Monday, December 22, 2014

In the Summer of 2014...

Sometimes life flows along like a slow, meandering stream; and as I float on the current, I fail to notice that changes are happening along the way.  Then one day, I look up, and, to my surprise, the scenery on the shore has changed drastically.  "When did that happen?" I wonder.

To force myself to pause and look up more often so I can appreciate the changing views, I write these blog posts, often staying up late, forcing a tired body--and even tireder mind!--to string words together, hoping that when I read them the next day, they'll make sense.  ;-)  I don't want to get to the end of my journey and forget the path that brought me there, and I don't want to miss the pleasures along the way.

A few months have passed since the portion of my journey called The Summer of 2014; but here at the beginning of winter, I want to return in my thoughts to the summer that's past, in order to summarize some of the joys and challenges it brought us.  I fail to be consistent in doing these summary posts; but when I do manage to finish one, I find satisfaction in how it succinctly reminds me of what the scenery on the riverbank looked like when, for example, my children were 12, 9, 6, 5, and 2, and we were enjoying summer's long, lazy days together.

So with no further ado (and in no particular order), here are some of the things that happened to the Fisher family in the summer of 2014...

~ Josiah and I went on his first tour with the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir and had a marvelous time!

~ Josiah, David, and Tobin took a week of summer classes at Blue Ridge Community College - especially significant for Tobin, since it was his first time doing that!

~ Josiah and David took a fencing class and, not surprisingly, LOVED it.  :)

~ I started making my own laundry soap to save some pennies--and nickels and dimes and quarters.  :)  I discovered that for most loads of laundry, it worked fine; but when I had dirty clothes that had an odor (i.e. a towel that had been used to wipe up spilled milk), the homemade soap did not do well at getting that odor out, especially in summer's humidity when odors like that are worse.  I learned to keep on hand some commercial laundry soap from the store and use that for certain loads, and for the rest, to use the homemade kind.  David became my chief helper with making the soap since he happily grated the Fels-Naptha bars for me.  :)

~ Another way to save a little bit of money that I started doing this past summer was using cloth napkins, rather than buying paper ones.  Since I do so much laundry anyway, it wasn't any trouble to toss the cloth ones in a load with other clothes.  I did not iron them or do anything extra like that!  ;-)  As our schedule got busier in the fall with school and other activities, I gradually stopped using cloth napkins, but would like to return to that at some point.

~ A big first for our family this summer was the first broken bone.  Josiah had the dubious honor of being the winner of that award when he broke his wrist.  We are grateful that it healed fine and didn't give us any complications, but it did change the shape of his summer!  For example, he couldn't practice violin, he couldn't play piano (I had had grand hopes of teaching the oldest three kids some lessons during the summer; but as it turned out, we didn't get to that at all!), he couldn't swim so, after he broke his wrist, we didn't use our pool very much or go to other pools or even go to Riven Rock, one of our favorite places around here.  One thing that Josiah could do was play chess online, and he spent hours playing games, being in tournaments, learning strategy, reading about famous players, and even organizing some chess tournaments and clubs online.  Another consequence of his broken wrist was that while he had the cast, he couldn't help much with outside projects, like carrying in wood and some garden work, etc.  But he did contribute to our efforts by watching Moriah while we worked outside, and that was truly helpful!  :)  Lastly, because there were so many other things he couldn't be doing, Josiah decided to start his school work for the year pretty early (he's doing quite a bit of independent work this year); it's always a good feeling to be ahead and have more flexibility, especially when extracurriculars like choir and violin lessons make the schedule busier.

~ I don't want to forget that it was in the summer of 2014 that Josiah's voice changed (plus, he shot up in height)!  When he did the choir tour in June, he was easily hitting the notes of his second soprano part; but it wasn't long after that until his voice started cracking and becoming unreliable.  This past fall semester, he still sang second soprano in choir (and was helped tremendously by the good advice and kind encouragement of the directors as he tried to adjust to his new voice!); but I'm pretty sure he'll move down to a lower part for the spring.

~ It's been customary for Josiah to help out at Jeff's barber shop on Saturdays, sweeping the floor and doing various other small tasks; but partially because of his broken arm (and partially because David was mature enough to be interested and to be genuinely helpful!), David worked more at the barber shop and enjoyed the chance to make some money from considerate folks who gave him small tips.  :)  David got so good at roller blading that Jeff let him wear his roller blades in the shop, and I'm sure people were amused by the sight of him zipping around the shop, broom and dustpan in hand, roller blades on his feet.  :)

~ Tobin spent hours and hours playing with Jason, the next-door neighbor boy.  Actually, both Tobin and Shav played a lot with him; but whereas there were times when Shav was more inclined to stay home, Tobin virtually ALWAYS flew out the door to go play with Jason when given the chance.  :)  Jason is the youngest of four children, and the only boy, so his family was immensely grateful that Tobin (and Shav) were around to play with Jason, especially when the rest of his family was busy with other things.  Jason's mom Wilma expressed several times how wonderful that was.  :)

~ Shav spent many happy hours playing with LEGOs, many of which were parts of sets belonging to his older brothers.  I was amazed, not only at his focus and concentration to play independently with them for so long, but also the way he could handle the teeny-tiny pieces of the intricate sets and be so creative with them.

~ Moriah learned to stay fairly close to us and not wander off when we were outside (although we still watched her really closely, just in case).  This was a welcome development!  :)  Even still, I found myself thinking, "Next summer, it will be even easier to work outside because by then, she'll really know how important it is to stay safely in the boundaries!"  :)
~ Our garden was a little discouraging (we didn't do a good job keeping up with it), but we still got lots of food from it.  Tobin, in particular, loved to pick stuff from it.

~ One of the reasons the garden was discouraging was because we got so much rain that it created a "jungle" in parts of the garden, in the flowerbeds, around the pasture, etc.  The weeds grew to crazy heights!  On the plus side, our grass was green all summer long, which is something that doesn't always happen because some years, the hot, dry weather of July and August makes our yard a dry, brown desert...or something like that.  ;-)  But not this year!  The kids in particular appreciated this because they love to run around outside barefoot, and green grass is much preferable to brown for running on.  :)

~ This was the year that Josiah, David, and I started volunteering at a local food pantry (I wrote more in this post about how reading Jen Hatmaker's book 7 pushed me to get involved in this way).

~ We joined a local homeschool group--something I had been intending to do for several years, but never got around to registering at the right time!  We enjoyed meeting new friends and renewing old acquaintances.

~ Our front door got painted black!  And quite a bit of painting was done inside the house, too, by our friend Kevin the Painter.  OK, so he actually has a real last name, but "the Painter" works pretty well, too.  ;-)

~ We took a day trip to Pennsylvania in August and visited my brother David and his family.  One of the big attractions when we visit them in the summer is swimming in their pool.  :)

~ We went to a local baseball game and had a blast there.  :)

~ We had a photo shoot with our talented friend Emily Sacra and ended up with photos that are TREASURES for my heart!  :)

~ Jeff, Josiah, and David took a trip to California and had an amazing time visiting family and friends there and seeing the surroundings in which Jeff grew up--quite a memorable experience for the three of them.

~ We moved my mom into a nursing home because of her Alzheimer's Disease, a step we knew for a long time was coming, and which had filled my heart with pain as I thought about it, but which proved easier than I had imagined.

~ I had a miscarriage.  I don't have much more to say about that, except...  *sigh*  ...  *big sigh* ...

~ To wrap up the summer before our fall schedule began, we had a great family day at Kings Dominion, a place we always enjoy!  :)

And so much more happened, too, of course!

Thank You, God, for the gift of a sweet, sweet summer together; and thank You that You held us close--through the joyful times, the difficult moments, and everything in between.  :)

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