lately...

:: routine has been returning. Not the rigid kind that you might expect, but ... just doing little things, prep work the night before, for example, that makes our mornings go that much smoother.

:: along with routine, our church has kicked off a 30-day read-through-the-Gospels challenge that Dan and I have a decent bet riding on, significantly increasing the likelihood that we will both complete the challenge. (Nothing like a little competition to spur on your devotions, right?!) :)

:: even though we are back in a fall routine, and already two weeks into school, I am dreading the end of summer. I have this dreaded sinking feeling that fall is just around the corner, and this year, like never before, I am so loathe for summer to end. I just love summer so much! This is the first year I can ever remember not being ready for fall. I usually love the fresh start fall provides, but this year... I dunno. Last night after dinner we took the kids swimming at the lake, and I couldn't help thinking, somewhat melancholy-ly, "this is the last fun time we'll ever have this summer." Of course I proved myself wrong by having a blast playing soccer with the kids in the yard tonight, but you know what I mean. The easy, lazy days of summer are drawing to a close and I am sad.

:: last week, a friend and I took our 8 kids (ages 7, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 9 mos. and 9 mos.) camping for 4 days in a cabin on a lake, with no hot water or electricity. It was so much fun. I couldn't believe how just being away form the house freed me up to relax and just spend time playing with my kids! I am a huge game fan, and we played Sorry, Chinese Checkers, Mastermind and Guess Who over and over and over, much to all of our enjoyment. It was cool, so the kids didn't swim, but the olders walked alone to a nearby playground while the youngest 4 napped every day, and my friend and I would neaten up the cabin and chat. Then at night, when all 8 were tucked into beds in the cabin loft, we would make drinks, and sit out on the porch and watch the stars and talk. It was a great (almost) end to summer. And then this week, we returned for a one-day reunion (three cheers for the flexibility of homeschooling!) and are hoping to get back again next week. Well, I'm hoping, anyway. :)

:: It's official: Olivia is crawling! Tonight while we were in the yard playing, she was sitting in the grass. I guess she got bored, cause she took off in a beeline for the gravel driveway, crawling like a champ! My (already way too short) days of having an immobile baby are quickly drawing to a close.

:: I found thredup.com.  (I don't necessarily like shamelessly promoting a site, but I am anyway.) I have been so happy with the clothes I've gotten for my kids here! The best part is that I don't even have to leave the house. :D If you like what you see, use my promo code: http://www.thredup.com/Block46621 and you and I will both get a month of PRO status. :)

:: school is going so well. I can't believe we've already finished two weeks! We're already finding a new routine that works well for all of us, and Will ( a seasoned pro) and Hallie (our brand-new kindergartener) are working hard and learning new things every day. I am loving working with them and watching their minds come alive! Side note: Will took his first math test today, (K has no tests) and scored 100%! I explained to him beforehand that it was a test and that I was not going to help him with any questions, that he should read it himself and do the best he could and I would check it when he was done. Well he flew through that test, and with great success! He proudly hung the test on the fridge afterward. :)

:: Dan's younger brother Jonathan is getting married at the beginning of October, and we are making the trip out to STL. I'll be packing our school things and the double stroller, and staying for two weeks with the kiddos! I am so excited to see old friends (and of course family) and see our familiar and much-missed Zoo and Arch. It will be a great time!

:: I guess this has gone on long enough. Dan's had all 4 (!) kids on a Mule ride for the last half-hour, giving me time to write my first thoughtful blog post in days. Okay, weeks. Anyway...

:: more than ever before, I am appreciating my kids and the stages they are in. I read this article yesterday, and was reminded once again how much I need to truly cherish and soak up these days of being a busy mom of four littles. They grow so fast, and I don't want to look back and regret wishing all the days away, always looking forward to the next stage or phase. I love my life as a mama, and when I someday swat the last one out the door to college (ok, I'm sure I'll be crying my eyes out, but you know..) I want to look back at these days as ones I poured my whole heart into and truly lived every minute of. Life is so short and I want to appreciate that!!!      

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