august.

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Can you believe it is already September?

In 5 days my oldest child will be double-digits.

I glanced back over my blog entries … posts were kind of patchy this summer, I know. I really struggle with blogs and the internet and social media in general. I think they have wonderful benefits. But they’re also one-dimensional. The things that are most photo-graphable are the fun, exciting things. Not the messes. The tempers. The two-hour period before dinner when I want to pull my hair out.

The internet is fun, but it’s not real life. It’s a snapshot. I think we’re at our best when we can stop and realize this, when we celebrate one another’s snapshots, but also remember we as people are more than our internet presence. Nobody’s life is perfect. The older I get, the more stories I hear, the more I believe you cannot possibly judge a person by the way they look or by their Instagram pictures. We hurt people when we do it, because we don’t give them space to be real, to suffer. Everyone suffers.

The truth is, I struggled a ton with anxiety and depression all summer long, like a choking black cloud that wouldn’t leave. There were days that I got out of bed to put food on the table for my kids and switch the laundry, and that’s about it. In many ways, this summer felt like survival.

That’s why all these trips God brought our way, that I’ve posted about, were a gift. I needed them, I needed someone to grab me and make me go on an adventure when all I wanted to do was curl up in a dark room alone.

I don’t share this to make you feel sorry for me, truly I don’t. Each year I accept a little more that this is simply the story God is asking me to live in. I believe that He can use people who are very weak. I believe that He can redeem anything.

And in the meantime, I just plead with you to bear in mind what David tells me often, “A blog isn’t real life.” Don’t think that because of my sporadic fun pictures I’m this super-mom or I’m doing everything right. I’m not.

Just because I spend seasons posting about cool things we’re up to or show you how tidy our house looks doesn’t mean we don’t have days where we’re bored and snap at each other and I turn on Netflix, afternoons I don’t sit and read a novel instead of playing games with my kids, mildew on the shower wall (yes! even our new shower!), and a layer of crust on the stovetop. Just ask my mom, who deep cleans my stove top every time she comes over.

One more thing: I’m still not against the internet and social media. I love our blog, because in my low moments, I make myself read back over old posts. They are a beautiful, big-picture reminder of God’s faithfulness to our family. Even in our hard times, every single day, there are always, always bright spots to thank Him for. He never leaves us alone.

And now, a few of those fun things from August:

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On August 21, we had a little Solar Eclipse party with David’s folks. Grandpa made a real life model of the eclipse for the kids, we pulled lawn chairs outside, and enjoyed one of the most spectacular sights nature has given us in my lifetime. We were right in the path of totality, and it was breath-taking.

Then we came back inside to the air conditioning and feasted on pimento cheese and crackers, carrot cake, iced coffee and fruity drinks for the kids and beer.

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There’s a new coffee bar in the student center of my alma mater, CIU, and I’ve already been twice to visit my parents at work and drink coffee. It’s delicious! The kids love seeing Papa and Nina at work, picking out a treat from the gift shop, and visiting the playground by Pineview Apartments.

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Some friends sent David and I to a fancy hotel in downtown Charleston for a night last month. We left in the morning and returned the following evening, so it was a nice, long date. Our favorite thing to do in any city is to walk everywhere, and stop often for good food or drink. We walked eight miles each day!

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We always recommend The Ordinary for a nice dinner out. I say “always,” even though we’ve been there exactly twice. But it continues to be our favorite restaurant ever. Workshop Charleston was a really fun, upscale food court that we tried this time. And the hidden gem a friend sent us to was Xiao Bao Biscuit. I beg you to try this place if you visit Charleston. It is family-friendly and affordable, they describe themselves as “Asian soul food” and everything on the menu looked good. But there’s really only one thing you must eat: the Okonomiyaki. It will change your life.

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I’m on a Willa Cather kick right now. How had I never read My Antonia before? It made me happy from beginning to end. If you were a fan of the Little House books as a kid, please give My Antonia a try. I’m enjoying O Pioneers now.

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Judah is currently reading both the The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Heroes of Olympus series. Amie is thrilled to finally be delving into chapter books and is obsessed with the Critter Club series, which are perfect for your beginning chapter book reader.

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Our homeschool year has gotten off to a really, really good start.

This is one of those gifts from God that I absolutely do not deserve.

I thought long and hard this summer about what was best for our kids: I’m a mess myself, I don’t even deserve to try to homeschool them. Should we put them all in school? But David gave me a good talking-to, and I took the risk, and it’s been so wonderful. Not perfect, but wonderful. I’m coming out of the darkest season, and I find that it’s good and right for me to now pour my energy into learning with our kids. My husband knows me really well.

It’s a daily, constant juggling act, getting through everyone’s work and keeping Noah constructively occupied. Most days I don’t get everything done on my list. But still, somehow, we love it. We all do. I’ve heard more positive feedback from the kids in this one month of homeschooling then in the four previous years.

Yesterday Judah said, “Mom, you’re really good at homeschooling us. You know how to make learning fun.”

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We met the boys’ birth mom and her boyfriend at Isle of Palms on Thursday for the day and had beautiful weather. They bought boogie boards and we played in the water and made lots of sand castles and new memories together.

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I found some fun wall art for our living room wall just in time for New Members’ class, which started last Sunday. Actually, I’ve had my eye on those prints at Target for months and months, and finally found the perfect place for them. They’re my favorite shade of blue and remind me of batik art from Barbados. They make me happy.

Our new members class itself is making me happy too. I love the enthusiasm and genuineness of a new wave of people excited about being apart of CPC. I love cooking turkey chili for them. I love having two bathrooms to offer. Their stories never fail to inspire and challenge and humble us.

And the last fun thing I have to show you is a little before and after of the front of our house:

February 13, 2017:

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August 21, 2017:

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That’s right! The outside is completely finished!

Last week we had our new shutters hung, and Scott and his crew updated our front porch columns from circular-shaped to square. Just a couple things on the inside of the house and he’s finished. For the year at least. We planned to have the windows in our house replaced this fall, but got a van instead. Maybe next year!

Next up in the front is a driveway and some landscaping, but we’re on our own for that. We’ll get there!

I’m excited to give you a post summing up our addition experience, and of course I know I still need to show you Judah and Amie’s bedrooms.

Thanks for bearing with me, friends. I hope to blog more regularly in the coming weeks. Thanks for your sweet texts and emails. They mean so much to me!

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