In 2017, I’m hunting the good stuff. I am setting aside the turmoil I see all around me and instead recording snapshots that will tell a story of fun, adventure, joy, and thankfulness. This is the story of my life and I’ll choose the tone and how I want to tell it; I do that daily with my attitude, my outlook, and the lens through which I choose to see life.
Here on my blog, I’m keeping a running camera roll of each month’s highlights and adventures. Has life been perfect? Nope. Have we had our share of hard days and tough moments? You bet. But that’s not what I’m choosing to focus on. I’m taking a day at the end of each month to go back and look at the snapshots of goodness and joy we have been given.
Without further adieu…I present to you July…
For starters, it feels like I just wrote and published the June version of this like five minutes ago. July always flies by in my opinion. Once the Independence Day holiday comes it’s like the rest of the summer just blows right past.
This year was no exception. We have now been here in South Carolina just over a month. We have tried to make the most of each day with a good combination of rest, relaxation, restoration, and recreation. Some days we have had the right balance of all four, others not so much.
We have an 18 hole golf course about a mile from the house. Ryan took the kids to play while I met a friend for coffee.
We also have an archery range about a mile from the house. Ryan took the kids to shoot their bows.
We found a church. Is it a perfect fit? No. Does it check many of our boxes? Yes. It is close to the house allowing for more involvement; it has spectacular programming and discipleship opportunities for the kids; the preaching is Biblical and strong.
We hosted our next door neighbors for dinner while they were awaiting their household goods. I think this was like 48-72 hours after we’d met them and all of the kids were already shooting Nerf darts at the dads’ butts. #militarylife
For the 4th of July, I took the kids to the EdVenture Museum. It was either the fourth or fifth time we’ve been here over the years. It is one of our favorites and never disappoints.
Our house is on a one street culdesac called Custer Loop. In the middle of the Loop is a green space (actually it is brown because it is covered in pine needles) with a gazebo and picnic tables.
Several families came out and did a potluck cookout that day. It was fun getting to know our neighbors better. Each week during the month, the Loop has continued to fill up. Every house is now occupied and almost everyone has received their household goods. There is one mysterious bachelor house, but we all suspect his wife and kids will arrive closer to the start of school. Minus that family, there are 20 kids living in the Loop. It is pretty remarkable and fun for the kids.
We have all loved having a Trader Joe’s here. Mae and Kate enjoy going with me and letting me fill up their junior size carts.
We have tennis courts right across the street from our neighborhood and Ryan and I have taken advantage of honing our tennis skills again. We don’t move as quickly or hit as accurately as we used to. The spirit of competition is still alive and well.
Friday, July 7 was Ryan’s first official day of his course. He mostly had in-processing stuff to do, but as of now, they have kicked it into high gear.
He has homework, papers, reading, and it’s strange to see him as a student again. The last time he was in school, was over a decade ago. He was able to get some of his school work done during his church office hours and if he needed quiet, he could walk back over from the parsonage to his church office in the evenings to work. Now, he’s here at home, stuff sprawled out on the table or desk working away. The kids and I don’t always know what to make of it.
I have gotten my house cleaning routine down to one hour. I do it every Friday. Two of the four Fridays in July we were expecting company, but I’ve kind of permanently earmarked Friday mornings as my cleaning time. There’s nothing better than rolling into the weekend with a clean house.
Our house is considerably smaller than our previous on in Augusta. I figured if I couldn’t deep clean it in under an hour something was wrong. It is one less bedroom, one less bathroom, and one less story (two story there, ranch style here). That has made all the difference. In my ongoing quest for living a meaningful life with less I’ve really seen the truth and beauty of less is more.
Some may think that this printed cleaning routine is over the top. The reason I printed it out is by having it dictated to me, there is absolutely no room for getting distracted and getting side-tracked. There is no room for decision making. I just do the next thing the list tells me. I’m in a season where I don’t want to eat up much of my day or week with cleaning chores and this routine allows me to get the job done in an hour. The kids’ weekly chores also help this to be a quick process; they have responsibilities that enable the Friday morning clean to be pretty painless.
We were so happy to have Ryan’s parents visit us. They came on a Friday afternoon. We ate downtown and enjoyed showing them around a little. We also hung out around the house, let them meet our dog, I cooked a few times, and we just rested. We had fro-yo and they joined us for church on Sunday before taking the kids back to Tennessee for a week.
While the kids were in Tennessee with Ron and Becky, Ryan and I had several dates, watched a lot of television, worked out, and chill-axed…the kids were busy seeing great grandparents, going to the movies, fishing, swimming, and feasting on their nightly treat of homemade ice cream.
There was a convocation for the C4 (Chaplain Captains Career Course) and a follow on luncheon. It was great to see Ryan’s classmates and peers as well as meet many of their spouses and families.
I have long been a fan of the grocery store and its offerings of flowers. Almost every week in Georgia, I’d pick up some beauties at Kroger. Now, having a Trader Joes I have seen what all the fuss is about. This is about $10 worth of flowers here. Gorgeous.
After being in Tennessee for the week, my in-laws made the switch with my parents and my folks drove the kids back to Columbia the following Friday. Again, we hung out around the house, rested, ate out downtown, showed them around, let them love on Hank and took them to our church.
It was a great time. I think both my parents and Ryan’s just need to see where we live and make sure that we are all set and doing okay in our new environment. They all made remarks along those lines. I guess even though we are grown, we will always be their kids. I guess we will be the same way with Thomas, Mae, and Kate.
After my parents left, a few days later, I made a last minute decision to take the kids to see the Biltmore Estate. I won’t get into all of it here but it was a good and bad trip.
Good: fun day with my kids, saw an interesting historical building, made it home without freaking out.
Bad: way too hot, wayyyyyyy too crowded, we were wayyyyy too over trying to take an excursion being pretty spent from a long, busy month already…like the wise philosopher Kenneth Ray Rogers said, “You’ve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em; know when to walk away, know when to run…”
Our Biltmore trip was definitely one of those days when we realized we had miscalculated our energy levels and patience for excessive heat and crowds. We only stayed about 90 minutes before turning the car around and making a beeline back to Columbia. #wisdom
One of the many wonderful experiences of having a dog is all of the activity and exercise he needs means that the humans of the family also benefit from activity and exercise.
Most mornings one of the kids will take Hank on a few laps around the Loop. By mid-morning, I will take him out for a longer walk out of the neighborhood. Then again, usually in the evenings, I’ll take him for a second walk. He’s kind of become the mascot of the neighborhood.
We are aiming to make every Friday night (or at least one of the nights of the weekend), a family date night. We are doing our civic duty to eat at as many local Columbia restaurants as possible. We did fall off the wagon this past week and ate at Five Guys. Sometimes you just want a good burger.
While we have personally known since June, we were finally able to let the cat out of the bag with our next assignment. We got RFO (official Army-speak: Request for Orders) which means it’s a done deal. We knew Fort Polk, Louisiana was on the short list along with Alaska and Germany. Most military folks covet those OCONUS slots but I for one was relieved to find out we’d be staying relatively close to our families. #thankyouJesus
The kids all successfully finished the MWR (on post) summer reading program. The librarians graciously allowed them to count their minutes reading retro-actively which meant they each qualified for the grand prize in their age group. None of my three won the drawing but they all walked away with lots of other library swag.
Thomas has already been attending the middle school ministry and even had an outing with them a few Sundays ago at the lake. Mae had her “move up” orientation last week and I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that I now have TWO middle school kids. I’m too young. Time has gone too quickly. They are too little.
The girls and I did our back to school shopping. Yes, even homeschoolers have back to school shopping. They each picked a color scheme we we built a small capsule wardrobe to get them through the last weeks of summer through probably mid-October.
I’m preparing myself for very limited shopping opportunities in Louisiana and have simultaneously been following this craze. I’m still holding strong on dressing my girls (now with more of their own input than ever) in age-appropriate, modest clothes. Mae and Kate are now outfitted for the end of summer and fall. W-W-W for the win.
And in no particular chronological order, here are a few other things that have been part of our July. I couldn’t help myself, so I started our dog Hank his own Instagram account. You can follow him @santees_hammerin_hank I didn’t want to overdo it on my personal account, so I overdo it there. Now you can read all about Hank’s adventures told from his first-person point of view. #dogmom
Another theme for July would be hours spent at the Palmetto Falls waterpark on Fort Jackson. We bought the summer membership when we arrived in June and we have more than gotten our money’s worth so far.
We have probably been a dozen times already. We’ve met friends there about half the time and the other half we just go and float and slide. It still amazes me the dynamic involved with the convenience of living on the post. When it only takes two minutes to get places you find a lot of extra pockets of time in your day. Same goes for Ryan going to and from class; he’s home for his lunch hour everyday and it is glorious!
We have had Amazon Prime for four or five years now, but I finally bit the bullet and filled a Pantry box. I literally inventoried all of our household items, and ordered at least a few months’ supply of things like paper towels, toilet paper, laundry and dishwasher pods, Lysol wipes, mens’ deodorant, Ryan’s tea, and trash bags. It all came at once and hopefully I won’t have to think about all of that stuff until we move. (Less decisions = less mental clutter!)
As much as we have had company, gone swimming, and been out of the house, July feels just as much like it has been a lot of at home time too.
The kids have played with the neighbors a ton; we have watched a lot of DVDs from the library; we’ve played lots of card and board games (don’t you just love my GIANT deck of cards?); and almost every night after a day of hellish, blazing hot temperatures…we enjoy a night of soaking flash floods.
It’s kind of nice: it signals to all of the kids it is time to come indoors for the evening, get showers and pjs, and settle in for our nighttime television shows. We’ve been watching King of the Hill, The Profit, and all of the shows about peculiar Alaskans that Ryan DVRs.
We squeezed in one last #fortjacksonfridaynights (on a Thursday). We tried Tijuana Flats but didn’t love it.
We rounded out the month with the 242nd Chaplain Corps Anniversary Ball. It was a great ball, a really fun night with friends, and my favorite part was that Ryan spun me around the dance floor a few times. 🙂
And the kids and I made a last minute decision to drive down to Fort Myers for the annual Roberson trip. And by last minute, I mean we decided like two days before.
So far, so good!
Can you believe we only have four months left in Columbia? Me either.