Remembering Summer

As a kid, I remember how magical summer was. There was an indescribable feeling that day school ended: the world seemed limitless and there was so much joy in what waited in those two and  a half months ahead of me. Summer days were thrilling- even if I wasn’t doing anything particularly exciting. Swimming in the pool, chasing the ice cream man down with my best friend, walking to get ice cream after dinner with my parents. There was a simple freedom, an everyday excitement. Even as a high schooler or college student, when work filled some of the time, that magical feeling was still there. The late night movie watching, the day-long beach excursions, ending with bonfires late into the night. Calling friends every day to see what their plans were. That freedom, that feeling- it was still there.

 

Then, the first summer after I graduated college, it changed. A few weeks into June, I realized that I didn’t feel it. The magic of summer was gone. Nothing changed in my life when mid-June rolled around- in fact, as a wedding planner, summer was my craziest season of the year. Sure we snuck a few beach days in there, but the magic of summer had been replaced with normalcy. That excitement constantly in the air changed to stress. I longed for the summers of my youth- carefree days and the break from routine and responsibility. I mourned that I would never again feel the joy and magic of June, July and August.

 

I was wrong. Little did I know, it comes back. The magic and joy returned through my kids. Not when they were little- summer activities were fun, but I still didn’t feel it. It wasn’t until my oldest started school. A couple weeks before school ended, I started to feel the itch for summer break- not just in Isaiah, but in me also. When the last day of school finally came, it took me by surprise: the magic of the beginning of summer had returned. I saw it on my son’s face and felt it in my heart.

 

I was committed to keeping the joy alive throughout all of his break. The main way I did this was through our summer fun list. Some people told me that I was crazy having such a big list of things to do for our summer. I’ll admit, looking at that poster of 50 things we dreamed of doing was a little overwhelming at times, but I am so incredibly glad we did it. It kept me committed to making memories, to filling our days with adventure instead of sitting around lazily (although we did have some days like that, which was necessary and wonderful).

 

Honestly, it was one of the hardest summers we have ever had. Between my miscarriage and my husband’s extremely full workload, it would have been easy and okay to cut myself a lot of slack and give up the list. To take it easy all summer long. But the joy in Isaiah’s eyes every time he read the list or got to cross an activity off kept me going. It kept me encouraged, it kept me present with my kids and it kept our days fun.

 

In the middle of the summer, we took a trip to a lake in Northern California with a group of high school kids from Santa Cruz. It is the second year my husband was hired to lead worship for their retreat and the youth pastor, being wonderful, invited our family to come along both years. It was just over a week after I had my miscarriage and was at the worst possible time for my husband’s work, but we had committed to going, so off we went. It was such a sweet time for our family to rest and connect and to also hang out with a bunch of kids in God’s creation, worshiping Him together and having fun on the water.

 

One day, we were out on a boat and Isaiah was on a tube with a few of the other kids. He was brave and nervously excited. As the boat took off, the thrill on his face burst my heart. Seeing his joy as he bobbed along, clinging to the handles for dear life, reaffirmed for me why the summer fun list was worth it. Some of my dearest summer childhood memories were of our lake trips- riding jet skis, tubing, feeling the wind in my hair while speeding along in a boat. As I watched Isaiah take in every second of that tubing ride, I knew that he would remember that trip and that moment for the rest of his life. I saw him experiencing the same thrill I treasured from my youth and it filled me with gratitude. After about 10 minutes, one of the high schoolers jumped off so that I could ride with Isaiah. As I sat next to him, I could hear his happy screams, I could fully take in his huge smiles and I could treasure the looks he gave me. Looks that said, “I’m so glad we are doing this mom and I love that you are here doing this with me”.

 

We weren’t just having fun this summer, we were making memories. I think that is one of the most important things about parenthood. Yes, we are nourishing, protecting and teaching our kids, but we are also giving them opportunities to make memories that they will carry for the rest of their lives. That is a big deal to me and I want to  continue challenging myself to provide those opportunities to my kids. It doesn’t have to be big trips or exhausting days at amusement parks. Those are awesome and definitely big memories for kids, but I think the things that we enjoyed the most this summer were the little activities: having a book reading marathon one day (cuddling on the couch reading 25 library books at once), having a picnic dinner and then going swimming at night, having an outdoor movie night with our best friends, mini golfing, making cookies and delivering them to our neighbors, and walking to get ice cream after dinner, just like I did with my parents.

 

Will I always do a summer list of 50 activities? Probably not. But I always want to do all I can to capture the magic of summer for my kids and to be present with them, making memories that will hopefully, one day, impact how they parent their children.

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That being said, I was ready for school to start again and I am anxious for it to finally cool down and feel like fall. But before I break out the pumpkin scented candles, I want to recap our summer fun list briefly through pictures so that I can have a record of our 2013 summer activities. There are a couple I did not get pictures for, which I’m trying to not be too bummed out about :)

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Here we go:

 

1: water gun fight

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2: walk to get ice cream

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3: go to yosemite

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4: swim lessons

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5: join the summer reading club at the library

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6: book reading marathon

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7: go to the beach

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8: board game day

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9: have a picnic (we turned this into a dinner picnic by the pool followed by an evening swim)

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10: outdoor movie night

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11: get snowcones

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12: go to the fair (we ended up going to both the San Diego fair & the Orange County fair)

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13: play with water balloons

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14: make smores

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15: go to the zoo

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16: go to a Padres game

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17: vacation bible school

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18: make cookies for our neighbors

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19: go to the lego exhibit at the discovery science center with Aunt Lois

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20: get an ice cream from the ice cream man

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21: go to a museum

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22: make a star wars craft (out of a book we checked out from the library)

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23: go to a kids workshop at home depot- we ended up not doing this one because we couldn’t go on any of the days that they were held. Instead, we surprised the kids with their first trip to Legoland, thanks to generous friends who let us use their guest passes :)

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24: have a treasure hunt

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25: make homemade pizza

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26: go to a movie

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27: go camping

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28: watch fireworks

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29: play tag (my 5 year-old insisted this one should be on the list)

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30: go on a hike

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31: go to the lake

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32: science experiment day

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33: play mini golf

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34: have a sleepover with a friend

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35: make homemade ice cream

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36: craft day

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37: go to the pool (ours & grandma’s in Orange County)

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38: go to Ruby’s on the pier and get a milkshake

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39: do sidewalk chalk

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40: play baseball with friends

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41: make juice popsicles

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42: make a fort

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43: run in the sprinklers

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44: ride on a boat

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45: go bowling

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46: go to sea world

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47: make & play glow in the dark bowling

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48: make rocket straws

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49: go to the splash park

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50: ride the train at Old Poway Park

InstaFriday!

This week has been full of celebration and then potty training. I know you are all jealous of the second part :)  I did not share that many photos on instagram this week, but I am still posting them here & linking up with Life Rearranged for instafriday.

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On Monday, we celebrated our 8th anniversary. It was such a wonderful day! We went paddleboarding on the bay, played some bocce at the new Stone Brewery Restaurant in Point Loma and had lunch at my favorite sandwich spot, Con Pane.

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Later that night, we got all dressed up and had dinner downtown at Seersucker, thanks to some generous folks in our family. It was absolutely delicious! We had such a great time celebrating our marriage and all that God has done.


 

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I pulled out my wedding shoes for the first time in years and wore them to dinner, which was really fun:

 

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The next day, we got to celebrate some more: it was my hubby’s birthday! Yes, we got married the day before his birthday, so we get a double celebration every year. I love this guy so much and feel more and more blessed to be his wife as the years go by.

 

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We got a birthday date in, browsing record shops in Hillcrest and having lunch at Urge. Later that night my husband cooked an amazing dinner (yes- you read that right. One his birthday he CHOSE to cook dinner for us!) and we celebrated with the boys.

 

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The next day, potty training began and took over my days. Huds has been doing pretty good, but I think it is going to be much more of a challenge than it was with my first. It was a gift from God when I found my favorite ice cream in stock at Vons- earlier than it usually comes in the year. Just what I am going to need tonight after another day of potty fun.

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I announced this on instagram, but I am going to be discontinuing our small mini banner stands. I will still have the bigger size available in my etsy shop and at the Queen Bee Market in November, but we will not make any more of the smaller size stand and banners. If you are interested in any of our small mini banners, let me know. We still have a couple left.

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone! 

 

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13 years ago tomorrow, he asked me to be his girlfriend. 8 years ago, I became his wife.

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photo by Docuvitae

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I have spent all of my adult life with this guy at my side. He is my best friend, the love of my life and the greatest gift God has blessed me with. He encourages me, makes me giggle, keeps me on my toes and teaches me. He is an incredible father and fills our family with music and joy. He loved me when I had no hair. He loved me even when I broke his heart in high school. He loves me on my most ridiculous, emotion-filled days. He loves me when I’m extremely stubborn- even when he knows that I am wrong.

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In our vows, we promised to have fun with each other always. I think that has been one of the most life-giving things to our marriage. We adventure, we explore and we laugh. A lot.

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Daveed, thank you for loving me with such a pure, full, God-centered love. I look forward to decades of having fun with each other. I love you.

InstaFriday!

It’s friday so you know what that means: I am sharing my instagrams from the week and am linking up with Jeannett. It has become a way for me to keep track of my week- I love looking back at snapshots of little and big moments in our daily life. If you’d like to follow along during the week, my instagram name is @courttoney.

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Last weekend, our street had a little block party. We had a BBQ picnic on the grass and than watched Star Wars outside once it got dark. It was so fun! Of course, my boys loved the star wars aspect of it and they also loved played with the kids from our neighborhood. We have been really blessed with where we live. I love our neighbors, we can walk to school and there is space for my boys to play outside, which we didn’t have much of at our previous home. I thank God often for leading us to this place.

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On sunday, a sweet anonymous person left a gift for us on my husband’s desk at church. Whoever you are- thank you so much! We used the cupcake set right away to share treats with our neighbors at the event above and have already used the pancake molds twice this week! I also thank God often for our church and congregation. They are such blessings to our family!

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On labor day, one of our favorite soon-to-be-wed couples came down from Orange County to visit. We had such a great time talking about wedding details, swimming, laughing, reading the wookie sounds book they brought for our boys (apparently it is no secret that our boys love star wars- ha!) and eating my hubby’s delicious smoked ribs. We finished the night off with key lime pie- one of my favorite desserts to make in my favorite dish. Thanks for coming down Brian & Kelsey!

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I finished the 3rd book in The Girl of Fire & Thorns trilogy, which was book #24 of the year- double my goal of reading 12 in 2013! I really enjoyed it and it was a great ending to the series.

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It was a busy work week for me. One of my favorite orders going out was this pretty set of coral & grey wedding banners:

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All of this got shipped out on that same day!

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Isaiah has now been in school for 2 1/2 weeks and it has been great! He loves his teacher & his class and is always excited to go in the morning (how do I get that to last through high school?). Hudson enjoys having time to himself in the mornings, but is always super excited when we go to pick Isaiah up. It is his favorite part of the day!

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This guy is also the best running partner around. He encourages me while I’m running, saying “good job running Mommy!” often. He also says hi to the blue sky, flowers and birds and provides music by singing 75% of the time. It makes running in the morning a bit less terrible. (I still hate running- no matter how much I do that. Will that ever change?)

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Yesterday, my week got pretty crappy when I accidentally rear-ended the car in front of me leaving Isaiah’s school. Isaiah’s window wasn’t going up, so I turned around for a second to see what was going on and, in that one second, the car in front of me stopped suddenly and I bumped into them. We were only going about 5 miles an hour, but it was enough to damage both of our bumpers. I am so thankful that everyone is okay, but it is definitely hard timing for us and put a major damper on my day. I’m trying to keep my attitude up and head into the weekend with thankfulness instead of regret and sadness.

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That being said, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend- with no fender benders! :)

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InstaFriday! .

First full week of school- check. Ready for friday and the holiday weekend- check. Linking up with Jeannett at Life Rearranged for InstaFriday- check.

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We got all but two activities from our summer fun list done before school started. We finished up the remaining two last weekend and it was a great finish to a super super fun summer with my boys.

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On Saturday, we went to the Padres game. Isaiah was SO SO into. Paying attention to every single at bat. Asking questions. Cheering on the players (especially Nick Hundley- his favorite). It was so fun for us to see his love for the game. I have a feeling that we will have many many of these games in our future.

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Hudson, on the other hand, was a blob of wiggles for the first 3 innings and was driving me crazy. Soon after, though, he discovered the group of young women next to us and proceeded to flirt with them for the remaining 6 innings. It was hilarious. He talked to them, danced for them, gave them high 5′s and lots of sly smiles. The two statements he said most during the game were “Go Nick Hundley!” and “Hudson’s turn!”- he continually asked to go down on the field and have a turn at bat. Both happened about 20 times :)

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Right after the terrible first 3 innings, this happened:

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Not a bad spot for #placeshudsonhasatimeout

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Another timeout spot during the week: the library.

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On Sunday, we had our summer fun list surprise grand finale: a trip to Legoland! Our boys LOVED it! A big thank you to our friends Jud & Sara for offering us their guess passes- it was a huge gift to us and our boys have been talking about it daily all week.

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I finished The Book Thief. I really enjoyed it and am excited to see the move when it comes out in the fall. I love books that are set in world war 2. Any suggestions of other great books set in this time period?

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My boys are so blessed to have two amazing grandmas. Nonna (my mother-in-law) came down for a couple of days this week and we had such a great time with her. Their great grandma came down last week as well, so they have been completely spoiled with grandma love :)

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No pictures of this, but we are settling into the routine of school and Isaiah is loving his class. I am loving our morning walks to school and Hudson is loving having me all to himself for a few hours in the morning.

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I also got to hold a newborn baby, have a taco tuesday girls night and even got to get my nails done (for the first time in almost 2 years!). I’d say it was a pretty good week :)

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Have a wonderful labor day weekend everyone!

The 50 dates project: dates #21-30

We are over half way through our year of 50 dates and I am even more excited about it now than I was when my husband gave me this gift for Christmas. It has blessed our marriage than I could have ever imagined. It is the gift of prioritized time together- no matter how crazy our weeks are, we make it happen. A commitment to each other and to our kids- to create the kind of marriage in which they will grow up seeing what a healthy, loving and God-centered marriage looks like. To see us making time for each other so that we can feel refreshed and loved, which makes us better spouses and parents.

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Dates 21-30 were a mix of super fun and just breathing and being together in the midst of a difficult season. You can see dates 1-10 here and dates 11-20 here.

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Date 21: A Chicago date! To get to david’s best friend’s wedding in Michigan, we had to fly into Chicago. We decided to fly in a day early and have a night in the city together. It was SO fun! I love adventuring with Daveed and exploring new cities. Some of my fondest memories from our relationship are from our travels, starting way back when we went on a missions trip to Africa together while we were dating. Having kids and limited funds definitely affects our travel dreams, but we try to fit in little trips where we can. Even though we were only in Chicago for one day and one night, it was a sweet time in a great city that I will remember forever.

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We started off with a visit to the Bean (can you spot us?), then enjoyed a free orchestral concert in Millennium Park (that amphitheater is awesome!), took a long walk to get the best deep dish pizza in town and then took in the night view and fireworks from the top of the Hancock Building. We loved the city and hope to make it back someday for more adventures.

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Date 22: The next morning, we ventured out for a breakfast date before our friends picked us to head out to Michigan. I looked up a restaurant on my phone that multiple people had recommended and told David it was close- right by Millennium Park- only about a 5 block walk. So we took our time waking up (a luxury, as those of you with young kids surely know) and packed up leisurely before heading out on our walk. Something you should know about me: I am not the best at reading maps, which drives Daveed crazy. Usually, he grabs my phone and looks at the map himself, which drives me crazy. Usually I say something along the lines of, “can’t you just trust me to be the navigator?”, which, in this case, the answer was a resounding no. 20 minutes later, we were still walking… with no restaurant in site. Turns out, those 5 blocks were the big city blocks- in between each of those was a handful of other blocks. I didn’t zoom in enough to see that- oops! So, 40 minutes and 2 1/2 miles later, we arrived. 10 minutes before our friends were supposed to pick us up. We ordered in record speed and ate half of our delicious meals before our friends arrived to pick us up. As we finished our meal in the car, we laughed about my terrible navigation skills and I knew that David would always have this day to back him up when explaining why he doesn’t trust my map reading :)

 

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At least we got to see more of the city, right? :)

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Date 23: A hot date to Ryan & Laura’s wedding! What a joy it was to be in Holland, Michigan to see Ryan, daveed’s best friend, getting married to Laura, a wonderful midwestern girl who was the answer to years of our prayers. Daveed was a groomsmen and sang during the ceremony and we had a wonderful time celebrating and dancing the night away. Then there was the great stolen bag/computer/ipad/other valuable stuff debacle the morning after the wedding, but that is a story for another time…

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We have always loved dancing together. Daveed is a ridiculous dancer- someday I’ll share photo or video proof of that- so it is always crazy, entertaining and slightly dangerous to dance with him. We don’t get opportunities to dance very often, so weddings are always extra exciting because of the fact that we get to shake it on the dance floor together.

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Date 24: dinner at Karl Strauss, thanks to a generous gift card. It was a night of deep conversation, sharing our hearts, grappling with matters of cancer & God and reminiscing on the story He’s given us.

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Date 25: We made the meal that we planned during our cookbook home date night (which you can see here). It was an interesting night- I will write about this more another time- one of the many times that expectations have lead to arguments in our marriage. The meal turned out delicious (with the exception of one dish), even though we forgot to cook all of the veggie side dishes we had planned (oops!). The menu:

*tomato scallion shortcakes

*champagne risotto

*balsamic & beer braised short ribs

*peach dumplings with bourbon buttercream sauce (which was one of the best desserts I have ever made!)

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This was also the night that I found out I was pregnant and told Daveed. There was joy and also some interesting conversations… those dang expectations attacking us again.

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Date 26: A week later, I had a miscarriage. It was a really hard week, dealing with loss, hormones and also having it be right smack in the busiest month of work for Daveed ever. In the midst of the emotion, sadness and dr appointments, I needed a break. We needed a break together. So we went to a movie night at Stone Brewery. During the summer, they show free movies in their gardens and it is awesome. We’ve been going ever since we moved down to San Diego- it is one of our favorite summertime activities. The familiarity of it, the easiness and the laughter were just what we needed. We got there early and had dessert, then had a little down time in the gardens before the movie started. It was unhurried and we were able to just relax together. I didn’t feel like talking much and we didn’t need to. We just held hands from our beach chairs, laughing at Ron Burgundy and his San Diego news team (side note: this movie is much funnier now that we are san diegans. side note #2: I’m really excited for the sequel).

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Date 27: The next week, I did want to talk. I wanted to just sit with my hubby and process everything, now that the miscarriage was over. We made a fire in our backyard and sat for hours, opening our hearts to how each other were feeling and taking in the beautiful clear night sky. Again, it was simple, but just what we needed during that tough time.

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Date 28: a night out at Soda & Swine (a fun, hip casual restaurant in north park) and drinks at Polite Provisions (their swanky bar next door). And I may have had a gigantic waffle cone of coconut chocolate soft service ice cream in the middle of the swanky bar :)

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It was the week our church was moving facilities, so it was pretty much the only time I saw Daveed that whole week. I was super glad we could fit it in, so we could connect on what was going on in the midst of that insane time. It was an example of a big thing we have learned through our 50 dates project: when you make the commitment to have a date each week (give or take), you make it happen. In previous years, there is no way that we would have squeezed in a date in a week like this one. David would have stayed at work to get extra stuff done. But we agreed that having a slice of time together was worth him working later on other nights to make up for it. It kept our sanity during that week and this perspective we’ve gained will continue to encourage us to make dates happen no matter what is going on in our lives. It is that important.

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Date 29: A night in Little Italy, reminiscing about our trip. We started with tasty pizza at Napizza, then hunted for authentic gelato (found at Pappalecco) & stopped to browse in multiple little Italian markets along the way. We then ended the night with another slice of pizza for the road. Too much pizza & gelato? It was just like we were back in Italy :)

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The date was completely unplanned. David had planned for us to go to the beach and have a bonfire and picnic dinner, but the second we got off the freeway near the coast, it was overcast and ugly. Not ideal for a sunset dinner. So we hopped back onto the freeway and drove downtown, having no idea what we were doing (which, if you know me, you know that this drove the planner in me a little bit crazy!). I embraced the spontaneity, consulted my list of restaurants that we want to try, picked Napizza and we were off. A reminder to me that letting go and going with the flow sometimes is much better than anything I could have planned.

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Date 30: This day also did not go as I had planned. I will elaborate on this date at a later time as well :) For now, a quick summary: we had a beach day, enjoying laying out with our feet in the sand and our noses in books without having to chase kids around. Then we went kayaking in La Jolla Cove (so so fun!!), grabbed burgers to go for a sunset picnic on the cliffs and then we stopped by Sprinkles cupcakes for dessert. We felt like we were college kids on summer break.

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20 more to go! I cannot wait to see what God continues to do in our marriage through these dates. Truly one of the best gifts I have ever received!

 

InstaFriday!

I looked at my blog yesterday and realized that I haven’t posted much all summer except for InstaFriday posts. While I am a little embarrassed by that, I am glad that the routine of linking up with Life Rearranged once a week has kept me chronicling our moments and adventures this summer.

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This past week was our last half week of Summer and the start of school. We packed a lot of  fun into those last days, fitting in as many of our summer fun list activities as possible.

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We made a fort:

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We rode the train at Old Poway Park:

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We had a science experiment day:

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I will review all of the fun experiments we did when I do my whole summer list recap soon. Isaiah loved it!

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We got one more beach day in with our best buds:

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Daveed took Isaiah mini-golfing for the first time. The kid LOVED it! It may have had something to do with the fact that he somehow got 4 hole-in-ones!

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We spent a morning at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido. The boys loved it! We followed it up with a picnic and some gelato- a perfect last day of summer break!

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The pirate grocer at your service:

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Then it was back to school time for this guy:

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He is loving it! He has the same teacher for Kindergarten that he had last year (which was transitional kindergarten) so he is stoked. He came home from the first day and immediately wanted to start playing pretend school with me. He did work, had snack and lunch, recess and everything :) Gotta love that he couldn’t get enough school!

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These are our new favorite farmers market find. Isaiah calls them magic green beans because they start out purple but turn green while they are cooking. They are delicious and cheap, which makes them a new weekly purchase for us.

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I made this banner for friends of ours who just had a little boy named Archie (how cute is that?). His nursery is woodland animal themed, so a couple of squirrels made their way onto it.

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Date #31 of 50: We went to another movie night at Stone Brewery (they are free in their gardens every wednesday during the summer). This week, it was Zoolander. Here is our best attempt at Blue Steel:

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And when I say best, I mean sadly, this was the best. You should have seen the outtakes :)

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Happy weekend everyone!

InstaFriday!

I did! I actually got my instafriday post up on Friday! It’s a good day friends. Jeannett over at Life Rearranged is going to be proud of my for finally getting my act together and linking up when I’m supposed to :)

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With school starting next week, our goal was to fit as much summer fun and family time into this week as possible. I think we did a pretty good job!

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Isaiah and I baked cookies for our neighbors and delivered them later that day in our wagon. He wanted to make a sign for the back of the wagon that said, “cookies for our neighbors”. It was super fun, until Isaiah flew off of his scooter onto the ground, face first. The first of many falls I am sure…


 

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The final product:

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We had a dinner picnic by the pool with some evening swimming time after. It was a perfect evening.

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We had a crafternoon (did you know that they still make shrinky dinks? I was so excited when I found them at Michaels!):

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Nonna (my mother in law) came down for a couple of days and we had a ton of fun with her! She and Isaiah kicked off game day, which turned into 3 days of game day because Isaiah picked Star Wars Monopoly for the first game. It. took. forever. We planned to play a bunch of games. It took over 3 afternoons to finish the game, so we only got one game of Uno in as well.

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We had some fun at Sea World:

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We went to the beach and had shakes at Ruby’s on the pier (yum!!!). Notice Isaiah’s scooter fall scabs. He likes them- he told me they make him look tough :)

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Of course, Hudson got a couple of time outs in to add to the #placeshudsonhasatimeout series.

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Sea World:

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In the middle of the Oceanside pier:

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Seriously, that kid is a busy bucket of energy and mischief. But he is such a lovebug too- a great cuddler and he can melt this mama’s heart in two second with his smile.

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We got a couple of dates in this week too, which was SO wonderful!

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Date # 29 out of 30: A night in Little Italy, reminiscing about our trip. We started with tasty pizza at Napizza, then hunted for authentic Gelato (mission accomplished- Pappalecco) & stopped to browse in multiple little markets on the way. We then ended the night with another slice of pizza for the road. Too much pizza & gelato- just like we were back in Italy :)

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Date # 30 of 50: Our boys went up to Orange County from Ruby’s with Nonna, so we got to have some kidless beach time. Then we went kayaking in La Jolla Cove (which has a great story- I’ll share it soon), got burger to go for a sunset picnic and had sprinkles cupcakes for dessert. It felt like we were college kids on summer break :)

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2 seconds after we took this picture of our picnic burgers, a seagull swooped down and picked up our entire box of fries and onion rings in his beak & flew away! He devoured it in 1 min. The best part: the lifeguard then asked david to climb over the fence, go down on the rocks and pick up the container so that we weren’t littering. Ha! Those seagulls are thugs! The same bird then circled around the grass in the area we were sitting in, looking for more food. He would scare away any other bird that dared come into his territory.

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I love this ornament that the lovely Lisa Leonard made for me. It says “comfort & joy”- so that at Christmastime I will remember not only the comfort & joy found in Christ’s birth, but also the comfort & the joy I found in the Lord throughout my miscarriage. It’s a way to remember my little sesame seed in a little, pretty way. Thanks again Lisa!

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone! We are off to conquer some more summer fun before school starts on wednesday!

Yosemite and more bits from last week

I’m not even calling it an insta-anything this week :) I am failing at linking up with Life Rearranged on Fridays, but I’m okay with it because I’ve been too busy enjoying summer with my boys. Once we get our lives back into a routine when school starts next week, I’ll try harder. I promise Jeannett :)

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The past two weeks… scratch that… the past two months have been crazy for my husband. Our church moved, which has meant a lot a lot of extra work for the staff. Our first sunday in the new building was on the 4th and it was such a special day! Our new facility is awesome and it has been so fun to see it come together. It was a gift to be able to sing with the worship band on the first sunday there- so much fun to see all of the excitement and the full sanctuary. We are praising God for this blessing and also that the move is done! :) 

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Once the service was done, we packed up our car and hit the road for vacation. It was SO needed- especially for my hubs. My boys needed to just be with him for a few days: exploring, cuddling, laughing, playing.

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We stopped on the way at my brother’s house in San Luis Obispo to get in a tiny bit of cousin time. We love them & don’t get to see them enough.

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Yosemite is such an incredibly beautiful place. I’ve been there multiple times and it still takes my breath away when we curve through that tunnel and see the amazing view of the domes and the valley. It’s got to be one of God’s greatest works of art.

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The view from our campsite:

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The boys kickin it vacation style with one of their favorite people in the world:

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Our fam, hanging in the meadow:

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One of my favorite things is our evening bike rides around the campgrounds and the valley. The kiddos in their PJs, we take in the last magical moments of the day. It’s pretty dreamy.

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photo stolen from my hubs

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Speaking of bike riding, this kid did awesome. He rode miles at a time and kept going even when he was tired. Riding behind him, watching him speeding along with the bigger boys made me realize how quickly he is growing up. It’s lame. :)

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Hudson got to cruise around in a bicycle trailer tent thing behind David’s bike. He thought he was pretty awesome in that thing.

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Another highlight was hiking Sentinel Dome before we drove to Glacier Point. The kids all did great. Just before we had to hike up the big rock (dome), Isaiah was complaining a bit about how he was tired and how it wasn’t that fun. Then, as soon as we got to the top, he had a huge smile on his face and said “THIS IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!”. Totally worth it.

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I am so glad that I get to create these memories with my dear friends:

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I was expecting Hudson to have a ton of timeouts during the trip. When we were there with Isaiah at the same age, that kid had timeouts all over the national park. Given Hudson’s current bent toward tantrums and hitting his brother, I expected him to follow in Isaiah’s footsteps. However, he only got 2 the entire time! While his good behavior was SO nice for us, I cannot tell you how many times one of us in our group said, “I kind of wish Hudson was disobeying right now because it would be an awesome timeout spot/picture”. When we were on top of Sentinel Dome, I decided to take a picture of him in timeout style anyway because it was just so awesome. But I have to give the full disclaimer that he did not actually do anything wrong and was in no way getting disciplined here :)

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Our little adventurer striking a pose on the tallest rock on the top of the dome:

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He was SO sad to leave. He loved everything about being there. Exploring, playing with his BFF, bike riding, smores, ice cream, sleeping next to us in a tent, learning about everything around him. I love that he is old enough now that he will retain a lot of these memories for the rest of his life. It makes trips a much bigger deal that they were before.

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The boys loved playing in the creek, even though there wasn’t much water (really low rainfall meant no rafting this year and hardly any waterfalls). We also went to Happy Isles and threw some rocks and visited the little taxidermy museum there (in all of its dusty glory). I don’t think that we got a single photo of all four of us looking at the camera, but I will treasure these little snapshots from my phone and the memories they hold.

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We got a couple of little summer fun list activities checked off while we were there: we made our own glow in the dark bowling set out of water bottles and glow sticks (I have no pictures because it was pitch black) and we made little rockets out of envelopes that get launched by straws (I found the idea here via pinterest).

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We also did a treasure hunt. Three years ago, our head pastor started this fun tradition for the boys. He and his family go to Yosemite a month before us. While they are there, they hid little toys and then record video hints of where they are. It’s such a fun tradition for our boys!

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The boys at the Ahwahnee. No small miracle that they were all looking at me.

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It was such a fun trip. Well, once we were there it was such a fun trip. It was a lot of awesomeness sandwiched in between two terrible drives. On the way up, the bike rack we were using broke and we lost a bike (which didn’t belong to us). We spent two hours on the highway looking for it, with no luck. Then, while we were packing the car up to go home, the good ol bike rack broke again, which lead to another hour of figuring out how to get the bikes home. We lost no bikes on the return trip, but we did get to deal with the monster that is Los Angeles. Now- we timed it well so that we wouldn’t be driving through the terrible traffic times. Well past rush hour, in fact a few hours beyond what we had hoped for, we were cruising down the 405 in the middle of the night. First there was an accident. Stopped. Then a stalled big rig. Stopped. We were already frustrated at being stopped on the freeway twice at 11pm. Oh, but little did we know what was ahead of us. We would have laughed at that stalled big rig traffic.

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You see, LA freeways frequently get widdled down to one lane during the middle of the night so that they can do construction. This happened to me often during my wedding planner days- I would finish up at 1 am expecting to fly home, only to sit in traffic with my aching feet and tired eyes. Then, on some dark nights, the LA freeway gods slam motorists in the face by CLOSING DOWN 2 FREEWAYS COMPLETELY without any advance notice, so you can’t take an alternate route. Friends, we had to take a detour off of the freeway that took AN HOUR to get back to freeway. An hour! After 9 hours of driving already, struggling to stay awake, we were sitting on side streets hoping we didn’t run out of gas and that we would see a freeway on ramp sometime that night.

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One of the 1,000 times Daveed and I have said how thankful we are that we no longer live anywhere close to the 405 and the 10 or LAX or Sepulveda Blvd.

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Then, at 1:00am, while still crawling along the side streets of south Long Beach, Isaiah woke up. His droopy eyes looked at us sweetly and he said he was hungry. Right as we were passing an In-N-Out. Why, yes, 5 year old. You can have a cheeseburger at 1:00am. To make it even better, while we were in the drive thru lane, he had to go to the bathroom. So, at 1:00am, I walked my 5 year through the drive thru lane (hello drivers looking at me strangely) and through the crowded restaurant (hello party crowd looking at me like I am the worst/craziest mom ever- who lets their kids stay awake at that hour? Who lets them get a cheeseburger at that hour? Me, thank you very much). But, in Isaiah’s eyes, we were the parents of the year. He had a little smirk on his face the entire time he ate that cheeseburger. And that will probably be one of his favorite memories from the trip.

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We got home close to 3am and our boys were up at 7. Hooray for parenthood!

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Hudson’s Yosemite #placeshudsonhasatimeout photo:

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And one out front of Chipotle last weekend:

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Overall, though, we’ve had a couple of good weeks. Much less disobeying, which means fewer timeouts and more sanity for me. It also means less funny pictures, which I know is a sad thing for some of you :)

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Before we left for Yosemite, Isaiah got to choose a craft to make from a Star Wars craft book we got at the library. He had put this on our summer list, which was great when I pictured finger puppets or pillows. What did he pick? The grossest craft in the book. We left an apple out for days so that it got all shrived (and moldy in the middle- lovely) to make into darth sidious. Crafting with boys.

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Gotta throw in a little bit of work. A customer ordered this flag for her ring bearer to carry into the reception during the grand entrance. How fun is that? A great example of how our flags can be customized for a wide range of options.

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While we were camping, I read The Fault in Our Stars (book #21 of the year). This one was hard for me to read at times. It’s about teens with cancer. I was a teen with cancer. A young friend of ours died last month from cancer. That being said, it is a beautifully written book. I loved the characters and the love story and I thought that the author did a very good job describing life with cancer as a teenager (something I am very critical about in literature & film). Also, it made me thankful that I knew the hope of Jesus during my treatment (something that was not in the book). Overall, I recommend it- unless you are currently very close to cancer. I am a big proponent of advocacy for adolescents and young adults with cancer, so things like this that bring the issues this group face to the mainstream public- as long as they are done well- are a win.

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I’ll sign off with one last Yosemite photo. My husband took this beautiful panoramic shot on his phone:

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You win, nature. You win.