Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Saturday 7 / End of Summer

1. Well that's it. Summer 2016 is officially in the books. Tomorrow morning I walk with my friend from 6:30-7:30, come home to family devotions, packing lunches, making breakfasts ands scooting out the door by 8:15 with my big 7th and 6th graders. Home a few minutes later to clean up from breakfast, (hopefully) start a load of laundry and straight up a bit, and start homeschool with my 1st and 4th graders by 9:00! I give myself (and the kids) a lot of grace the first week... routines are hard to get back into, so I don't expect perfection... but at least we will be heading in the right direction! 

2. This week has been a weeks of "lasts". Blueberry picking, night swimming, sand-pile climbing and jumping, rope-swinging-in-the-rain, etc. Whatever fun thing the kids wanted to do, I tried hard to say "yes!" Summer is short and the kids are only this age once... plus Selina and the kids' cousins were in town, adding to the chaos and making everything just that much more adventurous and fun. :)

3. Soccer season is back in full swing as well, so for the next three months, I'll be spending 4 nights a week at the local rec park. Awesome. (haha.) I only have 2 kids playing; I can't imagine how my parents made it work with me and my siblings (4 of us) playing on 6 teams at the same time. I certainly appreciate their sacrifice, and I love love loved playing soccer for our local rec team and our local "travel" team. Sports were one of my very favorite things growing up, and they played a big part in shaping who I am today... it's important to me to try my very best to give that experience to my kids as well! 

4. Will doesn't play "official" sports, but he's been taking tennis lessons with a neighbor kid once a week, and he loves it. It's funny, you just never know what will click with your kids! Will hated playing baseball and soccer, but he loves boy scouts, theater, and tennis. Kids are all so different and unique - I love it! He doesn't really love karate per se, but he started taking it with Tristan and now wants to stick with it so he can out-rank Tristan.... gotta love a little "brotherly love" for motivation! 

5.  Hallie takes flute lessons year-round, and will start back up with art lessons next month. She's super strong and athletic, but like Will, hasn't really clicked with a team sport. I'm trying to get her to go to weekly yoga with me this fall... we'll see. haha. She's really a home body and, especially during the school year, doesn't like to be busy with extra activities during the week. She'd rather be reading in her room! :)

6. Tristan is all about basketball and soccer... and does karate twice a week. He loves his team sports fiercely, and is a great team player and encourager. I love watching him play! He puts his whole heart in whatever he does and gives it his very best. 

7. Olivia is playing soccer and so far, that's it. She's only six so I don't feel too bad about it. :) She wants to take dance and gymnastics and do theater, but with Dan's work schedule being what it is (unpredictable) and me being what I am (one person ;)), I have to really work to make it all fit. And family dinners are still a priority to me, so I have to fight to make sure we are all sitting down together at least a couple times a week! (Ahh the trials of the modern family. ;)) Not really. I love my life and I love seeing my kids do what they love, and watching them grow and develop into really awesome people. And making it all work is one of the chief joys of my occupation! :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Another Couple of Weeks Recap

1. We got home early Friday morning from a week spent in Kansas City, helping Pop & Mima move into/ unpack/ decorate their new house in Kansas City. It was a great week spent working hard and filled with lot of laughs, time with family, and good food. (All my favorite things.) :)

2. We had a bit of a fiasco getting home from MO. Long story short, we ended up driving 9 hours  home from Charlotte NC and yesterday, on one of the most beautiful weekends of the summer, we had to drive to NYC to get my van back. Ugh. The upside is that we were able to pick up Selina to spend another week with us! Downside is that Laguardia's parking is a complete & total nightmare.

3. I'm not ready for school to start. One week from Monday?! Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. This means we have one week left to finish our summer bucket list items, including bike riding to a local deli for lunch and having a family water fight!

4. The Olympics are in full swing but since we don't have cable (insert annoyed, angry face) I can't watch them except for recap clips. (I am mostly just annoyed that the kids don't get to witness my hard core fandom.)

5. Will is getting braces in 3 weeks... poor kiddo. But all his friends are too, so I don't feel too bad. ;)

6. It has been HOT here the last week! Selena requested that we go blueberry picking this week, so I'm hoping there are still berries left on the bushes. Somehow I haven't even gotten out to the farm once this summer! Our pancakes will be in sad shape this winter.

7. Our summer travels have come to an end, which makes me both sad and happy. I don't mind the slower pace of life, but I sure do love the ability to pick up and go as well. Sigh. That's life, isn't it?

Monday, August 1, 2016

Couple of Weeks Recap

1. 21 days left of summer break. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING. Make it stop.

2. We've had a really busy/fun couple of weeks. I took the kids to the beach for a few days last week. We stayed in Cape May and it was busy and hot and fun. We got to see friends we hadn't seen all year (who happened to be at the shore as well!) which was so fun.

3. Did anyone else watch the RNC and DNC? Man. I can't even believe this year in politics. Dumb and dumber. Although I did like both Obama's speeches (especially Michelle's "when they go low, we go high." yes!). For as many policy differences as I have with the Obama's, I have so appreciated their focus on good parenting, keeping their marriage strong, and maintaining 8 years of a scandal-free White House.

4. My two closest-age sisters Emily & Anna have returned/moved to their homes in Rwanda and Central America. It's always sooooo fun for me when they are home and just crushing when they leave. I have low-grade depression for days afterward, no joke. Sisters who live near each other: appreciate it!! My 3 little sisters are home for a couple more months before they head off to college in NC, and home in FL.

5. I suppose I am ready (IN SOME WAYS ONLY) to return to the structure and routine of the school year. My personal goals really need daily routine to be achieved and while I LOVE summer with all my heart, I know that goals and good habits are good for me. I suppose I will reluctantly embrace the school year when it gets here. MAYBE.

6. Friday I drove 162 miles home from the beach with the kiddos. Saturday I drove 202 miles (roundtrip) to my cousin's engagement cookout with Olivia. Sunday, my friend and I drove 248 miles with the three younger kids to pick up my niece and nephew from Laguardia (they are here for the week!) Over 600 miles in 3 days is for sure a record for me! (Minus our road trips to MO of course :))

7. My kids have their cousins here for the week... and they are so happy. Bonus for me is that I am way more efficient at getting stuff done when the kids are happily occupied for hours on end. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday 7

1. Last week the Olympic women's gymnastics team was picked. When I showed Olivia the picture of the team she grinned. When I said "what?" She said "two of them are brown like me!" When I told her the girl in front (Simone Biles) is actually the best gymnast in the entire world, her eyes got huge... and she grinned even bigger. White parents of brown kiddos, it's important that your kids know that people who look like them can and do succeed in every area of life. (#representationmatters :))

 Go Team USA! We're on the Olympic games countdown around here.


2. The recent events with police shootings have been hard on all of us. One of the hardest things about having a spouse in law enforcement is the ever-present awareness that my kids could grow up without a dad... that random police shooting are a real thing. Dan is an amazing dad and it's hard to live in the tension that, one day, unexpectedly, our kids could lose that, forever.

I know there are bad apples in every bunch, but please.... The vast majority of police officers are really good people who willingly choose to put their lives on the line for you and me every day, for minimal thanks or pay, and truly, all they want to do is do their job well and go home safely at the end of the day. Doing this hard work affects their bodies and brains and families, and, in my experience, the effects of this stress can feel like PTSD. I know racism and abuses of power exist, and I am not here to excuse that behavior-- it is absolutely wrong and should be treated as such. But the law enforcement community is so beaten down right now. They are hurting. The great majority of officers do good work, protect and serve their communities with dignity in the fave of trying circumstances. and they do a darn good job of it. If you see an officer while you're out and about, tell them thanks. Drop cookies or a box of joe off at the station you drive by every day. Please support the men & women who do the hard work of protecting all of us. You have my personal gratitude!

3. Last week the kids went to day camp every day from 9-3. Emily was still in town so we went shopping almost every day ... nothing too glamorous, just the old faves Target, Old Navy, etc. It was so much fun. The kids loved camp and were utterly exhausted at the end of the week. Praise the Lord! haha.

4. Will decided he'd like to try tennis, so we've been knocking a ball around on the local courts. It's funny how none of the kids wanted anything to do with tennis until I got out there with a ball, and then they were ALL all about it!

5. Selina left Friday morning. We are going to KC next month to help Dan's parents with settling in and unpacking, and we fly in and out of Laguardia. We plan to snag Selina on our way home so she can spend another week with us! She's a treat to have around, and we are happy to have the opportunity to have her back again.

6. The weather has been great lately... hot and sunny. We've been at the lake almost every day. The kids are at great ages where they can kayak, hike, play, go off the rope swing, etc. for the most part, all independently. It's really nice... I am loving this stage of motherhood!

7. Five weeks of summer left. MAKE IT STOP.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. Week 1 with our fresh air fund girl Selina is done! We spent most days at the lake for hours... kayaking, rope-swinging, swimming... you know the routine. ;) Tomorrow all 5 kids head to our local nature day camp for a week of fun! (And my to-do list is getting longer...) Our local paper did a write-up about our experiences hosting Selina; you can see it here:

2. My sister Emily (but more importantly her baby Ethan) have been here for the past week. It's been fabulous.
<3 p="">
3. I literally spent 8 hours at the lake on Weds. I showed up at 10:30 for bible study, ran home at 12:30 to grab lunch stuff to bring back since the kids were having such a great time with their friends... had a friend from church join me with her kiddos, so we spent the afternoon there... we ordered pizza delivery at 6... and I went home around 6:30. What even is my life. haha

4. Found out on Friday that Will is finally going to get braces next month! (We've been waiting for 2+ years for his last baby teeth to fall out!) He also got reading glasses AND turned 13 all in a week. He's such a great kid; Dan says all the time that it is a privilege to be his dad, and I couldn't agree more. He's a privilege to be a parent to. We took him out for dinner (the Melting Pot) and to the Apple store (first device: an iPad!) on Tuesday (his birthday) and had a great time. ...And just like that, I'm the parent of a teenager.

5. After a week of gorgeous hot & sunny weather, this weekend has been cool, rainy and cloudy. And I saw an advance weather report that we will be getting "more-than-average" snow this winter. Come back hot weather, before it's too late!!!

6. I finished reading The Nest this week... it was just ok. Didn't live up to all the hype, in my opinion, anyway. I'm currently reading The Gilded Years, and I really like it so far. Here's hoping it stays good! It's so annoying when a book shows promise and then the plot drops off midway through.

7. Six weeks left of summer... halfway done. Slow down, time. This is the golden season and the golden years and I just can't get enough. <3 p="">

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Saturday 7

posting on a Tuesday, because #longweekends and #thatlakelife

1. Last week we dropped Will at scout camp on Sunday morning. We saw him Weds night for parents' dinner, then not again till we picked him up Saturday morning. He had a blast! He earned 4 merit badges (swimming, riflery, basketweaving & leatherwork) and says he can't wait to go back again next year.

2. Tristan attended Upwards basketball camp M-F last week and he LOVED every minute of it. I heart that kid and his big heart so much... he would come home at the end of the day literally hoarse from cheering/yelling so loud all day long.

3. Tuesday night Tristan & Olivia tested for their yellow & orange belts in karate, a 90 min exhausting process, (which, after 6 hours of basketball for Tristan, almost pushed him over the edge.)

4. Thursday we picked up Selina, the kiddo who stays with us every year for a couple weeks through the Fresh Air Fund. It's been so fun having her back! This is her 4th year with us, and she fits into our family, life & routine perfectly.

5. I got my hair cut for the first time in a year. I've been trying to grow it out and have been entirely unsuccessful in getting it past my bra line. In the past I have pooh-poohed those who say to get it trimmed every 6 weeks but I'm now going to run an experiment and get it trimmed every 6 weeks for the next 12 months and see if I gain any net growth. I'll be 35 this fall so just maybe I am past the point of no return on hair growth. We shall see. ;)

6. The 4th of July weekend was spectacular.  Friends, family, hours at the lake, kayaking, rope-swinging, so many cans of La Croix water, I lost count... I feel so incredibly blessed to live where we do. It's truly summer paradise!

7. Today Will turns 13. He is a smart, funny kid who has a truly compassionate & kind heart. He looks out for the underdogs and the marginalized ...and I love him so much.

Also I'm the mom of a teenager. WHAT.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Saturday 7 {aka vacation recap}

1. We're freshly home from 10 days in Missouri... I know I say this frequently after these get-togethers, but I am so incredibly grateful for the family I married into. There is so much grace and love and hard and good all rolled together, and I feel so privileged to have a front row seat to seeing how this family makes it work so beautifully. Not perfectly, but truly, beautifully.

2. We arrived in STL on Friday and spent the weekend on the farm with Pop & Mima and various aunts, uncles & cousins. The weekend was perfect: full of pond swimming, creek walking, and bonfires; the front porch was home to early morning devotions, many family meals, coffee & adult conversations while the kids caught fireflies and played catch or bounced on the trampoline. The MO heat stayed pleasant and the humidity cooperated and the breezes blew... and all this loveliness was made even more poignant and memorable by the fact that it was our family's last time at the farm-- Dan's parents are retiring & downsizing, moving across the state to Kansas City at the end of next month.

3. Monday I drove the kids to KC and Dan stayed behind an extra day to help his dad with some projects. It was another perfect few days of time with family... Will went to Springfield to spend time with my older nephews, and the younger kids and I chilled with our KC fam. Weds night we all got a sitter and went on a double date with Dan's sister Miriam and her husband Corey. It was such a fun night, full of great food, laughs and mishaps (including fitting us 4 plus a kneeboard and water skis into a small 4-door sedan) but ...what is vacation for, if not for making memories that will make for hilarious retellings?

4. Thursday morning we headed to the lake or our family reunion which included 5/6 of the siblings and 15/17 of the grandkids. I can't even describe how much I loved our time there. Corey's family owns a boat & 2 jet-skis, and all the fun lake equipment, which totally made the day. We spent hours on the water, water-skiing, jet-skiing, tubing, swimming, fishing... when I was spotting for the kids (facing backward on the boat, watching them on the tube) I would find myself laughing out loud at their hilarious grimaces and antics. The wind whipping my hair, the sun on my face, happy kids, happy life... seriously, I was so full of soul-joy on the lake, I never wanted to leave. Pretty sure I want to live on a boat. ;) There is something so simultaneously calming & exciting, and so deeply satisfying about being on the water. It's my heart's home for sure.

5. Besides being on the water, we also did a super fun & adventurous ropes course as a family, played cards, sat around and talked, and generally enjoyed each other's company. For such a large crowd and for so many kids, it was generally peaceful and amiable, with the kids mostly getting along famously.

6. We left camp Sat morning at 6:30am... we had to miss the last day and a half at the lake because Will was leaving for a week of scout camp this morning (Sunday) at 10:45 and we needed to get him home to pack and do laundry Saturday night. I was personally VERY BUMMED to leave... family/lake time are basically my two very favorite things IN THE WORLD rolled into one and although outwardly I acted like a mature adult and didn't throw a it about leaving vacation early, I was certainly throwing a fit inwardly... "SO UNFAIR! WHY DO WE HAVE TO LEAVE! I DON'T WANNA GO!" haha.

7. tl;dr: Vacation was awesome, I wish we could've stayed longer. Back to real life now (which is also awesome, don't get me wrong...) I just really, really loved that week... it was easily the top week of 2016 in my book.