I’m going to live in denial that the summer – and the year! – is halfway over. Somebody posted yesterday we were six months from Christmas, so I think I’m going to ignore that countdown for now too. Goodness, I love this time of the year and I want to soak it in. For me, part of soaking it in is remembering what has happened, so that’s what’s happening here. Thanks for joining me on the porch.
We started the month with a trip. I know, that’s a nutty plan given how our May was, but I gave Greg tickets to the Cardinals versus Cubs baseball game in St. Louis way back in April before my life turned extra crazy. So we spent two days in St. Louis, and it was really fun. We ate at Fitz’s, where they also bottle delicious soda. We went to the first half of the game that then included a 3 1/2-hour rain delay that sent us back to the hotel and into bed. The next day we went to Grant’s Farm for the first time and really enjoyed it. We ended the weekend by eating at the Boathouse at Forest Park, another favorite STL restaurant.
We were happy to return home and have a stretch of “normal” days that involved inviting friends over to swim, exploring our creeks and land, and being together without an agenda. (I’m also a little obsessed with that field of amber waves of grain in the picture above that we happened upon!)
My sister, Cassie, know lives just four hours away. Considering for the majority of her adulthood and marriage, she’s lived across the world in New Zealand, a dozen hours away in Dallas, and about 11 hours away in Buffalo, NY, I’ll take four hours! She moved to Bloomington, Indiana, this month with her husband and their three kids and after a couple of weeks decided to capitalize on our closeness. She and her kids (and our mom) came to visit and swim. I love watching our kids be together and I love being grownup sisters.
Then last weekend five of my favorite writer friends gathered at my lake house for a retreat. It didn’t really end up feeling like a retreat.
We all came with ideas and disappointments and full schedules and emotions. People had trouble getting here and one of us from the usual group couldn’t be here. We moved locations because my lake house was without power for 18 hours.
But we laughed (and cried), ate several meals together, brainstormed and encouraged one another to work on new projects, watched two movies, and are thankful our usual Voxer conversations came to life around tables and in living rooms. God sure has been teaching me this year about surrendering expectations and holding plans loosely, and I’m thankful to have these friends alongside me – even fro our scattered physical locations for the most of the year.
Writers’ Retreat – While it didn’t feel like much of a retreat, I’m glad we did it. I call it a writers’ retreat, but it’s about so much more than that. We do talk about our writing – whether that’s actually blogging, book writing, podcasting, or creating products. But we also talk about our ministries and motherhood and marriage and all sorts of other things that don’t have to begin with M. At our retreat, each of us brought our favorite things for each other, so that was fun to share.
Yes to Cucumbers Face Wipes – I included these in my gifts to my friends. And I use them every day, usually on my face but also sometimes on my feet.
(I’m sharing a favorite Summer Not-To-Do List and playlist to my email #PorchStories friends, so be sure you’re signed up. If you’re not already, you can join in the fun here.)
From the bookshelf
“Only Ever Her” by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen – I really loved how this story was told from how it affected different characters. There were lots of relationships and connections intertwined with the suspense of what happened. This was one I didn’t want to put down.
“It Ends With Us” by Colleen Hoover – It’s been a while since I read a whole book in a day, but that’s what happened with this one. The characters are dealing with lots of heavy subjects, such as abuse, heartbreak, and death, but the writing also includes some sweet, funny details.
“The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good On You” by Lisa-Jo Baker – I actually read this one in my crazy May days, but I wrote a review and shared about the fun preorder bonuses this month, so I wanted to make sure y’all knew about it before it officially releases July 23.
“Britfield & the Lost Crown” by C.R. Stewart – Cate reviewed this adventure book for elementary and middle school readers on the blog this month. She has read it multiple times, so be sure to check out her review if the kids in your life are looking for a book recommendation. It’s the first in what’s expected to be a series. My girl is ready for the next one, that’s for sure!
Stay tuned because on Friday I’ll have a complete list of all the books I’ve read so far this year with links to any reviews I’ve written. Of course, here are some tips on how I manage to read several books a month.
On the screen
“Aladdin” – I really loved Will Smith as the genie and loved seeing this classic Disney story truly brought to life. We’ve loved the theatrical version of Aladdin we’ve seen on the Disney cruises, so our expectations were pretty high, but my kids and I all give this one all the thumbs up. Plus I love that there are good family movies in the theater this summer. Greg took the kids to see “Toy Story 4” last weekend while I was retreating with my blogger friends.
“Second Act” – This movie had more substance and emotions than I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it. I hadn’t heard of it, but my pop culture expert friend Mary Carver brought it to our retreat and we stayed up way too late watching it one night.
“Isn’t It Romantic?” – Again, I hadn’t heard of this one, but Mary came through with more movie goodness. I literally laughed out loud multiple times and Rebel Wilson wasn’t as crass as I thought she might be.
“Designated Survivor” – I am so glad Netflix picked up this show to continue with season three, but a new character is crasser than the original ones. Somebody told the whole show gets edgier, so I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m a couple of episodes in and want to keep watching at this point.
How’s your June been? What stories would you bring to the porch?