What We Did Over the Summer

The summer was a whirlwind. I didn’t post once because I was trying to savor every second of it. But here’s a quick rundown of what happened. Photo overload!

Finn graduated from high school. Graduation ended at noon and every picture we have outside has me with my eyes closed because I’m a blinker to start with and the sun was relentless. So here’s a picture of Finn with Arabella, a non-blinker. These two are thick as thieves and when they’re both home, they’re nearly always together.

Finn also got his Eagle Scout Award. I really can’t stand Scouting at all and I was no help whatsoever.  At a Court of Honor each Eagle Scout has a display table featuring all his Scout-related accomplishments and accouterments. The good moms have saved all the Scout-related items since their son was a Cub Scout. They have tables featuring old Pinewood Derby cars and framed awards. The bad moms have to call a neighbor to borrow a Scout Shirt and have never even bought a sash, let alone sewn all the merit badge patches onto it. They decorate with pictures of their Scout doing Scouty things because wouldn’t everyone rather look at a picture of the kid rather than look at the kid’s old Cub Scout shirt on display?  I’ll let you figure out which type of mom I am.

The very morning after the Court of Honor, an announcement was made saying Mormons won’t officially participate in Boy Scouts anymore. We all groaned and laughed. Of course they announced it the day after Finn became an Eagle Scout. And then I did a happy dance because I’ve still got Jasper that I don’t have to worry about now.

Mister and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. I’m pretty darn proud of that because if you’re married you know it’s a lot harder than you thought it would be back when you were naïve and single. I love Mister so much. Like so, so, so much. But marriage is hard work. Despite that, we made it a quarter of a century!

We decided a couple of weeks beforehand to sneak away to Florida for a few days and catch the U2 concert in Tampa.  The Joshua Tree is one of my top five albums of all time and the concert did not disappoint. As I should have expected since there were double rainbows!

The resort we stayed at on the Gulf Coast in Longboat Key was heavenly. It had a couple of golf courses so mister could play while I hung out in a cabana at the beach all day, ordering virgin piña coladas. Sometimes simple trips are the best, and this was certainly the case. 

Also, the shells on the gulf coast of Florida are amazing! I came up with quite a technique for finding the best ones; it involved picking them up out of waist deep water with my toes.

Jasper had a birthday (my baby is 11!) and got glasses. Last year at this point none of my children had glasses. Now three of them do. What’s going on???

India, who had gone to BYU for Spring term, came back for the three weeks. And my mom came to visit for a while too. My nephew James from Portland also came to stay with us. We had to show him a good time in Texas which meant lots and lots of swimming.

The big summer event was that York got home after being in Brazil for two years. One of the families in Brazil made a farewell cake for him and his companion. This companion, Elder Jeffries, was the one he sat next to on the flight down to Sao Paulo. They came home on the same flight too. Crazy to think of all the changes that happened to them over the last two years.

When India got home I sobbed buckets. When York got home all I could do was laugh through tears.

It was beyond wonderful having all my babies back in the nest. Our first stop was Kerby Lane for pancakes. The first meal home back in America is always a big deal.

How long do you think it took before the arm wrestling started? Less than an hour (York won).

York came back a much improved version of himself. He’s happy to be with us and somehow developed very tidy habits. He does whatever I ask and doesn’t have to be reminded. It’s pretty fantastic. He and India jabber to each other in Portuguese all the time.

We took advantage of everyone being home and went to stay at the beach on South Padre  Island for several days. It was lovely having us all be together. We tried to keep TV to a minimum and just enjoy each other’s company. Here is one thing that I’ve forgotten: six children are loud. I am not accustomed to that much noise anymore. I had to escape to my room every once in a while just for some quiet time.

We hung out at the beach and got a little sunburned. It’s safe to say that I like the beach more than everyone else in my family combined.

We took sand-castle making lessons from Andy, an Australian bloke we found online at sandcastlelessons.com. He brought all his tools and helped us make this masterpiece. We got this finished in about three hours. Building a really great sandcastle is nothing like I thought it would be. But now that I know what I’m doing, the beach will never be the same!

Andy also taught us how to make sand spheres.

We hadn’t every been to South Padre before and in case your Texas Geography is a bit cloudy, it’s an island off the coast of Texas about five minutes from the Mexican border. We stayed at a pretty big resort and there were only about two or three other families we saw that were American. The rest were from Mexico. (Or rather, the other families were Latino. I have no idea what country they were citizens of.) I really could kick myself for not ever taking Spanish lessons. In my defense there were zero Spanish-speaking people in Detroit when I grew up except for a Jewish family from Argentina who lived on our street. Anything Spanish or Mexican seemed a million miles away. I don’t even recall seeing any Mexican restaurants in Michigan. We had Middle Eastern culture everywhere but Spanish anything was completely unheard of.  Finn is so blessed and lucky to be going to Colombia where he’ll eventually speak Spanish fluently.  Speaking Spanish is a necessary skill if you want to have a leg up in America, especially in border states like Texas.

Anyway, we got Finn all outfitted for his mission and I even taught him how to make his own ties. He made a couple all by himself! He may have worn sneakers to church up until the time he left, but we let a whole lot slide.

Once all my minions were home I didn’t waste any time getting all my projects done. Project Number 1 was digging out the old “lawn” (AKA weed patch) and installing some new sod. My helpers did a fantastic job. 

When Mormon kids go on missions, they usually give a 10-15 minute speech in church before they leave and then again within a couple of weeks of coming home. Because York was coming home and Finn was leaving within three weeks of each other, the boys were scheduled to speak on the same week. Because this was a big deal, lots of relatives decided to come into town for the weekend. The boys’ special Sunday ended up being the weekend of Hurricane Harvey and several of the friends and relatives who were supposed to come had their flights cancelled. Grandpa made it!

It ended up being a snug weekend indoors with Mister’s brother, sister and parents. Some friends of ours hosted a wonderful party in honor of the boys and a lovely time was had by all.

On September 5th Finn left for Colombia. The country, not the university or the District of. You can’t believe how many times I have had to clarify.

He’ll be at the Missionary Training Center there for six weeks then will take a short flight over the mountains to Medellín. He’ll be in and around that area for the next two years. We cried and waved as he went through security.

We were so thrilled that Finn decided to go that any sadness we felt was eclipsed by happiness and pride. We have always told him that we only wanted him to go on a mission if it was his own decision. And for several years he told us there was no way he would go. You guys can’t even guess at all the stress, worry and heartache that boy has caused us. Every grey hair on my head arrived once he turned 15. He’s a good boy–better than he thinks he is–but my gosh, the devil lives in 15-year-olds. He’s had his ups and downs but ultimately we’re pretty proud of the person he became by the time he turned 18.  If you’ve got a 15-year-old, don’t kill them. They will eventually become civilized and pleasant humans, even if takes a while.

Last week was the first week I finally felt like everything has been back to normal. With so many people coming and going, our house has felt crazy for months. But it’s back to business and I’m pretty happy about that!

 

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