Sunday, August 23, 2015

End of Summer, part I

We've had so much fun packed into the last bits of summer that it was impossible to keep up with it blogging-wise, so I'll just do a couple of big posts (this one is iPad pictures, the next one will be camera pictures).

First of all, with the openhouse for the Indianapolis temple, we were lucky enough to see lots of dear friends who came to the openhouse! We spent a couple of delightful days seeing beloved buddies that we hadn't seen since Thanksgiving (thank goodness for technology that keeps us connected!). 

We were all planning to get together at the same time, but circumstances worked out so that the visits were separated by a day or two, which just drew out the fun even longer!

Our first set of friends to visit--Jason & Melanie's family--came to stay with us overnight and then headed out early the next morning. Undeterred by the quick timeline, Melanie and I decided to make the most of it and stayed up until 3:30 AM talking (they were getting up at 6 to leave), as you may be able to see in my tired-no-makeup-but-happy face here!

They brought a 5-lb bag of gummy worms and the kids ran around until dark getting sticky and jumping on the trampoline while the adults talked as fast as we could catching up--I think the kids finally were in bed around 11 and we all were so sad to see the evening end!

A few days later, we met Tyler & Andrea's family at the temple, then went to the Children's Museum together. We didn't get nearly enough time talking in between chasing down kiddos, so they came over for a bit the next day after church and we chatted some more, but it made me realize how much we HAVE to get together with these dear friends for a much longer time--soon!

We got quite a few photos in front of the temple but for some reason I can look at the files that Tyler sent but the zip files won't upload, so we will settle for this one (of just our family) that we took in the reception tent.

And fun at the Children's Museum--boy oh boy was it hard to leave when the day was over! Poor Abigail was quite tearful--she and Elise have been friends since they were babies and every time they see each other they just pick right up where they left off. Same for Eva and Juliet.

I can't remember exactly when, but one weekend we went to this fun community BBQ held by the church that sponsors the vacation Bible school that my kids love so much. It was such a great event--everything was free and there were bounce houses, cotton candy, watermelon, elephant ears, all the BBQ food, pony rides, balloons, etc. The kids were in heaven!

So fun to go and see so many friends from school--I always leave things like this realizing just how deeply we've sunk our roots here and how hard it really will be to go.

Best picture of the summer--Luke's exuberant trip down one of the bounce house slides! Hah!

Juliet turned 8...

...which meant that it was time for her wonderful baptism day!

We were so grateful for all of the people who made a real effort to be there for her baptism--my parents came from Michigan, along with my grandparents; my sister Mary Beth came from Chicago, and Neil's parents flew in from Utah. It was a wonderful day!

And of course we had some wonderful food. :-)

One of my favorite pictures from the weekend--all my kids mobbing Mary Beth for stories. I love how even the older kids, who can totally read by themselves, magically zoom in if there's a chance they can cuddle up for a story!

We also started back to school...we had a fun little feast (the kiddos picked the berries for the raspberry lemonade and were super excited about it!). I don't even remember what we had but I remember how fun it was to sit around talking about our goals for the year. Sometimes family dinners are crazy but sometimes they are just these wonderful shining moments of teaching and learning and sharing, and those are the ones that make me keep plugging away during the not-so-good ones!

First day of school photo for Juliet and Isaac. Abigail was gone on the bus before the photo...I was just getting ready to take her picture when somebody yelled that the bus was at the corner (ten minutes early!) and so I dropped the camera and we SPRINTED to the corner and I banged on the bus doors and got her on! Not the most auspicious start, but she is absolutely loving her new school and I am sooo grateful we decided to switch (I think I was much more nervous about it than she was!). She told me that she said so many prayers of gratitude the first couple of days for her wonderful new teacher and friends. I'm so excited that she won't have to repeat the misery of last year with the teacher she would have had if we had stayed at the same school (the high-ability classes are a two-year sequence). I'm so proud of how insanely hard she worked for that teacher last year--she finished the year with straight A's, but it came at such a high cost to her and I am just beyond grateful that this year she has a new teacher.

Just realized that I have no first-day-of-school photo for Abigail, but I do have one of the owl shirt I made for her to wear on her first day! Hah!
My book came in the mail one day, which was a super fun surprise! It sold out within two weeks and we are in the process of doing a second printing. :-) We have been getting really awesome reviews and I have loved hearing from so many people about how it has touched their minds and hearts. It's sparked some good discussions for Neil & me as well!

Luke & I celebrated the first day of school by going out to lunch with Neil and then taking a long luxurious nap together. It was awesome. :-)

Then he and Nathan ran around half-naked feeding grass to the chickens.

This is totally out of order, but on July 31st we had our third annual Harry Potter party! My kids look forward to this SO MUCH.

The girls took care of all the decorations while the boys helped me make the food. I love all the little touches in the vignettes they set up...this one (below) was my favorite, mostly because they made sure each owl was carrying something for the Owl Post.

This year we had actual Chocolate Frog molds (I bought one and then the kiddos' awesome teacher from school loaned us another), and I bought a ton of Bertie Bott's and the kids had a taste-testing festival that was the highlight of the party. I kept finding soap-flavored beans in couch cushions for weeks! (I also ate soap/vomit/dirt/earthworm flavored beans, which made my kids deliriously happy and almost--almost--made up for the wretched taste.) It was also the first year that Isaac was really immersed in Pottermania--he's currently reading Prisoner of Azkaban--so it was extra fun seeing his delight at all the little touches that he now actually "got."

Once they were in bed, I added my own decoration to their bathroom mirror (Moaning Myrtle), which scared the bejabbers out of them in the middle of the night when they got up to use the bathroom...but of course it ended up being their favorite thing about the party and we left it up for a couple of weeks until the next round of houseguests arrived!

And as always, once all our guests go home, we eat all the goodies while we watch one of the Harry Potter movies. Super fun. :-)

And to take us out, I really love this photo with Luke. Neil took it at the end of the day a few days ago...I wasn't wearing any makeup and the lack of sleep is evident, but I love the mother-joy that I can see in this photo. Luke had been feeling a little grumpy and a little lonely, and really wanted to be snuggled but I also needed to finish a few things, so I put him in the Moby Wrap and he just was so delighted! So many giggles, so much joy. I love that sunshiny little face and cherished the opportunity to keep pressing kisses onto his curly head while I finished up dishes and packing lunches and whatnot. One of those moments I don't want to forget. 

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