It’s not cheating:
Miriam: You don’t have to use that part of the game.
Courtney: Yes, you do!
Miriam: No, I mean you don’t have to use it if you’re not going to follow the rules.
Ready for a hair commercial:
Liam: I was out of my shampoo, so I actually used three different kinds that were in the shower. But I really like the way my hair feels. It’s really soft!
Courtney: I bet you used conditioner. Did you?
Liam: No, I checked to make sure they all said “hair” on the bottle.
Liam talking about grades:
Liam: F stands for fail, right? Or maybe it stands for phenomenal!?
Courtney: If you think phenomenal starts with F, then you probably deserve that grade.
Demonstrating how much the little boys struggled with phonics:
Courtney: Josiah, what does “dumb” start with?
Me: Okay, Aiden, what does “Mom” start with?
M___: Do you have any hippie songs? You know, like with banjos?
Bill (confused for a couple of beats ): Do you mean hipster music?
Bill: Miriam, why didn’t you change clothes like I told everyone to do?
Miriam: Oh, I didn’t hear you say that.
Bill: I guess I should expect at this point to have more and more times of kids claiming they didn’t hear me.
Miriam: What did you say?
The first time our newest daughter walked through our house:
C___: Wait! I thought you said there was a church in your house!!
Referring to Cain’s adversaries being punished seven times worse than he was:
Victoria: Why did God punish Abel [Cain] by making people pay $7 if they killed him?
After Esther got dish soap in her eye.
Bill: Well, go to Mr. Dan and have him spit in your eye. That should help.
Esther: I would rather go to Jesus than have that happen.
Talking about how old people were in the beginning of Genesis:
Victoria: Yeah, like our grandparents! They’re super old!!!
Discussing the differences between Apple and Android:
M___: I like Apple better
Courtney: So does Dad.
Josiah: I like bananas better!
She’s so popular…:
Victoria: Those people at the next table were talking about me. I know because they said, “Victoria’s secret.”
Bill: Didn’t I ban you from eating outside the other day?
Victoria (thinking): No, you abandoned me before that.
Trying to get Josiah to guess her password (which was “Batman”):
Victoria: What does Daddy really love?
In the herbivore family:
C___: Hey, look! A convertabore! [Convertible]
It cannot be possible that my BABY is school-aged now!!! Nooooo!!!!
You have been a special little man from day one. You were a boy after a four-girl fast in our home, the first brother for a very eager Liam, making his dreams come true. While I was pregnant with you, we decided you’d be the last little babe to be grown inside me, so I treasured every second and paid more attention to every movement, knowing I’d never get that experience again.
Then you decided to show up early. Though I know the way you come into the world doesn’t reflect your personality at all, it still makes me smile to think about how it fits you. You come when you want and do things as you see fit, not necessarily the way the world thinks you should. But not in a defiant, prideful way. In a non-assuming, comfortable way that brings joy to you and, as a result, to those around you.
You may just be the happiest child I’ve ever known. Not a huge laugher, but with a grin a mile wide that’s almost always on display. You don’t feel the need to impress others or beg for their attention, yet you know just when others need some empathy. It takes a lot to get you to sit still for a good long snuggle, but the other day I was carrying much weight on my shoulders. My struggle wasn’t obvious to others, but you came right up and cuddled into me for almost an hour without moving. Daddy told me you simply knew I needed you. A little boy who doesn’t always pay attention to what’s going on around him yet who is so incredibly in-tune with those around him.
You are the baby, and with that comes some of the typical baby qualities. You don’t try for things as hard as the others because you’ve grown accustomed to those older than you doing everything for you. But you’re also not entitled. It just usually doesn’t occur to you that you have more ability than you think. My prayer for you is to grow in independence this year (even though my heart wants you to always need me!), seeing more areas you can do something because Christ has given you strength. But I also want you to keep that humble heart that isn’t afraid to ask others for help. That gets harder as you get older, and it’s a beautiful person who understands they need others.
You have the potential to have a strong, “why not?” kind of faith because of it. I desire for you to direct that faith to Jesus Christ, keeping your thoughts on him, not on screen time or playing outside or treat. Those are fine things to enjoy, but Jesus is so much finer. I believe you’re going to be a strong man of God, displaying a joy that is unexplainable, a joy I think you probably already have because of Jesus, a true child-like faith.
Your joy draws others to you without you even knowing it. I pray it draws others to Jesus in years soon to come.
I love you much, my little guy,
Mommy and Daddy
Summer break summer break summer break!!!!!!! I love teaching my kids, and I love the break from it, too. May started that break while still finishing up other priorities that correspond with the “normal” school year. Loving my time with my family.
Bill was attempting to get a pic of me in an awkward position, but I lost it right before he caught it. The boys did much better than I did. I won’t mention how terribly they follow the rules and freely move their limbs as they please to make it easier. I, however, was awesome.
We joined Conner Prairie again this year. If you ever visit Indy, you must go here. It’s my favorite museum!
We found out we’re getting a new son and daughter!!!!! Bill and I have had three visits with them, and they are amazing. All our kids meet each other next week! We can’t wait for them to live with us in a few weeks. A friend and neighbor came over to take some pics of us that we put in a book for M and C, including a pic of us making room for them. We love them so much already!!!!The real us.The posed us.
Spring doesn’t just bring animal babies. It usually brings plenty of human babes, too! This is one of our sweet neighbors at only a week old. I’m always a really awesome servant for my friends, holding their babies to give their arms a break for a while. I’m holy like that.
Michelangelo in the making.
This is the city, folks. Rail trail on the near east side. Seriously, we see horses all the time, even on downtown sidewalks.
May block party. Serving junk food in style!
I just love this picture. Bill took it without me knowing. It’s just a morning moment with my smallest girl, simply chatting. No makeup, no hair fixed, just us not posing.
My oldest is now 12. My eyes get blurry typing that, so no more caption.
First splash pad and playground of the season. It won’t be the last.
The Children’s Museum currently has a circus exhibit. As part of it, they do a show in the main part where they “shoot a kid out of the canon.” Miriam was picked to be the kid!!!!! It was such a fun experience for her getting to act on the fly. She was spectacular!Here she is being shot. 😉 And she’s OK!
I started teaching voice again last fall, and my students had their first recital. They were all amazing! Bell kids even performed “So Long, Farewell” with only two weeks to practice. Love my students and family.
When you can’t get along, you wear Daddy’s shirt together and cooperate to clean up toys. I laughed the whole time. They didn’t. I’m a nice mommy…
Our 3rd-5th grade kids participate in an amazing after school program at the Children’s Museum. This was a picture of the group this year (Ariana and Esther are hidden in there) along with the teachers we love so much. We are truly blessed to live so close to this place!
I bought this for Bill on his birthday and then basically twisted his arm to wear it to work. He was super happy about it. But he did it cause he lurves me!
Bill and I took our annual trip away. We went to Saugatuck, MI, and it was maybe the sweetest trip we’ve ever taken. So thankful we have an amazing friend who tackles the kids (sometimes literally!) for a long weekend so we get this time each year.
Our oldest is another year older. I don’t like it. I like it. All the feels.
Here’s the letter I wrote him this year. Along with his super handsome picture.
I joke all the time about how you aren’t allowed to grow up, threatening to kick you out of the family (or just kick you as Victoria said) when you turned 10 because you were being so disobedient. But truly, there’s a part of me that wants time to slow down. Twelve, only six more years of youth left, meaning about the same amount of time for you to live in my home. And my future planning heart is already breaking thinking about it. Good grief, you’re now half-way done with school! How did this happen?!
But it also makes my heart glad. Change is part of this world, sometimes big change and sometimes small. And you becoming a man will be a beautiful and needed change for this world.
You and I get each other in a special way. Though you and Dad are much alike in your strong leadership abilities, you and I are alike in our self-evaluation, in our rule-following and therefore striving to earn grace, and in our ability to connect with others. As a result, we tend to measure our worth according to the world and have a difficult time seeing that God has given us any giftings at all, believing the lie that we’re never going to conquer the sin we so hate in ourselves.
I always must tread lightly when offering you correction, knowing how similar to me you are and how you tend to fall into despair when it happens. So, my son who is quickly transforming into a man (sniff), allow me, as you did for me in a recent letter, to offer you some truth about who you are and what this way way way way way way way wiser person sees in you. 😉
You are more gifted in encouragement than almost anyone I know. You joke much but then are heavily burdened if you find out your joking hurt. The Spirit in you drives you to crave building others up. You know what it feels like to be torn down, and you can’t stand the thought of anyone else feeling that way. So you love. Mr. Mark is an encourager, clearly filled with the Spirit in his humility to never puff himself up but to take advantage of every opportunity to point out the good God is working. It feels like a rare gift in men, and you will glorify Jesus maybe more with this one than any others, because it’s odd and people will notice and be drawn to it.
You are bent toward truth and righteousness. This can obviously come out in wicked pride and stubbornness (you’ve never heard THAT before), but it also comes out in a boy wise beyond his years, who is more and more frequently spurring even his mother to truth that I have a difficult time seeing through my sinful heart. You don’t just take people’s word for it, but you consider and weigh to see if it’s within the right rules or just. You have the gift of truth and knowledge. Use it well, my boy. Dig in deep to the word. Don’t let video games or playing with friends or getting stuck in your head substitute for truth. Find it in your Daddy’s words he’s given you. His word is truth. It’s time for you to take this practice of immersing yourself in scripture seriously, past what we “require” of you. You will be swayed. Don’t let your pride fool you into thinking you won’t be. The world sounds good and wise, sometimes too good to be true, because it’s just a lie trying on truth’s clothing. You are beyond blessed to have two of the biggest truth-seekers I’ve ever known in your daddy and Mr. Dan. Watch them and learn from them. They are a gift to you.
You are a leader and a teacher. People will tell you this is because you’re the firstborn, but I’d argue that God set you aside as the firstborn to prepare you to be a leader. Your name means strong protector. As much as we must sometimes correct you for taking the role when it’s not your job, you care deeply for those weaker than you, and would give your life without blinking an eye to save another. You’re brave and courageous, and I look up to you. But it’s more than a concern for physical safety. You pastor the hearts of your little brothers and sisters, gently correcting them when they get theology wrong or are doing something you know isn’t good for them (this one amazes me because you somehow manage to almost always do this without self-righteousness!). This is so true of you that if Mom or Dad aren’t around, you have become the next trusted source. Your siblings will come seeking you for answers because they see and trust your wisdom, and they know you’ll answer them patiently and full of love.
You’re frequently concerned you’ll not grow into a man after God’s own heart. Oh, kid, live for today. Do not worry about tomorrow. Because today I see a twelve-year-old boy who already has a heart for Jesus and others. Why would God not continue to be faithful to you when you’re technically a man. You are already more noble and honorable than many men I know, maybe most men. I want to see you ask him more, have a bigger faith, remember my story with the lightning. The same is true for you. You are his son, a prince of his kingdom, and he’s promised he’ll give you what you ask in his name. He gave Solomon wisdom when he asked for it because it was a right request. You desire to have a heart like his, there’s no more righteous desire, so ask him. And don’t look at tomorrow and judge whether he’s answered. Trust him today. Then in 10 years, look back and see how he’s transformed you. You don’t remember the last 10 years of your life, but we do, and it’s built our faith that God does in fact answer our prayer and doesn’t let your foot slip. You’ll see it more clearly in the next ten.
I love you deeply. You’re the one who’s grown us the most as parents, mainly because you are the guinea pig, the one we make the most mistakes with and sin against the most. We’re always having to figure things out with you because you’re the first. And you’re always full of grace to these bumbling people who have the privilege to call you “son,” encouraging us and teaching us along the way. I get to see God’s grace in giving us this cool kid despite our rebellion and failures. We see the gospel in you, and our faith is built. May yours be built alongside ours.
Loving you in awe of God’s goodness,
Mom and Dad
This month was less eventful with “special” days, but I’ve been praying to learn each day is special. It was a sweet month, while busy beginning to wrap up normal school year stuff.
This is always a bitter/sweet season for us. The beauty of spring and looking forward to a more open schedule. But it also brings more stress and challenges as a family. Attitudes are high, and we all kind of flake out with our responsibilities. We’re all just over school and our very full daily calendar. I want to keep it real here, because pictures only give a partial picture. Though if you look closely enough, you can see more. For instance, you’ll notice the absence of one of our daughters in many pictures. Particular rebellion is typically high this time of year, which results in several losses of privileges. Not every moment is bad, but every moment isn’t grand either.
There are fewer pics this month because as usual, we forget to document much with a camera! One event with no pictures was our block party. We had a sweet time with many neighbors grilling hot dogs and hanging out in our yard. I seriously love our neighbors to the moon and back!
These girls spent almost an entire day making this huge Lego town, complete with zip line!
We decided this year to train as a family for a 5K. The kids, even the little ones, are all doing amazingly!!! They talk when we run. I don’t. Which says a lot.
We spent a day at the Children’s Museum with some dear friends from Louisville! The same day, we ran into friends from our college days!!! One of my favorite days.
MDKT (Mom Dad Kid Time) that we do with each kid each month. Love this individual time!
This girl dances in style!
The girls spent our monthly Rule and Drool day at a bookstore and The Flying Cupcake. We’re super serious, ya’ll.These water bottles would. not. open.
These girlies are three of my favorites in the world. Our tweens are blossoming in friendships these day, and this mama couldn’t be more thankful.I’m a pretty ginormous fan of this lady, too. Love her so much!!!
Showing fabulous artwork.
Day at Shades State Park!
Look! Bill made it into a picture! One of our besties took this before we went to celebrate a sweet wedding. Isn’t he dreamy???
These little cuties officially finished preschool! The exclamation point is there to remind myself I should be happy they’re growing and all my children are now school age and my hands aren’t as full anymore and yada yada yada. But I still want my babies!!!!! So there.
I pulled my rotator cuff in my left arm (no idea how!), so this is world’s best hubs fixing my hair for me. He rocks!Finished product!
We enrolled Liam in an acting class. He had a great time with it! We got to watch him on his final night perform his monologue–from Harry Potter, of course. This mama might have gotten a bit teary eyed. From the dust in the room…