Saturday, July 30, 2016

A world lives in you.

"You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you."
-Katie McGarry, Pushing the Limits

When family lives just far enough away that visits aren't as often as you'd like, the reunion tastes of celebration. A few weeks ago we made the trip to my sister-in-law's new house, country living at its finest, complete with private lake access. The boy cousins wasted no time reconnecting, racing around the secluded yard, lost in a world only young kids fully understand. The oldest girl cousin doted on the new baby girl cousin, discovering the joy (and challenge) of baby ponytails.

My brother-in-law escorted all of us in shifts on a boat tour around the lake the first day, proudly boasting of its charm. The boys were first, spending a great chunk of the early evening with the sticky night air kissing their faces as the boat glided over the water. My niece and I were last. Our lake tour was right at sunset, beginning in fading golden light and ending in blackness, twinkling stars glittering the sky. Loons serenaded our ride, their distinct music calling to us as we slowly rounded the lake, ooooohing and ahhhhing over each unique house.

The second day was spent playing and chatting and napping and swimming. As night fell upon us once again, the kids melted into bedtime, tired from their full speed day. The adults sat around a fire, swatting the bugs, sipping our drinks, and laughing late into the night.

The last day began slowly, everyone groggy from the festivities. Then came the packing up and hugging good-byes. But, first, photos with grandma, of course.

Sunday, July 3, 2016


"Here Spring just grows and greens and warms, spreading life, wrapping us in her arms, until suddenly we realize that she's not a girl anymore. She's a woman. A woman named Summer."
-N.D. Wilson

One month of summer vacation has been logged and numerous items on our June bucket list were crossed off. A weekend sleepover at Grandma's for the boys. Strawberry picking. Parades. A carnival. A night on the river. Swimming lessons. Loads of picnics and park dates. Our first ever attempt at chocolate meringue pie and a chocolate cake topped with heaping scoops of ice cream. Backyard pool parties. Camping. Family reunion. And much more. New items have been added onto a bucket list for July, with only one unchecked activity carrying over from June. A day at the beach.

Summer is now in full swing. With it comes incessant bickering between brothers, constant whining and tattling and He Did Its, and plenty of time spent in bedrooms practicing how to handle big emotions. The newest practicing we've been doing this summer vacation is how to ride in a car without making your mom want to jump out and roll into the ditch just to escape the chaos. So if you ever come upon a van sitting idle in a parking lot for an extended amount of time with three kids and a stressed mom, don't mind us. My sons are just practicing how to ride nicely in the car.

With the hair-pulling madness, also comes plenty of joy. A baby laughing at a high octave as we wiggle, jiggle and belt out Uptown Funk on a repetitive loop. Boys fashioning up a faux diving board out of a trampoline and plummeting into the kiddie pool until their skin resemble prunes. Brothers huddled on the ground cheering their baby sister on as she wobbles across the room to them, an awkward crawl of a knee and a leg scoot, the same crawl-scoot variation her biggest brother perfected six years prior. A family squealing like hyenas when the baby finally pounds her tiny fists together after days of prompting her to clap. Scrawny legs stretched out next to long ones atop a bed, the voice of a new reader sounding out words. The rush of feet across the floor and bodies flinging into a dad after a long day at work. A family sitting at the same table each night, detailing their favorite and least favorite parts of the day.

This is summer. The highs and lows are heightened while were glued to each other in this pause of life before the next school year begins. This land of in between is my very favorite. Even if I've mentally rehearsed my rolling-out-the-van-while-it's-still-cruising-down-the-highway-exit approximately 300 million times already. We may be spotted practicing said car-riding in a parking lot near you while en route to checking off the latest item on our July bucket list. But, hey, we're making memories one painful van ride at a time.