Tuesday, August 26, 2014

First Day....Eighth Year

We're off and running for another year. We've started school and were ready to get back and settled into the routine. Or at least I am. I had to do some counting on my fingers the other day when I recounted the years and realized it's our 8th year already.

I learned a couple years ago that starting school as a gradual process works far better than jumping into all subjects right away. Once again, this year we'll have a couple weeks of several subjects/review and then get into full class load. It helps with the system shock for everyone.

We've made it a tradition that the students get a little first day treat. I thought I was being clever with the cookies, until a student reminded me that I'd done it last year. Oh well, I guess we'll call it a tradition now.

The big kids each also received a small Lego set (spoiled, I know) and the little students a coloring book and notebook.

They all seemed pleased.

(Smart Cookie and other first day of school printables are over here)

Everyone was diligent in their work and the little distractions toddlers, were content with building, creating, coloring and the general concept of "school" in their eyes.

I know we all say it, but the years sure are flying!

A SIXTH grader....

And a FOURTH grader!

(First Day 2014-2015 printable chalkboard signs are seen here)

This is going to be some year. Perhaps our best yet.

I'll keep remaining hopeful and optimistic.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

These Days {Captured}

They weren't meant to last forever. I knew they weren't. 

Summer days, they're passing you know.

The routine and the order will come back, I told myself. 
These days are good for me, they are good for us.

And then one day a cloud covered a portion of my world and I had trouble recovering.

But then, God showed up.

He showed me that the lifeline had been there all along.

I just needed to find it again, grab hold of grace and rest a while.

(photo credit: Jonah)

To enjoy the last weeks of summer and take the days as they came.

Thankfully, that came in simple days as well as fun, adventurous, family days.

I did a 5K walk/run (we ran at the very end of the race) with my big kids and we had a blast! My mom joined us as our cheering section and photographer.

The event was called the Fiat 5K and is done to raise funds/awareness of a young womens discernment house in our diocese. It's also held out at the home farm of one of the Fiat House foundresses. 

If you are in Minnesota and on a dairy farm, there has to be cow milking.

After a priest vs seminarian duel, a couple more names of attendees were drawn for another friendly competition.

And whose should be chosen? Lily's!

At first reluctant, we cheered her on and she decided to go for it. Thankfully, a dear seminarian friend of ours is from a dairy farm, and agreed to lend her a hand.

It really was a priceless moment and will forever remain a very fun memory of Summer 2014.

Then came some busy days for me with my part time church job. After which, I was ready to get out of small town MN for a day with my parents.

A little adventure day meandering through the heart of Minnesota in my old stomping grounds proved to be the perfect respite.

The kids enjoyed time by the Mississippi, at the park, playground, bakery, McDonalds for lunch, a new splash pad and treats at the DQ.

Days such as these are too good to let them pass us by.

Today, on this last day of these days, we spent our last official day of summer vacation together as a family.

Sunshine and smiles abound.

A picnic in the park, climbing around the playground, a splash pad to cool off, and the local ice cream truck. Of course, we had to let them get treats.

We finished the afternoon off with paddle boat rides with daddy, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed.

These days are worth the wait.

They are a beautiful and memorable finish line.

They propel us forward and prepare us for the next season that is to come.

Tomorrow, school begins.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Balm To The Soul

Last week I had the honor to to meet up with two of the most lovely bloggers. In the evening I received an invite from Jamie to a get together with Margaret the following day. It somehow turned into a game changer. Or maybe just a reset along the path.

Have you ever had that feeling when something just isn't right? I've felt it for months, wearing on my heart and soul. That unsettled feeling that makes me restless, anxious, stressed, grouchy and therefore makes the every day wear and tear grueling, unhappy.

Sometimes it's a blog post that you read that inspires, a conversation or an impromptu visit with a friend, that helps get out of the rut. Out of the funk. God provides us with the opportunities to get out of ourselves, see a new light and smile again.

It's tough because feeling like hiding and internalizing a whole lot of stuff is just easier, especially when you can't quite put your finger on what's wrong. 

Then a series of events happens or just one that changes your outlook, snaps you back to reality and draws you closer to God, your spouse and your family. 

Processed over days, a moment of clarity arises during an early morning conversation at the kitchen sink. A long list of changes, deaths I was unprepared for, changes in my children's seasons, transitions in motherhood, waning prayer time, outside demands of me and my time.

It all added up.

It all challenged me and took away my peace. Slowly, but steadily and therefore making the climb out of it that much more difficult.

Then the clouds broke and the sun shone in the form of a smiling face and small conversation while running around after our children. 

It helped the process of slowly chiseling away at the sadness, the unknown, the loneliness. All that has kept me from being able to live fully and trust in God's amazing ways.

All of the things that while seemingly small and hidden, found their way to grate and grind away at my true happiness in my heart and soul. 

Friends of the heart and a good laugh are a good medicine.

And sometimes that seemingly simple invitation, setting aside other plans and expecting God to show up, is exactly when He will.

**Read Margaret's version of our get together over here. She speaks more eloquently than I. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

July Garden

We've hit the end of July and I realized all the photos I intended to take of my blooming gardens this month, never happened. Last month I jumped in on a garden link up, so I thought I may as well keep you posted on my blooms in July too. 

This is the small flower garden Lily is tending this summer. I've had the yellow evening primrose for years now and they are a good, hardy perennial that keeps on coming back. Lily's choice was to add a mix of pink and red/white petunias. These have been a great grower in this location and she's been good at keeping them so prolific.

Natalie's Garden is filled with blooming lilies of all sorts and colors, but many shades of orange and red are currently in season.

The other end of the garden with more lilies and a number of daylilies, spiderwort and hostas. I have a row of Four O'Clocks planted in the very back which should be blooming soon. 

It's hard to tell below, but that would be our potato garden (all 99 hills of it) and then my rows of flowers in the background.

A couple of you mentioned in the combox on this post that you wouldn't mind knowing more about the cut flowers I planted this year. I decided that having fresh flowers for the table would be a nice addition to my gardening so I planted a couple of rows. I don't have the exact specifics on the varieties that they are, but I know I found specific seeds that made good cut flowers. I had a couple varieties of Burpee brand zinnias found at my local country store this spring. This variety is one of them and I also have a variety that is a bigger bloom, but I can't find the name. I am really happy with the choice of the zinnias that are hardy, needing very little attention and have been in bloom for three weeks already. 
The yellow flowers below I cannot recall their name. I am thinking they were a type of daisy, which again came from seed. 
This spring I just really scoured the seed packets to find annuals that could be planted, were little work, long bloom time and could be cut flowers. I'm looking forward to planting more next year so that I have more for home and to take in to church for a part of the summer.

The garden is growing and I've only had to turn the soaker hose on once so far this season. It looks like I'll need to turn that on some more this week though. The beans started out well, but don't seem to be lengthening their growing season at all, which is concerning for our winter needs. The carrots seem to be doing well, the squash vines are climbing the fence and have blooms. While the tomatoes are growing for the most part, some of them already have blight (grr!!) and that may keep down the productivity. Gardening and gardening in MN can be so uncertain based on so many variations in temp, rain, soil, etc. 

Happy August!

Come on back later this month as we wrap up the summer and the end to most of the color in my gardens. 

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