This Time It’s Personal: OUR Summer

As I was preparing for Twin A’s pre-op appointment tomorrow, I realized I have not been fulfilling my promise to keep you up to date on our comings and goings! Normally at this time of year I am happy to see Summer leave and Fall start to arrive but this year is really different. I had had the best summer that I can ever remember because I was able to dedicate two months to being with my kids and now I don’t want it to end! Even with the exciting launch of the BabyNav partnership with Babies-R-Us and working with some great moms I have had more time than I have ever had to be with the kids. We visited so many fun places, created some new traditions, did lots of crafts and just generally enjoyed being together. I learned so much about the kids as individuals and as siblings but I also learned a lot about myself as a mom. I learned that I need to let go and let more messes happen. And I learned that I am the happiest when I give up some control and am just present with the kids.

Check out the pictures below for some of the highlights from our summer. I apologize in advance for my lack of photography skills and all of these were taken from my phone which didn’t help my cause! Enjoy!

   

1. We started out the summer with a big adventure to Field Station Dinosaurs in Secaucus, NJ. There are over 30 life size dinosaurs as well as games and activities to keep your little dino lover entertained. It was great for our 4 year old but the 2 year old twins were frightened of the dinosaurs, especially when the roars came!

2. Our big guy got his first big guy bike for his 4th birthday and he hasn’t been off it much since!

3. We did Liquid Sidewalk Chalk a few times and it was a big winner with all three kids (and Mom). It is super simple to make, use and clean-up!

4. You have probably seen a version of this “car wash” for kids floating around but we forgot to take any directions with us to the hardware store so this design is original. 😉 We made all of this with 4 long pieces of  3/4″ pvc cut into the sizes we needed at the store, some elbows and the water hose connector. My husband assembled the pvc, drilled holes for the water and added the pool noodles with some wire to create our car wash. The kids drove bikes, cars, scooters, balance bikes and ran through the car wash each time it was assembled! As a bonus – the car wash is gone but the kids now have a new construction set made from the pvc cut into smaller pieces and some added pvc connectors.

   

5. Our big guy did his first day camp! He went to a sports camp for 4-6 yr olds and he loved it! We celebrated with a spaghetti dinner…you know just like the real athletes do.

6. With goggles and hammers ready, we did Bashing Baked Cotton Balls. Honestly, all three kids had more fun making these than they did bashing the cotton balls. I think that was my fault because I set up the activity by calling it Exploding cotton balls and there is no explosion which was very disappointing for the boys.

7. I know this picture may seem a little odd but I give this bouncy house by Little Tikes credit for potty training both our boys. We originally bought this bouncer for our big guy’s second birthday party when we discovered it was cheaper than renting one. The weekend after his birthday party we spent an entire day outside bouncing in the bouncy house and every thirty minutes we took a break to take a drink of water and sit on the potty. From that day forward he was in undies so this summer we repeated with Twin A and it worked like a charm the second time. Unfortunately, Twin B didn’t fall for it so maybe bouncy houses can only potty train boys. 😉

8. Even at 2 1/2 the twins still put a lot of things in their mouths so paint projects make me nervous. I was happy to find this (what I called edible) paint recipe and the kids turned it into a hand and foot painting party on an old sheet outside.

   

9 & 10. The Olympics gave us two weeks of really fun projects as we learned about different sports, lots about London and how the whole world comes together to compete. I hyped up the opening ceremony which was a bad idea because there was nothing exciting for kids but they loved making salt dough Olympic medals, having a formal afternoon tea with homemade scones and having our own competitions in the front yard. All summer our local library has provided some great content but the books we got about London and the Olympics were some of our favs.

11. There were certainly a few rainy afternoons this summer and we tried to fill those up with lots of sensory activities. One of the kids favorite was a found object game with colored rice. After making the colored rice in each of the kids favorite colors (must do the day before to dry) I collected 21 small objects from around the house and divided them among three paper bags with the kids names. The kids started with their own bin filled with rice and then every few minutes blindly reached into their paper bag to find a new object to add to their rice. With each new object the use of the rice and the existing objects would evolve but my favorite was watching Twin B feed a kangaroo rice with a lego.

12. One of my favorite toys that the kids have is a set of Matchbox cars that was their Dad’s (it is even still in the original case). It has been mixed now with new cars but they love to hear the stories of where their Dad got his and what he liked to do with them. We had one day this summer that was totally dedicated to those cars. I took out all of the electrical tape and painters tape (I didn’t plan ahead on this one as I hadn’t looked at the forecast) I could find in the house and covered the living room with a track for the Matchbox cars and let the kids’ imaginations run.

   

13. & 14. Sometimes it was just the simple things that we enjoyed. The week we talked about the letter “B” I taped up some bubble wrap in our dining room. Each time the kids walked by I would hear a little POP and a giggle. We also took advantage of the rainy days to head outside in our rain-boots and splash in the one puddle we get with each rain. That puddle also provided lots of giggles.

15. The kids really love animals and we are really fortunate to have a place like Muscoot Farm so close. We visited Muscoot at least 4 times this summer and the kids never got bored. It also provided a summer full of story telling after I got too close to a cow and it licked my leg as a warning to get away. The kids LOVE to tell that one!

16. We also looked to several traditional art & craft projects like water colors to create some fun pieces. This simple twist of adding tape to create their initials was a fun reveal and looked great to have on display.

   

17. We went to fairs, fairs and more fairs. The kids are at ages where they may love a ride or may scream during the entire time it is motion but we kept going to the local church, town and fire department fairs to test our luck. By the end of the summer Twin B would go on every ride she was tall enough to tackle and her big brother would not attempt one ride.

18. At the end of the summer I felt the need to use up some of the jumbo pack of Ivory soap I bought to microwave (not a highlight for me) so we had a soap boat race. I created the boats using only Ivory soap bars, tooth picks and foam stickers. We created a race track on a small hill with heavy duty aluminum foil (or you can use a rain gutter) and turned on the hose. The more we raced and the more soap was on the foil the faster the boats got and the louder the cheers got!

19. With the summer coming to an end I was thinking about packing away our water table but decided to give it one more use. Instead of filling it up with water we used shaving cream. I gave the kids wooden spoons and every so often would add drops of food coloring to the shaving cream and let the kids stir it up. Let’s be honest, by the end they were just rubbing it all over each other but I loved how nicely they were playing with each other so I let them do it until the shaving cream ran out.

20. To end the summer we went on our FIRST official family vacation to Long Beach Island. We all loved the trip so much we are already trying to book the same house we stayed in this year for next year. The kids cried when we left but to keep the memory alive once we were home, we painted the shells we found on the beach and gave them to daddy as a thank you for our awesome vacation.

Today was the kids first day at their new preschool and after a cheerful drop-off I found myself sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face. I knew OUR summer was over and I was crying tears of joy for the time I had with them and tears of sadness that it was ending.

Tomorrow we head to a pre-op appointment because Twin A is having a cardiac catheterization in 10 days which is all in preparation for his 2nd open heart surgery. We know he is going to do great and I will keep you updated on that journey! In the meantime there are Fall projects to plan and MANY babies to plan!

xoxo, Julie

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