The Bell Family

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

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Bell Family Update–December 2016

We love December. Our neighborhood is quiet from the cold, extra-curricular activities take a break, and we just get more time to hole up as a family. This has been a sweet month for all of that.

Always a family favorite–wrestling Daddy. It’s getting harder and harder for him to overtake them these days. 20161128_211800468_iosAnd while he still can…20161128_211915747_ios

The choir I sing in gave our premier performance. I love these people.20161203_011303205_ios

The girls were again in the Nutcracker. We are so blessed to dance with this studio!20161208_230743873_ios20161208_232822331_ios20161208_234054723_ios

Our first snowman! ūüėČ 20161209_182501621_ios

A glimpse into our lives in a few years. The girls taking off their makeup after the recital. Oh, boy.20161210_010007752_ios


And a better snowman. This was the perfect snow for it!20161213_202135579_ios


Ariana baked cupcakes for Aiden’s birthday all by herself!20161219_190702337_ios

We all had an amazing and hard-working week with Nana!!! She came in to help me give my home a clean-sweep/re-org for the end of the year. This woman is better at this stuff than anyone I know, and she never stopped, even with a sore knee. This is an end-of-the-week movie time, complete with Nana snuggles. I was relieved Aiden wore his helmet, too, in case something came flying out of the TV screen.20161219_230521230_ios

Grocery shopping date with Daddy20161223_153416208_ios

Coloring time. Bill gifted me with a FabFitFun subscription box! The girls loved helping me decorate it. Aka, I did nothing. ūüôā 20161224_152627026_ios

Family reading time20161224_161946228_ios

The traditional search for baby Jesus to put in the manger on Christmas morning20161225_120720548_iosAnd the finder of said baby20161225_121026379_ios

Ah yeah, buddie, dig in to that stocking candy.20161225_123155651_ios

Sugar cookie time!20161225_211732127_ios

Legos for days20161226_210418209_ios

And a cute little birthday boy!!!20161228_145553130_ios


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Halloween 2012

Well, Halloween was certainly a different experience this year. ¬†As usual, we did the whole costumes and trick-or-treating shebang. ¬†The curveball and semi-letdown came from the fact that apparently our neighborhood doesn’t really participate in the T-or-T festivities. ¬†Despite the fact that there are a ton of kids on our street, they must have gone somewhere else because we didn’t see most of them that night.¬† Most folks either weren’t home or didn’t have candy to give out, so the kids were a bit disappointed because it wasn’t like previous years. ¬†My best guess is that it’s because we’re now in a lower income neighborhood, though I’m not entirely sure. ¬†Through a quick google search, I found I’m not the only one with that theory.

BUT Court had the idea to pile in the van to go to one of the T-or-T events nearby. ¬†We went to a mall on the eastside. ¬†By the time we arrived, some store owners had already run out of candy, but the kids still thought it was a lot of fun. ¬†Besides, the whole goal really isn’t to get as much candy as possible. ¬†It’s certainly¬†one of the goals, but not the whole one. ¬†ūüėČ

Anyway, on to the pictures:

Miriam the Ladybug

Esther the Ballerina Princess

Ariana the Candy Corn

Liam the Iron Man

The whole gang (the two littles stayed home with me while Courtney took the others around the neighborhood)

Trick or treating


How We Prepare for the New Year

I’m always looking for new ideas for both holidays and planning/organization. I’d love to hear how you plan for the coming year and how you plan ahead for special occasions and holidays. And for those interested, I thought¬†I would share what¬†Bill and I¬†do together¬†the last two weeks of the year in preparation for the year to come.¬† There’s no magic to it.¬† It’s simple and works for us. ¬†Here goes:

  • We always like to begin by answering¬†¬†Don Whitney’s¬†“10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year” (oddly enough,¬†there are actually 31 questions)–We do¬†this to help refocus our spiritual goals and hearts for Christ
  • Next we work to¬†come¬†up with a financial plan of how to handle our “extra” money– I begin by budgeting each month¬†for less than Bill makes in¬†his full-time job. This¬†leaves¬†us some¬†additional money from those paychecks along with the money from his part-time job salary, and our tax return. ¬†Then,¬†as best we can, we break down¬†where we want all that extra to go (homeschool, conferences, vacation, sports, home improvements, etc.). We find this to be helpful in making sure we don’t see money in our account, spend our money impulsively, and then not have money for¬†things later¬†that would have been greater blessings for our family.¬†
  • After we know where all the “extra” is going, we¬†plug important set dates (visitors, VBS, meetings, etc.) into our calendar. ¬†Once we know what dates are taken, we begin to work on putting¬†potential dates¬†into our calendar¬†for the new year.¬† We do this for things that might not happen if we aren’t intentional about planning ahead.¬† For our family that means we schedule two romantic¬†weekend getaways for Bill and me, without the kids, one week-long family vacation, one long-weekend family vacation, conferences we’re interested in attending (which we determine after working out our extra finances), and¬†finally, two personal retreats for each of us. ¬†
  • Once the budget is done and the dates are all set (as much as we can) I¬†go through each and every file folder to clean out what we no longer need.¬† If this didn’t happen each year, we could seriously buy a second house just to hold our paperwork.
  • I always find it helpful as a homeschool mom to¬†re-evaluate my homeschool¬†schedule to see if changes need to be made for the next semester.¬† This can include dropping, reworking, or adding a subject to better¬†fit our needs, making changes for developmental changes in the children (one child may now be mobile who wasn’t at the beginning of the year, so I would schedule in activities more suitable for her needs; a nap may be dropped so I now have to find 1-2 hours of additional¬†things for a child to do, etc.), or a circumstance change.¬† The biggest change we’re making for next semester is going to a four-day home¬†schedule because of a co-op we’re involved in every Monday.¬† It wasn’t working for me to try to do school at home in addition to school at the church building on those days.¬†¬†
  • And finally we continue with¬†lots of habit training (taking time out to¬†work on a specific habit using games, books, etc.)¬†with the kids. This involves¬† mainly reminders about previously learned habits¬†(hygiene, interrupting, obedience, etc.)¬†and working on one or two new things¬†¬†(potty training, cleaning, drinking from a real cup, etc.).¬† Though I attempt to reinforce all of this throughout the whole year (we don’t ever have a time we don’t expect obedience, for example), I¬†find it¬†difficult to¬†take as much set-aside¬†time for¬†hardcore training on some of these¬†during the school year, so¬†work during breaks¬†usually makes things run a little smoother when the new semester begins.¬†

Like I said, not very magical, but it has really helped us set up our home for more peace in the new year.  What do you all do?



Yep, still trying to get caught up.¬† Here are pics of all the kids in their costumes.¬† Liam was a dragon.¬† Our good friend and neighbor, Jeanie, made it for him simply out of love.¬† ūüôā¬† I made everyone else’s.¬† Ariana was a flower fairy, Esther a fairy princess, and Miriam was a unicorn.¬† We had a great and cold night.¬† Our favorite part of trick-or-treating is getting to see neighbors we haven’t seen in a while and meeting new ones.¬† We love this night!

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4th of July Weekend

We got to visit one of our favorite families in the world for the 3rd year in a row this past weekend.¬† This was the second family we met when we moved to this area 6 years ago, one of the first dinners we shared, some of the first people who knew we were pregnant with Liam, and our first swap dating experience (which was amazing!).¬† I cannot express how dear they are to us.¬† Brian pastors a church “way up north.”¬† He is truly gifted, and the Spirit works in my heart each time I hear him preach.¬† Kacie is a kindred spirit.¬† She is full of wisdom, joy, and encouragement.¬† It’s clear the moment you are with them that their first love is the Lord, and they minister to us each time we have the joy of fellowshiping with them.

Kacie posted pictures of our visit here.  As always, we had a wonderful time.