This summer has been awesome.  Totally awesome.

But here's the catch: nothing is different from any other summer.  We have all our normal ups and downs of daily life.

However, last year was my first year back teaching high school part-time after being a stay-at-home-mom for six years.

The fact that I didn't had to be at work made this summer so sweet.  This says nothing about my job.  I am passionate about teaching and feel like going back to work was the right decision for me and our family.

But still...

Being home this summer with my boys was heavenly.  No schedule.  Reduced commitments.  This summer was sweeter than any other summer because I appreciated being home more.

I love teaching...but man, I love being home.

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

Noticing God's Daily Goodness

Recently, my four-year-old son did not cry at the doctor's office when he got his shots.

This has never happened in our home before. 

He sat there like a brave little soldier and watched as the nurse gently put a shot in each arm.   Minutes earlier he had been crying. His little body shook at the thought of shots until my oldest son said to him, "Shots don't hurt if you relax your body.  They really don't, I promise."  (I smiled at my oldest because when he got his five-year-old shots he screamed and flung his arms and legs around in escaping-octopus-style. The lady administering the shots called for two additional nurses to help hold him down. When it was over, my son cried and moaned as if mortally wounded while he held his leg and hopped on one foot down the long hall, past everyone in the waiting room and out the door. It all occurred in slow motion.  I promise.  And everyone was watching us.  Everyone.  This kid will get a best actor award some day.)

But in calmness and with the authority of someone who knew, my oldest told his little brother to relax and it wouldn't hurt.  My youngest listened and it worked.

Then, we left the doctor's office and ran to the grocery store.  We were in a hurry so with planned synchronization, we all grabbed the food we needed and rushed to check out.  As we walked out of the store I heard, "Ma' am! Ma' am!" shouted over the creaking of the sliding doors. I turn around to see a man running after me trailed by the cashier, who was limping along as she held my wallet in the air.

Grateful they didn't let me leave the store without my wallet, I thanked them.  We walked out the door and my oldest son commented, "Thank goodness the wallet didn't end up the in trash." 

I knew what he was talking about. Weeks earlier, I had taken the boys to Subway and mistakenly thrown my credit card away with our trash.  It took us an hour to figure this out and when we drove back to the restaurant and talked to the manager, he has already changed the trash bags.  I told him I would search through the thrown out trash bag, yet in his kindness, he had a worker do it for me. It took a few minutes, but with a big grin on his face, the manager came back holding my credit card.

A little brother who looks up to his big brother so much, he will listen to his advice. 

A big brother who loves his little brother so much, he encourages him. 

An honest shopper and a cashier, who despite her limp, chased me to make sure I didn't forget my wallet. 

A manager at subway who kindly and without complaining had a worker dig through the trash for my credit card. 

God's goodness.  In daily life.  It surrounds me.  It surrounds you.


Feel His daily presence in your Life.  Feel His love.

 Grateful to be linked to these blogs & Christian Mommy Blogger


 My oldest son and I spent an evening hanging out with this beautiful family. My son makes the kids laugh; I snap the photos.  After we left my son said, "Mom, I will always come with you when you take pictures."  Melt. My. Heart. Like many other moms, I can let myself feel guilty when I take time away from the home to do something I love. I easily forget that my little boys are always watching and learning. It is good and even inspirational for them to see me stretch my artistic fingers. 
It really was a lovely evening spent with my oldest son and our friends.

Guest Post at Made to Mother: To the Mother of All Boys

I am guest blogging over at Made to Mother.  It is a wonderful, uplifting blog and I am so excited to share a piece of my story over there.  This is my first guest post on another blog and I have been walking on clouds all day because of it.
To the Mother of All Boys

I am a mother of three boys and I have always heard comments like:

Are you going to try for your girl?

Three boys…whoa…you must be tired.

Or that awful saying that goes something like this:
A son is a son until he takes him a wife.  A daughter is your daughter for the rest of your life.

For the most part, these statements don’t bother me – well, maybe except for the last one…who wants to ever think their child will go off and never return? What a terrible thought, but the statements aren’t exactly encouraging or uplifting, either.

Recently though, I heard a comment about my boys that I continually turned around in my head until it seeped into my heart and made me feel like I could not possibly be blessed more than by being a mother of three sons. To read more click HERE.

life in photos

I sandwiched this quick 5 minute photography session between two fun activities and the boys didn't even know what hit them. I discovered a park near our home has this cool map on it. So after I picked the older two up from robotics camp, we stopped at the park and I snapped a few shot before they went off and played. 
It was quick and painless.  I am learning how to easily record all these lovely memories. 

On teaching our kids to give...

Once a Month - July

This month my friend was running a half-marathon and to help raise money to provide clean water for people in Africa. Her kids and mine are friends, so when I told my boys what their friend's mom was doing we were totally in for contributing and praying for her. She recently had her fourth son so I was pretty inspired by her determination; she could be running for almost any cause I would have been "in." 

The night before the race, I gathered my little boys before bedtime and said, "Our friend's race is tomorrow.  Let's pray for her tonight."

My boys looked at me confused.

Me:  You know how we have been working on giving more once a month for almost a year now?
Oldest Son (with a longer pause than I would have liked): Yes.
Middle Son: No.
My youngest son was not even acting interested.
Me (to my middle son):  Don't you remember at Christmas giving clean water and money for a small business loan for women through World Vision?
Middle Son: No
Me: Praying for orphans?
Middle Son: No
Me:  What about grocery shopping for the food pantry?
Middle Son: No
Oldest Son:  Working at Feed My Starving Children?
Middle Son:  Oh yes - I remember that.
Me: Going to IKEA to get kitchen stuff for orphans aging out of foster care?
Middle Son: No.

I sat gaping at my beautiful middle son.

Middle Son: I do remember watching a kid play basketball and eating cookies.  (At an adoption fundraiser.)

I let out a sigh of relief that he has in fact remembered two of the things we have done.  I then glance around the room for my youngest whose initial disinterest has turned in to him just disappearing.  I see him climbing up to the top of the dresser because his tooth brush is up there.

I freak out because I think I remember hearing someone tell me that they read somewhere that a kid climbed up furniture and it fell down on him and he died.  (If you know the story, don't tell...these type of things keep me up at night.)

When we finally got to actually praying my middle son said, "I want to pray for a different friend's mom that is running...running for office."  Okay, I guess that works too.

I love my beautiful children more than life itself but I sometimes I think I am getting the early signs of Alzheimer's and I suspect it is because of them.

But in seriousness, if we have been working on this for almost a year and one of my son's is having trouble remembering what we are doing, maybe I am not speaking to his heart as much as I thought I was.  I know he is a just a little boy, so I don't want to make too big of a deal of his funny complete loss of memory moment, but still it is causing me to reflect.

Maybe next month, they will choose what we do without my guidance. Then, would they feel more personally invested in our mission? Will they hear God's nudge in their heart to choose a place to serve or give?

Or maybe - just maybe, my middle son is not totally off in his forgetfulness.  Maybe he just understands the meaning of this quote better than I do:

I need to think and pray about this.

Regardless, my friend ran her race and I am super proud of her.  She is a Mama-World-Changer for sure.

And my boys...well no matter what they say or do, they just totally have my heart.

Grateful to link to these wonderful blogs and Christian Mommy Blogger.

photography - my sister's family

There is nothing in the world like holding your own newborn,
but holding my sister's comes pretty close.
 (And holding a newborn while NOT having to be the one recovering from a C-Section? 
Pure awesomeness.)