The days are heating up, thunder rumbles across our skies most afternoons. We bend and obey the weather, spending our time outside in the cool early mornings, hunkering down after lunch for naps and quiet and stormy weather. The city markets in Asheville are opening again, and Phoebe requested that we buy a big bucket of fresh strawberries at the last one we went to. They really were the best strawberries we’ve ever had, and she’s eaten handfuls every day. We made these grain-free strawberry shortcakes together for dessert with whipped coconut milk. All my kids love helping in the kitchen, and I’ve been trying to once again make more of an effort to let them help more, especially Phoebe as the oldest. Both she and Noah are learning to handle a knife and chop things with me assisting, of course. She’s been asking for a french braid every day pretty much, and she is asking often for me to “picture” this or that. She really likes to put on a super cheesy grin for the camera, while I prefer catching the more candid moments. Maybe the phase will pass.
We also made our first round of popsicles, just blending yogurt, honey, fresh strawberries, and a little bit of flaxseed. We dropped a few blueberries and chopped chocolate chips in, too, for fun. We bought these BPA-free molds last summer and used them almost weekly. We pulled out our little plastic pool from the garage and filled it up for the first time the same day my parent’s neighborhood pool opened. So, pool days are officially here and we are thankful! It’s not terribly relaxing for me to take them to the pool but it is maybe the best way to endure the muggy heat of the summer and still have the kids outside for part of the day.
I scribbled down a bunch of family plans and goals for the summer, things I want to make and do with the kids, parts of the yard and house I would like to organize and tidy and rearrange as we start to prepare for homeschooling this fall. I realized I don’t do very many crafts with the kids, and I’d like to have a space with craft supplies and maybe attempt a once-weekly craft time with them, at least. We play a lot outside, read a ton, and they are often imaginative and having unstructured play time, but children just love doing crafts, having mommy’s full attention and getting to make a mess and create something beautiful at the same time. I’m checking this book out from the library for some inspiration. And I’m taking them to story time for preschoolers at the library, which has music and craft time. I should probably have been doing it sooner, we went this past week and all had such a fun time. I made this incredible granola this past week (per Alicia’s recommendation), needing a cold summer breakfast option since Brandon and I both are a bit tired of eggs and pancakes, alternatively. I forgot how much I love having a good granola on hand, and this one is so simple and fast to make with a very small ingredient list. I think we’ll be living off of it this summer.
Last weekend we drove up to Balsam Mountain on the Parkway to visit one of my best friends from college and her family. They live in TN and whenever we come close by one another we do our best to sneak in a visit. They were camping for the weekend there, and we wanted to join them but just didn’t pull things together in time so we went for the day on Saturday instead. What a treat it is to see our kids play together, and just to be outside together by a campfire, snacking, catching up and laughing. When Brandon and I were first married and moved out to Colorado, they moved out also to a nearby town and some of our best memories were sharing times with them there. I told Mary in a text later how much these brief hang outs make me ache to live closer to them. When we left, we saw an elk on the roadside, and a few wild turkeys as well.
These are the early gifts of summer. The first fruit from the vine, the gathering with friends, campfires and pools and the hopes and dreams for these sunny warm days. Our last summer before school begins and we transition into a new season of family life.