summer girls, summer parties


Party 1

As I work my way backwards through our very full summer, I thought I’d highlight the birthday celebrations the girls planned this year. You might remember some of the more elaborate birthday parties when the girls were younger. I loved planning and throwing parties for them both, and we did this consistently for their first six birthdays, culminating in a shared party when they were six and twelve. But after #6, the parties got smaller, simpler, and sometimes were just celebrated with family or with a friend or two. And as the girls have grown, we’ve also let them take a bigger role in the party planning.

Since we didn’t have friend parties last year, we encouraged both girls to plan a group event for their friends. E and M looked around at several laser tag / arcade / go-kart places before settling on a new one out in the suburbs. E put together an agenda for the party, and the kids (and dad and granddads) did a couple of races and a couple rounds of laser tag. Since F was too little for the racing, she tackled the ropes course WAY up high in the space.

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E had a blast. She said a lot of her friends thought she was a little crazy to host a party like this, and they weren’t certain that they were going to enjoy it. But E loves these kind of adventures, and is really competitive and brave, and it meant a lot to her that all of her friends showed up for her and tackled some of their fears to help her celebrate. The special things they brought with them were equally amazing. It was fun for me to see her really enjoying her time with friends, and how much they all adore her.

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My summer girls, eight and fourteen.

When we were on vacation for Spring Break, F saw a preview for the movie Despicable Me 3 that was opening just a few days before her July birthday. She announced that she’d be hosting a DM3 party for a few of her friends, and she never wavered from that idea.

As the time drew closer, we put her plan into action. She found some old minion goggles from the original movie when we did the big cleanout of the third floor. She also found her minion stuffed friend, and started picking out clothes to match her theme. She wore the glasses all summer long.

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I picked up some black and white striped tissue paper and treat bags, and F decorated large round labels to look like Minion eyes for the bags. We filled the bags with small little movie themed trinkets, a big bag of banana shaped candy, and some minion tic-tacs. They were a big hit.

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F invited five friends to the show, and the kids sat in their own row with booster seats (apparently those are cool!) and little snack packs and lemonades. They giggled and laughed throughout the whole movie, and afterwards her friends presented F with homemade cards and letters – one friend even wrote and performed her a song. It was all very lovely, and sweet, and funny, and just exactly what she wanted.

We talked about the parties we might throw in two years time again – a big summer of birthdays – TEN and SIXTEEN! Yikes. Just like summertime, the years are flying by. I’m glad we took some time out to celebrate this new year in the way that we did.

lately in the garden

Garden 12

I’m behind on a lot of things this August. The push of the new school year and the push of the end of summer frenzy collided and filled the days and the evenings. Last night was an open night – one of the first in a long while. We ate leftovers and folded laundry and returned to our library books and reasonable bedtimes. This morning marks the true shift – the start of E’s second week of high school, and F’s first day of third grade.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

Garden 5

So I’ve cleared off my camera card from the last four or five visits to the garden. Some are overcast days, cool and dewy. Some are sunny and hot and humid. One was a visit with both girls, one was an early morning walk with just M and my coffee. All were centering points in these busy weeks of summer’s end.

Garden 6

Garden 7

Garden 8

Garden 9

Garden 10

I might work backwards a bit – catching up on things that I missed here. Celebrations and trips and projects. We’ll see. Carving out the space to write isn’t easy, but sometimes there’s a quiet moment here and there to catch up.

Garden 11

Garden 13

Garden 14

Garden 15

Garden 16

It’s been a good summer, and I’m missing it already. The routine of school days is nice, but the fading evening light seems early this year. I’m ready for some cooler weather, but not the loss of light. Not quite yet.

Garden 17

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4

The shadows will change once again in the mornings, and we’ll wear jackets soon for the visits.

Garden 5

Garden 6

Garden 7

Garden 9

Garden 11

A good summer, one of the best. One that’s left me with more pictures than words, for a change.

Garden 12

Garden 1

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 5

Garden 7

Garden 1

Garden 6

Garden 3

Garden 5

Garden 2

small things on a big day, part one

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I have dropped her off at a new school that will shed that newness in a whisper of time. We picked up older friends along the way, their chatter immediately filling the back seat, but my first passenger – by address order and birth order alike – remained silent, listening. They speak a language not yet learned, beyond the Spanish 5 and French 8 scheduled blocks discussion just behind her. I don’t worry, she’s a quick study on most things, bed-making and laundry-sorting aside.

I have twenty minutes to spare before the garden opens. I have planned for this, and treat myself to coffee and a sandwich in the interim. The lot is full as I wait to turn in, several yellow buses pass me before it’s clear. The line is long as well, but I’m not in a hurry. The man ahead of me fiddles with his phone in annoyance, and finally steps up to the counter, placing his order. They begin to make his drink and warm his sandwich, but the payment app on his phone is acting up. He moves towards the door to try and remedy it, but it’s locked up. I step up next to him, and ask him if he’ll let me buy him breakfast. He politely declines, but his frustration seems to fade. “Please, I’d love to,” I ask again. He looks at me and places his phone in his suit pocket and accepts.

“The name for your order?” the cashier asks. “Turan. T-u-r-A-n.” He turns to thank me again, and tells me no one ever gets the A-N right on his name. I’m asked for my name, and I reply “K-r-i-s-t-I-n. No one ever gets the I-N right on mine either.” We smile and move together to wait for our food.

Because it’s busy, we have some time to talk. He thanks me again for breakfast. I tell him that I just dropped my oldest daughter off for her first day of high school, and in those moments since, I’ve wondered how I should mark that milestone. So I say that I’m glad I was behind him in line, and I tell him about the time I came through the drive-thru just after my niece died, and when I pulled up to the window, my bill had already been paid by the person in front of me. My girls were with me – and they still remember it four years later. “And I look forward to the opportunity for me to do the same,” he says. I’ve met a poet.

Except that he’s not a poet, but is dressed in suit and tie for work. Or maybe he is. He leans in closer and tells me that the sight of the school buses this morning gives him hope. “I think this is a good day for your daughter to start high school. Some positivity in this moment, with Charlottesville.” There, he’s done it. He’s extended the conversation that I can’t get out of my head – to me. I nod, and tell him of my internal frustration at wanting the space to acknowledge the small things in the mess of all of these big things.

“Turan.” They call his name, and he picks up his sandwich, turns to me, and smiles. “Small things,” raising his bag slightly towards me, thanking me again without words or guilt or embarrassment. So I drive to the garden to look for the small things there, to say thank you for the gift of this morning already.