September 1, 2014

14 lessons from the summer of '14

It's September. The kids ran through the sprinkler this afternoon, despite the noticeable chill in the air. "It's our last chance," Evie declared. She's a sentimental kid, and she's very good at recognizing endings.

It happened again. Another summer breezed past us, and it's time to prepare the backpacks and set the alarms and pack the lunches for the first day of school. Tomorrow, Evie will be a 2nd grader, Felix will be a Junior Explorer, and I will be a mom who suddenly feels pressured to buy black boots and pumpkin spice lattes.

Before we jump into this season of homework and structure and caffeinated squash, indulge me as I reflect on all I learned in the classroom of long, sunny days.

1. It's worthwhile to make a summer bucket list, but it's not the only metric for success. I accomplished 15.5 of the 20 things on my list, and I'm still going to claim victory.

2. Cucumber vodka and ginger ale make a refreshing summer cocktail. 

3. Three outdoor concerts is the perfect number for a rockin' summer. Or, more accurately, going to 3 concerts will make you feel pretty rockin' if you're actually a couple in your 30s with little kids and a house in the suburbs and full-time jobs at the corporate headquarters of a bank.

With the proper accessories, we look cool, right?

4. With the right friends, a llama farm in the middle of nowhere can be the best vacation spot ever. 

Caves are pretty cool, too.

5. With the right neighbors, any Friday night can be a celebration, any day can be an adventure, and a visit from a wandering turtle can be an amazing discovery.

They named her Franklin. Her eggs should hatch any day now.

6. Riding a bike makes me feel like a kid again: the wind rushing by, the joy in my speed, the startling immediacy of my surroundings. 

I'm so close to nature, I almost can't handle it.

7. Buying major appliances is the opposite of riding a bike: It's slower and more difficult than I expect it to be, and at the end of it I feel 10 years older.

I went from "just out of my 20s" to "nearly 40" when I bought this fridge.

8. Things I should always say yes to: The college reunion. The Farmers' Market. Running races. Time with friends. Road trips.

I'd say getting there is half the fun, but we have a LOT of fun being there.

9. Things that sound better in theory than in practice: Rolling down the big hill. Power-washing and re-staining the deck. Chuck E. Cheese. 

We actually had a great time, even though Felix attempted to hit Chuck E. over the head with his guitar.

10. Horses and 7-year-old girls are a match made in heaven. 

Evie and Roscoe

11. I'm not too fat to put on a swimsuit. I'm not a size 2, or even a size 12, but I am able to swim and splash and have fun with my kids, so that makes my body pretty nearly perfect.

I originally hated this photo of me. But the fact that I'm out there, with them, is what matters.

12. It's healthy to unplug for a little while, to retreat into nature, to move at a slow pace, and to appreciate the quiet beauty of just being alive.

And snacks. Always, snacks.

13. If you go to the Minnesota State Fair on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, you will have plenty of company. Also, while Sweet Martha's Cookies are pretty tasty, I'm not sure they are worth an hour in this line.

Photo credit: Jen Wendt. I think I'm somewhere in that line.

14. Even when I think I've taken a lot of pictures and recorded a lot of memories and shared too much and overthought this whole thing... I remind myself that these are moments worth capturing, days we'll want to relive. When it's cold and we're trapped indoors, or when we're old and the kids are grown, we will think back to summers like this one. I wish we could take moments like this and put them into jars on our shelf, so we might open them someday and spread the warmth until it melts through the cold and the cynicism of the harshest day.

This was a really, really good summer. I miss it already.

1 comment:

KWiant said...

Yes, it was a really good summer and I am grateful that we got to spend some of it with you, including the multiple rounds of chocolate cake birthday celebrations.