Real. He Cares.

Today, my heart is drawn to my chat with my friend, Leslie, yesterday after church. 

Leslie is a grandmother. She has a 16 year old (or is he 17?!) son, Ethan, with cerebral palsy. He is delightful. We love him so much! And her life is full. Full of things she had no idea she would be doing at this age. 

She is also raising her grandson. Her grandson comes from a very hard place. He has extreme behavioral difficulties, boundless energy, and a sweet heart. But her emotional energy is completely maxed out, trying to raise this little guy.

I am pregnant. My first trimesters are always difficult. They stretch endlessly before me, making me long to crawl into bed and never come out. Some nights I go to bed, no longer able to fight the veil of ickyness that is constantly in the perimeter of my life during these months.

Our Pastor is in his last days…possibly hours. We went to visit him on Friday. He locked eyes with Craig. That is our last interaction with him, this side of glory. Jerry has 11 children and 60 grandchildren. They are all here now. Surrounding him. Waiting. Loving. And watching as their hearts break before their eyes.

I want to tell you something today…something that is pouring out of my own heart right now.

You may have broken your little toe, and it doesn’t heal. You may have a strained relationship and have no idea how to mend it. You may have a lot of little kids running around your ankles all day long…and night. You may have just lost someone you love, with no warning. Gone. You may live in a country that is lonely, hard, and painful. You may be struggling with your church, and be in confusion. Your finances might not be reaching…again. God might feel very silent to you. Your friends may feel very silent to you. The man who is supposed to be marrying you may not have yet gotten the memo. Your child may just have left for college.

Or a thousand more things I never imagined. You might be walking through something really hard, right now.

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What God is pouring into my heart today is this…

Your difficult particular pain is legitimate. What you are facing, walking, falling on your face, sobbing in front of…

Is legitimate. It’s real.

I don’t care what it is.

It’s real.

Father God is looking at you. At it. He is reaching down to you–in that exact part of your life. With more care and love than I have ever been able to understand. 

Cuz really, there is no small or large pain. Our hearts stretch and squeeze and grow and fall apart…there is no size to pain.

 This idea that “I should shape up cuz look at them! Look at what they are going through! My pain is nothing…” That’s a lie. 

A lie.

I don’t find it in the Scriptures. 

All I find is God’s enormous heart for you and me. 

I find how he sees a bird fall to the ground. 

I find how he has the number of your hair.

I find how he keeps your tears in a bottle. 

May His love and incredible care fill your soul today.

<3

A Beautiful Morning

I am frying ground beef. This.Is.A.Miracle. 🙂 I also made granola and baked oatmeal, cooked potatoes to roast later. Yeah! 

Some days are good. Some are beyond awful. I really thought that since we had coop yesterday, it would be a good day. But I felt so tired and nauseated there, and when we came home, I crashed. Kids were on their own. I nearly had Bomani change Enzo’s poopy diaper. I was bad. In the evening, I came the closest that I ever have this pregnancy, to throwing up. I am not sure yet what makes one day good and one day so bad. Maybe it’s just…life. I hope to improve. Not let it overwhelm me. Craig prayed for me and the nausea really abated after that. Not sure what is what here…

Playing music this morning. 

And lifting my hands to my Father as I pile up rough stones once again…knowing He can make them holy. 

<3

To Canada!

Ah, the excitement mounting as we packed our bags for a double trip!

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And after a lovely week in Kansas (six days!), Enzo and I were off on a jet plane!

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After a certain amount of screaming, he fell asleep…yeah! 

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Meanwhile, in the United States, Craig was back in Texas. He took a break from his roofing…

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To go visit our Pastor in Arizona!

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He flew through New Mexico, where there seemed to be a boneyard for American Airlines…

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Arid. Green only where it is irrigated!

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Continued prayers for our Pastor as he fights cancer…

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It was beautiful there. We are now scheming for a get-away to Arizona sometime before baby arrives!

And the big three? They were having a fantastic time in Kansas with Grandpas!

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Back to Canada…

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With my cousin Katrina.

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We stayed at my Aunt Joy’s house. Enzo was quite at home there! 

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He even got over his fear of dogs. 🙂 

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This is my Grandma. Even though she did not outwardly acknowledge that she knew me, I like to think that inside, she did. 

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Enzo with my cousin, Eden!

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Grandpa!

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Grandma loved Enzo. I couldn’t even get her to look at the camera. 🙂 🙂 

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Aunt Joy and Cousin Tamera. Tamera wanted to keep Enzo, but I took him home with me…

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This is important! No sitting!

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Lovely Sunday evening get-together!

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And then we flew home. 

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Selfie! Just kidding. 🙂 

Flying with Enzo was actually pretty challenging. I bought an umbrella stroller for the trip home, then, which helped a lot! He was just pretty heavy carrying him in my baby carrier. And on the last flight to DFW, a drunk lady two seats ahead of me threw up, and had to be removed from the plane. Then we waited while a cleaner came to get rid of the mess. All in all, being pregnant, it was a bit of a…strain. 🙂 But we were fine! Can’t tell you how awesome it was to be home! The trip to KS and Canada were both lovely. So grateful to my husband for allowing me to go see my Grandparents and relatives!

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It took a couple days to unpack. I crashed after I got home! But now things are in place, clean, and we are happy. 🙂

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The weather has been a slice of heaven! This evening, there are possible tornadoes on the horizon. But we’ll trust the Lord and climb into the bathtub if need be!

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Pastor Jerry used to treat us like his own kids, and come mow our pasture. It is currently overgrown. But the wildflowers are lovely!

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We had Bomani’s birthday gift after we were all home. Unfortunately, we wrapped the wrong box, and when he opened it, it was a jack for the truck! 🙂 He was a great sport, and I found his gift waiting at the post office. 

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He loves cards!

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After the big trip and separation of family members…and we were all together again…we were enjoying Enzo, and Daisy asked, “Mom, can we keep him?” I said yes. 🙂

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Legos for his birthday!!

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We appreciate continued prayers for our Pastor. 

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May your week be blessed.

Kuepfer Kids

This title really…says it all. 

For starters, we are the Kuepfer Kids. We had a chat titled such, going on before, during, and after our time together. All six of us. Kuepfer Kids. 

And then…we have a lot of Kuepfer Kids. 

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Babywise, three boys…

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…and two, darling girls. 🙂 

Oh yes. Those are just the babies. There are also five big kids…

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As you can see, the babies were actually easier to photograph. 🙂 

Kids. We have ’em. 

We had fun! Beginning Thursday evening, we convened at Oasis Ranch and Retreat Center every day, with three meals a day and snacking in between. Cuz every mom there was nursing and one was nursing and pregnant, although she didn’t know that last bit yet. And because we’re Kuepfers, and Kuepfers eat a lot. 🙂

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Enzo and Ezekiel. They look a lot alike! 

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Real men do dishes. 🙂 

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Aww, they are all so darling!

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Twins…and twins. 🙂 

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Oh my. Melt me. 

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Roxy! You are so cute!

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The kids played outside a lot of the time. It was so perfect there! 

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Not John the Baptist. But sometimes he does do John-the-Baptist-like things. 🙂 

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Love.

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It was a challenge. 🙂 And hilarious! Gotta’ love the way Daisy is sitting so calmly with Ezekiel crying on her lap! 

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I am just melted. 🙂 

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He says we convinced him against having kids…but really…

🙂

It was a lovely reunion. 

And then…on to the next Kuepfer trip! To Canada!

Surprise

I was born in an era of the Mennonite culture when ladies who got pregnant, would hide the fact with their very lives…until they could no longer hide it. Then, when they wore their maternity dress to church for the first time…the secret was out! This maternity dress was very distinctive. No one could mistake the exciting fact that they were expecting a baby!

I sort of…missed out on that piece of culture. It’s just not me! And since we see no right or wrong in it, we did it our way. 🙂 Every time I got pregnant, I just wanted to go tell all my friends and family immediately! So exciting! And so we pretty much did. 🙂 Sometimes I would kid myself with the idea that next time, I am going to hide it until people start guessing at…five months. 🙂 Very funny. Not me!

Also, since we moved to Texas, into a new culture, and one where a good number of my friends are midwives, my “filter” has significantly changed. I try not to offend anyone with what I talk about, but pregnancy and such things are no longer a “hush hush” sort of topic in my life. 🙂 

All this to say, I was still taken aback, as I placed my three items on the checkout counter at Target. A pair of shoes. Socks. And a pregnancy test. The sweet lady behind the counter looked at my items, and said…

“Hoping for another one?”

I had Enzo with me. He is one year old. I swallowed. 

“Uh…I don’t know…I guess we’ll find out…!”  We chatted about our kids then, and how close together their ages are, and I left Target. 

That morning I had kissed Craig good-bye and he left for Texas. The next day, Enzo and I were flying to Canada for a week. We were not “planning” on a baby this year! No big, bad reason…just, not in the current plan. I had a baby! Enzo. And I was thoroughly enjoying having one baby instead of…three, like I had experienced before. 🙂 

But I had noticed the week before that when evening came, I was exhausted. Like, could-hardly-push-through exhausted. And then the hunger came. Ahhh…I could eat every couple hours, a lot. Something was up…

And then, there it was. Two lines. I let the excitement and shock and delight soak into my soul. I sent a picture of the test to Craig. We laughed together. Chuckled. Grinned. Happiness. A baby means happiness. I instantly had a strong feeling that God wants this baby. Now. 

The other emotions had time to gather and find their places in my heart. A deep grief for a friend who lost a baby earlier this year. Wondering how I would juggle a hundred and one kids. December? I never have babies in December. December is cold! December has virus’. And I know that hey–you’re married, and so you might get pregnant. Cause and effect. But I also know that God has His hand in our family. And I’m going to do this with delight…and joy…

Fast forward a couple weeks. I am not feeling well. Some days are awful. I sit around. Tell the kids to eat whatever they want. Curl up in bed and never want to come out. Other days are good. I go places. I refuse to allow the nausea to take over. I eat well. I drink water. I never know how the day will be. I have some control over how I feel, but not complete. I am pregnant. 🙂 

But I am happy. Happy to be giving Enzo a playmate. Just, honestly…some days I yell. “I can’t do this!” “No MORE babies!” “This is it!” I am absolutely looking forward to my next trimester…when things settle a bit. You don’t feel “over the top” every moment of every day anymore. The terrible hunger moderates. Nausea is gone. Yeah! 

So…prayers appreciated for the next month or so. I am at seven weeks. 

And there is our surprise. 🙂 A surprise for us and a surprise for you. 

May you be blessed this week with His love.

 

Slielnce

I can’t even spell that word correctly.

We are okay. 🙂

More hopefully tomorrow. 

🙂 

Excitement is Building!

Eeek!

Today is packing day! Packing for two trips, back to back. What fun! It’s especially a fun day because I did laundry yesterday. And tomorrow after we leave, Jennifer is coming to clean the house and do the last laundry. What’s not to love? So today I don’t have laundry and packing. Ahhh…

So yes. When you have a day of packing ahead, make sure to sit down and write one, last blog post…

A lovely lady whom I don’t know left a comment recently. I love hearing from my readers! But whenever someone tells me (from my blog) that I am an amazing wife and mom, I freak out. Because honestly, I don’t feel like I am. I’m not terrible, but I don’t think I’m amazing. And I start wondering if I only post things that make me look good? Or only the happy pictures? And I sit down, ready to do a post on the gritty, rough, and tough parts of my motherhood…

But I’ll leave that for another day. 😉

Here are some fun pics of the past week…

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This weather. Some years, we go from cold to hot in two days’ time. Not this year! The spring has been just gorgeous…

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Oops. I thought you were eating a cucumber!

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Making a pile of food for Craig to eat while I’m gone. 🙂 All of us are heading to KS tomorrow, spending the next four days with my family. (All except for Dad and Mary! Sob…) After that, Craig will drive home. The oldest three kids will stay with their grandparents, and Enzo and I will fly to Canada out of Wichita. I will be spending a week there, with my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins! Then Enzo and I will fly to Texas. And Craig will drive back to KS to pick up the other three kids. That’s the plan. 🙂 So yes…Craig will be alone here, for about a week!

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The weather of Heaven…

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Breakfasts and dinners for Craig…

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The Fridge Story.

So, when we bought this place, there was a really decrepit refrigerator here. And so we did some craigslist shopping. I wanted the bottom freezer style, and I also wanted ice and water in the door. And stainless. So when we found this one for a decent price, we had it delivered!

Well. The dude wanted to give us a “nicer freezer handle”. So he actually drilled holes into the freezer door, and put a different handle on. It lasted a couple days. For the next 2 1/2 years, I had no freezer handle. Maybe a year into the use of this fridge then, a handle on one of the French doors broke off. More recently, the handle of the one veggie drawer broke off. And yes. It came with one drawer missing. They said they would send it. But they never did. And they didn’t answer any phone calls. 

I said, hey, this is still a good fridge. And we used it for 2 1/2 years. And then, recently, I started noticing an error message. But then it would go away. I didn’t worry about it, but my raw milk soured really fast. Ah. By yesterday, the error message was cycling on every 5 or 10 minutes or so. And the fridge was around 55 degrees…

And so we said, we better just find something else. That was after I called a number of repair services, and finally had one help us over the phone. The fridge is fixable, but not by us. So instead of putting more money into the thing, we’re selling it. 

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I knew exactly what I wanted to replace it. Stainless. Bottom freezer. But no French doors please! A single door on top. And ice in the freezer part, not in the door. Also, not a small fridge. But these run quite high, new!

Craigslist to the rescue. Okay, so I was nervous, seeing how our last experience had turned out. But this is an appliance store and Craig had to go get it. Also, it comes with a 90 day warranty. 

I am beyond thrilled. The single door part is so awesome. I love this fridge. I am happy. 

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I better start packing. 🙂 But yesterday I made soap. And I was so exhausted by evening that I was not a nice person. But I really wanted soap to take with me as gifts! I got the trace too thick, so could not do my lovely, tiger swirls. Still makes me happy, happy…

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Craig made some cool frames for my silicone molds. He is awesome. Frames or no frames.

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Alright, time to start filling some suitcases!

Peace be da journey to all. 

This n That From Months Gone By

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At the Be In Health Conference in Dallas.

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I have never filled so large a cup at Sweet Frog before, and never will again…I’m thinkin’. But it sure was fun… 🙂

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Honestly, when I empty and fill the dishwasher, I do it quickly and quietly, before my “helper” comes crawling quickly over! His favorite stunt is to climb onto the open door, and wheel the lower shelf back and forth. 

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We like our truck. 🙂

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Driving it took me back to my African roots…

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Working the magic restoring a roof! 

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These guys know what they’re doing.

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Like a boss!

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Gorgeous. 🙂

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Gospel Echoes blessed us one Sunday…

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We have no access for a semi to come deliver product to our house. (Something we didn’t take into consideration when we bought this property!) So we are temporarily renting an old barn about a minute’s drive away. Craig rigged up this pulley system to remove barrels off of semis. Very cool. 🙂

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This, my friends, is going to turn into our CLM office! Yes. Use your imagination. 🙂

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It’s a hundred kids…

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Bomani refusing to allow Craig to leave for work…

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Birthday party.

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It’s called “sleeping with a flair”. 

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Angelic. 

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Gorgeous rug made by my friend, Leslie.

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This, my friends, is how my kids eat oranges. To avoid the juice spraying into their eyes…

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Determination.

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Town Talk had organic strawberries for a fantastic price. My friend Chel brought me a pile! I nearly repented…

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Pretty much our favorite meal. I’ll put it into recipes sometime. Be on the lookout for Bacon Cauliflower Hash. 

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Craig’s daily lunch. A huge tortilla with lots of meat and cheese and etc. Soon he is going to try a new lunch: a box of guacamole from HEB. 🙂 

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This. Is getting fixed tonight!! No comment about a wood slab at the base of a toilet…and a hundred kids who pee…

And sometime, I am going to count how many times I take Enzo out of the bathroom…per day. This, my friends, is life. I know. It’s your life too. 🙂

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I made vanilla cupcakes. With white flour. Just because. And it tasted so much like strawberry shortcake…

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And with those blue eyes, I will leave you in peace. 

Dates in Texas

My life is in my home. You really hope you love it if you spend 98% of your life there. 🙂 I do love it. Okay, some days I love it. 🙂 

But those outings…when we go to the homeschool coop, and I get to hang out with the lovely ladies there, or I race over to Amber’s house for a “support group meeting”, which is just her and I supporting each other through this piece of life, or I go all by myself, and drive to Burleson and shop for a few pieces of clothing for me or the kids, or…

I go on a date. 

Those are my prized, delighted in, and carefully treasured outings. 

And by them, I am blessed. I am encouraged. I am strengthened to go home, love my kids better, teach them more faithfully, relax in my homemaking, wash up the pee at the base of the toilet, hang out the same laundry I hang out every week (unless it rains), and kiss the same little, tubby cheeks…

Yes. These outings. Amen.

And the dates…as you may guess, are the ones that set my heart to racing! They are the ones for which I carefully plan my outfit for the evening. They are the ones I take a nap for in the afternoons…called beauty naps. 

I am going to give you a peek into our date life. Just a peek. 🙂

For starters, we have a date about every other week. I no longer bring Enzo along. It’s just Craig and I. It’s fun. 

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One of our favorite places in the spring and fall is the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. We both love it. We’d like to go see the Dallas Botanical Gardens this spring as well. 

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And then…last Thursday evening, we went to an Andrew Peterson concert in Fort Worth. It was beyond amazing. Deeply blessing for us in this part of our life right now. His wife and three teenage children performed with him. It was incredible. So grateful to God for that refreshing, spring rain and the words He gave us that night.

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Very excited!

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And then, there was the date recently, when we went to Afrika Fusion, a restaurant in Dallas. Wonder of wonders, they served Kenyan food there, as well as west African food, which was where Craig had been! There was even a gentleman in the booth next to us who was from Kisumu, and spoke Luo! When he heard that I speak Luo, he seemed quite dubious. Until I answered his greeting with what I like to think was an impeccable accent. 🙂 He was astonished. 🙂 What fun! 

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I forget what this was called. It was a west African food…fermented with seafood in it. 🙂

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Chicken masala with ugali and sukumu wiki!

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We ended the evening with chai and chapaties. What fun that was!

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Most of our other dates were simply coffee shop times. We don’t branch out a lot, honestly. 🙂 We love our coffee shop dates!

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May you be blessed with a weekend of peace. 

Homeschool Coop Fun

Today was lovely! 

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Twin Princesses.

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More love…

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Ready to go!

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Stories about sharing and playing with good manners. 🙂

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Meanwhile, Enzo had fun being a monkey under the tables…

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Craft time! They made a teacup. 

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Just so much fun. I watch my girlies…how they drink in the happy play with other kids…I watch Daisy holding hands with her friend, and feel her delight and love, and I nearly burst into tears…for this. This is a gift from God. 

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We have been learning about manners. Today we had a tea party! It was fun. 🙂 

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Hazel with her friend. 

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Miss Annabelle.

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They were so darling…I just kept taking pictures of them. 🙂 

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Bomani playing with these boys…is equally a gift. He loves the boys’ class that is taught by one or two of the dads. Today they learned how to fix a fish hook. 

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We ended the day with some organized chaos. 🙂 So many kids in one place! I believe there were nine families there today. 

Thank You, Father God, for Your gifts.