I have never figured out how it happens... after years of trying... I blink my eye once in June and when I open them it's the end of September. Nearly 3 months have passed since I last wrote of life here at 1010 Rosebud. Nearly 3 months of giggles, tears, milestones, and thrown stones. Wasn't it only yesterday that Bella was bouncing high on Uncle Adam and Aunt Laura's trampoline? Somehow when she landed she was back in preschool and months away from carefree summer evenings. Time flies in the blink of an eye. And though it was never my intention to allow such a long lapse in writing about our lives, I must say that at least part of my absence was somewhat intentional. It occurred to me somewhere along the way that it was possible that my writing about my four little loves may actually be getting in the way of me actually being with them. My desire to capture every nuance of their lives became another "have to" that sapped at least some of the joy of just watching. Just listening. Just being.
Of course this IS me... and I'm never one to rest on my laurels for long. I found myself, one morning this week, stepping into a chilly autumn morning. That familiar pit returned to my stomach - the same one that landed each fall for as long as I can remember. This is it. It's over. The warm nights. The fireflies. The lazy days. Work is back in full force. School is back. Reality is back. But with that pit came a yearning to get back to typing. Back to writing about at least some of the adventures that we enjoy here. Sentences started forming in my head. Posts partially formulated found their ways to random scraps of paper. I'm excited to get back to sharing the lives of Emma, Belle, Jack and Alex with their future selves... but I may ease up on my expectations a bit. A photo a day way my original plan, but a photo a day was something dreams are made of. Perhaps I will be a bit more gentle and let things happen as they may. But Oh, believe me, there was some going on this summer, and SO MUCH that I want to share. But before I can do that, I need to bring you up to speed.
So here, my darlings, are a few of the highlights of our summer vacation. A summer that passed in the blink of an eye, yet was filled with so many smiles.
The entire month of July was spent with the girls and Mommy at Creative Arts Camp while the boys split their time with Mimi, Auntie, and Nono. This was the first year that our camp held a little art show at the end, and it was so well received we will definitely be making it a tradition. Like so many things this summer, I wish I had a photo, but alas, all I have to share is this adorable shot of 5 year olds (no pics of my own artists here) weaving scottish plaids. My lovely art ladies have been proudly displaying their 16 little projects on the art ribbons in their room every day since camp ended.
In-between making adorable projects and singing songs, the girls and I managed to squeeze in several mani-pedi sessions. The most memorable for me was on July 3 - a particularly warm evening when the three of us sat on the deck as the sun dipped down below the mountains. The girls were all washed for bed and clad in little undies and t's. The smell of soap and summer wafted around us while we made our fingers and toes out to be mini American Flags - or 'merican flags, as Bella says. Amabelle was so delighted with her red, white, and blue digits that she left them alone for nearly 2 weeks. The only manicure that she didn't destroy within minutes of receiving it.
We loved every minute of time we could spend with Grandma and Nono at Mike's Pool. We went swimming nearly every Friday, and most Saturday's. The boys were too brave by far - running to the edge of the pool and launching themselves in the general vicinity of whoever was close by. They loved every sopping wet moment. Bella was a little fish. She loved putting on her swimmies, grabbing a pool noodle, and kicking about the water like she was born in it. Our Emma was far more cautious. By the end of the summer she had just about mustered the courage to release her legs from your waist and allow them to float freely in the water. "Mommy" she said to me yesterday, "I was thinking, that next summer I'll be very brave right away. I'll be able to swim by myself next year!" That will be lovely, Miss Emma, but mommy didn't mind the extra cuddles from you this year in the least.
If we weren't swimming at Grandma and Nono's we were sucking down icepops at splashing in the kiddie pool at Mimi and PopPops.
We managed to take a few day trips. One of my favorites was to the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Though most of the summer passed in a blur, this particular day seems to have a rosy glow around it. I love that little zoo - the animals are so well cared for, the grounds are lovely, and it is just the right size for little tiny legs and attention spans to wander about. The kids favorite animals were, surprisingly, the river otters, followed by the emu and zebra. Mimi, in her magical way, would explain interesting facts to whatever pair of little ears was closer. She has a way of talking to them as though they're the only one that matters. It's intoxicating for them - especially since their mother tends to address them more like a school group... "boys and girls... let's keep moving, shall we?"
A slightly less charming, but no less memorable, jaunt was to the Landis Valley Please Touch Museum, followed by a stop at the dreaded Chuck-E-Cheese. It was like a bipolar day trip with a super educational yuppie event countered by a proletariats dream. The museum was lovely, I really don't have enough good things to say about it. CEC? Well I'm not sure there's a parent alive that truly believes it's a good place to take your kids. Ah, but they love it so. The girls, fully aware of where they were heading, sang the theme song joyously on the way in: "Everybody say cheese it's funner!" And then they sagely paused and said "Funner isn't really a word. Daddy said so". Indeed. Our feelings on Chuck were made clear long before we set foot in the place and the very self important clerk asked Mimi, Popop and me if we were alone ? Do you have any children with you? As if we'd be there for any other reason... Celebrating my 35th birthday perhaps with a little skee-ball? My little Landis Valley educated children had dashed away, leaving us without any evidence of our purpose and were hugging the plastic Cheeser like a long lost pal. They don't make enough purell for places like that.
Then somewhere around the 30th July we held the mega birthday bash. I generally at a loss for words that accurately describe this Christmas in July fiasco. The most enjoyable part of the birthday is usually the morning -when the four are all bleary eyed with excitement. After that the day passes in a blur of ripped paper. There is always a nice amount of food, cupcakes with slippy icing (because mommy rushed it once again), more gifts than anyone has the right too, and more noise and chaos than anyone could bear. The kids are always so excited but they are also completely overwhelmed. Their cousins are there. There are gifts! Cake! Icecream! Gooey-Lizards are in the favor bags! (Who was the genius that predicted the impact of these little sticky creatures?!? The same dude that pioneered Chuck-E-Cheese no doubt.) There's a turtle piñata that has been named "Turty". Turty the Turtle. He was promised sanctuary in our home by Emma and Belle so now hangs as a decoration and will never end up on the wrong end of a whiffle ball bat.
Despite the fact that the girls and I reviewed their manners and rehashed proper party etiquette... the stimuli was too much. They began opening each present and trying to appropriately thank each gift giver... but the noise in the house had reached such an intolerable level that no one heard. The promise of more play in the basement was more than any 4 year old could resist, and so our one at a time rule flew out the window. The boys were so bewildered that they hardly registered the fact that these gifts were indeed for them, and so I found myself opening several Lightning McQueen party bags somewhere after 11 and carefully folding the mountains of tissue paper.
What is quite apparent, year after year, is that our children are so fortunate to have family that love them enough to not only shower them with fabulous gifts, but also to put up with the ridiculous chaos that is our mega birthday bash.
The week after their birthday bash we wrapped up art camp, celebrated GG's 90th birthday, and then traveled to the shore with Grandma and Nono for the week. It was wonderfully exhausting. The kiddos loved the sun, surf, and sand. Much to my eternal joy, Emma and Belle were especially eager to join me all day on the beach. They still ask if we can go back to Nono's house at the shore... and we can only hope that the experience wasn't so traumatic that their grandparents will once again consider taking a trip with all of us. Our full collection of beach photos are here, but a few of my favorites are below.
On the third day of our vacation I got a call from school that I had made the next round of interviews for a job that I had applied for a week or so prior. I was pretty sure I blew it when I was unable to return from Delaware for the assigned time and had to reschedule for the following week during our schools new hire training. Once home I frantically raided my closet (and of course prepared in all sorts of other practical ways) and ended up deciding I had nothing to wear to an interview for a job that was more supervisory in nature. Recalling the advice of my college mentor, I found a lovely pink skirt... "Make yourself stand out from the sea of black and navy suits". I'm not sure if the skirt had a thing to do with it, but I found out later that evening that I got the position. This was the answer to so many prayers.
The summer was not without it's share of challenges... Jack Jack, in particular, went through a particularly difficult phase of tantrum induced dinner protests. We tried to cope with this in a variety of ways - time outs, barely contained beatings, soft talks in quite rooms... and then we settled on this epic parent fail - putting animal crackers in with his dinner of healthy whole grain pasta and grilled veggies in an effort to get him to eat something other than a cookie. I wish I could say this worked, but I'm pretty sure the picture you see of Jack smiling below is the result of a child who ate animal crackers for dinner.
In-between the birthdays and camps and vacation and day trips and job trainings we did a lot of being. We played in the sprinkler and chalked sidewalks.
We went on lots of walks and rides in the wagon...
And we played in the yard while we waited for daddy to come home from work.
I find myself looking at these pictures and getting teary at how quickly the time passed. I find myself smiling at their silly expressions or laughing as I remember the words that went along with the pose. I've got four pretty rocking kids, and we are surrounded by an equally rocking family. Our summer? It was one of the best, even if it passed in the blink of an eye.
Thanks for waiting for our re-cap, and thanks for being a part of our journey.