Only when I look at it, I see it more like this:
And I hear the song "Stand by Me" in my head.
Today is our last official day of summer. School starts tomorrow.
This summer has been a lot of things for us. We did a trillion different activities designed to be educational, inspire creativity, and push us to try new things. This summer was the most intentional I've ever been with my children. We had our first truly successful family vacation. And we spent our Fridays with my niece Layla and nephew Gracen.
Last Friday was our last official Cousins Day since the kids will be in school this Friday. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that last Friday something super special. Then I caved under the pressure and just let it be a fun, casual day. We actually ended up going to a new park (which all five kids thoroughly enjoyed) and then driving to all the kids' schools to see the posted class lists (to find out their teachers). The day was wonderful, and I let go of the desire to exceed everyone's expectations all in one day.
Today, I took my kids shopping for new school shoes, or "everyday shoes" as they call them. After we were done shopping, we decided to kidnap Gracen and Layla for one last bonus session of cousin time.
We went to our original favorite park. The weather was gorgeous. The kids had a wonderful time. It was what we all needed to seal our summer and prepare for the new chapter that begins tomorrow.
I tried to snap a few pictures on my phone while we were at the park, but the kids were constantly on the move, and I focused more on soaking up the beauty of their childhood.
I helped Nora climb across "the discs" (I have no way of explaining to you what these things look like in real life).
There are three of these poles-with-discs-to-stand-on in a row. You have to cross them to get from one platform to the higher platform with the big swirly slide. This apparatus is a milestone for my children. Each boy has worked through the stages. First, they're terrified and shaky and insist that I hold onto them as they climb across. Then, they need me to just pull the next one closer to them and be there in case they need me. Finally, one brave day, they work up the nerve and cross the discs on their own.
Today was the first time that Nora attempted the discs. She was in Stage 1. I betcha she gets to Stage 3 in no time. But I'm glad that somebody still needs me to spot them.
Griffin, Nora, and Layla spun on the merry-go-round (so did a poor toddler girl whose mom was on her phone the entire time and wouldn't have noticed if her daughter left the park).
The kids all took turns on the swings.
The kids walked around the perimeter of the playground.
Nolan pulled on a weed, and we discovered that it had long roots!
And, the highlight of the day...we found a big disgusting/gross/creepy/cool bug!
I could NOT get my phone camera to focus on the bug. Where's manual focus when you need it? Anyway, this was the best I got:
The kids were obsessed, particularly Griffin. It was kinda cool...from a distance. :)
This was an amazing summer for us. I don't want it to end, but that's not up to me. This was an important summer for my kids to spend time with their older cousins. It was a summer of firsts and lasts. This is the first summer that my kids are old enough to do a lot of activities (and enjoy them), and it's possibly the last summer that my 13-year-old nephew will think it's fun to hang out with the younger kids.
Summer and childhood. What an amazing combination. Turns out that I enjoyed it every bit as much as they did. Thank you, God, for the last three months of my life and for what you made of them.
I am trying to step into tomorrow with a positive attitude. I hold reserved optimism for the new school year. I am determined to make the most of this chapter as well. And, hey--it's only nine more months until next summer.