Summer Bucket List

I made a summer bucket list with the girls a month ago. They had all kinds of fun ideas for what they’d like to do this summer, but I had only one item to add to the list – family float time at the lake. We used to do this before Everett was born: a hot summer afternoon + something to float on for everyone, and a few hours later, I had my all-time favourite summer memories, every single time.

But it’s been three years since this has happened! We’ve had some great weekends at the cabin since Everett was born, but we’ve never had a HOT weekend! It’s been rainy and on the cooler side every time we’ve gone out there the last two summers, and I was starting to get desperate! How was it possible to miss out for so long on my favourite summer activity??!

We finally got our hot weekend, and our family floated, and now I don’t care what happens for the rest of the summer, I have been satisfied.

We stayed at the lake until Monday so that we could drop Kaylia off at camp, which is five minutes away from my parents’ cabin. It’s her first time going, and we’re all pretty curious how this will go! It’s been awhile since we’ve only had two kids in the house, so Anika and I have a list of chick flicks to get through, and Everett is missing his little playmate, so he’s filling his time with “helping” me, which we all know is outrageously helpful. Although, he did empty the whole cooler when we got back from the cabin, which was legitimately helpful, so maybe it will turn out okay!

I hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

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Beginning of Summer

I love the beginnings of things – the first day on vacation, first thing in the morning, first page in a journal. You just never know where things are going to go, and I enjoy the anticipation. I’m not as good at squeezing out the last drops. I guess I keep jumping ahead, and start thinking about the next thing too soon, which is great for having motivation to start something new, but not so great for staying in the moment.

End of summer and I have some work to do. But beginning of summer? We get along great. I love the promise of great things to come, the long stretch of beautiful days before us.


Speaking of anticipating things, next week is my birthday, and I’ll be doing my usual “Birthday Favorites” giveaway – I share my favorite finds of the year, and anyone who shares theirs in the comment section over the next two weeks is entered into a draw. I’ve heard such great tips and things to try from all of you in the past, and I’m super excited to get started!

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Father’s Day Fail

When Ben and I got married, someone gave us the book “The Five Love Languages”. I dutifully read it and took the test. When it told me that I best understand expressions of love like quality time, words of affirmation, and acts of service, this made sense. Gifts and physical touch, not so much. I like practical stuff, and I’m not a huggy person.

Ben never could figure out what his love languages were for sure. He didn’t take any test, but he thought physical touch was most important for him, and based on seventeen years of living with him,  I guessed acts of service were high up there as well. But I was pretty sure words of affirmation weren’t a big priority. Every year on his birthday, I used to write meaningful notes in birthday cards. I still write loving blog posts about him every year, and I always wait anxiously for him to read them. And his reaction is the same – he says, “Thank you. That’s very nice.” And that’s all. Since it never seems to blow him away, I just assumed words of affirmation were more my thing.

Here’s where my giant failure comes in: This year for Father’s Day, we were super sneaky about getting a gift that would surprise him, and we talked about what would be fun to do together as a family, but when the idea of a card crossed my mind, my thoughts were “A card? Hmm….nah, he’s not really into cards and words of affirmation”, and I totally ditched the idea.


So we were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our food on Father’s Day, and the topic of love languages came up. I was ready to get some answers out of this easy-going husband of mine, so I found a test on my phone, and made him take it right then and there. The results? WORDS OF AFFIRMATION!!! What in the world?! Also, physical touch and acts of service, just like we’d guessed. But I totally did not see that first one coming. And I skipped the card! And didn’t get our kids to make a card!!


Never again. I won’t let his easy-going reaction fool me anymore, and he will receive the most beautifully worded cards from now on.

Words of advice for everyone reading this: Take the test! And make your loved ones take it too! And never skip the card!! Sheesh.

But we had a fun day, and it was great to celebrate Ben.

I really, really love Ben. He’s the most wonderful person to be around. He is always in a good mood, he changes the atmosphere of any room he walks into, he draws people to him and laughter out of them, and he brings all the fun into our home, along with large doses of wisdom and level-headedness. And fortunately, he’s so easy-going that I’m sure he’ll be totally fine with my late attempt to honour him with words of affirmation! But I’ll do better next year.;)

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Mother’s Day Favorites

I heard a beautiful quote yesterday: “I haven’t done many great things in my life, but I have greatly loved my children.” (Suzanne Stabile)

I needed to hear that right now. Mother’s Day is a lovely idea, but sometimes I struggle with the idea of being celebrated, because I’m too aware of the ways in which I fall short. I can think of many ways in which I would love to improve my mothering skills, but if there’s one thing I do greatly, it’s love my children.

I wonder if I would enjoy Mother’s Day more if there wasn’t so much of an emphasis on being pampered and feeling special, but rather it could be a celebration of the opportunity to be a mother. A day to celebrate the chance to deeply love these sweet children of mine, a day to thank God for the answers to all my prayers during the years of infertility and miscarriages. I need the reminder that it’s not about getting it right every single time – it’s about all of us being sanctified and beautified as we become more like Jesus.

There are hundreds of ways I’ve messed up as a mom over the years, but I’d like a day to remember that love covers over a multitude of wrongs, and some time to remind myself that if great love = a great mom, then I was made for this. I was given everything I need to do this well. They are my greatest work.

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Waiting For Pretty

It’s that ugly but exciting time of spring – when everything is brown, but we’re just so happy because the snow is gone, and we know the green growing things are coming soon. I was looking out the window the other day, thinking about how there is so often an ugly aspect to growth and change – the discomfort of shedding the old and reaching toward the new. But it’s the hope, anticipation, and excitement of something fresh and different which carries us through the discomfort, and keeps us going.

So we watch spring creeping in, and we squeeze out every bit of joy from the ordinary little moments. Lately, we’re enjoying:

Early morning snuggles.

Saturday morning pancakes.

Smooth, bare skin.

The eager anticipation of good food.

Creating.

The best seat in the house.

More creating.

More anticipation.

Learning to share and play together.

And I realize once again that when I take the time to grab my camera, there is so much worth capturing, even if we’re still waiting for things to pretty up a bit outside.

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Weekend Favorites: Start of Vacation

Every August since we moved away from camp, Ben takes a week off for a family vacation. We’ve usually gone to my parents’ cabin, but this year, we decided to try a “stay-cation”. Everett is easiest to take care of at home, which makes it the more relaxing option! Plus, there are so many fun things around here which we just don’t take enough time for, so we made a long list of things we want to do, and we’re all pretty excited about this week!

We decided to kick off our first day of vacation with a fire, sparklers, and banana boats. It was the most beautiful evening.

banana boatsSince we don’t eat much sugar at our house, the girls thought this treat was pretty exciting. Ben and I have fond memories of making banana boats at camp, so it was fun to introduce our kids to this little fireside tradition.

Everett

EverettWhenever I take a picture of Everett, he starts shrieking, “SEE! SEE!” because he wants to look at the screen of my camera.

EvNow most of my pictures look like this, because he’s saying “See” in all of them….

EvWe also had to do some apple sampling, to see if our little apples are ready for picking.

Ev and KayliaAfter we were done snacking, Ben played soccer with the kids, while I did yoga.

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socceryoga

sparklerWhat did you do with your beautiful weekend?

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Wild and Free

So it took me almost a month to convince Kaylia to let me take some pictures of her for her seventh birthday!

KayliaThis is one strong, determined, unique, feisty girl! Everything has to be her idea, or there is absolutely no way it’s happening. My sneaky parenting skills have greatly increased in the last seven years!

She is creative, sweet, imaginative, carefree, goofy, lovable, and independent. She makes us laugh all the time, but she doesn’t try to be funny just to get attention – she has this quiet way of slipping in these smart, funny little comments.

KayliaShe loves to play outside and help me in the garden. She doesn’t need a lot of people to make her happy – she is fiercely devoted to her three friends, and loves to spend time with Anika and Everett. We are learning the power of alone time for her!

KayliaIt’s so much fun to watch her being a big sister. She’s been the littlest for most of her life, but now she is becoming amazing at finding silly ways to keep Everett happy.

She likes things neat and tidy. She has very specific ideas about how she wants things, much like her big sister, but she doesn’t get emotional about it – she is very matter-of-fact about the way things are going to be.

Being heard and treated with respect are very important to her. Words can deeply wound her, but that’s about it – she is a tough cookie! She’s not a complainer, and she’s a hard little worker.

Kaylia

I tried to keep up the birthday tradition of writing down her favorite things right now, but after the first question, she informed me she was not in the mood, so I filled in her favorites myself.

Food: “I have MILLIONS of favorite foods! You’d have to do a very long list!”

Clothes: Up until now, she has always wanted to wear dresses. But about a month ago, she came to me and said very seriously, “I think I need to get used to wearing pants or shorts.”

Books: Anika has managed to pass on her great love for “Cat Warrior” books to Kaylia. Sometimes she reads them to Kaylia, sometimes Ben or I do, or sometimes Kaylia “pretends” to read them herself.:) The girls play cat warriors, wrestle like cat warriors, draw pictures of cat warriors, etc.

Toys: She is very into Lego Elves, when she’s not playing cat warriors!

KayliaI came across a quote the other day which made me think of her:

WildGod knew I needed her to loosen me up, and teach me a few things about being wild and free!

Kaylia