I have been a bit disappointed this summer at how little I’ve been able to really get out and do special things with my kids. Between Hayden’s cross-country practices and summer camp sessions at his school, plus our homeschooling schedule, our opportunities have been limited. Making it worse has been the weather. I swear, every time we planned to go to the water park after we’d finished school, thunder would roll in and blow our plans. Mind you, it never seemed to amount to any actual rain (which my garden certainly could have used), but it was enough to spoil our plans. And early summer was too cool to go. Once it finally heated up, it seemed to thunder every afternoon without fail. Ugh!
And since this is Hayden’s last summer before graduation, I’ve really been feeling bad at how little we’ve gotten to do with all of us together.
Then came this week. Once again, he had both summer camp and cross-country to contend with. And we all went with him on Tuesday to chaperone his tour of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. That was nice.
But on Thursday, he was able to skip summer camp since they were doing something he’d already done in class this year, and we were finally able to make some plans! We decided to meet my niece, Katie, and her two kids at the Virginia Zoo. We spent more time there than we’ve ever spent before! We took our time, and it worked out great that all of the animals were actually out where we could see them, so we got to observe more than we’d ever seen before!
It was mid-afternoon by the time we wrapped things up there, so we stopped at Rally’s for lunch. Yum! Everybody knows I’ve been eating whole foods since January, so the necessity of having to eat out, and to eat a burger and loaded fries at that, was quite a treat for me! It was scorching hot, so then we all got swirl cones and headed out for Hunt Club Farm.
The kids loved catching the chickens and spent a lot of time with their feed sticks in the aviary full of parakeets. We got some great pictures of them in there! We only had an hour to enjoy the petting zoo before they closed for the day, but we had put in a full day out in the sun. We had such a lovely time with Katie and her kids. Our kids paired off nicely and really hit it off, and we had a chance to catch up, which was great. I hadn’t seen them for just over a year!
We had such a great time that we decided to get together again if we could work it out before my kids had homeschooling next week. As it turned out, I got an email from Ocean Breeze Water Park that you could bring friends starting Saturday for half price all day if you have passes, which we do. So we worked it out to go together with Katie and the kids on Saturday afternoon. They met us at my house and visited while my kids finished lunch, and then we headed out.
Oh, my gosh, we had SO much fun! The kids played and played. It was really busy, but we ended up staying so long that it started emptying out, and we mostly had the Adventure River to ourselves. The kids had a blast racing each other through the river, and we played games we made up with the kids and had such a great time. We agreed they’d stay for dinner until we got in the van and pulled out our watches and realized the time was 8 PM! We had no clue whatsoever that we’d been there for 6 hours already!
So we got back and called it a night since Katie’s kids were supposed to be in bed. My kids were so worn out from the sun that they started dropping like flies! They were all asleep by about 10:00. Holden was a zombie, and I had to wake him to brush his teeth. I was worn out, too, but I had to stay up and finish my bible study for church. I slept so hard and so late this morning that I barely had time to gather stuff for the potluck after church before we had to leave for services this morning!
I can’t remember the last time me and my kids had so much fun! I remarked to my husband that my niece is 14 years younger than me, just as my brother is 14 years older than me, so it sort of feels more like she should be a sibling than a niece. And her son is only a year younger than my youngest son, so it feels like I should be their aunt instead of their great aunt! We’re finally at a point in our lives, now that she is a bit older and has two kids, that we actually have some things in common and stuff we can talk about, and that’s super cool. I’ve never lived in a place where I had family around to do things with, so it’s really been a fun experience for me and my kids. We definitely have to make it a regular thing.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and I found out she and her fiancé will be transferring out of the area in the spring. Figures! But we can enjoy it while it lasts. Her kids are adorable, and we had so much fun with them. I know my kids will be talking about it for a while, and I’m so glad we got to have some memorably good times before summer is over.