Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Month in Pictures {July}

"The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things."
-Henry Ward Beecher

July was filled with busy days, nights and weekends, the calendar filled to the max. But on the rare moments we did find some free time, we soaked up every minute of it. The casual  family dates and backyard bon fires, matinees and family walks were balanced with the scheduled cancer walks and county fairs, cousin weekends and play dates.

July was also the month that Ashton decided he was ready to potty train. Since the experience training Spencer was extremely frustrating and unpleasant, we were in no rush to start it with Ashton. Until one day Spencer yelled across the house that Ashton just peed in the potty. Then he insisted on wearing undies. And then all of a sudden we were in full blown potty training mode, and I had little, to nothing to do with the matter. Here we are a few weeks in, and Ashton has basically mastered it. I still carry extra clothes in my van and rarely does he wear clothes while we're at home and I sometimes still trail after him with a towel cleaning up piddle in his wake, but I think it's safe to say that my diaper-wearing baby has been promoted to an undies boy. But the best part of it all: he practically trained himself. If we learned anything from our first go-round potty training, it's to take a back seat and let the kid take the reigns.

On this final July evening, I'd like to look back on the month that whizzed on by with an outline of pictures.

I. Relay for Life, Cousin Slumber Party, Cousin Beach Day.
Spencer and I hopped in the van and headed back to my hometown for our cancer walk, leaving Daddy and Ashton home to go fishing. The night ended with a Cousin Sandwich on Aunt Hopey's couch. Then before heading home the next day, we had a beach day and ice cream with cousins.

II. Backyard Bonfire.

III. Sundays at Grandma's.

Photography by Spencer.

IV. Dates.
Park dates. Daddy dates. Mommy dates. Family dates.

V. Random doings.

   A. Book Lovers.

   B. Potty Training.

   C. Just Like Daddy.

   D. Brotherly Love, Band-aid Edition.

   E. County Fair.

   F. Little Shoppers.

   G. Slobbery Kisses.

   H. Mommy Photography: Noir.

Friday, July 25, 2014

That familiar conviction

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning again with the summer."
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

One of our most cherished and highly-anticipated things to do in the summer is spend evenings on the river. We dream about it all winter long--thinking about the cool breeze on our faces as the little fishing boat whips across the water, fantasizing about trading in the feet of snow for sand between our toes, and devising plans to make the biggest sandcastles. Sadly, our dreams were delayed this year after flooding caused the Mississippi to rise to unsafe levels. But, finally, this week it became a reality, and it was probably better than anything we daydreamed about in January.

Wednesday night we picked up take-out food and met Dave at the boat landing. The supper plan was pizza, but since Ashton informed me that he doesn't like pizza and wanted a chicken nugget Happy Meal from "Donald's", I threw my usual rules out the window and catered to their individual tastes. We parked the John boat on a sandbar and munched on Luke warm pizza and nuggets, feeding crusts and fries to the birds, before we explored, played, splashed, snapped three million pictures and relaxed.

One thing we discovered on our first river trip of the season is now that the boys are a bit older, we don't need to hover as much. This afforded us some downtime to ourselves, soaking up the experience with a detached view.

Another important lesson learned is that Spencer does not enjoy a smashed sandcastle, even if his was smashed in retaliation after he demolished mine.

Our Summer Bucket List earned another check mark this week. But I'd like to check off the little box next to River Dates a few more times yet this summer. The first of many evenings on the river.