1st Day of School, 2020 style

Well, it has been a blur of a 3 weeks getting ready for the 1st day of school, but today was the day! According to our headmaster, it had been 147 days since these kiddos were in an actual classroom. Our kiddos were SO ready to go back to school today. Josie was up at 3:30 this morning, raring to go! I was glad to be teaching IN PERSON, too!

This year we have a 7th grader who is over the moon to finally have a locker and the freedoms that come with being an “upper schooler” at our school, and we have a fourth grader who has his mom for his teacher. (Small school….it happens.)

We all survived and thrived today, and are all quite ready for our beds tonight!

Josie- 12 Year Old pictures

Josie has been helping me with several of my photo shoots here lately. She is a great assistant! Over the course of the photo shoots, I’ve snagged a few pictures of her, too. So her 12 year old photo shoot was done over a few different days. 🙂

First up was the sunflowers at our farm! I actually used these photos to advertise for sunflower mini sessions for my photography business.

I cannot get over how old she looks in these.

I grabbed this one real quick when she was helping with Carley’s pics.

And these this weekend when she was helping me with her friend Hannah’s shoot.

Can.not.believe. how old she looks.

The rest of July

We have been BUSY since returning from vacation. As soon as we got back, I had to jump back into school mode. I couldn’t actually go to school right away, because of needing to quarantine for a bit, but I did a ton of work from home, and then when I was deemed “safe” to go, the kids and I have been there almost every day. (except the days the kiddos have stayed home with Jake). Our school, because of Covid guidelines and needing to have enough space in the classrooms to put all the student desks 6ft apart, has had to do a MAJOR overhaul. Every single teacher/faculty member had to change classrooms and/or offices. Every one. It is actually a good thing, because we are making a LOT of changes we were going to make in the future anyways…they’ve just had to be expedited! We moved back the start of school from the 5th to the 10th, just to give us a little more time to get everything ready.

Anyways, there has been a lot of soaking up the last days of summer, too.

We got so used to going on our after dinner walks at the campground, one night we decided to do it at home, too. And the sky was BEAUTIFUL that night.

We’ve SO enjoyed our garden this year. It has been an excellent year for growing things. There is nothing like eating veggies fresh from your garden the day you pick them!

Masks. They are the new normal. The kiddos and have gotten LOTS of practice in wearing them while we’ve been at school. They are not my favorite thing, but are definitely a necessary evil right now.

The skies have REALLY showing off here lately….

And this happened. Meet Cleo, the newest member of our family. 🙂

Josie has practiced diligently, all summer long, on perfecting her slack line technique. And now she can make it all the way across!!! She was so proud of herself!

One night our friends came over for a fire night. The kids had so much running around the yard with them, and we got to meet their new puppy!

I’ve had so many photo shoots this summer, but this week I got to do really fun ones- Emery’s one year shoot, and Carley’s SENIOR pictures!! Josie came with me and was my photo assistant.

After a LOOONNNG week at work, we decided to have some fun Friday night. We went to an actual restaurant for the first time since March (I mean, we’ve picked up food and brought it home, but not actually eaten out). We went to Sax Deli and ate at their outside seating, and it was absolutely delicious! Then we hit up the Mexican popsicle place and sat outside and listened to a band play while we ate our treat. We ran into a family from church, and it was SO good to see them. We are missing our church family, so badly.

This has been a fun and busy weekend, too, but more about that later!

Dale Hollow Trip

We always love our trips to the lake, and this one, albeit different than normal, was no exception.

There was lots of sleeping in and lazy mornings, swimming, riding in the boat, kneeboarding for the kids, skiing for me, ice cream, Nana’s homemade desserts, bike riding, pretty sunsets, and a beautiful stars every night.

We were there with Nana and Shshr, Mom and Dad, Casey and her kiddos, and Chad and Lesa and their kids. Andy and his family was at their house up there, and Uncle Bill came up for a few days, too.

We decided that we were going to let our Covid guards down just a bit, and let Nana and Shshr and Mom and Dad be in our quarantine “bubble” for just the duration of the trip. We decided that was a risk worth taking. That being said, we were still almost always only outside with them, and pretty much still 6 ft away all the time, except for just a couple of dinners eaten in campers together. We still didn’t eat in docks. We got ice cream at a couple of the docks, but stayed outside. We avoided other people in bathrooms and when we had to go on the docks, etc. So…all that made the trip feel different than other years, for sure.

The end of our trip was little stressful. Chad found out while we were on the trip together that one of his work colleagues had test positive for Covid…so he had to go get tested, even though he had no symptoms….and the day before we came back, we found out he had tested positive. He was completely asymptomatic, but to be on the extreme cautious side, our entire family decided to quarantine for this week, even though we were all almost only outside with him, ever on the trip. And, thank goodness, no-one came down with symptoms at all (including Chad and his family), and now they have all had negative tests…..but still-it was a stressful, anxious way to end our trip.

However, the trip itself was still wonderful, and restful, and just what we all needed. It was so good to be around my family. Especially knowing that we are going to need to get stricter with our quarantining again once school starts, to protect them from all the germs Jack, Josie, and I will exposed to every day.

So…here is the trip in pictures. 🙂

One day Pappy took Jack and Josie fishing and they caught TWENTY FIVE brim! It was a good fishing afternoon! Jack caught most of them (because he fished a lot longer than Jo did). He was over the moon excited. Pappy fried them up for us one night on the trip, too-they were great!

Lake sunsets are the best. We always make it a point to go down to the dock and watch one from start to finish, at least once on our trip.

One week day night we waited until the dock was almost closed to go get ice cream, that way it wouldn’t be crowded.

Yes, that is my goofy girl riding down to the boat on her bike with a flamingo float around her neck.

We really enjoyed being able to just ride our bikes down to the boat every day instead of having to drive the truck. Having bigger kids definitely has its perks!

One day we all drove to East Port for the day. We rode with Shshr and Nana in Shshr’s boat (Jake drove the boat). We ordered our lunches to go at East Port, and then ate on our boats. We stopped at Sunset on the way back for ice cream and so the kids could feed the turtles.

We found a new “sunken” island near Hendricks for the kids to explore.

This was the easiest year yet to get all these kids in one picture!

One evening (Emery’s first birthday, actually!) we all stayed late on the island and ordered pizza from the dock for dinner and had a picnic. Uncle Bill and Uncle Andy bought a ton of glow sticks and glow toys for everyone, and we had a night swim. It was so much fun. The kids LOVED it-these are the kinds of things I hope they remember forever. 🙂

The next day we had a waterfall day. We hiked to the Sulfur Creek waterfall, and then also went to the Mitchell Creek waterfall and played around on it. Then we went to Mitchell Creek to get some ice cream. (Ice cream abounds when we are a the lake, LOL).

Sunday was HOOOOOTTTT. We packed up and then the kids and I jumped in the lake for a minute to cool off before we headed home. We are always sad to come home, but always glad to be back in our house once we get home. 🙂

We are blessed, for sure, to have the ability to get to take trips and own things likes campers and boats, and to have a family that is close enough to get to come with us. These are things we try not to ever take for granted.

Week 17

Sorry for the silence for a bit. We just got back from our annual Dale Hollow camping trip, and I’m just now sitting down to do some blogging catch up.

The week before camping was mostly….well, prepping for camping. There are always a lot of things that need to be done before we go. I had some photo shoot and school work to do, things needed to be cleaned, laundry done, camper packed, etc. etc.

We also did a few fun things, too!

Monday I got to go take sweet Cora’s newborn pictures!! She is so, so sweet. I wore a mask the whole time, and only touched her to arrange her for pics…but I just wanted to squeeze her! 🙂

Monday night we had the Roses over for a fire night. It had been awhile, because they had been out of town and then laying low for a bit after their trip. The kiddos played in the sprinkler. It was really good to see them and hang out.

Tuesday was a busy day. This spring, I was supposed to help chaperone a junior/senior overnight hiking trip.. Well…Covid, of course. I had tried to reschedule, but just couldn’t make it happen. So I decided I would host the (newly graduated) seniors only for a camp out night at our farm. It was a good time. They came after lunch on Tuesday and I took them down to the swimming hole to play and explored the creek. Then we hiked back up and pitched our tents. Jake came to help me grill. Everyone brought their own dinner. Jake grilled steaks (tuna for me) and veggies-it was SO good. We hung out by the fire and roasted s’mores. Jake went and got the kids and went home about dark (the kiddos had hung out on Mama Judy’s deck for a bit so he could come). The seniors and I hung out until midnight, just talking and snacking. I slept in my hammock-and slept SO much better than I usually do in my hiking tent. The next morning I cooked pancakes and sausages on the griddle for everyone. It was a good event, and I think the seniors appreciated one last hoorah before they all go their separate ways. 🙂

Wednesday afternoon I took the kiddos swimming at our neighbors. I grocery shopped on my phone for our trip while they swam. 🙂

Thursday was all about packing, picking up groceries (had to go to both Walmart and Kroger for pickups to get everything I needed), prepping meals, and picking corn. Mama Judy came and helped pick the corn, and then we put it all up in the freezer in the shucks.

Friday we finished packing and cleaning, and then the kids and I headed to the lake. I was pulling Shshr’s boat up there for her. Jake came after he got done with work with the camper. We were GLAD to be on our trip.

The rest of Week 16/4th of July

The start of July has been pretty good.

Wednesday Mrs. Pam couldn’t do swimming lessons, but told us to come swim always, so we did. The kids had fun just getting to “play” and still got a ton of practice in!

Wednesday night we drove over to the farm to see how our sunflowers had been growing, and then drove to Pleasant View Golly G’s for a treat. The Greenbrier one has still been super busy, so that’s why we went to Pleasant View.

We are getting a TON of blackberries right now. Thursday morning I made blackberry muffins.

Thursday I went to mow at Nana’s, and the kiddos went with me. Then Nana went with us to swimming lessons to watch, and Grammy was there, too.

Thursday evening Nana made us dinner. I had a photo shoot that evening, so after dinner I went to the photo shoot while Jake and the kids hung out and then I came back so we could all have dessert. 🙂

Friday morning I went to breakfast with Robin, since she was in town for the Fourth. We were able to go to the Greenbrier Golly G’s and eat outside on their patio, because they finally weren’t very busy. While I did that, the kiddos went over to Nana’s to help her wash her camper and do some yard work. Jake was off work, and he had a few things to do at Mama Judy’s new house and the farm.

Friday night the kiddos got to do something they have been missing for a LONG time-spend the night at Grammy and Pappy’s. We’ve been avoiding it because of this crazy virus, but we finally decided that if we didn’t let them now, they probably wouldn’t get to for the rest of 2020…because once school starts back, we will have to go back into strict quarantine mode to protect other people-I will be exposed to 20 families’ germs, every.single.day. 🙁 The kids were OVERJOYED. And Jake and I were happy for a “date night” (Covid-style). We picked up drive thru Japanese food and had a movie night-it was SO good.

Saturday was Fourth of July! Because of the pandemic, this year the Fourth looked a little different for us. I decided the parade was not on our list of “activities worth being around a lot of people,” so we skipped this year. The Johnsons were not having their normal fish fry, of course, so Dad and Mom decided to fry fish for just us, Casey and her family, and Chad and his family (except that Chad couldn’t come because of work-boo!), and Nana. This was the first time we’d all been together since this pandemic hit. And we were careful-stayed outside and all washed our hands one million times.

Jake and I slept late and then did a lot of random chores. I made my 4th of July strawberries, and then we headed down to Mom and Dad’s. It was a good, good night. The food was SO good, and the kiddos ran themselves to death all over the place-they had a blast. Kyle, Casey, and Lesa brought fireworks for the kiddos, and they had so much fun! Josie made 4th of July cake pops all by herself. 🙂

The kiddos stayed the night again Saturday night. Mom and Dad brought them home yesterday evening….and they both cried after Grammy and Pappy left. This quarantine is starting to get to them. It feels heavy, and they are well aware that we have to go back to being more strict once school starts back, so they are just sad. They are ready to go back to “normal” as much as anyone else.

Funny story: Last night, after the kids got home, Poppy was nowhere to be found. Jack was getting worried about her. I *KNEW* I had seen her earlier in the day, when Jake and I had gone out to the camper for something. After the kids went to bed, Jake and I were talking about where she might be…and then it hit us-THE CAMPER. We ran out there, and yep, sure enough, she was in the camper. She must have ran in when we were in there, and we shut her in by mistake. She was fine, of course, and we were just glad we had thought about that!! It would’ve been terrible if she got locked in there for a long time! We woke the kids up to tell them that we had found her, because we knew they would sleep better if they knew. 🙂

The Rest of June

The rest of June (week 15 and part of 16 of this pandemic) has been good. A little more busy, because the kiddos have had “cousin” swim lessons with Mrs. Pam (well, Jack is taking lessons, and Josie is helping wrangle the little ones.

The Sunday after graduation was Father’s Day. We were all SO tired, so we slept late, and then the kiddos showered Jake with presents and helped me cook a sausage and waffle brunch.

Monday I had a meeting at school in the morning, and then the kiddos had swim lessons in the afternoon. I took some sweet pictures of Emery while the kiddos were swimming.

That evening we went to visit my parents, because we were all missing them, and I wanted to take Daddy a treat for Father’s Day (Golly G’s cinnamon rolls). We ended up eating with them, which was something we haven’t done in ages, and hung out on the porch at the cabin for a long time. It was a much needed and good night.

Tuesday brought more swimming lessons, and more cute pictures of Emery.

We are harvesting out of our garden like crazy now. Squash, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, okra, and blackberries.

Wednesday I had to run down to my parents to pick something up, and Chad happened to be down there- it was so good to see him and get to catch up for a minute. Plus…Sadie is adorable.

Thursday the kiddos and I went to school for the day before swimming lessons, because I needed to pack up my room. Either the wall is coming down in my room to make more room, or I’m moving classrooms next school year-but either way, the room had to be packed up, so I wanted to get it done.

In other exciting news, the footers got poured for Mama Judy’s house last week!!!

And…in not surprising news, this boy never.stops.moving. His current obsession is the slack line. He’s determined to learn “tricks” on it, before he even learns to walk on it. Josie is actually pretty good on it-she can walk halfway across before falling off. They’ve been practicing a lot. But at this moment in time, Jack decided to take a break and climb a tree…..because, why not?

Saturday was rainy, lazy day, which we all needed. It was good. Saturday evening, Jake needed to run to the church building to take back some sound equipment he’d borrowed for graduation. We all went with him, and then decided to use a Chipotle gift card I had to pick up dinner. We picked it up and then went to Sander’s Ferry boat ramp to eat. It was peaceful and the lake was so pretty to look at. And, a good break for us all from our normal.

Sunday was a rather eventful day. Our boat had been in the shop at Willow Grove, and Saturday we found out it was ready to be picked up. So Sunday we decided to drive up there. There was a small chance of rain, but nothing big on the radar, so we packed up our lunch and swimming stuff, and figured we’d spend a few hours on the lake while we were there. WELL. That didn’t happen. It wasn’t raining when we got there, so we paid for the boat, and put it in the water. Right away I could tell something wasn’t quite right-they were supposed to adjust the idle, and it still wasn’t acting right. But, I went ahead and started getting gas…..and then, kind of out of nowhere, a big storm started rolling in. So big that we decided to take the boat out right away before it got bad. And, we are so glad we did, because as we were taking the boat out, we noticed a BIG chunk of fiberglass out of the nose of our boat, that definitely wasn’t there when we dropped it off at the shop.

So, we went to talk to the guy in charge at the dock. While he investigated what had happened, we hung out on the dock while it POURED rain and ate our lunch.

Alls well that ends well- the guy was able to find out by cameras that yes, when they took our boat out for a test run, they had trailered it incorrectly, and that was why the fiberglass was messed up. The guy that did it thought that the ding was already there, which is why he didn’t tell Mickey (the guy in charge). Anyways, Mickey is making it right and getting it fixed. So, we left our boat at the shop AGAIN, and headed home in a monsoon. It poured the entire.ride.home.

Monday Josie had her well check. She’s still a squirt, but not quite as little as we thought. In fact, she had above average growth for the year!

Monday it POURED during the kiddos’ swimming lessons, which they loved, LOL. It also rained when I was picking up groceries. Lots of rain this week, in fact! Side note: eating fresh veggies from the garden, the day you pick them, is one of life’s best simple pleasures.

Yesterday after swimming lessons Josie and I made 3 big batches of jelly- one batch of muscadine and 2 batches of blackberry. I’m trying to use up all of last year’s fruits before I fill the freezer back up with this year’s!

And now it is July! With how crazy this year has been, I have no clue how this month will go!

Week 14

Week 13 of this pandemic was our trip, so last week was officially week 14 of this craziness. Last week was a little crazy all on its own, because the week after a long trip I always feel like I’m playing catch up a bit. Monday was a laundry day, as always after a big trip. I also had a school Zoom meeting and some other school work to do. The kids and I went by Nana’s to pick up the plants she had baby sat while we were gone. I let Josie give her a thank you hug for her birthday present Nana gave her…..we’ve still been trying to maintain the 6 ft rule, but I thought birthdays deserved an exception. 🙂 Tuesday was Josie’s 12th birthday!! Quarantine birthdays are not fun, but we tried to make the best of it. I had to go early Tuesday morning and pick up our lawn mower, but when I got back I took Josie to Golly G’s (at her request) to get cinnamon rolls for her birthday breakfast. I also let her get a fancy coffee. 🙂 Then we came home and had our normal birthday breakfast tradition.