5 weeks later...


Friends, I have wanted to sit down and write a post. I have tried, even. But I just haven't had the time or motivation to really be here, and I'm so sorry. I'm afraid there is just about no one left who reads this little neglected blog of mine, but I still want to be here. 

So first, thank you for all your fantastic book recommendations! I'm so appreciative!


last day

And next, today was the final swim practice of the summer. It doesn't seem possible -- this weekend is the state swim meet, and the season really has ended. I feel like it just began. Elisabeth swam two hours a day (morning and evening practice -- her choice!) all summer. In addition to James's swimming lessons (and he still has 3 full weeks left of those), we have hardly had a moment this summer that wasn't lived at a pool. (Which is both fine by me, and also means not a lot of variety.)

last day

last day

It has been dreadfully hot, though the heat has been punctuated by afternoon thunderstorms -- some of which have been fantastic! And lots more has happened, too. There are probably things I want to share here when I have the chance to look through my photos.


But really, most importantly, my husband has a new job. At the end of June, we were at a baseball game with friends (by the way, if you have one of these summer collegiate baseball leagues near you and you enjoy baseball, it's definitely worth checking out! The games were free but were on a near-professional level. Very fun!), and while we were there, the principal of a high school in an older suburban neighborhood about 30 minutes from where we live called him out of the blue. He had not even seen the job posting yet. She gave him a 30-minute phone interview on the spot, and the next day he went to interview in person. Within 72 hours of the initial phone call, he had been offered the job. It's hard to describe the combination of disbelief and relief that we felt. Within a week of being offered the job, he was preparing for the school's 4-week-long marching band camp which began on July 5. It was 3 hours a day, 5 days a week for all of July. He says he thinks it was a bit much and the kids are feeling a bit burnt out, so he might do it a bit differently next summer, but this was the schedule that was already in place.


Yesterday and today he was at new-employee orientation. On Monday he starts a week of in-school professional development and teacher planning days, and on August 8, classes begin. This school district is on a pretty different schedule than other districts in our area, so he is back to work weeks sooner than he would have been at his old job. The transition to him going back to work in August is always a hard one for me, and this year it's even earlier, so I'm feeling a bit disoriented right now. I know from experience that things will ease up and we'll find our way into a new routine. Still, I don't do well with transitions, and we have a lot of them with his work.

At any rate, I wish to thank all of you who have thought about us, prayed for us, and sent us all your good thoughts and blessings as we have struggled with job stuff over the last 4 years. We are hopeful that things have finally turned a corner for him professionally. Though his new job represents more time and more responsibilities, I think we are ready now to deal with those in a way we might not have been before. So, it's exactly the right time.

Anyway, that's just a bit of where I am right now. I have been inspired by Kyrie's "Week in the Life" posts this week, so I thought maybe next week I'd try something along those lines, though it could be more of a "Rough Week in the Life" since we are very much finding our way right now.



Happy first "official" day of summer! (Though for me, summer really begins with pool season.)

Today I have one sick child who needs tending, some thoughts turned toward our annual Midsummer Night fairy tea party, and work that needs getting done. But there is always a moment or two to spare outside, taking in the utter amazingness of summer. 

My peonies bloomed later than usual this year, and they have been absolutely beautiful -- I'm always taken by surprise by their beauty and fragrance. I'm so happy to see them!

At the pool


One of my favorite things about summertime is all the swimming. I was on swim team myself through my childhood and teens, and it's been one of my favorite things as a parent to do with my kids. We've been doing 5-day-a-week swimming lessons all summer long since Elisabeth was three. Last year was her first year on a swim team, and she loves it. We have thought about doing a year-round team (that's what I did as a girl), but I'll be honest that the logistics of it, with my kids being relatively far apart in age, is a bit daunting to me still. Maybe in the fall; we'll see. 



For now, we are enjoying our three hours a day (at two different pools!) of swim team and swimming lessons. Time spent at the pool is worth every moment, to my way of thinking. I'd rather be there than just about anywhere else in the world right now. (Except the ocean, but that will have to wait until we can afford to travel again ... it's the one thing I don't like about where I live.)



my favorite swimming suit ever




These days of summer are so priceless.

going home

Summer is ... Lessons learned over a summer "on the line"

Our clothes dryer broke at the end of April, and although my husband has had the best of intentions to repair it all summer, there hasn't been a whole lot of motivation because we've been drying on the line. This has been my first "real" line-drying experience. Most of my adult life has been spent in apartment/condo situations, so I've always used either my own machines or laundromats, but never a line. This summer we finally got around to putting up a line (we got an umbrella clothesline, which wasn't the handcrafted wooden clothesline that I've fantasized about for 10 years, but has been quite serviceable). {be sure to follow those links, they're photos of a 10-year-old issue of MSL that had the most amazing clothesline ever! unfortunately it's not up on their website}

And here is some of what I learned, as a line-drying novice.

little clothes on the line

I really love hanging clothes out early in the morning. It's a refreshing ritual, a time to be alone with my thoughts while my children are otherwise engaged, and the days' squabbles haven't yet heated up.

(Sometimes it can get tedious. And sometimes I don't manage to get things out as early as I should. But mostly, I don't mind too much.)

It's not that hard to get used to crunchy towels, bathroom rugs, or even diapers. Even though it can be funny to hold up a hand towel that is as stiff as cardboard.

It's nice to feel environmentally virtuous.

Clothes dry just as fast on the line as they do in the dryer (at least in my climate).


The aesthetics of a clothesline are just as priceless as everyone keeps saying.

So, there are lots of "pros" to drying on the line. There is pretty much only one significant "con" that I've discovered:

It's not an economic savings. Let me explain that.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine did a summer of line-drying. She said that she saw a $10 savings on her energy bill per month. I thought that this was pretty significant, because it's about 10% of a monthly energy bill. My friend said that she felt that her experiment had not been a success on an economic level because of the work involved.

Now that I've spent my own summer line-drying, I'd have to say I agree with my friend on the economy of it. We've seen our monthly savings to be about $10, as well. At the beginning of the summer, there was the purchase of the clothesline, and clothespins are surprisingly expensive. With breakage and loss, we've actually had to replace them a couple of times, as well. Between these costs and the work involved, it's already not a "savings".

But the other factor that I wouldn't have considered before was the overall wear that our clothing took this summer. I noticed a really significant amount of fading to all of our clothing, as well as thinning. Because I've always dried in a dryer before this, I was really able to tell the difference in a way I might not have been able to if I'd always done a combination of line-drying and using a dryer. Given the hard wear on our clothing, I would say that overall, it was a financial loss to dry exclusively on the line.

We'll need to finally commit to repairing our dryer before the colder months set in anyway, so by next summer, drying on the line will be a choice and not a necessity. I will definitely do it again, but I think I'll appreciate having access to my dryer for things that I don't want to wear out as quickly. In all, I really enjoyed this summer on the line, and I would say that I'm mostly a clothesline convert, though I now believe that judicious use of the dryer isn't all that bad!


early morning line


Do you use a line? What are your experiences?

Summer is ... Swim season

Here at the very end of summer, with so few posts from me in the last couple of months, I thought I would visit a few of the highlights of this summer.

state meet

The most prominent aspect of this summer (after Fiona's broken leg, I suppose) was swimming. We have always done swimming lessons for the whole summer, five days a week. But this summer, specifically, was Elisabeth's first swim (team) season.


backstroke start

At the beginning of the summer, she was one of the weaker swimmers on our (fairly large) team. She couldn't dive off the blocks, and had a fair share of "DQ's" (short for disqualifications). But as the summer progressed, she improved extremely rapidly. Her times kept jumping down by several seconds at each meet. She started to practice in the "harder" group. By the second week of July, she had qualified for the League championship, where she placed in the top ten in backstroke, and ultimately ended up making the State championship, as well. She was named our team's most improved girl, a title she really deserved.


For me, it was hard not to swell with pride at her accomplishments over the summer. Now, with our swim season behind us, I can look at it from another perspective. I'm proud of her, but not just for being fast, and qualifying for championships. I'm proud of her for working hard, and not complaining when it was tough. I'm proud of her for trying her best, even in the midst of being new -- to the team, to the sport, and to competition -- and not knowing what to do, and the disappointments of disqualifications. I'm proud of her for working with, and being respectful to, a number of different coaches with very different styles. For being a true teammate and friend. For rising to the occasion, working hard, learning, growing, and showing much character.

relay start


Swimming is fun. It's exciting, fast, and thrilling when your body hits the water at the start of a race.
But in the end, I shouldn't be surprised that the swimming itself was only a part of the whole; only a means to an end in what became a priceless experience.

our swimming girl

(photos here from our state swim meet a few weeks ago)

Summer Is...

Hello, everyone! I'm back from my "summer break" with much to share. This is the final post in the Summer Is series. I would like to thank my fantastic guest bloggers for contributing in such beautiful and unexpected ways over the last month. Sarah, Molly, Emily, Stefani, Heather, Erin, Leslie, Alicia, Kristin, and Kirsten are all such amazing, inspiring women and true friends. Thank you, ladies.

Summer is...


...a snack of fresh produce gifted by our new neighbor from her yard -- lovingly arranged by my girl.

backyard camping

...camping. Even if this year it ended up only being in the backyard.

fairy scroll

...celebrating Midsummer Night (that's a link to last year's Midsummer post), this year with friends.

flowers from e

...little living gifts from my children.

u pick

...a little bit of u-pick fun. (Strawberry season in our part of the world was fairly weak this year due to a late frost, so no freezer jam this year for us...)

amusement park

...our once-a-year trip to an amusement park.

backyard fair3

...and the backyard rides inspired by it.


And finally, summer is the time to feel awe for life in the most tangible of ways. In the life of my daughter, coursing through her. ("Mama, feel my heart beating!" she gasps after racing around the yard at twilight.)

Now, what's autumn to you? Come join me over in the new flickr group!

Guest Blogger :: Summer is:

Bikes.  It's all bikes all the time around here.  The boys listen for the sound of their friends training wheels rattling over the pavement.  It really is a distinctive sound. 


Then they run and find their sandals.

I like to wait till the evening for a long riding session, but I usually don't get my way.  I prefer to wait until 6:20, which is now 5:20 as the days get shorter, for the shadows from the cottonwoods and houses to shade the circle. 

There is usually a whole pack of kids, mostly boys, out riding in the evening.  Tricycles, bikes, training wheels, scooters, you name it.  Sometimes a parent or teenager will join in the fray, which the kids love.


For me, the bike thing this summer has been very special.   Even more so than last year when my daughter learned to ride without training wheels (oh, happy day!).  This year both of my sons are riding like maniacs on their tricycles. 

Which is a big deal.

Last summer I got my son (who is autistic) a big trike in the hopes that it would help his motor and social skills (pedaling + hanging out with the other boys).  He liked that he had a bike like his friends, but wasn't so into riding it.  It wasn't until this summer that he's really taken off riding. 

When the neighbors see him outside riding, they will usually come out too - and they have races and play policeman and gas station and super heroes, and I love it.  He used to ask to ride bikes in the hopes that his friends would come out and they could do something else  - now he is now happy just to ride - even if it's just with his little brother.


I don't know what it is about bikes.  My daughter took a little spill last month and has refused to ride again until this week.  Though she's a bit more cautious, she's proud of herself and is enjoying her rides more and more.   I'm proud of her getting over her fear.  It makes me smile when she takes one hand off the handlebar to wave to me.  I also love seeing the boys give each other rides on their tricycles.  It warms my heart.


So you'll find us out in the circle in the evenings until the weather changes. 


And if you have a cape to wear while riding?  It makes it that much better.


Hi!  I'm Kirsten - I blog over at kirsten*can about whatever random stuff is in my head that day, whatever crazy stuff my three kids are doing or my current craft obsession.  Thanks for reading my ramblings today!  

And I swear, in the above photo of my 3yo wearing his Batman shirt with hippo shorts - he dressed himself! 

But I let him. ;)

I think I'm the last guest blogger - so we should have Grace back soon - yay!

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is :


Summer is an endless opportunity to create, given to us by a warm, lingering sun and the generous earth that it shines down upon. 


With days out at the beach, driftwood bridges leading over the sandcastles' motes are created. Paths are constructed with a myriad of seashells. Games are invented with the incoming waves...


With days in the yard a garden is created with the workable soil. Edging stones and climbing poles are laid out in thoughtful ways. Plants are cultivated and cared for. Watering time is inspiration for fun ways to cool off.


With days in the kitchen meals are created with the fruits of the season. Berries become pies, ice creams, etc... Peppers get stuffed. Tomatoes get layered up with mozzarella and basil. Here and now almost anything is possible in the kitchen and the fresh produce keeps the ideas and imagination flying high.

Thank you Summer for all the materials out there and the opportunities they provide to create. Summer is fun.

•     •     •     •     •     •     •     •    •
hi everyone. my name is kristin from over at honeyflake. i'm quite thrilled to be popping in here today, joining this wonderful tribute to this very wonderful, sunny season. thanks grace!

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is :

"Don't tell me about the world.  Not today.  It's summertime and they're knocking baseballs around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball." 

~Pete Hamill

the lineup


Summer is little league games with all the dressings: clunk-clunking cleats in the parking lot, Big League Chew and brand new gloves, bleachers and the snack bar, little sisters playing in the dirt, grass stains and dusty faces. It's beautiful orange sunsets as the lights buzz on, and pizza parties at the end of the season. But mostly it is Coach Daddy with a big smile on his face and a pat on the back for everyone (just like the Coach Daddy that preceded him.)


cardinal fans + me

Summer is heading out to minor league and major league games: friendly rivalries, ice cold beers and grilled hot dogs in the parking lot, grocery store peanuts and ballpark cotton candy. It's stolen bases, pop flies, strike-outs and bunts. It's spectacular plays, fireworks after a home run and the seventh inning stretch. But mostly it is a little boy and a daddy who look at each other and say, "Oh, wow! Did you see that?"


But as all good things seem to do, summer is winding down. All that is left to do now is squeeze as many games of catch in as possible and start dreaming of next season.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Hi, everyone! My name is Alicia. I am a true summer girl, so I'm tickled to be part of the 'Summer Is' series. I am a artist/crafter/blogger/wife/mother from Kansas City who is honored to call Grace a dear friend. My homes on the internet are here, here, and here.


Guest Blogger :: Summer is:

Dsc_1695Summer is buying locally grown strawberries from roadside stands and being reminded of the goodness of others. Listening to your inner voice to pay him more, honoring him for his selling style. Dsc_1294Summer is lazy days spent at the pool with the scent of coconut sunscreen and fresh grilled food. Listening to the shriek of the lifeguards whistle and the laughter of children. Dsc_1302Summer is teaching children the importance of working together for a summer meal. Listening to the snapping noise as the husk is being torn away from the cob. Dsc_1351_2Summer is the reward one gets from planting seeds in the spring. Listening to the buzz of bees that are feeding on flowers.....and not my children. Dsc_1399_4Summer is dinner served outside. Listening to the faint sound of lawnmowers in the distance, the sounds of summer, the beautiful, wonderful sounds of life. Hello! My name is Leslie, and I blog over at a friend to knit with where I like to sprinkle bits and pieces of my family life on top of knitting. I can also be found over on flickr. Thanks so much to Grace for hosting the "summer is" series. It was such a joy to join in the fun with these girls and such a sweet reminder to soak up all I can of summer.

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is :

Summer is: veggies from the garden

Summer is veggies from the garden that typically go straight to the dinner table.

Walking to the water

Summer is trips to our favorite beach for a dip in the cold ocean.

Summer is: corn on the cob

Summer is enjoying local corn on the cob. (The only way the little one will eat it.)

In a field

Summer is fields of flowers.

Sunset at the beach

And it just wouldn't be summer without an evening on the beach to watch the beautiful sunset.

Hello there! I'm Erin and I am so thrilled to join these lovely ladies for a guest blogging adventure! It has been fun. Our little family lives in the farm lands of Maine, where there are more chickens than people, and tractors pass by more frequently than cars.You can find more of my ramblings over at Bluebirdbaby and view my photos on my flickr page.

Enjoy the rest of summer! I hope to see you around.

Guest Blogger:: Summer Is:

just me and the earth Summer is when the earth comes alive. It is when water sparkles and dances... when green leaves become translucent under a golden sunset. hillside Summer is an endless palette of color offered freely as comfort and inspiration. this rock lives Summer is walking slowly through the woods and looking closely, low to the ground. Here, we are reminded by something that is millions of years old to be still, to stay strong, and to understand the truth that in order to exist peacefully in the world, we must be willing to support, love and nurture the lives of others.
 picnikfile_9xjoSW Summer is a season of roadside farmstands and deep front porches, a season of creamsicles and sticky fingers, of chilled wine and bruschetta, of swimsuits drying and sand in the car. Summer is my season. A time when I, like the earth, am most alive. 

Well hello there, my name is Heather... I'm feeling a little shy and at the same time thrilled to pieces to be here. I can also be found writing and sharing about all things under the sun at my blog, Beauty That Moves. Thank you dear Grace for hosting myself and so many other beautiful ladies. It's been a pleasure.

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is...

Summer is :: 

Violet fingers

The Very Last 

and the wide, wide blue sea. 
Little Boy, Big Ocean 

Summer is inhaling the verdant green, 

Basil Farmer 

And savoring bushels of sunsets that are precisely the color of ripe peaches, and just as sweet. 


Summer is a long walk in a field of yellow, with cicadas singing overhead. 

Sunflower Road

Summer is all the colors under the big orange sun, poured into jeweled jars, to warm the chilly grey days ahead.

  Summer Is :: For Savoring 

**** Hi y'all!!! My name is Stefani, and I'm just so excited to join the girls of summer, here on Grace's blog! What fun it is to see the season through the eyes of such lovely and talented women! 

Most days, you can find me at my regular haunt, Blue Yonder, where I share little bits of my crazy sweet life with 3 boys and 5 chickens. You can also find the story of us, in photos, on our Flickr site

We're wishing you all colorful, sticky, sweet summer days!

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is:

summer is: flying a kite

summer is flying a kite.

summer is: flying a kite

especially on the beach.

summer is: flying a kite

i remember my parents flying kites at the beach from the time i was a small child.  and kites have made me a wee bit nervous ever since.  there may have been a kite that landed in the ocean.  or maybe it was just my worry that a kite might land in the ocean.  i'm not sure anymore, but i love them nonetheless.

summer is: flying a kite

i love all of the conversation about dowels and hooks and strings and whether there is enough wind.  i love the admonishments - "don't let go!" - to young hands that want to help.  i love the splash of color against a bright blue sky.  or against a grey sky.  or against a blue and grey sky.  i love flying kites especially when someone else (usually my mother or my husband) launches them into the air and i can sit quietly in a beach chair and look out at the ocean and hold the kite string and feel the tug of the wind in my hands and breathe.

hello uncommon grace readers!  i'm emily.  i blog about life and creativity and mothering and mindfulness at shining egg, and i share my photos on flickr.  i'm honored to be sharing this bit of my summer here on uncommon grace.  many thanks to you, grace, for dreaming up this summer is series and for inviting me to participate.  and thanks to all of you for reading.

Guest Blogger:: Summer Is:

Summer Is...
Sweet, sticky juice dripping from your chin, to your wrist, down your forearm...from the brightest, softest summer peach.

Summer Is...
Sitting on the back porch husking sweet corn until your feet are buried in feathery tassels and coarse green leaves.

Summer Is...
The smell of hay being cut and raked, tossed into windrows, and left to dry in the summer sun.

summer is...
Swimming suits, always at the ready, hanging up to dry on the pegs inside an old wooden pool house.

Hello to Grace's readers. My name is Molly and I blog at mollycoddle about my life on a little green spot in the country, raising three young girls, keeping my home, and finding time for creativity. You can also find my photographs here.

And *thank you* to Grace for beginning this series. It has caused to be more mindful of the sights and sounds and smells of Summer.

Guest Blogger :: Summer Is:

Summer is ripening.  The blueberries have made their way from green to pink to a blue so blue it's almost black.
summer is...

Summer is feasting.  Eating more fresh berries than you ever imagined possible.  And then making a latticed pie and homemade vanilla ice cream just because.
summer is...

I'm so pleased to kick-off the "Summer Is:" guest blogging series here.  So many thanks to Grace for opening up her online home to a variety of interpretations of summer.  I've seen the line-up of guests ahead, and know it will be good fun.

And to introduce myself, I'm Sarah.  I share snippets of family, nature and craft as I experience them by the shore of Lake Superior on flickr and at cloth.paper.string

Summer Is:

august 7, 1999

Our wedding anniversary. (Yes, that's the same photo I used last year. It's my favorite photo from the wedding.) So, nine years ago today, on a sunny, not-too-hot morning in August, my husband and I said "I do."

For fun, I thought I'd share nine things about us today.

1. When we met, I was 19 and he was 29. It kind of freaked my parents out a little bit, but they got past it pretty quickly.

2. I pursued him for about 4 months before he finally asked me out.

3. Our first official date was to an Indian restaurant. We now have a tradition of going to that same restaurant every year after church on Christmas Eve. (No, our first date was not on Christmas Eve. It was in September.) Our wee ones love it, and we love the chance to reminisce about that night when we were both so nervous. ;)

4. He proposed to me on a stormy night in late October. We had plans that night to go to a local amusement park that had reopened that week to do Halloween stuff. (You could ride the rides but they also had haunted houses going on.) {Halloween is my favorite holiday. He knew me well to plan a proposal during a Halloween bash.} He says he planned to pop the question on the ferris wheel, but I'm not sure how that would have worked, all scary and shaky up there. Anyway, it was too stormy to go, so we were in the car trying to come up with a Plan B for the evening, and he just blurted it out and pulled a ring out of his pocket. It was so, so sweet. We don't have the car anymore, though, which makes me kind of sad.

(By the way, I used to love all things scary, like haunted houses, until Elisabeth was born, when I very abruptly started hating them.)

5. Our children both have family names: Elisabeth is a family name on my side (going back at least 6 generations now), and James is a family name on my husband's side.

6. We are totally boring people.

7. One time we thought it would be fun to make a list of every movie we'd gone to in the theater together. It was in the hundreds! We made the list 5 years ago, and I don't think we've really added any to it since then. ;)

8. We did not live together before we were married.

9. I am two inches taller than him. I usually wear Danskos, though, so I tend to look even more than two inches taller. We're both so used to it that we don't really even notice anymore.

Looking forward to a bit of celebrating today. Hope your day is lovely and bright!

Summer Is:


This beautiful, sweet, chin-drippingly juicy muskmelon from our weekly CSA share. (Our farm told us that muskmelon is slightly different than cantaloupe, and I do think it tastes different. However, Wikipedia says it's the same thing. So I don't actually know.)

I'm excited to announce that during August, while I get some things settled around here, this space will host some amazing guest bloggers as part of this series! I appreciate the women who have agreed to help me out in this way so, so very much, and I am really excited to see what they'll share.

What is summer?

fire hydrant!

I've been thinking a bit about what summer means to me. Sentimental stuff -- my own childhood summers spent at the pool, riding my bike, running in the rain. Family trips for ice cream. All that good stuff. So, I thought I'd do a little bit of a "series" about summer here on the blog, now that we're really in the middle of it. It'll be a bit of an intermittent series, because I'm also going to take Kristin's good advice (from the comments on my last post) to take some time to breathe.

Today, Summer is:

summer days...

Water play. Specifically in a fire hydrant that was opened today on our street. Good friends to share it with. A perfect summer's afternoon.

r runs from the hydrant

in the water

So, what is summer to you?

{PS: Follow along with my Summer Is: series here and here, or join in yourself here!}