Wednesday, August 24, 2011

End of Summer

Summer is, for all practical purposes, over.

I realize that the calendar says summer lasts until September 23.

And yes, we may sneak in one more quick camping trip, an afternoon at the lake, and a Friday night campfire.

But, in reality, summer is over.

School starts tomorrow.

Football started on Sunday.

Volleyball started on Monday.

I've spent much of this week driving.

And waiting.

And we haven't even left Bismarck.

But there's a bright side to all this driving and waiting.

I've finally had time catch up on some reading (even finished one book already!). I've also had time to think about what a great summer we had, despite a rocky start.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Cousin Time - Jake, Lizzy and Morgan spent ten days with the Brist cousins. Ok, it was because of the flooding in Bismarck and my crazy work hours, but on the bright side, they got away from the sandbagging and got to spend time with their cousins. Jenn spoiled them with trips to the pool, Storybook Land, and the zoo.
  • Fast Pitch Softball - This was Lexi's first season of fast pitch. It was a difficult season - the weather did not cooperate, which meant most games were cancelled. But she still had fun and learned she likes more sports than just basketball. She even promised to play again next year, in exchange for a pair of cleats!
  • Minnesota - We made several trips to Minnesota throughout the summer. The kids and I headed east in June to escape the flood for a weekend. We spent a night with Kileigh in Fargo (we visited Fargo's zoo for the first time ever and the big kids got to go to a Redhawks game) then a night with Chrissy in Minnesota. We played in the lake, built sand castles, road four wheeler and fell in love with their puppies (but did NOT bring one home!). Lizzy went back a few weeks later for another fun day with Chrissy and Shane and Lexi spent a few days with the "fun" cousin in August. We love spending time with Chrissy and Shane, and wish they lived closer, but we would definitely miss their lake if they moved!
  • The Black Hills - Some people called me crazy. They may be right. But sometimes it's good to be crazy. I took all four kids to the Black Hills for four days and three nights of camping. In a tent.  We had a blast. Really. I think it was the best part of the summer for all of us. We did the tourist thing - visited Bear Country, Mt. Marshmallow (aka Mt. Rushmore), Dinosaur Park, Storybook Island, spent a day at the waterslides and drove on a windy road through the Hills for a picnic. We swam every night at the campground, cooked supper over the campfire, and enjoyed each other's company in the great outdoors. We got sunburned. We lost our shampoo and conditioner (all five of us had to use Morgan's baby shampoo after the first day). We packed only bubblegum toothpaste (which actually isn't that bad.. I might even prefer it to mint flavor). We also made some amazing memories. I truly believe this will be one of those experiences my kids talk about well into their old age.
  • Garrison Dam - We had to do it. We had to witness history. Brad and I went with friends (on the Harley!) on July 4th. When I realized how impressive it really was to see the spillway completely open, I knew I had to take the kids. They were totally unimpressed, except for the restaurant in Riverdale - THAT impressed them. Still, someday, they'll be glad I took them. And they've got the pictures to prove they were there, witnessing history.
  • Kerzman Mini-Reunion - The kids make fun of how small my family is, especially after a Kerzman family event. This summer we attended a "mini" reunion of the Kerzmans - just the 15 brothers and sisters and their families. Not everyone was there, but the farm was still hoppin'. We had a blast spending time with relatives we don't see very often, and those we see everyday too!
  • McDowell Dam - With the river off limits, we decided to check out McDowell Dam, just east of Bismarck. It had been years since I had been there. But we were pleasantly surprised. The kids, Tess and cousin Madi and I spent a beautiful July day in the water. Ducky Mo-Mo and Ducky Stupid were born... and those floaties (and that joke) carried us through the rest of the summer.
  • Harmon Lake - We also decided to explore Harmon Lake, north of Mandan. The kids and I, and Lexi's friend Taylor, camped one night, and despite not being able to get the campfire started, locking the keys in the van, Morgan not going to sleep, and the tent pole breaking in the middle of the night, it was a great night. We spent the next day at the beach. Taylor left, but Tess joined us and the kids made an amazing sand castle. Bad weather forced us to pack up camp that nigh, but we returned the next day, with Tess' parents and the Kaludts and spent one more night in our tent. There's nothing better than cooking over a campfire, visiting with good friends and sleeping on an air mattress. Seriously. I love camping.
There are so many other things we did this summer that made it so special. I wish I would have kept track of the miles I put on.... we were constantly driving somewhere. And when we were home, we had backyard campfires, lots of smores and laughs. Lexi discovered duct tape, and started her own duct tape business. She played basketball all summer long too. She also got a little addicted to daytime television. Jake, meantime, got a little addicted to staying up late and sleeping in until 10:00. He spent ten days at my parent's farm, and even learned to drive! The little girls were good about tagging along and keeping up with the big kids. 

The pictures really do tell the story, and to me, the pictures from this summer are worth more than any words.
Vacation in the Black Hills with my favorite kids

Our first visit to Fargo's zoo

Fast Pitch

Jake and Morgan at Harmon Lake
One of the hundreds of smores we made this summer
Lizzy and Ducky Mo-Mo
The most amazing sand castle ever
Jake and Ducky Stupid
Soaking up the sun at Chrissy's
Garrison Dam - This is history, kids

But there are so many other things we didn't do.

We didn't go to the Y very much.

We didn't go on a single family bike ride.

We only went to the libray twice.

I kinda want a couple more weeks of summer vacation, just to squeeze it all in.

But it doesn't matter what I want. School starts tomorrow, whether I'm ready or not. 

And the more I think about that, the more I'm ok with it. In fact, I'm kinda excited about it.

Because while Jake and Lexi are at school, the little girls and I will play.

We'll go to the park, the library, the Y.

We'll have at least two hours everyday, after I'm done with work and before the big kids are done with school, to do whatever we want.

So while summer may be over, the fun is far from over for the little girls and me.

And so I say, bring on fall!

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