Our Summer So Far

How we've been soaking up our summer so far...

running through sprinklers

(I feel like that is the definition of summer in childhood.)

playing at the splash park
(Will loved it - Ellie not so much... maybe someday when she is able to walk?)
 I love line drying my laundry.  It makes me happy.  It smells good.  It makes me pause and be outside quietly for a few minutes.  
But sometimes I forget about the laundry until late at night when I see the moonlight reflecting off my bright whites.  Then I have to try to remove it without stepping in dog poop or worse, dropping my laundry in potential dog poop.
My goal is to complete it by sunset.
(I should note that while I love using my line, it has done nothing to speed me up in the process of actually putting the laundry away quickly.)

 Will snacking on celery

 We've really enjoyed the several farmers' markets in our area this summer.  I've started going after Ellie's therapy sessions.
Here's what I love about going to the farmers' markets:
My kids know the farmers.  Will quickly befriends them (& especially any kids behind the counters).
Will knows which farmers we buy which foods from.
I would swear that the food lasts longer.  (Maybe because it is fresh picked and not having to travel far to a grocery store and then be unpacked, etc?)
It's grown naturally which means no pesticides.
It's forcing me to cook in season and with local ingredients.

 Our favorite things to get at farmers' markets:
tomatoes (red & green)  (I made fried green tomatoes one night - YUM!)
blackberries & blueberries
cheese (oh my goodness!  homemade feta and cheddar is divine!)

Look at this massive watermelon Will picked out!
 And wow!  We could eat on this zucchini for over a week!

I love this cookbook: Simply in Season Expanded Edition (World Community Cookbook) 

It's written by a variety of home cooks; many are Mennonites.  It is organized by season so it really encourages (& is purposely designed for) cooking by the season.  The recipes are often delicious.  I've had fun personally challenging myself to make many of the recipes using my locally grown produce from the farmers' markets.  
I feel like I have been more intentional with my cooking this season and that makes me happy.  

My new favorite dish?  (not from the cookbook incidentally ) As in, I am addicted to it & making it weekly? 
(I add zucchini & bell peppers & top with tomatoes.)
It can also be made carb free - I've done it without crust and using eggs to hold it together.
I've also done it Paleo style.
So so so good.

Walking to our neighborhood pool.
Best thing about a neighborhood pool? Ability to quickly run up there for a 20 minute swim/wear my little people out of energy before nap or bedtime.
Second best thing?  Getting some sun while I play with my kids in the water.

 Pretty much we swim every day.  Sometimes we swim twice a day.
(the last 2 weeks we've only swam 3x!  Both kids have been sick and this has severely affected our swimming habits!)
 Will has taught himself to dive from the side of the pool.  That kid amazes me in the water.  I think he has gills.
 Ellie is a little daredevil in the water too.  The girl loves to fly down the slide.
 Honestly, we haven't seen much of our friends this summer.  Between our traveling, my Grandpa's death and days spent in Hospice, lots of doctor appointments and tons of therapy appointments, we've just had a hard time seeing friends!  
But every now and then, we manage to connect and usually we end up at the pool!

Ellie & her BFF, Sophie
Love this girl's "Happy Face" 
 I have no idea what to do with my mantle.  So I have a huge canvas and occasionally, I pull it out to the garage and Will & I paint it.  Then, a few months later, we repaint over our previous work.  
 One of our babysitters is an artist.  I've hired her to come paint it next with Will.
 Have you heard of steel paint yet?  It's magnetic!
I bought some and spent a naptime one day painting the inside of our toy cabinets in the family room with magnet paint.  Then I covered that with chalkboard paint.
 It's right at Ellie's level so she can happily color.  (Unlike easels which she isn't able to independently use yet.)
R has no idea I've done this.  It's been there for nearly 2 months.  Clearly he doesn't open the toy cabinet much.
This makes me happy.
Rainy day walks and puddle splashing...
followed by middle of the day baths!

This also makes me happy.
Monogrammed reusable swim diaper?  Yes please.
(Confession:  Typically Ellie swims either in just her swim diaper or a swimsuit without a diaper (if I know we are "safe.")  
Love reusable swim diapers.

Ellie loves "jumping" off the side of the pool over and over and over again.

And now she is super brave and jumps from way up there!

Just like her big brother!

Since we live in a place where blueberry farms are plentiful, I decided to make this the year we create "We picked these ourselves!  Yum!  What fun!"  memories.
We made a memory all right.

We went the final week of the season.
It was maybe 100 degrees or so.
The only day that week I could go was after therapy so it was nearly 11am by the time we got to the farm.
Therefore, it was hot.

Will was into it for a little while.  It was rather overpicked and we had to really search for plump berries.
Therefore, we ended up with mostly sour berries.

Ellie did enjoy picking too but pretty much she ate every single berry she picked instead of putting it in the bucket.  (I offered to pay for the pint she ate.)

After maybe 15 minutes, my children were soaked in sweat.  I was trying to help each of them but due to fireants everywhere (berries are naturally grown - no pesticides) I couldn't put Ellie down to scoot.  This meant I really had to help her.
And Will couldn't take off his zancos due to the ants.

Whose bright idea was it to take two sweet kiddos to a blueberry farm in TX heat  in the middle of the day when they each have to wear thick socks & heavy plastic AFOs  or prosthetics on BOTH legs each???
They were pouring sweat.  I got worried a little as I've read that amputees sometimes have a hard time controlling body temp due to less surface area to sweat from (think about how much surface area you have on your hands/fingers & feet and toes!  That's a lot of skin to sweat from!)  plus his legs were fully covered...)
so we headed for the shade.

 Look at these flushed, hot faces!

And how much did we end up with?

That is $2 worth of blueberries.
And though they were picked with love, many are not ripe.
or plump.

I'm glad we did it.  Kind of.  My kids were great and didn't complain but I learned a good lesson.
Next time I want to teach about where our food comes from, we will go on a rainy, cloudy day in MAY.

For now, I'm teaching how GRATEFUL we are for those who labor in the hot fields and pick blueberries for us so we can buy them plump and juicy and yummy for only $3 at the farmers' market.  Money well spent.

This kid loves watermelon!
I love how Ellie plays with her hair.  It's her self-soothing sign of being sleepy.
Sweet girl

Sadly, both kiddos have been sick recently.
Being sick in the summer STINKS!
After being cooped up for several days with a sick boy, we decided to head to the zoo one cool morning.  We had a glorious cool front last week and temps stayed between 77-83 all week!  In TX!

Ellie practiced her cruising!

I love watching the differences in the way boys and girls play.
Ellie is such a nurturer.
She is constantly taking care of all of her babies - she loves to put them "night night" & gives out plenty of kisses.
(She also nurses them and covers them up.)

One day, I caught her putting Ruby (the golden retriever) night -night.  Notice the covers and pillow for Ruby - on one hind leg.

Then I caught her yesterday doing this:

When Will was this age, he would climb on Rubes and slide down her back.  Ellie is brushing her hair.
Girls & boys play so differently!

Ellie has been wanting to diaper her baby.  I found a preemie diaper and was so impressed that she knew how to hold baby's legs!

We've seen some friends over the summer.  My parents' bffs, the Salisburys, flew in from Guatemala for a funeral and came for a night last weekend.
Cookie & Tio Juanito had a watergun war with Will & Elvia

(John & my dad have been best of friends since they were 5.  I would like to point out here for the record that before I arrived at the pool last weekend with the only children of the group, I received a text picture from my mom.  John & my dad were having swimming races - 2 fifty somethings racing across the pool.  It's kind of their tradition.  And usually we all end up somehow joining in and racing.  They crack me up.)

Ellie loves Tio Juanito and definitely charmed him.
She has also been saying some Spanish words this week thanks to him!

My kids adore Elvia!  (Will was just thankful her boyfriend didn't come! ;)
The Salisburys have come from NC for the births of each of my children.  They have also come for Will's race in Dallas and then we see them periodically whenever we can.  I love that my kids are growing up knowing them so well!
We are working so so so so hard on bike riding!
He does great down hill.
It's the up hills and flat parts that get him.
I'm so stinking proud of him - sometimes it makes me want to burst.  He is learning to ride a bike in the TX heat, in a hilly neighborhood, & wearing BILATERAL prosthetics on his legs (increases his height and weight and has to make it feel weird to pedal when his actual "foot" is not on the pedal plus theres that whole bending the knee thing which must be uncomfortable) and he wears custom made bike prosthetics for each of his hands.  That's a total of 4 prosthetics!  Just to ride a bike.
And he doesn't complain. Ever.
He told me the other day his hand bike gloves are his "safety technology."  I have no idea where he got that phrase - neither of those words are in my general vocab.
Sister insists now on riding her "bike" too.  Throw in the dog and we are quite the spectacle.

playing at the park
(look at those upstretched arms!  Take that those who doubted she could ever reach straight up due to dislocated shoulders!)

After a prosthetics appointment in Dallas recently, I took Will on a mommy date to see the shark exhibit and a museum and to the imax.
It was so fun and we learned a lot about sharks!
I once swam with sharks off the coast of Belize.  
They were nurse sharks - harmless to humans.
My dad once had his toe bit by a baby shark.
That is the extent of my shark stories.

Since shark bones are made of cartilage they disintegrate.  This is a frozen shark and frozen tuna below.

Above with a shark jaw & below with a fin
Not something I ever hope to see again:
Exploring the Magic School Bus Weather Exhibit

we spend a lot of time playing with bubbles.  Ellie loves them.
So how is it that I have been blowing bubbles for 30 something years & have apparently been doing them wrong MY ENTIRE LIFE?!?!

Clearly I have led my daughter astray when it comes to proper bubble blowing technique.

I commented recently to my mom that I don't think I'm the kind of mom I imagined I would be.  I totally planned to have Will reading more independently this summer.  We've done some lessons but I have really let it slide- even though he is ready.
And I thought I would do some fun little homeschooling lessons and some creative theme days.
I haven't.
It's just been a non-stop summer and in many ways, it has been tough - so much has happened that I would not have expected or planned for.  The only "lazy days" we've had have been when someone is sick!
So moments when we didn't have a doctors' visit or therapy or a sick child... these moments we're filling with just playing.
My mom reminded me of the invaluable time to just be kids.  She reminded me that it is important for my children to play - to not be "learning" in a structured environment all the time.  She reminded me that they will learn science experiments and sight words in school just fine  - sometimes they just need me to play with them.
So we have been finding time to play.

After all, they've got the rest of their lives for structure.
I've only got 15 more summers with Will.  And 17 with Ellie.  
I don't think that is nearly enough.

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