I hesitate to admit it because I know there will be judgement, but in mid-May as summer approached I confessed to Tate that the coming season was filling me with dread. I know. Even typing it I gasp a little myself. I know Tate was surprised and a little saddened, I saw it on his face – confused that I was hesitant going into my favorite season - but it was the truth. As summer approached I was looking at balancing a full-time job with three busy boys – coordinating four therapies a week for Brett, making sure family members were lined up to care for them, making sure they were signed up for VBS and T-ball and everybody was able to help get them there and back, lining up buddies so Brett could participate in these activities, thinking about making sure all Brett’s physical/theraputic needs were met while not in school and the challenge of trying to improve some things before next school year along with a side of guilt that I didn’t have them in any educational activities, looking at the bag sent home from kindergarten roundup of all the activities I should be doing with each of the boys and the realization that it just would not be possible and likely I wouldn’t do 95 percent of the summer fun things I had highlighted on Pinterest either. The thought of it all had me feeling defeated before I even began.But all of that changed.It changed because I spoke the truth out loud and in doing so acknowledged the stress I was bearing. Really acknowledging it to myself for the first time. It changed because the weight of it was heavy and the reality of it saddened me and I closed my eyes that night and handed it all over to God – every. last. bit. I prayed for him to show me a way to enjoy summer. I asked him to give me answers and beat me over the head with them because I’m not always a great listener when He speaks to me.The next day this blog post came across my desk http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/05/16/what-a-hands-free-summer-looks-like/I wiped away a tear and thanked God.My perspective changed because I asked the boys what they wanted to do this summer and their answer wasn’t to be able to read a book start to finish on their own, go to elaborate water parks every day or go on fun and exciting excursions. They didn’t ask to go to amusement parks and on perfectly planned picnics.Their answers were things like – play outside, play baseball, go to the park, visit a new library, play outside, have a water balloon fight and go for ice cream.It was such a relief.We did all that and more. We had a wonderful summer. I enjoyed it so much and I know the boys did too.In the past few weeks I have talked to parents and seen blog posts and Facebook status updates from moms desperate for school to start. Finished with the unstructured summer, the weight of entertaining their children and clean out of patience. I’m not judging because that will likely be me someday. But, for now I am thankful that I had as close to a carefree summer as a working mother can hope for and am filled with sadness to see it go so quickly. I’m thankful to a God who carries my burdens and shows me a better, simpler path.I’m grateful for summer - for the warmth of the sun and the glow on the cheeks of my children – for dirty knees that I can barely scrub clean and clothes so full of dust from sliding into every base on the field that they may never be the same. I’m thankful for a husband who listened and didn’t make me feel ashamed, instead prayed for me, encouraged and supported me. I’m thankful for family, who love on my children so much and are able to fill in the gaps because I can’t possibly do it all.I hope that next May I will remember to go back and read this to remind myself and calm and center myself in what is true and all the goodness that summer has to offer.I will miss you summer - so sorry to see you go.Here are just some photo highlights of our summer:
Brett loves helping Daddy with the lawn mowing. We're already thinking of a way to hook a mower to the front of his chair so he can cut the lawn in his power chair.
This summer the boys were obsessed with checking the weather and sports scores. Each morning they would take turns being in charge of the iPad and give me and Tate the updates every day. They would read the weather temperatures and say Sunny, cloudy and moony - cracked me up. Every. Day.
My cousin Jim who now lives in West Virginia came to town and though we met as children (I think I was a toddler) we got to spend time sharing stories and getting to know him. The kids enjoyed doing pool tricks and singing on the deck while he played guitar. Lots of good times and great memories!
Cousins! (back row L to R) Tate, Joe, Kerry, Jackie, Jim D.
(front row L to R) Nancy, Me, Caroline, Jim C., Sophie, Joan and Amy.
Cousin Jim with Caroline and Jackson doing stunts.
The aunties took the boys to the zoo.
Brett chillin' in the pool. It was a crazy summer weather-wise and we didn't have a lot of good pool days, but we took advantage of it at Sunday Family Fun Day at Auntie Kerry's and the kids even took a dip in the pool on a pretty cold summer day.
We went to a few different parks. My favorite was driving down the street on the way home from Brett's therapy one Friday afternoon and the boys said - someday can we go to that park? And I took a turn and we went right then and there. They were shocked and we had a blast.
I took the boys on a hike at a local preserve area - they chose the bird backpack and we spent the hike doing a scavenger hunt looking for bird-related clues. So fun.
Looking for clues on our hike. Brett loves the sounds of nature - birds and crickets chirping, bugs - it's like a symphony.
Aunt Brenda and Uncle Steve visited from Tennessee - we ate Chicago-style pizza and read books that they brought for the boys - so fun!
Peyton & Jackson celebrate in the van after receiving their T-ball trophies. It was amazing how much their skills improved this summer and also hilarious to watch their "games".
Brett with his baseball buddy Kelsey after he got his trophy!
The boys saw their second movie, Planes, this summer with Grammy & Poppy their aunties and cousins and then Auntie Rhonda took the boys to see Despicable Me 2. They are now seasoned movie goers!
Caroline made many bracelets for all of us on her rainbow loom and gives Peyton a lesson on how it's done.
We took a day off of work to spend with the boys and had a beautiful morning at the arboretum visiting the big bug exhibit.
Brett & the spider
Peyton, Brett, Tate and Jackson.
Brett, me , Peyton & Jackson - and I think there's something behind us.
We wrapped up our family day at the ice cream shop in town - the boys earned a free ice cream certificate from the summer reading program at the library - yum!
Playing in the hose. Sometimes you just need to cool off. I love these pictures with the sun streaming down as they play.
We kicked off the summer with a playdate at a different splash pad than pictured here, then one Friday afternoon decided to check out this one and I took Brett to another one on our special day together but didn't get pictures because I was soaking too and couldn't carry my phone.
We went cherry picking for a Sunday Family Funday and it was so fun. We were at the perfect point of the season and all had a great time. Afterward we went for a swim in the lake.
Thankfully they don't charge for the cherries you eat in the orchard - we all (especially Jackson) really enjoyed them!
Peyton and Caroline filling their buckets.
Brett, Auntie Kerry and Auntie Nancy catching our cherries after they ran through a machine that pokes the pits out for you.
Every year for their birthday Auntie Nancy gives the boys a coupon for a special day out with her. Here is Peyton with Mike Wisowski excited to sleep over there. On the same day Grandma & Granddad took one of the boys so they each get extra one-on-one time!
Jackson & Auntie Nancy on their special day out started out with breakfast at Cracker Barrel - can't go wrong there!
We went to a Kane County Cougars game and had a great family day. Nancy Foust who used to play the organ for the White Sox plays there now on Sundays so that was awesome. The mascot came over to say hi to Brett and later came back with a bat and signed it - so very sweet and kind. It made a special day even more special.
Sundays are family days at the ballpark and there's lots to do. Auntie Nancy took Brett through a bunch of jumpies think he liked it?
The boys got to run the bases after the game - Peyton and Jackson wanted to pretend like they were going back to the warning track, jumping up and catching a ball at the wall.
Peyton and I had some special time together and went on an old fashion paddle boat ride.
Auntie Amy helps Brett play Sophie's fiddle during a Sunday Family FunDay.
There was a special event at Easter Seals where Brett gets his therapy and Ralph from Ralph's World did a mini concert - it was awesome, but also really hot that day!
Peyton (above) and Jackson (below) got face paint masks.
Sophie making a work of art.
Brett doing sidewalk chalk. They rig these contraptions up to the wheel chairs so people with disabilities can create these cool works of art.
My boys on wheels. I have to say when I first saw Peyton climb into a wheel chair my breath caught for a minute. Even with one already in a chair it is odd to see your child in a chair. The wheelchair basketball team was there and they brought extra chairs so others could see what it was like to be in a chair. Jackson (left) and Peytong (right) and Sophie and Caroline all gave it a whirl. The crazy thing is they thought it was so much fun I think they left their thinking it was even cooler that Brett is in a wheelchair - such an interesting perspective!
We always end our summer over Labor Day weekend visiting Grammy & Poppy in Wisconsin. The weather was so awesome and we all had a great time. Here are some of the highlights:
Grammy's birthday party. She made a pinata for the kids, but I was in charge of keeping it in the air, so no pictures - but it was fun.
Cow beach is always a favorite. Thank you Pat & Pappa Don for letting us enjoy your private beach and fun toys. Above sitting on the cow are Brett, Caroline, Jackson, Peyton & Sophie.
Caroline, Jackson & Sophie enjoy a post-swim snack.
Jackson & Sophie pretending to kayak.
Auntie Kerry and Auntie Nancy took all the kids out on the paddle boat here's Peyton & Brett after their ride.
I just love this picture. It looks like Brett is really thinking about what he wants to say to Auntie Nancy.
Auntie Kerry surprised the kids with a super bubbly bath in Grammy's big tub one night. I think they would have played there all night.
Poppy took all the kids for a ride on his ATV before we left - they all LOVED it. Here's Jackson's smile.
Here's Peyton - thrilled before they even moved.
Brett couldn't get enough. He loves the wind in his face and moving fast.
Jackson & Peyton get big Grammy hugs.
Jackson & Brett say goodbye to Auntie Kerry.