Our weather has been mild this year. The grass is still green and naturally watered.
The warm weather will continue at least another two and a half months, but when the school bell tolls real summer comes to an end.
We had a quiet July 4th this year, having just returned from our travels. We met friends and neighbors at our local parade. It's tradition now.
I love the miniature ponies!
We went downtown to see fireworks that evening. Some of them were up close and personal like this lighted lantern.
I do make a point of trying to get the kids to our neighborhood pool regularly. It seems like "just another thing to do." I forget that I feel so relaxed once I go and it's also a chance to sneak in a bit of reading time.
My gardens are suffering terribly from the vole problems. But the back patio is putting up a pretty good fight and looks so inviting. Just three weeks after this picture was taken and the garden seems nearly double this size with the black-eyed susans in bloom and morning glories taking over the sunflower.
Our electricity went out one stormy day and we had four extra mouths to feed. I just happened to check instagram and discovered it was Dress Like a Cow Day at Chikfila (a.k.a. free dinner). We snapped those costumes together and carpooled everyone down the road. Dinner solved!
Rachel had the time of her life this July returning to the land of her birth (Pittsburgh) for a three week intensive theological training program. She went with her school buddy, Miriam. The poor girls were not happy to leave their mountaintop experience and return to normal life.
We celebrated my mom's birthday with an all cousin swim party at a friend's house.
It's always fun to see baby Olivia!
Not to mention enjoy the food that all the sisters cobbled together! YUM!
Yay for cousins and cupcakes and funny faces!!
Laura makes sure I take lots of tea breaks. She sends me little cards and notes all the time with suggestions that we "have a tea party." I'm glad she enjoys them!
My mom had a show with other Indiana children's book illustrators so we went up to have a look and celebrate.
Andrew enjoyed hanging out with his Bible study friends for a day at Kentucky Kingdom.
While Andrew was messing about on rollercoasters we were attending an Indians baseball game. The weather was perfect and it was such an enjoyable evening.
The cotton candy was delicious too.
I went painting with my mom on her birthday. We found a spot on the canal below the art museum until a thunder shower came up and we had to abandon it.
But the sun came out again and we found another spot to paint flowers.
Another day and another tea party with Laura.
David turned 11 last week!
We decided on a kayak adventure to celebrate his birthday.
It was our first time out on the water this summer. It's always fun, beautiful, and relaxing, even if we are worn out afterwards.
Finally the movie we had been waiting for for years was made available on Amazon: the newly made Swallows and Amazons movie!!!!!!! I couldn't believe we were finally, truly, actually watching it! The scenery was lovely and it's a real "gentle" movie. It's not overly exciting but neither is the book, really. I highly recommend it!
We often had a few extra friends around to play with -- neighborhood kids for computer time and friends for the afternoon.
And then on the very last day of July was were BACK TO SCHOOL! Crazy, I know. The high schoolers started several days before us. This is what comes of the "balanced calendar." But I do love the two week fall, winter, and spring breaks. This is James' last year at home before he heads to high school next year. David is entering middle school in 6th grade now and Laura is in second grade.
So we've left July but are bringing with us some lovely summer memories and looking forward a year of growth and development ahead.
And, the Giveaway Winner from Blackberry Ramble's 10 Year Anniversary is BARBARA who commented: "I've enjoyed your blog for years and I hope you keep it up! I'm also a fellow tea lover! Congratulations on your 10 year blogaversary!"
I first heard of Malaysia as a 12 year old girl living deep in the heart of Africa. British friends spoke about this unheard of country and the years they spent living in its capital and I never forgot.
It always makes me smile how things from one's childhood re-appear in adulthood. Here I was heading to Malaysia myself!
The church we visited in Singapore hosts a family conference each year in June. Everyone decamps to Malaysia where it is easy to get a reasonably priced facility for everyone. After a 2-hour taxi ride (which included long waits at the border) we arrived at the Le Grandeur Palm Resort. All I could think about was how similar it all looked to Uganda!
Since Michael was the speaker for the week we were upgraded to special rooms (thank you!) which included several sitting areas and an upstairs bedroom.
We arrived a day before the rest of the church so we had a chance to explore.
It turns out there were three other Singapore church groups having their family conferences the same week! How fun is that?!
I loved this more traditional building, and of course I love the palm trees. If it weren't for the ferocious heat and humidity I would have stayed outside for hours.
And the golf course! Where was Rachel when I needed her?! This is the course I want to be riding around on watching her during high school golf this fall.
The resort had plenty of pools -- and they all looked so beautiful.
More palm trees -- there are so many varieties.
The open air seating looked so inviting (again, if only the heat were not so bad).
Over and over again my mind turned to memories of a trip to Mombasa, Kenya when I was young. There were so many similarities, even with some of the food.
Yes, the pools were beautiful! Even more so with all the palm trees surrounding them. No, I didn't go swimming. I have such a strong allergy to changing temperatures and cold water and pay so severely for indulging that I've finally just about given up swimming. I did attempt to sit outside by the pool, mostly because I didn't want to miss the chance. But, I had to endure the oppressive heat to do so....
The food was so different and fun to experience! So many desserts I could eat! This one was made with coconut milk and tapioca "noodles".
At each meal the organizers made sure I had plenty of food I could eat. At lunch and dinner these bento boxes arrived for me.
Here's another lunch (or was it breakfast?). They both were similar.....
Another dessert based on coconut milk with black glutinous rice. Delicious! I need to make my own here sometime. On the side is a Malay dessert -- I think that one was made with coconut milk as well.
I had a few afternoons to myself throughout the week as Michael spent time preparing for his talks. It gave me the chance to paint, journal, and read.
I even managed to glean little bits and pieces for afternoon tea in my room.
Here's another bento box filled with dinner.
And another sweet dessert soup -- this one made with red beans.
Michael worked hard delivering 6 hour-long talks over the course of the week (which was really about three days).
Another round of Malay desserts -- many based on coconut milk or tapioca or glutinous rice.
This was my painting by the pool afternoon (in the oppressive heat).
And another tea time in my room.
We did have rain and that helped the heat for an hour or two. The rain was heavy and came up quickly. It was always beautiful afterwards.
It was wonderful to have the time to spend working on my painting and journaling. That doesn't happen as regularly as I'd like in "real life."
My last breakfast in Malaysia. I loved all these savory dishes for breakfast!!! If only I could have them in my fridge each morning. There was soup, and curry, and see that pile in the top righthand corner? Those are super tiny dried fish meant to add a nice flavor to your food.
The highlight of the week, of course, was being with each and everyone of the conference attendees, from the little babies (so adorable) to the older members of the congregation. Every meal provided another opportunity to make new friends and share about each other's lives and hear how God is at work on the complete opposite side of the world from where I am. This was a gift!
On Friday we headed back to Singapore in a huge bus, stood in line again at the border, and eventually arrived at the Newton Food Centre where we had plenty to choose from for lunch.
There was the famous Singapore Chicken Rice:
Or all kinds of other dishes (that included foods I shouldn't be eating):
The pancake making stall:
The cold dessert stall:
And my lunch! Pancakes, roasted duck, chicken rice and pork.
The fruit stall!
And the perfect way to end -- a young coconut!
So that was our adventure in Malaysia. In the next post I'll take you to a Singapore wedding!