I’M BAAAAACK!After a hot, jam packed, adventure filled summer, I’m ready to hang up my flip flops and add some wonderful memories to our photo albums. This summer was truly one for the books. We didn’t do anything fancy and we opted out of taking some big expensive vacations. Instead, we traded them in for relaxing days at the pool, a few mini weekend getaways, and TONS of family fun days. It’s weird how summer changes as you age throughout your life. When you’re a kid, summer break equals freedom. You wait for it all school year long, and when that last bell finally rings, you run out of there like your pants are on fire and don’t slow down until September approaches. As you grow from a kid to a teenager, activities and hobbies may change, but that “living the life, free as a bird” feeling stays the same. Then you grow up and enter reality, and you realize that summer vacation no longer exists. In the middle of August, on the sunniest days, your alarm clock is still waking you up in the morning to remind you that you’re an adult. And that, my friend, is like sharing a bathroom with five other girls. You get used to it, but it never stops sucking. However, if you’re a school teacher…then you deserve a drink in your hand at all times for the next 2 months because, well, you work with children that aren’t your own every day. Hats off to you. Anyway, up until last year, I had a big girl job too and assumed that I had said “ta-ta!” to my fun summers. I figured nothing would beat my carefree days of being 18 and hitting the beach day after day with my friends. No one told me that I would be given a chance to live it all over again. Because it turns out that when you have kids, you really are experiencing everything through their eyes. Their big “firsts” are yours too, and you’re just as excited to do everything with them as they are. This summer, I got to be a kid again while being a mom. It was the best summer of my life.
Since West was only 5/6 months old this time last year, this summer was when the real fun began. Road trips, overnight stays, and outdoor adventures are certainly more interesting with a hyperactive toddler. Everything you do, big or small, turns into a production. Going away for the weekend? Give me a week to pack…and that’s just Weston’s suitcase! Headed to the beach? Sure, let me just grab my 4 beach bags filled with miscellaneous items, 2 blankets, plenty of sand toys, a full cooler, extra sunblock (we’re so Irish) and one huge tent to cover all of us. Oh, and where’s the kid? Yeah…be right there. Thankfully we got blessed with an awesome little boy that loves to see new places and explore, so traveling with him is a breeze. Once you finally get to your destination though, you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of your hard work…………OR you can walk back and forth to the ocean 27 times to fill up pails of water for your demanding son, because he refuses to stand/walk on the sand. To be fair – what’s a sandcastle without a mote?!
Shawn and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary in July (yipppppppie!) and in honor of that, we took a little family trip to Mystic CT. I’m not sure who had the most fun, but we have several pictures of Weston heavily sleeping in random places, so I’m guessing it was him? The best part of the trip was going to the aquarium, which was a first time for us as a family AND Weston’s first time ever. Watching his face light up as whales and stingrays passed right by him in the tank, was such a memorable sight to see. He was so amazed and fascinated by everything…I’ll never forget it. He just kept pointing and saying “ooooh! aaahhhh!”, and you couldn’t help but to smile and say it right along with him. I’ve been to several aquariums in the past but on that day, it felt like the first time. Although I didn’t come back with a stuffed otter like I planned to (damn you, stupid gift shop), it was a beautiful place to visit and it was exactly what we needed – uninterrupted time spent together.
Another one of my favorite things to do has been having play dates outside with our best friends, Jaimie & Stella. I’ve been friends with Jaimie since we were in high school together, and we quickly became just like sisters. We talked for years about growing older, getting married and having kids…and watching them become family just like us. Near the end of my pregnancy, we found out she was expecting too! Once West was born, we always wondered if he could sense his little buddy growing in her tummy. We got our answer when we accompanied her to one of her last doctors appointments, where we all got to hear Stella’s heartbeat. The smile on his face could have melted ice. It was the cutest thing in the world, and it got us even more excited to see them together. Fast forward to a year later: they’re inseparable, and after their first summer together, I have no doubt in my mind that they’ll be best friends forever….not that they’re given much of a choice. Seeing the way they interact with one another…the way he’s so gentle with her, and how her face lights up when she sees him. It touches my heart in every way. Nothing gets us ready and out the door faster than me asking “ready to go play with Stella?!”…and then listening to him say her name repeatedly the entire car ride there. Although when he says it, the “S” is nonexistent, so it’s more like “THELLLLLA!” Yes, he has a whole Mike Tyson thing goin’ on. We’ve happily spent every week having little picnics in the park, swinging like monkeys on the playground, and splashing away together in the pool. A lot of my favorite summer memories were with my sissy, and to be experiencing them with her in this entirely new way is indescribable. I think being (awesome) mothers together has ironically allowed us to relive our own childhood in some way, but even better. It’s like nothing has changed, and we’re still teenagers driving around with the windows down, just having a blast and loving life – except everything has changed, and we’re STILL having a blast and loving life. We just take two cars now everywhere, cause, ya know…carseats. Blahhhh! I can only hope that one day, our children will be telling their own wild and crazy stories, special enough to get matching tattoos about them………………………………but uh, more on that later!
As our last hurrah, we drove up to Lake George to spend a few days in a beautiful little cottage right on the lake. We met my mom and MOL there, and got to bring our pup too! I grew up vacationing outside – getting dirty, going fishing, riding ATV’s, boat sailing, and searching for firewood for those late night campfires. We had no cellphones, and even when we did as we got older, there was absolutely no service in the mountains….and I’m really glad there wasn’t. If my face had been in my phone for weeks at a time, I wouldn’t have the wonderful memories that I cherish so dearly today. I wouldn’t have so many traditions that I’m slowly passing onto my son, and teaching him things I learned at such a young age. You don’t get chances like that back, and I hope that he appreciates his experiences in the future as much as I do mine. We’ve taken some really nice trips in the past as parents, but seeing West be able to do all the things I grew up doing and LOVING it, was such a rewarding and proud experience for me personally. FYI – he’s now a master at skipping rocks in the water.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’re officially into September. Normally by now, I would be taking the oversized sweaters out of my closet and decorating our apartment with leaves and pinecones. This is the first time in years that I’m actually sad to say goodbye to summer! It really was so special to me. And next year, when it’s time to jump back in the pool again and my not-so-little baby is attempting to dive in with his floaties on…I’ll look back and remember all the days we swam around together, with him holding onto me tight. When we make a trip to the beach and he runs to fill up his own water bucket, I’ll laugh at the thought of him being too stubborn to let even one toe touch the sand. I’m holding onto every simple day of blowing bubbles, playing in our kiddie pool, and going to the playground. His enthusiastic spirit breathes new life into me, and I think that as long as he’s by my side, I’ll feel this young forever. Although I’m sad to see it end, I’m so excited to see what these new seasons have in store for us. Thanks Summer 2016, the Harrison’s had a blast! I hope everyone enjoyed theirs as much as we did, and I hope you all have your own wonderful memories to share. Now, bring on the boots and chilly weather!