Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer sum-up and top ten

Some days this summer I've felt completely competent as a mom. Other days I feel like I've worked all day and still end up with a messy house and nothing to show for dinner but a package of hot dogs and some baby carrots. Actually (ha!), a lot of days end something like that! It's made for some late nights finishing the laundry and cleaning. All things considered, though, this has actually been one of my lifetime favorite summers. I have no doubt that when I read this blogpost in a few years I will yearn for this blessed summer. Here's how it's been.

We start each day with some structure:
Sometimes I expend all my breakfast calories just trying to engage them enough to move those stinkin' little bees across the board. It's hardly ever perfect, but it's something!

Later each day we do projects, go on field trips, and plan adventures. Enjoy our top ten favorites:

1. What would summer be without baseball? Jacob had about 30 games this summer, plus hours of practice each week. His brothers were good sports and only a titch mischievous sneaking around at the ballpark (e.g., turning the drinking fountain spouts around to splash water all over the sidewalk!).

2. The other obvious summer activity is boating! The kids are skiing off the "boom" and loving it:

Of course Eric's amazing

and I've gotten a few thrills.
Ah yeah!

3. Visitors and visiting made for an especially good time! First, my parents stopped by Madison on their way back from their epic road trip. We took the boat out one day and then day camped the next. My dad inadvertently created a massive fireball in the air out of a lighter that day. Yow!

Eric's Uncle Mark, Aunt Jen, and their two boys also came into town. We took a boat tour of Madison, tasted varieties of Wisconsin cheese, played outside, and went out to IHOP! I regret that there was a photo gap during their visit when we lost our battery charger! We loved having them.

The boys and I also took a mini road trip down to Iowa City to meet my sister-in-law and her kids. After a day at the beach,
we went to quite possibly the best children's museum ever. Jami and I are both adventure moms and I love it!

4. Eric and I have been trading babysitting with another family so that we can go on regular dates. Two Madison traditions were tops: a fireworks show from the lake,

and Opera in the Park (those are glowsticks that people were waving to the music--hilarious!).

My friend and I (but mostly my friend) made a delectable spread of picnic food for the opera--we savored it and the beautiful music for two hours. So great!

We also celebrated our tenth anniversary this month! Here we are on the actual day:
For our anniversary date we went out for Japanese food (Eric's choice) and to an art museum downtown (my choice). Eric LOVED the museum:

5. Other cultural events have included the geology museum
(actually we like the experience of a bus ride downtown just as much as the museum!);
and an extremely loud local band at the Union Terrace.
Eric and another resident didn't seem to notice the noise!
Painting the iconic shoe slide at the zoo made for a memorable day,
as did the other fun library and live music events that we attended around town. Madison is rocking with summer fun!

 6. We go on walks some evenings and the boys climb up these mounds of dirt and make up the most charming stories about knights and kingdoms. As the only girl, I am always the princess or the queen, which is pretty great.
Similar pretend play characterizes the hikes and park trips that we make a few times each week.
Here Michael is "Jones" (short for Indiana Jones, which he saw on a Lego set):

What were they playing here? I wish that I could remember.

I recently started hitching up our bikes together so that the three youngest and I can all ride together--maybe it's a nerdy, but it gets us around!

7. We have been camping like crazy on the weekends! I think that we've camped half of the Fridays that we've been in town this summer. Packing and unpacking isn't such a big deal now that we've done it so many times. And the boys love setting up camp,

scouting out the place,

playing in the lakes,

putting on silly skits,
and hiking around.

Eric and I want to be a camp couple for some summers when we retire--we love it!

8. As far as structured classes, the boys attended swim lessons, tennis lessons, storytime, and Scouts this summer. A groundskeeper for the tennis courts gave us a bucket full of balls and we threw them around for a few hours each week while waiting for lessons.
The boys did well!
Waiting for swim lessons wasn't bad with a cool Noah's Ark park nearby,
not to mention the beautiful, forested pool!

My favorite Cub Scout activity was a service project in the food pantry gardens. I was so proud of the boys' work--I love those kids.

We also made good use of our "Kids Bowl Free" summer passes and bowled almost every week (on $1 shoe rental day!).

 9. A cardboard boat race takes the cake as the most entertaining event of the summer. We went up north to visit friends and compete in a rowing race--using a boat we built using purely cardboard and duct tape! We built a practice model at home

then built our final model on the day of the race! Jacob captained it and came in third out of five in his heat. 
What a riot! There were about 75 boats racing and a couple hundred fans! Here are our buddies who invited us:
After the race we boated around until the thing turned into a mush pile.
Then we stayed some more and swam, biked, and played! 

10. We celebrated two half-birthdays this summer (for the darling boys who have to share their birthday!)
and one three-year-old birthday!
But every day is a celebration here! I thank my Heavenly Father daily for my devoted husband and sweet kids.

And now I am going to go enjoy some of this:

Good night. More summer fun tomorrow!