The Dog Days of Summer

We’ve been busy but it’s been a good busy. There’s nothing like piling on a bunch of projects to make the days fly by!

I signed Gabe up for swimming lessons and we agreed to pet sit for some friends while they are on (a three week) vacation. This means that for the entire month, up until now, we’ve been driving into Eureka every.single.day. It’s not far, but it is in the opposite direction from where everything else (chiro, music, shopping) is located. So that’s added an extra element of busy.

The pet sitting was good, though. The boys have been begging for guinea pigs for a while now and they got to take care of three of them for 3 weeks. I’ve not had another request since. Yes!

Swim lessons have plodded along. Gabe is afraid of the water and he is very hesitant, in general, to try new things. It’s made for a very frustrating experience. His attitude has improved, though. He no longer dreads lessons. I did get to work with him a bit, using our friend’s pool pass and even that little bit of extra time in the water did him some good and showed improvement. So that’s something. I’m hoping he’ll actually be able to swim by the time the pool closes.

A lot of progress was made on our outside project, but the the heat started in earnest and we abandoned the project. I covered the remaining grass with hideous blue tarps and am just ignoring it for now. I just cant.

So, of course, we started an indoor project. Gabe’s bedroom. We tore his room apart and then had to hustle to get it back together, somewhat, prior to Luke’s party. An in-depth post is in the works.

We spent the 4th with some new friends at church. They are the best hosts. The kids love their swimming pool. The husband worked at a fireworks stand and was paid in fireworks so it was an amazing show. We met another couple from church there who are new to the area and are also homeschoolers. A big group of us spent most of the night (after dinner and before fireworks) playing a new card game and we had so much fun.

On the 7th, we threw another birthday party for Luke and his friends. They all have passes to Six Flags so Ben took them there for a few hours and then they came back here for lunch, cake, ice cream and hanging out. Several of them stayed the night. They had a blast.

We played board games with Paul and Amanda on the 9th. I feel like we just don’t have time to hang out with them like we used to and I miss that. We’ve been on a good streak, though, with the games we play. Scythe is the big one we played that night and we all really liked it.

On Tuesday I did some office work at my chiro’s office. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that before, but I helped out a bit while the main receptionist was on vacation and I’ve picked up a few hours here and there since then. Now, the receptionist is going to be scaling way back and another helper is on maternity leave so it looks like I may fill in on a more regular basis which will be good for me.

I took the boys swimming on Wed. the 12th. It was a subdivision pool so there were only a handful of people there. Luke brought a friend so they entertained each other while Gabe and I practiced jumping in the pool, floating, and putting our heads under. Gabe made huge progress and really enjoyed his time. It was blazing hot and I ended up burning a bit, but it was such a good time.

The next day, Thursday, the boys and I went out to Shaw Nature Reserve for a geocaching class. I’ll do a separate post on that.

This past weekend was fairly chill. I wasn’t feeling great. I volunteered, as usual, at the thrift store. Then I settled in for a movie while Ben took the boys to see Despicable Me 3 and then to dinner at Red Robin’s.

Sunday, after church, Ben and I made another trip to IKEA to grab the right curtain rod. Then we installed the curtains in Gabe’s room and Ben patched up the holes in the closet where the junky doors used to be. Now we just need to get his shelves back on the wall and figure out a light fixture. Maybe paint the closet. Then we’ll be done in there!

So, that’s what we’ve been up to, in a nutshell. I feel like it’s been a little bit of everything these past 2 weeks, but things should slow down now. Our friends are back from their vacation, for one. I’m hoping for a more relaxed summer from here on out!

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Luke’s 13th Birthday Party *Friends Edition

Several of Luke’s friends weren’t able to make it to his birthday party last month so we decided to do 2 parties. I know it seems like a lot, and it isn’t something I’d like to do every year, but you only become a teenager once, right?

This time, everyone was available and Luke was thrilled. Ben took the morning off of work and hauled them all to the water park at Six Flags. They stayed there for a few hours and then they came back home for lunch.

Food!

They recouped in the house for a bit and then, armed with cans of shaving cream and the hose, they headed outdoors to play on the slip and slide and the trampoline.

From the sounds of it, they had a blast!

A couple of the boys had to head home, but the others were able to stay the night. They ate and played games and ate and played more games and ate and watched YouTube videos and ate and compared fidget spinners. It was a raging success.

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Happy Birthday, Grant!

My sweet little nephew is 1!

My sister hosted a party out at my grandparent’s place in De Soto on Sunday. It was a bit on the warm side, but really not bad for July.

Banner and treats

Smash cake

They went all out. Everything was so cute and the food was delicious.

My dad and Grant

Great Grandpa, Cody and Grant, Great-great Aunt Helen, and Grandma

My dad and the boys.

Cake smash! Or….cake poke, actually.

He did so well for all the heat and people and hooplah that goes along with a big birthday party. So sweet and cheerful. It’s so nice having a little one in the family again! Gabe told me he has a lot to teach Grant. Lol, I can only imagine!

So Happy Birthday to Grant and many, many more. Now if only you can talk mommy and daddy into having juuuuuuust one more. <3

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Millennium Park

Today we met our friends up at Millennium Park in Creve Coeur. We stayed a full 2 hours and the boys still didn’t want to leave. It’s a great park for older kids. Lots of neat things to climb.

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Luke’s 13th Birthday Party

Family Edition

I had grand visions of a massive, blow-out birthday party for Luke’s 13th, but several of his good friends weren’t available so we decided to do a family party near his birthday and a friend party in July.

It was a small gathering, but we had a nice time.

He opened some fun gifts…a fidget spinner from his little brother, a drone from my sister, Anna, and lots of cash.

Gifts!

He has been saving his money for a bass guitar. About a week ago I told Ben that I thought maybe we should get him a memorable gift for his 13th and Ben agreed. We hatched a plan to surprise him with a bass. It’s one he raved about after playing it at Guitar Center. We picked it up the night before. He was totally surprised and blown away. We’ve never given wither of them a big gift like this before so he was in total shock which is not easy to do with this kid!

Last but not least…

I didn’t get an up-close picture of the “Luke” wall, but you can see it there. Everything was decorated in a red and black rock theme.

My mom gave him a lazy bag. You fill it with air and lounge around in them. Sounds boring,but they are SO comfy. She gave one to Gabe for his birthday and now the rest of us have them, too.

So, my sweet baby is almost 13. It’s not the 29th, yet, so I have a few more days of denial.

This is such an interesting age to me. I feel like he’s all over the place. Sometimes he’s still my little boy, crawling into my lap asking for back scratches. Other times he’s fiercely independent. Sometimes he throws fits like a toddler, other times he says something so mature that it takes my breath away. I just never know from day to day what he’s going to say or do!

I love you, Luke Michael, and cannot wait to see what the future holds for you!

 

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Shaw Nature Reserve – Wetlands Trail

Our MOBOT membership allows for free entry to Shaw Nature Reserve so the boys and I decided to take advantage. The weather has been unseasonably cool these past several days. Normally we hunker down, but when it’s this nice we have to get out and stretch our legs a bit.

The nice lady at the visitor’s center recommended the board walk so that’s what we did.

First, you walk through a large field with beautiful wildflowers blooming on either side.

Bee Balm

Rose Milkweed

Then you get to a wooded spot with an observation deck. We didn’t see anything especially worth observing this day, but it was nice to get out of the sun for a bit.

After another walk through a field, we came to the boardwalk around a pond.

It was absolutely beautiful. I took a ton of pictures and will process more later. The fields were bursting with all kinds of beauty. This year, all around this area, we have a plethora of wildflowers. Queen Anne’s Lace, Coneflowers, Bee Balm, Daylillies, and so much more. It’s really stunning.

It was near dinner time when we were done so we headed straight home, but I think the boys and I will go back and try and do each hike over the course of the coming year. None are terribly long and they all explore different areas of the reserve. I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful place!

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Grandpa’s 90th

We had the privilege of celebrating my grandfather’s 90th birthday part this past weekend. My aunts drove in from Nashville and we had a BBQ in De Soto to celebrate his big day.

Cake made by his Aunt Helen – who’s 98!

His mind is sharp and he’s witty – loves a good joke. I always enjoy talking to him. We told him we’re all rooting for him to give us another 10 years so we can celebrate his 100th!

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Lazy Days of June

We haven’t been doing anything too exciting around here lately.

Luke still has music on Monday evenings. Chiro every other Monday for all of us. Tuesday and Thursday mornings, Gabe has swim lessons. On Tuesday evenings, Ben has coffee club. He’s part of a group at church that sells coffee on Sunday mornings to support mission work. Luke goes with him on Tuesday evenings and he and the other kids swim. Wednesday is youth group for Luke. We try to get together with a friend or two here and there, but nothing big.

Ben was gone for a week to build houses for widows in Guatemala. The boys and I didn’t do much aside from our regular errands. I’m not used to having to take them to everything on my own. It really adds up! Between lessons, library trips, grocery shopping, church, youth, and volunteering, the week just flew by!

I did some straightening around the house, garage, and basement. Ben hates that type of thing so I cleaned and swept the basement and garage. Then I moved some lumbar and materials into the shed and cleaned up a bit outside.

For Father’s Day we went to a new board game cafe in the city. We had a great time and ended up staying for a while. I got all three of them to play Dream Phone with me! It was about as awesome as you’d imagine.

The biggest news of the month is that my sister and brother-in-law are having a baby girl! It’s the first girl in his family in over 55 years! I already have a niece, but she’s 10, so it’s time for another one!

The boys picked up a job taking care of some friend’s pets while they’re on vacation. Three times a week we go over and feed, water, and care for a cat and three guinea pigs. It’s been a blessing for me because they’ve been begging for guinea pigs for a while and now they can see, firsthand, how much work comes along with it!

So that’s about it for us here. As it starts to warm up we end up hunkering down more and more. I cannot stand the heat – can’t function in it – so we end up sort of going through another hibernation. But Fall will be here before we know it and we’ll be out and about in no time!

 

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Nothing to Prove

I just finished the book Nothing to Prove and the workbook Proven. Every Monday, for the past couple of months, 4 other ladies and I got together to discuss this book, pray, and encourage one another.

I really enjoyed this study. I felt like Jennie did a great job encouraging women to cease striving without going soft on the importance of spiritual disciplines and cultivating a true relationship with Christ. I find so many books, studies, and blog posts tend to sway one direction or the other, but she was able to maintain that tension and I was really impressed and encouraged.

“There are no spiritual helicopters out of the desert, just the old, common, gorgeous, lingering roads paved by our forefathers in faith and designed by God. Knees on the ground. Words formed to God in prayer. Bibles marked up and worn out. Hours spent with the only One who satisfies and delights our souls.”

“There is nothing holy about authenticity without repentance. Authenticity without repentance is narcissism. Authenticity is the necessary soil for repentance, but if healing comes from Jesus, then confession is only the first step.”

The main point of this book is that we cannot please both God and man. Our focus should never be on pleasing people and winning approval from others, but rather pleasing God. We must find our value, worth, and purpose in Him alone. When we do this we can cease striving and come into what he has for us.

“It’s not my curse that I believe I am not enough; it’s my sin that I keep trying to be.”

“We can’t make light of the vision, but we also cannot accomplish any of the purposes of God unless we do them with the power and the resources and the energy of God.”

“If I were your enemy, this is what I would do:

Make you believe you need permission to lead.

Make you believe you are helpless.

Make you believe you are insignificant.

Make you believe that God wants your decorum and behavior.”

“Maybe you belive that Jesus is enough, but then why are you not pulled up near to Him every chance you get? Why do we keep running to everything on earth except Him??

“Jesus lived with a deep security in His identity. He lived settled, content, dependent, with nothing to prove and with a clear goal of displaying His Father’s love to every person He encountered….He lived fully engaged with His whole heart, mind, body, emotions.”

That sounds amazing to me!

“Do you want to know why we are so tired? Because we don’t believe God. There is no remedy for your striving apart from finding your identity in Christ. He is your enough, and the degree to which you believe that is the degree to which you will stop striving, stop performing, stop trying to prove yourself.”

Those are much-needed words to a reformed people-pleaser like me.

The weekly study questions in the study guide, Proven, were pretty basic. As we finished the study we realized there is a facilitator guide in the very back of the book and we all felt those discussion questions were much better. Oh well, it was a good group of ladies and we never lacked for discussion.

I’m grateful for this study and am glad to have a hard-copy of the book to keep and refer back to and lend out to others. It was well done and makes me curious to seek out her other studies!

 

 

 

 

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Creek Day

Our field is so overgrown right now which makes it a pain to traverse, but we decided to face it so that we could check on the creek. You’d think, after 6 years of living here, that we’d have a path or trail blazed but no…so it’s a real adventure each time.

 

The flooding that we had in April really did a number on the creek! I was amazed at how different it is now. One part is completely blocked off by a number of downed trees. It’s deeper in some parts and the banks have been washed away in others.

The water was still flowing pretty well, but I know that won’t last for much longer. Sadly. I wish it was always like this. Of course, then I worry about what could be in that water. I have no idea where this water comes from. Hmm, something to investigate.

 

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