The Summer of “Yes”

Last summer seemed to be the summer of “nope” and the summer of “that’s cancelled” as everyone in our family committed to not leaving the house as much as was humanly possible. Cortney was the lone contact to the outside world as he went to work and ran our errands for us that we couldn’t take care of online. We had one other family in our quarantine bubble.

This summer, with 3/5 of us being vaccinated, we were [cautiously] able to say yes to many more things–especially outdoor things. Normally, I balk at keeping busy, but this summer has been so fun!

We still have had tons of fun with our “bubble” family, but we were able to also include cousins this summer. Oh how Cortney and I have missed our siblings and their kids! And how our kids missed their cousins! So much loud, giggly chaos happens when they get together.

The library is open again! We hit up the library about every other week this summer, and followed it, naturally, with donuts for lunch from the Zeeland Bakery. Alice also got her own library card this summer! Now everyone has their own card and library tote.

Swimming lessons were offered again this year, so Charlie and Alice completed those in June. Charlie is quite the little fish being in the deep end now and working on his strokes. Alice is still in the shallow and refuses to put her whole head under water or jump in. We’ll get there!

Cortney and I were able to go out on dates again! We could celebrate our anniversary over a yummy dinner and drinks in one of our favorite places, Cooper’s Hawk. AND we could leave our kids with a trusted (and vaccinated) teenage babysitter.

I was able to meet friends for coffee, shopping, lunch, cocktails…whatever! We got caught in the rain! It was so great to be with friends again. Even though this friend was in our bubble last summer, it was still so great to be able to not be at home. We could go into stores and try on clothes.

Like I said, donuts for lunch. Anyone who says kids can’t stand masks never told them, “if you wear your mask, we can go into the bakery and get donuts.” They had those masks on before I could say, “let’s go.” Plus it gave us the opportunity to walk around downtown Zeeland and get out of the house. And eat donuts.

We got ICE CREAM! Again, going out of the house and doing stuff and running errands and stopping for treats just wasn’t possible at all last summer. And the school year was so wonky and we all have such exhaustion after surviving it that the clear answer to “can we get ice cream?” was YES!

We had my parents over and we didn’t have to socially distance outside. We were able to have Grandma over for her birthday and give hugs. Yay vaccines!

More playing with cousins! Seriously, I think one of the biggest gifts to my kids this summer was that they could connect with their cousins again. Until all the adults were vaccinated, no one felt comfortable to do this mask-free, but this summer we have all been able to enjoy each other’s company again.

We met friends at the beach and…you guessed…at more ice cream! All of the kids are happy to be able to go do things again even if it means masking up in buildings and when there are a lot of people around. They don’t care because FUN is an option again.

Charlie went to camp. He traveled with our church over 12 hours away to upstate New York to go to Camp Fowler for a week. We missed him like crazy, but he had so much fun. So much that the first thing he said to me after giving me a giant hug was that he can’t wait to go back next summer. Last summer Fowler had to cancel all summer camps due to COVID. This year, with a safety precautions in place, they were able to safely offer camp again.

Eddie hosted his first sleepover while Charlie was at camp having his two BFFs overnight two nights in a row for some Marvel Movies and gaming. And, clearly, more ice cream. But also minigolf!

Eddie did a week-long day camp this summer (which was great for him) and my mom and I took these two to our local zoo. Camel rides were definitely not part of last summer, but were a big YES this summer.

I saw my college girlfriends for the first time in more than three years. We were able to meet in East Lansing (half of us live on the west side of Michigan, the other half on the east side) for a few hours to have lunch and catch up with everything that has been going on in our lives.

We took a road trip out of state! This one made me a bit nervous, but we were able to be very safe about it. We all masked in all buildings (including the hotel in areas that weren’t our room) and did lots of hand washing and sanitizing. We drove 3 hours to Toledo, Ohio for a quick weekend.

After some lunch, our first adventure was to go to the Imagination Station in downtown Toledo. It was all hands-on math and science learning for kids of all ages. We spent over two hours there. The kids LOVED it, and it was by far the one place we went with the most masking and social distancing. Go figure, people who frequent math/science centers believe…SCIENCE.

The next day we hit up the Toledo Zoo. Cortney and I had visited before we had kids and there had been a bunch of construction. Now it is absolutely beautiful. Not that the kids particularly appreciated it. Alice was mad at her shoes and walking. Charlie was hot and cranky. Eddie was sad he didn’t get a big pretzel. Maybe going to a major zoo on a busy Saturday was partly our fault. Cortney and I enjoyed the animals though.

Our last stop in Toledo was some YUMMY pizza out as a family. I cannot emphasize how great my kids were about wearing their masks when necessary. We were able to have a really fun weekend away and feel safe doing so.

I drove to Chicago and saw my best friend for the first time in two years! You know what we did besides getting manis/pedis? Nothing. We ate and drank and sat on her balcony and talked the day away and it was my favorite day of the whole summer.

We went with my parents to Silver Lake for three days. We splashed in the pool, rode bikes, went on a dune ride, ate at a drive in, saw live music, and of course…ate ice cream.

Our summer is not over yet. Yes, I go back to school on Monday and the kids go back a week after that, but summer lasts until the warm weather fizzles out and we still have fun on the calendar! We said YES this summer to safety and fun and it was SO NEEDED after the school year we finished and the uncertainty of the school year we are about to start.

Summer Snapshots

Last summer every post I wrote was about cancer and chemo and trying not to die. So cheerful.

This summer I have been quiet. Not because nothing is happening, but compared to last summer, nothing is happening.

Somehow, we have been keeping pretty busy.

Alice completed her first gymnastics class. Girlfriend LOVED it and can’t wait to do it again next year.
We’ve visited the splash pad.
We gave Alice’s bedroom a makeover. No more nursery! Hello, Big Girl Room!
We blew up some fireworks.
We spent pool time with favorite friends.
Alice upgraded from the crib mattress to a Big Girl Bed.
We had lunch at the park.
The kids got a job. Sort of. They watered Grandma’s flowers while she was away.
We ate popsicles in our inflatable pool.
I made lots of ice cream (Tin Roof is pictured).
We saw some of our best good friends who live far away.

In between all that, Eddie and I have spent at least two hours per week in my new classroom getting it ready. Charlie and Alice have played Little People, restaurant, store, library, and many other make believe games. Cortney has finished painting the doors and trim downstairs that we started seven years ago. I have been writing and reading and trying my best to keep the children’s toys from taking over our lives.

We have lots more fun ahead for the second half of summer break!

Chemo Round 8

Yesterday was Round 8…HALFWAY!

Because I am surrounded by the BEST people in the world, my friend Nurse Ashley brought me (and Cort and my mom) donuts. Cortney bought me my weekly frappicino and I told everyone who was within earshot that I was HALF done!

It went well again. As I said, my mom was there again this week. Cortney had to leave because Eddie had his yearly well-child appointment, so my mom made sure I had company and a ride home.

I felt very good leaving my students with their weekly substitute. They know her from last year and she was there with them on their first day. I was right, everything went very well. Many students asked, “how did it go yesterday, Mrs. Sluiter?” which warmed my heart that they thought to ask.

They boys had Open House last night at school, so Cortney took them so I could lay low with Alice. Both boys are excited about their teachers and getting back to school next week.

And, just because he couldn’t let summer slide away without meeting a major milestone, Charlie decided yesterday was the day the training wheels would come off and he would join his big brother as a two-wheel rider.

I now have two weeks of school done even before my own kids have started school! But summer is slipping between our fingers! This weekend is it! Then we will be fully on our fall schedule.

Prayer requests this week are for continued energy and “pep” as my PhD class starts. Peace and courage for the kids as they start a new school year with new teachers and new challenges and adventures. And of course strength for Cortney as he navigates caring for me with the balance of his own fall schedule and running the kids around.

Round 8 DONE!

The Good Stuff

It would be easy to fall into a pit of despair with the anxiety of the impending chemo treatments and the pain/challenges they will bring. However, that is not how Sluiters like to live, so we are trying to find the good stuff and dwell on that.

And there is a LOT of good stuff.

From fun at home to chilly minor league baseball games (Go White Caps!), we have been trying to make fun memories during this time…I mean, it’s the time of year for fun memories anyway, right? But Cortney and I absolutely do NOT want our kids to look back and see only darkness surrounding my diagnosis and treatment.

The boys are both playing baseball this spring. Eddie is doing Little League for the first time. He doesn’t love it as much as coach pitch ball (lots more games and more pressure), but I know he does have some fun.

Charlie is doing coach pitch for the first time and doing great! He is loving being part of a team and learning the sport. Plus he’s fast…when he doesn’t have his hands in his pockets!

We have been able to hang out with family and see parades and just play.

We have tried to work treats–like the ever-elusive McDonald’s meal–into our weeks as well. Our kids tend to find the funny in even that!

The kids can actually play nicely together when they really want to. Charlie has taught (I’m using that word loosely) Alice how to play games, and they spent almost two hours this past weekend playing with the sprinkler and the sandbox.

The boys had swimming lessons and Alice helped me make Eddie’s birthday brownies for school (he has a summer birthday, but still likes to take a treat).

We have been blessed to spend a ton of time with friends too. Over the holiday weekend the kids jumped on their friends’ new trampoline for almost four hours! And on Memorial Day we were able to have a family fun date to our local splash pad and share a meal with friends as well.

Eddie has been creating a million comics and Charlie has started making me books–it’s his way of working through what is going on with my impending treatment.

Things aren’t always all roses and rainbows, but they aren’t all gloom and doom either. We are doing our best to keep things as normal as we can around here which means a certain level of ridiculous needs to be maintained.

There are times it feels like a struggle, but I think we are doing okay. Better than okay even.

Reflections on a Summer Almost Gone

I’ve been back to school for a week. Our kids still have one more week, but soccer practices have already started. The calendar says it’s still summer, but as far as our schedules go, it’s fall.

I wasn’t the fun mom or the productive writer or the great house organizer I wanted to be this summer. I didn’t do the things I wanted with my kids, I didn’t meet my self-imposed deadlines, and exactly zero of the organization projects I wanted to do this summer got done.

I keep blaming the fact that my summer break was shorter by two weeks and that I had less kid-free time, but to be honest, I just didn’t manage my time well.

But the kids loved the summer. We made trips to the library, walked to the donut shop, splashed at the splash pad, played at parks. It wasn’t such a scorcher this year, so we were able to go outside almost every day. Cortney expanded the sandbox so all three kids could play in it, and they took advantage.

It wasn’t a super busy summer, and that was Ok.

We did go again with my parents up to Pentwater for a long weekend. It was pretty windy and a bit chilly, so my dad didn’t take his boat along this year, but we had fun anyway.

We went from a Thursday to Sunday, and we packed in a whole lot of sitting around, not sitting around, and yummy snacks.

Grandpa made breakfast every morning and since the Sluiter children could basically eat ONLY breakfast foods for the rest of their lives, they were thrilled with homemade french toast, pancakes, and breakfast meats each morning.

And even though it was cloudy, windy, and sort of chilly, we still went to the beach on Friday because guess what? Kids do not care. They just want to play. So we adults sucked it up, and let the kids play for a few hours.

While Alice and Charlie stuck mostly to the sand, Eddie (who may be part fish) was in that chilly water almost the entire time we were at the beach.

Last year Alice wouldn’t even let her big toe touch the sand. This year she literally rolled in it as if it was the best thing ever to touch her skin. Kids are weird. And awesome.

My mom and I planned the meals/groceries a few weeks in advance, and we kept it pretty simple: grill foods and snacks. Of course my mom brought the fixing’s for s’mores even though the cottage doesn’t have a fire pit. But we had a charcoal grill!

Mmm…s’mores over charcoal!

Of course beach + s’mores = messy toddler, so a sink bath was in order. What cottage experience is complete without a toddler in the sink?

And just because it was cooler than usual, didn’t mean that the grandpa couldn’t take the boys fishing each day. Or that we couldn’t do a little ring toss, badminton, or card games.

Grandpa even helped Eddie with some of his cub scout adventures. They spent a lot of time on the fishing adventure learning types of fish in Michigan, Michigan fishing regulations, and of course catching fish!

They even learned about canoeing since the wind died down on Saturday.

Charlie got a ride in the canoe too!

Sunday was warmer and sunnier, so we hit the beach one last time before heading home. And of course Grandpa and Grandma had to treat us to ice cream!

I love that we have this summer tradition with my parents. It’s so fun to spend time together playing for four days.

Plus it’s a nice way to wrap up summer before I go back to work and the craziness of fall kicks back in. Even though the summer didn’t end up being exactly what I had in my head that it would be, we still had a great time.

And now I have to get back to lesson planning and making seating charts.

 

 

A Break from the Break

Summer is supposed to be a break, right? The kids get a break from school and/or full-time daycare. I get a break from work. We get a break from School Year Schedule that is full and rigorous, and exchange it for a slower, more open Summer Schedule.  It’s supposed to be easy…well, easier anyway.

Except that a lot of times it’s not easy at all. In fact, summer can be downright difficult.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to have something for us to do each day whether we head to a park, the library, the splash pad, or the farmer’s market. But sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bickering and whining is too much that I don’t even trust that leaving the house will help–and it might actually result in a worse meltdown, and in public.

We need some sort of break from each other on those days.

Because we (let’s be honest here: I) need these breaks often, my kids probably get more screen time than most during the summer. Alice’s break is her nap (thank the Lord), but the boys need to be separated for part of the day too.

Days like yesterday that are lovely and not so horribly hot that we feel like we are on the face of the sun, I shoo the boys outside. In fact, I may have even been so desperate for them to stay out of the house that I tossed their afternoon snack of a Popsicle off the deck and made them catch them. Allegedly.

But on days like Monday and Wednesday when the storms started around 9am and continued ALL DAY LONG, they needed something else.

You know this means Netflix.

Netflix is the way we take a break from each other. Our house is not that big. It’s easy to be all in each other’s business, so the boys can either sit in separate chairs and watch the same thing like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale–which is kind of cool because it’s like a choose your own adventure show.

They giggle about songs and choose which way to have the story go.

Or if the need to be physically AWAY from each other (or I get sick of the stupid “trout” song on Puss in Book), one can be upstairs watching Octonauts (Charlie) on our smart TV, and the other can be downstairs watching the latest episodes of Dawn of The Croods (Eddie) on the Wii.

Sure we also play games or read books, but let’s be real. The best way to make the house quiet is to turn on something everyone wants to watch.

Which is probably why we watched Zootopia again this week. Twice.

What?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and devices to watch it on, but we choose what we watch and provide our own opinions. And yes, we really do love Zootopia that much. It’s almost a sickness.

Summer FOMO

FOMO. Fear of Missing Out.

Mix in a little Paranoia that Nobody Likes Us and you get my signature summer mental cocktail: Fear of Missing Out because Nobody Likes Us.

It’s not as tasty as it sounds.

Around May I start getting the itch for the long, lazy days. Warm, but not too warm. Slight breeze. Beers under our tree. Books in the sun on the deck.

School lets out and I allow myself to indulge in these things a little–mostly on the weekends. June however brings a whole lot of busy-ness. We have Eddie’s birthday and our anniversary. And at some point in the spring, I start saying, “let’s wait until school’s out in June to do that.” Suddenly it’s June and all “that” hits us.

Glances onto social media show family and friends at beaches, on boats, in pools, and at cottages. They are making memories. I’m wiping up lunch crumbs and telling kids to get outside so they don’t wake their sister.

A few open weekends allow for us to do some much-needed outside housework. Cortney checks a bunch of stuff off his list, cracks a beer, and feels good about it. I log on to Facebook and inform him about what everyone else is doing.

“Do you think people don’t like us? Are we downers? It’s me, isn’t it? The boys? They are always fighting. No one wants us along. Or maybe they forget we exist.”

He has been sitting, leaning his head back with his eyes closed, listening to me blather. He lifts his his head, scrunches his eyebrows, and says, “I don’t think that’s it.”

He’s probably right. After all, isn’t this what we wanted? Time to get stuff down and to be able to sit back and relax after we did it?

But neither of us has put on a bathing suit yet this summer. It’s July. We live within throwing distance of lakes. We have friends and family with boats and beaches and pools.

“Do you even WANT to go to all those places every weekend?” He asks me?

“Not really. I like to sit in peace and quiet.”

“Then why…mmmm.” He doesn’t finish. Just lays his head back again and shuts his eyes. He worked hard today and is probably sore.

“But I would like the chance. It looks fun.”

I hate getting the kids all ready to go somewhere fun. I hate the stomach I give myself imagining every single worst case scenario. I hate how I talk too much when I am finally with people. I hate that I don’t listen to others better. I hate that it’s my kids rolling around screaming at each other. I hate it when people say, “they are fine. It’s fine!” because I can’t even believe them.

It’s not fine to me.

I hate the hot tears and nauseated stomach and tight chest that all threaten to take me down in front of people.

But sometimes it is super fun. Sometimes the kids and my brain cooperate. Sometimes I am able to relax.

On a Saturday night, Cortney will sit down and turn on a ball game. I put my feet in his lap and flip through social media on my phone. Everyone is out doing something fun: outdoor concerts, beer tasting, movies, dinner and drinks out.

I’ll tell Cortney what everyone is doing.

“Mmm hmmm. Sounds fun,” he will say as he either flips through is phone or watches the game.

“I wonder how come we weren’t invited. Do you think no one likes us?”

“No. That is not it.”

I know I frustrate him with our paranoia. He points out that then we would have to find a sitter. It’s hard to do that and we feel guilty asking our parents and our regular sitter so dang often as it is. I also have a hard time feeling Ok about spending money on fun stuff like that all the time.

“It would be fun, but it comes with having to set it all up and that stresses you out.”

He’s not wrong.

I’m known to wish for invites, but when I get them go back and forth about whether I really want to go. I am known to bail at the last minute, and then take a nap because I have stressed myself out so badly. I’ve been known to accept and get super grumpy with my whole family while we get ready. My stomach eats me from the inside out.

But sometimes we end up having fun. Sometimes everything aligns and I don’t freak out and my stomach and brain stay under control and we laugh and have a wonderful time.

I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to say that my brain is always trying to make me miserable, I think. I mean, I know things logically, but my brain tries to override the logic with feelings of self-doubt and paranoia. It’s dumb. And also if you are like this, you’re not alone.

And people probably don’t hate our guts.

And maybe I should just stay off Facebook in the summer so I don’t see what I’m missing. Because really, we have a pretty good time here.

Summer Schedule 2017

One more day. That’s it. After tomorrow the Sluiters will be on the much-anticipated Summer Schedule!

This year it’s a little wonky because the district where I teach went a week longer than usual which puts my last day of school the same as Eddie’s last day. In years past, I always got out a week earlier. That extra time allowed me to do some heavy duty cleaning and organizing to get our Summer Schedule ready for kids to be home. Not so much this year. Starting Monday we are on it!

I have found over the past few summers that having “free-range,” unstructured days in the summer is exponentially related to how much fighting and whining goes on. The Sluiter kids are used to some sort of structure thanks to being in daycare/school since six months old.   Therefore, I try to keep our days to a specific routine that varies slightly each summer due to the ages of the kids.

Generally the boys wake up first and are pretty good at getting themselves settled into watching Netflix without waking me or Alice. This lasts until about 8am when they are allowed to get me up to make breakfast if Alice hasn’t already gotten me up. Since the boys are into shows like Slugterra, I make them choose something more Alice-friendly once she is up. Sometimes she wants PBS, but mostly she is into shows like Pocoyo, Beat Bugs, and Octonauts. Ok, we ALL like Octonauts!

summer schedule

By 10am, we need to be dressed and going somewhere–anywhwere–because the natives will get restless and begin to pick and bicker and it will be a matter of time before all out chaos ensues. Mondays we go to the library, Wednesdays are for the Farmer’s Market, and Fridays we find a park. Tuesdays and Thursdays the kids go to daycare.

After lunch, they can watch a show to settle down before Alice’s nap/boys’ quiet play time. Again, it has to be Alice-friendly.

summer schedule

Then we start the long TV-less afternoon (my favorite part of the day). Alice naps, the boys have to either play downstairs or outside (or rest), and I read, write, or clean something. I’d like to say this part of the day is always nice and peaceful, but Eddie and Charlie are close enough in age where if they are not getting along super great, they are trying to murder each other. There really is no in between. As long as they don’t wake up their sister, I can usually keep my calm.

Just before Alice gets up, they may choose to watch another show. Lately, Eddie has been binge-watching Inspector Gadget since season 3 was just released on Netflix. But he is just as likely to pick Pokemon or something like that too.

Once Alice is up, the boys usually retreat back to the basement or outside and she follows. The TV goes off until bedtime (or until Cortney and I turn on the news). Then I get dinner ready, Cortney comes home from work, and our daily schedule turns into the evening schedule.

I know to some people, I let our kids watch a lot of TV, but I think it’s really all about balance. We also go places, play outside, play with friends, do crafts, and of course read. Letting them veg out in front of some shows they love gives them some down time, and it gives me a break.

What does your summer schedule look like?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and a device to stream on, but we choose what we watch and give our honest opinions.

The Best Part

This past weekend our little family joined my mom and dad in a little cottage up in Pentwater, Michigan. I love that cottage. My parents have been renting it on and off for more than 20 years. I have some great memories there, so it was so fun to take the kids and help them make some great memories too!

At the end of each day, we would ask the boys, “What was the best part of today?” They would laugh and giggle recollecting all the fun we had. It was always difficult to choose just ONE best part.

pentwater, michigan

I will say the 90-minute drive was not my personal favorite. Usually I enjoy the trip; it’s a very beautiful drive, however you see how close the boys sit to each other? And Alice is rear-facing behind me. Yeah, there was loudness.

pentwater, michigan

Breakfast was always a highlight. Grandpa made lots of breakfast meat and french toast for the troops. You can see that Charlie is dressed and has his backpack on. He was so ready for the beach, man. SO. READY. Sandboxes are his love language and the beach? Dude, it’s one big sandbox.

pentwater, michigan

See? Homeboy is in heaven. We had the best possible beach weather ever. Charlie still talks about this as being one of his “best parts”. He would live at the beach if he could. Annnnddd…cue beach pics….

pentwater, michigan

Alice hates sand and dirt and getting dirty. Such a diva. But she sat in that little beach chair just as nice as can be for two plus hours with her cold drink looking cute. That is really my kind of beach day too.

pentwater, michigan

Grandma gave the boys a snack of Vanilla Wafers…on frisbees! Grandma is so smart when it comes to snack distribution.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice enjoyed some beach vanilla wafers. With her cold drink. In her chair. Not touching the sand at all.

pentwater, michigan

It was a super hot day, but it was quite breezy, so we didn’t feel like were were sweating too much. Plus Lake Michigan was around 75 degrees.  I could have stayed much, much longer, but Alice needed a nap and the boys were getting sunned out.

pentwater, michigan

We did plenty of sitting around too. That was probably one of my best parts. I enjoyed not having too much access to wifi and having no TV or other screens available. I read a whole book from start to finish from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. My mom and I both brought a plastic horse shoes/ring toss game, so the boys had a good time sticking the stakes into the ground and making up rules about what “level” they are on. My very patient parents went along with these nonsensical rules and laughed and laughed as my mom pretty much missed every time she tossed.

pentwater, michigan

When we got home, Eddie made the comment that Grandma is so good at helping us find things to do when we might be bored. My mom totally understands that four and seven-year old boys need to keep busy. If there started to be hints of whining or fighting because of boredom, grandma would swoop in with a game of Go Fish, or Old Maid, or going for a walk to the dock or around the block. Eddie helped set the table most of the time, and Charlie helped carry out food.

pentwater, michigan

Charlie made a comment that we are pretty lucky to have a Grandpa who shares his boat and fishing hooks with us…and “cuts up a good watermelon!” Charlie is pretty much his Grandpa’s shadow–both lefties, both bearing the name “Thomas”, both loving watermelon and “putzing” around.

pentwater, michigan

Speaking of watermelon…apparently I bought a good, crisp, juicy one! It wouldn’t be a summer vacation up north in Michigan without a messy delicious watermelon after dinner.

pentwater, michigan

Alice even needed a sink bath after she demolished a huge chunk of melon. All of the sticky in her hair and on her whole body!

pentwater, michigan

I mentioned my parents have a boat. They were kind enough to haul it all the way up north and my kids LOVED it. They boys always love boat rides. When we out of the channel and onto the big lake, my dad “put the hammer down” and as we lifted up, Charlie–who was sitting in the “first mate” seat–said to Cortney, “THIS IS MY BEST PART!” After a ride, we circled back to the beach.

pentwater, michigan

It was another HOT day, but with no wind. My dad anchored off shore from the beach and we all took a dip! The boys jumped off the boat over and over into the refreshing water!

pentwater, michigan

Both boys showed us all the things they learned in swimming lessons, but with life jackets on since we were in water that was around 6 feet deep. Little Bird paddled around for hours!

pentwater, michigan

It was so hot we even got Alice to float around a bit with her Daddy! She clung pretty tightly to him, but I think she enjoyed the cool dip.  In fact, she fell asleep on me on the ride back to the boat launch.

pentwater, michigan

Both boys have fishing poles my dad gave them for their birthdays. They were so excited to fish with Grandpa! He was super patient with them as fish after fish swallowed up his hooks. I even showed off my casting skills (that my dad mocked!) and ability to reel in a bluegill when Charlie got a little nervous about doing it himself. I think Cortney was impressed!

pentwater, michigan

It rained on our last morning at the cottage. My parents tried to keep everyone busy with Old Maid and other games, but things got a little punchy by afternoon. Luckily, the sun came out and we were fortunate enough to get to town to get my dad the ice cream cone he was craving and find treasures for the boys to take home to remember their vacation.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice was getting antsy to leave the cottage by the time the sun came out. It’s a lovely cottage, but it’s small for seven people–three of whom are small people with a lot of energy!

pentwater, michigan

Before we left, we put jammies on everyone so they would be all ready for their beds when we got home. But we couldn’t leave without one more tickle session with grandpa!

pentwater, michigan

We were all stinky and tired and ready for our own beds…and showers…by the time we hit the road homeward bound. But we were happy. Because being able to spend so much time with Grandpa and Grandma was definitely the Best Part.

Thank you, mom and dad, for the awesome time. We are grateful to you for sharing the cottage with our noisy, energy-filled crew. Hopefully you got some sleep and quiet after we left! We love you!

June: The Friday of Summer

June has always felt to me like the Friday of the summer months. You know what I’m talking about. That feeling when work gets out on a Friday and–even if you do have plans–it feels like the possibilities are spread out for you to choose from and that you have SO MUCH TIME.

june

That is what June is like. The kids and I make lists of things we would love to do this summer. We make our weekly schedule which includes the library on Mondays, the farmer’s market on Wednesdays, and the park on Fridays. We talk of splash pads, the beach, and visits with friends. I make my weekly chore list: what laundry and household task I will tackle each day so that our weekends can be wide open for family time.

I make piles of books to read.

The kids list all the water-related fun they will have.

June is the best because it’s so optimistic. But there is usually a crash of expectations that first week the kids are home from school. We don’t have our groove yet. People get cranky with each other since they are not used to being together all day. Last year was incredibly rough for some reason. Maybe it was the newborn? Maybe it was because I had been off since March when school let out in June? Maybe it was because I had at least one kid with me every single day? I don’t know.

This year I allowed myself some grace. This first week with the kids would be hard. And Monday was difficult. The news left a giant hole in my soul, we had a funeral visitation, and the kids were just cranky and out of sorts. But then things turned around.

For one, I have two days where ALL three kids go to daycare. ALL THREE.

That means I was able to get groceries all by myself on Tuesday. I could linger over labels and carefully peruse the produce. It means I could have lunch with a friend on Thursday, and stop at the library and look for books for ME (and even sit and read awhile).

The days home with the kids haven’t been perfect, but like I said…we are adjusting. There have been too many screens because we have been frustrated and finding our way. We are figuring out how to be around each other for so much time when we are all used to being away from each other all day.

Sitting here in June, on the first day of summer, it looks like we have endless time to play and melt into each other’s personalities and routines.