You’ve survived another trip around the sun, and survived so much in the year of that journey. You had a fantastic 8th Grade Year, crushed Lebanon Middle School, and set several records on the swim team, making a ton of people so proud of you in the process. Now, you’re tackling high school like it is nothing, quoting back to me my own words of wisdom that “High school is a joke.” We’ve also lost the cat that was around since before you were born, and then added a brand new one to our family. Sometimes, we think you love that cat more than us (even though he doesn’t want you to pick him up! Ever! Stop it!).

Through all of the old & new, you’ve demonstrated the same beyond-your-years wisdom and courage that has always been the foundation of your character. You’re still a teenager, and have plenty of teenager moments, but are so smart and perceptive that it is easy for us to forget that fact. As long as you continue to get good grades and stay out of trouble, we’re all in on balancing those lives with you. Letting you explore and discover while giving you a backstop of confidence and comfort. Encouraging you to be social and involved, while being your sounding board and guiding voice of principle. But most importantly, watching you set and accomplish dreams and goals, while getting out of the way and cheer-leading while you do it!

As I’m just about to start my Freshman season on the high school swim team, they got around to updating the middle school record board. We’re very proud of our accomplishments and can’t wait to paint our names all over the high school board!

Another 3.1 miles are in the books! Finishing on the 50 yard line is pretty cool, but I think the boys liked the free snacks the best.

Here I come, Lebanon High School! Good luck in 5th Grade, Parks!

The Lafayette Lawsons and the Lebanon Lawsons teamed up for a Houseboat adventure on Lake Cumberland! We really wanted to try something new and different, and the houseboat really hit the mark. The Mommies did an amazing job planning, arranging, and provisioning for the 4 nights we would be away from home. Food! Oh, man, we had a ton of food. Everyone ate very well. We cooked out on the grill every day and had burgers, dogs, steak, and chicken. There were also plenty of snacks like chips, cookies, granola bars, fruit snacks, and cheese sticks. A vegetable or two accidentally sneaked on to our plates a couple of times. We also had plenty of floaties and noodles for water fun. Squirt guns and water balls, too. Good thing, because this boat had a curly slide off the back, a hot tub, and we even convinced the adults that it was a good idea to jump off the top in to the water! Ha!

Speaking of the boat, it was a 77 foot monster with 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen and dining room attached to the living room area and captain’s chair. The deck on the front had a patio table and chairs next to the grill and it is where we ate all of our lunches and hung out. I’m not exactly sure how Captain Manata and Daddy drove that thing around. It seemed like docking and un-docking was a little tense, but out on the open water was a breeze. In fact, the kids all got a turn at the wheel. The lake was so big and open, and the boat moved so slowly that there wasn’t really much of a chance to mess it up.

Speaking of Manata, our Dungeon Master was not only the Captain, but also the cruise Entertainment Director. He brought a small sample of his massive game collection to share with everyone. We played all sorts of games and even roped the Mommies in to participating for a few. The icing on the cake, though, was our interest in Dungeons and Dragons! Like arriving in Nerd Nirvana, Uncle Manata helped us design custom characters and lead our Raiding Party through multiple adventures. We successfully combined our powers, fought off enemies, and recovered precious treasures across the land.

Speaking of fun, in between eating and games, there was tons of swimming! We parked in little coves off of the main lake where we had our own little private area. We were able to jump, yell, and splash without bothering anyone (except for the adults we brought with us). On a few occasions, we were adventurous and energetic enough to swim across the cove to the other shore. Other times, we just sort of floated and played over by the boat. In any case, all of that swimming and sunshine always made us hungry for MORE FOOD!

Usually on vacations, regardless of how much fun you’ve had, there is that little feeling that you’re ready to get home and sleep in your own bed (especially after sleeping on the granite slabs in this houseboat!). But, the trip went so smooth and everyone had so much fun that we could have stayed on that boat for another week together. It is great to be able to have a small vacation like this with our cousins and make big memories for a lifetime.

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