excitement, though!

Doug’s gift was a marshmallow gun. The plan was on a youth ministry site Doug had stumbled upon at one time. We spent next to nothing on the supplies, but this has turned into the most awesome gift and toy!

I measured the lengths and cut the pipe. Then Steven looked at the chart, laid it all out, and stuck it together.

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We debated painting it, but he found some Air Force stickers instead and stuck them all over it. Right before Christmas we picked up the mini marshmallow ammunition, and it was ready to go! Oh my goodness have we had fun with that thing! I never dreamed it would work so well! 100_0785

Steven decided he wanted to make necklaces for Olivia and me. Doug helped him pick out the supplies, and then I helped him make Olivia’s. He strung all those little bitty beads for Olivia’s necklace and then started all over with beads for mine!

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I helped him braid Olivia’s and attach the cord to the clasp. When I opened mine, I was delighted! It was also braided, but it was red, white, and blue instead of pastel.

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Finally came Angela’s. He wanted to make her a boy sock doll to go along with Ella. He did much of the hand stitching on the doll all on his own!S8

Then he sat in my lap as we worked the sewing machine to make the clothes.

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She named him Oliver. I love Oliver’s explorer outfit because the vest and hat are reversible with camo on one side and Razorbacks on the other. The camo side of the vest has a buckle to make it look more outdoorsy while the Hog side just has a snap. We think she likes him!

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And that sums up this year’s Christmas gift creation list! It makes me excited to think about what they might come up with next year!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Crafty Christmas 3–Angela

Angie has hit the in-between stage of sewing. She is much more independent than last year, but still needs a great deal of help. This summer she’ll be old enough for sewing camp, and I think she will advance tremendously after being taught those basics by the pros! In the meantime, she is honing other skills. She learned the concept of weaving in art class last session, and has been making her own cardboard looms to weave on. I have a beautiful variegated mug rug sitting on my desk right now! She also has worked hard to learn how to crochet. She recently mastered the double or box stitch, so next week I will teach her the triple stitch.

Angela picked some fantastic Christmas gifts to make this year. They were simple from a sewing perspective, allowing her to do much of the work. But, they were not gifts that ended up with a simple look. Perfect for a beginning seamstress!

We started and ended with Olivia’s. First we made a scarf. I love these scarves because they are so easy and so very warm! Depending on the fabric, they can either look fun and casual or very elegant. I have a gray one that works beautifully with my dressy wool coat, yet pulling out some camo material created the perfect everyday scarf for Olivia. I showed Angie how to cut straight strips of fleece, stack them on top of one another, and sew a seam lengthwise down the middle. Then she took scissors and fringed the scarf down both sides of the seam. I missed getting a picture of the end result, but here she is fringing.

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After all the other gifts were done, we decided to make a last-minute addition. We thought Olivia might enjoy a fun fringed hat – and we were right! For the first week after Christmas she hardly took it off! A4

Meanwhile, Angie wanted to make something matching for Doug and Steven. Steven loves to help Daddy cook, especially on the grill. Angie found cute “King of the Grill” patches, so we made aprons, trimmed them with red decorative stitches (resembling deer antlers!), and ironed on the patches.

Through the process, she got to be the first to make use of our handy-dandy little bias tape makers and she learned how to use the hemmer foot on the sewing machine.

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She was very pleased with the end result.

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I think the fellas were too! And now you know why Han has a blue apron with “King of the Grill” stitched on the front! At this point, we just need to make Steven a chef’s hat (Doug has one), and they will all three be good to go!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crafty Christmas 2–Olivia

And here’s Olivia! She has advanced tremendously in her skills over the last year. I’m so proud of her! She really did a lot of the work on her own. 

Olivia and I went together to buy Doug a Polish pottery piece to add to his office missions display, and she made me a woven bookmark that I forgot to take a picture of.

Meanwhile, she wanted to create a sewing box for Angela. So, she bought an inexpensive little hat box and we worked together to create something fun from there!

First she made a pin cushion to attach to the lid.

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Next she assembled a lining with pockets. I love how the blue and apricot fabrics matched so perfectly with the colors already on the box.

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Finally, she made a strap with decorative stitching down the middle and glued rick-rack around the lid to embellish it a bit. Angie has enjoyed filling it up with her sewing supplies! She even used Christmas money to buy a little thread, pin, and needle set to rest inside the box.

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Steven has been wanting a boy sock doll like his sisters have. He’s definitely not a “doll” child, but these sock dolls are becoming an extension of our family, it seems, and have quite the identity. So, Olivia decided to make him one (which has since been named Han – shocking!).

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Once the body was assembled and stuffed, she started working on the outfit while she waited for me to get the hair sewn on (still a bit challenging even for me, so she hasn’t tackled that task yet). She needed a bit of help with the finer details and some of the instructions, mainly because little doll clothing can be a bear! But, she did most of the work herself. Han was to have a Razorback chef’s outfit.

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Livie has made a couple of sock dolls, but she has never stitched on the faces before. I drew the face on with disappearing ink, and she stitched over the ink. This isn’t the best shot of Han, but I think she did a great job! I love the chef’s hat, and his apron has “King of the Grill” stitched on it. Tomorrow I’ll explain why those words were chosen…and I’ll show you the full picture that this is cropped from!

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We all loved our gifts and are very proud of Olivia’s work!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Crafty Christmas 1

All three of my sweet children worked long and hard to make gifts for each other and Mommy & Daddy for Christmas. They did such a fantastic job! I love the “side effect” of creating gifts. When it came time to open Christmas gifts, they oohed and aahed the most over the things that were made for them, with the exception of a few bought gifts that were very specifically targeted toward their personalities. They have learned to appreciate the time, effort, and thought put into gifts. I hope they never lose that!

I’ll start with our “group project” and the gift I made for them. Because the kids’ skills and ideas have grown as they have grown, they had some pretty aggressive projects this year! So, I spent most of my time helping them.

We all worked together to make several of these throw pillows. Even Doug got involved, helping me pick out patterns, colors, and material. The center is cross-stitched, set into a seasonal wrap that slides onto the neutral pillow. My intention is to make more wraps so that eventually there is one for every season/holiday.

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The girls helped me with the stitching, and Olivia helped cut the fabric strips. Once the pillows were made, Angie and Steven had a stuffing party. Angie finished them off by hand-stitching the final seam on the pillows once they were filled and trimming threads on the wraps.

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I finished this gift literally at the last minute. Fortunately they were super easy because I just had a few hours to get them made! Doug had found bows and arrows for all three kids. We picked up a little camo fabric and some cord, and I came up with a way to make quivers. They didn’t turn out exactly as I’d envisioned, but I was pleased and the kids love them!

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There is one more project I want to show you, but it will have to wait. I haven’t gotten it in the mail yet. *Hanging head in shame.* I must get it into tomorrow’s mail!!! I must, I must!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, January 7, 2012

In the great outdoors...bright sunshine. Still chilly today with highs in the upper 40’s, but warmth is coming in the end of this week. I’m going to enjoy the chilly!

Within our four walls...restoration! Getting behind is the worst enemy of my ability to be diligent. I’m going back into normalcy quite a bit behind where I’d hoped to be. But, our Monday morning, first day back to routine, began amazingly well! The children were done with their morning chores in record time, and Doug and I tackled the enormous pile (probably seven loads!) of laundry in our room. Such an encouraging start! Definitely motivation to continue in diligence today…and tomorrow…and the next day.

A heart of thanksgiving...for feeling better! I stayed on the couch most of yesterday. But, toward bedtime my voice faded entirely after being gravelly for a couple of days. When my voice goes, that means I’m on the mend. Sure enough, no voice today but I feel so much better!

A heart of prayer...for grieving friends. A couple buried loved ones over the weekend. Others received difficult news over the holidays.

Also for my mom as she recovers from carpal tunnel surgery, even while heading back to school.

Random observations...days like today show me that we really are reaching our goals in homeschooling. I can in no way teach them enough facts and information to give them all they need. I know too little, even if I did have enough time! But, they are learning to learn. When there is no doubt that we can push on into our first day back at school even when the teacher has no voice, that shows the students are confident in their ability to learn, glean for themselves, and receive (at least temporarily) minimal vocal instruction from me. Success!

My precious children...are so helpful when I’m sick! While Doug was at church yesterday, they made cornbread to go with our crockpot of soup AND cleaned the kitchen without being asked. They drew me pictures, played kindly together, and made sure I had everything I needed.

Thoughts from the kitchen...a menu plan! Yes! I have one! Feels so good! Today it is parmesan chicken cordon bleu.

On my bookshelf...The Child Training Bible. I love it! I was about to explain it right here, but I’m taking the easy way out and sending you over to my Home Educating Family review. Basically, it’s a way to keep Scripture right at your fingertips for discipline and training. If you click on the image below you can read all about it and enter to win a kit. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the word “child.” This is going to be a useful “at our fingertips” resource for years to come!

Child Training Bible

Projects...I hope to finally get to the library reorganization project, little by little, through the course of this week. Also, I want to get started on my quest to learn how to knit. (I’m wondering how I can convince my friend Teisha to move closer to me so I can have a personal knitting coach on hand!)

Sounds of the moment...quiet. It’s funny how much whispering goes on around the house when Mommy can’t talk. Makes me laugh. Just a reminder that a calm, quiet, peaceful nature does foster calm, quiet, and peace in the home!

Last week we learned...how quickly a week can fly by. Wow – did we even have last week?

A favorite thing from last week...visits. We started the week with the Choates and ended it with Doug’s parents and our friends James & Rebekah in Monticello.

The planner...at home this week, except for the restart of children’s activities and our fellowship meal at church Wednesday night. Oh, and I do have Bernina Club on Thursday.

Because visuals are fun...it didn’t take them any time at all to pull out their books in the car last Thursday! (Not much to see on a familiar drive through the Delta.)2013-01-03 12.22.28

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas Snow

Okay, so the pictures are from the 26th since the snow fell Christmas night. But, still, it was Christmas snow! Very rare occurrence for snow to fall in Arkansas on Christmas Day! Gotta claim it when it does!

These first pictures are from the side of the house where the wind was the strongest. It wasn’t very deep on that side.

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It was a little deeper on the other side of the house. Still windy, but not quite as intense. Even so, we made it about five minutes out there. We southerners aren’t quite used to a 20 degree wind chill!

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I love to see snow resting on bare trees!

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The snow lasted for a couple of days, another rarity around here when it is such a light layer of nice, powdery snow. But, between the lack of direct sunlight and the temperatures staying right around freezing, it just stuck around. What did melt turned icy overnight on the 26th, making it that much harder to melt on the 27th. Finally, the temps warmed up into the mid thirties and rain started on the 28th, so it all melted pretty quickly.

Getting power back on throughout the state has been quite the challenge after this winter storm because of all of the ice. We are so thankful to have enjoyed it without the power outages!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Visits with Friends

I have to share our visit with the Choates next. They arrived last Saturday afternoon, extending their Christmas trip to include us. I love that our families can keep in touch no matter how many miles separate us, but words cannot what a joy it was to visit with this precious friend face to face.

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Fortunately for Joanna and me, our husbands and children enjoy each other as well! For two days our house was full of games…

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sword fights…

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piggyback and horsey rides…

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(Katherine had been on my Olivia’s back, but she decided to get down. Benjamin carried everyone’s bags!)

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(hmmm…I just realized that Angie seemed to be involved in every single ride! Smile)

and just the general joy of togetherness.

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Even Jack got in on the extra loving!

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I’m sure you can tell how much he hated it!

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There were many chuckles over the sleeping arrangements. Angela’s room is smaller than Steven’s (and Uncle Aaron & Aunt Joanna had Olivia’s room), so Steven and Benjamin got the girlie room.

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And Sarah, the two Olivias, Angela, and Katherine filled up the boy room!

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No one minded, though. A pretty easy-to-please bunch! (Oh, and these pictures remind me of the other activity that filled our time – sharing books.)

We originally thought they would have to leave after lunch on Sunday, but when all was said and done they got to stay until mid-morning on Monday. Oh how excited all eleven of us were! (I think Joanna and I might have squealed and jumped up and down more than the kids!) No one was ready to say goodbye. In fact, Steven and Angela shed more than a few tears over the empty house on Monday, and I could tell Olivia was a bit melancholy, too. Even Jack kept sniffing around as if looking for those extra loving hands. What an incredible blessing, though, to have a family of friends like these, even if the goodbyes are tough. I never would have imagined such a bond when we first met in seminary housing all those years ago. Nor would I have dreamed that my children would continue to love Sarah, Benjamin, Olivia, and Katherine even though they see them so rarely. That can only be a God accomplishment, and I am so thankful for it and for the times He allows us to be together!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Catching Up

The next few posts are going to be all out of order chronologically, but I’m just going to play catch up! I’m going through recent pictures to see what I’ve written about and what I haven’t. I discovered I never even posted about our Thanksgiving visits! I got the possum skinning posted, but nothing else. I supposed at this point it’s not really so relevant for my lovely readers, but I like to have a story behind the pictures just for my own remembrance. So, here goes…

We had Thanksgiving with the Brownings on the Friday after.

We had lots of fun with Nanny & Papaw and Uncle Ben & Aunt Ashley, but somehow they didn’t get into any pictures!

We did get pictures of snuggles with Grandpa Russell.

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And pictures of playtime with Uncle Tim and dogpiles on Aunt Alli.

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(I absolutely love this one of Tim and Abigail!)

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Oh, and silly cousins!

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And I can’t forget bunny lovin’ – the real kind, not just stuffed Bunny!

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On Saturday, Grandma, PopPop, Aunt Stephannie, and Morgan arrived at our house for the fun to start all over again!

There was visiting and playing.

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Musical entertainment as Morgan showed herself capable of producing a much better clarinet sound than her Aunt Ann ever could!

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And good snuggles.

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Some with a little extra squish (I think there’s a Steven in there somewhere!).

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Nice to have family to celebrate with!

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