The kids have been out of school for a couple of weeks now, and our family has seemed to get into a nice groove. It’s a very relaxed vibe around here…we sleep in, but not too late, we follow a schedule, but it’s not overly strict. Evenings are lazy and not rushed. Everything about summer time at our house seems to ease my stress and relax all of us, mentally and emotionally. It’s not so much what we are doing that brings about this welcomed easy paced atmosphere, but rather what we are not doing. We are not in a constant race with the clock to manage homework, dinner, chores and showers all in an effort to complete each task and get to bed at a reasonably decent hour. We are not filling our calendar with school events and spelling test dates. Mornings aren’t rushed and filled with yelling and arguing. Instead, we wake up, have breakfast (as quickly or slowly as we need), brush little sets of teeth and get dressed, do chores and then….do whatever each day brings to us, with plenty of down time and plenty of time to do as we wish. Make no mistake, the ever present chaos isn’t gone, but its taken on a different nature…it has lessened in intensity and in that anxiety provoking, fast paced, goal oriented, must-move-along-and-get-the-next-thing-done atmosphere that the school year demands. It is an extremely refreshing change from the busy and hectic month of May, which brought Prom, Senior Spotlight, Honors Night, Graduation, final exams, several Field Day’s and enough spring field trips to drive me insane. Now is exhale time.
We very purposely do not fill our younger children’s schedules with lots of “enrichment” or “activities” for the summer. Not because we think it’s necessarily wrong to do so, but because it’s just not our style. For us, the point of summer is exactly the opposite…it’s to recharge, rest, play and be together. It’s to have time to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities as they arise. We read together regularly, this summer we are doing the Junie B. Jones books and the Fudge Series by Judy Blume. Other than that, all “learning” comes through fun and play and exploration, and not from day care, camps or other formal courses. Manny is an exception, as he’s full throttle into training for football season. But this IS his fun, his passion and what he loves. He’s committed and dedicated and enjoys every minute of it. Well, maybe not every minute of having to be up early, but every single moment of being part of that team.
Tonight we had an impromptu backyard football game, while Albert grilled our dinner. Brandon, Jackson, and Brice played football with a friend, tackling each other, getting more and more competitive as the moments passed, all while Isaiah and Sydney held foot races with one another, weaving in and out of the older kids game, and Bree and Mia took turns on the slide, sliding upside down and backward and shouting for Mommy and Daddy to “watch me, watch me!” each time they attempted a new stunt. Sam sat on my lap, laughing and clapping, highly entertained by all his siblings, and Zoe, the dog, alternated between lying in the grass and nervously chasing and patrolling the boys playing football when their ruckus and aggression became too much for her and she felt the need to “warn” them to calm down. Nights like this one, are the reason I love having a huge family. I thrive on the feelings that nights like tonight bring, because honestly, life brings plenty of the opposite kind as well…the ones where I wonder how I’ll get through until bedtime comes along to rescue me and preserve the tiny sliver of sanity I am clinging to. Tonight was a beautiful re-affirmation…sort of an “Oh yeah, this is why parenting 11 kids totally rocks,” type of night. Summer brings a lot of those. I can’t get enough.