Sunday, June 11, 2017

It's Summer!

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”
-Mark Twain

Anticipation built as the "lasts" of the year were checked off and the school year wound down. Ahston graduated preschool with the cutest program that left me grinning and a bit teary. He's off to kindergarten in the fall and I'm not too sure I'm quite ready for that just yet. As Spencer ended his first grade year, my fondness and gratitude for the educational staff grew tenfold. We never plan for our kids to struggle, but we can't choose their path, just help them and guide them and fight for them. And, above all, believe in them.

So now the school year is behind us and the summer is beginning to unfold. We're checking things off our checklist, like backyard pool parties and park picnics. Lazy days interspersed with planned activities. Ashton is finally old enough for the summer rec programs. He started t-ball and he surprised me by loving it. He teetered all spring on whether he wanted to sign up, and I waited till the last minute to register because organized sports have not gone well for him in the past. But he stood out on the baseball field, holding the little glove and lobbing the balls at his partner and running the bases, proving to me that his maturity level has skyrocketed sometime when I wasn't paying attention. Spencer started baseball, the kind with an intense schedule and real games, something we weren't quite prepared for. But he loves it. And I love seeing how little he really still is, even when he insists he's so freaking big.

Even with school over, we are studying over the summer. Spelling tests, math worksheets, reading comprehension and book reports for Spencer. Scissor practice, handwriting, letter recognition and phonics for Ashton. We're also carrying on our tradition of reading chapter books while congregated at the table with a busy activity of coloring or painting or playdoh or money sorting. We're continuing with the Judy Blume Fudge series as our first summer book. They were a big hit last year.

As for the littlest Mahlke, Jillian is enjoying having her brothers home all day. Except when they're up in her business, which is pretty much always. She's reached an age (or a stage--please, Lord, let it be a stage!) where she isn't afraid to voice her opinions with loud, dramatic flair. I fear the Terrible Twos have come early for her, which is something entirely foreign to me since the boys skipped that stage. Their challenging age was three (and bleeding into four). 

We have a busy summer ahead of us, not a single free weekend until September. I know it's going to fly on by and soon we will be waving good-bye to summer and welcoming in the new school year. But, until then, we will be busy checking the items off our bucket list and savoring our favorite season.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Camping Season Opener Over Mother's Day Weekend

"Motherhood brings as much joy as ever, but it still brings boredom, exhaustion, and sorrow too. Nothing else ever will make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop their own individuality, especially while you struggle to keep your own."
-Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons

One afternoon Ashton came crashing through the front door after school, paper bag in hand, and declared, "I have a present for you. But you can't open it now. It's for Mother's Day. Ok, you can  open it now if you want." It was a homemade hand scrub.

And a few days later Spencer came home beaming just as excitedly, handing me a gift wrapped in paper colored by him. "Open it slowly so you don't rip the paper," he instructed me. He was just as proud of the picture on the wrapping paper as he was the gift it hid. In his messy handwriting, the gift was addressed to: Angy. Inside was a book filled with laminated pages of his own personal illustrations, beginning with a baby photo and ending with an enlarged school photo, which happens to be my favorite school photo to date--big cheesy, awkward grin that screams RETAKE, but never in a million years would I ever replace that gem. As I flipped through the pages and came to the final one, I teared up a bit, and Spencer said, "I knew you'd cry happy tears."

But how can you not? These homemade gifts are my love language. And I feel so very blessed to receive them year after year. Dave tried to throw one away once. A bouquet of fake flowers glued into a small flower pot, gifted from Ashton last year, his first ever school gift to me. It sits perched in the windowsill above the kitchen sink. And that's where it'll stay from now until eternity. Because I can still see his face when he gave it to me, so proud and excited. These gifts are one of the many perks of motherhood.

And how did we celebrate this year? By kicking off our camping season! We went to our favorite local campground for our first time out, and the weather cooperated beautifully. The warm and sunny temps brought all the campers out for the weekend and the campground was buzzing with activity. The boys made fast friends and were mostly off playing at the playground without us. Jillian tried to follow suit and was quite upset when she was held back at the campsite with her boring parents or escorted by us instead.

We're not much for sitting at the campsite when we camp, so we drove to the nearby state park to go on a hike. I strapped Jillian on my back and we climbed about a million steps before reaching the top and deciding we probably shouldn't continue on the more rugged path, so back down those steps we went. Once we reached the bottom, I freed Jillian and the kids enjoyed splashing in the water on the beach.

Our season opener this year was one of our better ones, and now we're ready to get back out there. With mere days left of the school year, we are anxiously anticipating all things summer, with more camping high on the list. Oh so very soon we will be enjoying the long, lazy, gloriously boring days of summer.