LAST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION

Welp. Zack starts work at the school today and I start babysitting again, which means, summer is officially over as far as the Rogers are concerned. We are ready. I’m so excited to have my boy and his baby brother around again and I’m very excited to get into the swing of a new school year with the girls.

We still had some things to do before work began again, projects we wanted to get done before the never-ceasing schedules of fall consume us. Yesterday, our last day, we took a break and spent a few hours away from all the responsibility and took the girls fishing!

The girls started school yesterday, so when we arrived at the river, I took the girls’ first day back to school photos.

We’ve fished a lot over the years, but the girls have never caught anything. I blame the locations we chose. Zack’s location was perfect! The girls each caught their first fish…and their second and their third!

We ended the evening with supper at a new pizza place. It was the greatest pizza I’ve ever eaten! Ever.

Zack painted that picture on the wall above the girls. I’m so glad I got to witness the look on their faces when I told them their daddy painted it. It was gold. He’s doing another one there soon but I hope we’re able to eat there again before that happens.

August duties are piling up with every passing second. I’m so glad we took one last chance to relax, just the four of us. We’ve got another mini family getaway planned before Zack’s students are due back – hope we don’t chicken out and fill that time plastering walls or mowing the lawn…

LATELY : : JULY 2018

July has been a weird one. I feel as though we crammed three months worth of living into one. Thankfully it was all good. Not as many little moments to look back on but plenty of big, hearty chunks of time.

The first three days were spent cleaning and packing for our trip to the beach. Once all of that was complete, we drove up to St. Louis to wait for our journey to begin.

We spent the fourth watching a few fireworks. We don’t really celebrate the fourth in any way, so it was nice to at least make some sort of note of the holiday.

On the sixth, we began our trip to Florida!

We made a stop in Montgomery to spend the night, visit my younger brother, and meet his girlfriend – who is the sweetest lady  –  and her awesome kiddos.

The following morning, we made a short stop in Dothan to say hello to friends.

We drove down back roads to the coast. The drive was so pretty. We had rain on the way there and thankfully no rain while we were actually at the beach!

Between stopping for lunch, the car accidents we passed by, and the six storms we encountered, the drive to St. Louis took an extra five hours. Ha! It was still, somehow, a fun time for all of us.

Buckey spent the fourth to the fifteenth at my mom’s house. That’s a lot of spoilin’!

The moment we got home, I left to be a camp counselor. Such a fun week!

We ran some errands in St. Louis when I got back and made some detours to kayak shop. We didn’t get one, but the girls had fun testing out every display. We’re ready for some fall camping!

Finally made it out onto the river! Our first time this year! Can you believe it? Hopefully, we’ll get many chances to float this fall.

Sadie came down to stay with us for a few days. The girls had movie nights, fashion shows, chased cats and held the hens. Before we took her home, we took them for an afternoon in the city.

I attend a monthly book club with Zack’s cousins and my sister-in-law. It’s so nice to talk to other women, even if its only for an hour a month. I’ll take what I can get!

Zack and I also squeezed in time to see Mission Impossible – Fallout and eat at a restaurant sans kids.

A while back I promised Mae we’d take her to a global foods market to try and find a “green coconut.” We haven’t been there in a couple years, so it was time to follow through, and wouldn’t you know, we found one! We also scored on food from Japan, France, Ireland, Russia, Brasil, and Holland. Most of it was stuff we already know we enjoy. Next time we’ll branch out more.

We start our school year tomorrow and I am so so excited!! Zack still has one more week before he goes back to work. I’m sure it’ll be a busy one!

ST. LOUIS ART MUSEUM

My niece was able to come and stay with us for a couple days this past week. Before bringing her home we thought we’d take the girls to do something in the city. I’d been meaning to take my girls to the Art Museum for months now to see their new exhibit, so off we went.

No one! was on the hill!!!! Why?! Zack decided to walk Buckey before leaving him in the car, so while waiting, we took a few moments of advantage. The girls rolled and rolled and rolled down that hill.

As we arrived, one of the greeters told us they had a craft set up for kids if we were interested. As you can guess – we were interested. Each kid was given a package of model magic clay to create an artifact, and a cutout of a vase so they could decorate their own greek vase.

Little Dancer of Fourteen Years

The Ballerina, of course. Look how straight Mae’s posture got for this photo, haha. She loved this one. Zack likes this one as well. Wish he could’ve seen it.

The woman in this looked like Juliette Binoche to me and the colors were incredible. I really only appreciate realism. Anything abstract is just garbage to me – yes, even Picasso.

We stumbled upon a section devoted to newer eras – the 20s, 30s, 60s – and included furniture, mostly. As you can see, Mae was not the slightest bit impressed with the 60s. “I don’t want to see Ikea, I want to see old stuff!”

I love her so much.

Mae’s favorite part (not just of the museum tour, but of her entire life – she says) was getting to see a real Egyptian sarcophagus. We may take another trip just so she can stare at it longer.

Mae spent at least five months on a huge Middle Ages project – surrounding queens, kings, knights, and a bit on lowers castes. So, I’d have to say my favorite part was the knight gallery. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them absorb the reality of it all. Amelia thought that helmet, above, with the chain mail was a birdcage. Adorable. My favorite artifact from that area had to be a crossbow carved out of bone. Wish Zack could’ve seen that too.

Marble statues will always be the most unbelievable accomplishment to me.

Amelia’s favorite gallery was that of the Native Americans. She literally gasped when she saw it.

Zack never showed up, but we managed to find him anyway. har har har.

He enjoyed a long stroll around Forest Park with Buck and the pup certainly appreciated some quality time and a good walk.

CAPE SAN BLAS

A couple weeks ago, we celebrated my mother-in-law’s sixtieth birthday in such a big way!! Her birthday was back in March, but this year she wanted a vacation with all of her kids, so we all met up in Florida for a week together in one big house!

Our sandcastle technique improved drastically over the course of the week. We built more fortresses, larger wave blocking walls, and deeper moats at faster speeds (to beat the tide).

Most days the women would take a morning stroll along the beach before everyone else woke up. It was beautiful.

We have sand in our yard and sand on our riverbanks, but nothing beats the cool, soft sand on the coast.

These four girls together for an entire week was definitely a favorite part of my week.

Making Rice. She thought I was taking a video, so she gave an entire tutorial on her method. Basically, cook it the way you would stovetop popcorn and voilà! Perfectly fluffy rice, every time.

Seeing Pelicans fly overhead was another highlight for me! We love us some birds, and Pelicans are one of my favorites!

I’m so grateful my girls find such joy in each other everywhere they go. Ugh, I love them so much.

The house!!

Zack and I went shopping for the meal we had to cook on the first day. We ended up bringing home several boxes of ice cream…pops?

Over the course of the week, when someone would shop, they would grab more ice cream to re-stock our supply. I’m pretty sure the ice cream drawer is in everyone’s top five favorite things about the week.

“Zack’s Craft Corner” was always open, should someone need help with friendship bracelets, advice on a picture they were drawing, or a hearty, joyful over-the-top reaction to that polka dot octopus you just colored in with the ever illegal Sharpie.

Plenty of good food was cooked throughout the week. Each of the kids (and eventually, Uncle Rich) had a night to cook. My mother-in-law, of course, was not allowed to partake in the slightest bit of work. We tried to do what we could to make sure her vacation felt like a vacation.

Mae. Oh, boy. She thinks it is hilarious to ATTACK! Mom at the drop of a hat, say, while she’s preoccupied with the camera? She forgot she inherited both her sneakiness and her whips-for-hands from that very same mom. Even at home, she loses.

I can’t help but laugh (at something) every time I’m near her. She’s so wonderful.

Truly, these tall Adirondack chairs deserve their own post. Even the shortest of us enjoyed them.

Rae had zero fear in the pool! Lady was a fish. The girls spent every afternoon at the pool, as it allowed for shade if they needed a break from the sun.

Dot’n get sexier than that, letmetellya. Is that a child’s hat?

That beautiful vision before you spent six hours building (along with my incredible nephew) the grandest firepit known to man.

We spent two nights down in that pit roasting mallows and, our favorite part, star gazing. “Shooting stars,” satellites, airplanes, and so many stars. It was breathtaking.

Both nights Rae and I retired first. She would take a shower and we’d snuggle up and watch a movie before the others made it back. Rae also slept in our bed every night! The girls had their own room, complete with two sets of bunk beds, a couch, and a gigantic bean bag chair, but she chose her ever-grateful Momma.

Mid-week we decided to take the girls to a gift shop and to visit the local lighthouse. Well, the lighthouse was disappointing, but the land around it was not! Mae also had that dress set aside for weeks so she could use it specifically for shopping at the beach. Ha. She cute.

I took hundreds of photos throughout our nine-day journey, so while this post is traditionally long, I feel as though I’m cutting it short. Like our vacation, however, it has to end sometime.

Thank you for an magical week, Shari!

LATELY : : JUNE 2018

The bits I’ve chosen to leave out of this post, involve children playing within every inch of our land and home. Their imaginations were allowed to stretch and their sisterly bond grew even stronger. While at home, our lives have been intentionally quiet. Plenty of caring for animals, tending to the yard, and household chores which never seem to end.

All of that being said, it was such a great month. Very much an ideal first month of summer.

The first weekend in June was spent at my mother-in-law’s awaiting Zack’s return home. My niece was there for the first couple days. The girls couldn’t have been happier. We skipped a trip into St. Louis since it was unbearably hot and settled for walking around the mall.

We went and saw an amazing production of The Little Mermaid at a local school (by mostly homeschooled kids) – Zack has known the family of this girl in the last photo his entire life (Her grandpa made our porch swing). They’re such a talented, joyful family!

And boy, the hand holding amongst cousins just really sealed all that fun together! Never gets old.

Well, that Sunday morning Zack woke me up at 5:00. He surprised me an entire day early! Sneaky little buggar.

He began summer school the following day and really enjoyed the entire four weeks of it.

We got back into the going-for-a-drive game. We’ve got the best roads for a Sunday drive. It’s always nicer when Zack gets to go with us.

Mae helped with our VBS duties, by way of modeling, and modeled some lighting for me when I happened to have my DSLR out.

That is also the only photo I have of our week of VBS. Good gracious was that a full week! My favorite VBS to date!

Zack and I took the girls to see Solo for our 11th anniversary and then took them to see the Incredibles 2. (They didn’t wear the same outfit for both movies. Ha!)

Buck turned ONE! Here is a little flashback to when he joined our family:

Little puppers.

Rae had a few appointments regarding her broken arm and ended up getting her hard cast off two weeks early. It wasn’t fully healed, but nearly there. She will, in the end, spend up to an extra two weeks to a month in a splint and sling.

Uncle Seth signed your armpit.

She sure is going to miss this little gem of a signature.

We got ‘fancy’ sourdough rolls and Snapples (“Pop-tops”) to celebrate.

To top off such a monumental first day of summer – Rae also lost her first tooth! Her second loose tooth showed up the next day. These girls of mine don’t waste any time chucking their baby teeth.

The girls and I took Buckey and spent a couple days with my parents.

Then, my mom spent two days with the girls and I.

Zack sent a text from work – “Send me a picture of the girls, I miss them.”

The second photo, well, Rae’s pointed foot and proper hand pose sent my mind way back to her three-year-old self.

Mae started swimming lessons. That is her favorite part about June!

After Rae began, once again, livin’ life cast-free, she was able to join in and float around the shallow end. When Bravery Rae Rogers wasn’t bobbing about, she practiced dunking various portions of her face beneath the surface.

The girls have put their mitts on so many toads this month, but this one (above, can you see it?) they saved from being chopped into bits by the mower. I made sure it was off and waved them over. I had, at that point, already run over at least five. Mae fixed up this luxury hotel for it. It enjoyed the pool, the sandy beach, and the shade of the tree several times over in the three hours or so that it spent there.

George is still less-than-fond of Katie. But still very fond of me. My boy.

AND, check out those sweatpants ’round my ankles! One Friday I mowed the lawn in sweatpants and a sweatshirt! We had a week or two of autumn weather and thunderstorms. That beautiful relief was swiftly followed by blazing heat and humidity we could barely breathe in. But everyone was happy to have somewhat of a break from summer heat…except Mae, who really wanted to swim all day every day.

We even managed to finally spend an evening with friends! Good food, several rounds of Shulbach, and two full episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. It was pretty terrific.

School for Mae has been, basically, a ton of reading following a pre-breakfast Bible lesson. Every once in a while – usually in the car – the girls would write in their workbooks, which is something they also enjoy, but that has been their decision.

Occasionally we would listen to an audiobook. I highly recommend The Wild Robot for all elementary ages. We loved it! For nearly the entire book, the girls played with legos, drew pictures, or crocheted.

We listened to another audiobook, but we didn’t like it. So much so, we barely finished two chapters and I can’t even recall the title of it. But, that is literally the only book – ever! – my girls didn’t care to sit through.

Next on our list for audio books are A Wrinkle in Time and Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle. As for books read with Momma’s voice, next month we are reading On the Banks of Plum Creek, The biography of David Livingstone (I’ve already read this and it’s incredible!), Twice Freed, and Whatever After – Sink or Swim. I’m sure we’ll squeeze a horse book in there somewhere, too.

BEING SPONTANEOUS WITH GRANDMA

The girls and I went up to visit my mom for a couple days. We were giving Buckey a trial run as he’ll be staying with my parents while we’re on vacation later this summer.

Well, I left my computer charger behind when we left. The moment I told my mom, she said, “Well, I think I need to take a road trip!” And, wouldn’t you know, she jumped in her car and drove down to spend a couple days at our house!

I’ll write more about her first day with us in the monthly round-up, but today, I’m going to write about her final day with us!

This may not require a backstory, but here it is – Growing up, my mom would often grab one of us out of school early and take us shopping or out to eat. She was always hauling the four of us all around town. She even snuck me away for a weekend in the mountains when I was the only kid not away with friends! Her genes are where I get my tendency to act on a whim and where I get my habit of looking for fun everywhere I can. 

Today we were able to have her along for one of our make-it-up-as-we-go days!

We started the day with tea on the porch admiring a thunderstorm that would, in the end, bring cool wind and no actual rain.

The four of us decided to run up to the river real quick to play in the sand and let the girls collect shells. Mind you, I was still in the sweatpants I slept in the night before. I’m not entirely sure I brushed my hair before heading out the door – but, somewhere along the way, my mom mentioned the town, “Potosi.” Well, that town is only an hour and a half from the river we were at! So, naturally, we drove that hour and a half to Potosi.

We visited a couple of antique stores in Potosi, ate lunch, and the girls enjoyed some ice cream just before we decided to go home. On our way out of town, a lady mentioned that Elephant Rocks was only 20 minutes down the road. My mom had never been to Elephant Rocks – so, you know…

My mom still had to drive two hours home after the two hours back to our house but insisted we didn’t rush. The weather threatened storms all day, which meant the day was breezy and cool. Perfect.

My mom has made it home safe and we’re hoping our next spontaneous day isn’t too far away.

BIRTHDAY BOY

Buckey,

Hmm, where to start…

You and I have an arranged marriage of sorts. Our relationship was forced by your father, whose heart knows no limits when it comes to abandoned animals. I know over time I’ll grow to love you and someday you’ll be too old, fat, and arthritic to cause any mischief. So, until that day, I’m going to love you by way of sweet talk, let you snuggle up on my lap, let you eat all the ice cubes your heart desires, and accept I don’t really need the many items you will chew up over the coming years. Just, please, leave my shoes alone. I really hate shoe shopping.

Happy first birthday, Buck!

Love,

Yer Ma.

LATELY : : MAY 2018

May has been so good to us!

While the first half went way too fast for Zack -and I’m sure every teacher – it crept by for me. Zack spent the final two weeks at his sister’s in my hometown, Charlotte, NC. I wasn’t looking forward to single-parenting for even a mere two weeks.

Despite my deep dread of it, the last half of May seemed like quite the vacation. No work on the house needed to be done for two full weeks, there was nowhere we had to be, plenty of sun in the forecast and innumerable places to enjoy it in. Gold. Just my girls and I and nothing but fun…or so we thought.

We filled the first two weeks running here and there with the little prince, catching bubbles as they frantically tossed in the wind, scribbled countless drawings in chalk, spent an entire day at church doing crafts and observing a very lost turtle, and – his favorite pastime – sat on the porch shouting at log trucks as they flew past the house. His mom is at home for the summer, so I’m not sure how much we’ll see of him. Certainly is weird without him around!

Mae killed it at her spring recital. Every photo I took ended up blurry, so this was a last-ditch effort and clearly, she’s over it. Zack missed it, so I really wanted to send him something from that night.

Just managed to fit all of us into a selfie on Mother’s Day.

The girls have a new cat. Just what we need. Her name is Katie. (Named by Mae)

We pulled our small pool out of hiding. Most days the girls played for hours in there! They also spent time at their friend’s pool.

My mom came to visit for a few days. She brought bamboo sticks with her. The girls totally love them.

She came over again on Memorial Day and brought Grandpa and cousins!

Our lawn mower stopped working just before Zack left for his sister’s in North Carolina. While he was away, I borrowed our neighbor’s mower and they watched our girls while I trimmed our lawn. (We have the best neighbors!!)

I found a picture in Zack’s classroom that Rae had left behind at some point. It’s me taking a nap. ha! She really captured my bedhead, scrawny hands, and love of green and blue – and so sweetly didn’t draw me as a mouth breather.

The hens are handling the summer heat well. They don’t even cower to the shade of the coop. They spend all day out in their yard space.

Buck begs for my breakfast. Everyday. He has learned to settle for sweet talk.

He’s also spent plenty of time outside. He even let my mom use him a footrest for a hot minute.

Mae’s legs have grown too much this month!

I don’t know why I’m always surprised at the sight of my kids growing. Why is it so weird??

One of my first big outings with the girls after Zack left was to the London Tea Room and Tower Grove Park, in St. Louis. I wrote about that back here.

We took breakfast to the lake and enjoyed it under a shade tree. Usually, something we save for the fall months, but even in the heat, it was such a great way to start the day.

Later that night, we experienced the great ER visit of 2k18.

I was really wishing Zack was with us then so Mae could’ve stayed home to sleep. At about 1:00, I realized Rae wished he was there for comfort and snuggles. We miss him so much.

He was enjoying time with his favorite sister and, more importantly?, Zoey, who is in love with him.

OH! Also! Boy got his hairs cut!

We have plans to spend the first days of June with Zack’s mom. Time with Shari is always a great idea.

Happy June!

THE HUMERUS IS NOT SO HUMOROUS

Welp. All of Rae’s busted lips, cuts, scrapes, sprained wrist and other countless injuries over the past five years have prepared her for this moment.

She done broke her arm. Well, fractured it.

Saturday night, the girls were having the pillow fight of a lifetime. One thing led to another and she fell onto the floor.

That’s it.

Not the most riveting tale of how a bone was broken, but it suits her.

She broke it at seven o’clock, nearly time for her to get jammied up and brush her teeth.

I didn’t think it was broken. How could it be? She fell, what, two feet? But, an hour later I noticed her arm was completely swollen and very warm.

I decided to ignore the late hour and head for the emergency room.

We would spend a total of five hours there. The girls were so patient. Not a single complaint between the two of them. No one asked for food or muttered so much as an, “I’m tired.” They really were incredible.

By the time 2 A.M. rolled around, we were all beyond slap-happy, starving, and dreaming of sleeping in our own beds until noon (Rae nearly did!). They dismissed us and Rae got to wear a temporary cast home.

We had to wait to see the orthopedic surgeon (she did not need surgery) until after the holiday weekend. They got us in right away. Lady was pretty stoked about her new, hopefully pink, cast!

She inherited my award-winning posture. Proud momma over here.

She wished she would get a silly doctor, and she did! The silly doctor was so impressed with how well she did.

Because of the fracture’s location, we have to take extra care of her delicate, beautiful wittle arm. They rigged up this strap situation since her previous sling was rubbing against her neck in a not-so-nice way.

She’s ready for signatures!! She even wants to sign it herself, ha!