Sunday, August 23, 2020

The Kids Are Going To Be All Right

Tomorrow begins a brand new school year for us. Actually, we start on Tuesday "in-person" since our last name is in the bottom half of the alphabet, but the excitement is no less than it would be if we were walking through those doors tomorrow morning with the A-K kids. I sit here tonight among backpacks full of new supplies, first day outfits carefully selected and neatly laid out, and two sweet kiddos cleaned up and prayed up for what lies ahead. 

In spite of the uncertainty and unrest of the past several months, this summer has been one of the sweetest I have ever known.  That's the beauty of this dance we call life.  It's not all good, nor is it all bad.  It's a tender mixture of both, and it's when we learn to accept the messy presence of each of these that we are truly living.

The past few months have been hard - social unrest, economic hardships, an international health pandemic to name only a few- but these past few months have also been full of tender, precious memories that I wouldn't trade of anything. 

There have been days spent in a John boat floating down the river and afternoons filled with hours up on hours of jumping into the creek while the pools were closed down.

There have been lazy days in the pool and quiet nights sitting around a bonfire.

There have been late evening bike rides as the sun is setting and extremely early wakeup calls to hit up the grocery stores before all the meat was picked over.

There have been birthdays celebrated in quarantine and birthdays celebrated with trips out of town to enjoy our freedom from lockdown.

There have been vacations at the beach and weekends spent exploring the best of our state.

There has been life lived, and it's been lived to the absolute fullest. 

When the pandemic first began, I grieved the thought of my kids losing their innocence and having to grow up too fast.  My heart broke for the things they would be missing out on, friendships that would be strained for them and the fear that would undoubtedly come with so much change. Instead, they have learned lessons that have taken most of us a lifetime to understand.  They are strong, and brave, and adaptable.  They have learned to savor the simple moments and treasure the gift of what we already right in front of us.

This year will be different, but I believe our kids already have inside of them everything they need make through. Here's to 2020-21 and the journey that awaits us!

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sweet Summertime

The pools here in Kentucky are closed and will be through the end of the month. Normally I wouldn't care because we would just swim in the back yard, but we are in the apartment this year.  We even picked one with a fabulous pool. Go figure!

At first, I was super bummed out, but we've found the best little swimming spot.  The first time we went I didn't expect much because so many of these areas are packed with everyone else looking for a reprieve from the heat.  Luckily, I was very wrong, and we found a quaint little spot not too far where we live.

We ran into one of Ellie's friends from cheer and spent the afternoon, just us, enjoying the sunshine and water. I'm sure we will make good use of the pool once it reopens, but in the meantime, I anticipate many, many trips to the creek. Hearing the laughter, and splashing and playing was so good for the soul.

After working up a good appetite, we stopped on our way home for another summertime favorite...snow cones!!  The first one of the season is always the sweetest. Even the tween enjoyed it, he just doesn't want to let anyone know.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Girls Day

Throughout quarantine, Ellie kept talking about how she couldn't wait to go shopping once everything opened back.  No matter how may times I asked, she never once changed her mind, so once we were comfortable with new regulations, we ventured back into the world for a girls day.

She wore her mask like a champ! We eased back into things slowly and were on a mission to get some cute clothes for our beach trip later this summer.  First we stopped at TJ Max, but there was a line just to enter, so we stopped by Wal Mart and Target instead.  We didn't have much success, so we headed to a little consignment shop where we racked up.  She shares my passion for bargain shopping.

I have to say, that I very much enjoyed our girl time.  She was a pleasure to be around and we had some great conversations.  I really did have fun.  I look forward to many more days like this as she grows into a young lady and hope she will always let her Momma tag along.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Bonfires and Family Time

It blows my mind to think that when the pandemic started we had just listed the house with a realtor, and now three months later, we are living in an apartment while our home goes up.  So much has changed in our world and for our family.  Going from almost two acres down to an apartment has been interesting, but we're enjoying being renters for the time being. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that we have plenty of space to run and play at the land when things start to feel a little tight.

One thing that's been a constant for us during this season of crazy has been our bonfires at the land.  We burned a ton of stuff while we were moving and now we get to do the same with scrap lumber.  Last weekend when the kids got back from Nanna's house, we loaded up everything we needed for a bonfire and had the very best time listening to music and spending time together. The kids pretty much want to do it every weekend now.

Even has the world starts to reopen, we're realizing it truly is the small stuff that means the most and provides us with best entertainment.  I hope we will always carry this "secret" with us, especially as we return to our "new normal."

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Hiking Fun

One of the first things we did when the travel ban was lifted was to go hiking!  We often use the trails near our home at Mammoth Cave National Park.  It's such a blessing to have a national park in our backyard, but we were ready to bust of of this joint and decided that we needed a change of scenery.

We felt so much freedom driving to the trail and also kinda like outlaws because it's been so long since we've been out in "public".  It was a perfectly sunny day with low humidity and fantastic temperatures for early summer.  It was also super easy to social distance in the great outdoors! 

We decided on a whim to go, so we packed our masks, stuffed our bags with lots of snacks and made a short stop for BBQ at a little makeshift drive-thru. 

It had been years since we'd hiked the trail.  In fact, I was pregnant with Eli the last time we were there.  We also went during the winter months, so it was like a whole new world getting to experience it in the summer and with kids. 

It's funny how a pandemic makes you slow down.  We've talked about going back for 10 years, but we've never slowed down long enough to do it.  I'm so glad we finally did! It was such an amazing time as a family.

After the hike to the large waterfall, we went back to the more shallow area and spent more than an hour letting the kids swim, and splash and play! It was so much fun and I really think we will be visiting again in the near future.

Monday, June 8, 2020

We All Need A Little Bit of Pixie Dust

I don't think it's any secret that we are a Disney family.  Over the years it's become a happy place for us, and we have made so many precious memories. We have Disney playlists on our phones, play Disney games on Family Game Night, and have fun testing our Disney trivia skills or talking about our favorite rides, shows and resorts.

I absolutely love researching and planning for each of our trips. It gives me something to look forward to and there are so many amazing options that the experiences change and grow right along with our kids. The way we vacation now is much different that 2010 when we took our first trip, and it's rewarding for me to find new experiences for each trip and each child.

I was knee deep into planning our October 2020 trip when Covid-19 turned the world upside down. I had such a wonderful trip planned with the NBA experience for Eli and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique/princess dinner for Ellie.  We were finally getting to stay in a Deluxe Resort and we were even splurging on Park Hopper Passes so that we would have more flexibility.

We made the decision in early May to postpone our trip for another year while this mess gets sorted out, and even though we know it's the best thing for our family, I'm still in need of some Disney magic. For several years I have wanted to make a little travel/Disney blog (and even attempted a few posts), but it always felt kinda silly and self serving when there are so many hard things happening all around us. What 2020 is teaching me is that you can create beauty and joy even in the mist of chaos.  You can be both transparent and real  about the hard things while also making room for the simple pleasures that bring genuine happiness.  In fact, sometimes those silly little blog posts are a welcomed breath of fresh air and a gentle reminder that it's ok to hope for better days.

That's why I've decided to relive some of my most precious memories, share my favorite restaurants and pass along some of my hard learned tips, tricks, and ideas. It seems a little silly, but I think right now we all need a little bit of pixie dust.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Kicking Off Summer

Remember two months ago when I said that I was going to be a better blogger?  We can all take a short moment to chuckle at that one. Actually, a lot has happened since then.  We sold our house, moved into an apartment, worked lots and lots of crazy hours and somehow managed to homeschool the kids.

It's been a weird season.  Not a bad season, but one that's unique.  As I'm writing this, the world is starting to reopen.  Our kids have gotten to visit with family for the first time in months, we're able to sit down inside restaurants, and there's a since of normalcy about our lives. There's been a lot of life lived and a lot of lessons learned throughout the course of this pandemic and I hope we won't soon forget them.

Memorial Day is, of course, the unofficial start to summer and this year I think it was more welcomed than ever before.  We all needed a figurative and literal transition into a new season!

Our original plan for the holiday weekend was to go visit Eric's family in Marion, but it was supposed to rain every day.  We decided that we didn't want to deal with that since we'd have the dog, so we invited Nan and Grandad up to see the progress on the house.  

The kids went home with Nan and Grandad for the week, so when we woke up to unexpected sunshine on Monday, we decided to take full advantage and head to a small lake not far from the house.  Eric fixed up a little John boat last year, and it's the perfect size lake for putting around.  He fished, I read, we talked and laid out.  It was fabulous!

It was the perfect little day date! We enjoyed relaxing and having time together. The pools here in Kentucky are still closed, so I see a lot of weekend trips to the lake until that changes.  In the meantime, we are looking forward to a summer filled with family fun and simplicity.