summer nights lately

Once evening comes, and it’s much more bearable outside, the girls spend the time drawing with chalk in the backyard. Ben is nearby tending to his garden, which has never ending projects, and usually I’m inside finishing up whatever things I didn’t get to finish that day (and I have never ending projects inside). The wonderful thing about Southern California summers is that once it hits about 6-ish, the temps cool down dramatically. We love being able to be outside in the evenings. I can’t wait to start having summer dinners in the cul-de-sac with our neighbors. It was one of my favorite things about last summer, so we must start it again soon.

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the big two

For the past 3 summers, our big two, True and Brave, leave us and spend over a month in Texas with their grandma (Ben’s mom). The first year, they spent 5 weeks in San Antonio. Last year, they were gone 6 and a half weeks, and this year, they will be gone for 5 weeks. Someone asked on IG how I deal/prepare for the big two leaving for 5 weeks during the summer, so I’m happy to share.

The idea first came about from Ben’s mom, and I thought, “Why not?!” The girls had just finished their first year of Spanish lessons with her via facetime, and being in Texas would allow more opportunities to enrich their knowledge of Spanish. I was definitely more on board about it than Ben was, but I’m also the one with the girls all day every day, so I think they could use a break from me (lol). Also, with Ben’s mom being so far, they don’t get to see her often, so this time with her is very special and she meticulously plans out their visit. The first year, she did sewing with them, taught them calligraphy, embroidery, and did lots of local kid activities. On top of all that, they did Spanish lessons almost daily too.

Last year, she slowed things down a bit, so they wouldn’t always be on the go. For this year, last week they were deciding on a summer project. I haven’t really spoken much with them since they left, so I don’t even know what they chose. And still, they start off every day with Spanish lessons. They’ve been doing Spanish lessons for 3 years now, and True and Brave amaze me with how much they read and write Spanish, but they have trouble with the conversation part since we don’t speak it at home. Ben’s been trying to catch up to them, so hopefully, one day they’ll have the speaking part down too.

Every year has differed on how they get to Texas. The first year, Ben and I flew to drop them off, then we road tripped back. Last year, my mom dropped them off and they got to spend a weekend with both of their grandmas together (our moms are friends). This year, Ben’s mom and sister spent time with us in California, then flew back to Texas with them. All we sent True and Brave off with were backpacks because they have clothes there from last year’s visit. They each brought one dress, a few pairs of socks and underwear, sandals (and they wore a tee and jeans with sneakers), and one pair of pajamas. His mom is a thrifter, so if they end up needing something, they all happily make a trip to the thrift store.

We have plenty of rules and expectations for them when they go. They aren’t going for vacation to sit around and do nothing. They are expected to do their own dishes and help around the house. No doubt they will have fun, but they are also there to bless their Grandmama. Also, we have many conversations about safety and try to cover different types of scenarios we can think of.

The send off is tough, they cry, and I try to hold it in, so they won’t cry more. Soul and Glow are sad for the first few days, especially at night. Ben and I are comforted by the fact when they look back, they will be so happy they had this special time with his mom. It’s hard being long distance grandkids; they miss her a lot. When it is time to say farewell, they always cry for hours after they leave. As far as the little two, we try to be especially intentional with our time with them. Last year, we did special letter days, and I have plans to do similar ones this year. Also, we take them on a weekend adventure and we call it “two kid weekend.” Ben’s mom was ready for Soul to join the big girls in Texas this year, but she didn’t want to go because she didn’t want to miss “two kid weekend.” We would like her to eventually join her big sisters, so she can have plenty of memories with his mom too.

We miss them a lot while they’re gone, but I love that they get this time with their Grandmama, and they get to know more of Ben’s family. It’s important to us that they learn about their roots, heritage, and family on both sides.

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life last week

Last week has been special because Ben’s mom and sister were in town (they haven’t been here in a few years), so we were relishing our time together. There was a lot of special grandmama time with the girls, and a lot of sister bonding time between Ben’s sister and me. We saw them in Texas this past Christmas, but it’s been awhile since they’ve been on our turf, so we are having fun hosting and cooking them some of our favorite foods. If you know us, well, more the girls and me (not Ben), the first thing on the agenda was take them to our favorite ice cream place, A la Minute. His mom and sister agreed that their ice cream is pretty terrific and the best they both ever had. There wasn’t much on our agenda during their stay except spend quality time together. We did have plans to go to the Lavender Festival, but Ben’s mom and sister got sick the last two days, so we had to scrap that idea. Thankfully, the festival will be going on next weekend, so Ben and I are hoping we can still take the two little ones. It was a fast 5 days with them and we look forward to seeing them again in July when they come back to drop off the big girls.

 

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plant hunting

These are just a few pictures from one of our plant hunting adventures a couple weeks ago. Once can never have too many plants!

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real life messes

Don’t look at the previous post and think my whole house is that neat because it certainly isn’t. Here is the proof. This is pretty much what the girls’ rooms look like most of the time. Currently, our guest room is in a state of disarray as it has been a catch all for furniture pieces I need to list on craigslist. I’m itching for the summer, so that I can start our big purge. I need to go through clothes that don’t fit and toys that don’t get played with. We also need to build a bookshelf somewhere because we have tons of books that need a place. With homeschooling and having girls that love to read, our book collection keeps growing, and we have no proper shelves to house them.

Soul and Glow are excited to deep clean their room because they want it to look like “Airbnb.” Soul has also requested to have a white duvet (it’s currently light pink) and I need to figure out how to decorate the rest of their room. True has the hardest time letting things go because she is super sentimental, which is probably more like Ben since he still has orange juice containers that I gave him when we were dating. I need to make sure he gets rid of some of that stuff this summer too. Also, I have two rooms downstairs that I never finished painting, so I’m going to attempt to get that done soon. Summer hasn’t even started and my to-do list is pretty long.

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firstborn turns 11

Today is True’s birthday and I can’t believe she is 11 years old! I want to share 11 ways to she is a blessing to our family:
1. She rallies the sisters to get things done.
2. Most of the time, she puts away all the dishes without being told.
3. She will call me out when I’m doing something wrong, which is a lot.
4. She’s quick to forgive.
5. Every morning and right before bed, she consistently will come to us to give us a hug.
6. Her enthusiasm in making things for the family.
7. She is the best kidtographer around (she takes a lot of my photos)!
8. Her helpfulness in putting away groceries without me asking.
9. Her love for being a kid. No tweenager yet. Thankfully.
10. Sometimes, she surprises us and makes our bed.
11. Her eagerness to serve our church family by helping take care of the babies.

Happy Birthday True! We love you so much!

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