This week's children sermon at church was about a book, God Gives Us Thankful Hearts, and how we can ALWAYS find a reason to be grateful if we stop and think about it. I needed that this week.
We've definitely been busy these last few weeks with lots of fun things to do. And while I look forward to new adventures with my family, I can also get wrapped up in what Grace can't do, especially when it's things I wish Grace could participate in. It's easy to get sucked into a pity party when my heart aches for Grace to ask to ride the carnival rides at Old Settlers or beg for a stuffed Truman tiger on her first visit to Mizzou.
Times like that, it's easy to refuse to be thankful, to spend your time wishing for something that just isn't meant to be. But like the little pup in the story, it's worth the extra effort to be grateful in all things. So, even though I wish things were different, I'm grateful for all the times we got to spend together as a family these last few weeks.
|Choir practice for the community choir.|
|Daddy and his beautiful girls at church|
It started with one of our favorite hometown celebrations at the end of July, Old Settlers. The first day starts with a Sunday church service, and I always read the Memorial Prayer (which is something that was started by my grandparents). I even wore one of my grandma's necklaces to church that day. Kyle also encouraged me to sing in the community choir. That's a pretty big deal for me, since it meant he would have to wrangle both the girls in church by himself. Here's something to be thankful for: Grace sat very patiently during the service, and Charley fell asleep on Kyle's shoulder.
|Hanging with my girls at Old Settlers|
|Grace getting her pigtail measured|
|Charley getting her ponytail measured|
After church, we made our way down to The Zone for the annual pigtail and ponytail contest, where Grace won a second place ribbon for her pigtails! Although Grace didn't have enough hair to enter the contest her first Old Settlers, Charlotte got her little ponytail measured, and she didn't get a ribbon, but she sure looked cute. We also entered some of her baby pictures in the photo contest.
For us, it's always so much fun to participate in the local celebration. They also had a baby crawling contest on Sunday, and even though she hasn't started crawling yet, Kyle did ask if Charlotte could enter and maybe learn a few pointers. We let her watch instead.
Then, it was time for Kyle to take the girls home, while I finished covering a few things for the paper. I feel blessed that Kyle is such a big help with the girls, and that he does such a great job taking care of them.
Our infamous Old Settlers celebration continued on Wednesday and Thursday that week, and our very favorite part is the Kiddie Parade. Kyle and I have so much fun putting together an idea each year and entering in the Mini Float division. The first year, the theme was "_____ Makes Me Smile," and we made a kissing booth. I think that one is still Kyle's favorite.
|This year's Kiddie Parade entry, Hawaiian-style|
This year, the theme was "Oh, the Places We Love to Go," and we made a Hawaiian-themed entry in honor of Grace's Make-A-Wish trip to the Disney resort Aulani. Although we lost a palm tree (or two) along the route, we were proud of our entry, and the girls seemed to enjoy all the attention. Well, mostly just Grace. Charlotte slept the entire parade.
After the Kiddie Parade was over, it was kind of warm, so Kyle took the girls home for the afternoon. I was hoping to take Charlotte up to the Duck Pond for her very first Old Settlers, but both girls were hot and tired. Later that night, Kyle encouraged me to head back up town and take her since it was a tradition. Charlotte couldn't get enough of all the lights and sounds of the carnival, and even won a stuffed duck, that Kyle named Carney.
|First time at the duck pond|
|Picking a duck with Grandma Susie|
|Charley enjoying her new prize|
We had only a couple of days to rest up until our next adventure, a road trip. Our nephew, Keelen, turned two in August, and we headed to his house in Fulton, MO, for a party. We really enjoyed seeing much of Kyle's family, and both girls got more attention than they knew what to do with! And I think Kyle was especially proud of the 110-piece set of Mega Blocks we got Keelen for his birthday.
|Pajama party at the hotel|
Since it's such a long drive, we opted to spend the night in Columbia that night, and walk around my alma mater, Mizzou the next morning. Kyle has been with me once to the school, but it was the first trip for both girls. As we drove into Columbia, Kyle asked why I was a little sad. I told him that Columbia was my home for four years, and the people that made it such a special home to me were other places now. And while I missed them, it was fun to walk around all the places I spent so much time.
|Family photo at the columns|
|Don't drop me in the fountain!|
We started off at the columns, walking around the School of Journalism, the statue of Beetle Bailey, Memorial Union and even had lunch at Shakespeare's Pizza. Kyle wanted to get each of the girls some Mizzou gear to remember their first trip, so I picked a yellow and white striped dress for Charlotte and a black "I Love Mizzou" shirt for Grace. He even let me get him a bowtie. I wasn't going to get a souvenir, as I still have lots of Mizzou stuff, but a bright purple Mizzou shirt caught my eye, and it came home with us too.
|Beetle Bailey statue|
|I got it, daddy!|
|Missouri School of Journalism|
It's hard to believe it's been 19 years since my freshman year of college at Mizzou. I'm not sure I could ever have envisioned the adventures my life would take me on when I started, but I am so glad I got to take my family to see the place where I fell in love with journalism.
|Checking out some Tiger ears at the bookstore|
|Lunch at Shakespeare's Pizza|
We managed to stay home for a few evenings during the week, before finding a few new adventures this weekend. Since Grace has physical therapy in Springfield on Fridays, we decided we would head to the Illinois State Fair after her session. We have taken Grace a couple of times, including one trip, when she got her very own AmTryke.
We decided to head for some lunch in the commodities tent first. I went for a pork twister, which is a pork kebab, wrapped in bacon, and Kyle went for a prime rib sandwich. We figure we had to walk enough that day! Since it took awhile for me to feed Grace, Kyle offered to get us some pie and homemade ice cream too. We probably should have taken a few more laps around the fair. Sometimes I wish Grace could get as excited about fair food as we do, but I feel blessed we are still able to feed her. Charlotte, on the other hand, just loved sharing a few bites of ice cream with her daddy.
|The butter cow at the Illinois State Fair|
Then it was off to one of our favorite stops, the butter cow in the Dairy Building. A nice passerby even offered to take a family photo of the four of us - and Grace gave him the best smile! We spent most of the rest of our afternoon at the fair just wandering around. Kyle and I talked about the things we used to do with our families at the fair, and how much we have always enjoyed coming. After a few hours, we headed back to the van, hot and tired, but so grateful for the chance to experience the fair as a family.
The very next day, we decided to try something completely different. A local family was raising money for the Alzheimer's Association, and they were hosting a scavenger hunt with one division for adults and one division for families. We are always looking for things that we can do together and just have fun with, and this seemed to fit the bill.
|Posing on a stage at the scavenger hunt|
|On a slide|
|The letter B|
We got our list of items, and even though we couldn't do them all (like make a human pyramid of all our teammates), we had fun taking photos in a camper, walking a stranger's dog, in a porta potty, on a slide and jumping up in the air. We also made a few videos, and Kyle had to run the bases of a ball field twice when I forgot to start the camera.
|In a porta potty|
|Posing with Honest Abe|
|In a camper|
That night, there was lots of laughing, lots of smiles and lots of memories. It sort of made us forget that Grace even has INAD, and we felt like a regular family getting to do something together. I hope we get to do it again soon.
This Grace-Filled Journey can be a tough one. Even on the best days, it's still hard not to wish things were different. But we learned a long time ago, that you may not like the cards you're dealt, but you still play the hand to the very best of your ability. By wishing things were different, I might miss out on some really great moments and memories with Grace, and there's no chance that I want to miss any of her gorgeous smiles.
So, tonight, I remember to be grateful for my awesome family and to many more wonderful adventures together.