Yes, I have, once again, gone a really long time without writing anything on here. I toyed around with the idea of doing video blogs to make things quicker, but that hasn’t panned out either. So here’s my attempt at summarizing most of this past summer (up to recent events, even though it’s now autumn).

Milly had knee surgery on my birthday and had rehab twice a week almost all summer. I enjoyed chatting with her physical therapist, Mark. We’d talk about movies and such sometimes. I had to keep on Milly about doing her exercises at home, but she’s walking normally now, so yay.

Milly spent her 12th birthday at Carowinds (an amusement park in Charlotte on the North Carolina-South Carolina border, for those of you not from around here) on a group trip with kids from church. Amanda saw her early in the morning when she took her to the church parking lot and I saw her when I picked her up from there with about ten minutes left in the day. It was a strange feeling having her away all day for her birthday, but she had fun with friends, which was, of course, the important thing.

She got her second Covid vaccination shot on the first day of school.

Griffin was doing really great at potty training a while back, but then I guess he got tired of it. Phoenix is currently doing really well with it. We were at Nonny’s last weekend for a backyard party and he stopped playing and dancing and came up to me to tell me he had to pee. He’s been doing so great and we’re letting him wear underpants now and then around the house. Fawkes is doing alright as well, but he’s not as proactive as Phoenix is.

You know what the game changer was for us? We were rewarding them with M&M’s, but after Tristen brought home a bag of candy corn and we started using those instead. They get the candy corn pumpkins for a poop. Griffin actually pooped on the potty today and yesterday. Come to think of it, Fawkes and Phoenix seem to mostly be pooping at school, which I note because I haven’t had to change as many of those of late.

Early in the summer Griffin started turning the light out at bedtime. Fawkes and Phoenix (but mostly Fawkes I think) would scream and try to get in bed before the light went off. Just a silly thing they do.

Fawkes used to call Griffin “Muffa,” but now it’s mostly “Biffin.”

Fawkes and Phoenix have learned to recognize their names. They also enjoy the ABS game, where we go through the alphabet and they have to say words that start with that letter. We don’t usually get terribly far. A is almost always “apple” and “alligator.” B is a bit more varies, but there’s always a cat for C. Fawkes usually wants us to hurry up and get to F so he can do “Fawkes.”

Let me back up a bit and go by order of the larger things I can recall from glancing at photos from the last few months.

Fawkes and Phoenix had swim lessons. They didn’t really take to them, but they can definitely get around with floaties on now, or just holding onto a pool noodle.

We had a few beach days. The last time we went out, a couple weeks ago, I really felt like surfing. There was an occasional little set, so I brought my board out, caught a couple waves, then gave each boy a turn in the shore break. Fawkes and Griffin didn’t really like it. Phoenix had a couple nice turns, but on the last one he got tumbled a bit. He was fine, but he was done after that.

Tristen is officially a surrogate now. She went up to Connecticut for a transfer and my mom came down and, along with Erin, stayed over to help out since Tristen had to be gone for a few days. That first one didn’t take, but the second one did. She’s now about 16 weeks along if I remember correctly. Certainly showing, and I felt Baby Girl kick on the anniversary of having felt Griffin kick for the first time (according to Facebook memories).

Carlos and Joe, the dads as we call them, came to visit for an ultrasound. They brought the boys Legos.

Shortly after Tristen got back from the first transfer we went to Drew and Leigh’s wedding. I think Tristen would have enjoyed herself a lot more if she’d been able to drink. I think it’s highly possible I would have enjoyed it more if she’d been able to drink too. That’s not a negative towards the wedding, which was a nice affair, or towards Tristen, but an allusion to a hypothetical that I won’t go into. I know what I mean, and Tristen knows what I mean.

All of my dad’s siblings except for Uncle Steve paid my parents a visit, so I took the boys up to Rougemont. Tristen was feeling pregnant-crappy, so she stayed home and ended up doing a good bit of cleaning.

I had two tattoo sessions, one in mid-June that finally colored in the snakicorn and most of the gryphon, then another in late September to finish off the gryphon’s wings. So my left arm is finally done. Of course I’m already planning more, but who knows if I’ll get around to any more.

A tradition I came up with for Father’s Day is to spend some time with each kid individually. I took each of them to the river walk at River Lights, just up the road from us. It was a windy day and I bought each of them a smoothie. Oh, actually Griffin didn’t get his time as it mostly occurred during his nap time, but now that Fawkes and Phoenix are in preschool he does get a lot of one-on-one time with me.

We celebrated Baby Beau’s birthday on the Fourth of July. There were fireworks going off all over Blake and Leslie’s neighborhood, so we had a great view just sitting in their front lawn.

My family did their traditional Fourth of July thing a few days later. Milly was at a church camp so she couldn’t go, which she was bummed about. My nephew Jackson wasn’t able to go either though. We pulled out the slip & slide.

We’ve also kind of started a new tradition where my brother-in-law Josh sets up a projector outside and we watch a movie. The first one we did it with was Black Widow, and then another time we watched Jungle Cruise.

We had tickets to a series of music events at Airlie Gardens, but only ended up going once. Had a fun time that once though, watching the kids play and dance.

Tristen went up to Connecticut for her second transfer in late July. I didn’t have quite as much help that time.

Sometime in mid-June Andra and Addy, who were on the way to Myrtle Beach for a dance thing, spent a night with us. Jackson and his girlfriend came by the next day and I took them and Milly out to lunch while Erin watched the boys.

In early August Milly and Addy spent several days with my parents in Rougemont. Adam and Rae were up there for a bit of that time too. Milly’s favorite part was the horse riding lessons my mom got for the girls.

Erin and Daniel had gone to visit his family in New York (not the city) for several weeks, but once they got back Erin, who’s helping earn Nextwave a good bit of money, came over every day to both work and to help with the kids. Once school started I’d pick her up after dropping the twins off at school and she’d pick them up.

We went to Rougemont again for Labor Day. Tristen and I had been thinking of taking the boys (as Milly would be with her mom for her family’s traditional Topsail Beach Labor Day)to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. That would be a bit of a long trip, so we talked to my parents about making a weekend of it, staying in Rougemont and just going to the zoo from their house. The Sawyers (that’s my youngest sister’s family) separately decided to visit my parents, and Adam and Rae decided to too. We ended up taking Jackson and Addy with us the day we went to the zoo.

Zoo day was something. We found out as we were driving down my parents’ driveway that the video on the van’s DVD player wasn’t working. Audio worked, just not video. I think it’s some video ribbon which is like $10 to replace, but I have yet to really dive into it. It’s actually not a terrible thing because the boys all adjusted to not having to have video on every time we got in the van (our fault, I know) very quickly.

The zoo visit was mostly fine until towards the end of it, when they started getting tired and fussy. We didn’t want to wait in a line to be taken back to the side we parked on with a bunch of screaming whiney kids, so we opted to take a trail to the other side of the parking lot. It was a gravel trail through the woods with plenty of hills. In order to keep the boys entertained I would run with them on the flat and downhill parts.

The stroller was a two-seater, but we were able to put the twins in the seats with Griffin sitting between them. It was going great until I was running at one point and the front wheel broke off. Fawkes and Phoenix were fine, but Griffin went flying. I was sure his face was going to be a scratched-up bloody mess, but the only scrapes were on his knees I think. Obviously he was distraught though. Jackson caught up and helped me out. We ended up pushing the stroller by reclining it on the back two wheels. One side of the metal forks holding the wheel in had twisted. Poor stroller- we had barely used it since February and it decided that day at the zoo was just too much for it.

Fawkes and Phoenix started preschool shortly after that. Erin and Daniel recently took their boat and moved along south with Charleston as their intended destination. They got as far as Southport (which isn’t far) the first day and last I talked to Erin they were considering staying in Myrtle Beach for a little bit.

Milly’s mom, Amanda, had sold her (formerly our) house thinking she had another one lined up, but it fell through. So did a few more. She was trying very hard to stay in Milly’s middle school district, which really limited her choices in a nuclear hot housing market. Milly spent some of her time with her mom at Hannah and Christian’s house (who were out of town for a bit because their new baby had to be born at Duke for a medical condition) and some time with her grandparents in Richlands. But they got moved into a place just a bit before the summer ended.

Our sitter, Danielle, had to cut back to just Fridays after moving into her newly-built home. She had car issues a few times and sort of faded out of watching them (no love lost), so we interviewed a couple and now we have a sitter named Carley. She’s a Carolina grad and brings some of that mess into the house sometimes. I told her that was fine unless Duke’s season goes as bad as last year, in which case she’d need to get that bad juju outta here.

Milly started school and other stuff. I actually cut back from getting her two afternoons to one because, with her having church stuff on Wednesday nights and being half an hour away now, it’s just logistically difficult to go pick her up a little after 4, bring her home, then have her back across town at 6 or 6:30. That was a really, really hard call to make.

Somewhere in there we had some trees chopped down (wish we’d done at least one more) and having a bunch of overgrowth removed from the backyard then replanting the dedication trees we’d planted at our previous house that the new owners were planning to remove.

I also got a haircut a couple weeks ago. I’d been growing it out and even had it trimmed once in the last few months, but it was getting unwieldy. Maybe I’ll consistently keep it shorter now. Maybe not.

And that was our Summer 2021.