July has been so busy. And I'm really kind of glad it's over. I'm ready to move on. We have lots to look forward to.
WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK
I really thought my garden was finished. So when I went out there last weekend to begin pulling up and cleaning up, I found four beautiful little eggplant that I didn't even know I had. So most of my meals this week revolve around eggplant. Monday night we had eggplant parmesan. But let me tell you. The star of the show was the bread. I'm not even kidding.
I made Ina Garten's garlic ciabatta bread. It's loaded with fresh garlic and herbs sautéed in a little olive oil and then brushed onto the bread. My whole entire meal could be that bread. Seriously. But here's the thing. A friend of mine recently brought me some olive oil from Italy. Yes. It's a small bottle, and I'm using it very sparingly to make it last as long as possible. I broke it out the first time for this bread. I wanted to drink the bottle. Or at least swim around in it. Seriously. But even if your olive oil isn't from Italy, this bread is hands down totally worth it and so yummy.
I love chile rellenos. Really love. I made them one time several years ago and haven't made them since. It was a lot of work. A lot. But then I found a recipe for stuffed poblanos that's much healthier and much easier to prepare. So that was on the menu for last night, along with homemade guacamole and sautéed corn and zucchini. But I didn't plan on the power going out and staying out for several hours. So we had hotdogs instead. And we had chile rellenos tonight. And, not, my children do not eat them. But I used the same filling for the peppers in enchiladas for Hannah Kate. I just wrapped it up in a tortilla instead of filling a pepper. Before I combined all of the ingredients for the pepper stuffing, I set aside some chicken to make quesadillas for Mason and Ellie. I know it all sounds complicated, but it really wasn't.
Tomorrow night we're having a salad topped with fried eggplant strips. There's a restaurant we go to sometimes that has this salad, and it is divine. It's super easy to recreate at home. And, at some point, I'm also going to make Ina's roasted eggplant spread.
WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT
Lots of things actually. The thing I've been thinking about most is our trip to Glacier, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons last year. I just can't get over it. I want to go back. I want to move there. But, instead, I continue to live vicariously through our pictures.
I've also been thinking a lot about our journey through dyslexia and navigating the challenges of Mason's early years in school. Those were some hard, hard days. Those were some long, long days. And for a very long time I didn't see any light at the end of what felt like a never-ending tunnel. But now we are on the other side. And it all seems like so very long ago. Since our days in private therapy at McMain's Children's Developmental Center, I've had the opportunity to refer three families there. The third child just began therapy yesterday. As long and as dark as those days were, I begged God to use it all for His good and His glory. I begged Him to give me the opportunity to help other families, other Mommas who might walk a similar road. And He has answered! I had a conversation last night with a Momma and again this morning. Here's what I told her:
YOU know your child best. YOU know better than anybody what is best for your child. YOU are your child's biggest advocate. YOU are your child's biggest fan. YOU CAN DO THIS, YOUR CHILD CAN DO THIS AND YALL WILL DO THIS!!!!! Be strong and courageous. Because what you'll start to learn is that this whole thing is a lot more about what God wants to do in YOU than anything else. So you rest up, read up, pray up and pull your panties up! You got this!!
I had to tell myself this over and over and over again. I didn't always believe it, but I kept saying it, thinking it, living it. And, now, here we are. Mason is thriving academically! I experienced God's strength in ways like I never had in my whole entire life before. And now He's so sweetly given me these other families to encourage and hopefully help. Boy, am I glad those days are long gone behind us! I don't think about them a whole lot because it brings back a lot of emotion that I'd rather not feel again. But God has been SO GOOD to us through it all. So, so good. That experience has shaped and molded me like none other. It was worth it. (But I don't want to do it again!)
And, lastly, the one other thing on my mind a lot lately is when Hannah Kate turned four years old. It was at her birthday party that we gave her (and everyone else) the surprise of a lifetime by telling her she was going to be a big sister. Ellie just celebrated her fourth birthday. She's the exact same age Hannah Kate was when we shared our exciting news about her upcoming arrival. At the time, Hannah Kate was our youngest, my "baby." But, yet, she seemed so big. Now she's almost nine years old and about to start third grade.
WHAT I'M LOVING
Well, I don't really know. I've finally had some "down" time this week, meaning VBS and summer camps and birthdays are now behind us. So I've enjoyed a sort-of-but-not-really rest before our new homeschool year begins.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet a precious friend, mentor, confidant and sister in Christ for brunch. The Lord sure blessed me big time when He brought her into my life. I don't see her very often, and we hadn't had a chance to get together since last fall. We brunched and talked for three and a half hours! It was so refreshing and so encouraging. So I did love that!
WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
Well. July was full. VBS. Birthdays. Camp. Although camp was short lived because Hannah Kate somehow ended up with the flu (in July!), and I had to pick her up the second day. And now we're getting ready for our new homeschool year. We're trying to finish summer reading. My goal was to be finished by August 1, but that definitely won't happen. We just got really behind so we've been reading A LOT these past two weeks.
WHAT I'M DREADING
The start of our homeschool year means my alarm clock will go off at 5:00AM four mornings a week. I am so not looking forward to that. I am so not a morning person. I have tried and tried and tried, but I am just not. I wish I was. I really do. Sometimes I think I could get so much more done. But I don't know how to be a morning person. This year Hannah Kate will join Mason at Sequitur, but they go on different days. So that means trips across the bridge twice a day for four days a week. I honestly don't look forward to that part of it. The kids and I have really enjoyed "sleeping in" this summer.
WHAT I'M WORKING ON
Last week I had six hours to myself while the kids were hanging out at MawMaw's with Beau. I spent five of those hours (yes, FIVE) cleaning up and purging and organizing the kids' rooms and playroom. I'd say four and a half of those were spent in Ellie's room. And they still haven't figured out what's missing! Let's just say I nearly filled up our outside garbage can.
Today I finally opened all the packages that arrived over the last couple of weeks. It felt like Christmas!
And that leads me straight to . . .
WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT
Those boxes contained all of our homeschool curriculum for the upcoming year! We really are, all of us, looking forward to it. I think Hannah Kate is the most excited. She told me last week that she can't wait to "go to school" (meaning Sequitur). And I'm so excited for her. I think she's going to absolutely LOVE it! She has some really cool curriculum and things she's going to be doing. I think the thing she's most looking forward to is making new friends.
WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING
Like I mentioned earlier, we've been doing a lot of summer reading in preparation for the new school year. Mason and I read James and the Giant Peach and The Sign of the Beaver. We're almost finished with 100 Cupboards. I have to tell you. That is the best book! I highly recommend it, especially for advanced elementary school readers and middle school readers. Mason and I are both enjoying it so much. That says a lot if Mason is enjoying a book! Next up is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Hannah Kate is currently reading that one right now.
I wanted some "mindless" summertime reading so I picked up an Elin Hilderbrand book. I've heard so much about her books. Let's just say it's not my thing. It's definitely mindless. But it's just not my kind of mindless. I also read The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes. It surprised me. I liked it. I didn't love it. But I liked it.
As far as watching goes, the kids (especially Mason) are really into American Ninja Warrior. So there's been a lot of that. And Bregman (former LSU player) was called up by the Astros a few days ago so for the third night in a row, the Astros game is on.
WHAT I'M LISTENING TO
Well, right now the baseball game is on. I'm not sure why. No one is watching. Everyone else in my house is asleep.
Lately I've also been listening to some podcasts by our former pastor at Pinelake in Mississippi. One of my favorites was the sermon he preached on Easter Sunday.
WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND
Well. Friday is our anniversary. Sixteen years. And this is the next to last weekend before school starts. So I really wanted a little get-away. But. It doesn't look like that's going to happen. Maybe another time. I guess I don't have any plans!
WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH
I look forward to homeschooling again and connecting with our friends at Sequitur. I look forward to the girls starting dance again. I also look forward to the final month before my most favorite time of year . . . FOOTBALL! Because, let's face it, we're all looking forward to that!
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
We gave all three kids their birthday presents on Ellie's birthday. We're going to Disney! Not till October. But WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY!