Sandcastles, ice cream, and a summer birthday

It’s that time of year again…. the night before school starts. I can remember when I was a girl in school and this particular night would come along, I would have mixed emotions and a good reflection over the past weeks of summer. I still have those same type of thoughts as I reflect on the summer just gone, but my perspective is now from being a mother myself.

We had quite a full on summer, leaving for California the day after school finished and then upon our return we went to Cornwall less than two days later. The last weeks of British summer have been spent at home. I had lofty ideas of having lots of play dates for Anna and Luke and seeing people but the kids were honestly so content and delighted to just be at home that we didn’t get around to socialising much. I guess that’s one of the lessons I am starting to learn, that it’s good to throw out the rule book of what we think we should be doing sometimes and just be present in the moment. One day last week, I had to sigh and laugh as I looked at the bomb site of our house. Laundry was literally exploding off of the familiar chair that is often covered in clean but unfolded clothes. Cheerios had been tipped all over my kitchen floor from Luke cheekily trying to eat his snack and play at the same time. The kitchen was a disaster with dirty dishes taking up every inch of counter space. And to top it off Anna’s dress up clothes had all migrated from her bedroom to the shared living spaces. As much as it was annoying to come down to such a mess after getting the kids to bed, God reminded me that those little cheeky monkeys that like to make a mess are happy, confident, and such creative little beings. Looking at their sweet faces blissfully sleeping in their cosy beds, I felt thankful for all the craziness and the tornado of chaos they create in our home, for with it all comes such joy and laughter. They delight in making forts with rearranged chairs and sheets, playing choo-choo trains and doctor & patient. These days are precious and I have to soak them up now before they fade away.

There’s a part of my heart that is relieved the autumn has arrived and that summer has come to an end but it does seem bittersweet this time around. Anna’s birthday always falls towards the end of summer and this year she was a lucky duck as she had a party at home with Charlie’s family and she enjoyed time with her cousins. The following week, she then did a baking party at the lovely bakery, Cinnamon Square with a group of her classmates. Somewhere between her excitedly opening up her first Barbie doll (baby doctor), running around in her golden Belle new fancy dress costume, and wearing a chef hat and smiling straight for two hours while she pat bread dough and learned how to bake with her friends, my mummy heart melted with love and heartache. Where on earth have the past five years gone? In the day to day, often our routine has felt like the never ending repeat of groundhog’s day, but in those moments I saw a glimpse of my little girl at ten, fifteen, and twenty. Her little heart is precious as is her brother Luke’s. I have loads of things I want to accomplish within my lifetime and it’s often frustrating I can’t do more now, but my desires will have to be put on hold temporarily or reshaped as God’s current priority for me right now involves giving all I’ve got to these beautiful little ones. One of these days, I will blink and they will be grown, so I hope and pray that I can always love and share with them God’s faithfulness so that they learn to treasure the things of God first and foremost.

One of major themes of our Cornwall trip was ice cream! We shared a cottage with Charlie’s sister, Laura and her family. It was hard work, at times, trying to do everyday life with five kids between us and yet trying to feel like we were on holiday. Luckily during the days, the beach was literally a five minute walk and an ice cream hut with great variety was nearly a daily stop for us! I still have visions of Charlie and Laura running down the beach with dripping ice cream cones to quickly disperse to our crew. It was especially wonderful when Luke decided himself that he would have an ice cream, since he is currently my hesitant eater who hardly tries new foods whether it is a healthy or junk food. He sat there that day, absolutely delighted to slowly lick his mint chocolate ice cream cone and he had a sense of pride in himself for trying it for the first time! Luke is independent and stubborn, choosing to try things only in his own timing. I am learning to enjoy these little victory moments as cheering him on, I look forward to seeing him become a strong, leader in his own way and I am sure he will go on to do great things. I never thought I would be so proud of my child eating ice cream!

When they weren’t consuming ice cream, sandcastles (and then smashing them) were on the agenda. It was soothing to see the kids at work on their sandcastles and having such a pleasure and contentment with doing them. Anna also delighted in splashing in the waves. Her delight started years ago with her Papa (my dad) on my favourite Limantour beach and to this day, she loves chasing waves and feeling the cold water crash on her legs. Her laughter was so infectious and she reminded me what it means to be carefree. God loves children and especially their wonderful hearts that can so readily enjoy the simple things in life.

Flying to California on my own this year with our two kids was definitely a little crazy, but to see my parents smiling on the other side made it all worth it. For all of the many things we could do in San Francisco, those little beans had two things on their agenda: playing in Annie and Papa’s playroom and doing beach days to build sandcastles! They had plenty of time to do both activities and enjoyed simplicity at its best. My fondest moment at home was when my ninety-one year old grandma came to visit and Anna ran straight to her and gave her the biggest hug. No hesitation at all but just warm, genuine love. Luke and Anna both enjoyed time playing with their great grandmother and I was quite impressed that she kept up so well with all of their games. I absolutely adore my grandma, so to see my kids loving her just as much was priceless.

So as the new school year unfolds, I am sure the summer memories just gone will quickly fade away, yet the things God has reminded me of, I want to carry into this new school year: delight in the small things of life, be simplistic, enjoy each moment, and love wholeheartedly. Be content and see my children as a blessing. We are only given this moment and this day, and I want to make sure that I choose to fully embrace it.

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