I've had trouble actually posting these things, because I've been spending my time with family. Let me introduce you to two of my favorite faces on the planet. This is Nola, of the sunshine hair and pixie bright eyes. She has a bold soul full of a million words. She says all of them....all of them....out loud.

I took the time to write down a direct quote from about 7 seconds of this running stream of consciousness. I feel she's better introduced in her own words, since I'm sure I could find no adjective bright enough. While riding in the back seat, Nola says;

"I say a lot of words I don't know how to spell. But I can spell do. D. O. Do. Doo doo. *giggle* I farted. It was quiet. Why do my burps always taste like something?  That one was French fries.".....

This child is top of her class in math, and she doesn't stop moving. She needs to move. She wore my poor dog out.

Here she is with my love. She looks at him with happy, googly eyes and of course, he's basically a puddle of melted happy, with her. My sister-in-law was noticing how much they look alike.

I took her paddle boating on the canal, where she kept saying "So, don't lose my flip flop in the water, right?". And she would give me this daring smile that made me wonder if I'd soon be trying to scoop a shoe out of the drink.

I took her to the coffee shop and everyone there doted on her. They made her special hot chocolate and asked her all about school. Doug, in his special way, had her talking about the most serious things on her heart within minutes. Can I just say that sometimes that community, that place, those people...sometimes it brings me to tears, I'm so grateful. Usually after I get home, when I'm reflecting on it. Just, the kindness and the involvement. It's so good. And I'm so grateful to have gotten to see it all these years, because I can bear witness not only to the ways it's grown and changed but also, and most importantly, to the many ways which it's stayed the same. Like how they make a point to learn people's names. How they welcome everyone. How they listen. (How good the coffee is...)

And this beauty? Aaron calls Marissa the beautiful, wise owl. She is strong and sweet and sensitive, kind and empathetic, wise beyond her years and wicked talented. 

Her ginger hair is as lovely and rich as her heart on fire for art and music. She is one of a kind.

Now, I'm not going to tell you all of their story. It's not yours to know or mine to tell. But these lovely girls lost a parent, this year and they've been through lots more than just that. They have my sister in their life, thank God, and she is wonderful.

But I couldn't help but think, how tough they are in the face of some circumstances that just aren't fair. While I was with them; I don't know how to tell them how brightly they shine, how much I love them. I mean, I tell them what I can, I show them. At least I try. It's just no where near a big enough expression.

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to keep on trying :)

To my great delight we had other guests this week; the office unicorn and his lovely Anna had a one-night emergency and stayed with us.

So, these last few days I was reminded just how much I love having people here. How glad it makes me when our friends know they can always call, they are always welcome. It confirmed how much more of that I want to do, how much being able to offer hospitality is built in to my heart. And all the ways I want to do it more creatively. So, probably lots more posts about that. Maybe after we get into the new house. (Maybe not.)

In Summary; I love my nieces. They are beautiful. People should stay here. Coffee shop.