Apparently blogging in the summer works best just once a month. I can't seem to find the time to sit down, plug in my phone, load my pictures, etc.  

It's been a gorgeous summer, just a couple perfect thunderstorms, but mostly sunny not too hot. Today we have our air on because it's muggy but it's the second time we've had it on, only for a day.

I'm in a "good" schedule of chores, duties, etc.  The younger kids have the same chores every day and why did it take me so long to figure out the perfection of this plan.  I know who did or didn't do what then, I can remind them easily, they can remember easily. Cut and dry, I love it. 

It's always a transition for college kids coming home and having everyone here all at once and then managing different work schedules.  I always think of them adjusting, but it's really me that needs to adjust-what to come down on,what to let go, how to help coordinate days so it all flows.  Leaving things everywhere/not cleaning up messes: I decided I'm not going to tolerate this so much, but say "you need to clean this up, put this away" etc.  It just has to happen with a big family or things get crazy messy and disorganized fast.  Maybe some would call this nagging but I call it sanity/follow through/cultivating good habits.  I am backtracking on this because I should have done it a long time ago. 

It is of course more "work" having everyone home but once I adjust I feel like I hit my stride I enjoy it more.  When everyone goes back to school it's too quiet and I have to think of things to do.  (I am doing that already-filling up a little notebook for fall/winter projects mostly house things that are falling apart and need refreshing.)

I figured out the other day that I have:
A child out of college.
A child in college.
A child in high school.
A child in junior high.
A child in elementary school.
A child in preschool.

I texted this to Grammy and she said, "You are parenting just about every major stage of development."

And I said, "Is this why I am a little tired?"

The truth is it is easier than ever compared to the last few years.  Janey is so so much easier than she was as a baby.  I look back and realize how my brain was just fried with tiredness and I had become so used to that feeling I didn't even realize it.  Toddlers and babies do that to you!  That doesn't mean I wouldn't take either in a heartbeat, I would.  Janey and I find babies everywhere and oooh and ahhh over all of them. But it's hard work, I do know that.  I see the moms at the pool with babies and my heart hurts, but then I remember nursing in a bathing suit under a towel, sweating, and trying to watch a toddler, or trying to co-ordinate naps with entertaining older kids and reality hits. 

I had a great discussion with a grandmother of close friends.  Everyone who knows her raves about her-she has raised eight wonderful children.  I was dying to "interview" her but we just had a quick discussion in the kitchen while dinner was being prepared.  She laughed when I said, "I heard you always had patience and never raised your voice."  She said, "Well that's not true", but by all accounts I've heard it was.  She said she adopted the method of saying, "I feel really angry right now and I just need you to give me some space."  She seemed to strike this awesome balance of strictness, confidence in her rules, friendliness, fairness, and just some good ideas of establishing discipline/self-control.  She said when she was little she would visit a friend's house who had 12 siblings-and her friend's mom would always take the time to say, "Let's go talk in the other room, I want to know how you are and what you are up to."  She said when she was young she had decided she wanted to make an effort to do that for her own children and nieces and nephews who all lived on the same property. Even among the long never ending list of things to do with a big family she took the time to do that as much as possible.  She talked about how she heard many times, "But everyone else gets to or has..." and how that didn't bother her.  

And then she said, "Your generation has it much more difficult. I couldn't even imagine having my kids exposed to what kids are on TV and tech today."  We talked of the struggle of that, and teaching kids to navigate that world.  But also "this is the way we do this"--they never had video games and had very limited TV viewing allowed.  

Anyways-it was a great discussion that I was lucky to have.  There is nothing like wise words from a seasoned mother who has probably seen it all.

This photo is from Isaac's graduation-Abbey said the height difference is no fair and I agree but what can a mother do?  It's not my fault I say, you get what you get and you like it!

This came home in Patrick's portfolio-he told me the whole illustrated story and it couldn't be cuter.

Andrew, Jeff, me and Isaac-we all ran a Memorial Day 5K.  Andrew left right after this picture and didn't collect his award (which was an engraved glass beer mug!), Isaac received one also. I thought he hated to run, and he said, "I do" but apparently he is good at it.  I was so worried of "crashing" halfway through so I ran slow-like 10 minute miles instead of my usual 9 1/2 minute mile. :) I hate races, I really do. They make me nervous. 

Janey got her hair cut!  She hates having her hair done and it was getting stringy and unmanageable-it is a cute little bob right now and will be till she's old enough to care.

And she still has some curl left!

Out at Grandma and Grandpa's-it's bittersweet that our kids are now playing with the dads.  

Again, at Jeff's parents.

Jeff went out of town and Janey is "catching up" with him.  She kept saying, 'What is taking Dad so long to get home from work!"

Cousins, can you tell?

Banana bread.

Kiawah Island!  It was beautiful!  I took this the first day when I woke up early to run on the beach and said I was going to do it every day and then never did the rest of the vacation.  I fell off the "clean eating" big time, but felt so awful afterwards I "righted" myself (mostly, not hard core) when I got back. 

I don't have a pic of Andrew and Patrick's fishing derby-that's on Jeff's phone-but they did so well and Andrew won most and biggest fish for his age group-this is after having to cut his line in the very beginning when he had it caught on something.  He had little hope but pulled through.  He received two t-shirts for his prizes and was thrilled with them. Patrick was in heaven as fishing is his love, and I took a pic of him in front of what he wants to own one day.

Abbey and shells we found.  

Dolphins strand feeding-really neat to see.

Bike rides on the beach-we stopped at the Kiawah River-that's where the dolphins were showing off.

Abbey and I took a morning visit to Charleston-definitely not enough time for us, I want to go back when it's cooler and I can spend maybe two days.  This is the little apartment my cousin lived in and it looked like a dream-a beautiful courtyard, right downtown.  So many beautiful old nooks and crannies everywhere.  And then I bought some pralines and tried them for the first time and ate them all and maybe I should never go back because I could never control myself around those things.

We drove back far into the island and ended up seeing some gorgeous humongous homes.  Not the beach rental type of humongous but just because humongous.  But they seemed all empty and lonely so I didn't get it.  I would feel wracked with guilt for "wasting" the house when I wasn't there, and if I was I'd have to have it filled up with kids/grandkids almost all the time, or I'd be bouncing off the walls all lonely feeling, thinking of days past (and feeling wasteful again).  I don't think the mansion/vacation home thing if for me, darn it all, unless I could have a guarantee of children visiting (almost) all the time. :)  I just saved myself 10 million dollars.

These two and their frogs.  They are masters at catching them, and could do it all day long, and I'm being serious saying that.  Give them a bag of food (lots of food), a gallon of water, a bucket and fishing poles, and pick them up 12 hours later and they'd be in heaven.
Mushy, juicy frogs-yuck!  They seriously gross me out! (By the way the grandma I was talking about used to have boys bring her the frogs to "kiss" to see if they would turn into a prince! What a hoot!)

Janey finally has a bed!  I have been looking for one on Craig's list here and there for a year, and this one came up just a few minutes away. Solid wood, antique, gorgeous-they don't make anything like this anymore.  Don't know if I will paint it or not-the wood finish is really perfection but white would look beautiful also. $75!  Next up curtains-you can see I've gotten as far as black-out pieces of fabric, not very pretty.

Strawberries-our second "batch".  I love the farm, the drive, the country, and of course the actual berries.  I think I ate half of these in one day.

Isaac and friend, the morning they left for Europe.  We've heard a couple words every day so far so we know they are alive.  I emailed him once about something I needed to return of his and asked how he was doing and how he liked it and he wrote back, "Great!"  That's it.  Nothing more. That's a guy for you.

He packed the night before.  I zip it now.  Procrastination is my number one pet peeve but I will not enable procrastination so I just zip it.  Actually I don't think he (or maybe any one in this age group or college aged) would even call that procrastination but heck it makes me nervous.  

Hence the back pack. That is one of the little kid's school back packs.  I just have to laugh!  He said, "It will work, I don't want to buy one, if I need one bad enough I will find one over there."

I have heard from so many who have done this European tour/hostel thing after college and they all seem to have the greatest stories-and it isn't about  seeing this and that always, it's about learning to be completely on your own, getting out of jams, navigating, solutions to problems, flexibility, budgeting, etc.  I love it.  My neighbor said he had $2 to spend in food one day, he's a big guy, so he bought what he could-a huge loaf of bread, and like eight bananas and that held him up all day.  So many laughs about it all now.  This is how Uncle Andy met Aunt Rosemarie-traveling after college.  How cool is that.

Swim team!

Those swim caps kill me.  They really work hard at this all summer and I'm proud of them because sometimes you know-you just don't feel like going to swim practice but you have to. (Most of the time there are no complaints.)

 My mom gave me a stack of photos and old school things from a clean out she did, and this picture just made me laugh so much.  My poor Grandma went to Florida with us one year. She probably wanted to walk home.  Look how naughty my sister is to make that face and the boys are losing it.

The neighbor kids and mine started a big summer project of building Sammy the dog a dog house. They did it all themselves except for a couple cuts I did with the saw. I am amazed by what they did with what they had, and how they all worked together without one issue. It was the cutest thing ever. Sammy is one lucky dog.

Andrew insisted on being the one to go up and tie the ropes for the new swing we bought. He's brave.

Cousins at a grad party for one of them! I love them all. One more off to college, how did they ever get this big. (Food, water, sleep, love, not in any particular order.)

Janey getting a preschool check up.

Right before catching up on the shots. It went much better than anticipated.

Took these guys to a matinee to see "Finding Dory".  I fought sleep the whole time and missed the actually finding of the parents part because a certain someone had to use the bathroom for the second time.  It was cute though, just a little long-winded.

Can't believe it's July 1 on Friday!