We’ve completed our first week of school! Hurray! Our last week of summer vacation was packed to the brim. It made coming back to school almost feel relaxing! It was nice to transition from so much out-and-about activity to days spent at home and around the table. The kids were excited to start school which always helps. This is our third year of homeschooling and we’ve definitely found our flow. It feels good to be back to routine and back to school!
Summer Camp August 11, 2022
Summer camp has been a part of our family life since I married Jeremy. He is a part of the directors’ team for our Assemblies of God network. He makes kids camp happen for hundreds of kids every summer. Before having kids, I tagged along and went to camp with Jeremy. Now I stay home and keep the kids alive while he is away. After a two year break (thanks COVID), summer is camp is back! Not only that, Owen is now old enough to be a camper! WHAT?!?! How did this happen? I’m also super nostalgic because camp this year is at the same campground I went to as a kid. I love that Owen is making childhood memories in a place that I also have childhood memories!
We were in summer camp prep mode this weekend. We went shopping down in Portland, OR to pick up more shorts and t-shirts for Jeremy. His camp commitment is a full seven days, so he needed to stock up on essentials. We stopped by Crumbl Cookie and visited a spray park. Jeremy left on Sunday to direct the first week of camp (Sun-Wed) and the boys and I held down the fort at home. Then Owen took off with our church for the second week of camp (Wed-Sat). Being home with two kids is one thing, but being home with one kid is completely different. Graham misses his brother a lot, but we’re making it. Graham wrapped up swimming lessons today and we got McDonald’s as a special treat. Graham is doing all the menu planning this week. He loves deciding what our next meal will be. No surprise, last night was mac and cheese. Tonight is biscuits. Tomorrow, we plan to get pizza. We are living our best carb lives here.
This whole week has felt a bit strange. We, obviously, miss Jeremy a ton while he is away at camp! Now that I have two elementary-aged kids, being on my own with them is less intense than the baby/toddler/preschool years. The dynamic of having one kid being gone is new and certainly an adjustment. Keeping Graham distracted is actually a good distraction for me. I miss Owen, but I’m not too worried about him now that he is actually away. I was more anxious leading up to his departure. Jeremy has kept me updated, so I at least know Owen is eating and having a good time.
We have two more days until we’re all back together again! Almost to the finish line of this long week. I’m hoping the rest of summer camp goes well for Jeremy and Owen… and that Graham+Mom camp continues to go well, too!
Making Summer Memories August 3, 2022
My dreams are coming true! It finally feels like summer – both in the weather and our activities! While shopping, I’ve seen fall and even Christmas items out, but I’m not ready for that! It feels like our summer has just begun. Usually, I’m all about fall, but our June and July were too quiet. We’re ready to embrace all the summer vibes while we still can. We are starting school at the end of August, so we really have less than a month left of summer. I’m hoping we can make the most of the time we still have!
This last week was a bit of a rollercoaster. We had our minivan in the shop for thankfully a quick and cheap fix. We had our floors partially torn up to try to “fix” them again. We have a certain spot that continually breaks and has everyone puzzled. We’ll see how long this fix lasts. I had a homeschool co-op planning meeting. I will be teaching a one week class on cookie decorating and then teaming up with a friend to teach eight weeks of drama to our younger class. Teaching drama will certainly be an adventure since I’ve haven’t been on stage since high school… But the class is made up of 5-9 year-olds… I think we’ve got this! If not, it will be dramatic in more than one way!
The boys have enjoyed pool parties with friends and family. Jeremy took them to the local area spray parks on one of our hottest days. (We just came off seven days in a row above 90 degrees – very rare in our corner of the PNW.) Jeremy and the boys went on a scouting adventure on Monday in preparation for hunting season. Jeremy let them tagalong last night to National Night Out hosted by our local police department. Our church provided inflatables and the whole event was full of freebies and fun for families. The boys had a blast! They also started swim lessons this week, because it’s just not summer without swim lessons!
My special adventure this week was a getaway with my forever friend, Maggie. I drove up to her neck of the woods north of Seattle. We got a hotel room (with fantastic AC and comfy beds). On Friday evening, we had dinner at Claim Jumper and dessert at Crumbl Cookie. Saturday morning, we drove out to Lake Stevens so we could visit Jenny Cookies Bake Shop. I spent way too much on cookies (and a t-shirt), but it was such a fun and tasty treat! Maggie and I went to Panda Express for lunch and then walked laps around the air-conditioned mall. There is nothing quite like time with a forever friend enjoying good food, long walks, and chatting non-stop!
August is here and we have filled it to the brim with good things. We are making all the summer memories we can! Because we are trying to pack so much into August, our routine is a bit off, which means I’m a bit off. I figure it’s for a worthy cause. There is so much summer fun still to have before we buckle down with school books!
Out and About Again! July 25, 2022
The first half of July was fairly quiet for our family as Jeremy and I recovered from COVID. I’m so thankful to have that experience behind us. We have rejoined the world again!!! It’s been so nice to get out and about after being home for two weeks. Originally, I thought I would want to do a big outing on the first day I no longer had to take precautions after COVID. It turns out my desire for activity didn’t quite match my energy level, though. Instead of a big adventure, we spent our first weekend of freedom with family. It was a good way to ease back into socializing. We had dinner with Jeremy’s parents one night and dinner with my family the next. We are glad we don’t have to distance ourselves from them anymore.
This last week finally felt like what a normal summer week should be! We visited friends on Monday to meet their baby goats. We spent multiple afternoons in the pool and had two different sets of friends over to swim. We had a lake day with our homeschool co-op friends. To cap off the week, we did family photos with my dad’s entire extended family. After such a quiet start to July, I’ve deeply appreciated the time with friends and family. It was also fun to host pool playdates again. The weather has finally warmed enough that the kids can stay in the pool for more than a few minutes without chattering teeth.
The adventures of this last week have me all excited and hopeful for the latter half of our summer. I won’t lie. I’ve been disappointed with the first half. Between poor weather and illness, we haven’t had the summer of adventures I had hoped for. But I’m optimistic that it’s right around the corner. This week was a good kick-off to what I hope continues to be a summer full of fun! 🙏🤞
June-uary June 15, 2022
I can see the rain falling as I sit down beside my bedroom window to type. I’ve clicked the thermostat up a few times already today. I’m trying not cringe that the house still needs heating. The term June-uary is jokingly said here in the PNW to refer to a June that feels much more like a January. A chilly June isn’t unheard, but it’s still disappointing. My summer bucket list of outdoor adventures continues to be put on hold while I wait for opportune weather. Owen dramatically asked me, “Will it ever be warm enough to swim in pool?” I don’t know, kiddo!
Here are a few highlights from the last week. The boys wrapped up the activities needed to get a free book for the library summer reading program. Since I was disappointed the selection at the library, I purchased them books of their choosing as a reward. Owen selected the first book in The Boxcar Children series and Graham selected a reader. The boys used the money they earned from selling their train table and play kitchen to purchase new items. Owen went for a video game and Graham got a LEGO set. New books, games, and toys have come in handy as we rest at home and avoid the rain.
We continue to fiddle with how best to use the playroom. We kept it open and empty for a few days, but now we have a card table and some chairs in the space. The card table isn’t my ideal playroom furniture, but it works for now. Graham used the table to build his new LEGO set and Jeremy used it to sort his own LEGOs he might be interested in selling. Every so often, we do a purge and sell of old items. It’s a good practice. It clears out space and gives us some fun money in return. I’m all for the playroom table being covered in LEGOs instead of the dining room table!
We were able to attend a reunion for Jeremy’s family on Sunday. It was good to see many familiar faces we haven’t seen in the last few years due to the pandemic and meet a few new faces as well. Jeremy let his parents borrow an inflatable from the church and the kids had a blast bouncing the afternoon away with the cousins. It was a chilly gathering, but thankfully, it only misted on us for a short time at the start.
Yesterday, I went to a potluck for our homeschool co-op to discuss plans for next school year. I brought pumpkin muffins because I still have pumpkin in my pantry that needs to be used and the weather seriously feels like fall. I’m just embracing the chilly vibes with my pumpkin roll scented Scenty warmers and pumpkin spice muffins. Summer might be the favorite season of many, but I’m always looking forward to fall. I might have gotten a jump start on longing for fall. Oops!
I do realize that summer hasn’t officially started (13 days to go). I’ve always viewed the beginning of June as the start of summer, though. Wrapping up our school year in May gave me high hopes of enjoying some special summer moments before the rest of the PNW was on summer break, but no such luck. Oh well. I might be mad at the rain for keeping my summer plans on hold, but I’m also okay with the cozy vibes inside – books to read and muffins to munch on while wrapped in a blanket. Not a bad trade off. I guess I’ll survive this June-uary just fine.
Summer Mode June 1, 2022
We’re officially in summer mode, even if the weather here in the PNW doesn’t agree. May was more like March in our corner of Washington State. It’s a bit disappointing, but we’re rolling with it. Memorial Day weekend is often called the unofficial start of summer and I’ve always viewed it as such. The weather might not cooperate, but we’re still claiming summer mode no matter what!
Since we finished school last Wednesday, we took a long weekend before starting our summer routine. On Thursday, the boys spent the afternoon with Jeremy while I went to the dentist for a routine cleaning. I’m not sure why I thought going to the dentist on our first day off from school was a good idea. It was a very anti-climatic way to start our break. The boys were super sweet and surprised me with a thank you gift for teaching them this last year. Jeremy took them to store where they picked out orange roses and a maple bar for me. According to the internet (which we all know is super reliable), orange roses stand for joy. They offer sincere gratitude and happiness. I’m positive my kids didn’t have this symbolism in mind when they made their selection, but I’ll take it!
The rest of holiday weekend was a mix of resting and socializing. We had friends over for dinner on Saturday. We made burgers and hot dogs inside since it was raining. The weather wasn’t going to stop the BBQ food vides. After church on Sunday, we took a drive to visit family. The kids played with cousins while the adults played games. It was a good way to pass yet another rainy day. Both Saturday and Sunday, the kids played outside regardless of the rain. They weren’t letting the weather get in the way of fun. Monday, we met Nana and Papa for breakfast at a favorite restaurant. My big goal for Memorial Day weekend was to finish The Return of the King. I was excited to complete the epic Lord of the Rings series by my self-imposed deadline (Jeremy likes to poke fun at my “deadlines”).
Now we’re on our summer schedule. Our days start very similar to the school year. We see Jeremy off to work, start a load of laundry, and do a little schoolwork. The workload is quick and fun. Just a little something to keep their brains engaged, but not feel like a burden. The kids are enjoying the extra free time and so am I! Because we’ve had two dry days, I’ve walked mid-morning which feels like a treat. Usually, I don’t have time to walk until late afternoon or evening. Our summer schedule looks like fairly free weekdays and mostly full weekends. It’s amazing how the summer calendar filled in with adventures. Yesterday, I wrote out our summer bucket list on the white board in our kitchen. It will be fun to start checking off the activities. Hooray for summer mode!
The School Year Wrap-Up! May 25, 2022
We’ve spent the last week wrapping up our school year. The boys completed their 36 week curriculums on Thursday. It’s always a celebration to finish the school books. To mark the occasion, we had Dominos pizza for dinner and I baked cinnamon rolls and brownies as a special dessert for each kid. It was a quiet close to the school year, but still very much a celebration.
We’ve made the decision to homeschool again next year. We are enjoying the homeschool process. The kids are enthusiastic about it and we have good momentum. We were a part of a co-op for the last 7 weeks of school and we all appreciated this learning environment. The co-op is hoping to continue next year and we are looking forward to being a part of it again. Adding a social/classroom environment was a positive enhancement to our homeschool experience.
At the end of 2nd grade, Owen was required by our state (Washington) to do an end-of-the-year assessment. There are multiple options depending on the student. We opted for the California Achievement Test. We used an online, untimed version which was super convenient. I was a little nervous about what to expect since this was our first time. It went surprisingly well and it was quite the celebration to complete it this morning. It was the last thing to finish for this school year. We are now 100% done!
We are taking an extra long Memorial Day weekend before starting our summer workbooks in June. Reading and books will continue to be a focus over the summer. We’ll visit the library to participate in their summer reading program. We also hope to visit some historical sites for educational outings. We’re trying to sneak in some learning with the summer fun. It’s been a great school year, but a change of pace will be nice. Bring on summer mode!
Summer is Coming?! May 18, 2022
We’ve been experiencing a May that feels very much like a March in our part of the PNW. When I look at the calendar, I see summer is coming. Then I look out the window and the weather doesn’t seem to agree. The cool and showery weather has distracted me from the fact that summer is right around the corner. Slowly, my mind is turning toward summer and I’m starting to get excited!
We are about to wrap-up our school year this week. We use an assortment of 36 week curriculums from September through May. The kids have been enthusiastically completing books all month. Next week, Owen will have his first year-end assessment. I took the CAT as a homeschooler in middle school so I’m familiar with it, but things have changed in the decades since I was a student. It will be a new adventure for both Owen and I. I’m looking forward to having testing finished because that will feel like the true end of the school year for me.
As we wrap-up the school year, the kids are already pulling out their summer books and asking when we can start them. I’m thankful for willing students who love to learn (even over the summer). We do a lighter version of school over the summer. We do this because we have the time and it adds structure to our days. I’m mindful of the “summer slide” and summer school helps to prevent learning loss. A little bit of school on the days we’re home keeps the brain engaged (and we have fun with it).
Anyone else make a summer bucket list? I started making mine this month! I have a few local historical sites and nature trails I hope we can visit this summer. I’m also hoping we can make it to the zoo. We’ll try to have a month of swimming lessons in the mix. Vacation Bible Adventure will happen on Sundays this year and the whole family is excited for the theme – Monumental. This will be Owen’s first year to attend an overnight summer camp! If the weather corporates, we’ll set-up the pool in the backyard soon. We love hosting playdates with family and friends! So much good summer fun awaits us!
The calendar says summer is coming, now if only the weather would get on board! With less than two weeks left in May, I’m dreaming of sunny days filled with adventure and a change of pace. It’s all right around the corner!
Thoughts on Mothering in this Season May 11, 2022
We had a quiet Mother’s Day weekend as Jeremy continued to regain his stamina after fighting pneumonia. Our plans for the weekend changed so Jeremy could continue to rest. While I do love a good adventure to celebrate Mother’s Day, I also enjoy time at home. A quieter weekend was fine by me.
In my Mother’s Day Instagram post, I mentioned coming to motherhood with almost no knowledge of little boys. Growing up with just a sister, little boys have always been a mystery to me, even after years of observing them in children’s ministry before parenthood. Somehow God saw it fit to give me two boys and the adventurous life of a boy mom. Owen and Graham have given me quite the education on the ways and workings of little men. It’s been a fantasticating experience and I’m on the edge of my seat to see what happens next.
I’m the first to admit that the baby and toddler years were sweet, but not necessarily my favorite seasons of parenthood. I have many fond memories of my boys as littles, but I was in survival mode most of the time. Each new stage of development has been exciting step forward. I especially appreciated moving into the preschool years and then the elementary school days. We aren’t to the tweens/teens yet, but I have have a feeling these middle childhood years are a sweet spot. I’m loving these not quite little, but not quite big boys. They still love to cuddle and be near their mama. They still want to tell me everything (in great detail). I’m doing my best to savor this season. I know moms who have great relationships with their tween/teen boys so I’m taking notes and studying even now.
The last two years of mothering have certainly been different than I expected. The pandemic nudged our family in the direction of homeschooling. I often wondered about homeschooling, but without the pandemic, I would have never taken the plunge. It turns out that homeschooling has been an amazing choice for our family. We’ve enjoyed the last two years so much that we are contemplating continuing next year. As an introvert, I do wish for a bit more peace and quiet in my life. My boys seem to come with loud as their default setting, but the noise and interruptions have been worth it. I could write a whole post on our homeschooling family structure and why I love it so much. Bottom line, I love doing life together. I enjoy learning together, playing together, reading together, adventuring together. (I also enjoy our daily “quiet time” when we take a break from being together – a must for this introvert ). I have the honor/responsibility of modeling our family values throughout the day and I get a front row seat to what the boys are learning and enjoying. It’s not, by any means, a perfect life. Sibling squabbles are real, the kids rarely cheer for chores, and lots of time at home means lots of time to make “creative” messes. Life might not be perfect, but it is good.
Motherhood hasn’t been easy, but it has been a joy. I am thankful for the opportunity to be home with my family. My mothering is in partnership with Jeremy and I am so glad we get to this child-raising gig together. I love how the boys take after their father. All my men are outdoorsy and this stretches me to keep up with them. Through the boys, I’ve learned to appreciate going on a hike or spending an afternoon outside. Hopefully, through me, they’ve learned to appreciate baked goods and good books. We are shaping and influencing each other. We are creating a family culture. It’s hard work (some days more than others), but I’m grateful it’s my work in this season.
My “Unofficial” Word of the Year… May 4, 2022
Many people select a word for the year. Something they are hoping for, looking to grow in, be more mindful of. Friends have chosen words like gather, peace, excellence, hope, and resilience. All good words. I’ve never done well with this practice. I’ve tried a few times and for some reason it doesn’t stick. However, some words seem find me. They seem to declare themselves, no matter my choosing. In complete jest (sorta), I’ve discovered my word for 2022 is cancel (or similar words such as reschedule/postpone). 2022 has been filled with plans that just didn’t come to be. I’m not upset. It’s humorous to me at this point. I’ve learned to roll with it. Plans change often enough that I am very practiced at canceling, rescheduling, and postponing.
We’re supposed to be at conference in Idaho this week. As you can guess, we aren’t… For the last few weeks, I’ve been preparing for this big trip. I got the kids ahead in school. I purchased “distractions” to keep them busy. Graham got a new backpack big enough to carry these new treasures. New leak-proof water bottles were selected at Target for the adventure. In a moment of insanity and weakness on my part, giant stuffed animals were purchased at Costco as travel companions. The kids knew there would be time to go to the nearby park, swim in the hotel pool, and walk by the lake. Oh, and the snacks! We had a huge tote of snacks ready to keep blood sugar levels good and make sure no one (adults included) got hangry. We were as ready as you could be for an out-of-town adventure.
I’m reminded of the Bible verse, Proverbs 16:9 – “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” We were as prepared as possible for this trip, but in the end it wasn’t meant to be. Jeremy started to feel under the weather at the end of the week. On Saturday, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and he started antibiotics right away. We were supposed to leave on Sunday, but he was still feeling crummy and he didn’t fall under the conference health code.
Instead of traveling, we’ve had a quiet week at home. We are ahead now in school and using this time to keep that momentum going. We might be able to finish the school year sooner than expected. The boys and I were able to attend our homeschool co-op yesterday. Owen especially didn’t want to miss a meeting, so the boys were happy to make it. They’ve had blanket forts up all week. Tomorrow they will attempt to sleep in their forts. I’m not sure they’ll last all night. Their beds are way more comfortable than the floor, but they can learn from experience. I’ve used the extra time at home to do a baking project, organize/purge toys, and create a new storage system for schoolwork. We’re making the most of these surprise days at home.
With plans changing so often, I am grateful for friends, family, and collogues who are gracious with these adjustments. Our people are understanding and supportive which is a huge relief. I am thankful for our home and the space it provides for rest. We are always able to fill days at home without issue. Owen is pouring through books at a shocking rate. Graham is loving the Bluey activity books I got as conference distractions. Art is being created and cookies are being eaten. Staying home isn’t too bad. On the bright side, Jeremy is improving. He needed this week to rest. We might have been surprised by our change of plans, but God knew. He is faithful through all the unexpected twist and turns life throws our way.