Saying good-bye to summer

On the last day of summer break, I spent four hours floating in circles around a lazy river.
For the first two hours, I was with my two teen-age boys and my son’s girlfriend, and the last two hours I got rare and cherished one-on-one time with just my 15-year-old son. We talked about their plans for the future, part-time job possibilities, items they hope to buy once they’ve saved enough money, and other topics I won’t mention.

For the first 16 years of my life as a mom, we had purchased a pass every year for our family to this aquatic park. This was the first year that it no longer made sense with the kids’ busy schedules and just the general fact that the older three have outgrown these long lazy days at the water park.

So, instead of scanning our pool passes, grabbing early seats, and enjoying all of the other perks of season pass holders, we waited in a long line and paid full price, feeling like we were part of the proletariat. 😉 Even after paying what felt like a ridiculous cost of admission, I realized I had made a priceless investment.

We didn’t get to meet up with moms and their kids like we did when we were younger. Instead, I got to enjoy great conversation with my own children who now have deep thoughts and probing questions and interesting ideas about life. #squadgoals

Those four hours kind of summed up the transition that continued this summer with the three older ones. We are done with junior high until the youngest takes us back for Round Two in a few years. This summer was a big change even from five years ago when I got to spend so much more time with my kids.

But they’ve also made it through what felt like some of the hardest years of junior high and all of the trials of puberty. As they all enter high school this year, they have grown to be thoughtful, intelligent, fun people to be around. They fight less. They understand each other better. They do things I ask them to do without complaining. They see people in need and want to help. It’s all so amazing and hopeful, and yet it’s hard not to feel sad sometimes, realizing that they will soon be ready to leave our nest.

Anyway, with that introduction, I need to do what I came here to do. I need to record our summer highlights. I was reading through a similar blog post that I wrote at the end of last summer, and I was so thankful I recorded our summer memories!
As we talked about our favorite moments of summer last night at dinner, we all agreed that we loved the very first day of summer, when the Christian pop band, Mass Anthem, stayed overnight at our house.

The band performed a concert at our church and needed a place to stay, so we offered our home. These guys were so nice, so talented and so much fun. We all loved them so much that we have become huge fans of their music and even went to see them a second time a few weeks later when they were back in the area.

My other highlights included seeing that gorilla give birth, our trip to Tennessee and making a short film with our oldest son (among other things).

We also had several fun get-togethers with our growth group…

and we had my entire family come over to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.

Andrew had some amazing experiences the summer before his senior year. He got to go to that film camp at Taylor University. He and his girlfriend were in a local theater production together…

And he and I really bonded making that short film together

And he also had a ton of fun working with a group of friends that included his best friend, his girlfriend and his brother, giving swim lessons at the park district every morning.
At the end of the season, the swim instructors all voted for each other for different awards. He got two Dynamic Duo awards, one with this best friend and the other with his girlfriend. He also received the award for “Most Fun to Work With.” Awwww….

Matthew also had one of his best summers since we moved here. He worked every morning, and I’m pretty sure he had a great time because his peers gave him the award for “Biggest Flirt”! 🙂 He also played a ton of baseball both on his school team and his travel team.

He also got to spend a week away at his favorite place, Camp Timber-lee.

One of the areas where I’ve really seen him grow this summer is with his compassionate heart. Several times, he noticed that a mom needed help mowing her lawn. He volunteered to mow the lawn for these friends, as well as for our family, without any expectation of being paid. I asked him why he was so willing to mow the lawn for people. He said it was because it’s something that’s easy for him to do that’s hard for other people. It’s just an easy way for him to use his ability to serve others. #wow

Alayna’s summer was consumed with cheer camps and practice, which is just the way she would like it! She is loving the opportunity to be a high school cheerleader, and I can see how much stronger she has become from the first day of summer to now.

She also got to spend a week with one of her closest friends who came to visit from Florida, and just generally spent time with friends all summer.

Jayda was the queen of play dates as she got ready for third grade. Her gymnastic coaches asked to bump her up an entire level, which meant she went from practicing four hours a week in the spring to 10.5 hours a week this summer. She also has become noticeably stronger this summer.

Her highlights were lots of days at the pool, opening her “Slush Rush” stand…,

going to see the Troll exhibit at the Arboretum…

and any chance she got to spend quality time with one of her siblings. She had some great moments with each one of them, which has been so cool to see.
She got to go away to camp for three days, and she went to two different Vacation Bible Schools.

Today, the kids went back to school. None of us was ready. I don’t think any of us want to start this “year of lasts” with Andrew as a senior. And yet, each stage of parenting has been better in some way than the last. I’m hoping this one will be, too!

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