The summer of 2016 will not be remembered as our easiest, smoothest, or most fun summer. We had numerous trials, stressful situations, and pressures this summer. However, even with all of the not-so-great stuff going on, we still had plenty of moments and days of good times and fun. Blessings can always be found among the trials.
Since today is the first day of Autumn, I thought today would be the perfect day to recap our summer fun!
The day after Brianna finished school for the year, we took off on a trip to Columbia, Missouri for Chris to work. The trip wasn't exactly great, but we were able to do some sight-seeing that we enjoyed.
On the campus of the University of Missouri
Brenson, Brecklyn, Brianna, and Brooke
Visiting the Missouri state capitol in Jefferson City
Brecklyn, Brooke, Brenson, and Brianna
Brenson and Brianna on the Missouri state capitol grounds
Brooke and Brecklyn on the Missouri state capitol grounds
Overlooking the Mississippi River
Brianna, Brecklyn, Brooke, and Brenson
On the Missouri state capitol grounds
Brenson holding Brooke and Brianna holding Brecklyn
We also did a little bit of local sight-seeing this summer. The kids had been asking to go visit the Big Blue Whale on Route 66 for several months, so one day we packed a picnic and paid a visit!
Brianna, Brooke, Brecklyn, Brenson
We all enjoyed climbing around inside the whale and watching the turtles in the water!
Brecklyn and Brooke
Bren was brave and climbed to the top of the inside of the whale.
Brianna was whiny about it, but finally did climb to the top.
We were all fascinated with the turtles in the water!
Brenson, Brianna, Brooke, and Brecklyn
It was a beautiful afternoon!
This is one of my very favorite pictures of me with my little girls. I always have my hands full, but my heart is full, too!
In addition to sight-seeing, one place we spent quite a bit of time this summer was at our local library. All of the kids were enrolled in the library's summer reading program, so we were there nearly every week.
Brianna and Brenson enjoying some books at the library
As part of the summer reading program, the library brings in special guests to do presentations and little workshops for the kids. One week, a zookeeper came and brought all kinds of neat artifacts with her.
The special programs and guests were for kids ages 6-12, Sometimes, Brenson would be interested in the presentations, but other times he would want to play the computer at the library. We allow our kids almost zero screen time at home, so this was a special treat, for sure!
Brianna really enjoyed all the presentations! One week a comedian came and had her cracking up!
The week the firefighters came was a big hit. Bren especially loved climbing aboard the firetruck!
Another exciting week was when a juggler came and taught the kids how to juggle with scarves. Bri and Bren need some practice, but they loved trying to do it.
The juggler also taught the kids how to spin plates.
Even the twins were enrolled in the summer reading program and had a little calendar of activities I did with them at home. As a reward for finishing all the tasks, Brecklyn got a stuffed armadillo and Brooke got a stuffed pig (they picked these themselves).
While the inside activities at the library were a great break from the heat, we also loved spending time outdoors. My kids would be outside all day every day if it were possible!
They love to do yard work . . . do you think they'll feel this way in 10 years? Haha.
Brooke, Brecklyn, and Brenson
I think Brooke was hoarding the yard tools, lol!
Brecklyn loved wearing her shades outside!
My smiley girl, Brooke, on the playground
Brenson scaring Mommy by climbing a tree . . . Eeeep!
Brianna and Brenson got the special opportunity to go fishing with Daddy one Saturday morning. I'm not sure who loved this outing more . . . Daddy or the kids!
They were sad because they thought they should catch something at every cast!
The trip ended happily, though, because they both caught several fish!
Our favorite thing to do outside during the summer is play in the water. Add water to any summer activity and it's automatically a huge hit with my crew!
Brooke and Brecklyn ready to play in the sprinkler
It's amazing how much fun a sprinkler ball can be on a hot summer day!
Brianna, Brecklyn, and Brooke
Brecklyn and Brooke
Brianna, Brecklyn, Brooke, Brenson
Brecklyn and Brooke
My babies looked so sweet drying off after an afternoon of water play!
Playing in the water in our own yard is fun, but we also enjoyed visiting our local splash pad. The splash pad was a little nerve wracking for Momma as it's really open (and littles can run in any direction), but we learned quickly to stay on the concrete or Momma made us sit out of the water play for a bit :-).
Brecklyn (always drinking the water . . . blech!)
I always let my kiddos bring cups with them to the splash pad. They LOVE to fill them and dump them over and over and over again. Brenson especially loved to use his cup to pour water on his sisters. He tried getting Mom wet a few times, but that didn't go over so well :-).
Brooke and Brecklyn
Brooke, Brianna, Brecklyn, and Brenson
Sister fun in the water!
Brianna and Brenson
Another great thing about this summer was that we were able to have several fun play dates with our friends! I love that my kiddos are happy whether we are experiencing a fun outing or just hanging out at someone's house.
Playing a game with Julia and Caroline
Quite a crew!
Brianna, Brecklyn, Brenson, Caroline, Jack, Julia, and Brooke
Visiting the Oklahoma Aquarium
Brenson, Brecklyn, Brooke, Brianna, Julia, Jack, and Caroline
Brianna and Brenson love the jelly fish.
Caroline, Julia, Bren, and Brianna
Brooke and Brecklyn checking out the sea turtles
Brianna, Brenson, Caroline, and Julia
In addition to play dates and outings, we also shared in several celebrations with our friends and family this summer.
To celebrate Independence Day, we had Ross, Tia, and Sadie over for dinner and fireworks. It was a great evening, and for the first time in about five years we didn't have a child crying every time there was a loud noise!
Brooke and Brecklyn ready to celebrate Independence Day!
This is the first year that Brenson has actually enjoyed doing fireworks. It was nice to see him having fun instead of being tortured, ha!
Sadie with her sparkler
Brenson and Brianna
Later in July, we helped celebrate Jack's first birthday with a fun little party. I don't have many photos from this event (we were too busy chasing kids!), but this one of Brooke and Brecklyn makes me laugh!
Chelle, Kendall, and Angie
Papa turned sixty years old on August 11th, so a celebration was in order for that! Meme did a good job putting together a party for him, and we had an enjoyable time.
Papa with his six grandchildren
Zeke, Abby, Brenson, Brecklyn, Papa, Brooke, and Brianna
Meme and Papa
Cassie, Joe, Chelley, Chris, and Papa
Meme set up a fun little photo spot for the guests, but the kids are the ones who really enjoyed it the most. It provided endless entertainment!
Abby, Brecklyn, and Brooke
Abby and Brecklyn
Okay, so maybe the adults enjoyed it a little bit, too *grin*.
Momma and Brianna
In September, we celebrated another birthday when Zeke turned eight years old. We spent the afternoon at his house playing, eating cake, and visiting with family.
I can always count on my kiddos (Brianna, especially) to give me a great pose for a silly picture!
We spent a lot of time playing outdoors at this party. Brianna and Brenson loved going to the neighborhood park with Meme.
Zeke, Brenson, and Brianna
Besides everything mentioned above, there were lots of other fun activities that filled our summer. Some of these included:
Hanging out at home just playing,
attending our annual VBS,
checking out the daily progress on our new house,
getting a pedicure with Mommy,
seeing our cousin, JT,
enjoying our cousin, Kaylee, staying with us,
eating at our local Boom-a-rang Diner,
creating messy painting projects,
making cupcakes to celebrate the last week before Brianna started school again,
and being the cutest little attendees at a local Ladies' Day bible study.