No Pain No Gain

Despite coming back from vacation and having a million things to do to get my house back in order, I decided that I wanted to be intentional about having some good summer fun to kick off my time with my kiddos during our first week at home together. The boys spent their mornings at a wonderful camp called Oonie Koonie Cha on Monday through Thursday which left me and my baby girl to our own devices.

Often times my third child gets what's left of my attention between activities for the boys, laundry, preparing meals, cleaning the house, blogging, running, etc. I wanted to make an effort to do some really fun things for HER this week...

First, I took her to story time (twice) with a good friend and her little girl (please note this was the FIRST and second story time I have taken her to...EVER, which makes me a little sad since the boys and I used to go to the library at least once a week when they were her age). It was a lot of fun to watch her interact with other kids and dance and to have my attention solely on her. Second, I actually sat in the basement/playroom for HOURS and played with her and read books and chatted with her (talking is new to her, so it was hysterical to hear all of the little words pouring out of her mouth). Third, I had a "mother's helper" come over to play with her...I didn't say I totally let my to-do list go, right??? This helper is a friend's child who knows my family well, and it was awesome. My child got undivided attention in her own playroom with all of her own toys. She got to play with an older GIRL rather than her two older brothers, and I got every stitch of laundry done, I got my blog post wrapping up our family vacation written, and I got dinner prepared in the two hours she was there. Now, this mother's helper is not a babysitter because she's not quite old enough to leave at home with my child, but she is old enough to play with her in the playroom with me within earshot to answer questions, change diapers, etc. It was a win, win, win, win (for me, my daughter, our friend, and our friend's daughter) and something that I hope to continue throughout the summer.

After our mornings, we had the afternoons to fill with the boys back in tow. I was a little nervous about what we were going to do as the baby girl naps at 1:00 or 1:30 everyday, and that nap (as precious as it is) eats up our entire afternoon. Well, I decided to loosen the reigns and let go of nap time for a few (3) days...GASP! Let me tell you, I am SO happy that I did. We spent one afternoon with my husband's aunt & uncle (who had driven up from Spartanburg) and his cousin & her husband. We went to a late lunch and had a great time catching up, my husband's uncle thoroughly entertained the boys with magic tricks and balloon animals, and all three kids totally rose to the occasion. Naptime happened later in the day and bedtime was a little rocky, but it was well worth it to spend some long overdue time with family.

On two other afternoons, we hit the pool with some friends. I was a little nervous about the first pool endeavor as I thought that we might have to endure some tears and meltdowns due to our powering through naptime, but we had to try it...worst case scenario, I'd leave the pool with screaming babies and head home, right? Best case scenario? Well, that's what actually happened: the kids (especially the baby) had a ball and loved the water, we all enjoyed our time in the sunshine, I got to watch some sweet older kids take mine under their wings, and I got to see my middle child get over his fear of the diving board (he had a little mishap and scraped his chin and busted his lip on jump 45 or so, but he got right back up there and jumped off again!). The best part by far, though, was using this time to catch up with one of my close friends for nearly THREE HOURS! I can assure you that when I think back on this summer, that is one of the days that I'll remember, and I won't think about the full out melt down that occurred when we got home. ;) Because of our success at the pool, we attempted it again with a different set of friends later in the week, and our time was just as sweet...and our meltdown that night was just as epic!!

We also decided to let off the reigns with bedtimes for the boys last week...again, GASP! We are usually the family who has the kids in bed by 8:00 at the latest, and I am pretty much done and exhausted by then. We spent our evenings with the boys watching the World Cup, coloring and reading for hours on the floor in the living room (because they were having such a ball doing it, and who wants to break that up?), and going to a Dash baseball game one night until almost 10:00 (note: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT feed your child peanuts, popcorn, two hotdogs, Sprite, and Superman ice cream all in one night...it will end in disaster...I will spare you the details...my loosening the reigns includes staying up past bedtime...my husband's loosening the reigns is clearly on an entirely different level). Again, you have to know that you're going to pay a little for such decisions with tears at bedtime and tired munchkins in the mornings, but the bottom line is the memories are totally worth it! No pain, no gain, right?

Speaking of pain/gain...I am writing this on the eve of an 11 hour road trip with the kids. I'll let you know how this adventure works out for me tomorrow as this is something I thought that I would never do. Ha! In all seriousness, please say a little prayer for travel mercies and for my sanity tomorrow. The great news is that at the end of our journey, we will find ourselves in the company of four of my favorite families...10 adults and 10 kids...it will certainly be a week filled with tons of laughter, lots of giggles (by the husbands), late night chats, controlled chaos, sandy feet, fireworks, and of course some yummy food!

Summer to me is all about making memories and letting go of the reigns a little bit...not striving for perfect but striving for fun. We don't all have to look perfect (I haven't used my hair dryer since the boys got out of school), and our homes don't have to be perfect to invite friends over at the last minute (mine never is, so that's not a problem), and we don't have to stick to a perfect schedule (because does it really matter if we stay up an hour later in the summer? We don't have to be at school at 7:45am!!), and we don't have to have the perfect meal on the table every night (tonight, we had cheese pizza and grapes...yep, plain cheese pizza and grapes). Summer is about spending time together, about last minute playdates and picnics, about staring at the stars, about listening to sounds outside, about getting out of our scheduled comfort zones, about enjoying time with special friends, about making new friends, and about looking back and saying, "That was our best summer yet!"

Happy Cooking!

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