Sunday, August 26, 2018

What I've Been Doing This Summer (Besides not updating the Blog)

Sometimes when I haven't updated the blog very often, I start my new blog post by saying, "Sorry it's been slow around here," or something to that effect. But then recently I read a meme that went something like this: "Dear blogger, you don't have to start a post with 'sorry I haven't written in a while.' Nobody explitive cares!" Awesome. Because while I was wasting away summer, and not writing blog posts, I was wondering to myself whether anyone was wondering about my blog. And apparently they are not. So yes, I haven't updated very frequently this summer, but hopefully no one cares and we'll just pick up where we left off back when I was on a roll with writing posts all the time.

So here we are, skidding into September. We have attended open houses at both boys' schools, met their teachers, dropped off supplies, and picked out awesome lunch stuff for the first week of school. And now, we just relax away our last weekend and reminisce about summers past.

I told you in my last post about how lazy a summer it's been, so you get the point.  I'm going to use this post to seek a little redemption by sharing what things I (we) DID accomplish this summer.

1.) New recipes. I have practically memorized the cookbook section of our local library. Not that I have checked out every book or anything, but I probably opened every single book and either checked it out, or deliberately not checked it out for one reason or another. As a result, I have found some great books and some great recipes.

One of our absolute favorites was this blueberry cream pie. We made it four times this summer and will continue making it forever. It is seriously one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.

Another favorite were these cheeseburger pretzel bombs where the recipe wasn't nearly as mind -blowing as the fact that I learned how to pretzelize anything... and now I will. And they were really yummy. A great comfort snack and one that would pack nicely in school lunches.

Another new recipe that I didn't photograph because we ate them up too quickly was lemon glazed cookies, courtesy of Martha Stewart (via Pinterest). If you like lemon, and seriously who doesn't, then you will loooooove these. There's grated lemon peel, fresh lemon juice, and a yummy lemon glaze. I made a quadruple batch and Jeremy and I both took some to work, gave a few to a neighbor, and devoured the rest. Definitely making this one again.

We are definitely ready for some fall soups and flavors if the weather would just cool down a bit!

2.) Netflix binge watching. This is something I just can't do during the school year. I love it during the summer when I can just get through entire series of shows that I've been wanting to watch. My top three series of the summer by far are as follows:

The Crown - I could not stop watching this drama. It chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth starting with the death of King George and Queen Elizabeth's subsequent coronation. I couldn't stop googling which plot lines were fact and which were fiction. And do you know what? Almost all are based on true stories (with creative liberties taken of course). Also, I couldn't stop speaking in a British accent by the time I got to the end of the series (I was watching 3-4 episodes a day, and may as well have been living at Buckingham Palace with how into it I was). I'm a little nervous that the entire cast is being replaced for season 3, but I'm just hoping that Netflix gets it right and it continues to be awesome.

Orange is the New Black - Season 6. I look forward to the release of the new season every summer (although it came a little late this summer, didn't it?). I loved season 6. My rankings of the seasons so far, best to worst are as follows: 1, 2, 6, 5, 4, 3. My prediction is that next season is the last.

Kim's Convenience - I just started this one a few weeks ago, then finished it a few days ago. This one is a Canadian sitcom about a Korean family running a convenience store. I love every single one of the main characters. The episodes are short, and the whole family can watch it.

Aside from these series, I've also rewatched some of The Office and Parenthood, and some documentaries. So see? Totally productive in the Netflix department.

3.) Yoga with Adriene - You guys. How have I not heard of this before this summer? It was actually last spring when it was recommended to me and I started trying out videos here and there. Adriene is an incredible yoga instructor with a mission to make yoga accessible to everyone by posting free yoga videos on Youtube. She is funny, easy to follow, and there are loads of videos to choose from. I completed the 30 day Yoga Camp series, as well as other videos and have recently started on the 30 Days of Yoga series. By the third video, I didn't even have to watch her because she does such a great job of explaining each move and encouraging you to just "find what feels good."  Just look her up on Youtube. I promise you won't be disappointed. Summer exercise... check. 

4.) Pool - Ah, the pool. This has been our number one favorite summer activity this summer. We have never really been a pool family. It's just not my thing, probably because I didn't grow up going to the pool. I grew up with a pond in my backyard where we went swimming whenever we wanted. We spent summers jumping off the boat at the lake in Kentucky. Occasionally we would go to the city pool (usually because we were invited to go with someone else). So I caught myself by surprise this summer when I found myself LOVING lounging by the pool while the boys played for hours in the water. When it's 100 degrees out, or even 90 or 85, I can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon than to be in cool water. We did not get passes this year, but probably will next year. And honestly, I'm going to have a hard time choosing which pool to buy passes from because we found more than one that we loved. Both boys chose to go to a water park for their birthdays, and the entire family loved it (I'm purposefully leaving out the part of the story where I almost got knocked out on one of the most mild water slides in the park - whatevs.) So now we are a pool family and I totally did not see that one coming.

So see. We've done some things this summer! I don't regret our lazy summer full of cooking, Netflix, yoga, and pools for one second. Goodbye, summer. Hello fall!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Eagle Bluff Lookout

Goodbye lazy days. We (and I, especially) will miss you. The boys don't go back to school for a few weeks, but I'm back in the office already and slowly transitioning back to full time work. I'm not complaining, believe me. I don't take take my summers for granted for one second. I know how fortunate I am to spend 3 months out of the year with the boys. I also know how fortunate I am to have a job that I love in a district where my kids attend school. It's all about balance, amIright?

Every summer has its own unique personality. Some years, summer is all about the big vacation. Other years, it's about day trips and bucket lists. This summer has been all about full time lazy days and days at the pool. We've spent more time at the pool that any other year, and have also made two trips to a water park. This summer has been about lounging in the sun, catching up on Netflix, and checking out giant stacks of books at the library (mostly cookbooks, some memoirs for me, but lots of graphic novels for the boys). We have stayed up late, and slept in late. Nothing to complain about here as we switch gears and head back to school.

We did recently put our Netflix, reading, and swimming on hold for a day and went on a day excursion to one of our favorite places, Eagle Bluffs lookout. It's part bike trail, part stair climb, and part hike. A few years back, I wrote about it here after we searched for 3 days to find this spot. We weren't really sure what we were looking for, and weren't yet familiar with the area. On this trip though, we knew right where to go.

Last time we were here, we hiked the bike trail. But since then, both boys have started riding on 2 wheels, so were able to haul the bikes and bike the trail instead.

One and a half miles on this beautiful bike trail right along Perche Creek on one side and giant bluffs on the other side.

After a nice easy bike ride, we pulled off to the overlook trail head.

I love trail signs.

We locked up the bikes, drank some water and started this climb.

You guys. Seriously, I feel like I am generally in good shape. I mean we haven't hiked much this summer, but typically I can get on any trail, and not have a problem. We've done these stairs before, and I remember flying up them (although my memory may totally be wrong).

But this time... this time the struggle was real. I made it, but I had to stop twice on the way up for a breather. Ugh!

And of course this guy makes everything look like a breeze.

Looking back down the stairs literally gives me vertigo.

My memory must have failed me on this part too, because as I remembered it, it was just a tiny little trail connecting the stairs to the lookout, but actually it's an uphill climb! Huff and then puff and then huff...

But this magical bridge was exactly as I remembered it.

Everybody stopping for a breather.

And then finally we arrived at our destination. The lookout.

And it was just as amazing as we remembered it. Once again we had the whole place to ourselves.

We are so lucky we live here. Missouri is just full of these kinds of hidden treasures. 

We sat around and had a trail snack for a little bit (oatmeal peanut butter energy bites - recipe coming soon!) and then hiked on.

Sitting on the shady stair. 

This time we hiked a little further than we did last time. We crossed a different bridge and hiked on into the woods.

But we didn't stay long. We were tired. I didn't mention that the boys had both been at a sleepover the night before and were running on only a few hours of sleep. But Jeremy and I wanted to hike so badly that we pulled them along with us anyway. As always, there was barely a complaint once we got on the trail, but we can tell when they are wearing down.

So back down the trail we went.

Beside the magical bridge.

Downhill trail this time...

 And then down the billion stairs, which believe me, are actually fun when you're going down.

98, 99, 100, ...

 The enchanting stairs...

And finally, FINALLY, we made it back to our bikes.

Back on the trail, jello legs and all.

All in all, an amazing outdoor adventure!

Until next time, happy hiking!

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Number Nine

I did not see this one coming. Never has one of my children's birthdays hit me so square in the face and seriously knocked me off my emotional ladder. Okay, so maybe that's a little bit of hyperbole.

But 9!?!

Holy Moly. It hit me a couple of weeks ago that Lex was turning 9.
Halfway to 18.

I love the person he is becoming. He is so thoughtful and kind, smart and witty. He is quiet natured, but will speak his mind when he wants to. He is constantly observing, and I love how he notices the little things.

All of a sudden he seems all grown up - in how he talks and how he acts. I am loving this stage of his life.

This past year, Lex played soccer in fall and spring, and baseball this summer. He continued with piano and went to districts and then state competition. He earned the highest ranking in both of those competitions and also earned the highest ratings in his two spring competitions. He entered a writing contest at school, wrote about ziplining, and earned a blue ribbon. We are so, so incredibly proud of him. 

Here's a look back at some of his adventures as an 8 year old. 

First time at the rodeo. 

Tree climbing

First day of 2nd Grade

Bike Riding

Rock Climbing

His perfect "walking stick."

Reading up on chess so he can beat mommy (which he frequently does)

He loves, loves, loves the water

An armful of trophies at his piano award recital

His laugh and smile are contagious

He LOVES video games, but loves the outdoors too. 

Turns out he loves shooting - I didn't see that one coming

There were 2 goals he set for himself this baseball season: Catch a fly ball, and hit a fly ball over the outfielders' heads.
He did both!

I am so proud of the person you are becoming. You are growing into a remarkable young man and I can't wait to see what this year brings. 

Here are Lex's responses to his annual birthday interview (links to previous years below)
Me: What's your favorite food?
Lex: "unknown"

Me: What's your favorite snack?
Lex: peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Me: What's your favorite thing we did this summer?
Lex: Big Surf

Me: What's your favorite thing to do outside?
Lex: Play on the trampoline or play with Kylo

Me: What's your favorite thing to do inside?
Lex: Play on screens

Me: What is your favorite color?
Lex: Red

Me: What makes you happy?
Lex: My friends and family

Me: Where do you like to go?
Lex: Big Surf

Interviews from years past....
8 years old
7 years old
6 years old
5 years old

Here's to a rocking year!