Wednesday, July 12, 2017


It's July.  I have such a love hate relationship with this month.  It's Mason's birthday, Ellie's birthday, my wedding anniversary.  VBS.  

It's also what I consider to be the last month of summer.  Even though we homeschool, we keep a fairly traditional schedule with the first and last day because that works for me and helps me stay organized.  It also helps me stay motivated.  But it means that our first day is towards the beginning of August.  So once school starts back, summer, as we know it, is over.

In the meantime, it's hot.  So hot.  Like surface-of-the-sun hot.  So there's really only one place to be.  It's even hot in the pool now.  92 degrees.
But that doesn't stop them.  Or their jumping contests.

It's still raining, too.  I mean, it rains nearly everyday and has for at least two months.  I saw earlier this evening that we've had 45 inches of rain since January and nearly 14 inches during the month of June alone.  So it was on one of those rainy days that I took the kids to see a movie.  And this time, I took them for the very first time to the remodeled theater with the recliners.  Don't judge.  We always go to the "regular" movie theater because they didn't know the difference.  Well, not so anymore!  But this was hilarious!  I mean, I think Ellie played with her seat the entire movie!  She had more fun with her recliner than she did watching the movie!  And Mason thinks he's going to have one of these at his house!  Well, the secret is out now so I guess it's no more cheap theater seating for these three!
The other day I was cooking supper, and Ellie came in the kitchen and said, "Look, Mom.  I can write my name in cursive now."  I owe this to big sister.  Hannah Kate is my biggest helper!
All of the rain really did a number on my garden this year, but I still had a small harvest.  The squash and zucchini played out early.  And I'm finally picking a few eggplant now.  But that's all I have left.
My kitchen (and grilling) game has been strong this month, too.  My two favorite meals of late (although the chicken burgers with Carolina sauce and ancho chili slaw we had last night had me wanting more!) were the blackened redfish with pineapple relish, coconut ginger rice (even the kids loved it!), caribbean black beans and mango and jicama salad with cilantro vinaigrette.  Yes!!  So. good!!!  Now, there was a lot of prep work involved in this meal, but it was totally worth it.  Just not something I can do every night . . . 
. . . and then the fish tacos (which are a regular staple around here) and grilled Mexican street corn. 
It was on this same day in July 12 years ago that I hardly slept a wink and then had to be up and ready to go at 3:00AM . . .

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Georgia: A Quick Trip

A couple of weeks ago, we squeezed in a quick trip to Georgia.  Ever since Pop took us out in the boat three years ago, Mason has begged and begged and begged to go back.  So I promised him earlier this year that we would really try to make it happen this summer.  And he never forgot my promise.

When are we going to the lake?  Did you talk to Pop yet?  Did you ask Pop if we can go skiing?  When are we going to the lake again in Pop's boat?

Mason knew I'd call Pop on Father's Day.

Mama, when are you calling Pop?  Can you ask him if we can go skiing?  Mama, have you called Pop yet?  Mom, be sure you ask Pop about going skiing.  Mom, what did Pop say?  When are we going skiing in Pop's boat, Mama?

Enough already.  Let's go skiing!
Looking back, so much has changed!  I didn't realize I took almost the same picture of Mason both trips.

And Hannah Kate, too.  She's still wearing that same life jacket, but not for long.

Before we went to the lake, we spent the day with my bestie and her kids.  This totally cracks me up.  I mean, the Bayham kids and the Appling kids are obviously very segregated in this pic!  They acted like they didn't even know each other at first!  But it had been three years since we got them all together.
But by the time we finished Sky Zone and headed to the mall, they were all like this (never mind the Lego store guy in the background doing bunny ears on the girls):
So, back to the lake.  It was very overcast, and there was about a three hour window where we were able to dodge storms.  It worked out perfectly.  We had this little corner of the lake all to ourselves.
Ellie was so funny.  The last time we went, she sat in Mimi's lap the whole time.  She refused to even get in the water.  But she was only 22 months old at the time.  Mason and Hannah Kate had been reminding her over and over again that all she did was sit in Mimi's lap.  So Ellie kept saying, "When we go to the lake, I'm just going to sit in Mimi's lap like I did last time.  Okay, Mom?"  I really didn't know what to expect.  I never do with her.  So I was pleasantly surprised when she picked out "her seat" and actually sat by herself while we were driving.
I mean, this was the last time around.  The only thing that's the same is that Dora life jacket!
And then she really surprised me and jumped off into the water!

All Mason wanted to do was the tube so the girls took their seats up front.
This kid had waited on this moment for over three years!  He was pretty pumped!

Last time we went, Hannah Kate rode the tube, and she even tried to ski.  But this time she was very cautious.  She rode the tube but only if Mason rode with her.  And, of course, he was more than willing!
Our goal was to get Mason up on skis this time.  And he did!  He got up all three times and went about 750 feet the longest of those times.  He just needed to work on his balance.  I truly believe he would've nailed it had we had time to get up him again.  But all he wanted to do was tube, and we didn't have time to get the skis out again before we left because a storm came up.  I had mechanical difficulties and couldn't cheer for him and take a pic or video at the same time.  So this is all I have of him in skis.  Pop was out there with him giving him instructions.
And then there was more of this.  They only got off because I told them they had to.  Well, that was that time Hannah Kate got thrown off, too!  I could tell she wasn't exactly a fan, but she got over it real quick.
I'm not even sure how this happened, but we finally convinced Ellie to ride the tube with me.  It was slow going at first.  Super slow.  But she finally admitted that it's more fun the faster you go.  I honestly think she would've stayed here all day!
That day at the lake was like reliving my childhood.  We were at the lake every Saturday my dad didn't have to work.  And we'd go in the middle of the week if he worked weekends.  He dragged my brother and I all over that lake all summer long.  We'd also spend a week each summer at a cabin on Lake Burton in the north Georgia mountains.  That was my favorite!

The other obvious "bucket list" item for this trip was a visit to the peach orchard. 

I promptly made a peach cobbler and my annual July 4th from-scratch peach pie.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Lot of Beach Pictures

We took a little family vacation to the beach a couple of weeks ago.  I talked to my bestie  right after we got back, and she told me she'd be looking for beach pics on the blog.  She called me a couple of days ago and asked how our beach vacay was.  Because obviously I never posted.  So this was our trip to the beach.  And, honestly, it's just a lot of sand and water pics because that's pretty much all we did.  Except the last night we did go play putt putt.  But that's it.

If you like a lot (and I mean A LOT) of pics of cute kids on the beach, this is for you.  I have to say . . . this was the PERFECT little vacation.  The water was perfect, the weather was perfect, our condo was perfect.  I took every single one of these pictures with my phone, and I didn't edit any of them for color.  So what you see here is exactly what it looked like when we were there.

All these kids wanted to do was spend the day on the beach.  So that's what we did.  Eat.  Beach.  Eat.  Beach.  Beach.  Eat.  Sleep.  REPEAT.  They were so excited our first morning out.

This cool dude hardly stayed out of the water.
I just love this picture.  It's exactly how I felt, too, Ellie!
I love her little shadow here.
Hannah Kate came out of the water awhile to build sand castles with Ellie.  Mason eventually came over to her and asked her if she'd go back out into the water with him.  She didn't think twice.  She immediately jumped up, and they ran out into the water.  I took a picture really quickly because I love the relationship these two have with one another.  They are tight.  And I mean tight!  They really are best friends.  I'm so thankful for that!  Mason respects Hannah Kate probably more than he does anyone else on this earth, including his daddy and me.  He will do anything for her.  He is very protective of her.  Hannah Kate looks up to Mason, and she's always willing to help him.  She almost doesn't know what to do when he isn't around.  He spent several days last week at a youth conference.  Hannah Kate seemed lost almost and was so relieved when it was time for him to come back home.  
And then Ellie followed them.  It seems like Mason and Hannah Kate are always teaming up, and Ellie is the one left out.  She doesn't care to play "independently."  And, yet, she can be pretty bossy.  Mason and Hannah Kate really do their best and really try hard to include her.  For the most part, they are pretty patient with her, too.

Ellie definitely spent more time in the sand than she did in the water.  She asked me to bury her, but she kept sticking those little toes up out of the sand.
We built sand castles.  Lots and lots of sand castles.
And sand castle cities and towns.

And this one right here spent a whole lot of time doing this.

And a lot of times I could see only this.
I wish I knew what she was thinking.
He never caught a fishy, but he spent hours diving for one.
It was a rare moment to catch him sitting down.
See what I mean?  And Hannah Kate is right behind him.

As is the littlest sister.

To see those big smiles, hear the laughter . . . oh, it was good.  So, so good.

Do you wanna build a sand castle?  Mason had nothing to do with this.  He just wanted to be in the picture!
This was a sunset view from our balcony.  That's actually the moon right there.

And then we'd wake up and do the same thing all over again!
Sisters.  Best friends for life!  You know, when I was growing up, I had a very best girlfriend.  We started kindergarten together, and only in a couple of elementary school grades were we not in the same class.  We always tried to schedule our classes together in middle and high school.  We were inseparable.  We'd come home from school and then spend hours talking on the phone.  We had spend-the-night parties and double dates.  We went to youth together.  She was my best friend.  She was such a gift to me, and I treasured our friendship.  She was one of the biggest parts of my life growing up.  I've always wanted Hannah Kate to have a best friend like I had.  And I've often "worried" that she doesn't.  But I realized just recently that she already has a best friend.  She has a sister.  I don't have a sister.  But my best friend was like a sister to me, the closest thing to a sister I ever had besides my cousins.

This was the view from the back side of our condo.  I love that little sailboat out there.
There are certain people who think you can't go to the beach unless you go play putt putt.  This was our last night there, and I really didn't want to go because I was tired.  But I'm so glad we did.  We had a blast!  Putt putt with kids is the best!

When we got back to the condo, the girls wanted to go back out to the beach.  Mason was totally worn out.  I'm always good to go to the beach!

This one . . . oh, I just love this one!  Like I said earlier, it was perfect . . . the water, the sand, the weather, the sky, just everything.  Perfect.  
On the morning we left, we let the kids sleep as long as possible.  I'd already packed so we were ready to go as soon as they woke up.  I took a walk down the beach while they were still asleep.  It was early, and no one was out there yet.  Again, no filters.  No edits.  Just my ole phone snapping these pics.
When I turned around to walk back, I noticed my lone set of footprints.  Just me and the beach and the Lord.
And then I noticed this.  Somehow I'd missed it the first time.  But I couldn't help but notice it on my way back.
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
The God of glory thunders;
The LORD is over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
~Psalm 29:1-4