Hellooooo! Anyone still out there? Somehow life doesn't ever seem to slow down enough to let me gently back into blog-world, and all three of my blog readers have complained about my extended blog break :-). I'm just going to have to jump back in and hope for the best! If you've wondered what's been going on, here's what we've been up to:
The kids have been camping: church camp (John Mark, Becca and Philip), Camp Barnabus (John Mark and Becca go with our youth group to serve special needs kids for a week each July); IT Camp, Engineering Camp and CAD Camp at the local college (John Mark); Rocket Camp (Philip); Space Camp: Mission to Mars (Ben); and finally Space Camp: Mission Specialist Training (Nathanael). I'm going to do a happy dance on the day I finally send them all off to camp at the same time. And then I'll probably take a nap.
House guests! My parents came and stayed with us from the beginning of May to the end of June, although they took a couple of side trips to see Grandma Crocker, Daddy D's mother. On their "off nights" with Grandma Crocker, we were visited by old friends from Baton Rouge, Jimmy and Connie, with their four kids; and then a couple of weeks later, Brent (John's best friend from middle school through college) came to see us with his wife, Yvonne, their two girls and Yvonne's parents! We definitely had a busy house during the month of June.... and it was lots of fun!
The Great Washington D.C. Trip, Part III: Every few years, GranMartha and Daddy D take a group of the grandkids to Washington D.C, Williamsburg, and Jamestown. This year, it was Philip and Ben's turn, along with their cousin, Savannah (fortunately for GranMartha and Daddy D, all the cousins have been born in clumps of three :-). They were gone for about a week and half, and the boys report that they had a most excellent time!
Dogs. Remember Lucky, the chocolate lab? He didn't last, poor guy. He just couldn't make it as an inside dog, and our neighbor on the corner had it in for him, so our friends, Penny and Rob, graciously took him in. But Lucky was a ramblin' sort of dog, and eventually rambled off to parts unknown. Maybe he wasn't so Lucky after all. But then... then came Solomon. Solomon is the new dog in town, a very large, sort of smelly, but very sweet black lab who is not quite a year old. He was John's Father's Day gift, and after a few potty and chewing mishaps, Solomon seems to be settling into the family quite nicely.
Visits with friends! Not overnight friends this time; these are local friends, and we had some wonderful get-togethers this summer with Jessica and Ross, Ashley and Steven and their girls, Ian and Lisa, Penny and Rob, and I had a wonderful lunch with lovely Lynn. Did I mention that we've had a really fun time with our friends this summer?
Trip to Indianapolis: Over the 4th of July weekend, we went to Indianapolis to visit John's family. We met his nephew, Cameron, for the first time (and Cameron is 18 months old!) He's very cute. I had a fabulous time shopping the Goodwills with my sister-in-law (Indianapolis has the most fabulous Goodwill stores-- they're more like really large consignment stores, but cheaper!); John hung out with his brothers; the grandkids played with the Grandparents; and we had a super-fun pool party and cook-out with all the extended family at Aunt Gayle's.
I turned 40 (!) and John and I had our 18th anniversary. 40 really isn't so bad; the really scary thing is that in 10 years, I'll be 50-- Ack!! Anyway, after boycotting my birthday last year (he is a birthday rebel), John was fabulous this year: he took me shopping at the outlet mall in Indiana and bought me two new dresses that I love, and even though we were driving back home on the day of my birthday, he made a special trip to the store for cake and ice cream when we finally got home. Good husband!!
4-H State Communications Days Competition: I drove Philip, Ben, and Nathanael to the state competition in July so Philip and Ben could compete. They both placed second in their categories, which was fabulous, considering that they had to completely prepare on their own this time around! We also went to see Granny, Aunt Mattie, and Half-Price Books (I've raised my boys right-- they love a book store as much as I do!)
The Garden.... and oh, what a garden it is this year! John had some troubles at first: the cucumbers got some kind of cucumber bug and all died; the yellow squash, zucchini, and red onions completely rebelled and did not come up; and the corn got demolished first by a wind storm and then finished off by a family of skunks. BUT... tomatoes, oh my word, you have never seen such tomatoes! Enormous tomatoes, some the size of grapefruits, and hundreds of them! And the peppers! John planted several varieties of bell peppers, pepperoncinis, banana peppers and a few other varieties as well, and they are beautiful! We've loved our pepper patch, and we've also enjoyed the sweet onions, brussels sprouts and the red cabbage. (I had no idea what I was going to do with an entire row of red cabbage, but I've got a fabulous spinach-tortellini salad that calls for red cabbage). Our garden has done well for us this year, and we have loved picking dinner right out of the back yard!
Our poor sad vehicles... I know, this is boring. But it would've made an interesting blog post to explain the checklist procedure one must follow to get John's long-suffering mini-van started (yes, the one he took off-roading); it has a push-button starter now. John is the original car hacker. As much as we would love to take advantage of Cash-for-Clunkers (clunkers are all we have around here!) we decided we were better off utilizing what we already have, so... we took the transmission out of the tan van and stuck it in the dying red van ($400- whoopee!) And John finally fixed the Honda so John Mark could...
Get his learner's permit! It will be another wonderful day when he gets his license, because he'll be able to take over my job chauffeuring his sister to and from her many social engagements-- yippee!!
School: I was so stressed out by the end of the last school year-- you should be so happy I was not blogging! I would have been all "whah, whah, whah, blah, blah, whah, whah, whah...." We ended the school year in a whirl of activity: Civics Club trip to the state capital to page for the Senate, a trip to the Renaissance Fair (in the rain- very authentic), piano recital, chorus concert, various Awana and 4-H activities, trip to the homeschool curriculum fair in Nashville... I was Worn. Out. But things finally came together for this school year, I got a good bit of my lesson planning done, and we began school this past Wednesday. I think it's going to be a good year! Co-op is a much smaller group, and it's refreshingly peaceful :-). All of our other activities seem to be coming together pretty well too, so I have a happy feeling.
And finally, I guess I should mention one of the major things that has kept me occupied over the past several months: my weight loss journey. It's really a long story, but the nutshell version is that I began going to Weight Watchers in January and surprisingly, I liked it! I like the program, I like the meetings, and best of all: it works for me. After John saw the success I was having, he began going to a 10-week Weight Watchers at Work, so we do it together now. I've lost 65 pounds since January, and he's probably lost... 40? (I don't really keep up with his weight). We both began walking, and after school was out, I began working out at the gym (now Becca and John Mark go with me). In order to keep this to the nutshell version, I'll stop the story there, but making time to exercise and just the mental energy required make healthy choices has definitely cut into my blog time. But it's been a good thing, yes?
And that's what I did this summer.