A Little of this and That in July and August

Sep 2, 2016

Oh, summer, summer. It was perfect in every way, and I'm so sad to see it go. I never wrote up a July update, and there were a few things I wanted to tell you about so I'll just add them in with the August report, if that's okay. In July and August, you might have found us . . .

Blowing . . . bubbles, playing with cousins, paddling kayaks, eating yummy food, watching the film festival, throwing rocks into the stream, and generally wearing ourselves out at Mike's family's reunion. So much fun.

Seeing . . . my sister for something like eight weekends in a row. She is usually so busy that I don't think this has never happened before, but she had a more laid back schedule this summer, and it seemed like every weekend brought something for us to do together (including the two weekends when we were in Europe and she was watching our kids for us!). Now she's in graduate school, and I suppose those regular visits will come to a halt.

Hiding . . . from fireworks on Independence Day. That would have been Clark.The rest of us loved them, but he freaked with the first crackle. We had to borrow a pair of noise-canceling earphones, and he kept his head buried almost the entire time.

Recording . . . Episode 7 of The Book Blab with Suzanne in person. She and her family were in Utah, and we decided we couldn't pass up an opportunity to record the show in the same room. It was so much fun, and we wish we could do it that way every time. (Since then, Episode 8 has also aired, but we had to go back to chatting over the internet.)

Gallivanting . . . all across Europe with Mike. I've already written up a pretty complete travelogue so won't make you endure any more. I'll just say, it was a trip of a lifetime, and now that we've been home for over a month, we are just so grateful we had the chance to go. (Netherlands/Belgium/France; Germany; Norway; Stuttgart Library)

Squealing . . . over my podcast episode on What Should I Read Next. I alluded to this in June's update, but didn't want to say more lest I jinx it. But it's up now, and has been for nearly two months. It came out on the day we left on our Europe trip and in the words of Mike, "You're acting more excited about that podcast than you are about leaving for Europe." There was just something a little surreal about listening to my voice chat about books with Anne Bogel. It's something I'd wanted to do ever since she started the podcast, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to do it (and then had the courage to follow through with it . . . because, believe me, it was intimidating). You can listen to the full episode right here.

Celebrating . . . Aaron's eighth birthday with cousins, Legos, a bounce house, and the most incredible Yoda cake I've ever seen (I can say that because I didn't make it).

Discovering . . . what it feels like to be the parents of seven children. Mike's sister watched our kids for the first five days of our Europe trip. Then, she and her husband, Nate, joined us in Norway, and when Mike and I got back, we watched their three kids for the last five days of their trip. It was a great trade, and even though I was happy to get back to just my own four kids, those were about the three easiest extra kids you could ever add. They were obedient and kind. They played so well with my kids. They ate and slept like champs. And they were just all around so pleasant. But we have a small kitchen, and boy, we felt it during those five days.

Learning . . . new skills. Bradley had a very productive summer: he learned how to pump a swing (something he's been working on for a long time), became a pro at riding his bike, improved his swimming, began to read fluently, started piano lessons, played soccer, and even mastered a flip off the diving board. There is no stopping that kid.

Realizing . . . for the first time that Maxwell is a strong-willed child. And the rest of you are all thinking, Um, yeah? It's taken you this long to figure that out?! But honestly, it wasn't so much that I hadn't figured it out as that I'd just never even thought about it before. And then suddenly, one day, the light bulb went on, and I was like, "Oh! When people talk about a strong-willed child, this is the type of kid they're referring to!" And then five minutes after making this discovery, I checked out Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child from the library. It's been most helpful so far.

Hiking . . . as a family. One of our family goals was to go on three family hikes. I'm sure that doesn't sound very ambitious to those of you who are hiking every weekend, but for us, it really did stretch us beyond our usual routine and activities. We loved it though. I expected some complaining and whining from our kids at different points along the trails, but there never was any (it helped that we chose shorter trails, but still . . . ). They were genuinely happy the entire time (except, see that big rock in the photo below? That was a point of contention. Maxwell really wanted to climb it, but Mike told him he couldn't, and a major argument ensued with Max contesting each of our reasons with reasons of his own.)

Reading . . . some long, slower books. As much as I'm loving Sense and Sensibility right now, I'm realizing that I lose a little bit of my reading drive when it takes me over a month to finish one book.

Attending . . . Aaron's baptism. I wrote an entire post about it here, but in summary: it was a sweet and special day, but it made me realize how quickly my kids are growing up.

Watching . . . the Olympics. I'm always amazed that a non-sports fan like myself can become totally obsessed with and completely dedicated to random sporting events, but it happens without fail every two years. This year, my kids were just as obsessed as I was, and they raced through their work each morning so they would have time to watch it during the day. It was nice to feel like cheering for Michael Phelps again, I've never seen a race like Katie Ledecky's 800m freestyle, all of my childhood love for gymnastics came back after watching Simone Biles, and I wish synchronized swimming got more screen time.

Helping . . . my parents move into their new home here in Utah! It's been a long, exhausting, emotional process for them (and it's still not over yet), but I'm so happy to have them closer and so glad they took the scary leap and made it happen. My kids are so thrilled to have Grandma B and Papa Dave so close to them.

Driving . . . up into the canyon with Mike to watch the meteor shower. We went in Mike's trusty old pickup, and we had the inflatable air mattress in the back along with lots of pillows and blankets. It was so fun to lie there, cozy and warm, looking up into the endless black sky dotted with millions of tiny stars, some of which went zooming across in blazing streaks. The next night, Mike took the three older boys, and they had an equally great time.

Going . . . to the first day of school. After the hassle of two different schools last year, it felt so good to be able to take Aaron and Max to the same school at the same time and watch them walk over to the playground together. And so far, they've both been having a great year (Maxwell especially, who seems to be a much happier and contented kid after he's been at school all day).

Demolishing . . . the eye-sore of a brick wall in our front room. We have big plans for it (book shelves, a new mantel, etc.), and I'm just keeping my fingers crossed it will all be done by December in order to avoid any more fiascos reminiscent of last Christmas Eve.

Rewarding . . . the boys for their hard work on their summer goals. For June's reward, we went to see National Parks at the IMAX theater; for July's, we went mini-golfing; and for August's (which still hasn't happened), we plan to visit some caves.

What were some of the highlights of your summer?


  1. I know, why doesn't synchronized swimming get more air time? It's the most spectacular and entertaining event in the whole Olympics (besides synchronized gymnastics)! (Also, that Yoda cake was AMAZING!)

    1. I know--what's with that?! I'd personally like a little more variety on prime time.

  2. Okay, can I tell you that I'm just listening to your interview with Anne and I had the same reaction to The Boys in the Boat? It's one of my favorites and I cried too. Loved it. I recommend it to all who will listen.

    1. Oh, it's so good, isn't it? I'm glad you've loved it too.

  3. I was so excited when I heard you were on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It was an excellent listen.

    Also, your comment "Maxwell especially, who seems to be a much happier and contented kid after he's been at school all day" struck a chord with me. My son and I have been having a really difficult time (homeschooled him for Kindergarten) and he has just started public school for first grade. Whoa! Such a wonderful change! He seems to be loving school, and I am really enjoying the break.

    I don't know if my son is necessarily a strong-willed child, but instead a "Spirited Child" or a "Highly Sensitive Child." A good book to read for that is, "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Speedy Kurcinka. She gets it. It is like she is in my head.

    1. Oh thank you, Deanna!

      Yes, Maxwell's school situation has been really eye-opening (and I think kind of humbling) for me. I love having my kids home and always relish the summers and have toyed with the idea of homeschooling for years. But the night and day difference between Maxwell at home all day and Maxwell at school all day has led me to realize that some kids really do thrive on going to school. I'm glad you've seen the same results with your son.

      I'll have to look into those books. Even though I think the "strong-willed" label fits Max pretty accurately, I'm sure there is some overlap between strong-willed and spirited, and I think I could benefit from more info and strategies. Thanks!

  4. I like synchronized swimming, but this year I saw kayaking for the first time, and it was amazing! Sure, swimming and gymnastics are fun, but I'd love to see more of the less-televised sports.

    In regard to your parents, your gain is our loss. I know they needed to move, and I have confidence that it will turn out to be a positive thing for them, but I'm sad. Other than the Wolfleys and the Moores and the Schumchers and a small handful of other people, we are now some of the longest-standing members of the ward. Many of my good friends and mentors have moved on. It is strange and makes me realize that I am getting older and that things do change. We will miss them!!

    I enjoy your blog.

    1. Kayaking is another fun one that I wish I'd gotten to see more of!

      I totally understand what you're saying, and I know it's breaking their hearts as well. It's been especially hard on my mom. In fact, I had no idea how difficult such a move would be. I hope the positives will outweigh the negatives for her eventually. I am so happy for my kids to be able to grow up with grandparents nearby. That is something so priceless.

  5. I didn't realize I could listen to Anne Bogel's podcast online! I thought I'd need an i-device of some kind. So thanks for the link. I listened to your episode, and I have to tell you that Seabiscuit is an absolute must read. It might be my favorite book of all time. Talk about a reading experience, my heart was literally pounding during the race scenes. I've never experienced anything like it. I think you'd love it!

    1. Oh good, I'm glad you could listen to it! I haven't read Seabiscuit yet, but comments like yours are make it inch its way to the top of the to-read pile!


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