May has been so so good to us in more ways than I can count. The whole month has basically been one big celebration and my extroverted soul has loved every moment. It certainly didn't hurt that we actually managed to finish up all our "official" school by the end of April so we were really able to jump in the deep end of summer.
Usually harder months are good breeding ground for lessons learned, but in this case the wide open freedom that May brought came with all sorts of fun discoveries too. And I'll start with what is perhaps the most profound...
We aren't who we used to be. About eight months ago I started really feeling the shift in my family from tons of little kids, to much more self sufficient kids. Summer's arrival brought a fresh wave of revelation. Getting ready to go to the pool is no longer an exercise in sunscreen induced torture. Staying out late no longer ends in meltdowns. And the best part? Quiet time with our summer reading is ACTUALLY quiet time with our summer reading. I'm not even going to pretend that I don't love the freedom that comes with my kids growing up a little.
Watercolors are everything. This goes right along with the previous. In the past a glass jar of brushes, readily available cakes of water colors, and constant access to water would have spelled a disaster. It doesn't anymore. I can leave it all out and available and my kids tote those things around and stay busy and engaged with the world around them for hours now. We love these pocket paints.
Turkish bath towels make the best beach towels. Listen, our towel situation at the end of last summer was pitiful. I'm talking really sad. The towels we actually had left, which weren't many, were threadbare, shredded, and smelled constantly of mildew because without fail one or two always got left where they shouldn't have been. So I hopped on Amazon to order new towels for this year and decided to get these gems. They are not your traditional fluffy beach towel, they are super thin, surprisingly absorbent, soft, and (best of all) dry out before you can make it to the car.
It's okay to check the lists...even in the summer. Pam Barnhill wrote this post on being a check list mom and it gave me life. I'm naturally a structured person, but I always feel like I need to keep that under wraps...especially in the summer. The whole attitude of footloose and fancy free sounds like fun to me, but in reality it leaves me rocking in the fetal position and no one actually ends up having any fun.
Pretty picnic baskets help everything. I got some amazing vintage woven picnic baskets at goodwill this winter. They are kelly green and the bottom is real wood and and they even do the adorable thing where they open on both ends. Since they are vintage at first I had them set out as decoration. Forget that. We use them for EVERYTHING now. We pack our lunches, water bottles, several books, watercolors, sidewalk chalk and still have room to gather all the things from nature to put in there. We've had them at parks, pools, and everywhere else we haul ourselves to.