This is the Summer of SO MUCH.

Here’s our list of what we’re loving in July of 2018….

1.This is the Summer of Stories.

The kids and I have listened to so many good stories this summer, thanks to Overdrive, the library app for digital books. We’ve read A Night Divided, The Wonderland Hotelbooks, the Harry Potterseries (for some of us), Judy Blume’s early books, and now Refugee.

We try to break up the books with Adventures in Odyssey for the hardcore John Avery Whittaker fans in the family, but we always end up coming  back to good books.

  1. This is the Summer of Shaved Ice.

Every other family in Texas probably discovered the extra-special joy of shaved ice years ago.  But for the Hergenraders, it was the summer of 2018. Why do we need to eat mounds of ice every single day?

Two words: heat wave.

  1. This is the Summer of Swimming.

Again, heat wave.

When it’s been a long day inside—eating shaved ice and listening to audio books—there is no better “Go outside!” activity than wrestling around in the pool.

Back in June we were doing two-a-days of swimming, mostly by accident. The kids had swim team in the morning, and by the afternoon they had forgotten they had already been in the pool. Two sets of wet towels, two baths for everyone, endless hours in the pool. The kids hair has never looked lovelier.

Ironically, the pool is now so hot, no one wants to swim at all. Yesterday the kids said it was hotter than bathwater.

Even so, the boys decided to jump in yesterday—fully clothed. Because sometimes you are sweating so much, your only option is to throw yourself into a very hot swimming pool.

  1. This is the Summer of Alexa.

For a couple years now, my go-to gift for every wedding, birthday, and retirement was an Echo Dot. I was giving everyone the gift I really wanted to get myself.

Finally, I bought our family one for Christmas. As you also may have discovered, she is potato chip of Smart Assistants. If you have one, you might as well have six.

And, so, Alexa has taken over our house. From our morning alarms, through the day of our favorite songs (“Thunder” is the kids’ summer anthem), to Alexa’s intercom feature that lets me (repeatedly) call the kids down for lunch, Alexa is in charge of this place.

Then there are the Timers she keeps for us (“Get-Your-Room-Clean-Quickly Timer” and the “Screen-Time Timer” and the “The-Bacon-Could-Be-Burning Timer.”)

All of this, until we tuck the kids into bed, listening to the soothing sound of Alexa telling them a bedtime story.

Welcome to the family, Alexa. We knew you were everything we were missing.

  1. This is the Summer of Room Re-Dos.

The catalogs, which come in the mail from PB Teen and Crate & Barrel and RHTeen are to blame, I think.

Thanks to REAL LIFE pictures on actual paper, our kids have been inspired with canopies and lofts and trundles and tassels and gold brocade.

And so, we have painted, purged, moved furniture (a moment of silence for the second of miscommunication when El accidently dropped a desk on my toe. PIVOT!)

When it came time to get furniture, we went to IKEA because that’s the creative person’s dreamland for finding furniture to hack. And it’s cheap and we have a lot of kids.

We also tried out the Pottery Barn outlet in San Marcos. The store did have much of the fluorescent pink peace signs we had seen in the PB Teen catalog. Unfortunately, the furniture also had scratches and dents and the girls were unimpressed.

So, we told Alexa to pick out some furniture for us. (See #4).

She did a magnificent job.

  1. This is the Summer of Shine.

Also, I’ve been writing my next book, Shine: Reflecting God’s Love. This is a book for teen girls about their place in this world. It came out of conversations with my daughters.

The book is a love letter to young girls about who they are in Christ. It’s filled with stories and lists and how-tos about knowing you are worthy and sharing that with the world.

This has been my favorite book to write. I’ve written it one-thousand words per day this summer. Sometimes I write books and it feels like I’m typing with oven mitts on.

This one has felt like I’m playing a piano piece from memory. Easy, fun, and inspired.

Also, a summer shout-out, honorable mention to our other favorites….

  1. a) Podcasts (We are a house divided on podcasts. Sam and Nate will listen to just about any podcast with me—even if it’s goofy and ridiculous. The girls are impatient with them. Mike thinks they’re too chatty. I’m a fan of ALL THE PODCASTS.
  2. b) another honorable mention to Nerf Wars, which is the boy’s hobby that almost always reemerges at this point in the summer.

We’re also loving family movie nights, Target (news? not news), lots & lots of NCL volunteering, trampoline parks, VBS, and summer camp.

SO MUCH of all of it!

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