Sunday, August 25, 2019

SPENST SUMMER SPONSORS

I wrote a post like this at the end of last summer, and thought I'd follow it up with the Spenst Summer Sponsors 2019 edition.  Instead of breaking this one into levels, I'm including each sponsor at the same level, because we could not have made it through without any of these.

WICHITA, KANSAS:  The kids and I spent a fair amount of time in Wichita this summer for several reasons.  In fact, the last time I was there, someone at church said, "Do you just live here now?"  Not exactly, but we had a blast with cousins and Nana and Papa, and the kids also really enjoyed spending time with relative's pets.  Because that is the kind of thing that makes impressions on you when you are a kid.  3 out of 4 of the trips I drove the kiddos solo.  Miraculously, this was doable and even enjoyable.  I just put on movies for them and popped in my AirPods and the hours fly by.  Road trips have come a LONG way for us in the past year.

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TRAMPOLINE PARKS:  This summer we've had memberships to not one, but two, trampoline parks.  We have a LOT of energy that needs to be burned somewhere, and it doesn't matter what the weather is doing, you can always go to a trampoline park.  As a bonus, you can often meet friends there.  And there is WIFI.  It's mostly amazing, until I have to dig a twin out of a ball pit.

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TOPO CHICO:  And really sparkling water in general.  We drink a lot of it.

SWIMMING POOLS:  This is the no-brainer sponsor of all summers always for us, but now that every child is more or less swimming, the pool became a wonderful place that even inched towards relaxing.  We aren't all the way there, but mostly, the pool outings were pretty great.

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VBS/DAYCAMPS:  This was the first summer in 3 years that the twins were home all day every day, and John told me way back in December that I needed to have a solid summer plan.  This plan relied heavily on various VBS and Daycamps, and I am so thankful for the programs we found that helped the kiddos have fun and learn more about Jesus and gave Mom a breather from all the togetherness.

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SUMMER MOVIES:  At the beginning of the summer, I also mapped out every children's movie and the date it opened and bought tickets for every dollar movie that we would be in town for.  I did this with several friends, so we had a consistent movie party almost every week.

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DATE NIGHTS:  With all of the extra time with the kiddos, John and I needed to double down on date nights.  It makes a huge difference when we are able to connect with one another and often other adults, and I'm so thankful.

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I cannot believe that another summer is basically in the books.  I both loved the bonus time and also really wanted school to start.  But it did start, and we're all glad to be getting back into a routine.  Though I am missing the routing of going to the movie once a week.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

In a totally weird twist of fate, this morning ran completely smoothly.  As in, we ran ahead of schedule, had all smiles for pictures and no tears at drop off.  No one is transitioning schools or making a major move this year, and we are welcoming the sweet familiarity of having done most of it last year.

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These sweet kiddos were both excited and not excited to get back to school and learning and extra friends and more work.  I was mostly excited to regain routine and also a teeny bit sad that another summer is in the books, and time is flying by more quickly than I can ever grasp.  I am exceptionally glad that I will have a bit more time in my head in the coming months: I always feel like I need to become reacquainted with myself after a summer full of fun and always up close with kiddos.

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We met our teachers Friday night.  Lily (5th) and Bella (3rd) both have teachers new to the school who seem very excited about the new year.  William and Violet are taking a victory lap in Kindergarten, and they are continuing on with their rock star teachers from last year.

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At our school, 5th grade is the oldest to still be in elementary school, and they make a big deal out of it.  There was a caravan to the school with decorated cars and friends.  I CANNOT believe that she's almost finished elementary school, and I remember crying BUCKETS of tears when she started K.  We've both come so far.

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Bella marched into 3rd grade as if she owns it.  And basically, she does, because that is her.  She's looking forward to another great year of achievement, though she is dreading the Science Fair already. 😂

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Violet gained a lot of confidence being able to walk into her old classroom and immediately know what to do.  I got the most precious text from her teacher this afternoon about what a great friend Violet was to a girl who was really struggling.  😭🥰  And that she listened all day.  😅

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William is a little disappointed not to be going to 1st grade this year, but he did warm up after seeing another friend in his class again.  He loves lunch and recess and making new friends, and we can't wait to see what another round of Kindergarten will do for him!

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I love new beginnings, and it feels wonderful to be at the beginning of a fresh start for us all.

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Happy Back to School!

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And for a crazy walk down memory lane and a rather hilarious look at which years I cry a lot and which I don't, here are our past first days.

{FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL 2018]



Sunday, August 04, 2019

KANAKUK FAMILY CAMP: HIGHS & LOWS

We just finished out a fantastic week at Kanakuk Family Camp in Branson, MO.  I'm going to break it up into two blog posts - this one will be all the fun, high-level stuff.  I was a camper and on staff with camp years ago, but though we had heard about the family camp version for years, this is the first time we've made it happen.  We went with my bro + his fam and my mom and step-dad for an extra fun week.  Here's a high/low run down-

High:  Getting welcomed onto the "island" by an incredibly hype staff who unloaded all of our stuff into our room and parked our car while we settled in for the week.

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Low: Really understanding that we would be sharing a room with our kiddos all week.  There were two bathrooms, and we utilized sound machines, but still - all six of us in a room is not usually great.

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High:  Themed party nights throughout the week.  I LOVE theming and any chance to dress up, and this week was ripe with opportunities.  We had a Luau the first night -

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Celebrity "Blue Carpet" night, complete with adults only dinner and Bunko -

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Kingdom night, which included us saving the Kingdom from the evil villain -

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And Racing Night, which included the Kauai 500 -

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Low:  The first morning, William was NOT having fun with the counselors and other Coconut Kids.  I got called out to check on him in the nurse's station where he was surrounded by concerned staff who all wanted him to enjoy being there.  They fetched him Sprite, Goldfish and Starburst from all corners of camp, and he agreed to go back with the kiddos after pulling it together.

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High:  In a super ironic turn of events, that very night, William was awarded "Most Excited Kid."   We had to wake him up to get him onto the stage, and the whole thing proved quite entertaining.

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High:  A bazillion and one amazing activities to do around camp and plenty of time to do them all.  Our kids did sleep well at night.

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High:  Allergen free plates labeled especially for Violet at every meal.

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Low:  Several of us succumbing to what is known as the "Kana-crud" where we had minor sore throats and extra drainage.  William kept saying that his "neck" was hurting, which we eventually figured out was his throat.  Thankfully, ibuprofen was readily available.

High:  Having adult time while the kiddos were in programming in the mornings and a couple of evenings.  It was such a blessing to listen to an excellent speaker and then have time to process through where we are at with various things.  It feels that we are always needing to take stock and see where adjustments need to be made, and John and I appreciated having the space to do that.

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High:  Having a camp photographer around almost all the time who captured so many great shots of our family.

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High:  Extra time with some extended family - we loved having cousins and grandparents around at meals and activities.  It was a perfect way to spend time together without us having to plan it all.

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Low:  Bella got sick at dinner right as everyone was beginning to leave which made for bad smells and a high level of chaos.  Thankfully, it was just overexertion and overindulgence, and she was fine by morning.  We also got to spend time with just her, which was sweet.

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High:  The counselors were incredible.  It was such a treat to be on the benefitting end of Kanakuk staff who all patiently and lovingly poured into our family.  They were truly amazing.

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Low:  We came in 2nd place on the Surfboard Scavenger hunt, which was disappointing to the kiddos (and John).  But we loved finding the 106 surfboards hidden all over camp!

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If you've ever thought about doing this - sign up!  It was every bit of what we could have hoped for and then some.  If you want even more of an idea of what it feels like - you could watch the Term Video from our term - we are interviewed towards the very beginning, and our kiddos are not exactly sitting still. 😂