Thursday, September 03, 2009

oh what do you do in the summer time?

So Summer? It's gone already??? I can't believe that summer passed without me documenting what has transpired. But in my defense, this has been the most life changing, most fun, busiest summer ever in my life...So here it is, in no particular order of time

Here we all are. The day had just begun and we wanted to capture our family having one last fling for the summer at Johnson Shut Inns. This is a place where you climb up and down these waterfalls and dive and jump into 25 feet pools that the rocks create. I am a total wimp though. It took me some time to convince myself to jump. So you can imagine my surprise when First Katie and then Baker also jumped off the large rocks.
Jumping to my doom after a very long climb up due to the helpfulness of some weird guy at the bottom of the rocks...It doesn't seem very high, but it looked very far down and they kept saying, don't hit any of the rocks in this are or that, so I was more than a little nervous...Now Katie didn't seem to have the same sense as I did and climbed right up and jumped, in fact, she jumped more than once

The best part though was when Baker got up there (aided my Miss Kim) and despite my yelling from the beach to stop, off he went.

and belly flopped right into the water since he didn't have the weight to keep his body straight. Boy oh boy, what must people think when a three year old jumps off. But so trusting as he leapt into his fathers waiting arms...

the best part for me was the climbing though. I loved the natural waterslides and pools of water.Haleigh jumping off the smaller rocks into the pool

Andy diving off into the pool. Griffith doing, well nothing. He was perfect. No crying, no fussing. Just a lot of rock throwing.

was the happiest baby and the youngest of all of us there.
When I wasn't jumping or climbing or watching, I got to spend some fantastic time enjoying myself with Griffith in the water. He really loved getting wet and splashing at all the fish he saw.

It was the best road trip with some fantastic friends!! Baker loved just swimming around at the bottom in the lake area.

Kim took off to push Molly under water and it was just a nice day to let loose and splash and not stress about real life for a few hours.

Here's Andy and Katie in one of the many little pools created by the rocks. The water was a perfect temperature and though there were several deep sections, the lifejackets kept everyone happy and safe.

Matthew and Haleigh enjoyed themselves as well and Haleigh even went so far as to say she had finally found something about Missouri she liked.

At the end of summer every year, we all get together at the little river beach by our house. Several of my friends come and this year, my sister braved the heat to drive up as well. But how else do you send the last day before school begins? It was a great, hot, sunny, sandy day at the beach. I managed to scrounge up two great gals to go clean streaming with me. We had a mini canoeing lesson and then we were off to capture all the garbage we could get in a canoe. I had never been to George Winter park but it is quite lovely and I love being able to spend time with a dear friend (Amy) and have my niece along as well. Being a Master Naturalist has opened so many doors and I love them all.

We went to the zoo several times this summer and these are a few highlights.

Baker loves these frogs!

Andy always comes along though half the time he is the martyr and has to lift every child to see each animal. But I love that he makes it to all these fun outings. It is a benefit they don't mention when they hire you on. Perhaps more people would be professors if they only realized the perks.

This summer we had my entire family relocate to Missouri. What a blast we are going to have. Here are all the cousins playing together. We get together quite often and I can't imagine a better thing in life than having my family close and cousins together :). Here are my mom, her mom (GG- who Katie is named for) and my Aunt Bette. What a threesome they are. And amazingly, that's it for my immediate family on my mom's side.

The cousins all made breakfast in bed for my mom (along with a little help from Uncle Andy)

My dad would read to the grandkids and what a reward it was for them. They all loved it. I imagine this has to be one of the better parts of being a grandparent. This chair remains one of our better Goodwill finds. Look at how many of them it holds.
We went so many places while everyone was here. To the zoo, the botanical gardens, the butterfly house, grants farm and basically all that St. Louis offers. I can not wait for all the fun to come.

4th of July came and went. It was a rainy mess. Our car drove through a flooded area and died and we missed the parade. The highlight was spending time with some of my favorite people that night painting the Larsen's bathroom. Who knew service could be so fun!! It was a 4th I'll soon not forget. But the best part was the night before. We gathered up all our friends and went to watch fireworks. the best show in St. Louis in the comfort of our old Schnucks parking lot. It might as well have been a ward function by the time I invited everyone. One of the best drawbacks I suppose to loving everyone in the Ward.Here are two of the most fantastic women you could ever hope to call friends. And the power woman of our ward showing up with 6 kids under the age of 7 (two of which are twins) with no husband because he was working so hard on the Larsen's Bathroom.

Here is Tina. She's awesome. What more can I say? she reads this so I won't divulge much :). She has helped fill in all the gaps as my friends have all moved on. Sadly, she will be leaving as well in a few years, but I have these fun years in the mean time... I'll have to make the most of it and then write a sappy goodbye post in two years...ah how life moves on

When the daddy son campout took place, Katie was devastated. So I planned a special outing just for us. We went and painted a toothfairy box out of ceramic and had a blast. It was a great experience and the beginning of so many to come I hope.
After I got trained in being able to go free caving as a Master Naturalist, I convinced our good friends to let them be our trial run. The Keetches graciously babysat for us so we could all go. And off we went. We had a blast. Behind us is the fence that you get the key for and unlock. Then we entered mushroom cave (named for all the 'shrooms grown in it during the early years of St. Louisan history)

These are our friends Tina and Josh Williams. Below you see a picture of us starting the belly crawl potion through mud.
And here is the muddy result. So much fun. Andy did really well until we reached the portion where I questioned if there was an exit. He belly crawled out so fast I had to laugh.
I came home from church to see this beautiful specimen sitting on my deck. I had only moments to capture it before it flew away.

One of the highlights this year was having the Rozeskis family come to visit and stay with us and go to the Children's museum together. How we would marry this family if we could :). The Keetches got to go to Mothers without Borders in Africa this year and participate in helping. They sent out a plea to everyone to donate needed supplies and together with Andy's class, we were able to stock much needed medicines and baby items. It was a fantastic service project for our family to participate in.
Here's Shelley collecting the goodies to take to Africa
Katie ran the summer away in Soccer. Can we say she played during the heat wave and I was proud of her. It was hot but she kept going...

and going...
though she only wanted to be goalie so she wouldn't have to run.

My dear Friend Molly lost her baby Charlotte this summer. Molly was supposed to be a leader at a girl scout camp and I was lucky enough to take her place. It was a week I'll never forget. It was hot, humid and muddy and I didn't have a clue what to do, but we made it through.
We were the chihuahuas and made our presence known throughout camp.
Making dinners and crafts was always exciting.
Even Baker got into it and was a real trooper. Of course I wouldn't have made it through without Kim taking Griffith. And then comes back to school. Baker is old enough to officially attend preschool and so off he went. These are his teachers. Miss Lorraine and Mrs. Grellner.And Katie's 1st grade teacher Mrs. Custard (though she was sad not to have Mr. Billieke since he's cute and fun)...note all the missing teeth my little jack o lantern has.
And the first day has come. They each set off into the school with their bags, smiles and the memories of summer to help them get through. So that's summer in a nutshell minus some very huge parts (like pics of the letterboxing convention). But what did I learn you ask? This summer was so busy I'm not sure how I made it through. I planned and carried off a national conference for letterboxing, I entertained several guests and family, drove to Cleveland for the Brimhall reunion (a post deserving it's own spot) and got another two state capitals, I volunteered days for clean stream, bird identification, bird banding, cutting honeysuckle, moving my parents to Missouri, planning ward activities and Enrichments, planted a wildflower garden in honor of Charlotte and helped with the bathroom for the Larsens, was part of a girlscout camp and so many other things it is tiring to think of it all.
I was devastated when Molly lost Charlotte and am still coping with the questions of why things happen. But this I know, I was blessed to be able to help. It was a spiritually enlightening summer and I grew closer to several people who I dearly love for the service and love they have in their hearts. This is what I learned. There are givers and takers. (along with those that say they want to give but don't really and those that give but don't want to). BUT, It is the givers in the world that make me feel happy to be around. The people that drop everything to help and come together to lift others that make me feel loved.
I was most amazed at how people give of time and love, often to those they will never meet or know, but just want to give to help another to feel better in some way. From Africa to the next door neighbor, I think God has to be pretty proud of givers. I hope I will be one of those people. I hope my children will be those people. And I am confident that as we are those people, we get strength to do even more.

Saying goodbye

It's never easy to say goodbye. In fact, it seems like it gets harder with each friend who sets out. And even worse when they are attached to our family. First we said goodbye to the Rozeski family (though we keep saying it over and over with every visit :) and then at the start of this summer, we said a farewell to the Pace Family. They had become perfect friends for us.

They played competitive board games (which we are so into I can't explain rationally), Ashley was always good for calling me on my craziness, they played sand volleyball which thrilled Andy to no end, and our kids loved each other. I mean, seriously...we had the perfect boy / girl thing going for a long, long time. So our final night of kids playing together was a fun night of dress up and dance... And for Baker to share his blanket with Abbey was huge :)

Couldn't resist a little dress sharing...
A final kiss farewell
The next generation...curses that we all have jobs that cause us to move on with life!!! But there is always Michigan Football. And of course, another state capital. Cheers to friends we will never forget!