Cole and I knew a few months ago that this summer was going to be a little different, and decided to focus on finding the fun in every day. Fun for a 9 year old boy can be interpreted several ways, swimming, setting off your own fireworks (much to his mama’s terror), time with wild and crazy little friends, or just watching your favorite cartoons in a pillow fort in the living room. We vowed to simply embrace and enjoy our summer. I usually have some kind of part time job in the summer, when I am off contract from my full time job, but with my dad in a battle with cancer, we figured my parents would need us much more this summer than anyone else did. So we set a few goals for ourselves, (1) spend time with our favorite people, (2) swim (we are both growing gills at this point), (3) grow our veggies, and (4) Stay Home. We also decided to start a little dog sitting business, which has turned into a lot of fun (and face kisses and dog fur, but still a lot of fun).
That number four made me sad at first, because we are all about hopping in the car with a box of cheez its and heading on an adventure, but the chapter we are currently living in brings our coveted family time front and center. We could just as easily take off for the day to go to Blanchard, or the lake, or Little Rock, and be back in time for bedtime, than load up like the Beverly Hillbillies and take off for the beach for a week (which, I am already looking at rentals for next summer, praising God in advance for Dad’s healing, and hoping that dad will actually want to swim in the ocean with us next year!). Some of my favorite childhood memories are about our wild family vacations driving across the country in our station wagon, but even more of them are memories of Sunday dinners, of spilling my heart out to my mama in the kitchen, driving my dad crazy talking 90 mph while he puttered in his shop, and watching Hee Haw with my family while my mom put sponge rollers in my hair for Sunday morning. Most of my big fat memories are time spent together.
So this summer I decided to do just that with Cole, catch fireflies in the driveway after dark, load up in our pajamas after dinner and go get ice cream cones, play in the sprinkler in the yard, and go spend time with my parents. Along the way he has learned the value of responsibility with dog sitting, and knowing that people are counting on us, and the value of money, since he keeps marking off those spots on his commission chart each week. Fun doesn’t have to always cost money.
In addition to all of the doggy fur, a garden is always one of my favorite parts of spring and summer. So one of Cole’s responsibilities is to help me with the garden, watering and picking. Our cucumbers have gone a little crazy this year, so we have pickles in jars everywhere, in preparation for early Christmas gifts for friends and family (or back to school gifts to get them out of my fridge). One of our best friends (I say our, because Cole typically declares that my best friends are his too, which is usually true) has a chicken hobby, and her little girl is learning responsibility by helping her with the chickens and gathering eggs each day (except from under one deranged chicken, named Feathers, who is insisting that she “sit” on eggs that are not even hers). Kinley is a Dave Ramsey kid too, and gets to keep her money that she earns from her eggs. It’s so wonderful to have friends who raise their babies in a like minded way, teaching them responsibility with money, but also letting them be little. Kinley’s mama, Sarah, and I have been able to swap eggs for tomatoes, and pretend that we are living in older days (which, she would survive without electricity, I would not).
We still have lots of warm days ahead, with lots of plans for the rest of summer and fall, but we are simply trying to focus on all of the many blessings we have in our lives right now (and dogs).