Long Time No [Hear]…

Sorry folks. Once again, I’ve taken an incredibly lengthy break from blogging. My life has been quite a flurry of activity… I’ve been busy living life rather than blogging about the life I live. It’s rather more satisfying, I think.

I know. Cliche apology.

Anyway, for those of my friends who still like to know what I’m up to, I’m posting a bit of an update about what’s been going on the past few months.

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At the end of the summer, our close friend, Jared C., came to see us before he moved even farther away. Hopefully we will be able to get together with him again soon. : )
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Our youth minister and his wife resigned, so we had a going away party for them. Here is his wife (Hannah– on the right) visiting with one of the church members (Miss Freda B.). πŸ™‚

 

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(At the going away party)– with friends: Angelica, Rosa and Beatriz. πŸ™‚

 

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It’d been something like 6 months since I’d seen my best cousin, Rowena. So we had quite the blast together (as usual). πŸ™‚
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We’re like twins– our nicknames are even that way. πŸ˜‰ ❀
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All of the girl cousins together: yours-truly, Rowena, Phoebe and Abby (both of whom are my sisters), and Rowena’s older sister, Rachel. πŸ™‚
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A journal I made for a friend’s birthday. πŸ™‚
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For our grandma’s birthday, we stayed at her house to paint her house and trim her trees.
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Lovely grandma. πŸ™‚
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Hard-workers. πŸ™‚
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While in town at Grandma’s, we attended a Ranger’s baseball game. My first. And hopefully, my last. πŸ˜‰ I’m not at all a fan of pro-sports!

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At our church’s fall festival– with my sweet friend, Cristin M. πŸ™‚
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So much better– being silly together. πŸ™‚
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The entire David K. family (minus the eldest child– Joel).
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Fun times! πŸ˜€ ❀

I did a little photoshoot with my sweet Cristin. πŸ™‚ Though I took way more than the five below, I thought I’d just post these (they’re my favorites):

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Stunning eyes!
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Such a cheerful young lady! πŸ™‚

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For Thanksgiving, we spent time with both sides of the family. πŸ˜€ A rare treat.

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Mom and her mom. I thought it was neat how their outfits were matching. πŸ™‚
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Jacob (a close family friend) and Jaden (my brother), being silly.. πŸ™‚
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Finally– a non-goofy photo. πŸ™‚
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Cousin Bayle makes cheesecake– which was very sweet, just like her. πŸ™‚
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Phoebe, Caleb and Claudia playing fooseball. πŸ™‚
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More family members visiting. This is all on Mom’s side of the family, btw. πŸ™‚
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My precious little cousin, Tatem. πŸ™‚
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Siblings: Abe, Jill, Jay and Julia (my mom). Sadly, Aunt Jen (the youngest) was missing. :/
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Nick and Bayle, two of Uncle Abe’s kids. πŸ™‚ They are so adorable in this photo. πŸ˜€
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Cousins be like… πŸ˜‰
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It’s never a Russell family gathering without lots of a card games. πŸ™‚
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My darling grandparents. πŸ˜€
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Classy. πŸ˜€
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I just love Poppy’s grin in this! πŸ˜€
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A man to be greatly admired. πŸ™‚ I cherish every precious moment I have with him… πŸ˜€ I really made him smile by telling him that I want both him and my dad to walk me down the aisle– in the event that I get married! πŸ™‚

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Such a lovely couple. πŸ˜€ They’re marriage is 50+ years and going strong! πŸ™‚

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Another cute couple. πŸ™‚

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Uncle Jay’s growing family… πŸ™‚
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Delightful autumn foliage. πŸ™‚
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A serene creek
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Looking epic on a stroll with Grams. πŸ™‚
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Uncle Abe and Mom visit before we had to leave…
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I got to see my best cousin, Rowena, again! πŸ˜€ ❀
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Pheebs, Rachel, Ro-Ro and Jo (me). πŸ˜€
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Visiting with “Aunt” Pam after church… πŸ™‚
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“Aunt” Pam’s nephew, Preston, plays a variation of ping-pong with Abby and Phoebe. πŸ™‚ I joined in later, but was awful at it! XP
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This was later that same Sunday, but this time Abby and Phoebe were playing with the A. siblings. πŸ™‚
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We had a “lock-in” event for youth group. Lots of crazy “fear factor” type of games…

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Our church’s Christmas program was last week… Mady C. and Callie H. chill before the program, which was that night. πŸ™‚ They were both actors for the play. πŸ™‚
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Set decor. πŸ™‚
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Jeffrey C., one of the main actors in the play. πŸ™‚
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Caleb and Claudia came up for the day. πŸ™‚
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Adrean S. (standing) was the main director for the program. I was co-director. πŸ™‚ Quite a job, but fun!

 

Christmas & New Years

Once again, it’s been WAY TOO LONG since I last blogged. My apologies. I’ve been so busy just living life. So, I will try to give you a glimpse of what has happened in my life in the past 3 months. I won’t even attempt to blog about Thanksgiving…. I’ve got WAY to much to catch up on… XP

Christmas we spent with both sides of the family. Usually, we only get to do it with just one. But, it worked out that the weekend before Christmas we spent with Mom’s family,

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Poppy with two of his 20 grandkiddos– Jaden and Emma-Grace. πŸ™‚
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Catching up with our cousin Reece, his wife (Lauren), little boy Travis (who we met for the first time at Christmas), and another cousin, Taylor. πŸ™‚

and the week of Christmas we spent with Dad’s family and a few friends.Image. πŸ™‚Β Image

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And sandwiched in between was our church’s Christmas plays (I was an actress in the first of the two plays).

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The day after Christmas, we went to a party hosted by some LONG time friends of ours (we’ve known their family for about 17 years). We had a blast! =)

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Uno games galore πŸ™‚
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Theological and philosophical discussions. πŸ™‚ Those are the favorite topics for my sister, Abby. πŸ˜‰

 

New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day— our cousin, Jason and his girlfriend Jessica, and our brother Joel came up and we shot off fireworks and did sparklers. πŸ™‚

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Later on New Year’s Day (after the three J.’s left), we went hiking/sight seeing at a local lake with some friends. πŸ™‚

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Leah B., Abs and Pheebs πŸ™‚

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The weather was gorgeously perfect for the day! πŸ™‚

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Thanks, Leah and Jessie! We had fun! =)

Halloween

Something that has lain heavily upon my heart lately has been certain holidays and their true meanings, particularly the one with all of the costumes, carved pumpkins and candy. You know exactly which one I’m referring toβ€”Halloween, of course!

Every holiday season, I ask myself, β€œWhat exactly is the history behind such and such tradition,” or β€œwhy do we celebrate such and such holiday”. I’ve personally never been able to answer such questions when it comes to Halloween.

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It’s the same every year— I see houses with fake grave yards and ghosts; and youngsters (sometimes adults too) dressed up as ghastly characters (think vampires, witches, zombies, devils, grim-reapers; you get the idea). I’ve even known people, who call themselves Christians, participating in these β€œfestivities”. Well, you might ask me, β€œWhy does this bother you? Just get over it.” As a Christian and follower of The Way, the Truth and the Life, I must look at these questions through Biblical β€˜lenses’. And the reason I’m bothered by this holiday— I remember passages in the Bible that say things like, β€œThe devil was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44) and β€œThe thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)

Why are Christians β€˜celebrating’ death and things pertaining to death, when our Savior (Jesus) came to abolish death (2 Timothy 1:10)? He died so we might live, and focus on things pertaining to eternal life. Those who participate in Halloween festivities are really reflecting the character of the Devil, who was a murderer and has come only to steal, kill and destroy (John 8:44; 10:10). They are living as the world lives, are being in the world and of it (John 15:18-19; 17:3-16), are being conformed to the world, not transformed from it (Romans 12:2), and are not remaining unspotted from the world (James 1:27).

So, fellow believers, what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:26)? We have died to sin and are freed from sin; let us not live in sin any longer (Romans 6:2-7, 11-23). β€œLet us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles us. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1,2a)

β€œAlso, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.” (Acts 19:19a)

Party Weekend {Birthdays}

Friday night, my sister and I threw a “surprise” Birthday party for my Dad, my brothers Joel and Caleb, and for my sister Phoebe. πŸ™‚ It was a small gathering, but I think it went swell! =)

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Phoebe’s email pal, Sara B., was able to come to the party (along w/ her mom and two of her 3 siblings). It was a surprise for Phoebe! Phoebe knew we were getting together with her sometime soon, but had no idea it was supposed to be at the party. πŸ˜€

 

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The card and photos/memories table πŸ™‚
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Friends, fun, and fellowship πŸ™‚
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Citrus infused water = very refreshing

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Drinks and veggie tray table πŸ™‚
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Dessert table
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Phoebe, not knowing the party was for her, decorated the cake for just Dad. πŸ˜€ And yes, tacky us, we let her help with the food and decorations. But hey, how else would we keep it a surprise from her? πŸ˜‰ Besides, she LOVES baking and decorating cakes and she’s really good at it. πŸ™‚ I did help her some with the cakes, anyway.
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The peach design was Abby’s idea. πŸ™‚ Oh, and btw, that peach came off of our peach tree! πŸ™‚
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Whimsical πŸ™‚
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Simple decor
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Pheebs, Mom and I, getting to know Sara B. πŸ™‚
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My “niece”, her brother, and her mom were able to attend. πŸ™‚ Isn’t Lizzy’s hair adorbs?!! πŸ˜€
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Tanisha G., Mom and Mrs. B. (Sara’s mom)

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Lizzy-dee
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Claudia and her mom came πŸ™‚
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One of the birthday guys (on the right). Actually, Isaac’s b-day is coming up pretty soon (the day before Joel’s). πŸ™‚
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Sweet sisters in the Lord. πŸ™‚
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Floating tea lights πŸ™‚

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Dad (another b-day guy), chatting with Mrs. and Nathan B.

 

Saturday, we went to a birthday party for my “nephew”, Tristan. πŸ™‚ He recently turned 6 and I can hardly believe it— he was barely 4 when we met his family and he has grown up SO much since then!

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The Birthday boy! πŸ™‚

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Being goofy πŸ™‚
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Let’s blow out the candles!
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The S. family has arrived. πŸ™‚
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And so has the N. family
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Baby S.
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Smile, Watson πŸ™‚
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Splash pad fun πŸ™‚
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Pheebs (thoroughly wet), enjoying some time with ze bebeh. πŸ™‚
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So stinkin’ cute! πŸ˜€
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I love Miss Tanisha’s outfit. πŸ™‚ Especially the skirt. πŸ˜‰
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Aw… two “babies” smiling at each other * heart melts*
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Look who I’ve got! πŸ˜‰
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JJ, Pheebs and Bram S. having soaking fun
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Mom visits with Laurin S. πŸ™‚
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Andrew S.
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Just want to pinch those chubby cheeks. πŸ˜‰
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If you look closely, you can see that Lizzy is trying very hard to mimic Jaden’s face, haha πŸ˜€
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Aw…
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Two cuties. πŸ˜‰
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Fellowship with siblings in the Lord πŸ™‚

Β Β Β Β Β  A few more Lizzy photos. πŸ˜‰

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Kisses from Auntie Jo πŸ™‚
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A little lady πŸ™‚
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Having fun, getting wet πŸ™‚

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And I’ll leave you with a few pics I took of Lizzy when Abs and I babysat her and Tristan a couple weeks ago. πŸ™‚

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I love photographing her hands. So tiny and delicate. πŸ™‚
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Oh… I LOVE it when she smiles like that! πŸ™‚
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Cute hair-do, no? πŸ™‚

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Growing up so fast….

Mother’s Day

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and boy was it busy. πŸ™‚ We started off the day with Bible study and prayer as a family. Then Abs and I started on a special lunch especially for Grandma K. and Mom. πŸ™‚ Our aunt and her family arrived around the time we started eating, and the fun began!

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My parents, being goofy. πŸ™‚ BTW, that onion is from our garden!

Abby and I stayed up until 1am that morning, baking four lime cheesecakes. Yeah, call us crazy. πŸ˜„ But with this warm May weather, it’s so much better to bake late in the day. Anyway, it was totally worth it, though– they tasted heavenly!

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We also had Key Lime ice-cream together with the cheesecake. πŸ™‚

Then, Abby, our cousins Rachel and Rowena, and I went on a little adventure (a.k.a photoshoot). That was fantastic! However, they kept trying to convince me to be in some of the photos, but I honestly prefer being the one taking photos (not being in them). Ha, you probably can’t tell that from all of the selfies I post. πŸ˜‰

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Almost as soon as we girls got back from the photoshoot, my parents, siblings and I headed to have a picnic with Caleb, Claudia, Miss Lily B., Miss Ileana G., Maddie G., Junior G. and Isaac D. We went to a local park and weather was just perfect for it! =) The only thing over-shadowing the occasion was the fact that Phoebe wasn’t with us. 😦 I miss that gal! :,( But, looking on the bright side, she will be back for a visit in just a few days. Yay!

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Cal and Dad
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The guys (Isaac, Joel, Jaden and Junior) decided to throw around the tennis ball. πŸ™‚
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Telling stories from *certain* Kautt children’s adolescence.
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Jaden and Junior – buddies
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Me and my Mum ❀
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Claudia and Maddie
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Mama dearest! ❀
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Joel, Abs and Isaac chillin’ πŸ™‚

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Playing a crazy game sort of like volley ball. The goal of the game was to keep the ball from touching the ground, *while* hitting it around as many times as we could. Needless to say, there were no few laughs! πŸ˜€
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Go, Maddie!
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I actually hit the ball! x)
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Miss Ileana “serves”

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B-day Surprises, Trip to the Park and Photography Experiment

February 8 – Okay, so I kinda thought that my birthday celebrations were all over. No big deal. But…. this morning I was washing the dishes, and Jaden scurried inside and produced a LARGE package for me! I quickly wiped my hands on a towel, and started to open the package (it was from my best friend, Kathleen), but Jaden stopped me. “Let me go get everyone else to witness you opening it.” I laughingly agreed but “begged” to at least read the card. Soon, Jaden was back inside with his whole entourage of siblings (who had been working on cutting down our tree, btw).

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Reading the note Kathleen put with the gifts. πŸ™‚
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One of the gifts. I LOVE the bow she used for this one! πŸ™‚
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The presents. I have already read the book (yeah, I know…), and I can hardly wait to wear the darling necklace and bracelet. A friend is getting married soon, so maybe then… πŸ™‚

February 12 – Spring’s here already?? Hmm…

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Daffodils in our neighbors’ yard. You might be wondering why on earth these silly plants are blooming already– well, it’s Texas, that’s why! πŸ˜€
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Faces to the sun, smiling all the while…
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Boy, I am SO thankful that God created flowers and wildlife in general. They add a splash of color to life. πŸ™‚

February 15Β – Yet another birthday surprise came in the mail. It was from my dear friend, Rebekah. πŸ™‚

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This darling necklace– such a sweet gift. πŸ™‚
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Rebekah made this card to go along with it. Isn’t she super talented? I think she made the necklace too. πŸ™‚

February 17 – My brother, Caleb, was down here for the day (we had Bible study and fellowship as a family). So, after lunch, all of my siblings (except Joel) and I went to a nearby park.

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On our way…
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Caleb
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Phoebe
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Skipping rocks
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Jaden tries a hand a skipping rocks
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Here I am, holding an un-opened clam that I found
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More rock skipping. It’s quite good fun, actually!
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Time for siblings portraits πŸ˜‰ Yes, I subjected my siblings to a torturous venture. haha, just kidding.
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“Hey everyone, let’s act crazy so Jo will pull her hair out!” πŸ˜€ πŸ˜› Apparently Phoebe didn’t get that memo. πŸ˜‰
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I think this is one of my favorites of the four of them. πŸ™‚
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Goofsters
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Jaden decided he would hang onto a branch of a tree, instead of lean against the other tree. Hey, it makes for an interesting photo, huh. πŸ˜‰
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Band members, haha. Don’t ask me why we look so serious (or are those grumpy faces?? :D)!
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Another crazily posed photo. πŸ˜€
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Not sure what these are called (any of you know?), but as a child I loved picking them and making “bouquets” out of them. And I was appalled when Mom said that most people them of them as weeds (I thought of them as dainty flowers). πŸ˜€

February 21 (today) – I thought I’d try out a photography “trick” I had seen before.

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A book in the sunlight, with a ring between the pages casts a shadow in the shape of a heart. How cool is that? πŸ™‚
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I suppose this is a late Valentine’s Day themed photo. πŸ˜‰
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I took the photo with my Bible as the book– turned to Ephesians 5, where it talks about how a husband and wife’s relationship should be modeled after Christ’s relationship with the Church.