I may not be in a good frame of mind right now, and who knows, might respond differently in a week's time, but today I have been asking myself, "so how would you rate summer 2011?" and I might as well go ahead and come up with an answer.
Summer should be a balance of scheduled activities (with experiences that you don't get at school), unstructured time, visits with friends and family, travel, and special treats (staying up late watching a movie with the kids, walking down the street for frozen yogurt after dinner, etc.). And I have to say, I don't think I got the balance right this year.
I think we haven't had enough scheduled activities and have erred on the side of too much unstructured time. I would say that that is due to not enough pre-planning on my part. It's hard to go do some fun activity when you don't start trying to think of an idea until 10:30 am.
At the start of summer, I had some interesting ideas - plan theme days (such as "microscope day" or "Archimedes day") and invite friends to join in if they just bring the lunch; assign a week to each child and have them plan the adventures - but there wasn't time for that before Oregon. (As is our tradition, we headed up to Portland just after the fourth of July to spend a month with family.) However, there was time for that in Oregon, at least during the second half when the girls were done with acting camp. And then we came home from Oregon, such that there would be almost two weeks left of my summer. I thought it would be best not to put the kids in camps, so we could have a few outings and a lot of friends-over-to-swim days. This would have been a good time to do some pre-planning. Instead, what's been happening is a) the aforementioned trying-to-figure-out-each-day-after-it-has-already-started; and b) it turns out that all of our friends are out of town this week. Add to that the conundrum that I have some work I need to get done for the start of school and some house-organization projects that I'd like to do before the chaotic school schedule starts, yet want to spend my last week of summer actually celebrating summer, and I feel like I just can't win this week.
Maybe we should have divided up our summer differently. Maybe we should have shifted Oregon to later in the summer since all of our friends are away now that we are back. But it doesn't seem like coming back with no time before I have to be at work would be a good idea... although it's not going well as it is, so maybe...
I think I'm also feeling like we don't get to do enough travel. I'd love to give my kids a childhood in which they get to go see and experience lots of different places. Since we live far away from our family, we spend all of our vacation time with them, and it's definitely still not enough time. We never have the time, then, to go anywhere else (nor the funds - another issue entirely). This year, I'm starting to feel the "kids are getting older"/"running out of time"/"gotta start traveling" really start to set in. Maybe it's time to re-think the month-in-Oregon summer plan... but spending less time with their relatives would not be good for my kids either. Obviously, the old question of "should we move to Portland" is weighing heavily on my mind. It's not an easy question. We love our town, and our school, and neither my husband nor I should leave our jobs anytime soon.
It has been a nice summer, though. We started off with soccer camp for Middle Girl and The Boy, and followed that up with Girl Scout camp for both girls and basketball camp for The Boy. Then we had our big Fourth of July party, and my brother- and sister-in-law brought their three boys down from Oregon for a week to join in the fun. We went to Legoland with them and spent a few days swimming, going to the movies, etc. and then we all caravanned up to Portland.
In Portland, the girls went to acting camp for two weeks, and we also enjoyed cousin-time, had fun with Grandma and Granddad, welcomed my new niece to the world, and visited favorite local landmarks such as Multnomah Falls, Pioneer Square, Voodoo Doughnuts, Oaks Park, and OMSI (the science museum). We went to the Oregon History Museum and the Classical Chinese Garden for the first time. We visited old friends from college and high school, drove down to Eugene to see my Grandma, and spent two days in Seattle visiting friends and the music museum. Meanwhile, we fit in books, movies, crafts, baking, jazz concerts, baseball games, and learning how to wash a car.
Once again, I didn't make it to the mountain & alpine slide or to the beach & aquarium.
Since we got home, we have had some friends over and have met some other friends at the California Science Center. So we have done the kind of thing we were hoping to do, just not as much as we hoped. Also bumming me out: we are going to have to miss the big multi-family camping trip this year due to work-related scheduling yadda yadda.
I was trying to end this on a positive note, but since it got chronological and I'm feeling grumpy today, here we are. I'm ready to finish but it's kind of going (((THUNK))) which only makes me grumpier!
Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps I should go attempt some pre-planning...