A Little of This and That in July and August

Sep 21, 2018

Well, here we are, nearing the end of September, but this monthly update is actually for July and August. Those were busy months for us, but also so much fun, I wish I could do them all over again. I love the weather of spring and fall, but the laid-back structure of summer is my favorite. We spent our time . . .

Cracking . . . the pumping code. One of Clark's summer goals was to learn how to pump. We spent many park dates practicing. I would give him a starting push and then coach him, "In, out! Push, pull!" Sometimes he would keep the swing going for a couple of minutes before throwing off the rhythm and coming to a halt. But then, one day, it finally clicked. He got it. And for any of you who have ever been near a child who finally understands what pumping a swing is supposed to feel like, well, it's pretty magical. Now he's swinging any chance he gets, and I'm sitting on the sidelines and cheering.

Swimming . . . as much as possible. By the end of August, I was feeling a little bit sick of the pool but not enough to stop going. Somehow it seems like if we go enough, it will sustain us through the cold, dark months of winter. However, on our very last day, it was just Bradley, Clark, and me because everyone else was all swimmed out.

Attending . . . numerous family reunions. Okay, really just one in June and two in July, but with activities going over many days, it somehow felt like much more. But as someone who only had the opportunity to go to one family reunion during my entire childhood, I count it a great privilege that my summers are now filled to the brim with family I love so much. (But, I'm going to be totally honest: the location for Mike's family's reunion was close to our house, so we opted to go home to sleep in our own beds. I may have been a spoil sport, but at least I was a well-rested spoil sport!)

Celebrating . . . a new ten-year-old. Those ten years zipped by, and Aaron's birthday had me feeling a little sad. I guess I'm probably moving out of the young motherhood phase. I don't think you can have a ten-year-old and still be a "young" mother. But I can't actually feel that sad about it because you know what? Having a ten-year-old is awesome. He's helpful and interesting and actually funny (as opposed to obnoxious six- and eight-year-old humor, which is decidedly not). He can bounce around like a maniac on his pogo-stick, play complicated piano pieces, and solve harder math problems than I can. In short, ten-year-olds are cool, and I'm happy to have one living with me. (Also, he loves BYU but not cake, so Mike made him a Y key lime pie, and it was pretty one-of-a-kind.)

Vacationing . . . in the Midwest. I already wrote extensively about our summer vacation here, but hey, it's another chance to share one more picture. And it was definitely one of the highlights of our entire summer.

Kayaking . . . with my family. My parents live very close to a little pond. They spend many early summer mornings kayaking there, but we only managed to go one time this year. Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley can all go out by themselves now, which is pretty great.

Stopping . . . at Arches National Park for a quick hike. On our way down to Monticello for one of the family reunions, we took a little detour to Arches. It was a really hot day, but the short hike to Sand Dune Arch is almost completely shaded, and, as the name gives away, there is a lot of dry, soft sand to play in (although the tourists would have really appreciated it if our large family hadn't hung around for quite so long and messed up all of their photos, ha!). This was one more example of why we loved having the 4th Grade National Parks pass this year. Because we didn't pay to get into Arches, we didn't feel like we had to stay all day but we could just do what we wanted and then leave. It was great.

Making . . . friends with bugs. Max seemed to have a bug or two in his possession all summer long. Sometimes he kept them in vented containers or carried them around in his hands. One notable time, a grasshopper stayed on his hat for a couple of hours, going to a parade and on a long walk and even into Maverick for a slurpee. Max always names his bugs and gives them lots of love and friendship before sending them on their way.

Drinking . . . Bubly. Mike went on a sparkling water kick (he's still on it, actually), and always has a stash in the fridge. His favorite brand is Bubly (mine, too), so that seems to be the one he purchases the most. Sparkling water is something of an acquired taste (my sister made the most awful face when she tried some, and my uncle has always referred to it as "battery acid"), but I like it. However, I'm not a huge carbonation fan, so I can never drink an entire can by myself. Luckily, each time Mike cracks one open (which is usually four to five times a day), he pores a little bit into my cup. Just one more reason why we make a good team.

Finishing . . . the perfect basic sweater. I wanted to knit myself a comfortable, neutral sweater I could wear all fall and winter, and it turned out exactly like I wanted it to. It's long enough, has just the right amount of positive ease, and is a great color. Now if the weather would only cool down enough to wear it!

Feeding . . . hummingbirds. We noticed a couple of hummingbirds zipping and darting around our house, so we decided to get a hummingbird feeder and hang it on the tree in our front yard. Those little hummingbirds took to it right away and visited it several times each hour. We loved sitting out on the front porch and watching them. Now the weather is cooling down, so we haven't seen them in a couple of weeks, which probably means they've flown south and we won't see them again until spring.

Hiking . . . with cousins. We went on several hikes this summer. The longest and hottest was to Cecret Lake, but luckily we had cousins with us, and that made it all worth it.

Holding . . . a family book club. At the beginning of the summer, I decided it would be fun to have a family book club. My kids have seen me go to book clubs for years, and I wanted them to get to experience what one is like. We all read Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, and then we met on a Saturday afternoon to discuss it. I hosted it just like I would have if it had been my regular book club: there were treats, we spent some time eating and talking, and then we dived into some discussion questions. My kids were surprisingly talkative and brought up some good points. I'm sure we'll do it again next summer.

Watching . . . Newsies at Hale Center Theater. We introduced the boys to the classic Disney movie, Newsies, early in the summer. They loved it so much and then all chipped in to purchase the soundtrack, which they listened to over and over again. Our favorite local theater was putting it on in August, so we decided to take the three oldest boys as one of their summer goals prizes. It was fantastic.

Going . . . camping. Not just Mike and the boys, but the whole family. Yes, even me. I haven't been camping since before Aaron was born, but Mike convinced me we could do it, even with Ian. And we actually had a great time (and Ian slept like the dream baby he is and always has been). I still can't really figure out why people choose to sleep in a tent and use a pit toilet and cook all of their food over a campfire for fun, but my kids seem to get it.

Treating . . . Ian for low iron. When I took Ian to the doctor for his one-year check-up, we discovered that his iron level was low. So we began giving him an iron supplement every day. He hated it (the taste was pretty strong, even when hidden in other foods), and it was a struggle. When I took him in for his 15-month check-up, his iron was still low (even slightly lower than it had been before), so our pediatrician decided to just give him a shot of iron instead. It was kind of an ordeal (I didn't know it was going to be until I noticed how much prep work they were doing to get ready for it and saw that the doctor was actually going to do it himself instead of the nurse), but after we were a few hours past it, I decided it was well worth it. And it seems to have done the trick. 

Starting . . . school. I wasn't tired of summer yet, but the first day of school came anyway. My one consolation is that we have the dream team of teachers this year, and my kids are really happy and thriving. Aaron is in fifth grade (last year of elementary school!), Maxwell is in third, and Bradley is in first.

Sleeping . . . on the trampoline. One night, just a few days before school started, I said something about how some kids like to sleep outside on the trampoline. Of course, my kids immediately latched onto it and wanted to do it right then, that very night. And we didn't have any reason to say no, so we said yes. I didn't think they would make it the entire night, but they did, and I think we may have started a new tradition. Somehow, it felt like just the right thing to do before summer ended.

Socializing . . . with all the neighbors. Clark is by far the most social of any of my kids. He lives for time with friends. I don't see much of him between the hours of 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, and I usually have to go looking at several homes before I finally track him down. His friendship knows no age boundaries. Sometimes he's running around in full superhero regalia with the 4-5-year-old crowd, and other times he's helping our fifty-year-old neighbor weed her flowerbed. He is interested in everyone. We've had to have many conversations about how to be polite because he knows exactly which neighbors are likely to offer him an otter pop or a Sunny D or a mint, and it takes all of his self control to wait to be offered one instead of asking for it himself. Parenting an extrovert is a whole new world, I tell you what.

Having . . . the TALK (yes, that talk) with Aaron. This was a big step for Mike and me as parents. First, the two of us read Growing Up by Brad Wilcox so we would have some sort of outline to guide us (and I highly recommend it, especially if you're approaching this subject from a religious background; I far preferred it to How to Talk to Your Child About Sex by Richard and Linda Eyre, which we also read portions of). Mike holds monthly interviews with the boys, so he just slowly started to incorporate some of this information in his chats with Aaron. He laid a strong foundation before getting to what most people would consider the actual "talk." But we are both adamant that these chats continue for clarification and questions and more information as he continues to grow and mature.

Walking . . . on his own two feet. Ian finally started taking a few tentative steps in mid-August and then mastered it quite rapidly from there. He was nearly sixteen months old. He was so proud of himself, but his older brothers were even more proud. I'd take a late walker any day.

Trying . . . out for swim team. Over the summer, Aaron swam with Sea Monkeys (a non-competitive swim team). He really liked it, so he decided to try out for the regular swim team this fall. It was a tough, week-long process of going to the practices and being evaluated every day, but he made it! And now he's swimming a LOT, and I'm kind of wondering what we got ourselves into...

Spending . . . a morning at the zoo with my family. We went after school had started, which meant we had the place almost to ourselves. Just the way I like it.

Becoming . . . a crossing guard. Now that he's in fifth grade, Aaron had the opportunity to become a crossing guard. He helps man the school entrances and holds traffic so students can cross safely. He has been taking this responsibility very seriously, and I think it's pretty cute to see him in his safety vest and holding his flag (don't tell him I said that!).

And that's a wrap for the summer. Tell me about your favorite summer memories in the comments!


  1. Sounds like a great summer!

    The good thing about being a large family is that you still get to be a young mom even as your oldest shoots up. Ian means you can hang with the young crowd.

  2. Your comment about camping made me laugh. My husband and I have often asked ourselves if camping is something we really like to do, or is it more like medicine we take a couple of times per year to remind ourselves how much we like our house? :)
    Plus, I am so impressed that you are knitting sweaters--and they fit and are cute! Way to go!


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