This Is My Father’s World

Posted by Jennifer under Faith (No Comments)

Psalm19:1

It seems that the news is constantly filled with terrible, life-changing tragedies. I don’t know if it is that I’m paying more attention to the news in general now, but each day it seems that we wake up to more devastation.

At times tears stream down my face. My heart breaks for the families, for the victims. At other times, I lean towards despair as my heart cries out out to the Lord about what the world is coming to. And there are times that my heart beats with an inner fear as I answer my children’s questions with things like, “Yes, I believe ISIS is in Canada too. We need to pray for them and pray for our leaders.” My words are calm but my heart isn’t always.

{Most} mornings a hymn is part of our morning bible time. We are learning lyrics, the meaning of unfamiliar words and a little about the hymn writer. The hymn of the week was This Is My Father’s World. Now when I hear this title I immediately associate it with glorifying God for the amazing gifts in creation He has given us: fiery sunsets, glorious flowers, shady trees, singing birds…

                    and then we sang this verse:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

And the children and I talked about how God isn’t in heaven wringing his hands and wondering what is to become of His world. He knows, He knew, He allows, He has a plan. Despite the overwhelming wrong in the world, it’s His world.

Being reminded of these truths doesn’t change or calm the world, but they change and calm my heart.

{I used my phone to snap some pictures of these  stunning orchids we saw at an orchid farm in Thailand.}

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Sugar Cookies & Jam Star Cookies

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (No Comments)

cookies 2015 

Star Linzer Cookies

  • 3/4 lb butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam
  • Icing Sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter. Mix on low until it comes together and dump onto a floured surface. Divide into two balls, flatten to a disk and refrigerate for 15+ minutes.  Roll out, cut with your cookie cutter and with 1/2 the cookies, cut out a small hole in the middle.

Put on ungreased cookie sheet and refrigerate for another 15 min. Pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes until they begin to brown. Cool.

Then spread raspberry jam on the flat side of the non-holed cookies. Dust icing sugar on the tops of the holed cookies. Then match up the flat sides of your cookies. Yum!! {PS. You can dust them after you match them if you forgot to do it before, it just means you have dust in your jam hole! lol}

Christmas Cookies 2015

Roll Out Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond
  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven 350 deg F. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts. Combine flour, baking powder and add to the butter mixture a cup at a time mixing well after each addition. Divide into two balls and roll out on a floured surface 1/8 “ thick. Bake for 9-12 minutes until lightly browned. Makes 4 doz+ cookies.

These are easy to make, easy to roll, easy to cut…all a bonus!

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Little Denim Bucket DIY

Posted by Jennifer under DIY, Toolbox (No Comments)

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I’m not a sewer. But I saw this tutorial for simple denim bags (or storage-y buckets) out of recycled jeans and thought perhaps I could do that. More importantly, I was pretty sure my daughter could.

Chloe asked for a sewing kit for her birthday and I purchased a very simple one for her. I also picked up a little bit of fabric for her to play around with. Combine that with the stack of pants that Isaac has worn out the knees of, and she’ll have plenty of things to cut up and sew. She mentioned wanting to make a pillowcase for a lady she prays for regularly. We’ll see.

I zipped up this little bucket in about 3 minutes! It’s kind of cute. I think bigger jeans than size 3T would make for bigger (more useful?) buckets? I played around with a variety of Chloe’s hair accessories and she decided she liked the blue little flower the best.

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Isaac is FOUR (a little update)

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Isaac

My sweet little boy turned four in June. Isaac has come so far in the past four years.

The twinkle in his eyes…

He certainly has his own little personality. You can tell he’s a stinker at times just by the twinkle in his eyes. He also has quite the sense of humor as he laughs at things. He loves to watch Barney. I think it is the colors and the music. Anyway, he was watching Barney the other day and I was in the other room folding laundry. When the doorbell rang, I answered it expecting the UPS man or something. It was Isaac standing there. He’s now an expert at doorknobs so we are now being vigilant about locking doors.

He also helped himself to John’s bath the other day, PJ’s and diaper and all. I had run a bath for John and then when I returned, Isaac was sitting happily in the middle of the tub, fully clothed. He does enjoy playing with water!

And he walks…

You’ll recall Isaac was able to hold his head up near his first birthday and for his second birthday he sat up for the first time. He also had army crawling down pat. For his third birthday he mastered crawling on hands and knees. It made me look forward to his fourth birthday; it’s around his birthday that he seems to hit these milestones.

Isaac started bearing weight on his legs and pulling to stand several months prior to his birthday. Then he started cruising. By his fourth birthday he could cruise around holding furniture with no problem at all. Well, just a few months after turning four, he WALKED.  It started the first week of September. Camping with my parents, dad and I were in the water with Isaac and he was walking back and forth about 6 steps in between us.

Thursday night Isaac walked from one side of the hall to the other at our church, unstable and flailing as he toddled across, he had a giant smile on his face.

Medical, iPads and more

Thankfully the appointments that have consumed so many of our days are now slowly dwindling. Once upon a time we saw a list a mile long of specialists. A little at a time we’ve been discharged from each. Our most recent discharge was from metabolics/genetics. They have done all the tests that there are available, with no conclusive results. They did discover two genetic variants that showed up in the tests: the first variant is linked and explains his kidney stones and nephrocalcinosis. The second variant is linked to nocturnal epilepsy which might also explain why most of Isaac’s seizures come early in the morning. We now only see  ophthamology (eyes)and nephrology (kidneys).

And of course our various therapies, you can’t forget those.

Isaac is doing fantastic at physio. Occupational therapy is fun as he loves the activities but sitting and focusing is a challenge for him as his attention span can be very, very short depending on the day. Speech therapy is going well. Isaac is slowly being taught to use an iPad. They are using it to help him communicate simple ideas right now (i.e. what toy would you like to play with, what would you like to eat?) but will over the years graduate to more complex communication.  Isaac has his very own iPad on order right now, complete with unbreakable case and the specialized software program. I’m looking forward to working more with him on that in the coming year. Less yelling, less frustration on his part would be good!

Life with this little guy is never boring and he definitely keeps me busy. I sure love him!

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Canada’s Wonderland (with a wheelchair + special needs child)

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life, Special Needs (No Comments)

2015-08-31 13.40.50

My children are 8, 7 and 4 years old and this summer we visited Canada’s Wonderland for the first time. I thought I’d write a little about our experience navigating Canada’s Wonderland with a special needs child in a wheelchair.

Parking and the Bag-check

So to start at the beginning of the day, there was plenty of wheelchair parking, which was incredible. It’s difficult to go places and try get the chair out the side door in a traditional spot because all the accessible spots are taken. So good job on the parking, Canada’s Wonderland!

My husband purchased our tickets online so when we arrived at the park, we just went right through into the bag-check line. I’d read some comments about the strict no-food policy and was concerned since little snacks are an essential for my special needs child in helping avoid meltdowns and providing distractions and such. We had no issues whatsoever with taking in our needed essentials {goldfish, shelled sunflower seeds, milk, extra water for his sippy cup…yes, he still uses a sippy.}

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A Boarding Pass

Once through the bag-check line, we were officially in the park. Over to the right hand side as soon as we were in was a little window…I think it was called ride accommodations.  We spoke to the cast member, filled out some paperwork and received our “boarding pass” which enables us to use the alternate entrance with his chair and receive a return time. Then we come back at the appropriate time {equivalent to the standard wait time in the queue}. We have 2016 season passes and were told that once we filled out our paperwork the first visit, we could be put on a pre-approved list for the rest of the summer, thus saving us a little time on subsequent visits.

Our first visit to the park (which included my husband that day} was an overcast day with rain so the park was pretty quiet. The boarding pass worked perfectly for our needs that day as the waits were 5-10 minutes and we were able to just wait it out.

A rant about when it didn’t work.

Our second visit to the park {two weeks later} I was by myself with the children. It was hot. The park was packed. We left the park and I was frustrated and exhausted and Isaac was done.done.done. Why the difference? The wait times were much longer and the whole process was very frustrating because we ended up waiting even longer than the typical long wait in the queue. First in the incredible heat, I am pushing a heavy child in a heavy chair up a long ramp exit, against the crowd to get a return time {took 5+/- minutes}. If you are with another adult, then just one of you could run up and get the time but if you’re by yourself with children…you get to do it yourself. Then I need to wait at the exit to be noticed by a cast member {remember, it’s busy! 5+/- minutes} then the wait time is too long to wait at the exit, so I go all the way back out again {while Isaac carries on because he doesn’t understand why we are leaving and he has no words so he can only yell) and find something to keep little boo busy while we wait. Then I push my heavy boy in his heavy chair back up the ramp and we wait another 5 minutes to be noticed and then another couple minutes as we wait for the cast members to be able to accommodate us into the ride. So through all that, not only have I went up or down the ramp 4 times pushing a child in a wheelchair but also I’ve waited an additional 15-20 minutes over and above the wait time that a typical person in the main queue would wait.

Then in kiddie land, it was faster to just take him out of his wheelchair and carry him and stand in the regular wait queue and wait. It was {again} frustrating because Isaac is heavy to carry, heavy to hold, and hard to contain as he flaps and flails and hits as he tries to communicate that he would like to go on the ride because he doesn’t understand why I’m just standing there with him. {sigh} But I tried the alternate entrances and it was fine the day it wasn’t busy but on busier days, I guess they didn’t notice us in the crowds…

Are you feeling stressed out just reading that? Yeah, me too. The standard boarding pass system worked just fine on the non-busy day but on the busy, busy day…not so much. It was a definite disadvantage. I mean it’s never convenient to have a wheelchair in the party but it was beyond that.

I know Disney has probably 1000 times more employees, training and money as my husband keeps reminding me, but at Disney their boarding pass system worked so much better for us. Their cast members also seemed more attentive to people boarding through the alternate entrance.

Some Ride Information

When you go to the guest relations for ride accommodations/boarding pass they will also give you a comprehensive Guest Assistance Guide. It gives a description of the ride along with specific details of all the rides -  from the height and weight restrictions to information about strobe lighting or the type of restraints used in the ride.

I actually accessed the Guest Assistance Guide on their website ahead of time so I would have a chance to read it thoroughly and mark the rides that I thought would be appropriate for Isaac based on descriptions and height requirements. I also marked out a few that I would have to see the restraints in person before deciding whether Isaac could ride. Having this information before hitting the park was a huge help!

Our first visit to Disney, Isaac was unable to sit independently. Disney had many rides that could accommodate him IN his wheelchair. Canada’s Wonderland did not. It doesn’t make a difference to us anymore as Isaac can now sit independently however I wanted to mention that to anyone reading this who might be unable to transfer.

Characters

The nice thing about Canada’s Wonderland is that there weren’t a lot of dress up characters! Isaac is terrified of masks, characters or anyone with faces too painted. He FREAKS. The only area we encountered any was in Planet Snoopy but they were easily avoided. We also had to leave the circus performance. The tightwire act was pretty incredible but apparently his costume caused Isaac great distress.

2015-08-10 15.52.55 

Waterparks and Wheelchairs

We visited the waterpark in the rain. It seemed like a good idea since it was raining and we were there to get wet anyway. My husband took the two oldest to go down the slides. I left Isaac’s wheelchair in the change room so the seat and padding wouldn’t get soaked in the rain or peed on (since he was in a swim diaper and is incontinent). I had read that there was a water wheelchair available for use however it is apparently only for putting someone in, taking them to Whitewater Bay and then leaving them there.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t available for us to use for the duration of our water park visit. I then inquired about renting a wagon, stroller, or regular wheelchair {anything!!!} so that I could transport my 50+lb child around but apparently there isn’t anything like that available at the waterpark so I had to carry him. Isaac and I went to the Splash Station. He is tall enough according to the height requirements however the lady wouldn’t let him go up on it so I’m not sure what that was about. Sometimes I get tired of explaining or arguing or asking for explanations or accommodations. We just left. And I carried him while we walked from slide to slide to watch the kids come down. Then I carried him half way to Whitewater Bay. At that point the waterpark shut down because it started to lightening. Which honestly was fine with me since I was tired.

So the waterpark isn’t a great place for a wheelchair (IMO). The Park could improve it by offering wheelchair (or wagon) rentals so that people who can’t use their regular wheelchair can actually get around and watch other people in their party enjoy the slides and such.

Change Tables

For those of you with special needs children who are incontinent, you’ll be happy to hear that their family washroom/change area has more like a continuous countertop change table  and not just the little plastic fold out table. This is wonderful because the fold out ones only accommodate 45-50 pounds depending on the make. Isaac exceeds this but still needs frequent diaper changes! The other nice thing is that it is a contained room with a nursing area and a bathroom. So it isn’t crowded when you take three children in with you. The older two can use the restroom (within the room) while you take care of diaper changes. It’s a very nice set up!

Beware of the restroom in the mountain though. The change table is quite high up. It’s lovely if you are changing an infant however to lift up a heavier child, you almost need a crane!

So, seeing as how we are now season pass holders for 2016, I may be back in the future with more posts on our experiences.

If there is anything you want to know about enjoying the park with a disability? Do you have a tip about the park? I would love to hear it!

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beholding him loved him

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Parenting (No Comments)

Image Isaac is missing. We were at the park. He had better things to do than lay under a tree for a group selfie!

These days I am very much reveling in my children, in motherhood, in these glorious summer days. Earlier this week, while on a nature walk, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, we were identifying wildflowers and it suddenly hit me – I want to slow down time. Maybe even stop it? My children are 4, 6 and 8 and these days seem blissful. {Ok, well last week the older two were arguing a lot and the four year old can often be a pickle}, but overall, life is so good right now.

One of the best things that we do, the thing that most contributes to smooth days? Afternoon rest time. The four year old naps and the other two read or look at books quietly in their rooms for 1.5 hours.

Image2

Yesterday afternoon was quiet, the candle make the house smell lovely, the instrumental music floated through the air and I read:

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him…~ Mark 10:21

and I stopped there.

There was love before a word was said.

I can imagine the love first in His eyes

                                      before ever came the gentleness in

                                                                                                                       His voice.

    Compassion      Pity   

                               deep, unending, unconditional Love first!

Master, all these have I observed from my youth…~Mark 10:20

There was no name-calling. Verse 21 does not begin with God yelling, “liar!”, though it could have.

It doesn’t begin with dredging up the past. Jesus did not point out all the times that the {forgetful? ignorant?} man did fall and fail. He did not try to make him see, admit and own up to past mistakes. He didn’t argue with the man. He tried gently to make the man examine his heart and in His great wisdom, He put his finger right on the problem.

I’m not a bible scholar, I’m not even that smart. But I am a mama who fails often, loves her children and wants to emulate and learn from the Ultimate Parent.

When I read that tiny portion of scripture the other day, it reminded me that with my children (or anyone!), whatever the issue,

               I need to pause and behold them with love before I even open my mouth

                                        {Oh, that can be hard!}

                I need to use care on their hearts

               With discernment, I need focus on the issue at hand, guiding, not arguing

Because Love came first!

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I Broke My Wrist

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

I broke my wrist/arm. Not even a good story, unless you consider clumsiness a good story. Thankfully I was at my parents when it happened because the next day my oldest son was vomiting. And the day after that was my youngest.

It’s amazing how challenging life is when you take using two hands for granted and then find yourself with only one…not even your dominant hand either.

I’m two weeks in with 4+ weeks to go. I’m sporting a pink cast and trying to sport a smile. I’m finding myself exhausted through the day. I don’t know if that is normal for breaks, to experience fatigue, or if it comes of the extra challenge of doing everything. Chloe and John have been so helpful. In fact, I almost would say essential since I can’t carry things up or downstairs nor can I buckle Isaac’s car seat one-handed.

My husband has been an incredible help and blessing. He faithfully tries to drown me washes my hair every couple of days, cooks, and gives me treats!

I’ve had a number of things I had planned to bake for this month – a friend’s lunch, a friend had a baby and I wanted to make a meal, a bridal shower, a new neighbor – and it’s hard because despite what Weight Watcher’s tells me, Food is Love; it’s a way to serve. But life doesn’t always go just how we want. I bought the new mama frozen pizza, store-made brownies and a fruit tray and gave it with love. Because that’s where I’m at.

It’s terrible to not use my arm. Annoying and terrible.

But it makes me thankful for my children’s helpfulness, thankful for this time to slow down, thankful for pajamas and thankful that I {Lord-willing} will have full use of my arm again.

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Tiny Tidbits 04.2015

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TJ Bears

About the Pics

Chloe received TJ Bear for her first Christmas from her Granny and Grandpa. Every day before noon-nap or before bedtime in the evening, she had a TJ Bear story. Here is our last picture with TJ Bear. They’re growing up and Bear stories have been replaced by CD players with Patch the Pirate and Psalty the Singing Songbook. A little bitter-sweet; a catchword I use a lot in this thing called motherhood.

Look at my big boy, my little Isaac. He’s loving the swing and look at him using the rails on the slide ladder to WALK up the stairs to slide down. I’m so amazed by this little boy. He’s also loving the sandbox, and pulling Kleenexes out of boxes…all in a days work I guess, as he collapses in exhaustion.

And there is my John, riding his new-to-us big boy bike that we picked up from our friend this past weekend.

Funny Little Things

John came upstairs the other morning and said to me, “Mama, I’m so excited. I know what today is!”
”What is today, John?” I ask, uncertainly.
”It’s April Fools Day!” says John.
”Sweetie, it isn’t April Fools Day. That’s at the beginning of April.”
”Ha, ha, mama. I know you are just trying to fool me into thinking it isn’t April Fools.”
{Um, not quite, it isn’t at all April Fools but whatever!}

John, singing away…”Jesus bids us shine with a big, blue light…” {um, try clear and pure lol}

Chloe and John are playing with a ball and it rolls over near the heating vent. “Chloe, it didn’t even fall down the sewer!”

Sneaking into our house late one night after hockey. I told the children to be quiet and not wake up daddy.  John assures me, “Don’t worry mama, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse. Mouses are very quiet…except when they sneeze.”

Chloe had just finished brushing her teeth and was telling me about how one of her teeth was loose and suddenly she shouts, “YES! Now I’ll have money for your Mother’s Day gift!" It’s not quite as funny written down but in the moment it was very cute!

I used to have so many funny moments, and hear so many funny words and sayings but as they get older, I hear less and less. I guess it makes even the littlest of moments all the more precious.

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Everyday Life in April 2015

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April Random

April has been lovely. Only two weeks in but can’t resist sharing some randomness.

Once a month I used to bake cupcakes for a company’s celebration, nothing fancy here, just plain old cupcakes with a butter cream icing. As that job wound down, I was approached with another one. A lunch for 6-8 once a month. Here’s a snapshot of the baking because it looked yummy. Again, nothing fancy – just good. Those are magic bars, banana bread and orange pound cake you see there. Again, all baked in my favorite mini loaf pans.

Isaac has taken to dumping out his toys and crawling around with the basket on his head, laughing all the way…ha ha ha…

Mommy and Chloe thought our shoes were pretty the other day as we headed out for church, so I thought I’d share with you too.

Our pastor’s wife did craft for Junior church the other week, a mosaic cross. I looks lovely on the window when the sun shines through it. The picture doesn’t do it justice!

We had a fun mail day earlier this week. Not receiving but sending. It is more blessed to give than receive; I’m not sure the children would agree with that entirely though. While they love to send letters, they really like to get mail too. We had a handful of colorful envelopes for the mail lady!

And someone was eating my deodorant again. Just thought I’d throw that in there to keep things real around here.

Deep in the Woods

With the warmer weather back, the children are outside constantly again. I’m not sure if it’s Beatrix Potter related, or has anything to do with Uncle Wiggily (whom the children love) but they’ve been enjoying making houses and homes for the little plastic garden animals this week. The moment they have completed their jobs and schoolwork {and sometimes before!} they are begging to go out and work on their little ‘animal world’.

First Outdoor Lunch

Today was yet another amazing day. It started out with John discovering that all the worms that he had put under a bowl {with a rock on top} had died. He had hoped they’d be his ‘fishin worms’. But he moved on quickly.
We walked down to the pond and then along the river. The children flew their Styrofoam airplanes and pretended they were missionary bush pilots; landing here and there to deliver supplies and bibles. They floated acorn caps down the river, pretending they were sending bibles to the people down river. Then they would run down and try catch them. Though they did get very muddy, no one fell in. This seemed miraculous to me. {Again keeping it real, they don’t always play ‘missionaries’. Sometimes they play something that resembles ‘lets try to kill each other’ or ‘what can we do to drive mama crazy’}

We came home and, much to the children’s delight, we had our first outdoor lunch of the season, complete with homemade lemonade. Homemade lemonade is so easy and delicious. Unfortunately, my husband tells me that lemons are awfully expensive right now but I’m sure the lemons from the fridge cost less last week 😉

The last little random photo to share is Big Ben – a 3D foam puzzle from Little Passports. I LOVE how God works out the little details in life in such an amazing way, a way that could easily be overlooked. We started reading Reasonable Service – The Olive Brittain Story this week. It is the story of an amazing lady at our church who was called to be a missionary in India. I think she went 1954-1991? Anyway, we’ve read a number of missionary stories in our family; as homeschoolers it’s a great way to learn about how God uses people, how He provides, how He still works miracles and of course it’s perfect for geography and learning about world cultures as well. I just love that we can read about a missionary we KNOW. So we start reading about her journey starting from Simcoe to Hamilton and then to NYC. She took a ship from there to Liverpool and then a train to London where she met up with another missionary lady who would go with her to India. They spent two weeks in London before continuing on. We started looking on the map at where these places were and then what should come in the mail that day? Our monthly Little Passports package and it was on England, with a 3D puzzle of Big Ben to put together. It seems like a little thing but I truly believe that God’s hand is in the littlest things {like matching our Little Passports country to what we were reading about!} as well as in the big things {like my van!}

Sometimes life is such a whirlwind of appointments, therapies, lessons…this week my husband’s car was in the shop and so he had my van every day. It was a welcome reprieve from the busyness that often overtakes us. I’ve been enjoying our time at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do but live, laugh and learn.

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Spring is Springing 2015

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Just Life (No Comments)

Spring is Springing

Oh, winter has it’s season but I am feeling it’s about time for it to end. Then comes the funny part where there is too much snow for Isaac’s wheelchair and not enough for the sleigh.

Last week the snow melted enough around our pond to go for a real walk again, oh, so exciting!!!

There is something that fresh air does to the body and to the mind. I think God designed it that way, don’t you? It improves your mood, boosts your energy, offers fresh perspective.

Praise God that spring is springing! This mama needs it!

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” ~ Bernard Williams

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