Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our Summer in Pictures (part 1)

Michael is at church camp (booooo! In general, I hate it when my kids are gone for more than a few hours) and for the first time in way too long we have absolutely nothing on the calendar for the day today. The fair will be starting next week and we have the kids' mini 4-H projects done (2 days early thank you very much!) If you know me personally you know this already, but for those of you who just know me through my blog I'll let you in on a little secret about me - I am a complete fair rat (who happens to married to a "fair hater")! My dad's side of the family has been producing fair rat's for years and my brothers and I caught the bug as well. (My sister escaped somehow, but even she comes down for at least one day of it.) We were all 10 year 4-H members and Michael will begin his journey in 4-H next year. The kids and I will be at our county's fair nearly every day and while it is my favorite week of the year, it always signals the end of the summer to me. This summer has gone way too quickly and it is just nutty that we start school in 25 short days (another booooo!) With that in mind I thought I would take the day to post a bunch of pictures and just caption our way through the summer. The plan is to do June today and July another day.(This will take me all freakin' day since I have dial-up internet - don't even get me started on how much that irritates me:) But I promise I will be a mother to my children as the pictures take 5 hours to upload.) I know it is a lot of pictures but we just have so much fun and my kids are so stinking cute! My cousin Heather gives me a hard time for saying that my house is in a state of perpetual "play group" but it is really true. We definitely have moments of anger, irritation, and insanity - there is no doubt about that - but with the ankle biters being SO close in age, they can play happily pretty much all day every day - they just switch up who they are playing with when they get annoyed.

Group photo taken after hiking at a local nature park. Eric called me and told me he was coming home early and we were going on a hike. This was the first time we had gone since the boys had been home. It will be challenging figuring out how to do the whole Jonathan thing as they get older but for now he rides on Eric's shoulders and off we go.

Eric hasn't gotten fishing licenses for the kids but on the free fishing weekend we killed some time before a birthday party by fishing. (I'm the official photographer because I don't touch fish or bait so....) Anyway, Michael got the first (and only) catch of the afternoon and his kind father made him "kiss" it before throwing it back.

Aunt Teri takes the kids to the zoo at the beginning of the summer every year. For the past couple of years I have been invited along with the stipulation that I have to be "Aunt Mommy" all day - in other words, not overly concerned about little things like rules and manners. I also have to be WAY more fun than I would be on a normal day. This picture is as we were waiting for the dolphin show to begin. They all want to sit in the splash zone - of course - but inevitably as soon as Charity gets wet, she starts whining about how cold she is. This year was no different and all of us got drenched!

The goats at the zoo (especially this white one) could not get enough of Jonathan's wheel chair. They kept nibbling it and nudging it and basically invading Jonathan's personal space. And I, like the good mother I am, laughed and took pictures of it instead of coming to his rescue!

VBS week at our church is a big deal. Over 800 kids came through the program this year and they always have such a great time. The theme this year was "Treasure Quest" and the week was filled with all kinds of pirate fun and of course learning about God. Michael and Joseph were in the same group and I caught this moment. This especially warms my heart because they had no idea I was standing there. These two are such good buddies and they love each other as brothers should. Again, one year ago we didn't even know we were missing Joseph and Jonathan. Now we can't imagine or remember life without them.

This was the day after the last evening of VBS. The kids had gotten pirate masks the night before and decided to wear them as we did the grocery shopping. Some things just aren't worth arguing about - so here is Michael and 2 pirates eating cookies that they pillaged from the deli.

Jonathan has been taking an adaptive sports class as his PT for the summer. This is him "playing" soccer. He's actually not a bad little goalie - as long as the goals are low to the ground. My kids have decided that when they are playing at home they put Jonathan in one goal and whoever is in the other goal has to sit on the ground too.

Michael's baseball team made it to the league championship game but lost by one run. It was a great game and the boys had a great time. Poor Sam (1st base and pitcher) broke his arm the week the playoffs began so he had to miss out, but he was there every game cheering his team on!

This isn't a great picture but the evidence on Jonathan's face makes me laugh - Smores! We have three large trees in our yard that drop sticks with each stiff wind. We throw these in the portable fireplace, get out the newspaper and lighter and have a grand 'ol time getting all chocolatey and marshmallowey.

Joseph had never encountered lightning bugs in real life. One night we were good parents and let them stay up until 10:00 (that's when it is finally dark at our house in June) so that they could catch some. Classic summer fun!

Another week, another VBS. The church down the road - which happens to be the church I went to as a kid and a large chunk of my extended family still attends - had their VBS the week after ours. It ran Sunday through Thursday evenings with the closing Program on Friday. Michael enjoyed being chosen to help share with the parents what they had learned that week at "Crocodile Dock". The kids had a great time and Eric and I enjoyed the 2 hours to ourselves for those 5 evenings. I wonder if there are any more that I could ship them off to....

My friend Beth says that Eric and I haven't raised kids - we've raised fish. My kids would live in the pool if we would let them and luckily Michael and Charity can swim very well. When the Ukrainian kids were being hosted this summer we attended a pool party/cookout where we got to visit with the families a little bit and most importantly let the kids be kids. Charity wasn't content to go down the water slide like you're supposed to. Head first is way more fun!

This is Grace. She came home from Ukraine about 3 weeks after our kids did. She really loves Jonathan and he can't get enough of her. Every time we see them those two pair up and pretty much ignore everyone else. My boy has good taste! She's beautiful - inside and out!

Charity attended church camp at the end of June. She was gone for 2 nights and had a great time. She didn't have to be there until 6pm and we only live an hour away so all day she was on pins and needles, antsy to get going.

Umm, aren't you supposed to fall asleep on the way HOME from camp? All that anticipating apparently got the best of her as she fell asleep about 30 minutes into our drive TO camp.

Bunking beside her buddy Mariah with Mom nowhere to be found - what could be better? Oh I know! She's a picky eater and so I asked her about the food at camp and her response was, "Great - we got dessert at every meal and it didn't matter if I ate my real food or not!" That's my girl!

The camp missionary for the summer was from Italy and he taught the kids a funked up version of "Jesus Loves Me" in Italian which the kids performed for us when we came to pick them up. As I walked up to the cabin to pick up my precious darling daughter she came running up to me and yelled, "What are YOU doing here?!" That's love ladies and gentleman!

Each kid was given a certificate at the end of camp by their group leader that expressed appreciation for an outstanding character trait that the child had exhibited over the week. It's awful to admit, but this kind of stuff always makes me cringe when it comes to Charity. We love her dearly but that girl keeps us on our toes. One day she is all sweetness and light and the next she is doing her best impression of the spawn of satan. (Not in a clinical sense - she isn't bipolar, just strong willed.) I never know which Charity is going to show up for me and so I cringe when someone else begins to talk about her. I have to say, they pegged her very well. She got an award for Leadership, which is accurate. We have always said she will either be in prison or president, she will lead the chain-gang or the country. Either way, watch out America!

My mom will not like that I put this one up but I just love it! She loves my kids so well and is a HUGE part of their lives. She has been up north with my grandmother for the past couple weeks and we are missing her terribly!

Jonathan loves playing with bubbles so I broke down and bought a bubble machine for him. The other kids love it as well of course so let the hours of bubbly fun commence.

This year our church held it's annual volunteer celebration/thank you day at an Indianapolis Indians game. Our family sat with several families from our small group and some of our long-time friends. We had a great time and the Indians won in the 10th inning. I was a good mom and got sunscreen put on all the kids - forgot to put it on myself. I paid for it as I sat in the shade and wore a hat at the pool the next day to keep from adding to the sunburn I had received. The above picture is a chunk of the kids from the aforementioned families - Charity is the odd man out as there was only one other girl in our little group. The story of her life.

Joseph and our buddy Jordan enjoying the game while listening to some tunes. We have been blessed with great friends who also have great kids. Jordan is the kind of teenager I hope my boys will emulate. He is kind and respectful and will carry on a real conversation with adults. At the same time he jumps right in there to wrestle around with the other boys. Love that kid!

So there you have it - the month of June. July will be coming in a few weeks with all the lovely fair pictures that have yet to be taken. Pray for my marriage as Eric and I duke it out again this year over the amount of time the kids and I spend at the fairgrounds - fair hater!! :) I love the man dearly. It's too bad he has that one BIG problem!