Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer Reflections

Summer on Cape Cod is my favorite time of the year. The school year is such a busy time for us (as it is for everyone) that by April or May I am longing for some quality down time with my kids. Then all the summer camp brochures start to roll in from school and this year I just tossed one after the other into the trash. I couldn't stand the thought of getting up early every morning and shipping the kids off to camp. I wanted to spend time with them.

That's not to say they didn't do any camps. Melanie was in a 2 week long drama camp and they both particpated in two bible schools (one ours and the other invited to by friends). But that was it. The rest of the time was a schedule of our own making.

The summer started with rain. Lots and lots of rain. I wanted down time? I got it. Two weeks worth of non-beach weather. We played games, watched re-runs of Little House on the Prairie (who remembers Little House being so intense??), got a head start on their summer workbooks, had a ton of playdates with friends we never get to see, attended the the library summer reading activities, raised butterflies from caterpillers and spent as much time using our imaginations as possible. We even fit a circus performance in there.

By Fourth of July, the weather was starting to clear and the residents were venturing out into the world again. Since moving to Sandwich, the 4th has become my favorite holiday. The community spirit is almost overwhelming. This year, we started an new tradition of jetskiing on a friend's pond. One more thing to add to a marvelous day.

Long awaited beach time followed the 4th. We spent as much time as we could at as many different beaches as we could get to. Packing sandwiches, snacks and watermelon became a daily habit.

My mom came on the 14th of July for 3 weeks. She started out her visit by helping out at our Bible School and came with us to swim lessons (getting her first sunburn in many years!). We introduced her to Mr. Parsons at the library (he's a tourist attraction in himself), hunted for mermaids, went on a duck tour in Boston, spent a day at the MOS, took her for her first Barnstable County Fair experience (and first country concert!), took her for her first lobster roll, spent a day in Chatham watching the fishing boats unload and saw tons of seals, and celebrated hers and my birthdays respectively. We also taught her how to play Mexican Train Dominoes and I think she and Melanie would have been happy to skip all the other activities to just play domino game after domino game. In fact she purchased her own set of double 12 dominoes when she got back to Kansas to have her girlfriends over for a game night.

Josh Gracin concert at the fair

Chatham Lighthouse

Museum of Science

A day after Mom left, my cousins from Denver arrived consisting of my cousin Cindy (Mom's sister's daughter) and her husband, Todd and three kids, Ryan, Kelsey and Lauren. Only suddenly Ryan and Kelsey aren't kids anymore. Ryan is 20 and entering his sophomore year of college and Kelsey is a senior this year. (Were they really the same 7 and 4 year old ring bearer and flower girl at my wedding???) Lauren is only 9 and was a great playmate to my girls. They came for a visit, but also for Tom to take Kelsey's senior portraits on the beach. As soon as they drove up in our driveway, we ushered them in and headed straight for the portrait session (gotta take advantage of that good weather and with Tom shooting 2 weddings that weekend and booked solid with portraits, had to make sure their trip wasn't in vain!). The portrait session went great and we headed straight to Seafood Sams after for dinner (also a must see tourist destination for all our guests). While they were here, we showed them around Hyannis, to a Cape League ball game (Ryan is on baseball scholarship in college), took a cruise around Hyannis harbor (saw Ted Kennedy's boat Mya up close), took them to the Boardwalk at high tide where they all jumped and even got Melanie to jump (wow!), spent time at the beach, had a bonfire on the beach with our friends and lots of s'mores, watched Tom run in the Falmouth Road Race, took a drive by a lighthouse, had a family movie night (Fever Pitch), did lots of shopping and had lots of great food and drink. Then their final day the girls spent the day at Heritage Musuems while we sent the boys to Boston for a game at Fenway (sounds like they had a LOT of fun). It was a great visit. The girls didn't want Lauren to leave and we would be more than happy to have them all back again!

Kelsey, Ryan, Lauren, Cindy and Todd (Oh and there's Libby too!)
Kelsey's senior portraits

Todd, Lauren and Mel on the cruise
Ryan and Cindy

Kelsey and Kylie (best buds!)

Things slowed considerably down since our guests left, but somehow we continue to be busy every day. We have still crammed in as much beach time as possible, played tons of games, read books, shopped till we dropped, spent time with friends and with our summer learning. We spent a day at a flea market and ended up with two hermit crabs as pets (who seem to now be hanging tenuously onto life) and a day down cape at the beach, followed by the girls' first drive in movie experience.

Rainbow and Shelly
Getting ready for the drive in movie!

At the beginning of the summer, I had the girls set some goals that they wanted to accomplish over this few months. Both of them had one goal of each: social, academic, physical, emotional and fun. I have to say I am incredibly impressed with how they have grown in different ways. Kylie has made LEAPS and BOUNDS in her reading and math skills just by completing a page a day of her summer workbook. Melanie is more confident on her bike and with swimming. There are a couple of goals left unaccomplished -but we still have a week to go! (Just need Tom to take those training wheels of Kylie's bike and we're all set! She's ready!).

We have also introduced a new system of reward - the Daddy Dollar. The girls now make their beds and brush their teeth every morning without being asked. Their rooms stay picked up and messes get cleaned up without complaint, they help with the laundry, dusting and putting all their clothes away. It's a great system and so far they have stayed highly motivated. They can spend their Daddy Dollars at the Mommy store, buying family game time, movie night, sleepovers or playdates. It's fun to see them working together to save up for a dual sleepover. I've had to print more money to keep up - just like the US treasury! Since they have done so well with it, I've started an actual allowance with them at the end of the week if they have done all their chores without complaint.

One thing I have not accomplished this summer is writing. Usually the summer is good for at least one novel to come out, but I have a momentary lapse of inspiration. But I have enjoyed the vast variety of summer reading material I have completed (another blog story for another day!).

But one of the main themes of this summer has been friendship. We have spent more time with our closest friends than we ever have before and experiencing a variety of new activities. I treasure these friendships and am so thankful to have all these wonderful families in our lives to help shape my daughters' childhoods. Thanks ladies!

Amy, Donna and Wendy. What a fun pic!

Some of the crew at Mashnee Island
Wendy and Maryjo

The girls go back to school next week and another summer is coming to an end. It also signifies me going back to work, although I am having gall bladder surgery September 21, so work isn't starting up for me again until October 5 (hope I'm recovered). So I have two weeks prior to surgery while the girls are in school for time to catch up on those "me" things I haven't done all summer. Hopefully I'll get caught up on my photo albums and maybe, just maybe I'll be motivated to crack that next novel that lives inside me.

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