Wednesday, August 12, 2015

This Summer Was Made

Though simple, I think we did this summer right. A lot of our activities were premeditated but spontaneous. How so? We made a list of things at the beginning of summer of things we wanted to do, or things we could do when we got bored. Some examples included: build forts, hunt bugs, go for walks and bike rides and swims, play at the park, see a movie at the drive-in, visit with friends, read a lot, put together large puzzles, make treats, climb trees, clean the house (!?), trips to museums, play in the brook along Winfield, build with Legos, pretend (you name it), etc. Simple, simple, easy and relaxed.

I must interrupt myself and note that we had also planned to make this summer full of learning. Learning about anything the kids wanted. We planned to dedicate a week to one topic and make something to show for it. Mondays we would check out books from the library, read them through the week and create something fun to go along with it. This lasted only two weeks for reasons you could guess. The first week the topic was black holes (which was pretty interesting), and the second week was . . . pepperoni? No, maybe "the wild west"? I can't remember, but that idea soon died and we got back to summer being more like . . . summer.

Back to simple and relaxed. So, with that ever growing list of ideas in our minds we just kind of faced the summer as a blank slate ready to be written on. Although the out-of-school summer was just a short 6 weeks it felt long and good. I probably only heard "I'm bored" literally twice. Praise the heavens!! The summer season, though, is still blazing on and we're still enjoying it before the fall.

Some mental images and memories I never want to forget . . .

Just a few days ago Theo and I "took a run". It was his idea and he even got dressed for it. He put on his Toy Story light-up shoes, baggie shorts that have a huge buckle-belt, an over-sized islander shirt, and his American flag trucker hat--wearing it backwards. I told him to lead the way. We ran across the giant hill in our front yard and through the brushy trails back. The sun was bright. Black and blue butterflies were flying everywhere. He was in front of me bounding a long. As we crossed the back of the long hill he opened his wing span, fingertips touching the grasses and flowers along the trail, and ran with his might. As he reached the descent of the hill he turned around and smiled at me and said, "I love summer! This is the best day evaaaaaar!" As we ran through the tall grassy, flower-filled trails I told him I think this is what heaven will be like. He agreed. Moments like this will live with me forever.

Another. Henry has really taken to reading. Many times I caught him sitting in the lazy boy with Mabel or Theo or both perched on his side listening to him read. This summer he has read about 30 Magic Tree House Books, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and started the second Harry Potter book. We've read Tin Tin books, and devoured all the books by our favorite authors multiple times: Mercer Mayer, Chris Van Dusen, William Steig, and Mo Willems. At dinner time one way we like to get the kids to calm down or stay at the table (because this is a HUGE challenge) is to play, Name That Book. We'll recite lines from the book and the child who guesses right will get to come up with the next line. This is a fun tradition.

Catching fireflies. Through most of the summer I would put the older three to bed and then walk Margo around outside. Because the sun sets so late in the summer I was the only one to get to see the fireflies. After about two weeks of feeling totally spoiled at getting to enjoy the fireflies alone I decided Henry, Theo, and Mabel would get to stay up late one night and do the same. Let me tell you, we lucked out and chose the right night. The fireflies were abundant and the kids loved it. The children were all in their PJs, ready for bed, and we sat on the couch reading until we saw a flew flickers in the field. Upon seeing them we ran outside and spent 20 minutes catching, releasing, running, and dancing in the tall grass, watching the magical bugs. The boys climbed a tree and saw them from up above, and Mabel on the other hand, got down low and saw them up close. I don't ever want to forget this night.

Another fun memory is when the boys caught frogs on rainy days with the neighbor girls. We had some good weeks of rain. On those rainy days the kids would either put on swimsuits or rain gear and collect buckets full of rain water from the drain pipes and disperse it to random places, wherever their game required. They assigned each other roles and they got to work tapping sticks and making special hoots and whistles to communicate the whens and wheres of the water dispersal. Everyone always got soaked and often muddy. And, on a few of those days the kids were lucky enough to pull back the logs next to our porch and find quarter-sized frogs. Usually they'd find enough for everyone to have one.

The children did make some goals to accomplish by the end of summer. I can't remember them all, but I am happy to report that summer 2015 is the summer Henry learned to tie his shoes and Theo learned to ride a two-wheeler. Both abilities have brought them much confidence. I can't mention increased confidence without thinking about swimming. Henry can now jump in the deep end and swim across the length of the pool as well as touch the bottom of the 9" pool. He loves it and is so proud. Theo, too, can now jump into the pool and swim short distances. Unlike Henry, Theo, can baaaaarely touch the bottom of the shallow end and have his head stick out just enough for his nose and mouth to stick out. This has not deterred him at all, which has really kept me on my toes. What's impressed me the most is his ability to stay calm and get to a safe space despite his size.

I've loved how Mabel has really taken to Margo. She absolutely adores her little sister and likes to mirror me in mommying. She'll pack her bags with toy food, get her pretend keys, phone, and wallet and take her babies outside or around the house. She also loves to sing to Margo, tickle her toes, and pat her head.

Another family project was making a push-cart. It reminds me of the wagon in the Calvin and Hobbes comics. Todd built it with the boys over the summer and we tried it out on a hill at Douglass park. It went down the hill pretty slow but one great feature is that you can steer it with your feet at the front wheels. We like to use it to pull the kids on sometimes.

Good times, good times. May we make more and document them and cherish them.

Random photos, pictures taken by one of the kids:

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