We’ve had a busy last couple of weeks, so I’m just going to fill you in on life lately.
It has been insanely hot down here in Shen. You all know that I’m not a heat person and here I am. We were in an extreme heat warning all last week and feels like temps were 110-115. I was not impressed.  I will be happier about the warmer temps in the winter, right?!
One of the best parts of the move in my children’s eyes is that they have a nice aquatic center. The pool passes for a family of six were super cheap! We’ve been down there for a month and we’ve already more than used it. I told Aaron the other day, “The good news is there’s a pool in Shen! The bad news is there’s a pool in Shen!”
 What I mean by that is the boys especially only have their eyes on the prize – going to the pool – every day. EVERY. DAY. Sometimes, this mom just doesn’t want to go to the pool because she wants to pick a project around the house or perhaps just sit in the air-conditioning. I’m just saying. We kind of have it down to two hours and that’s it per day. The kids are accepting and I can get on board with a couple of hours.

Behind the pool and by the ball fields in town we would always see people riding their bikes and running on what appeared to be a trail.  One afternoon last week, I loaded up all the bikes in the truck and the kids and I went to check it out while Aaron was at work.  We found an AWESOME place to ride our bikes, walk and run! 

This was the only scary part.  You have to ride a bridge over the river and everybody was a tad freaked out.  We made it though.  Jenna also ran over a snake and I’m sure her scream could be heard for miles…. 😉
We made our first trip from Shenandoah to Mankato to help my brother move and celebrate my nephew’s fourth birthday last weekend! When Aaron accepted the job, this was something I was concerned about, the distance from my brother and his family. We see them quite a bit and going from just over three hours to five and a half is a doozy. Well, we survived thanks to the help of four devices, Netflix and headphones. Each kid was able to watch their own movie and life was good. We got it all moved and they got kind of settled and we celebrated the birthday with donuts!
Aaron and I had both driven from Shen to Cherokee and dropped off a vehicle here because of the state softball tournament. We realized it made no sense for us to drive all the way back to Shen (3 hrs, 15 minutes), when the kids and I could stay in Cherokee and drive from here (1 hr, 30 minutes) to Fort Dodge. Plus, it’s a couple bonus days with the cousins.
State Softball is my jam.  So many good memories of that place and I still cherish them and probably always will!
Aunt Jamie watched all six kiddos before state softball.  We had a great time despite the heat.  We spent the morning at Spring Lake Park exploring and playing and then invaded Grandma Jo’s house! 
 
In addition to his children, this may be Aaron’s pride and joy.  Aaron, Justin and Mitch love to be meat smoking cronies together.  It’s actually kind of cute how they can talk about smoking meat for hours and send each other pictures back and forth.  Justin and Mitch both have an ugly drum smoker and Mitch hooked Aaron up with this barrel so he could make one of his own.  Aaron was super proud and made a rack of ribs and pork loin Sunday night.  It was a-mazing!

I’m always looking for new places to take the kids and this place is about a mile or two outside of Shen.  You can camp, fish, walk on the grass trails, whatever…  We walked for awhile, then got the kids’ bikes out and then attempted to skip rocks.  Blake is the big winner – 5 times!

 
Tennis is a thing here.  I know, it seems strange to me too since I’ve never been around it.  That being said, I know my SW Iowa friend Mr. Barry used to coach tennis at Harlan and just this year the Shen girls tennis team was third at state.  People are always playing tennis.  It’s not really in our wheelhouse, but we went and bought some cheap rackets to try it out.  It’s pretty ugly, but the kids enjoy it and are always asking to go play. 
All in all, things are going well down here.  Aaron is staying busy with his job.  I’m working remotely for the paper as much as I can.  The kiddos have met some kids.  It is so BEAUTIFUL down here, I can’t get over it!  
We’re just soaking up the rest of summer.  School will be here before we know it.  We’ve already registered! AHHH!!!