Time to go back to the history books
After learning that the first IHOP was opened in 1958, Liam pondered, “Oh, so it looked just like this except they would have used candles instead of electricity?”

Ya gotta be sure about these things
During snack, Liam threw away all his blueberries because they had gone bad and got an apple instead:
Miriam: Can I get an apple, too, because my blueberries were bad?
Court: Yes.
Ariana: But she already ate all her blueberries!
Miriam: I was just seeing if they all tasted good!

I’m a doctor, not a saint
Liam: I learned an important lesson from watching Star Trek: Don’t say half the words the doctor says.

Snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails
Liam: Why does it always have to be that girls are creative and boys just knock things down?

The trouble with homonyms
Ariana: Am I ever going to use any of my cents?

Bathroom humor
Liam’s first crack at making up his own joke:
Q: What did the man say when his toilet started leaking?
A: Oh, poop!


Ten Weeks of Summer Fun

I’m taking a bit of a different approach this summer. Instead of trying to do bucket lists or planning week by week, I’ve scheduled the whole summer in a calendar!  I loved and used the daily theme ideas from ReMarkable Home:

But I made some minor adjustments to fit our family. We have a weekly Tuesday obligation that keeps us home in the mornings, so I switched Monday and Tuesday. Her titles are way cuter as a result. 🙂 Also each Friday, my kids get to invite a friend over. At least THAT one worked out.

Mobile Mondays

Tinkering Tuesdays

Wet & Wild Wednesdays

Thinking Thursdays

Fresh, Fun, and Friend Fridays

Using those daily themes, I plugged them into handy dandy calendars with links. We’re still doing school this week, but my kids pushed through and finished most of their curriculum already, so the schedule starts today since I know we’ll have some extra time. The days there are no links are either days Bill’s off or a family birthday, meaning we’ll do things differently. You’ll also notice I pushed into an 11th week. That’s mainly to make up for the few days I didn’t schedule anything and to add a couple extra activities/outings I just wanted to do. I intentionally don’t have anything for August because let’s be real. There’s no way we’ll actually do ALL the activities on the day they’re planned (or maybe at all!), so August is basically make-up month until school starts again.

May 2014 Calendar

June 2014 Calendar

July 2014 Calendar

Clothes–The Least Wonderful Times of the Year

I’m happy right now. So happy. Because I’m officially finished switching the kids clothes to spring-wear. That means it will be six whole months before I have to do it again. Does anyone else get this elated about completing that task?

There’s nothing romantic about making sure your children have proper attire each season. If you find it to be so, please don’t speak so that we can still be friends. It’s boring, tedious, confusing, and messy. And sometimes I get jealous that my kids’ clothes are cuter than mine, but whatever. I’m not a fan, BUT through the years I’ve at least gotten the process down to a semi-art, an art that still takes more than a week to complete and has beauty that DEFINITELY is only in the eye of the beholder (namely me), but an art nonetheless.

So here’s the way this goes down with the Bells:

1. Organize your storage simply: We have a large tub for every size and each gender that are labeled with a fancy strip of packing tape and a Sharpie marker. It’s going to be in the basement. No one but you and Better Homes and Gardens cares about beauty here.


2. Have a fashion show: I make my kids try on every. single. garment. As with adults, there is no one-size-fits-all. So even though with one child size 8 shirts are clearly right, there will always be that one that lands somewhere just above the belly button and will be passed down to a child three years younger. Thank you, clothing designers.

3. Keep a good list of exactly what you need for each child: One year, a department store was having a killer sale. Bill and I knew the sizes our kids needed and went crazy. When we got home, we had something like 9 new outfits for our 3rd child (who didn’t need new clothes in the first place) and not enough for others. I also used to make the mistake of knowing how many tops and bottoms they needed. That worked great except for the fact that half of the tops didn’t have a bottom that would go with that doesn’t look like it’s from the 80’s.

Here’s the list we have for spring/summer. Ours is very simple because I love the word “simple” and because we don’t have to get dolled up for anything. In other words, this list isn’t a one-size-fits-all either. I have eight of most things so there’s a spare if one gets dirty (I don’t do extra laundry except by force) and so we avoid a fashion faux pax of wearing the same outfit every Thursday.

  • 8 outfits (that go together–don’t be us)
  • 8 pairs underwear
  • 8 pairs short socks
  • 1 pair tennis shoes (if there’s a good sale, my oldest son gets 2 pair because he prefers them and will need a 2nd pair by the end of the summer anyway)
  • 1 pair casual shoe (if you’ve met us EVER you know this translates into flip flops)
  • 4 pajamas sets (we wear these multiple nights in a row, yes, we do)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 pair sunglasses
  • 1 rain boot (this is VERY optional for us)
  • 1 rain coat/jacket
  • 1 umbrella to share between two people

4. Shop for what’s needed to finish the list for everyone and nothing more: No comments here about how to do this. If I did comment I might have to confess I never do consignment sales/shops for no reason except I’m lazy and want to get it over with quickly and might tell you I basically get everything from The Children’s Place and try to justify it by bragging about all the great sales I found. There are great blogs out there about saving money. This isn’t one of them.

5. Take pictures of the outfits you brilliantly put together: This is gold for us. We like to get a project done and then never think about it ever again. So when outfits are being decided for the day, we just look at the picture we’ve taped to their closet door. Voila! The kids have freedom to “choose” their own outfits and we don’t have to be ashamed to be seen with them. Win win. Oh, and as you can see, the picture doesn’t have to be pretty. Just good enough for you to know what everything is.


6. Do ALL your laundry: How long this takes is up to you. Sometimes I push to get it done in a day. Sometimes I stick to my usual schedule of one color-group a day. The point is, get it done so you can pull all the old sizes out (from closets and dressers, too), put them in handy dandy plastic tubs, and stick those babies in storage never to be seen again–until the fall…

7. Store a few opposite weather clothes in a handy spot: Since we don’t live in the deep south, we basically get four months of semi-predictable temperatures. The rest of the time we’re at the mercy of super reliant meteorologists to know if we’ll be wearing shorts or thermal underwear in the spring. I own storage tubs that fit under beds, and we fill them with a few articles of clothing for each child that are out of season. That way I don’t have to trek down to the basement to dig through the granddaddy tubs every other day, nor do I have to stuff the kids’ drawers with every article of clothing they own.

So there you have it. Nothing magical, but it works well for us. What magic tricks do you all have up your sleeves with clothes?

A Letter to a Daughter of God

I wrote this quick note to Bill: “So blah today. This is the part that makes me feel like things will never get better. And that’s just it. Things won’t til Jesus comes back. So how do I make it until then with hope and joy?”

After three other lengthy and encouraging emails speaking truth, this was a fourth he wrote as though it was a letter from God to me:


“My child, my daughter, I made you and I know you and I love you. I know you hurt and struggle. I know you are crushed by the darkness around you. I know your life is not the life you planned for yourself nor the life you would’ve picked. But it’s the life I’ve given you because I love you. And you’re weak. Oh so weak. I know. I feel your weakness. My own son knew that weakness, too. And I shared that weakness along with him, just as I do with you. I’ve never left you, even on your darkest days. And I never will, no matter what. You are mine. You always have been and always will be.


“But I am jealous for you. Jealous for you to truly believe deep in your heart that everything that has happened to you, all of the things I’ve allowed to happen, all of the things I’ve orchestrated—all of them were for your good. And the pain and the weakness and the loneliness and the darkness, it’s for your good. Because you need me now more than ever before. You thought you knew me when you were younger—ha! You knew the edge of my pinky toe! But there’s more to know, there’s more to see, there’s more glory to find. Infinitely more. And I want to show it to you, to give you more of myself, to let you experience the joy of your master. But it’s hard for you, because as you’ve known me more, you’ve known more sorrow and darkness and sin than you ever knew before. Those things are distractions, shrouds that keep you from looking at me with the young eyes of faith. You have older eyes of faith now and they’ve been blurred by the worries of the world and the battles of the flesh. But I can heal eyes. I’ve done it before.


“Don’t be afraid. I am with you, all the time. I’m your daddy. And I’m letting you toddle along, watching you stumble and fall. But I want you to get up and try again. And again and again and again. I’m right here with you, ready to catch you, ready to help you. But I also want you to grow. And part of growing is learning the new steps, the new way of walking. And I’m teaching it to you, because I want you to walk on your own. But bumps and bruises always go with learning. I can heal those, too.


“I want you to remember something: I gave you that womb and those eggs. I gave you that husband. I gave you those children. I want you to know the love of a mom for her children, that wants to comfort them in their worry and hurt and fear. Because I have that same love for all of my children. I have that same love for you. I want you to know what it’s like to love someone else that way because I want you to know that you are loved that way. And yes, I’m still loving you even when you turn from me, when you chase after other things, when you fight for independence from me. It doesn’t please me. But I chuckle at it, too, because I know you’re struggling on the path toward maturity. It’s a long path, but I made the path and the footing is sure. And I can chuckle even when I’m displeased and I have to discipline you because my love is far bigger than your disobedience. There’s nothing you can do to change that.


“I gave you that house. I had it built 100 years ago in preparation for you. I had it ruined and burned for you. And I had it rebuilt and restored for you. I want you there. I also brought all of your neighbors, the black ones and the white ones, the poor ones and the rich ones. I knit this tapestry and I’m looking right at you in the midst of it. I know you love my creation—the trees and the hills and the birds and the sky and the rocks and the rivers. I did make all of those things and it fills my heart with delight to see your joy in them. But they don’t bear my image, they don’t carry my glory. But all those people who live around you, who drive around you, who are loud and different and scary to you—I made them, too. And I put them around you, because they’re in a deeper darkness than you have ever known. And the glory I gave them, the glory I gave all mankind, is more radiant than anything you’ll see in a mountain or a valley or a stream or a storm. Rejoice that you are surrounded by my creation. And let your light shine before them, because they need to see that light. There is much darkness there, much death and sin and decay. It’s as ugly to me as it is to you. Uglier, even, because I know fully what could be. But I love transforming ugliness into beauty. And I love letting my children help me in the kitchen to get my work done. I want you to help me, too. It’ll be hard, but you’ll never be alone. You’ll be doing my work and I will not forsake you.


“My daughter, you are mine. Nothing will change that. I want good for you, more good than you could ever ask for or even imagine. But it’s a joy that comes in trusting my methods and my ways, not a joy that can be bought or fashioned or found somewhere else. You are my daughter. I am your dad. Nothing will change that. Nothing will stop my love. Besides, your brother is right here with me, constantly pleading with me on your behalf. He is right now. I am doing everything for you, for your good. I always will.


“I love you.”