Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Summer Reflections

The summer is almost over.  We woke up today to the most gorgeous, cool, breezy day.  So I nudged all my kiddos out of bed so they could come help me weed.  It probably wouldn't have been their first choice of end-of-summer activities.  But surprisingly, there wasn't very much complaining.  The temperature was perfect.  Nary a mosquito was in sight.  Since we got serious about keeping the bird feeder filled up, the ticks have mostly disappeared.

My heart was filled with peace.  And I found myself simply enjoying having my children there with me.  I asked my oldest two what they would like to do to say goodbye to summer.  They both agreed that if they got to go to Hobby Lobby this weekend, they'd be happy.

Hard to please, aren't they?

Then we started reviewing our summer.  Last week if you asked me, I would have admitted that it was a pretty lame summer.  We didn't go much of anywhere as a family.  We didn't spend our days swimming and our nights star gazing.  Mostly, we stayed close to home.  Or at home.

But after this morning's conversation, I have changed my mind.  It wasn't a lame summer.  K exclaims over the fact that she didn't feel bored at all this summer.  Because she discovered pinterest on her kindle.  And has since become a full fledged do-it-yourselfer.  She made all sorts of projects to help her organize her room.  She built and sanded and painted a bookshelf with her dad.  She discovered a profound joy in organizing, which is a fabulous thing because she really has a talent for it.  She did multiple art projects and played adventure games with her younger siblings.  And she got a fair amount of cooking and baking practice.

S became a sculptor this summer.  And bred an army of clay people fit for mordor.  Her earlier versions were referred to most lovingly by her dad as "slugs with hairdos."  But she has improved to the point that they have quite a bit of character even though they are pretty tiny.  She can sculpt almost anything I ask of her.  She made fairy toadstools and a fairy door for R's party.  She's got skills and she used her free time to develop them.  She also spent many happy hours playing the flute, and learning new songs.  She did some painting and plenty of reading.

R and B got lost in countless imaginative games.  They became obsessed about a friend's baby, which thankfully makes B stop demanding that we get a baby of our own.  Although she does still pine over wanting a baby mermaid.  These little girls of mine would go MIA for hours, playing happily together in their room, or the basement.  They always made a disaster, but I think that's a pretty fair trade for all those creatively well-spent mornings.

J probably had the worst summer of all the kids.  Which is ironic since we live in his version of heaven.  But since he refused to wear bug spray, he spent most of the summer in a self-made indoor prison.  But he did log many, many hours playing contentedly with his little sisters.  Even if he did try to scare them one too many times, sending them crying for mama.  Just recently, since J's neighbor friend came back from vacation, the great outdoors have a green light again.  At long last.  But over the summer, he did catch his first fish.  And spent hours upon hours pining over snakes with his dad.  He did a little cooking with his mom, and built a few hundred lego/magnet creations.

And as for me, well, I was A-OK with having a mellow summer this year.  Last year was such a whirlwind of stress and nonstop decision making and touring the country with 5 kids, that I needed some time off.

We never went swimming as a family, which was the thing the kids most consistently asked for.  But, I did help 24 teenage girls get to camp on a lake with boats and tubes and jet ski's.  And I helped prepare about half that number to be able to withstand the rigors of a three day pioneer trek.  I led the YW (and a tag-along Jacob) on a hike up to a rock slide, and planned multiple Tuesday night activities.

I took my kids to the library, participated in the reading program (which I admit to hating--I've always read to/with my kids, but I absolutely hate keeping track!), saw some snakes and a hilarious puppet show.  I made the oldest four go to baseball camp.  We had pizza picnics at the park and movie matinees at home.  We baked a fair amount of treats and had a couple of really fun birthday parties.

It sounds like this post is mostly self-justification.  And maybe it is.  Maybe part of me feels like we could have done more.  Maybe part of me thinks we should have done more.  But other than not being able to find the money to put the younger kids in swimming lessons, I don't really have many regrets. 

All in all, maybe it wasn't such a bad summer.

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