The Bell Family

Random ponderings on God, life, and the humor all around us


Bell Family Update–January/February 2019

This year began with a bang! We had so much fun, but we also had lots of hard work. At the end of January, we decided to begin a new build in Greenfield. Part of our loan agreement stated we’d have our house on the market within seven days. We did it, including working around painters in our house for six of those days who repainted everything along with our kitchen cabinets. That was followed by 23 showings, and a good offer two weeks later. Whew! Now it’s looking for a temporary home for the next few months until our new home is finished.

Because we’ve always wanted to be transparent and not just pretty pictures, there was also heartbreak as one of our daughters ran away in the middle of the night this month. Five hours of searching, detectives, search dogs, and countless neighbors conducting their own search party, she was found. Our family is filled with joy, and there’s still much spiritual attack. God has worked in this daughter’s heart in numerous ways since that morning, and we’re grateful, but happy pictures and memories are never the full picture. We must always pray for all the Lord’s people!

We had a good friend spend the night with us New Year’s Eve, which was a huge family sleepover in our room. We all got tons of sleep. Really.
Praying together during our morning circle time.
City Market!
Boy time with chess
Tea time!
Miriam’s super sophisticated way to drink her tea
Cookies coming out of our ears
Cookie competition
More cookies
The winner of the cookie contest!
A slow day
We had a neighborhood photo scavenger hunt that Bill made up (not that’s it’s important but my team won). My team won, and one of our assignments was to find a home with broken glass. Oh yeah, my team won.
These vehicles may be experiencing a series of unfortunate events.
Three of a kind
One of my favorite humans on the planet, Laurelen, came to visit us in Indy. And she brought her fresh baby girl, who was clearly the spotlight with my kiddos.
So much fun in the snow!
Perfect snowman snow!
Writing music together. Love!
Birthday girl!!!
Kalahari! A yearly favorite.
Trip home from Kalahari. The signs of lots of fun.
Sketching on our front porch.
Kylo Ren play with Daddy
Big families find interesting places for some alone time…
I have raised them well. Hard to tell from this pic, but they painted this in the snow with water and yellow food coloring.
We got a snow cone machine from an aunt and uncle!
First time typing her paper!
Getting ready to say goodbye to this precious home. Countless memories and growing in love here.
The day we signed to begin a build in Greenfield. On to the next adventure.
A day we got to spend with these three cuties as their baby brother was growing in the hospital (born a preemie). I love this pic because the little man in my lap is instructing me in proper I Spy etiquette, and I’m humbly taking his rebuke.
Our lives were crazy as we were getting the house packed up to put on the market, as painters took over, and as we had showings. Our neighbors and close friends across the street had an open door policy with us, as did so many others. This is one day that became relatively typical for us over a few weeks in their home doing school.
The night staging and painting were finished, this is how we spent the evening hours.
My favorite interior designer and owner of the greatest furniture store in Indy, Chatham Home, came with us to the design center last minute with her newbie babe to help me make selections for our new home. Oh my goodness I love her so much!! And I paid attention even though I was in snuggle mode. Really.
New exhibit at the Children’s Museum. I mean, the kids are excited, don’t get me wrong. But some other big kid may be over the moon. Get it, cause the moon is in space.
And to make Daddy even more proud. Maybe Aiden is going to be the next William Shatner…
Bill. got. me. a. HOVERBOARD for my birthday!!!
Aiden watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for the first time. Lol!
We went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for the first time for my birthday. Then to an overnight downtown while my mom stayed with the kiddos.
And a Pops concert with The Tenors!
Esther’s eleventh birthday!!!
For her birthday, she wanted to make Ritz creations from the back of the box. So fun!
And for dinner, a restaurant complete with menu. Half of us served and were chefs. The others were served.
We introduced my parents to the Melting Pot for their anniversary. Having my parents live close enough to double date is just about the best thing ever!!!
Made inside out caramel apples for fun. So good!
Family games!
More and more of the pics on my phone are this now that I have a teen…

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Bell Family Update–December 2018

We love December at the Bell house! It’s our time to rest a bit and hunker in together to bond after working hard in school.

We’ve started a Saturday brunch time in the last few months. It’s been the highlight of the day for everyone! Here are eggs in a nest we served one morning.

Party tricks

Children’s Museum fun

Comforting a tender heart who “just wants to stop sinning!” I hear you, little sweetie. *sniff

Cooking helper for December

Displaying articles she wrote this month about her favorite season.

I will sob the day they’re too old for picture books. Which means I’ll never sob. Cause you’re never too old.

My little preschoolers drinking hot tea

Praying with our little boy who was struggling with fear one night

Some of our kids got to make gingerbread houses at the Children’s Museum

We were blessed with free tickets to Winterlights! And some of our friends were there at the same time which made something already amazing a bagillion times better!!!

Ariana and Miriam made Aiden’s birthday cupcakes with zero assistance! I tried to find a picture of the birthday boy from that day, but all we have are videos of him opening presents! Doh!

Ariana helping teach her little brothers

My mom joined a community choir this year, and we got to go to the Christmas concert! She even got to be part of a smaller ensemble for one piece.

We took a day trip to South Bend with my parents where we visited the History Museum, Oliver Mansion, Studebaker Museum, and toured the South Bend Chocolate Factory.

Bill sent me on a five-day retreat to the Abbey of Gethsemani, total quiet and beauty on 2000 acres. While I was gone, he taught my preschoolers, and my mom helped with our own kiddos.

Lost a front tooth for Christmas

Decorating cookies. One guess as to who did the super nerdy one…

When you have a teen, you find images like these often on your phone

Celebrating Christ’s birth! We don’t teach our girls they have to cover their heads, btw…

Scrapbooking day with Nana while boys helped Peepaw in the garage!

He was given sound-blocking headphones. He said they were super relaxing. He said it loudly.

Playdough fun!

Family gifts to burn winter energy

What our monthly shopping trip looks like

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Maybe that made her food holy:
Josiah: Victoria was getting ready to take a bite of her food, and then she bless you’d on it!

Learning the rules of the soft “g” sound:
Josiah: That kind of makes it complicated.

The blind leading the blind:
Miriam: I teared it!
Victoria: You mean, you tored it.

Whoever needs assistance will just die waiting:
Victoria: Calling “911” is easy! You just push “9” two times and “1” once.

Talking about the sea lion show that was about to start:
Josiah: Look! The dolphin show is about to start!
Victoria: It’s not a dolphin show–it’s a walrus show!

City Slicker:
Josiah (coming inside after playing outside): Ahhhh, finally some fresh air!

I’ll never tell:
Josiah: I know what’s for dinner, but I’m not going to tell you!
Liam: If you’re that excited, I’m sure it’s either pizza or popcorn.
Josiah: I’m not going to tell you, but it’s NOT popcorn!

Anatomy 101:
Victoria: Shouldn’t it be called a shoulder pit?

Proof that the book should always come before the movie:
Victoria (after reading Peter Rabbit for the first time): Why didn’t they write the real story of Peter Rabbit in the book?

Postscript or Spelling?
Aiden (reading the end of a letter from a sister): What does S.P. mean?
Me: Do you mean P.S.?

This just got real:
Miriam (watching an episode of the Kids Baking Show): Is he going to get exterminated?!

They really learn so much in the womb:
Esther: I remember when we made these ornaments!!
Me: What year does it say they were made?
Esther: 2007
Me: Um, you weren’t born yet…

Grammar is the key to happiness:
Bill: Give me a conjunction, Aiden.
Aiden: But
Bill: Give me another one, Josiah.
Josiah: Boo boo butt?

Teenagers know everything:
Bill: What does UFO stand for?
Liam: Unidentified Flying Spaceship!


Bell Family Update–November 2018

Gorgeous November!!! School in full swing, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and colors. So thankful for this month!

Some colors I captured during a walk in the woods20181102_032737644_iOS20181102_142810329_iOS20181102_143324148_iOSLittle V posing as statues during said walk20181102_172648755_iOS20181102_182538000_iOS

Kids exercising with us20181103_111505094_iOS20181105_134916259_iOS

A visit from Uncle Paul, Aunt Lisa, and Sarah!!!20181103_173745788_iOSBill in Sarah’s clothes20181103_174209797_iOS20181103_183446676_iOS20181103_184356708_iOS20181103_190122770_iOSPlaying Switch for the first time20181103_203956779_iOSAnd, um, something with brothers…20181104_002614148_iOS

The oldest Bell girl turned 12 with her marshmallow cake!20181105_131100429_iOS20181105_200124985_iOS

Bells and preschoolers crawling like snakes20181106_142801046_iOS

Ariana is learning to cross-stitch!20181106_143939877_iOS

Sweet girl reading to Daddy20181109_195328982_iOS

The kids had me play Donkey Kong. Bill captured this perfect I’ll cut you game face.20181109_214218992_iOS

Uncle Paul and Aunt Lisa gave us this hilarious game!20181110_183033172_iOS

Yard work with the best workers20181111_215657966_iOS

Our sweet Sarah has never made the blog! This friend comes to our house every couple of months for haircuts, and she is completely amazing.20181116_161414180_iOS

These two spontaneously pulled out Hearing Things20181117_170514056_iOS

I’ve had a couple of months of depression. I texted this precious friend one night sharing my difficulties, so she and her hubs crashed our place the next day to just be there with me. This is grace at work. 20181117_223002588_iOS

The kids set up a stuffed animal picnic. Pie, cornbread, and a loaf of bread.20181118_203222460_iOS

This big boy did his first math drill20181119_152644157_iOS

Marshmallow teeth20181120_161419824_iOS

We spent Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. During the Macy Day parade, Josiah made a little nest for himself.20181122_154534479_iOS

We got to face time with my brother. This was an attempt to get at least some of us in the screen.20181122_202728531_iOS

We let the kids make whatever they wanted for breakfast one morning. The olders decided to make eggs, while some of the youngers worked to make waffle batter.20181123_124533788_iOS20181123_125101018_iOS

Decorating for Christmas!!!20181123_142742362_iOS20181123_151453010_iOS20181123_151510048_iOS20181123_160630457_iOS

Braids just for fun20181124_142419197_iOS20181124_150642131_iOS20181124_151824132_iOS20181124_153620910_iOS

My favorite lady’s birthday!!! We actually put 66 candles on the cake, and she got all but one in a single breath! This pic of the kids during is epic.20181124_183703523_iOS


He’s just insanely handsome. 20181126_004640748_iOS

Paint Spirit Day! Filled with color.20181130_131344152_iOS

We relaunched our parenting blog this month, and this is the logo an amazing designer made for us! Tandem bike, complete with twelve seats!99d-logo-template.indd

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Bell Family Update–October 2018

If October being my favorite month of the year is wrong, I don’t want to be right! This month just brings all the feels and all the colors and all the traditions and all the cozy clothes and all the FALL! Bill was back at month this month, and we are in full-blown school time.

My cooking helper this month braiding challah bread like a champ!20181005_190514146_iOS

There will never be enough read-alouds on the couch. Ever.20181006_125851919_iOS

We took a week-long vacation to Myrtle Beach!!! God gave us rainbows on the way there and back (we haven’t seen one in years), mountains, downtime, laughs, and sweet peaceful togetherness. I think it was my favorite vacation. We actually just felt rested and blessed. Here’s the first glimpse of mountains we saw on the way down. I might have started bawling when I saw them…20181008_163326040_iOSPosing at a rest stop looking out at the mountains20181008_170726024_iOSWe got to the beach right at sundown. This was the first time Malcolm and Cheyanne had seen the ocean, so it was particularly special. Victoria lost her flip flop in the waves a couple of minutes after this (Hurricane Michael hit in Florida while we were there–though we were only on tropical storm warning, the water was super choppy the first three days). This pretty much crushed her little heart. Four DAYS later, Ariana was walking on the beach toward our room and found Victoria’s flip flop!!! I know it sounds so small, but it was huge for our whole family. One more way God just kept showing off all week.20181008_231132704_iOSThe view from our penthouse balcony. Yep, had to throw that out there cause Bill is a ridiculous deal finder and found this amazing place for way cheaper than he could have found a hotel. It was seriously a penthouse and perfect!20181009_120737418_iOSWe went running together the first morning there. I hate running but could run on the beach all day long.20181009_131157007_iOSThe choppy waters brought in tons of sea foam, so our kiddos enjoyed making boots out of it.20181009_132107627_iOSEven though we were under tropical storm warnings, we had gorgeous weather every day but one. And the last two days were perfect beach conditions and water.20181009_192806499_iOSLots of sand play and chilling 20181009_193804198_iOS20181009_193931515_iOSWalks on the beach every day. These two little men started holding hands, so I joined in.20181010_170726563_iOSA sad boy finding comfort in Daddy20181011_142159047_iOSThe one stormy day we stayed in the room except to eat out. This little one learned how to play this solitaire game after just watching me and asking a few questions one time. She became addicted!20181011_173133038_iOSThat night, the storm clouds brought in the most gorgeous sunset of all times. Oh. My. Word!!!20181011_224925000_iOSWe got this view almost every night.20181011_235013150_iOSAnd sunrises on the balcony. How great is our God!!!20181012_104824895_iOS20181012_112103875_iOSShe made a garden with peas, apples, and corn. Shells were the seeds.20181012_161312929_iOSTabernacle Village. With a French accent.20181012_172053625_iOS20181012_172115852_iOSAnd a hot tub20181012_185221805_iOSChillaxin in the outdoor poor which had a lazy river.20181012_193305128_iOSWe don’t have Krispy Kreme in Indy (glazed ones in the grocery don’t count!), so when we saw the “Hot Now” sign, stopping was a must.20181013_144821689_iOS20181013_145413715_iOS20181013_145427190_iOSThis guy claimed Miriam as his (her?–we didn’t check…) pet.20181013_162825941_iOS20181013_173021838_iOS

We spent a day at a farm with my mom and friends. I wish I’d gotten a better pic of Ariana and Liam on the Gyrosphere, but Ariana was pretty epic to watch. She would not open her eyes. Even for a second.20181021_173111044_iOS20181021_184753099_iOSAt one point Victoria was interviewing me with her corn mic. I had no idea Bill recorded the whole thing. But oh he did and it can be used as blackmail for years to come.20181021_200347551_iOSHayride!20181021_202504904_iOSOur friend captured this pic of Bill. I love it so much because Bill had no idea his pic was being taken, and this is simply a Bill look. Just quietly thinking and taking in his surroundings.


Our kids are continuing to exercise with us. Aiden is pretty much a stud, so he gladly joined Daddy in kettle ball swings.20181027_142228707_iOS20181027_142229407_iOS

Carving pumpkins!20181027_175424541_iOS

And 2018’s Halloween Costumes–The Twelve Days of Christmas!!! And this year my mom was able to help since she’s HEEEEERE.20181027_202705255_iOSDrummer Drumming20181027_202220609_iOSPiper Piping20181027_201902987_iOSLord a Leaping20181027_201914208_iOSLady Dancing20181027_202015488_iOSMaid a Milking20181027_201923862_iOSSwan a Swimming20181027_202051522_iOSGoose a Laying–we forgot to have her hold an egg carton in this pic! 20181027_202120211_iOSGolden Rings20181027_202254733_iOSCalling Bird20181027_202001299_iOSFrench Hen20181027_202159379_iOSTurtle Dove20181027_202133911_iOSPartridge in a Pear Tree20181027_202230694_iOSTrunk or Treating in Franklin, IN20181027_212310399_iOS

We got to celebrate Halloween night with my parents!!! They moved in their new home the day before Halloween a year ago, so we’ve now officially celebrated a year with them here. Mom made soups and all kinds of fun foods for our kids. Ghost string cheese, a pumpkin fruit face, grape eyeballs, and mummy pretzels!20181031_204055641_iOS20181031_204101448_iOS20181031_204106436_iOSThey actually get tons of trick-or-treaters in their neighborhood, something my kids have never seen.20181031_211704325_iOSAnd the last stop was Nana and Peepaw’s house. Andrew Luck, ahem, Peepaw was happily in the driveway passing out candy. So fun!20181031_223757835_iOS

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Bell Family Update–September 2018

Bill was still on paternity leave for two weeks this month, so we continued much adventuring. Our family is so jacked up. Truly. It’s not reflected much in the pics we put here, but it’s true. When Bill was looking at the pics, he said, “There’s so much joy reflected here. It’s easy to forget how blessed we are as a family. These pictures are a good reminder that we get stuck in the hard and forget to see God’s goodness.” So this is not ever intended as a best-face-forward post but rather a reflection of the grace we’re given each day.

A new collage of our kids to reflect the official addition of Malcolm and Cheyanne20180901_111030221_iOS

A sweet ordinary moment where Victoria got hurt on a walk, so Daddy just automatically carried her the rest of the way. The simple is the most beautiful to me. And the way she snuggles into him is the way I want to snuggle into the Father.20180901_151122597_iOS

Our church has a testimony time each week. Just a short “here’s how God is working in my life” time. I’ve always been terrified to speak in front of people. Five minutes before this moment, one of the pastors asked me to share. It was nothing profound, but it was real. Funny enough, it was also a moment God worked in my life. There’s nothing like being vulnerable to experience edification.20180902_140106322_iOS

I have a cooking helper assigned to me each month. Love watching them get more comfortable in the kitchen!20180902_161215445_iOS

Bill and Esther biking date20180902_192954682_iOS

Continuing to work with these cuties each week for preschool!20180904_144218816_iOS

Liam got accepted as a MAP (Museum Apprenticeship Program) at the Children’s Museum!! We were a tad thrilled. He had to fill out an application and do an interview and everything! This is him teaching one of the leaders how to floss. 20180905_234815984_iOS

Walking in one of our favorite forests. I hope our updates never stop showing pics of us hiking in the woods. It’s such a huge part of our family dynamics.20180906_145425443_iOS

Day trip to Columbus, IN. This play area is free and across the street from an inexpensive children’s museum, complete with a huge toilet you flush yourself (climb) down. We take this trip every year!20180906_165437471_iOS20180906_171600050_iOSMe pretending to be a young elementary child when they know you’re taking their picture. Pic 1–Smiling but distracted by something off to the side.20180906_175532822_iOSPic 2–When you tell them to give a real smile…20180906_175539867_iOSB-ball with the boys20180906_181413224_iOSA fun ice cream joint on the same street as the playground and children’s museum20180906_190453929_iOS

She’s a terrifying warrior20180907_164806827_iOS

It’s Colts season!!!! Which means this is how you’ll find me on the couch during every game.20180909_184208077_iOSJosiah was so excited to get to wear his jersey for the first game. We had no idea what he was talking about, so he disappeared and came back with this. It’s his jersey he designed during camp at the children’s museum this summer. 20180909_211746350_iOS

Day trip to New Harmony, IN. It’s gorgeous and unique!20180910_171719353_iOS20180910_193703601_iOS20180910_200630797_iOSThis swan just swam over to us as if to say, “Take my pic.” So we did. Gorgeous!!!20180910_200754297_iOS20180910_201550020_iOS20180910_201657535_iOS20180910_202104555_iOSTwo types of labyrinths 20180910_202935700_iOS20180910_204137981_iOS

Reading to my preschoolers…and my own littles who are usually drawn in for picture books20180911_130937990_iOS

A day downtown. I still love our city!20180911_173541270_iOS20180911_181033993_iOS20180911_181650232_iOS


Yep, another Josiah sleeping picture. They never get old. Right?!20180912_114423919_iOS

Our first family bike ride! 20180912_200639013_iOS

Brown County State Park20180913_152640901_iOS20180913_154054073_iOS

Liam as a Backyardigan. And a stellar big brother.20180914_182856982_iOS

These two practiced a whole circus performance for us. The Greatest Showman has nothing on us.20180917_233916939_iOS

Bill and I started a new workout routine and way of eating to try to help with Crohn’s-related sicknesses. The best part of it over six weeks is how our kids have joined us. It reminds me how to find joy in hard work.20180919_123731756_iOSUsing whatever they can find for weights20180920_131152125_iOS

A creation for school20180925_133750314_iOS

It’s a dangerous home. You have to be armored up.20180927_201722794_iOS

Future henna artist20180925_212408484_iOS

Annual apple picking. And my mom got to join us!!!20180928_133219174_iOS20180928_133226014_iOS20180928_133548640_iOS

Two years ago we went to a family camp for vacation. Our family helper came in to Indy to a conference, so I picked her up one day to have lunch with us. We love and miss her so much!!!20180928_163146585_iOS20180928_171958775_iOS

Fall means yummy comfort food. Which we embrace fully.20180929_154815989_iOS

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Bell Family Update–August 2018

Oh my goodness this month had been filled with amazing goodness!!! Malcolm and Cheyanne’s adoption was finalized, and as a result Bill has four weeks of paternity leave. And we’ve been eating up all the together time!!!

Esther and I got a day to spend together. We walked, shopped, jumped at Sky Zone, painted a bird house, and ate lots of yummy food. Here she is learning to be a master archer.And here she is proving she’s my clone. Dramatic singing to 80’s music in public places.

Cuties creating. Seeing this picture reminds me that I lost Aiden’s glasses not long after this and still haven’t replaced them…

We got to go to the drum corp finals with other band nerds!

Never too early to clean, even if the vacuum weighs four times as much as you do.

Our Cheyanne turned 11!!!

And this little man lost treat, so this is how he forlornly stared at the remains of the cake. 

We started school this month, which meant this beautiful lady and sweet man teaching my kids science!! We loved being at their house every week for science and swimming.

I did some supplemental science at home. My absolute favorite age to teach ANYTHING. I want to see the world through their eyes again.

A friend gave Bill several shirts because he felt like they were more Bill’s style. The friend posed in a pic of himself in the shirt, so Bill mimicked his pose.

Bill played Top Golf with co-workers to see off one of the greatest bosses he could have ever asked for. I’m tearing up writing this even now because he is so dear to our whole family. We love our Matt!!

Bible study with our church family.

One of our closest friends actually got this little cutie to let him hold her. Such a sweet moment!

Mother/daughter super serious pics

Is there a such thing as too many pics of sleeping boys? I don’t think so.

He lost his first tooth. He’s the baby. I’m totally OK with this, but it is pretty dusty in here.

We serve at a transitional housing camp each week. Here’s how the boys spend their time.And here are the girls. OK, the boys serve, too, as can be seen by Malcolm, but when I originally took the pic, it was truly girls serving and boys playing. 

A friend we hang with tons is a chef. He came over to make our family risotto, complete with demonstration and assistants!

Putting together a puzzle in a nature center

Each year, our kids get reading points at the library and earn a day of bowling, laser tag, and mini golf. It’s one of our favorite days of the year!

We spent a day at the children’s museum with our Wednesday son (I babysit him this day). 

Esther the Pooh

A day at Cataract Falls and McCormick’s Creek State ParkGoofing off holding hands

ADOPTION DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Malcolm and Cheyanne’s case worker (she was Heaven and Aiden’s CW, too!) and CASA. Love these women so much!Grafting them in our family treeOur friend, Melissa, director of public events and family programs at the Children’s Museum, came by our house on adoption day with gifts of checkers and Chicken Toss. And then she stayed to play one with us. She is so great!And the staff who work with our kids made these for our family and brought them by for breakfast on adoption day! This still makes me cry. Our family is so well loved by these people, and we are so grateful for each one of them!

I started teaching these cuties preschool this year!!! I thought it might be too much for our family, so this was a trial run, but it has been perfect! Their little inquisitive minds delight me every week, and my kids are loving helping as much as I love teaching.

Fort Wayne ZooShe’s a mama bird feeding her regurgitated food to her chicks…

Indians game–also a reward of the library reading program.

A day on the canal and at the NCAA museum20180831_163511576_iOS20180831_174455980_iOS20180831_181704147_iOS