July-September: Quarter 3 Recap

On to quarter three.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute to motivate me.  I had given myself a deadline of Feb. 1st to have this space completely current.  Meaning that as of today there were two quarterly recaps on the docket as well as an upcoming birthday letter for our almost 21 year old.  Yikes.  Just reading those numbers on the screen makes my heart do all sorts of back flips and flutters. Shall we get to the matter at hand?  Yes, I do think so.

July, August and September.  Summer months at their finest and yet a month dampened with a heartache so intense.  Our sweet Polo became quite ill this summer.  Initially we thought he was protesting our constant visitors or maybe the heat but after a visit to Dr. Paula, our beloved vet, we were lead to believe otherwise.  He soared past his annual well check visit and had seemed to be losing weight, an ongoing struggle for our lounge loving pup.  Then after about a ten day food strike and his inability to even walk around the center island in our neighborhood he returned for another appointment with Dr. Paula.  One look at him and she knew something wasn't right, and then after hearing his symptoms she knew.  Tests were performed and she emailed us late that evening with the results we were all hoping wouldn't come.  Lymphoma and it was advanced.  He was suffering and only a shell of the dog we knew.  After many tears Husband Jared and I made the decision to have him put down.  Thing 4 was away on his mission trip and before he left he shared some prophetic words with us and that we disregarded at the time.  He looked at me with his eyes deep in thought and told me that he knew Polo wouldn't be here when he returned in August.  Ouch.  The girl Things and I said our goodbyes, hugged Polo and took him for one last treat and then it was off to Dr. Paula's.  We walked in the office and prepared for what was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but Polo, he lead us in his subdued way and curled up right there on the velvet blanket waiting for him.  Almost as if he knew.  I've written my love letter to him and shared all about his life here, but I would be remiss if I didn't give him mention for our July recap.  It was so bizarre for us after he was gone.  I would walk into the kitchen every morning to fill his water dish, or send a sideways glance to the sofa he had adopted.  We miss him tremendously.  He was part of our family for better or worse.
Gosh I miss that face.

His happy place.

One last squeeze.

Oh Polo.

After taking pause to celebrate his life with us Thing 3 was off for her summer trip to California with Poppi and Nani and the rest of us had fourth of July celebrations planned at Tom and Pam's. or better known as Pappo and Grammy, the king and queen of 4th of July!  We spent a couple days at the resort swimming, making s'mores, doing fireworks and sharing some yummy food.  The Horel's are the best host and hostess and everyone who has spent anytime with them knows that you feel welcome the minute you walk through the door.  From there we were off to the airport for a house guest, Delaney's friend Chris, and then more celebrating at Gpa and Mama's.  An epic firework show and some fun games rounded out our evening there.  Double fireworks, double the fun!

The King and Queen.

Horels and Hansons, fun in the sun!

Silly girls! 

Dock swinging at the Reeves.

Fireworks at the Reeves.

Thing 4 and his footie friends in Costa Rica!

The US Men's National Football Team was playing at Nissan stadium and so of course we bought our tickets in support and spent the day downtown.  Festivities were kicked off at Acme Food and Supply for lunch and beverages and then the match, where we left disappointed in our squad's poor performance on the pitch.  The atmosphere and excitement surrounding the sport and our nation's representatives was electric and it was quite encouraging to see just how far the sport has come here in America.  One day.  So many exciting adventures.  We shared 12th South with Chris, offering him the south's finest fare, we wandered in and out of antique shops and adventured around Nashville and even dealt with Thing 2's serious sprained ankle that happened while running in the park chasing her cousins.  All this while Thing 3 was horseback riding on the beach and sampling the west coast's foodie offerings.  There were more house guests or TN visitors I should say when the Strand family surprised us with a visit all the way from New Mexico.  We spent the day at The Frist, creating art, being art and experiencing all that Nashville had to offer, even a water park.  Uncle Jeff had a birthday while the Strands were in town and we did it up right.  Star Wars decorations adorned the house, Mellow Mushroom pizza was devoured and yummy cake shared after his wish was made.  I watched my nieces and nephew run around our yard, chasing fireflies, having a water fight, swinging on the swings and exploring the forest.  To say I was grinning from ear to ear would be a huge understatement.  It was a good, good night.  The girls and I stayed up way too late swapping stories and philosophies, talking religion and yes, even politics with Aunt Maggie, something I miss dearly. When they woke early for the airport we were all sad to see them go but as always grateful for the time we did have together.  Which is never quite enough.  Also in July there was blueberry picking, senior picture taking for Thing 3, with her sisters, on two different occasions.  Each one capturing a different side of her.  Training runs with friends.  Friend's birthday celebrations.

Thing 3, horseback riding on the beach, her dream day in California!

Thing 1 and Aunt Natalie at Acme.

Weidmans and Horels.

Pre match!  All of  us sporting our red, white and blue.

At the match. Go USA!

Post injury shopping trip at Target.  All she wanted to do was drive the cart.  

Impromptu training run with my pal.

Empty buckets and all smiles, ready to go!

Blueberry picking.

Throwing some shade.

Happy birthday Rachel!

Thing 2's perspective.

Thing 1's perspective.


Time to cool off Uncle Jared!

Checking out the river.

Cousin art time.  

Lunch at Acme, the whole crew.  Except for Uncle Jared who was taking the photo, and Thing 4 and Thing 3, both of whom were out of town during this visit.

Happy birthday to Uncle Jeff!

Moving on through the summer.  Here in the thick of it I was counting down the days until Thing 4's return, which coincided with my sweet friend, Holly's visit.  She and her girls were driving from NC to spend a few days in TN and they were staying with us!  Woo hoo!  Girl time to the nth degree.  And my boy was coming home.  We couldn't wait to hear his stories and all that he had witnessed the Lord do throughout his time in Costa Rica and otherwise.  There were some shopping days, long dinners around the table, dance parties and going out parties (our daughters, anyway) and our precious friend Julie was able to even have a slumber party with us too.  The girls made posters for Thing 4's return, we had chick fil a for dinner and he talked non stop at about 100mph.  I couldn't believe, I stared slack jawed as he recounted every up and down and in between from training camp to Costa Rica to their debriefing week and then back again.  All the names and faces that mattered the most to him begin to take shape and I quickly realized that this was a life altering season for him.

Girls night at the table.  Homemade pizzas.

I love this photo of my friend and her girl.  And I love how comfortable they are in our home.

Girls night out.  

He's home.  He's home.  He's home.

All too soon August came and with it the humidity and everything else that summer in the south has to offer.  Husband Jared and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.  With house guests and no plans for the night since we had a get away planned for September our Things went above and beyond and planned dinner for us.  They curated menus, grocery shopped, pooled their money to provide all this for us and then served us at our family's table.  It was a night to remember for certain.

Anniversary dinner and a homemade book, complete with our family's story and pictures.  Hand made gifts are my favorite, especially when they are from my Things.

August was also the month that ink was involved.  Things 1 and 2 have been considering tattoos for a while now and on a "whim" we decided to go for it.  There was a walk in Saturday with an artist that Thing 1 had been following and us girls made a day of it, along with Thing 2's friend Abigail.  Each of us had meaningful words ready to be marked on our bodies forever, or at least until death, as seen in the photos below.  It was here that Thing 3 made the decision to have a tattoo once she turned 18.  She was a good sport nonetheless and our conversation with Russ, our artist was unexpectedly deep.  We shared thoughts on reggae, life philosophy and even stood on our education soap boxes.  It was special and for that I was grateful.  Now, we have tattoos and a memory that belongs just to us girls.

Had to go first so she didn't wimp out, her words, not mine.

"It is finished" 

Calm, cool and collected?

Thing 2's handwriting on my arm, permanently.

Not even phased.  

Daughter of the King, in Hebrew.

Another house guest graced us with her presence this month as well.  Our beloved Jennifer from MN came for a bit of respite.  We played tourist and went all over the city together.  All the favorites were shared, she loved on my Things, there was shopping, we drank coffee, lots and lots of coffee, we started watching Parenthood together and we caught up on all the things.  Fellowship with friends that are more like family is just the best.

Tourist must have.

The garden at Belmont Mansion.

Belmont Mansion.  One of my favorite bedrooms we saw while on tour.

Tasting tray, yes please.

Arrington Vineyards.

Love my friend.

Who said you can't high five Jesus?

A few other highlights of August.  I ran a 10K, on a whim and all by myself.  It was mentally challenging in so many ways but also so rewarding.  Yay me!  Husband Jared and I had a special day with Autumn and Gemma.   Thing 4's D-group leader from his Costa Rica trip made an over night pit stop at our home.  Husband Jared and I were able to instantly see how and why the Lord brought these two together.  What a gift he has been to our boy.  We had pool days at Pappo and Grammy's.  Along with watermelon eating contests.  Thing 4 designed and painted his skate board.  Oh and just a little event took place in Nashville: the solar eclipse, where totality happened in Gallatin.  Wow!  There were no words, except there were many that day as we watched it all unfold.  Pappo and Thing 4 built viewing boxes for the girls, appropriate tunes were played and we danced around the garden all while being part of history.  In some way or another.  A day to remember for sure.  The six of us celebrated so many accomplishments as a family this month with a special dinner out.  We toasted Husband Jared and our impending move to Austria and allowed each of the Things to share their feats too.  Like I've said before, we are a family that celebrates.  EVERYTHING.  Thing 3 started her senior year this month and Thing 4 his sophomore year.  Our last high schoolers.  Per tradition I will post their first day of school photos, but of course.

10K finisher!

Thing 4 and Colt.

Deep in design.

Getting creative.

Three eclipse viewers, mesmerized.  

Excited to be witnessing such an event!

The eclipse viewing station.

Autumn and Thing 4.

Family celebration!

First day of sophomore year.

First day of senior year.  

Now September.  A full month once again, but hey what did you expect?  This was the month Thing 1 was preparing to move across the country to Everett, WA.  We had our epic road trip planned and all went well.  No vehicle issues, no weather complications, nothing but open road, good snacks and frequent potty breaks.  It was a week to remember.  How does a Mama articulate just how it feels to watch your baby fly?  I am not sure.  The days were filled with reflection and sometimes when I would glance over at my passenger I would see the five year old Thing 1 with braids dangling and her  big hazel eyes starting back at me.  Before she left our family participated in The Mercy Clinic 5 and 10K races, where Thing 4 won his age group!  During the summer months a local radio station hosts outdoor concerts in downtown Nashville and it just so happened one of our favorite bands was coming, The Lone Bellow.  Things 1 and 2 joined Husband Jared, our friends the Martins and the Smiths as we belted out their tunes and danced the night away under the stars, complete with glow in the dark head bands and bracelets.  And then before we knew it our Spanish get away was upon us.  This is a bit out of order because our holiday came a few weeks prior to Thing 1's big move.

A little pre-race yoga.

Fam bam!  Minus Thing 2, because knee problems.  

Thing 3 and Kaleb, racing to the finish line!

The four 10K-ers.

Classic Gemma.

Winner, winner chicken dinner!  Well, he won a coffee mug with some goodies tucked inside at least!

Pre-show sister pic.

Thanks Lightning 100 for the free show!

Like our headbands?

Anyhow, I might need to write a separate post on Valencia and how we fell in love with this city, but another day.  For now, I will share that our friends were epic hosts, treating us to coffee in the morning out in the garden with the best most buttery eggs I've ever eaten, an afternoon siesta practically everyday and a cool gin and tonic on that same patio every evening.  We played cards late into the night, experienced Rue de Tapas in the city streets where bull running was first begun, we went to a footie match and Husband Jared and I had a few solo nights at the beach to basque in the sun, walk the streets under the moonlight and recall the past twenty years and then some.  It was a fantastic week spent away, in a new to us city.  Worth noting here as well is the fact that I convinced Husband Jared to ride bikes with me into the old city.  He is not a cyclist, he doesn't enjoy it but he did it for me and I am forever grateful.  I won't soon forget the sight of him pedaling on in front of me. 

We had a long lay over in Boston so we ditched our bags and toured the city eating proper clam chowder, walking to the harbor and enjoying all things Boston.  

On a bike!

Sea side.

Some say this is THE HOLY GRAIL?

At the beach, my favorite.

Proper paella, seaside.

Viewing the City match, pre Valencia match.

Husband Jared's favorite.

Bull Arena.

Old city street.

Coffee in the garden, never mind the mug, he had to, City fans were our hosts.

And while we were in Valencia, Thing 4 was scaling rocks with the Horel's.  Here they are at the top of Cherokee Creek.  

These jokers had another night out while we were away, this time all four of the Things and Uncle Jeff and Aunt Natalie made it for the Escape Game.  Thankfully they made it out alive!  

Upon our return to reality Thing 2 had knee surgery scheduled.  That was quite the day and I so enjoyed doting on her and catering to her every need.  Her doctor was straight from heaven.  Husband Jared and I prayed over Thing 2 before we left for the surgery center that morning, after she was admitted and before taking her back to the OR her doc came in and laid hands on her.  He thanked God for the gift he had been given and then prayed almost exactly the same words that we had that morning.  Wow, do we serve a good Father, or what?  Which leads us right to her birthday celebration, nineteen this year!  Woo hoo!  We celebrated her from sun up to sun down.  Birthday breakfast in the morning with cinnamon rolls and presents, Honest Coffee and the Factory in the afternoon, sushi dinner in the evening and chocolate cream pie for dessert, prepared by her sisters.  We played cards and laughed the night away telling her all the things we love most about her.  Again, the gift of words and a special tradition for our family.

Surgery day.  

Vans, back in style!  

Make a wish for the year of 19.

Birthday pie!

Setting out, first day.

Devil's slide.  Yes, we pulled over on the side of the hwy to photograph this.

Mandatory driving photo.

Farmers market by the water.

The finished bedroom, cleaned, sorted and decorated.

This month Thing 3 was awarded the "partner of the quarter" certificate at Starbucks.  Proud, proud moment.  Her award hung in her store and you better believe I went in there just to take a picture of it.  Well done Thing 3.  Thing 4 had more footie, there were life lessons to be had, such as how to check the fluids in your own vehicles and we started the packing and decluttering process around Clairmonte Circle.  As seen in the photo below, parting with our books was one of the hardest parts of this move.  I was reassured that the Kindle would meet all of my reading needs.  That remains to be seen.  Another fuller than full quarter and still more to go for 2017.

On the pitch for NUSA.

Sorting books.  

Thing 3's certificate, as seen hanging in her place of employment!