Where did the summer go? It seems like yesterday that the kids were getting off the bus toting overflowing backpacks filled with mostly-used school supplies and lists of books they were supposed to read over the summer.
We have maximized our summer and done some really fun things as a family. We've slept in, gone camping, backpacking and hiking, completed milestone races, spent time in Sun River, road tripped to Montana, played with both sets of my parents, taken swimming lessons, sent the kids to camp, hit the state fair and a couple of parades, played with friends and who knows what else.
It seemed like every day held something fun and inviting and with a few rare exceptions, we never really got sick of each other. We negotiated some sibling rivalry and dealt with small bouts of boredom, but overall this has been the best summer (for me as a mom) since our kids were school-aged. It was just fun. Plain and simple. I have grown accustomed to being surrounded by my four precious treasures and I'm not ready for them to don their new skinny jeans, grab their backpacks and head back to school.
I can't stop the clock though and the past week has been filled with school prep and finishing projects. I took all four kids to our favorite hair stylist for back-to-school haircuts. Three hours later, all five of us emerged from the salon with freshly trimmed locks and miraculously, sanity in tact. We dropped off school supplies and met their teachers. Two of the three teachers are ones that Grant or Katie have had in the past which made a potentially nerve-inducing evening one to look forward to. We laughed when we walked into Kaitlin's classroom and ran into one of our house church girls as Katie's student teacher.
Yesterday Kaitlin and I spent a good two hours in her room purging old papers and filled notebooks, sorting through clothes she's outgrown or styles she no longer prefers, throwing away broken Dollar Tree toys and organizing what was left into a system she could understand and one I could tolerate. I repeated this process with Grant today, only his man cave was such a disaster that it took us four concentrated hours to dig through the mess. They each hauled out an entire garbage bag from their rooms! Alli and Paige's room was less torturous because Alli is more organized and less messy than her other siblings. Time in their room was focused on bringing in a dresser from the play room and redistributing their clothes.
I enlisted the kids' help to purge and reorganize the play room. We systematically dumped out every dresser drawer, every toy bucket, every basket and containing device and sorted through it all. Broken toys or toys with pieces missing got chucked, toys that don't get played with went in the donations pile. What was left got sorted into new bins and stacked nicely on the bookshelf with younger kids toys on the lower bottom shelves and older kid toys way up top. It took FOREVER but was worth the effort now that I can walk by the play room and not cringe.
We repurposed furniture, switched furniture pieces from room to room, spray painted picture frames and re-hung pictures. We even rearranged our entire master bedroom. If I never tackle another organizational project again, I won't be sad. But as I tucked my 4th grade son into his freshly made bed and his man cave that has never (and will probably never be again) so clean and tidy, it seemed worth it. He starts school tomorrow with a room that is calm and not chaotic and I know he feels proud of how hard he worked to get whip it into shape.
Grant is a bit bummed that none of his close buddies are in his class this year, so we spent bedtime praying for the new friends he's going to make. He's ready to get back to learning. Kaitlin is excited to be with her friends again and find out who is in her class. Always a social butterfly, school for her is more about relationships than learning. I can't believe she'll be in 3rd grade. And then there's Alli. All she's ever wanted is to be old enough to stay in school all day long. To get hot lunch, have PE and qualify for multiple recesses are what she's most looking forward to. She is beside herself with excitement and while I have zero concerns for her entering this phase of life, I wonder about me. Alli's been my buddy for six years. We hang in the afternoon while Paige is sleeping and before the "big kids" get home from school. But tomorrow she'll be a "big kid." I'm not ready for that.
Since I'm getting all emotional, I won't even start on sweet Paige. When my baby starts pre-school next week, I may be calling in the specialists for some emotional support. I am one blessed mama and am grateful to have had these long summer days to fall in love all over again with each of my precious kidlets. They start school again tomorrow, and I'm just not ready.