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Summer Adventures - June 2021

Get out the family projector! It’s time for another slideshow-heavy blog! First, I’ll recap the last half of May and then jump into our adventure-filled June.

I wasn't part of this first activity, but it was memorable for my husband and son, so I'm sharing about it. After all, this blog will eventually be my kids' memory book. Barkley and Liam went camping with the cub scouts near Payson, Arizona. It was the first time either had gone camping, and they ended up making an extra trip to the nearby Walmart to buy more padding for under their sleeping bags and extra blankets, oh, and pants for Liam! It was a mite colder two hours north than they'd expected it to be. They went hiking and played in Christopher Creek, ate “walking tacos” (which are tacos loaded inside a personal-size Doritos bag), played with flashlights at night, and each den put together a funny skit to share.

The end of May brought the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Liam finished second grade at the local public school and Evelyn finished third grade at home with me. Evelyn started physical therapy with a new therapist that she loves. She’ll have her occupational and speech therapy evaluations later this summer because the facility is booked up through the summer! The wonderful part about doing therapy at a third-party location is that I can attend her therapy sessions, communicate directly with her therapists, and then we can repeat what she worked on at therapy throughout the week at home.

We’re not sure if we will be withdrawing Liam from public school in the fall yet, so this summer is our test drive for homeschooling both kids. After a short break in May, the kids and I did about two weeks of "practice" homeschooling in June before taking our real four-week summer break. My plan is to homeschool almost all year-round, taking more frequent two or three-week-long breaks.

Most of June was spent at birthday parties, the library, and the pool with friends. See all the fun in the pictures below. Use the arrows on the large picture to scroll through the thumbnails on the left.

Temperatures reached 122 degrees here (according to my car, and I believed my car wholeheartedly). Despite the heat, I’m still in love with early-morning hikes (you know, when it’s only 95 degrees at 6:30 AM) and was blessed to go on a couple of hikes with my friend, Leah. She moved to Arizona from Ohio around the same time as us in September 2020, so we’ve enjoyed exploring together.

I learned on June 15th, that my novella is moving forward in the ACFW Genesis Contest! I still can’t quite believe it. I am now one of three finalists in the novella category. The last round will be judged by publishers and agents. I had 48 hours to absorb the first six judges’ scores and suggestions before making tweaks to the entry and submitting it for the final round of judging. Those 48 hours passed way too quickly. I submitted my piece with about two hours to spare and a big, thankful prayer. The winners in each genre will be announced in September at the ACFW Annual Convention. In the meantime, I'm starting work on a full-length novel that will be the follow-up to the novella.

When the novella category coordinator called me to notify me that I was a finalist, I told her I was speechless at the news. She jokingly said, “We’re writers, we’re not supposed to be speechless!” And yet, I’m struggling to put into words how flabbergasted I am that my entry made it this far. A little more than a year ago, I was so afraid to share my work that I wouldn’t even let my husband read it. Now, not only has my husband read it, but six judges have given me encouragement with their kind words and made me a more confident writer. I’m so grateful for this experience, and their feedback, no matter the final outcome.

Next up, we were blessed with a visit from my mother and sister (who both live in Florida) for my birthday! They spent ten days with us, relaxing, playing, and sightseeing.

On Father’s Day, we all explored the town of Gilbert and went to an indoor Cosmic 3D putt-putt place. The kids had a blast wearing the 3D glasses, but the glasses made me dizzy. I opted not to wear them much. After that, we went to Joe’s BBQ, a fun place with delicious food. Highly recommend it. And in such a cute area of town, too. Lastly, we recreated a photo from the day Liam was born. Just for fun. The best part is that Barkley still has the same shirt, eight years later.

During the week of my birthday, Barkley still had to work and we also had to have the tile in our home re-grouted. I don’t understand anything about tile or grout, but we discovered there were holes in the grout, which apparently, meant we had “soft grout.” (Again, to reiterate, I have no idea what that means.) So, a team of people moved all the furniture out of our living areas and into the garage, and then hand-picked out the bad grout, filled it back in, and then a week later came back to stain and seal it. Now, it’s done and I’ll read this blog twenty years from now and go, “What is soft grout? I don’t remember that happening!”

My mom, sister, Evelyn, Liam, and I went to the Pioneer Living History Museum. I love history—not necessarily specific events, but how people lived their lives, especially during the 1800s. I can still remember a school field trip to a Living History Museum in Colorado when I was in elementary school. I absolutely loved it. My class churned butter and milked cows and had a lesson using a chalk slate while sitting in the adorable little desks in the tiny schoolroom. I pretended I was Laura Ingalls. Unfortunately, the Arizona museum was desolate because of the summer heat, so, my kids were underwhelmed by the experience and were begging to go home halfway through. We did get to see many refurbished buildings and I took a thousand photos. I still loved it.

One highlight of our museum visit was stopping at the entrance to a gorgeous chapel (we couldn’t go into most of the buildings). Our voices echoed through the building and so I started to sing and Evelyn joined in, then took over and completely rocked out. Hearing Evelyn’s voice—her love for God and His music—brings a joy beyond compare to my heart. Here are two little video snippets, the first video is when I started singing and Evelyn joined in (don't judge if I sang the wrong words, I have a terrible memory) and the second video is Evelyn really getting into it. Isn't she precious?

After the museum, we stopped at a little shop called Desert Donuts, which made donuts fresh-on-the-spot with a scoop of ice cream on top. They were incredible and I have a feeling we will be back.

On my actual birthday, we went to breakfast at First Watch and then to a "paint your own pottery studio," which was a fun flashback to the days when my mom owned a studio in Sanford, FL. It was a treat to sit down and paint again and share new memories with my kids since they can't remember "grandma's studio." I'll share our "after" photos in next month's blog after they've been glazed and fired!

After almost one year (can you believe it's been almost a whole year?) of living in Arizona, we finally made a trip to the Grand Canyon. We only went for one day, driving and stopping at several scenic spots along the South Rim. Overall, Evelyn and Liam did great on the trip, but they were less enthused than I thought they’d be. (This seems to be a recurring theme with my children who have traveled far and wide for their age and just don’t know how good they have it, gee wiz.) They smiled for photos as much as they begged to stay in the van and watch DVDs. Grandma didn’t love the heat either, so she placated them and stayed in the van for a few stops while the rest of us got out and took a thousand photos.

We were warned in advance that we would see a lot of people doing crazy things. Sure enough, we witnessed people doing handstands on a ledge that I would not have dared to walk near. Several times, my own dear husband got closer to the edge than I would have liked, and I had to beg him to stop scaring me. My hair is grey enough already, thank you. He will assure you he was never in any danger. Judge the pictures for yourself. Praise the Lord, we all made it home safely, and this worry-wort checked the Grand Canyon off her bucket list.

Before my mom and sister departed, they gave us another big gift—babysitting overnight! Barkley and I took a one-night vacation. June 23rd marked fourteen years together (eleven married). Barkley finished up work on Monday at 3 PM and we arrived in Sedona at 5:45 PM. Upon our arrival, we discovered that as newbie-Arizonians we have a lot to learn about wildfire conditions. We’d planned to go hiking, but alas, all the trails were closed. We were clueless and felt silly for not realizing there would be closures, but now we know to check before making plans!

Instead of hiking, we bought Sedona-themed t-shirts and sweaters and made a last-minute dinner reservation at a fancy-shmancy restaurant called Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, where we enjoyed the longest and most expensive dinner of our entire courtship and marriage. It was worth it just to have time with my hubby. I’m happiest when I’m with him. As evidenced by the following adorable photos from our trip. Cue cheesy smile.

That’s all for June! I've got another big blog post coming up for July (that I will hopefully post before August,) detailing our road trip to Colorado!

I hope everyone is having an amazing summer and staying cool! Does anyone have any fun travel plans or things you've crossed off your bucket list? As always, thank you for reading and keeping in touch with us. Love you all!

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