Thursday, July 16, 2015

Good Things // A Wednesday Night Ramble

After the 4th of July weekend, it always seems summer speeds up a bit, as the temperatures rise, school supplies find themselves at the entrance of Wal-Mart and Target, and thoughts of another school year, earlier bedtimes, and established routines begin to creep into my mind a little more frequently.  Every time I find Cruz on the iPad or watching something on TV, I quickly steer him in another direction, reminding him that soon the seasons will change and we will find ourselves with plenty of time for indoor activities.  And while I do look ahead to our first fall and our first Christmas in this house with giddy anticipation, right now, we soak up every gift of this summer season.  So I push them, to the pool, to the playground, to picnics and baseball games and splash pads, until night falls and we finally crash into our beds, sun-kissed and exhausted from all that summer brings.  I wake up every day to a new adventure, a blank canvas to paint with bright, bold colors of this summer we will never experience again.  Never will Cruz be just shy of five and Mila 18 months, one of my very favorite stages of baby.  I keep wondering if this will be the last summer they both fall asleep in the car on the way home from the pool, if this will be the last summer I carry their sleepy, heavy bodies to their cool, crisp sheets and stop for a moment to watch their little chests rise and fall, their tan skin starkly contrasted with the white sheets underneath them.  I wonder if this might be the last summer they both let ice cream melt down their faces, or eat popsicles in the tub together.  Every summer is a story and we only get so many of them.  

As the temperatures grew hot and humid this week, we've been spending our afternoons at the pool.  We have a routine, but I'd be lying if I said it was easy.  It involves one large beach bag, carefully packed with swim toys, towels, sunscreen, extra swim diapers and wipes, a dry diaper and dress for Mila, and snacks that will draw attention away from the concession stand Cruz always has his eye on.  It involves patience, as it literally takes us fifteen minutes to walk from our car to the pool entrance because of course Mila wants to walk herself.  It involves timing, getting there early enough to beat crowds and maximize our time before I end up with two overtired, cranky kids.  And in a perfect world, it should involve three more arms and Superman's acute senses, as it is getting more and more difficult to keep track of them at the same time!   

Mila was timid at first, but both kids have grown significantly in the water this summer, proving to be more fun for them and more of a challenge for mom.  Cruz now wants to be in the "big pool" and feels quite confident playing with new friends, sitting in a blue tube on the lazy river, and running to the bathroom by himself, sometimes before I even realize where he went.  And Mila, well, she thinks she can do it all, too, and wants no help from me!  Because of this, she requires constant watch because she has no idea of her limitations.  It's been a little stressful the past couple of times, and I've had multiple mothers comment on my bravery for attempting this on my own.  It must look worse than it feels!  But I see all of these moms who I've come to know every summer, and I am reminded how worth it the packing and playing and stress of it all is.  I see them, in their lounge chairs with their book and iced tea jug, their kids playing with their friends in the pool across the way.  I see how light their bag is, how easy it must be to grab a towel and hop in the car.  I see their kids only talk to them when they ask for money for the concession stand or to sleep over at a friend's house that night.  And I see how they look at me, half thankful to be passed that poopy-swim-diaper-in-the-wet-bathroom stage and half wishing they could have it back.  And I see them, half hopeful for the days I can sit in a lounge chair and read a book while they play, and half desperate to keep them this little forever.  Those moms are my motivation, to run under the sprinklers with the kids, to smile as I change one more swim diaper, and let them take their sweet old time walking to the car in the parking lot.  After all, they are only ours for so long.

Sometimes I think I think too much, plan too much, and likewise, expect too much, but I've come to realize I'd rather be on that side of the spectrum than someone who doesn't plan or doesn't expect at all.  I read a quote from Kelle Hampton's blog recently that I related to so much as I think about these summer adventures.  It's from L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables...

Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed. 

I'm a planner, a lover of experiences and traditions and the joys that each season presents.  I look ahead to each day knowing it's a unique opportunity to experience joy.  But with this mindset, there's disappointment.  But the disappointment doesn't come close to the joy.  And there's joy in every season, no matter age, month, or life.  Seasons change but the joy-filled memories we have the potential to make in each of those seasons last forever.  
How's that for an unexpected Wednesday night ramble. :):)

Good Things from our July...

193.  Rainy day painting projects on our covered deck.  I told Cruz it is very inspiring to paint to the sound of rain falling. :) 

194.  Dinners outside.  Seasons change for families, but I hope to always keep dinners around the table a constant for us.  Families that eat together, stay together.

195.  Mexican blankets and bright summer dresses

196.  Sink baths.  Mila has developed an aversion to sitting in the tub and we have tried many approaches to coercing her bum in the suds.  Finally, after a sore butt left me with no other options, I put our over-sized farmhouse sink to a new use.  Thanks to some fudge-striped cookies and later, a string of Elmo videos on youtube, Mila had a half hour soak in the sink while I unloaded the dishwasher and cleared the counter!  

197.  The way they play together lately.  Yesterday afternoon, Cruz played detective, walking around the house with a flashlight and magnifying glass, looking for things to study.  Mila, who I heard Cruz refer to as his "silly sidekick," followed close behind, holding her sparkly pink purse and her blanket.  They'd stop at a random object, lay on the ground to study it, and stick it in Mila's purse.  Cruz did most of the talking, but Mila followed his every move, so proud to be part of his world.  And the best part of the whole thing - a little boy who invited her in. 

198.  Rainy morning dates with this guy.  While it poured outside, we found refuge in Panera Bread, where we shared bites of chocolate chip muffie and carrot cake, played Old Maid and Go Fish, and awaited the first matinee of Inside Out.  The movie was incredible, but the company was even better. 

199.  Art projects and baking projects while sister naps. 

200.  And racing into her room when we hear her after-nap yells for "Mama??" 

201.  That first look I get from her when I open the door to her room.  Sometimes she's standing, but most of the time she's sitting contentedly in the corner of her crib, playing quietly with one of her animals or sticking the corner of her blankie up her nose.  Her hair is wispy and fluffy, her eyes sparkling, and her smile so sweet, always so happy to see me come through that door.  Whether it be that first greeting in the morning, or after a long and well-rested nap, there is something so peacefully sweet about walking into her room and seeing her in her bed. 

202.  Cousin adventures at the park.  The older three played Cops and Robbers for the first half hour, chasing an oblivious Mila around the playground trying to arrest her.  Cruz kept calling her a tax collector. :)  After they began to get a little red in the face, Kelli and I reeled them in with picnic lunches, and later, a nature scavenger hunt in the woods.  We found berries and mushrooms, animal tracks and grasshoppers, and the kids felt very big crossing their findings off on their papers and storing their treasures in their bags. 

Mila had a different approach with the scavenger hunt, but enjoyed being included in the fun.  She demanded to carry her own bag, and of course, loved getting to use a marker!

203.  5:00 in the summertime is perhaps my favorite time of day.  Thanks to afternoons at the pool and long naps to follow, the kids are usually well-rested and happy.  They usually do something quiet, play iPad, watch a cartoon, or work on a puzzle, while I reset a bit, prepare dinner, fold laundry, or unpack swim bags.  The afternoon pours into our house at this time, and I play some music, pour a glass of wine, and wait for Daddy to walk through the door.  And then he does, and the kids go running and screaming to him.  We congregate in the living room, share stories from our day in between lots of tickles and kisses, and play ways to spend our night. 

Caught in a selfie. :)

204.  Four Queens chocolate shakes and s'mores snowstorms. 

205.  Cruz's inventive building projects, which always seem to come alive most in the tub. 

206.  Post-nap walks around Prairie Lakes Park.  Sometimes, when Daddy works late and we miss our 5:00 living room reunions, the three of us find our own fun, which usually takes us to the park.  This particular afternoon, we picked a huge bouquet of wildflowers and Cruz chased joggers down the trails. 

207.  We followed our flower hunt with play at our Lookout Park.  We sang songs on the merry-go-round, pushed each other on swings, and laughed until our bellies hurt on our favorite metal slide.  I think I helped Mila climb those steps a dozen times, always to slide into an unsuspecting Cruz and throw her head back in giggles.  The simplest of things tend to spark the best entertainment for them. 

208.  New deck furniture and pajama deck hangs before bed. 

Looking forward to lots of good things for this second half of summer.  Swimming lessons and t-ball games, grilled pizzas and homemade popsicles, and lots more of the simple fun that summer brings.

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