The Bell Family

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


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Bell Family Update–July 2018

This month went by fabulously slow! I think it was because instead of having full calendars, we just got to be together as a family more. I’ll take more months like this, please!!!

Bill takes pics like this all the time because it’s so reflective of daily life. This little man always, ALWAYS, finds his way beside me on walks so he can hold my hand. I will miss that maybe more than anything else as we leave the littles season of our lives.20180701_212012646_iOS

Liam and I played mini-golf one day and this mama duck with her ducklings was literally right beside the green. Never flinched at all!20180702_151807090_iOS

Love love love how much the kids still enjoy picture books, no matter the age.20180704_114806589_iOS

Lots of July 4th fun!!! Making patriotic strawberries and a cake.20180704_182937113_iOS20180704_183302306_iOS20180704_183758198_iOS20180704_210654132_iOSHanging with these fun friends, Olan Mills photo and all.20180705_003603334_iOS20180705_013809199_iOS20180705_013819647_iOS20180705_014741183_iOS20180705_020812927_iOS20180705_021107782_iOSLoved this pic of the three littles sitting side by side entranced by the fireworks.20180705_022622727_iOS

Nine of our kids were at camp at the Children’s Museum for four weeks, which meant Bill and I got some sweet time with our teenager. 20180705_145512926_iOS20180705_174341954_iOS

Twins!!!20180705_210639498_iOS

Canoeing with the boy20180706_145737687_iOS20180706_183257891_iOS

Creek stomping!!!20180708_171712457_iOS

Ice cream for relief from the heat!20180708_193243919_iOS

We got a new couch that actually sits all the kids, along with their prettiest faces.20180712_212214000_iOS

Rex greeting our kids at the Children’s Museum!20180713_130539031_iOSCamp Celebration!20180713_203952500_iOSMr. Andrew has been in charge of camp since we started, but he’s moving to a different position for next year. We’ll miss his energy every day!!!20180713_205641004_iOS

We did a 5K as a family for the ministry we work with, Active Grace. They had a kid run at the end, and they all had so much fun!!!20180714_134112217_iOS

Will never have enough sleeping kid pictures.20180715_015614520_iOS

This sweet baby’s mama and I are developing a beautiful friendship. And this little cutie is becoming my Sunday baby! Those eyes!!!20180715_141337496_iOS

We are robots from the planet Boxtox.20180715_204545438_iOS

Best buddies always planning to wear their Cars outfits on the same day.20180716_120311605_iOS

Leg wrestling. I won’t say who the family champ is, but it’s me.20180716_135329108_iOS

Searching for four-leaf clovers.20180716_145457266_iOS

Feeding ducks20180716_172557568_iOS

Picking new glasses!!!20180717_134608469_iOS

We did a video scavenger hunt around town. Since it was video, we didn’t get many pics, but here they are all fitting in a shopping cart.20180717_150427158_iOS

We watch a little friend once a week and draw a rocket for him so he knows how long it will be before Mommy picks him up. Josiah drew the rocket this day and spelled “Mommy” perfectly.20180718_125648921_iOS

Family Olympics! Finding a specific family member by following their voice while blindfolded. 20180718_141651122_iOSWho can hula hoop the longest?20180718_143259592_iOSBe the first to fill the bucket relay20180718_145011625_iOSDrop the tennis ball in the hula hoop by carrying it between your knees.20180718_150936359_iOSHow many bugles can you throw onto the whipped cream? And then how many can you eat from the ground?20180718_153436966_iOSWho can keep the feather in the air the longest by blowing it?20180718_155527118_iOSTransfer jelly beans to bowls with straws20180718_161343209_iOS

Hand-clapping games20180718_174006196_iOS

Well-child visits with a sister is way better!20180719_131938242_iOS

Cheyanne and I had a sweet weekend trip together to Lafayette!!! Here we are at a cute little zoo they have.20180720_143539903_iOS20180720_144020855_iOS20180720_153349557_iOSAnd getting tickled during a pedicure.20180720_182245408_iOS

Team fort-building!20180721_191056914_iOS

These girls hauled rocks and bricks at one of our favorite parks to make this cool fairy path!!!20180723_151828673_iOS

Checking out one of our sweet neighbor’s garden in her backyard20180723_212917123_iOS

Decorating cookies for fun20180725_214839756_iOS20180725_214931363_iOS20180725_215621740_iOS20180725_215855000_iOS

Out to lunch with my friend and my Sunday baby!!20180726_152547134_iOS

Liam had his first interview!!! He applied for the Children’s Museum Apprenticeship Program. He worked so hard for it.20180726_183428586_iOS

Our three ten-year-olds had a joint birthday party with a detective theme!! Twelve friends came to celebrate them, along with other friends and family who came to help.20180728_011254303_iOS20180728_185710272_iOS20180728_185720571_iOS20180728_195511760_iOS20180728_221004510_iOS20180728_221008182_iOS20180728_221013459_iOS20180728_221020406_iOS20180728_221159889_iOS20180728_221337172_iOS20180728_225428727_iOS20180728_225449929_iOS20180728_231139041_iOS20180729_010104383_iOS


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Bell Family Update–June 2018

June was a bit of a slower month for us in on the one hand, but on the other hand, nine of our kids were at the Children’s Museum for two weeks this month. So while we didn’t do as much as a family, the kids still had full days!

At the butterfly garden at the zoo!20180601_134915775_iOS

This baby girl turned seven!!! 20180601_151419624_iOS

So close to having all Bell kids in one pic…20180601_151510076_iOS

A few of my loves.20180601_152830164_iOS

Unloading the dishwasher, he says, “Mommy, I don’t know why the drawer won’t close.”20180601_172217378_iOS

Best news anchors ever.20180601_180038598_iOS

Perfect fit!20180601_180401811_iOSRainbow hair for the birthday girl20180601_185730681_iOSStill nine kids! How does this keep happening?!20180601_190611938_iOSCarousel!!! And Malcolm’s face here is pretty priceless…20180601_193623356_iOS

This was the back of Esther on a date with Bill. I just thought it was a gorgeous picture of her!20180603_110105562_iOS

Creek stomping with friends!!!20180604_143511331_iOS20180604_145915363_iOS

Block fortress!20180604_214108235_iOS

These two handsome guys make me smile big-time!20180604_235519754_iOS

This girlie got an Evangeline Lilly Wasp haircut. I wish we’d recorded her when she saw herself in the mirror for the first time afterward. Jumping up and down and yelling, “I love it!!!” There might have been some dust in the air around Bill and me…20180605_172700511_iOS20180605_181420027_iOS20180605_181425442_iOS

This boy has so much glam.20180609_204314909_iOS

Before this pic, there were Josiah tears because he couldn’t get it to magnetize together into an oval. With a bit of help from Daddy and perseverance, he succeeded!20180610_185615445_iOS

This thing. So much fun. Yet so incredibly annoying since we either think someone has a taser or someone’s turning on the gas stove top.20180611_122950322_iOS

Family walks are still some of our favorites.20180614_134658377_iOS

The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference was in Indy this year, and this sweet sweet friend from Louisville and I got to have lunch together! I wish it could have lasted so much longer.20180615_155745800_iOS

I did my first mud run! So much more challenging than I expected, yet more fun, too.20180616_140733336_iOS

Still missing one! So close. We spent Father’s Day hiking at Clifty Falls State Park. Liam was at a youth camp. We ended up taking a trail we thought was between 2-3 miles long and very rugged. It was the hottest part of the day, and the trail ended up being twice as long as we expected, so Bill ended up hitching a ride with a couple of strangers back to the van so we didn’t have to hike it back! 20180617_162701822_iOS20180617_175113938_iOS20180617_183521058_iOS

And a few days later we got to celebrate my favorite human!!!20180621_212229949_iOS

At the end of Liam’s camp, he and some friends opened a letter our dear friends sent them. It was one letter cut into several pieces! So cute!!20180623_162726238_iOS20180623_162827692_iOS

My mom came over and taught me how prune a couple of our plants. Way easier than I thought it would be and instant gratification!20180624_184516000_iOS

Ariana made a balloon animal on her own when we were hanging with friends!20180624_225110574_iOS

Since his other sibling are at camp at the Children’s Museum, Liam has had themed weeks, too, since he aged out of that camp. The first week was the youth camp, and the second week we called “Spread Your Wings Week.” One task: He rode his bike on his own to a nearby gas station and bought me eggs! Good job, Kid!!!20180625_190244036_iOSThen he helped me decorate Josiah’s birthday cake!20180626_184243532_iOS20180626_192755755_iOS20180626_215313943_iOSAnd he power washed my parents’ house!!!20180628_115420000_iOS

Since Josiah’s birthday fell during one of the camp weeks, we had a special day on a Saturday to eat his special foods and do the activities he wanted. That included going to the zoo (and seeing the dolphins!)…20180630_142158053_iOS

…and some family screen time. 🙂20180630_203334381_iOS


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Bell Family Update–May 2018

I always love May. The beginning of real spring weather with all its smells and beauty. And I’m always ready to see the end of all the busy: school, dance, and after-school programs, to name a few. When these wrap up, things start to feel much less hectic. Bring on the slower days of summer!

One of my dearest friends along with her son designed and gifted us with this picture!!! One of my favorite gifts of all times!20180503_145114245_iOS

Both Bill and my favorite birds: a blue heron and a red-winged black bird.20180503_181720860_iOS

Visits to the Children’s Museum20180503_215019596_iOS

One of our friends teaching at our church’s monthly men’s brunch. Bill and Liam have been enjoying this time with many of their friends.20180505_154610961_iOS

Pillow fights!20180506_191513249_iOS

Malcolm’s first birthday with us!!!20180506_193346558_iOS

Playgrounds galore!!20180507_151909457_iOS

A snake Liam almost stepped on at 100 Acres. Ewwww!20180507_204333132_iOS

Nature creations20180507_205308588_iOS

Getting my baby fix on with one of our friend’s newbies!!!20180508_222554353_iOS

Our buddy I get to have each Wednesday20180509_135931615_iOS

I had a day out with my oldest girlie! This was first of many meals that day.20180510_114544388_iOSWe did archery together!!! We’re addicted now!20180510_151026159_iOS20180510_154755298_iOS20180510_155037429_iOS

A couple of friends came in from Louisville and we got to spend a bit of time with them at our house! 20180511_214816424_iOS

Liam’s 13th birthday party!!!! This group was so fun and I want to keep all of them as mine except that would mean this many tween/teen boys and two is pretty much all I can handle at this point. 20180512_183708094_iOS20180512_183714959_iOSSkyZone!!20180512_192151654_iOS20180512_192456797_iOS20180512_192834753_iOS20180512_193354442_iOS20180512_195536139_iOS20180512_201432132_iOSThe Party-Goers20180512_202056388_iOS20180512_202919421_iOS

Bill rented a pontoon for Mother’s Day!!! Such a gorgeous, relaxing, and fun day!20180513_141902056_iOS20180513_141907889_iOS20180513_144127723_iOS20180513_144354135_iOS20180513_144705264_iOS20180513_151352633_iOS20180513_151430803_iOS20180513_151931376_iOS20180513_152734124_iOS20180513_173244546_iOS20180513_173506233_iOS20180513_173749323_iOS20180513_174504234_iOS20180513_181832681_iOSThey even swam. I think Heaven’s face lets you know how cold the water was…20180513_185008411_iOS

This little neighbor hung at our house for a few minutes one day, and I thought this picture was so sweet!20180514_163623696_iOS

Our first teenager!!! Yay! And sob…20180514_201455845_iOS

Orchestra POPS concert this sweet friend blessed me with!20180518_235720401_iOS

A ministry with which our family is involved had a family fun festival. Ariana got to face paint a bit!20180519_215025958_iOS

Our Christmas present, along with most extended family, to our kids was redesigned bedrooms! They knew they wouldn’t see the present until April or May and had no idea what it was. So much fun getting this together and seeing the delight on the kids’ faces!!! 20180521_144725723_iOS20180521_144751134_iOS20180521_144758374_iOS20180521_144822302_iOS20180521_144832500_iOS20180521_181113106_iOS20180521_181123829_iOS20180521_181135951_iOS20180521_181142025_iOS20180521_220148266_iOS20180521_220159630_iOS20180521_220225766_iOS20180521_220236664_iOS20180521_225712914_iOS20180521_225803222_iOS*This picture makes me laugh really hard because both girls look like they want to cut Bill. In reality, they didn’t know he was there and turned to look right as he took the pic. The next pic he took has them smiling, but I thought this was a much better one to include! 20180521_225834775_iOS

Explorers Celebration at the Children’s Museum! Ariana and Malcolm both graduated this year.20180522_230959552_iOSI love so much that my parents get to be here for all the things!!!20180522_232522418_iOS

Our kids sent us on a scavenger hunt to several neighbors’ homes where they had gifts waiting for us on our anniversary!!! Two of our neighbors especially went all out to help our kids with this. One came up with many of the ideas, and another went all over town and online ordering supplies. Makes me choke up even as I type it! The kids paid for it with their own money. They even had a star named for us!!!20180524_151256942_iOS20180524_151419307_iOS20180524_152058504_iOS20180524_154030501_iOSFamily picnic waiting for us at the end!20180524_154428433_iOS

Strange creatures invading our house20180525_133933671_iOS

I had Lasik!!! The second pic is me during the procedure including my eye on the screen, but I had to include this first. A man brought in his pet monkey!!! So so so adorable!!!!20180525_161056113_iOS20180525_175605201_iOS

Memorial Day fun!20180528_151106789_iOS20180528_160641893_iOS20180528_201037758_iOS20180528_201158169_iOS20180528_235310426_iOS

Family walks20180529_111903230_iOS

This girl is making so much progress on the guitar!20180529_165321932_iOS

Cuties with creations20180531_200137331_iOS


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Bell Family Update–March/April 2018

March and April were two whirlwind months for us. Between all of the activities and outings, we’ve been in the thick of homeschooling, dance, ministries, and day-to-day life. It feels like there’s barely been time to just breathe. But God is faithful and looking back over these pictures, we clearly had a lot of fun memories that we shared.

Nana and Peepaw let us know about a little job fair/play town at their local bank. The kids had a blast trying out different jobs. Malcolm and Cheyanne were city clerks, and in the background, Heaven is a librarian.

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Esther and Victoria worked for the kid bank.

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Miriam worked at the animal rescue–and loved every second of it!

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Boys and fire…

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We took a day trip to Cincinnati to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe home and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Here we are at the Freedom Center.

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Posing down near the riverfront.

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Nana joining in the play at the riverfront playground.

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Even Courtney put her rock climbing skills to the test!

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Ariana and I took a daddy-daughter date to Starbucks. Ariana sure likes her mochas…

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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis just opened their Sports Legends Experience expansion. We got the opportunity to come preview it on a very cold day. It was pretty darn spectacular.

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Courtney and our friend Becca got to walk laps on the walking track while getting to catch up while the kids wore themselves out doing all the new activities.

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One of our favorite things is to make a “laser” obstacle course in the hallway. Here are some noteworthy (and some not-so-noteworthy) attempts to get through unscathed.

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And somehow this expanded and grew until it became a girl hangout zone.

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Courtney made a new dish in our house: chicken piccata. Nom nom…

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On a home date, Courtney and I made some homemade large pretzels.

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We celebrated Pi Day with various forms of pie. Here are a few selections from the day:

Quiche.

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Blueberry pie.

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Someone cute as pie helping to make pie.

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French silk pie.

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One night, Josiah was tuckered enough to fall asleep on Court. So sweet!

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Liam and I took a day out together to just hang and do some fun stuff. I really don’t know when this kid stopped being a kid, but I think it happened…

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Well, I guess he’s still kid enough to like Legos!

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Laser tag!

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Getting some air time.

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Nascar. This was the face he made as he was running my car off the road, by the way…

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I’m, um… I’m not really sure what happened here…

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Mmmmmm. Diet Mountain Dew…

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These two boys were fighting one morning. They got to experience the joy of parents helping them learn the important lesson of reconciliation…in a t-shirt.

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We took a walk on the Fall Creek trail and stopped to do a bit of exploring.

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As has been our tradition for quite some time, we celebrated the first day of Spring with the traditional Easter-type activities so that we can focus more exclusively on the resurrection when Easter Sunday rolls around.

Cinnamon roll bunnies.

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An indoor egg hunt (the weather was nicht so good…).

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Grilling out!

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Decorating eggs.

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At our new church, we’ve been starting to have brothers and sisters over to get to know them better. One family, the Neals, joined us for brunch. Here’s some of Courtney’s spread from that morning.

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The Neals!

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love watching this woman teach our kids and I love the joy they have every time they reach a new milestone.

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Goofing around at a playground.

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We really don’t just take pictures of dead birds, but here was one that Aiden found and decided to pick up. Blech!

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We got to join the 50th anniversary celebration of a family in our church. The kids got to play on an old playground that had seesaws, which totally freaked them out and filled me with nostalgia! Oh the cruelty they could help you unleash…

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The celebration also included an egg hunt.

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One morning, we “slept in” a bit…till about 7:30. But some of the kids took it upon themselves to make our breakfast, along with Earl Grey for me and coffee for Courtney. The little sweeties!

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My brother Oliver cooking up some made-to-order omelets for the Men of Brookside.

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The Greatest Showman has become a huge family favorite. Here we are doing karaoke with it on Miriam’s birthday.

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Miriam wanted to go to Chuck E Cheese as well.

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Momma and the birthday girl.

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Nerd moment for me here. We went to the Cincinnati homeschool convention to stock on school supplies. Convenient for me, I saw that my favorite living novelist, N.D. Wilson, was going to speaking there. We went to one of his sessions (which was pretty awesome, by the way) and then stopped by the Canon Press booth to meet him. Full disclosure: I’m super awkward around strangers, especially when I feel like they’re super awesome. So, Courtney and the kids had to herd me over to him, because they knew I was too nervous to meet him though I wanted to. They were successful, though, and I got to have a fun time chatting with him. Here’s the photo evidence.

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For a school activity, the kids worked together to open a grocery store in the living room.

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We spent some time outdoors on another nice day. While we were crossing a creek, a beaver emerged from under some wood and we got to watch him swim around for a while.

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We also got some fun playtime in. One of the big hits was the monkey bar-type things. Aiden tried them, but was unsuccessful. So, he came up with a different approach…

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Just hanging around…

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Dolled up to see a brother and sister at Brookside get hitched!

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Courtney got to take Miriam out for their mommy-daughter weekend. They spent most of it outdoors, doing outdoorsy things like canoeing, hiking, and riding horses (her favorite!).

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The weekend also included Miriam sleeping like a psychopath.

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Miriam also got her ears pierced. I think it was a little traumatic for her, but she looks cute. (And no, she didn’t have to do it–she chose to go through with it.)

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While they were gone, I turned into a puddle without my wifey. So Victoria had to take over all the cooking duties. 😉

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We also did some outdoorsing, too.

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Eight of our kids have been taking dance this semester. We got to have their recital and they all danced beautifully. Here they are with their instructor, Christina.

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During the performance.

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And posing with their previous babysitters, Kayli and Jocelyn.

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Courtney got to have breakfast with our friend Laurelen and Trippe!

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We ended April with a last-minute decision to head outta town, hit some start parks, and be unexpected. It was marvelous.

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Bell Family Update–January/February 2018

January and February combined this time! Slower for us, but full at the same time.

This beauty left single digits behind!! Love that joyful smile.20180216_194710979_iOS

We celebrate Epiphany each year, opening at least a present a day throughout the 12 days of Christmas leading up to it. Here’s Josiah opening a gift, and the king’s cake I make where I hide baby Jesus. 20180104_131609136_iOS20180106_203609764_iOS

Bill and I went on a date night to see the Pacers!20180107_003744915_iOS

Having trouble getting dressed and making muddy Olafs20180108_180714807_iOS20180108_182017949_iOS20180108_183548065_iOS

Read-alouds and school20180103_211836514_iOS20180111_151842812_iOS20180113_211827365_iOS20180116_155907314_iOS20180202_163125422_iOS

My parents’ anniversary was in January. Since they live here now, we got to celebrate with them!!!! We made a restaurant, complete with entertainment for them. So much fun!! Here’s some of the prep work.20180110_193727191_iOSThe restaurant signDSC00475The hostessDSC00476Such a gentlemanDSC00478The fantastic waiterDSC00480The manager checking in on thingsDSC00484Refilling drinksDSC00486Serving appetizersDSC00491DSC00489DSC00526EntertainmentDSC00500DSC00503DSC00515DSC00528The guests’ menuDSC00479And the leftover artDSC00534

One of my favorite parts of this winter was meeting two of Malcolm and Cheyanne’s half sisters and their family!!! Their adoption was finalized a few months ago, and we loved loved loved all of them!20180113_224749039_iOS

I cannot say enough times how happy I am to live so close to my parents again!!! We went almost a month without seeing them when we were hit hard with the flu in December and January, so we were glad to get a Connor Prairie and lunch with them ASAP!20180119_160900283_iOSI love the indoor parts of Connor Prairie!20180119_170615884_iOS20180119_171120310_iOS20180119_171216465_iOSShooting paper airplanes20180119_175802761_iOSPutting on Nana’s coatDSC00452

This little one has wanted to pick my outfits and twinsie with me many times the past few months. I’m not complaining! These little years are going too fast.20180114_135857341_iOS20180115_151612529_iOS20180115_151632477_iOS

I love how many games we play in the winter!20180115_192558581_iOS

Kalahari! This indoor water park is fantastic, and this was our third year going. 20180123_155842929_iOS20180124_170720245_iOS

We were on a walk with Mom one day and ran into Heaven and Aiden’s birth grandfather and his wife!!! We love them much, invited them to walk with us, and got to spend a couple of hours with them. Thankful!20180128_195642123_iOSMom stylin’ in a beard20180128_203602090_iOSThe boys trying to be all GQ for the photo! 20180128_203826727_iOSLove this man!!!20180128_213330620_iOSAll of us together in a picture!20180128_213531215_iOS20180128_213600508_iOS

Esther’s been my cooking helper this month. These times in the kitchen with my kiddos are some of my favorites.20180201_153841951_iOS

New friends!20180202_231756293_iOS

One day I was labeling items. Malcolm started messing with me, so I told him if he didn’t stop I’d label his face.20180205_204529819_iOS

Bill and I each took a day out this month to hike in the snow. So much beauty.20180209_202749763_iOS

Trees beg to be climbed20180212_212051356_iOS

One of our favorite little men we get to spend time with each week. He drew a nest for his mommy.20180215_162744944_iOS

First lost tooth!!!!!!20180216_194816687_iOS

A visit from Uncle Michael!!!!!!!!! The one who keeps everyone laughing constantly.20180216_224441677_iOS

Faces for days20180217_140702952_iOS

A stuffed animal fest20180217_140532746_iOS20180217_143327402_iOS

Hot chocolate dates with Daddy20180218_120004348_iOS20180218_125057192_iOS

I got to play with dolphins, ya’ll!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bill and my parents got me this gift for my birthday, and I think it just topped all other gifts!! I didn’t know it was possible to love dolphins more than I did, but I do now!20180218_193406511_iOS20180218_195232585_iOS20180218_200028483_iOS20180218_200523881_iOS20180218_205126350_iOS

I had a lid lift surgery to correct a droopy lid that was affecting my vision. Here’s the before and after. Have to make sure the surgeon gets the correct eye!20180219_151720275_iOS20180220_211830378_iOS

Crazy hair day (Malcolm took out his bows before this picture), complete with hair food, like a braided loaf.20180222_180738560_iOS20180222_120334750_iOS

Bill and Malcolm took a weekend away!20180223_210742957_iOS20180223_215104998_iOS20180224_154912740_iOS20180224_232936058_iOS

While they were gone, the rest of us totally got into chess. Which is funny because I never remember the rules. Bill does. And he wasn’t here.20180224_124718010_iOS

When you want to play with the big kids but that means boo boos to the head.20180224_224149270_iOS

Time with friends20180224_234338188_iOS


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Heaven is 10!!!!

(A little late, as her birthday was in January!)

Dear Heaven,

Double digits WHAT?????? It has truly been a joy this past year to watch you grow and change. You’re slowly finding your place, joining in the dance. Your beautiful smile shines a little more all the time, and you’re pulling yourself toward us, pulling away less frequently. And I’m grateful to God for it and for you.

You’re tasting joy, and your whole face changes when you do. You relax, you grin, and you know peace. You tell us you know that joy is from God. I know you still don’t want him, and I understand why. But you know the source of the happiness, and I still believe one day you’ll be ready to embrace it completely.

My prayer for you this next year is the same prayer I have for me—to stop fearing. This one word, fear, is a powerful little booger. It rules us without us being aware. It stops us from embracing who God wants us to be, and just like your mama, it’s taken over your mind. It’s a hard one to fight. We fear what others will think of us, we fear not being good at something we try, we fear bad things happening to us or those we love, we fear ourselves because we know what we’re capable of.

But it’s not supposed to be that way. Jesus came to defeat fear and to replace it with a freedom greater than the freedom we also celebrate on this holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., a brave man who fought hard for freedom for his people. He loved Jesus fiercely, and that love gave him the power to fight through his fears even to the point of giving up his own life, much like the one who strengthened him through it all.

But the freedom Jesus gave us wasn’t just a freedom for all people to be equal. It was a freedom from shame. A freedom to show all our cards, to confess our failures, to embrace tomorrow, to know who we are, to walk in a new identity because our past doesn’t define us anymore. It’s a freedom that makes us princes and princesses of the kingdom of God, his adopted children with the same inheritance as Jesus, so what others think of us is a moot point.

Your single digits weren’t always good to you. As always, Dad and I are the soldiers at the forefront on Team Heaven. We will fight harder for you than anyone else. But our general is King Jesus, and my hope is that you’ll be able to embrace him, his freedom and his joy, in your first year of double digits.

I love you more and more every day, my H-Dawg.

Mom and Dad


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Bell Family Update–December 2017

After the very full November we had, December was a much slower month for us. Much of that was by choice, though here at the end of the month, we’ve been hit with a stomach bug which has kept us homebound. Of course, the extremely cold weather has also contributed!

Liam with one of his good neighbor buddies. They’re so manly…

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Miriam and Momma having a little snuggle time on the couch.

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Liam being a really good example to one of our younger neighbors…

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Five of the girls danced in Brookside Dance Academy’s Nutcracker. This year we had them in a private class, so they actually got to have the stage to themselves for one of the pieces!

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Ariana also got a little extra stage time.

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With Nana and Peepaw here in the area, we’ve gotten to add some additional Christmas traditions. One of them was decorating their tree. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but it was a little–shall we say–ragtag.

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Continuing with our monthly “spirit days”, we celebrated Stuffed Day for December. That included bringing stuffed animals along through the school day, along with stuffed french toast, stuffed strawberries, and calzones.

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Aiden turned six! Or maybe Spider-man did. I’m not really sure.

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He also wanted to eat strawberry and blueberry shortcakes, which I thought came out so pretty from Courtney’s baking that I had to throw a picture in.

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Christmas day was peaceful and enjoyable. Here’s Courtney painting the girls’ nails with polish they got in their stockings.

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Here’s me continuing the Christmas tradition of sugar cookies, with a little help from some little people.

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I’m blessed to have a job that takes care of our family, but especially so to have coworkers and a boss that are a joy to work with. My boss gave me this.

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As I said, we got hit with a stomach bug around here. It started before Christmas with a few of the kiddos. Then Courtney got nailed with it Christmas Eve and then more kids thereafter. Here’s the youngest, knocked out from getting sick and taking a very rare midday nap. But ain’t he cute???

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Reading “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. ‘Twas the night before Christmas) to the kiddos… five days after Christmas.

New Year’s Eve was also pretty quiet. We still had some lingering illness, which dampened things a bit. We didn’t keep the kids up till midnight–as you can see, this is Miriam at around eleven o’clock.