We began July finishing up the last of our swim classes we started in June. The kids really did fantastic this year and by the last class, not a single child wasn't swimming. Go MOPPETS! (Our loving term for the children of ours MOPS group.)
A few of our swim class participants. Some of them had already gone home by the time we took this pic.Fourth of July I finally let the kids bust out the windows markers. I figure it's okay to be festive on a holiday...any holiday.These markers can be a staining mess, hence my reason for not letting them play with them everyday!We also spent the evening of Independence Day on the river, eating, swimming, and watching fireworks.Grammy was short two grandchildren as they were spending the holiday with their father in Mexico, so she joined us on the boat. We always love having Grammy around, even if Maddox and Lucy aren't there!I know, it looks like Michael is drowning here. It's the only picture we got of our family together that evening! I promise, he's a good swimmer and alive and well.Isn't the Tennessee River beautiful in the early summer evenings? It's definitely best viewed from a boat!Pretty little girl. If her hair gets any blonder this summer, she's going to be "clear"! Too many days spent in the sun!Isn't this the sweetest picture ever? This boy simply adores his father. Never mind that mommy is the one caring for him on a daily basis, he thinks daddy hung the moon! Look! It's actually a picture of ME with my kids! That happens so rarely, I get really excited!Grammy and Sterling waving to the coast guard helicopter passing overhead before the fireworks start.The kids LOVED the fireworks this year. And that's a very good thing since we saw them 3 times during the month of July! Watching the show from the boat, on the river is truly the best view. So, the kids know that daddy works at Redstone, and they've seen the NASA displays there, so when you ask them what daddy does at work, they'll tell you he works on the rocket ship. They truly think daddy is an amazing person, and he's always fixing things around the house (very handy!), so they just surmised he was a rocket mechanic! Needless to say, explaining daddy's real job might seem a bit mundane and tedious to 4-year-olds, so we've entertained this rocket ship business. On our way to Atlanta we stopped to see daddy at work. They now believe daddy is fixing this rocket ship, the Saturn I.Ask Sterling how big daddy's rocket ship is...this big!We made it to Atlanta for Sterling's EEG. Don't even get me started on how not fun a sleep deprived EEG is to prep for, but Sterling is a champ, a real pro, and was an absolutely perfect patient! Seriously, not one tear, not a single fuss, whine or complain the entire time they were connecting all 26 leads. He was sweet, even giggly the whole time! I can't tell you how different it is at 4 than it was the first time he had an EEG at 2-years-old! So, he got all hooked up and almost immediately fell asleep. Perfect! Then the anxious waiting game began. Over a week later we received a phone call from his neurologist's office...NORMAL! That's right, so spikes, no slowing, just a typical awake and asleep EEG. I actually started crying when I hung up the phone. Sterling has never had a normal EEG since this whole nightmare started. Even his first EEG, on his 3rd day of seizing he had a spike. So, now we just continue to move forward. I think it's safe to say just looking at the boy, you know he's getting better. To say I thank God every day for this miracle is an understatement.Okay really, look at this boy. The picture of health! And a fish to boot!
On our very quick trip to Atlanta, we got to spend time in Grandmere's neighborhood pool and enjoy their 4th of July celebration (I guess it rained there on the actual 4th).The kids had fun watching another fireworks display with mom's young neighbor, Gabe.We had to quickly turn around and leave to come back to Florence in time for the kick off of our MOPS Fun Camp. Every July our Mother of Preschoolers organization puts on a day camp for kids ages birth through kindergarten and their mothers. This is our second year being here to participate, and we LOVE it and have put a lot of time and hard work into pulling it off! It's so much fun and a great free activity to enjoy every Friday in July.We enjoyed singing...And playing at the sensory stations with lots of gooey, squishy, wet, and dirty things...Okay, just a random cute picture of Ella thrown in at her request.Wow! Look at Michael's garden! We are being over run with it's abundance. Seriously, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, you name it and we're mass producing it! The kids love helping pick the garden and have found what a treat a cherry tomato can be!On July 19, Michael and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. Really? Where has the time gone? I love thinking back over our past anniversaries and can actually name where we were and what we did for each anniversary. Talk about a crazy memory, huh? Happy Anniversary, Michael. Eight years, 4 moves, 2 kids, we're a mathematical sequence!The kiddos helping me in the kitchen. They love to help me cook!Another Friday and more Fun Camp pics...Think Ella found something funny in music time?Look at Mr. Inquisitive...I think every kid's favorite station has to be the sensory play station. Yuck!They also love all the little crafts they do each week.Seriously, we love spending long hours out on the water, and we enjoy it even more when friends join us on the river! Lucy and Ella have really become true buddies in the last 3 or 4 months. For the longest time Ella really viewed Lu, who is 15 months younger, as a "baby" and very much so "big sistered" her. There has recently been a changing in the tide and Ella has finally begun to view Lu as her equal and as a good friend. They're the cutest girls ever together and spend hours playing princesses together, whispering and generally ignoring the boys (much to their dismay). The begining of life long girlfriends!That's a smooth operator.Beautiful girls.How many boys does it take to drive the boat? Looks like one big one and two little ones!And as much as Lucy and Ella adore each other, these boys are the best of buddies and Trouble with a capital "T" when they're together. Okay, well, they're still trouble when they're not togther, but two 4-year-old boys seem to instinctively know how to find mischief! Regardless, I'm so thankful Sterling has a buddy in Maddox.Why is it impossible to get a picture of 4 kids all smiling and looking in the same direction all at once? I give up!We had a large birthday celebration while Amy and Ashley were in town visiting. We got to celebrate Amy's big 4-0 (I hope she doesn't murder me for putting that on here), and Mom's 90th! Wow! Two very special ladies deserved a very special celebration!We had bubbles galore...And of course, a birthday cookie cake blown out by the very sweet Mom. This is the one and only, dearest, sweetest Mom. I know, confusing name. She occasionally goes by Ivanell, but to her family, she is simply "Mom". She is the tiny matriach of the family that has made us one of their own, so we were honored to be with her to celebrate her 90th!A pinata and a pink wig. I still don't think I understand the wig, but it was certainly festive!Such darling little friends.Even sweet 90-year-old Mom took a swing at the pinata. I only hope I am in such health and such spirits when I'm 90-years-old! She is an inspiration to all!The kids all loved the candy and surprises that flowed forth from the broken pinata!We have been so blessed to have been adopted by such a wonderful and loving family. The Army has moved us all around the world, but we found something special on our first assignment to Florence. Part of what made us fall in love with this little town was it's caring and kind people, including this family. In this family we have found honorary grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins and so much more. They have taken our little family of four under their wings and made us part of something greater. We can't say thank you enough for the love we've been offered by Ivanell, Linda, Amy, Becky, Ashley, and even little Maddox and Lucy. Thank you for your love, your friendship, your guidance, endless meals, long conversations, so much laughter, support, occasionally traveling to far away lands with us, and most of all, for giving us a place to call home. We love you all so much!