I wasn't sure that summer was actually going to arrive, but this week we had two days above 80 degrees. TWO WHOLE DAYS.
The arrival of summer feels like a blessed miracle, and we're all just so smiley about finally being able to wear shorts here the last week of June. Well, that and the US team advancing to the next round in the World Cup.
This week marked the first time this year that we got to spend the afternoon at the creek. When the weather gets nice, we pack up the kids, grab some food and drinks, trek down the hill, and hang out by the water where the kids are so entertained that they forget to complain about anything, and I forget I have a mountain of laundry to do. It's a win win situation.
On any given sunny afternoon, at least a couple of the eight cousins can be found at the creek, which actually is often referred to as The Island because it's a land mass mostly surrounded by water. Technically, I think it only has water on three sides, but calling it The Island is easier than calling it The Peninsula.
Anyway...yesterday and today the seven oldest cousins happened to be down there. There may be a 10-year age difference between the oldest and youngest, but they don't seem to mind.
They build sand castles together, catch frogs together, and trap each other in sand volcanoes. From pre-schooler to teenager, they all happily get along most of the time (minus the few occasions the pre-schoolers throw sand in someone's face).
My girls love going down to the Island. Love it, love it, love it. Sydney, who takes after her mama and isn't much of a waterbug, loves playing in the creek because it doesn't require any swimming. It's shallow, and rocky, and full of crawdads and minnows and somehow that's just more inviting than a swimming pool even if it is many degrees colder. It helps, I'm sure, that the water is easily mucked up--can't see what sort of underwater critters are swimming around your toes.
We hadn't planned on going in the water yesterday, but then somehow Sydney just ended up there. It doesn't bother me if she goes in with her clothes on...less sunscreen I have to apply.
I try to stay out of their way and let the cousins entertain themselves. They have stories they're creating, adventures they're on, rafts that are safely navigating down a 20 foot stretch of water that never gets very deep. While they're doing their thing, I'm doing my thing: reading magazines and eating up bowlfuls of strawberries. It's tough work watching kids play, but someone has to do it.
For as much as Sydney loves the water, Julianne loves the sand. She actually doesn't like the water at all. In fact, we signed her up for swim lessons for this month but she refused to go in the water. It didn't matter that we had already paid the money for it; she was determined...and we were less determined.
Fortunately, there are things to do down at the Island that don't involve water. My dad hauls in a bunch of sand to the creek bank and that's enough to keep Jules entertained for hours. The sand, the mud, and some sticks. Who needs swim lessons!
She makes all kinds of delicious treats with her muddy sand creations. Chocolate cake with lemon filling. Raspberry pie. More chocolate cake, this time with birthday candles. I eat it all up with great gusto, and politely decline to help out in her kitchen. Something about too many cooks, and the heat, and me not wanting to get mud on my Sunset magazine pages.
The Island is so much fun, and makes the afternoon so easy, that I never mind that the girls come back exhausted and a bit fussy, or that their clothes are filled with sand, or that perhaps a certain curly-headed someone with an owie on her foot makes my very pregnant self haul her on my shoulders up the hill to the house.
When we were packing up towels and sunscreen for today's trip down to the Island, Sydney asked, "Are we going down to the creek again today?" I told her we were, and she shouted with joy. "I LOVE the creek! Let's go down there every day!" Fine by me.
This is what the summer should be--sunshine and kids and hanging out. I don't know where laundry and cleaning the house fits in to that, but who cares! I've got sunshine and a happy family.
Tell me, where are the places that make your kids the most happy? If you don't have one, I'll loan you ours for the summer.
PS: Here's my favorite shot from yesterday. It's just exactly perfect. ♥