... summer's here !
While June 21st may officially be the first day of summer, the season has been in full swing here in Oregon for the past several weeks.
We drove past our local aquatic center a week ago, and despite the temperature (a breezy 65 degrees!) the place was packed with brave swimmers. My kids began a spontaneous chorus of "when-are-we-going-to-the-aquatic-center??" - if you've never heard a van-full of children unanimously declaring their passion for something ... well, you haven't lived. It's pretty persuasive.
So on Thursday, when my weather app showed a bright ball of sun with no clouds peeking out behind it and a mommy-approved temperature of 79 - we packed up sunscreen, towels and flip flops and headed to the beach.
Otter Beach, that is.
I wish I had a video to demonstrate for you what Otter Beach is to this girl. I am not kidding- if I didn't believe in reincarnation, and if I did believe in swearing and mermaids... I would swear to you that Lily was one in a previous life.
But as I don't believe in any of those things, I'll just tell you this: this girl loves to swim. I mean loves.
I'm talking, get her in the water as fast as you can, arms flailing and legs kicking and peels of laughter and DON'T HOLD HER HAND because she is a big girl, and she knows exaaaaactly what to do here, and do not even try to convince her that water and open mouthed smiles don't mix well, because you cannot even contain that level of happiness if you try. And yes, she wore a lifejacket the entire time, if you were wondering. (<< Grammi, that sentence was just for you.)
We spent several happy hours at Otter Beach before we piled everything back up and headed home for dinner. I asked the kids on the way home what some of their happiest summer memories have been ... because I'm sappy like that. Ask my kids- just about every family trip, whether it's a three hour trek to the pool, or a three day vacation at the KOA - the drive home will involve a discussion of what our favorite moments were. Maybe because I love to view the world through my kids' version of it, and maybe because I'm just a big kid myself... this is my little drive-home ritual.
Or maybe it's the old Girl Scout in me, pinning new memories onto my vest like merit badges ... one that has a cabin and a pine tree on it for our camping trip to Fort Stevens, another one with big Mickey ears for a vacation at the happiest place on earth, still another one with a pool umbrella and bottle of sunscreen on it for all those relaxing hours spent at the aquatic center ... I like savoring the memories behind those badges just as much as experiencing the actual events themselves.
So yesterday we made another summer memory, and if there were a badge to score with this one, it would probably be embroidered with two tiny symbols representing the fruit of our labors :
...helloooo, cherry pies.
Mackenzie and I went for a morning walk yesterday, and just as we were about to walk in our front door, our neighbor called us over to their backyard... actually it was our neighbor's son's girlfriend, and she was house sitting. Two giant cherry trees were ripe for the picking, and she needed help in clearing them out before our neighbors got back ...would we be willing to come back with the kids and help her out ?
I told her we had important things to do first ...
... like run home and scream to the others that a Summer Merit Badge was waiting, so grab some shoes and buckets STAT !!
Behold, The Cherry Picking Party that ensued ...
They even had a maraschino cherry tree ! Shirley Temples, here we come ;)
(Five gold stars to whoever knows what a Shirley Temple is.) (And yes, I know maraschino cherries are made and not grown.)
Life is just a bowl of cherries... or miniature balls, if you're Hayden.
After picking several gallons of cherries, and eating about the same amount, the kids spent some time on the giant trampoline in the neighbor's backyard .
I nursed Hayden and chatted with the neighbor's sweet girlfriend... turns out she has a great aunt with Down syndrome, and get this - she's seventy-three ! She was born in an era when institutionalizing children with Down syndrome was common, but her mama said the words that would have been my words, had I lived back then : not my baby. She raised her daughter at home, the seventh child out of nine, and she lived a full and beautiful life. She now spends her days living with her two older sisters and enjoys telling everyone she meets the lineage of her family tree. That's no small task given the amount of nieces and nephews she has - 115. And Vanessa (the neighbor's girlfriend) said her aunt can tell you exactly who belongs to who.
I was so blessed to hear this family's story of courage and love and grace, while sitting under the cherry trees on a beautiful Oregon afternoon, watching my girl play happily with her siblings, without a care in the world.
How far we've come ...
Finally we packed up our blankets and buckets, said thank you to our gracious host, and headed home. Our hearts and tummies full, we silently added another precious badge to our vests, one that we'll treasure for years to come.
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ~Henry James
It's your turn now... share a summer memory in the comment section, just for fun?
Happy summer !!!