Moments 07.2023

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July was a full month for our family with lost teeth, birthdays and lots of summer fun.

“I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass.”

Welcome to “Moments” here on JoyFoodSunshine. At the end of every month I share a recap of our family’s favorite moments! So here it is for July 2023.

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Life Lately

It finally started feeling like summer this month. It was sunny and warm every day which meant lots of time at the pool.

4th of July

Our neighborhood puts on a fun parade and party on the 4th – and we enjoyed it together as a family!

Since I’ve been pregnant or nursing for every 4th of July since 2011 (haha) – it has been over 10 years since I’ve actually gone to fireworks. Well, this year all eight of us went with some friends and it was so fun! Ever since, Z keeps saying “more fireworks” then making explosion sounds.

It’s crazy to think that there won’t be another year that we won’t be able to go and see them (as long as everyone is healthy)! Now just to figure out which nearby town puts on the best show! 😉

Swim Team

The kids’ swim team wrapped up this month. They had so much fun and I’m so grateful to have such a great team right in our neighborhood.

I can’t believe summer is already coming to an end, but we sure did enjoy it!


Oh goodness, Z had a few big changes this month. First, he stopped taking a bottle. I know he’s 2 1/2 – but as long as he wanted it before he went to sleep, I would probably have given it to him! It was so interesting how it happened. Usually, he asked for a bottle every night. Then, one night he just said – “no, no milk. no bottle” and didn’t drink it. He never took another bottle again.

His language has also exploded. He talks all the time and it’s so fun to hear him express himself.

Thankfully he still is the best snuggler. At night, we lay next to each other in his bed. Then, when he’s ready to go to sleep he sits up and says, “mom” and then crawls up on my chest and falls asleep. I’m grateful he still loves snuggling – because I am definitely not ready to give that up yet!

He also made incredible progress in the pool this month! After over a year of him crying during swim lessons and wearing floaties during our playtime, something just clicked and he became a little fish.

One day he just took off his floaties, jumped in and kept saying “more pancake” and jumping again (“pancake” is what the swim school calls the back floats they teach the kids to do). After that day he never put his floaties on again, and started finally swimming on his tummy etc.

One day he was playing with an inflatable inner-tube. He held it around his waist, walked to the deepest part of the shallow end (where he cannot touch) and jumped in. I told him that wasn’t a good choice and he instantly went under the water, pushed the tube off of him, went into his back float and kicked to the wall. He gave me a triumphant face, asked for the tube and swam away – I laughed so hard. So, while I still make sure I am an arm’s length away from him at all times when he’s without his floaties, this progress was absolutely incredible and exactly what I’ve been waiting for!

Look at the little smirk on his face! And he always floats with one tiny hand in the air! Love that little nugget.


We have a system for taking our kids on dates – we alternate between mom and dad, and go from oldest to youngest, then repeat the cycle. So our oldest would go on a date with Ritch, then I’d take our second oldest out, then it goes down the line and when we cycle back through they switch which parent they go with. I’m sure I could explain this better – haha, but this is so important to our family and something I recommend parents do with their kids.

We love these sweet times with them – they are so different one-on-one than they are when we’re all together. This month, Ritch took Naomi on a date mini golfing then to her favorite coffee shop.

Then I took Mara out to breakfast and then to Scheels to ride the ferris wheel and play a few games. Such simple little outings but they show individual love to the kids in meaningful ways. They are my favorite times we have with them!

Oh – Ritch and I snuck a date in this month too! 😉

Ritch’s Birthday

Ritch’s birthday was this month. Unfortunately he was on jury duty for a week that included his birthday – and it was a really emotionally difficult case. So, we just tried to make the hours at night when he was home really special for him.

We made him steak, mashed potatoes and green beans per his request. And of course – his favorite Eclair cake.

It has been a difficult season for our family – and we have drawn upon the experiences of those who have come before us in history and in ministry to keep pressing on. This gave me the idea to get Ritch an antique bible for his birthday.

I found an absolutely beautiful 1679 King James bible with an original cover that is just stunning (I purchased it from Crawford and Sterling and Benjamin helped me pick out the perfect bible for Ritch)! He loved the gift like I hoped he would. It included a Book of Common Prayer, and he has been playing some of the songs on the piano. He read some passages with the kids, and told them “our country isn’t even as old as this bible!” 😉

Things I’m loving

Here are some things I’ve been loving lately…

  • I posted about these Paige Pants last month – well I found the Paige Brooklyn shorts and I love them. I do not love jean shorts, and I’ve been looking for a cute alternative (that isn’t workout shorts) all summer. Well – these are the winner – I bought them in three colors (pink-ish, green and white) I love them so much – they are soft and stretchy and so comfortable.
  • I started taking this natural supplement to help me manage stress for the past two months. It has helped me immensely – to the point that it even helped regulate my cycles which had been a little wonky for over a year. I am pretty “crunchy” when it comes to our health, so I love that this is an all natural product that truly does work.
  • Burrata salad. still my favorite summer salad. What’s not to love?! Give me all the burrata!

Life thoughts

Ritch’s sabbatical officially ended July 1st, although practically it ended June 1st. I shared some of what I’ve been feeling in June’s moments post, so if you want to know some more head over there. We missed having him around so much this month it hurts! We’re planning on making a sabbatical (probably 1 month) a regular thing after not taking one for 17 years – because that first month was heaven on earth!

Now our family is working on healing from the trauma we have experienced – and we truly have all experienced it, especially Ritch and I and our oldest daughter.

One way we have started to heal is to be intentional about focusing on the things we are grateful for in our life. We are grateful for our friends in ministry who know and fully understand what we’ve gone through – and have been right where we are. They remind us we will get through this and God is going to use it to bring Him glory and for our good. I’m grateful for good friends and for being fully known and fully loved by them – I’ve learned what an absolute gift that kind of friendship really is. I’m grateful for my family – as long as we have each other, we need nothing else. I’m grateful for the Psalms and it’s reminders that we aren’t alone. And the list goes on and on!

This verse is my life verse – I memorized it when I went through a season of loss between my first two kids – and it’s hanging on the wall as the first thing you see when you enter our home.

A lot of people have claimed their harmful actions were motivated by “love.” But a deep study and reminders from good friends about what love really is – and even more importantly – what it definitely is not has been so helpful in our healing process as well.

My friend who is also a pastor’s wife (and has been through more than I have) wrote this to me and I have cherished her words: ” When you are talking to people, hold in the back of your mind, “love always protects.” if people are saying they love you and they have not protected you in this. They need to understand that pain.”


We went to a fair this month and it was hot – but so fun!

Our deck was finally finished this month – so we hung this swing underneath it and the kids love it.

Mara lost her first tooth this month! She was so excited and got a whopping $5 from the daddy tooth fairy! haha

Love this little squishy swimmer.

It rained a lot this month in the evenings – and my kids never missed an opportunity to go outside and play in the storms.

My sweet snuggle bug. <3

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