Thursday, July 25, 2013

July

July started off quickly and it's hard to believe it's already coming to an end. Whew - time just keeps on ticking . . . summer weather was finally here and we had ourselves a grand month!

Strawberry season was later than usual this year because of the strange winter/spring weather we had but once the strawberry patch was open for business, the kids and I headed out for a morning of strawberry picking. This was the kids' first strawberry picking adventure, they were good helpers and seemed to enjoy it until the end when we were all feeling pretty warm. It only took the three of us about half an hour to fill 2 ice cream pails full of strawberries. The fresh berries were delicious and those that I froze we'll enjoy for quite some time. Jeff and I both remember strawberry picking as kids so I hope this is something they will continue to enjoy doing with me for quite a few more summers to come.

Next up was the 4th of July. Jeff and I decided to have another backyard camping adventure. We had the pool all set up, we pulled out our camper and set out for a weekend of outdoor fun. The kids loved it and didn't mind one bit that we were just footsteps away from the house. They had so much fun, swimming in the pool, grilling, playing and sleeping in the camper, roasting s'mores over the campfire and of course enjoying a few fireworks and sparklers.
Water fights with daddy.

Happy 4th of July!

Sparklers!

Shortly into July, I'm very happy to report, that Olivia figured out the whole potty training and has been doing super awesome since. I knew that once the fear of it had passed she'd have no trouble getting the hang of it and that was exactly the case. She does her business all day with no problems and even sleeps through the entire night without any accidents so far (knock on wood) so I am super excited for this hurdle that we have now cleared.

Cousin Braelyn came over for a week in July to play with the kids again during the afternoons and the kids had a lot of fun with her. Olivia was the most pleased when Braelyn had very sweetly packed up all of her "princess" toys and brought them over to give to her. She knows how much Olivia loves princesses ever since our trip to Disneyworld and decided to part ways with her princess stuff. It was just like Christmas morning for Olivia and she is loving every single princess thing Braelyn gave to her but I must say, the princess bike Braelyn gave to her to go along with her princess helmet is by far her utmost favorite. She wasn't much interested in riding her bike before but once she got a princess bike, it's now her favorite thing to do and it took her not even one day to figure out how to ride the bike with ease.


The kids also enjoyed more sprinkler time and pool fun. Glorious summer days.



In mid-July we took our annual family camping trip up to the lake with Jeff's side of the family. This is a week long vacation that we all look forward to each and every year. To escape for over a week to the lake and all the bliss that comes with it is so wonderful. We always create many memories to hold on to and the time always goes by way too fast but we cherish the fun we had and look forward to doing it all again next summer. 

First full day of camping - so excited to be here.

Building Sandcastles

We went on lots and lots of boat rides, Olivia loved steering the boat with Daddy.

Fun and Sun at the sandbar enjoying Grandma and Grandpa's pontoon.

Olivia was fearless about tubing, she wanted to go at it alone with just Landen and not mom or dad. Her first ride of the year I insisted Jeff go with and she did fine so we eventually let her go with just Landen and later cousin Makayla and she absolutely loved it. All of this young exposure to water will hopefully help to ease any fears of it. Living in the land of 10,000 lakes, I find it absolutely necessary that the kids know how to swim so I'm thankful for times at the lake, times in the pool and swim lessons to prepare them for a lifelong love of the water. 

Fun on the waterslide at Grandma and Grandpa's. This was a hit with the kids for sure.

Olivia loving the tree swing at Grandma and Grandpa's with Muffy chasing after her feet. I absolutely love the pure joy on her face that was captured in this photo.

Paddleboat rides with Grandma and Daddy as they were searching for turtles.
Landen out fished us all this year, he caught this 3 lb 4 oz bass right off the swimming dock on his little Lightning McQueen fishing pole. Daddy had to assist in pulling it in while Uncle Mike, thankfully,  had a net nearby to scoop it out of the water as it was off the hook as soon as it was in the net. Landen's wish while camping was to catch a big fish, he did, he did indeed!

Swimming from sun up to sun down, this was Landen and Olivia's most favorite thing to do. 

Landen tubing with cousin Carter, both were signalling us to go faster and to hit more waves and they were both disappointed when I won that battle and insisted that Jeff not do that!

Next up was Olivia and Makalya's turn to tube, both I and Em (I'm pretty sure) were a bit nervous about this but the girls did good and had fun and we went slow enough for us nervous moms to be okay with.

Olivia's catch of the day and boy oh boy was she proud.

With just a day left to camp, Grandpa took us fishing to a spot where Landen caught over 13 fish in under 2 hours. He reeled in sunfish, bluegills and perch so we had quite the stringer. Olivia was most interested in playing with the toys Grandpa brought along as a reminder from Grandma but she did manage to catch a couple. Quite the catch and so much fun!

Landen and Olivia with their cousins on our last full day of camping. We miss the lake already, are certainly happy to be back home and have space but we still miss it. It's a week full of fun and excitement and the time with family is precious. We love camping and can't wait to do it again next year but I certainly don't wish the time to go any quicker than it already does. 

As Jeff and I were packing up the camper we both were reminiscing about our first trip camping in the motorhome when Landen was just one month old and I can so vividly remember many details from that trip. How in the world have 6 years gone by already, it just doesn't seem possible. I'm so thankful for the memories and good times we have had and been blessed with. 

So as we wrap up July we are thankful for the good times, the memories we've created and the health of both the kids, especially Olivia. After such a long and drawn out winter and spring with one illness after the other, we are blessed to have had a good month of health. We never take those healthy times for granted as we know all too well things can and do change in an instant. 

As I am beyond thankful for Olivia's good health over these summer days, I am at the same time saddened for another one of my dear friends who is experiencing a bump in her journey with a recent diagnosis of cancer. She is another one on my list of "the amazing people I know". This is yet another reminder of how quickly things can and do change. I pray for her as she undergoes surgery today and wish her a full recovery as she fights through this battle. I am again reminded that good health is not to be taken for granted, I certainly don't need the reminder, I live through it everyday, hoping and praying for Olivia's health to stay strong but when I hear of someone else's journey being taken off course because of health issues, I think of how amazing it is and how it's no small feat to live to a ripe old age. One thing I do believe though is for those of us who travel the road less traveled in having to deal with health issues and the reality of disease and death, we are the select few that have the privilege of seeing life through a different lens, a lens open to the true beauty of our surroundings, even through all the hurt and pain, and one that offers us a deeper understanding of the important things in life, a lens that allows us to truly appreciate each and everyday we have here as we learn to understand that tomorrow is promised to no one, each day is a gift and in turn are able to live up to that reality. So to my dear friend, obviously this is a road you never would have wished to travel but I am amazed by your positive attitude and go-getter mindset and truly believe this will help you overcome all the challenges ahead. I pray for you today and I wish you a full recovery in the many tomorrows to come. I firmly believe your positive attitude and determination will do you absolute wonders in carrying you through. Please know we are here for you to offer whatever help we can in making your path less rocky.