At least, our summer.
But I'll admit there are times that I hear about exotic, or all-American (think Disney World), vacations and I think that we should do something similar.
There have been summers that we have went, seen, and done.
However, more times than not we end up staying pretty close to home during the summer months. Steven claims that it is because we have more in our backyard than most people have. Our children, therefore, have more opportunities for adventure right at home, and don't need an exotic- or all-American- vacation.
I think that although he is right, it fits rather nicely in his anti-social, avoid-touristy-things-at-all-costs, attitude.
A few weeks ago, the week after the 4th of July to be exact, we went camping at a nearby lake.
(We purposefully went the week after the 4th so as to not appear "touristy" and to avoid large crowds.)
Although I delight in all the "setting up the campsite" festivities, Steven was all for minimal packing and minimal preparation this time around.
We threw in the...um....necessities:
Once we were there it didn't take long (think minimal packing) for the kids to get their suits on and be ready to hit the water.
On the way to the lake shore the kids were excited to see that the park ranger station was open. They had always wanted to go and we never seemed to hit it at the right time.
This time - 98 degrees outside and the inside was air-conditioned - was the right time.
The ranger was extremely nice giving the kids many different learning activities to do.
They enjoyed using an old Native-American method of drilling holes.
It took a lot of time and even more patience.
Long after L had become bored with the process, B kept on, determined to make it all the way through.
His perseverance paid off.
After finally drilling his way through the shell, he agreed that he had worked up enough of a sweat (even in the AC) to deem that it was time to head to the lake.
The kids contemplated their approach before finally getting in. Although Steven and I were settled in nicely, under a shade tree, the kids decided that this spot just wouldn't do and we headed over to the swim beach.
That would be the swim beach without a shade tree.
The kids had fun playing and I told them that I enjoyed playing with them, too.
They informed me that sitting in a lawn chair, with my feet in the water, didn't quite count as playing.
Steven and I enjoyed the time watching the kids and talking about the things that you normally don't have time to, in day to day life.
We contemplated our lives and where we would be if so many things would have went differently. Many times Steven seems to go back to "Where would we be if I hadn't had my bull riding accident?" Although one correct answer would be "without a huge hospital bill", another one is a little less obvious.
That, however, isn't my story to tell. Not today, anyway.
But Steven himself acknowledges that it cost him far less than what he's gained.
After the kids finished swimming, we headed to a local hot spot: a drive-in that seems straight from the '50's.
We ordered our food and I enjoyed the fact that there was no clean-up required on my part.
At least that is what I thought....
As the ice cream rapidly melted, L found herself bent over trying to prevent it from getting all over her.
B, however, had already finished his and had cleaned his face up. His shirt was excluded from the aforementioned cleaning.
And Steven, ever the comedian, tried to strike a sexy pose for me while enjoying his ice cream.....
Sexy, huh? Looks more painful to me.
Try not to be jealous.
Later in the week we visited a friend of mine in her new...and very beautiful and extremely organized...new house.
After getting the tour and catching up, we gathered the kids and took them to the local pool to go swimming.
(As you can see, I had also been using my summer to learn some new photoshop skillz courtesy of YouTube.)
After returning home, I couldn't get visions of organization out of my head.
I only wish I were joking.
My kids, on the other hand, had been talking with their daddy and couldn't get visions of being cattle owners out of their heads.
Steven put in a call to our friend that works at the regional stockyards and told him we needed some cows. He planned on picking the kids up some cow/calf pairs that week.
The kids were less enthusiastic about the reduction of their savings, but L was optimistic that they would make it up by selling their calves down the line.
B had different plans. He thought he would resale his cow immediately for $100,000.
I think he might be expecting a tad too much.
Saturday morning Aunt Sissy came over to spend the day. She reluctantly joined in on the "Closet Organization 2011" that had commenced after my trip to Joy's.
B went with Steven to pick up the cows and L stayed on to help with the task at hand.
It didn't take long for me to notice the striking similarity in L and Aunt Sissy.
They were both clothing nazis.
If one wasn't saying, "When was the last time you wore this? Seriously?!? Get rid of it!", the other was saying, "If you have wore this recently then you shouldn't have. It's awful! Get rid of it!"
Once B and Steven arrived back home, L ran out to see what her new investment looked like.
I pulled away from the mountain of questionable clothing that laid on my bedroom floor and went outside to take a picture of this monumental moment.
And so it begins.....
When looking at my children on that joyous day, I couldn't help but think that they had some "questionable clothing" of their own.
And so, we began cleaning out their closets.
Of course, they still chose to wear their clothes inside out.
You have to pick your battles, friends, and that is not a battle I chose to pick.
I was too busy organizing.
After finally completing our task(s), changing into clothes that made the cut, and putting them on right-side-out, we attended the 94th annual ice cream social at our church.
It is a community wide event and one I can remember attending as a small child.
As can my father.
Starting early in the morning, ice cream is hand cranked throughout the day, so as to serve up enough for all that come that night.
And with the temps near 100 degrees, ice cream was going to be a "hot" commodity.
We hadn't been there long before the kids ran off to go play games and win "treasures".
The kids weren't the only ones playing games.
I was participating in some cut throat BINGO.
I just knew I was going to win big. Sarah thought she was too.
Turns out we were "half" right. We "bingo'ed" at the exact same time!
What were the chances?
My $5 prize was split to $2.50, just like that!
The kids more than made up for my "loss".
They would play a game, win, and run and put their prizes in Uncle Jason's lawn chair, run back, win again, and place prize in lawn chair, over and over and over again. We didn't come with these prizes, but we were leaving with them.
(This sure put me back a few steps in all the organizing progress I had made.)
Yes, the kids were heading home with numerous inflatables, candy, small toys and a cake won at the cake walk-and I was now faced with the challenge of finding "homes" for it all.
I'm really not complaining. Honestly, I wouldn't change a thing.
As I looked at all that had gathered in this small community, and watched as the kids ran freely around-playing ball, playing games and eating hamburgers and ice cream, I knew that of all what Steven said rang true.
We truly do have more in our "backyard" than many have. We are so blessed.
I wouldn't turn down a trip to Disney World if I got the chance.
Who am I kidding?
I wouldn't even turn down a trip to Lowe's.
(I might even pick up some stuff help me organize while I am there!)