Swimming Lessons and a Soccer Retreat

It's a beautiful Friday here in Minnesota, what's it like in your neck of the woods?   I'm playing a little bit of catch up this morning, actually who am I kidding?  I'm playing A LOT of catch up today, in just about every area of my life.  We enjoyed a *little* downtime about 3 weeks ago, but we are officially back to the grind now and our days and nights have been full.  Truthfully, I'm kind of exhausted.  But, I am editing as much as I can from our schedule, trying to keep it balanced and healthy.  Much easier said than done right now.  I'm not sure where I left of in my blogging, but here are some photos and updates from the last couple of weeks.  To our dear relatives who must think we've forgotten how to pick up a phone, or that we are not taking any pictures of "the stars of the show", these are especially for you :)
Did I ever tell you about Ava's swimming lessons?  She took a few days of lessons from one of our former students and it was so great!  She just LOVED it and she did so well.  I'm so glad we signed her up for this, it was good timing for her age and stage.  She seems like a natural water bug already! 
 We were blessed with fabulous weather and a little girl who couldn't wait to get in the pool every morning!
 Channeling her inner Michael Phelps :) Or Missy Franklin, right??  Weren't the US swimmers so fun to watch this year in the Olympics?  They were unbelieveable.  I think watching so much coverage helped get Ava excited too.  She told me that she was going to "touch the wall, Mom" and then we would "cheer for Ava!"  So funny!
 And cheer we did!  My parents came up for a few days to see us and to watch the water bug.  She had quite the cheering section and of course, we loved all of our time with them! 
 These two just keep growing and growing, both in stature and personality :) Life is pretty fun right now, although pretty exhausting too.  I keep thinking this (the physical nature of parenting) will get easier, but so far we aren't there yet!  They keep me on my toes ALL DAY LONG. 
I've never loved naptime/bedtime more :)
What really wiped me out a few weeks ago however, was this list above, in addition to 3 more just like it!  Travis hosted a 3 day soccer retreat for his JV and Varsity guys and the kids and I tagged along too.  Actually, I was the "cook" and they just came because they had too :) It really was a lot of fun, there were 27 guys and I brought along 2 high school girls to help me, plus a Mom who was there for the first 2 days as well.  Overall, no complaints.  The boys were so great, very appreciative and helpful but practically speaking, I am SO GLAD I only cook for a family of 4 on a regular basis!!  Cooking 6 back to back meals, plus snacks, for that many people is exhausting.  I think I just stood in the kitchen for the bulk of 3 days, prepping/cooking/cleaning/ and moving on to the next meal.  When we got home on Wednesday, I got the kids down for a nap and then spent most of the afternoon and evening in bed!  My legs and feet were so tired.  I am seriously getting old :(
One of the highlights for these two was seeing Daddy pull up to our house in a huge coach bus and getting to ride in it with everybody!  They have been begging to "ride the bus" since they first saw their Dad drive it at camp and finally they got their chance :) They had a ball looking out the windows and taking everything in.  They were silent for a really long time, totally thrilled to be eye-level with truck drivers and to see so much that normally goes unseen from their seats in our van.  Plus, they looked so darn cute in those car seats, I couldn't get enough of them either!
One of the meals I made involved this amazing dish from who else but...
The Pioneer Woman. 
She and I are becoming like blood relatives.  I practically refer to her as if I know her because I make her stuff, watch her show, read her blog, etc. so often!  This is her Baked Cinnamon French Toast, with blueberries :) Ironically, she just made it on her Food Network show last Saturday!  And I felt so proud of myself while I watched her, thinking I knew every ingredient she needed before she rattled them off.  No, it doesn't take much to excite me these days.
I lined up plate after plate, meal after meal and it always amazed me that after all that hard work and planning, those hungry guys had it demolished in about 10 minutes!
I did manage to get about 20 minutes one afternoon on the porch swing, but aside from that I barely stepped foot outside :) It was SO great to have the girls with me though, they basically took care of my kids for me and I quickly realized how valuable it was to have cute girls around...their presence alone brought me so many "helpful" guys, constantly asking if they could help us out or do anything for us??  It was hilarious.  I knew exactly what they were after, but I was more than happy to let them help us!  Mental note, always bring girls with me on these trips!!  Ha ha!!
Our little readers, enjoying some books on the drive home.
They were two tired little people and so were their parents!
I just love those little chubby feet :)
Sidenote, I have no idea what's happening here with Travis' face.  Stress??  :) :) :)
You might be a Youth Pastor's wife if...
-Your husband rolls up to your house in a coach bus. 
-Your kids think it's normal to ask, "Is Daddy driving the bus today?"
-You know the best way to pack a bus, as if it were just an extension of your minivan :)
Honestly, I can not imagine what our neighbors are always thinking about us??  We must be the topic of some very odd conversations, considering so many elderly people live where we do and they just cannot wrap their minds around what Travis does and better yet, WHY He does it!  As we were sweating and loading up 3 shopping carts to haul our stuff inside again, I can only imagine we had quite an audience :) It's times like this one that I get so frustrated with living in a condo and yet I end up in fits of giggles because NOTHING is seemingly normal about our life :)  It is definitely an adventure!  We always have an audience when we are coming and going and inevitably the kids end up running around, making too much noise.  Which usually ends in someone getting hurt or Travis and I panicking over how many neighbors we're most likely annoying at once.  Good things the kids are cute.  I believe that often makes up for all the volume we produce!!
After we got back, the next few days were filled with lots of this.  Chilling out and watching movies or cartoons.  I was good with it, but better still, they were good with it!  They love to get in our bed and because they are so active, whenever they initiate the opportunity to be still, we take them up on it :) 
I caught this sweet moment one morning as we were walking in to Church.  Carter held out his chubby little hand for Ava to grab and she did!
And even better, I whipped my iphone out to capture it!
It's moments like this one that give me hope on the hard days.  Hope that they really do love each other, hope that our parenting efforts are working, hope that they know how to be kind :)
Someday when they are at each other's throats, I'm going to show them this picture and remind them of the day when they were buddies. 
And honestly, I hope that is always the case no matter how big they get! 
We are grateful for the little friendship that is budding between them.  We are so thankful to God for the gift of siblings and the way He saw fit to give them to each other. 
 Friends for life...that's our prayer!

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