eyes to see and ears to hear

Dec 10, 2016 by

Perceptions are a funny thing. They determine how we see things, how we understand the world around us, how we evaluate other’s motives, and yet, they are so often wrong. Last night I had one of those moments when I realized, once again, how incorrectly I can perceive the world.

Last night was our Ward Christmas Party. When I finished eating, my heart rate went up like it usually does, and I leaned back in my chair and tried to relax and think calming thoughts to help it come back down. But all the stimulation of kids running around, people talking to me, and the mass chaos of hundreds of people being in the same room together were too much for my nervous system to process. I tried closing my eyes and breathing deeply for awhile and that helped it calm down somewhat. Eventually Richard left to go figure out a way to get our car right up by the door and I counted heartbeats, willing them to sloooooowwwwww down and tried everything I knew to calm my system. The men were all working hard taking down tables and chairs, but could see something was wrong with me and left my table and chairs alone.

Fisher, my dear son who hates to be an inconvenience to anyone, came over and said, “Mom, can you move?” Barely lifting my head, I mumbled, “No, no I can’t.” I thought, “Oh, my heavens, can’t he see I am on the verge of passing out? Does he really care more about inconveniencing the men putting away tables than he does about my body’s needs?” He asked again, “Mom, can you move?” Again, I mumbled “No” and tried to get him to understand that I wasn’t using the table and it could be put away as long as they didn’t move my chairs or try to move me. Not satisfied with my answer, he persisted, “Mom, can you move? They are playing basketball.” In my nearly unconscious state of mind, I nearly exploded inside thinking, “Seriously! He is wanting to play basketball when I am having an episode? He wants me to move so they have more room to play!” But I couldn’t say anything because I was fighting with everything I had to stay conscious and calm. Finally, he said, “Mom, I’m worried the ball is going to hit you and hurt you. We’ve got to move you because they are playing basketball.”

I opened my eyes and looked around and saw that there was a group of teens playing basketball and I was right on the 3-point line. They were running all over the floor and the ball was flying wildly near me. I had had no idea any of that was happening and the boys had no idea anything was wrong with me, they were just trying to have fun. Grasping the situation, I told Fisher, “I can’t move, so you are going to have to protect me from the ball.” His response, “That is what I have been doing, I just think you would be safer if we could move you away from here.”

Oh, my goodness, the tears of gratitude welled up inside me for this good, good boy of mine. He wasn’t embarrassed of me. He wasn’t worried about inconveniencing the clean-up crew. He wasn’t wanting to play basketball and have more room on the court. He was watching over me and protecting me without anyone asking him to and without me even realizing what he was doing.

So often I respond too quickly, long before I understand the real situation. I am grateful for a body that was unable to speak and lash out in irritation and was instead able to hear his quiet voice, full of love, trying to help me.

Eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand…those are the gifts I yearn for.

p.s. Yes, I did pass out a few minutes later. As we slowly made our way out to the car, my body collapsed in the hallway with Richard and several other men catching me and taking care of me. I am surrounded by angels, both heavenly and earthly ones. Thank you to those of you who so willingly walk this journey with me.

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sacred days

Mar 28, 2016 by

Joy of joys and heartwrenching pain all at the same time. This holy week has combined so many sacred events, celebrations, and memories into eight short days. Palm Sunday, Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and resurrection of our Savior, combined this year with Purim, the celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from wicked Haman, the 4th anniversary of my priesthood blessing in which I was asked to find my ancestors and do their temple work, a big sealing session at the temple to commemorate, and our annual spring family reunion. On top of all these absolutely tender and wonderful celebrations has been a lot of worry and heartache for family members who are in a world of pain and sorrow right now. Finally on Sunday evening, our ward (church congregation) boundaries were changed and many of our dearest friends will no longer be attending church with us.

What a week of tears and laughter and rejoicing and prayers. There really are no words to describe it all. But I want to remember.

  • Sharing the events the last days of Christ’s life on earth with our children.
  • Making Purim cookies with my darling, little Liberty Girls
  • Spending most of Wednesday crying in pain…pain in my injured hand and pain in my hurting heart for my family members.
  • Spending several hours in the temple on Wednesday evening with twenty of my dear friends performing sealings for my ancestors. Oh my goodness, the tears of absolute joy! My hand was wrapped up in ice packs the whole time and many mishaps happened, but by the end of the night we were able to seal 112 children and 40 couples. Joy of joys!
  • The joy of cousins playing in the snow for hours on end.
  • Spending three days with my husband – such a rare and wonderful event!
  • Attending Easter services and drinking in the miracle of the resurrection of our Lord.
  • Having a special family gathering where Richard’s dad shared his tenderest thoughts about the Savior, family, covenants, the atonement, and the resurrection.
  • Hearing his mom pray with her whole soul. And praying for our Blythe. Oh, my the tears.
  • My little Fisher talking about repentance.
  • My little Annesley talking about returning to live with Heavenly Father.
  • Holding Richard’s hand while we all cried over the beauty and majesty of Easter and the hope it fills our souls with.
  • Attending the meeting that changed our ward dramatically and crying my eyes out over all the people we will miss so dearly.

Sacred days and tender feelings. Because He lives, I can live again. Because He lives, I can love deeply and permanently. Because He lives, I have hope and answers and peace. Because He lives is everything. Hallelujah!

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farewell 2015

Dec 31, 2015 by

Today is the last day of 2015. Wowsers, it is hard to believe this year of growth and change and pain and joy is gone. We have all learned a lot about doing hard things, giving and receiving, finding hope, enduring, and most of all, deep-down-in-your-little-toes joy.

The biggest change for our family has been Blythe leaving on her mission. She started the process of filling out papers in January, submitted them in April, received her call on May 4th to the California Irvine Mission, received her endowment in August, entered the Missionary Training Center on September 16, and arrived in California on September 29th. What an experience it is to get a missionary out the door! So much time and money and effort and heartache and happiness and precious moments all wrapped up in the same package. The two days we were able to spend with her in the temple before she left are among the most sacred and glorious of my life. I will always treasure seeing her dressed in white as she made covenants with God. And now, 3 1/2 months after she walked out our door into her new life, all I feel is peace and radiant joy. It has been a huge blessing to have my whole being wrapped up in a blanket of God’s love as my baby girl has gone out into the world to share His message of love and redemption.

We have had so many blessings this year: medical treatments and tests, working vehicles (and rescuing when vehicles broke down!), spending time with family, Annesley’s baptism, our long, bumpy driveway covered in gravel, an unexpected change in Richard’s job that gave him the hours he needed, many, many angels both on earth and in heaven who have taken care of me while I have episodes, Keziah’s job, gifts from the heart, magical days at the lake, camping in my mountains, donations to Blythe’s mission fund, and most of all, love. Heaps and heaps of love have been poured out upon us. My heart is full to bursting with the love I am surrounded with.

There is much I didn’t accomplish this year. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t grow muscles. I didn’t keep a spotless house. I didn’t find a cure for connective tissue disorders (I mean that somewhat seriously…my brain is continually trying to solve the issue of defective collagen.) I didn’t read as many books as I normally do. I didn’t put on a big fundraising event. I didn’t clean out my closet. I cancelled my book discussion group more than half the months of the year. I didn’t write the book I wanted to. I didn’t figure out how to cook on a regular basis. I didn’t figure out how to make our budget work to save more money. I didn’t excel at personal scripture study (or family study either!). I didn’t finish my chalkboard project…or the skateboard swing project. Or stain the deck. Or clean out the garage. Or clean out under the stairs. Or finish the clothing purging project. Or burn the garbage pile. Or remodel the camper. Or defrost the freezer. Or plant a flower. Or beautify my yard in any way. I didn’t create a fabulous training program for the Primary Music Leaders of my stake like I wanted to. I didn’t make it home to my mom’s house even once. I didn’t start a business to bring in more money. I didn’t clean out Blythe’s room. I didn’t blog about Swim Camp, our GRL camping trip, Blythe’s endowment, her farewell, or hundreds of other important and wonderful things that happened. I didn’t do a lot of things.

But I did learn more about love. I did learn more about sacrifice. I did learn more about receiving and giving. I did learn more about grace. I did grow to love my Savior more. I did enjoy lots of snuggles with my children. I did deepen my relationship with my husband. I did serve and love and give my heart more fully to the people who have needed me. I have missed my friends who have moved away fiercely and have learned that love is worth the pain of loss. I have learned, more fully, that the power of God is real. I have connected more fully with my ancestors. I have learned more about forgiveness. I have chosen kindness more often than anger. I have chosen to feel more and build walls less. Somehow, through the grace of God, I have made peace with my body and its challenges. We did spend many days kayaking at the lake. We did have lots of family game nights. We did read beautiful books together. We did spend seventeen days in the mountains. We did float the river in Island Park. We did attend our family reunion at our favorite location. We did have family pictures taken. We did get our daughter on a mission. We did throw a fabulous ice cream fest at our home before she left. We did pray together. We did laugh and we did cry. We lived, in spite of injuries and episodes and pain and heartache, we chose to live. With hope and faith, we lived. What an amazing year!

God has given me thousands of opportunities to learn needed character lessons and while I am certain He has much more to teach me and I have much more to learn, I am grateful for the lessons I have been given and received this year. I failed many times and I hope I learned from the failures to love and give and serve just as much as from the successes. There have been many days of sorrow and loneliness and hopelessness and fear and despair and He has been here with me, teaching me, comforting me, and helping me to choose love over all else.

There is a lot of pain and heartache in this world. Right now, among many of my dear friends and family, there is gut-wrenching, soul-splitting pain. I cannot solve the myriad of challenges they are facing. I have no magic wand to end the suffering being experienced by those I love. But I can take them into my heart and pray and listen and serve and lift. I am reading For The Love by Jen Hatmaker and it is a balm to my soul. In the introduction, she shares her mission. I wish I had written it, for it is my mission as well.

After a friend of hers asks her child what she does for a living and the child doesn’t really have a good answer and says, “Yeah, but she doesn’t have a job where knows about something. Jen decides to write down exactly what it is she spends her life doing.

Besides being obviously esteemed in my own home, maybe I ought to clarify what exactly I specialize in, since is appears very, very unclear to my own child. Certain foks love numbers and columns and reconciled accounts. (I barely even know what this means.) Some of my good friends love organizing and administrating; they are weirdly good at it. I have family members who excel at web design and creative technology and others who are craftsman and builders. Educators, chefs, sports medicine specialists, realtors; all people people in my circle who obviously know about something.

A little closer to my space, some of my girlfriends are true theologians and love the ins and outs of sticky hermeneutics. Others are preachers with fire in their bellies. Some are academics working on graduate degrees in God. Some are social entrepreneurs doing great good with their companies and organizations. Still others give their lives to justice in hard places. This is how they are gifted and this is what they love.

I love people.

It’s what I know.

God has always made the most sense to me through people, His image bearers. I crave dignity and healing and purpose and freedom for me and mine, you and yours, them and theirs. I want us to live well and love well. The substance of life isn’t stuff or success or work or accomplishments or possessions. It really isn’t, although we devote enormous energy to those goals. The fullest parts of my life, the best memories, the most satisfying pieces of my story have always involved people. Conversely, nothing hurts worse or steals more joy than broken relationships. We can heal and hurt each other, and we do.

I’m hoping to help lead a tribe that does more healing and less hurting.

I consider that my job.

Oh my, isn’t that breathtakingly beautiful? I love her words and my goal for 2016 is to more fully live them – to heal more and hurt less.

We can do this. Will you join me?

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read to me

Dec 9, 2015 by

Me: I need to work on the computer for awhile, why don’t you listen to this audio-book from the library.

F: Mom, it’s SO MUCH better when you read the book.

Me: Really, better than a professional narrator?

F: YES. I want you to read all the books.

I can’t even tell you how much this warms my heart! My eleven-year-old boy still loves to snuggle up on the couch under a blanket and have me read to him for hours and hours – I hope it never ends.

Oh, how good it is to be so adored by your children. If only my face and voice could keep up with their insatiable desire to be read to!

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thankful for

Dec 2, 2015 by

The past few weeks have been full of a lot of introspection. I have spent a lot of time thinking about gratitude and even though Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, I still need to take some time to ponder and write down my list of gratitude.

  • My Heavenly Father and Mother
  • Jesus the Christ
  • Richard
  • Our children
  • The scriptures
  • My mom
  • My dad
  • My siblings
  • My grandma & grandpa
  • Oodles of cousins, aunts, and uncles
  • My dear, dear friends, oh, my goodness, I am blessed with amazing friends
  • A safe home
  • Trees
  • Sunshine
  • Clean water to drink
  • Water to play in
  • Water to relax by
  • Days at the lake
  • Food to eat
  • Ovens
  • Stoves
  • Fire
  • Sleeping bags
  • Snuggly quilts
  • Fleece
  • Wool socks
  • Comfortable shoes that protect feet from elements and owies
  • Mittens and gloves
  • Warm hats
  • Blue skies
  • Gentle breezes
  • Hammocks
  • Read-alouds with our children
  • Audio books
  • Amazing mentors that bless the lives of our family by sharing their passions and loving our children
  • Our homeschooling community
  • Gymnastics
  • Libraries
  • Books, glorious books
  • Book discussions
  • Communication in all its many forms – the spoken word, the written word, email, letters, phone calls, the look in someone’s eye, social media, hugs, tears, the sharing of the soul – I am so grateful I can connect with so many people and share not only information, but also our hearts
  • Music
  • Braces and tape to hold me together
  • Bone, Flesh, and Cartilage ointment
  • Essential oils
  • Herbs
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Onions, carrots, celery, garlic – use them all the time in my cooking and cannot imagine food without them
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolove Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt bars – totally delish
  • My bed
  • Ice packs and rice packs
  • Swim camp
  • Family reunions
  • Swings
  • Swimming pools
  • Working vehicles
  • Mountains
  • Kayaking
  • Angels
  • Priesthood blessings
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Toilets
  • Running water
  • Snow shovels
  • A flat driveway
  • Contacts
  • Glasses
  • Covenants
  • Washing machine & dryer
  • Refrigerators & freezers
  • Vacuums
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Staedtler pens
  • Photographs
  • My grandma’s aprons
  • Erasers
  • Water bottles
  • Magic erasers
  • Doors to keep the cold out
  • My church
  • My community
  • Goodness
  • Kindness
  • Generosity
  • Big dreams
  • Passion
  • Courage
  • Sacrifice
  • Freedom
  • Determination
  • Love, most of all, love
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he’s not boring

Nov 18, 2015 by

Stable.

Boring.

Rock-solid.

Boring.

Patient. Dedicated. Committed. Perseverant. Adorable. Hero of the fridge, plugged drains, and piles of puke.

Boring.

Completely full of love for me.

We go back and forth with this discussion all the time. He thinks he is boring and wonders how on earth someone with my passion and energy and drive could ever be content with someone like him. I think he is stable and is the rock that holds all the crazy people in this home together.

In spite of my absolute conviction that he is not boring, lately I have been making him feel boring and not enough for me. From somewhere deep inside me a need to be swooned has burst forth and since he doesn’t feel like he is a swooning kind of guy, he was feeling like he isn’t enough for me. I think this need is mostly coming from my feeling so terribly broken and undesirable…like the need to be desired and swept off my feet has increased as my own inner undesirableness has increased. I have hurt him and apologized and hurt him again and apologized some more. Oh, how I wish I knew how to be a constant well of kindness and love. Oh, how I sometimes wish I could cut out my tongue!

We have worked it out. I have been able to narrow down my expectations so he has something to actually work with instead of a nebulous cloud of “I just need to be swept off my feet.” He has taken me on two actual, factual dates where I didn’t have to plan it out or do a single thing to make it happen. Two blissful wonderful evenings my soul desperately needed.

And then, I read this article on The Real Truth About ‘Boring Men’ and bawled my soul right out onto my pillow. Later that night, I sobbed my way through it again as I read it aloud to him. Go read it. Really. Right now. I wish I had Ann’s gift of communication and could have somehow written that message myself.

As we read, we both saw the truth of the situation. He saw himself with new eyes and realized he is not boring, he is purposed. My Richard has purposed his life to following Christ, giving his whole soul to me, and loving, serving and teaching our children. It is a 24/7 endeavor. So, while he may not surprise me with some fantastic date idea or make a YouTube video proclaiming his love, he will be in the trenches with me, cleaning up puke, listening to our children’s nighttime fears, and adoring my broken, soft-around-the-middle body. He is staying. He will not surprise me be leaving, by finding some hot new young thing. He is in this for the long haul and is determined to be kind, patient, forgiving, and serve each of us for now and forever. He has laid down his life for our family.

It is not showy or fancy, but it is real. It is solid. It is exactly what I need.

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amazing grace

Oct 20, 2015 by

Grace. Oh, how I need my Savior’s grace. Sometimes, usually on the day before my period starts, I forget the lessons God has taught me about His power to redeem me and actually believe I am a hopeless cause, but most of the time, I cling to His grace. A few years ago I watched His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox and it changed my perspective on grace. Saturday night I had one of those fall apart nights where I forgot that I am forgivable, redeemable, and not a hopeless cause.

And then the Sabbath came and I remembered my covenants and decided to try again. As I sang the words to “I Believe In Christ” at church on Sunday, I cried tender tears of gratitude for my Savior who not only has the power to redeem me, but also enough love for me to actually do it.

I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; his name be praised.

I believe in Christ; oh blessed name!
As Mary’s Son he came to reign
‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin,
To save them from the woes of sin.
I believe in Christ, who marked the path,
Who did gain all his Father hath,
Who said to men: “Come, follow me,
That ye, my friends, with God may be.”

I believe in Christ–my Lord, my God!
My feet he plants on gospel sod.
I’ll worship him with all my might;
He is the source of truth and light.
I believe in Christ; he ransoms me.
From Satan’s grasp he sets me free,
And I shall live with joy and love
In his eternal courts above.

I believe in Christ; he stands supreme!
From him I’ll gain my fondest dream;
And while I strive through grief and pain,
His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.”
I believe in Christ; so come what may,
With him I’ll stand in that great day
When on this earth he comes again
To rule among the sons of men.

This morning Annesley and I watched this beautiful arrangement of Amazing Grace and more tears came. Watch it, hear it, feel it. Let your heart be filled.

I love the Lord Jesus and thank Him for setting me free again and again. It is truly amazing that he can break the chains that bind each of us.

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twenty-two

Oct 15, 2015 by

I woke up this morning with his lips on my forehead and his tender voice whispering “Happy Anniversary.”

Twenty-two years of being loved by this man. Twenty-two years of being tutored in love’s actions and feelings. Twenty-two years of tenderness.

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I am so blessed. So very richly blessed.

Last night I taught the Music Leaders of our Stake for 45 minutes. For the past several weeks I haven’t known what to teach. Nothing felt right. I didn’t feel like I should teach them anything about the mechanics of their calling or give them a list of things to do or not do. But I didn’t know what I should share. And then, just yesterday, it came to me. I needed to share the power of teaching doctrine to the children and how it changes lives. One part of that message was my sharing a little bit of my story and how the song “Families Can Be Together Forever” gave me something solid to hold on to when my family fell apart. As a young person, I wasn’t at all sure that families COULD be together forever, but this song gave me the courage to try to create a family that would be together forever. Everyone in the room cried. My face and neck were covered in tears as we each felt the power music can have in saving souls.

I am so, so grateful God gave me the courage to say yes to our marriage. Richard’s pervasive goodness, kindness, calmness, and steadiness has blessed me and changed me for the better. Our marriage has given me our precious children and a life of happiness in motherhood I could not have ever imagined. His love has transformed me.

This morning I read all the posts I have written on our past anniversaries and my heart filled up with joy. Oh my goodness, I love my Richard!

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15!

Oct 3, 2015 by

15!

Miss Keziah turned 15 today! Last night I was up at 12:36 (the time she was born) working on a family newsletter. The house was dark and quiet. Richard was snoring on the couch as he waited for our sheets to finish drying. Everyone else was sound asleep and I was able to have a few minutes to think. I don’t know if all mothers do this, but I replay my children’s births in my mind on the anniversary of those births.

I went into last night feeling a bit less than. A bit like I am not measuring up. A bit like I am not giving my family my best and even if I am, my best is simply not sufficient – chores and meals and patience are so incredibly challenging for me even when I am on top of my game, and let’s face it, I am not on top of my game. Often when I feel like that, I push people away instead of draw them in. And so, even though I hadn’t done anything very prickly, I was feeling grumpy inside.

And then midnight rolled around. And I started to remember that middle of the night labor so many years ago. And my heart welled up with so much gratitude for my Richard and our Keziah and what an amazing girlie we created together and have raised together. I thought about how he pushed on my back and whispered in my ear and filled the birth pool and was a rock of strength and courage and love. I thought about how quickly she burst upon the scene and how he stayed calm. I thought about how good he is and how blessed I am to have such a kind, patient person to be my companion and how blessed Keziah is to have him for a papa.

And I stopped working on the newsletter just moments before her birth anniversary and went upstairs to hold him in my arms at the moment our amazing girlie was born and tell him “Thank you.” For everything. And I cried.

This morning we opened her presents and laughed with this hilarious girl who is so full of vim and vigor. Yes, some of the pics are blurry…shrieking with delight does that.

Fifth book in the Michael Vey series.

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Piles of pancake mixes for birthday dream of eating pancakes for breakfast, french toast for lunch, and waffles for dinner.

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The Cinderella movie she has been dying to own.

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Her birthday book this year is What Do You Do With An Idea? You feed it and grow it and let it soar! Keziah is full of good ideas and I want her to know we believe in her ability to turn those ideas into reality.

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This girl, oh my, this girl. Kez is one of my favorite people. It is quite fortunate that I am her mother and get to spend oodles of time with her. She is full to the brim with awesomeness. She works faster and harder than anyone I know, she is smart as a whip, tough as nails, beautiful, determined, and kick-butt hilarious. We love her to Pluto and back. She has excellent taste in movies, fantastic fashion sense, works and plays equally hard, and makes me laugh hard every single day. She still doesn’t wear make-up as it takes too much time, has lovely, thick beautiful tresses, and is surrounded by gobs of friends who love her. She recently purchased a bike with some of her summer earnings…a real bike…from a bike shop…so she can work on building her leg muscles and possibly start running again next year (she has been battling a knee injury due to hypermobility for over a year) and I love watching her cycle away down our road. This girl is so full of determination and awesome sauce, it is my job to simply love her as she grows and matures into a young woman ready to take on the world. She makes her school/work/play schedule up every week and then she does it. I don’t have to remind her or nag or wake her up or anything. She goes and does what she sets out to do.

Oh, how I love her!

Here are some pics of her over the last year.

One of my favorite pictures of her…she looks so sweet and innocent.

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Being crowned Emperess in her Shakespeare class. She had to do a ton of work to earn this award – vocabulary, memorizing soliloquy, writing papers, AND reading, watching, or listening to 47 of Shakespeare’s plays and other writings.

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As Puck in her Shakespeare group’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

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A big group of her friends all got ready together for the Homeschool Prom back in April. She is the one on the far right in the front in the white dress.

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After the Prom and back home with her big sister.

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Love this pic of the girls sticking their heads through an inner tube on their way to float the river on the 4th of July. The whole Suburban was full of tubes and towels and food and people and the only way I could get a pic was to have them bend way down and look through the opening. I think it is my favorite pic of these two precious girls of ours.

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Fancy hair while camping. Andie did everyone’s hair most of the days we were there and since Keziah’s is the longest and thickest, it is the most fun to work with. Behold Andie’s creation.

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Hiking with Blythe and her cousins from Tami’s clan.

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She is a pro at making silly faces. She was disgusted with something gross while we were camping.

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Swimming with her bestie, Courtney, big sister, Blythe, and dear friend, Emily.

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At Blythe’s mission farewell with lots of friends…and one of her signature silly faces.

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My dad came out for Blythe’s mission farewell and stayed for a few days to visit. He took the kids on a hike up to a really awesome cave.

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Playing Ticket To Ride for one last time before Blythe left and showing off her squeezable water bottle that she is so in love with.

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All of our kiddos being silly before our real family photo shoot.

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The real family photo of all our cute kiddos.

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Miss Keziah, Happy Birthday! Thank you for being such force for good in this world!

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