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Saturday, June 27, 2015

The beach

Last week we went to the beach for a few days with our friends.  This year we stayed on Okaloosa Island, just west of Destin.  The weather was perfect.  The water was perfect.  The sand was perfect.  The company was perfect.  My only complaint is that I wish we could've stayed longer!
When we first arrived, it was a little too early to check in to our condo so we went to the pier.  And, of course, Mason can never resist a shark.
We walked all the way to the end of the pier.  We saw lots of fish in the water.  And this . . . bird . . . was taller than Ellie.  Several of them were just hanging out. 
One of the guys we talked to said he catches a lot of sharks.  He keeps all of them except the hammerheads.  You aren't supposed to keep those because they are near the endangered list.  We learned something new!
I took very few pictures this time.  I don't even think I took any our first day there.  That just means I was busy playing in the sand and water.  And speaking of water . . . Hannah Kate LOVED it!  I think she spent more time in the water than Mason did.  There was a yellow flag the whole time we were there so the waves were just perfect for jumping and swimming in.  As a matter of fact, when given a choice, she chose to go back to the beach instead of the ice cream shop!

And this one . . . well, she wasn't a fan of the water.  At all.  And she could take only so much of the sand either.  Obviously she forgot how much fun she had last year!  But she was a trooper, and she built lots of sand castles and baked lots of sand cookies and cupcakes.



I told Seth that I could live at the beach.  And I think this kid could, too.


Of course, Ellie is not in this picture.  I'm pretty sure she was already at the pool by this time.

Last summer, Ellie was jumping off the diving board.  This summer she still hasn't gotten off the steps.  I can't figure it out.  She puts on her swim suit all the time and begs to go swimming.  But she stays on the steps the whole time.  I guess I'm going to have to put her in swimming lessons.  Regardless, she did enjoy the pool at the condo.  I think that was her favorite part.
I absolutely LOVE this grin!


The last night we were there, our friends wanted to take some pictures on the beach.  So we tagged along.  I took these with my cell phone camera.

But these next few pictures Ellee took.  Because she knows how to take pictures.

The only thing I do not like about this picture is that he looks . . . oh . . . 10 years old!  Oh yeah.  He almost is.  I have to say this is one handsome fella! 
I don't think Hannah Kate was much into picture taking.  But these two were.
These are my favorite pictures of Ellie.

And another one of my boy.
We had such a great time with our friends this week!  We most definitely want to do it again!  I thought this picture was so so sweet.  Harrison has his arms around both Owen and Mason.  Those boys are so sweet and so funny, and we had a great time with them!




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What's Up!

Well, it's that time again.  I love this little series because it's a great way to "catch up" on blogging for those of us who either don't have time to do it on a daily basis or just don't always have much of anything that would be of any interest for anyone to read, of which I am both.

WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK
I love love LOVE summer time eating!  All of our meals are planned around what comes out of my garden.  This was my harvest on Monday.
So supper on Monday night was grilled chicken, grilled stuffed zucchini, French potato salad (full of fresh herbs from my herb garden) and grilled (yes, grilled) okra.  It was my first time grilling okra, and it won't be my last!  It was delicious!  My favorite will always be fried okra (Because have you ever had fried okra on your salad?  Well, you need to!).  But the grilled okra was an instant favorite and so easy, too.  I'll be doing that again soon.

Last night for supper I made pad Thai for the very first time.  I did a lot of research for this one because I wanted an authentic recipe, and I quickly learned what was authentic and what was not.  I had to make a couple of ingredient substitutions, but I was very pleased with the result.  It was such a pretty dish, too.  I wish I would've remembered to take a picture of it.  I'll definitely do it again, but next time I want to go to the Asian grocery store to get the two ingredients that weren't available at my regular grocer.

Tonight we ate leftovers from the freezer, mainly because I had a meeting at church and needed quick meal.  Another staple in my kitchen lately is homemade ice cream!  I made vanilla today, and I have chocolate ready to go for tomorrow.

Early last week we had another meal that was my favorite and inspired by my garden.  Well, let's just say it was inspired by my garden and my father-in-law's garden and also a great example of what happens when a Georgia girl marries a Louisiana boy.  We had red beans and rice (which I made for the first time using tasso instead of just regular ole sausage), fried catfish (mainly for the kids), stewed okra (with okra and tomatoes from my garden) and grill corn salad (with corn and cucumbers from my father-in-law's garden and tomatoes and fresh basil from mine).   
And, speaking of eating, we took the kids to eat breakfast at the Waffle House for the FIRST TIME EVER.  We were on our way to the beach.  Apparently, based on my Instagram and Facebook feed, this was a big deal.  Some folks seem to think my kids have been missing out.  I hadn't eaten at awful waffle since college.  The only thing I'd ever get was a grilled cheese and fries.  They still have the best grilled cheese.  It's just gone up a little in price.  Anyway, it was a hit so I guess we'll be going back again one day.

WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT
Well, we were at the beach last week.  And I sure would like to be there this week!  And next week!  And the week after that.

WHAT I'M LOVING
Summer time.  Sleeping late.  No schedule.  In no particular order.

WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
Summer time.  Sleeping late.  No schedule.  And we were at the beach last week.  And kids' camp the week before that.  And today we went to the pool.  And that's about it.

WHAT I'M DREADING
Nothing.  Except maybe I need to take all three kids to the doctor for their annual check-ups.

WHAT I'M WORKING ON
Vacation Bible School.  Enough said.  

And I also just got finished sewing 15 or so flags for my friend's son's band's color guard.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  But it required that I get my sewing machine out and actually turn it on.  And I got the project finished much quicker than I thought I would.  So now I might actually do something with the fabric I purchased for window treatments in my eat-in kitchen.  I took the fabric out of the bag a couple of weeks ago and laid it out on my table so I could admire it and remember how much I love it.  I'm thinking I just might get to sewing on it.

I've also been researching a lot of homeschool curriculum and ideas.

WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT
Summer time.  But I probably mentioned that already.

WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING
We've long established the fact that I don't watch TV except for sports (not that that's always my choice).  And I still haven't finished catching up on Downton.  I have only one episode left of season three though!  But I can say that I'm finally actually watching something and keeping up with it.  Or, I'm DVRing it and keeping up with it.  Food Network Star.  Yep.  A Baton Rouge boy, foodie and blogger is in the competition this time, and we are watching him.

I've also read several books this month.  I highly recommend Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper.  Do not ever read Jodi Picault's Leaving Time.  That was the first book I read by that author, and I guarantee you it's my last.  I've never not finished a book before, but I didn't finish that one.  Mason has quite a daunting list of required summer reading so I'm also reading along with him.  We just finished The Spy Who Came In From the Sea.  It really was a good read, and Mason actually enjoyed it!  That says a lot.  I was so proud of him!  That's the first book he's ever read completely by himself cover-to-cover and finished.  Many of his chapter books have gone unfinished.  Now he's having to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.  So that's what I'm also reading right now.  Y'all.  Whew.  We're getting a good laugh out of it, but I'll honestly be glad when it's over so we can move on to something else (although next is White Fang).

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO
I was supposed to be learning the VBS music by now, but I haven't.  So I really need to get to listening to that.  We had another massive thunderstorm earlier this evening so the crickets and frogs are out in force tonight!  I'm currently enjoying their choruses.

WHAT I'M WEARING
Clothes.  This has to be my least favorite question.  I'm certainly not one to talk about my wardrobe nor give anyone else any advice about theirs.  But shorts or a swimsuit just about sums it up these days.

WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND
I have no idea.  My better other half doesn't exactly do a whole lot of planning ahead.  But I have plenty of projects going on right now anyway so it'll most definitely involve VBS and maybe hopefully (but probably not) some sewing.

WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH
Let's just say our July is out. of. control.  I mean, July is like December, except a whole lot worse.  In a good kind of way.  We'll have three weeks of out-of-town company, Vacation Bible School, two birthdays (Mason will be a whole decade and Ellie three years old!), our anniversary (15 years!) and our anniversary trip (which will actually be the first week in August).  I feel like I'm forgetting something, but I can't think of what it is!

WHAT ELSE IS NEW
Nothing.

Oh wait.  This is too cute not to share.  We all got new kicks a few weeks ago.  Seth was actually out of town.  I needed something besides sandals and flip flops to take to camp so I decided to get a pair of Chuck Taylors.  I've had my eye on them a while now.  The kids were with me, and they just couldn't stand it.  Before I knew it, this had happened.

I sent that picture to Seth and got this one a couple of hours later.
And then he proceeds to tell me that we can't all wear our shoes at the same time because how silly would that be?!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Camp. Or camp-ing.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to chaperone kids' camp for our church.  Mason and Hannah Kate both went and both had the time of their lives.  My kids are such suckers for all things church and VBS and camp related.  For that, I am very thankful.  But the thing is that I (their mom) is mostly always involved in the leadership of these things, and I am always along with them.  They are the kids whose Mom is the chaperone.  They are the kids whose Mom is in charge of VBS.  They don't seem to mind.  And I, for one, count it an extreme privilege to have these opportunities to serve Jesus by serving our church, our community and our children, mine included.  I do not for one second take for granted these opportunities I have with my own children.  I try to be the "cool Mom," but I know sometimes that doesn't always translate.  I also try not to (as much as is possible) "hover" over Mason and Hannah Kate.  But I do wonder at times if they'd rather I not be the chaperone or the one in charge.  They've never said as much.  But sometimes I wonder.

So. Kids' Camp.

It was a great time of sleeping in a cabin with 19 other girls and two showers.  Now that, my friends, is what I call roughing it.  Because girls, 2nd-6th graders to be exact, still have to be reminded about taking showers and definitely aren't shy or discreet when it comes to bodily functions that should be kept to one's self.

It was a great time of eating cafeteria food.  Seriously.  For four whole days, I did not have to cook one single meal or feed anyone.  Instead, meals were cooked for me and served to me!

It was a great time of gaga ball (an updated version of dodge ball), bazooka ball (kind of like paint ball but safer and much less painful), food-ball, air hockey, basketball, paddle boats, swimming (well, I hardly call it swimming when so many kids are packed into the pool that all you can really do is bob up and down in one spot).

It was a great time of Bible study and worship.  The kids were encouraged to identify idols in their lives and then get rid of those idols and all because God calls us to live lives of holiness to Him.  I mean, we had a nightly devotion in Leviticus one night!

It was a great, great time.

I must admit I had too much fun packing my kids for camp.  Each outfit was packaged individually and labeled by day and event.  Seriously, this is the way to go!  As a matter of fact, when we went to the beach last week, Mason asked me why I didn't pack his clothes that way again.  He said he liked just grabbing a bag an  It was all done for him.  That's my boy!


















And so that was camp.  As for me, that was (literally) camping.  Even though we were in cabins with a shower (okay, two) and a bed with a mattress, that was stretching it for me.  I am not a camping kind of girl.  I have tried.  I have.  But it's just not me.  By the end of the week, I really wanted my Ellie.  I also really wanted a shower.  In my own shower.  Because when you're sharing with 18 other girls, and you hear one of them squeal, "I just tee-teed in the shower," (true story) you want to crawl in a hole and never shower again because that means that 15 other girls probably did the same thing!  Even my flip-flopped feet didn't want to go in there!

Oh, and all those outfits neatly packaged in their individually labeled bags . . . came back home.  It took me eight loads of laundry to get everything washed.
But, no matter.  Laundry and all (including tee-tee in the shower), I'd do it all again!