Sunday, July 31, 2016

12:34 July 31

I have a lot of memories at the Louisville Zoo. We went today with my mom and had a great time. I always think of my dad a lot when we're there, and today I tried to experience those bittersweet memories as a way of him being there with us. I'm thankful for the zoo, and my family, and for the gift of memory that binds together the different timelines of our lives.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

12:34 July 30

Lovely evening: boys throwing the football while I walk a few laps. (Lala stayed home w/Grandma.)

We arrived in Louisville last night. Today I am enjoying all the things I love about being here: sleeping in, having waffles for breakfast, chatting with my mother-in-law over coffee, running pretty routes with Matt and planning a date night for later. I'm thankful for the promise in the week ahead: relaxing family time.

Mowing w/Dad!

Friday, July 29, 2016

12:34 July 29

Today at 12:34, I was driving through the mountains, listening to a David Bazan song, traveling with my family to visit my mom. I'm thankful for our family tradition of road trips (even with the sting of our car trouble in Louisiana).

Thursday, July 28, 2016

12:34 July 28

Today I'm grateful for my garden. It's yielding lots of yummy tomatoes and basil.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

12:34 July 27

We're enjoying a low-key day after an awesome trip to the zoo yesterday. I got to run under cloudy skies this morning, which made July running much more pleasant. I need to start working on work again soon, but I'm thankful for free-form days like today while I have them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

12:34 July 26

Very proud of my crew. We were careful in the heat--took breaks, drank lots of water--but they still trekked about 6 miles...w/only a little complaining.

Back in April, I won the bid on a year-long membership to the NC Zoo at a silent auction fundraiser for the kids' school. I was thrilled to get the membership at a good price, while supporting our PTA. The zoo is an hour-and-a-half drive from us, so planning a trip means we need to block off the whole day. We talked casually with the kids about going to the zoo this summer, and Lauren latched on to the idea very enthusiastically. In fact, nearly every day we were away in Georgia and Louisiana, she would predict, "When we go back home to North Carolina, we're going to the ZOO!"

When we did get home, we needed a week or so to unpack, relax and regroup. Nearly every morning, Lauren would suggest, "Today would be a great day to go to the zoo!" This week rolled around and we thought it would be a great time to take a day trip, but the heat got really bad. We decided to brave it anyway, remembering that the zoo had lots of natural shade and plenty of indoor exhibits. We headed out this morning with about 2 gallons of water and a cooler full of food for a picnic lunch. It had been a couple years since we'd been, so Matt and I even took the time to map out our route through the exhibits, so that we could hopefully see everything but also not double-back and increase our walking distance.

It all went really well. We are now at a point in our family life that we can pack pretty lightly: no stroller and just one backpack with our water. I haven't been to a lot of zoos, but the NC Zoo is probably my favorite. It's really nice: great shaded walking trails and really pretty exhibits. We saw nearly everything, covered about six miles in the process, and even got away with not spending a dime because our membership got us in free and we ate sandwiches back at our van for lunch. The kids really only complained a little, and were characteristically delighted and delightful, enjoying all the animals.

I'm grateful for very special day with my family.

Monday, July 25, 2016

12:34 July 25

I'm thankful for a house with air conditioning and clean water.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

12:34 July 24

I got to FaceTime with my parents this afternoon. I hadn't talked to them in a couple weeks since spending a week with them in Louisiana. They returned just yesterday from a four-day trip to the Bahamas. Their trip was gift from their church, celebrating Dad's ten-year anniversary serving on the church staff. We had fun talking about their trip and what we had been up to here at home in NC. I'm thankful for the opportunity to chat with my parents and the technology that also allows their grand-kids to see them while we chat.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

12:34 July 23

I'm thankful for pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit, coffee, and friends to share them with.

Friday, July 22, 2016

12:34 July 22

We've been home from our trip for a week now. I've gone for a walk or run every morning since our return. This is in stark contrast to our three weeks away, during which I ran maybe four times? I'm thankful for the opportunity and ability to exercise.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

12:34 July 21

At 12:34 today, I was playing the second of two challenging disc golf courses--one with a cemetery on it, even--with my neighbor. I've been playing on and off for 25 years, and am thankful to have a friend again who likes to play.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

12:34 July 20

Sometimes I think we watch too much TV, especially in the summer. But honestly, it's mostly sports. My boys, who have never played tennis, are out here yelling "Ace!" and "Break point!" And loving it. Thanks, Wimbledon.

After being away for a few weeks, it almost feels like we're vacationing at home. It's so nice to be back in my own kitchen, own bed, own neighborhood. We're back to our usual routines of playing outside after dinner. The boys have been playing a lot of driveway tennis, which they more or less taught themselves after watching Wimbledon on TV and with some guidance from Matt. I'm grateful for my home and for my kids' love of sports.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

12:34 July 19

I'm thankful for my kids' chatter at the dining room table at lunchtime. Today's topics: lemurs, beetles, the geographic history of Africa and Madagascar (and the ensuing development of monkeys on one and lemurs the other), how to pronounce grapes & apples, and the steepest street in the world.

Monday, July 18, 2016

12:34 July 18

The kids and I, along with our five-year-old neighbor Elliot, spent the morning and lunch at the pool. Now the kids are playing with their friends this afternoon. I'm just really enjoying being back at home, enjoying these very ordinary, relaxed summer days.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

12:34 July 17

I'm thankful for our family meal traditions: Saturday pancakes, Sunday quickbread or muffins, and pizza night with Phineas & Ferb.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

12:34 July 16

Ev's Tooth Fairy savings account.

This morning when Evan woke up we asked what the Tooth Fairy had given him, because he had put FOUR teeth under his pillow. His reason for keeping the teeth, some dating back to early May, was varied. At first, he was sentimental: "But I love that tooth. It's the only one of those teeth I've ever had." Later, as they accumulated, he mused, "Maybe I'll just save all the teeth I lose from now on, and then I'll get a lot of money at once. It'll be like my birthday!" But last night, when his fourth top tooth was added to this bag, he declared he was ready. He worried that the Tooth Fairy wouldn't accept them all at once: "Maybe if she doesn't take them, we will separate them tomorrow night."

Well this morning, he said he hadn't checked under his pillow because he wanted the whole family to watch him do it. When he discovered the five-dollar bill, he was surprised because the usual reward is a dollar per tooth. We suggested that maybe the Tooth Fairy was so impressed with four teeth at once that she gave him a bonus. He wondered, "Maybe she miscounted in the dark . . . because there were so many teeth?"

I'm grateful for my sweet, hilarious middle child and everyday moments like these that make for fun family memories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

12:34 July 15

At 12:34 today, I had soaked a shirt with sweat from cleaning the gutters, trimming trees, chopping up a limb that had fallen over the fence, and removing a wild blackberry patch from the back yard. I am thankful to be able to work in my yard, and thankful for our home.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

12:34 July 14

I'm thankful that, a full week later than planned, we are home. Our neighbors, who checked our garden, collected our mail and even mowed our lawn without our having to ask, invited us over for a simple, impromptu hot dog cook-out tonight. It was the perfect way to be welcomed home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

12:34 July 13

I'm thankful for safe travel through storms, family to welcome us, and kids who crack us up (and sometimes aggravate us) in the car.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

12:34 July 12

Cool sky + Pokemon hunting with Uncle Al. 😘

For those of you wondering about our location, we are still in Louisiana. I am struggling with some impatience and feelings of frustration that we are totally at the mercy of a Honda dealership in Alexandria, that appears to not have any sense of urgency regarding our van's repair.

Our extended stay has afforded us some extra time with my brother Al and sister-in-law Melinda. We only get to see them about once a year, when we are able to make it to Lake Charles. Uncle Al has been stopping by to have lunch with us on his midday break and sharing most dinners with us. Melinda has treated the kids to a movie on Saturday and painted Lauren's nails. Al has been taking the kids on walks around the block to find Pokémons. We love spending time with them and I'm thankful for the memories we're making on this particular visit.

Monday, July 11, 2016

12:34 July 11

I've been stressed about our car trouble and by feeling like an imposition on family while waiting very slowly for the repair process to happen. However, I'm thankful that our trouble isn't medical and that Louise and Bethany have been so generous as hosts.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

12:34 July 10

I'm thankful for my aunts who are graciously hosting us for an unexpected, extended stay while we wait on our van repair. I know they love having us a few extra days, but it's no small thing to host a family of five for more than a week altogether at this point. I appreciate their patience playing with the kids and letting Lauren "take care" of their three dogs. I appreciate their generosity in feeding us and sharing their space.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

12:34 July 9

I'm thankful for health that allows me to exercise and be fairly active.

Friday, July 08, 2016

12:34 July 8

Ev goin' oppo at dusk.

I'm really thankful for my parents. This is our last day with them for a while, so we're trying to make the most of it. They're generous and fun--a great, supportive combo for Matt and me as we parent our kiddos. As you can see above, Mimi and Granpa are always up to for a game, even Mimi who is recovering from an ACL injury she suffered while playing with the kids back in April. I'm also grateful she's obviously healing well.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

12:34 July 6

This morning we left Toledo Bend. I can see a sadness in my kids' eyes. They've had an awesome week swimming and playing with their second cousins. It is hard to say good-bye and go our separate ways: some staying in Louisiana, most going to Texas and my cousin Stephanie and her family, all the way home to Chicago!

We Smiths were planning to start our two-day drive home to NC today but our van broke down on our trip between Lake Charles and Toledo Bend. It won't be ready for a few days, so we're headed back to Lake Charles with my parents to stay with my aunts again. I've struggled with feeling disappointed and stressed out this week because of the car. But I am indeed grateful to be stranded with our family. I'm especially grateful to my parents, sister and aunts, who've pitched in to help us with transportation, child care and expenses this week.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

12:34 July 5

I'm thankful to have so many people who care about and love me and my family.

Monday, July 04, 2016

12:34 July 4

I've probably spent half of the Fourths of July in my life right here at Toledo Bend. My family's been coming here since 1990. On a day like today, I'm grateful for bigger picture things like that I was born in and get to raise my own family in this particular country. In a smaller scale, I'm thankful for my extended family and that we get to share this specific spot together almost every year.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

12:34 July 3

Tobin & Evan got to play on the same kickball team tonight at Toledo Bend. They almost never get to team up. I'm thankful for sons who cheer for and celebrate each other.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

12:34 July 2

I'm grateful for the relatively mild weather we've experienced here in Louisiana. Sure, there are points in the day, usually the evening, when the heat and humidity combine to feel oppressive. But I've enjoyed long stretches of the day in the lake and sitting beside it, when the weather feels pretty pleasant.

Friday, July 01, 2016

12:34 July 1

Today, Allison and I have been married 16 years. I'm thankful for our friendship, marriage, and partnership. I've had my greatest joys and sadnesses with her, and could wish for no one better to have lived them with.