Did you ever have to write one of those essays? I think I still have my assignment from the first day of second grade, which includes a crayon portrait of a girl with long brown hair riding a horse, captioned with a few sentences about my trip to Oklahoma. And now that it's "back to school" time, I feel that I owe my blog readers - if there are any of you left - an essay of sorts explaining where I have been all August.
Those of you who have not seen me in real life or on Facebook may have suspected that I went on vacation. But actually, there were no glimpses of palm trees or famous landmarks for our family. We didn't have out-of-town relatives staying with us for weeks, nor did we sign our children up for summer camp, vacation Bible school, and swim lessons at the Y. Yet this summer has been what my teen friends from church would describe as "amazing." Although the season started off with six weeks of rain and recovering from major surgery, the fun of late July and August were enough to cast a warm light over the memory of Summer 2009.
We have been quite spoiled in our opportunities for swimming this summer. Besides a few visits to friends with pools, we have been able to swim in our own backyard. We bought this house with anticipation of enjoying the inground pool when warm weather arrived, but in the spring, it was a mosquito breeding ground full of tree limbs that had fallen during a winter ice storm. Our dreams of creating an outdoor oasis with freshly poured concrete were quickly dashed by five digit price tags, but we invested the money to have the basics: new liner, steps, and the pool opened for the season. We bought a pool cover for the off-season, which we ended up putting on for several weeks just to keep the pine needles out of the 65 degree water. I listened, oh so patiently, to my husband's daily tirades about how determined he was to chop down every bud-, leaf-, and needle-dropping tree in our forested backyard. It rained so much that we didn't even think of using the pool for about a month. Then we had to buy chemicals and a pool vacuum to keep it clean, and run the filter daily. And in spite of the abundant rain, the water level in the pool was dropping. Yes, there was a leak, which cost a mere $100 just to diagnose; the job to repair the cracked pipe was estimated to be several hundred dollars. Thinking we would rather drain the pool than drain our savings, Don and I wondered whether we should bother to fix it at all.
But as it turned out, we were greatly blessed by a good friend who is knowledgeable about pipes. He and Don spent an entire day in early July digging a giant hole next to our pool. After a quick trip to Home Depot, they were able to replace the damaged piece of pipe for a mere $30. By the end of July, Don had the pool clean, the chemicals balanced, and the water level stable. In August, we finally enjoyed swimming in our pool! The boys loved paddling around in their floaties while Lydia looked on - or slept - in her poolside seat. We hosted several birthday parties and other gatherings by the water, which were lots of fun even when the weather was uncooperative or when Don popped the boys' pool toy while diving through it. And even I, the one who has never liked the bother of getting changed and getting wet, snuck out on more than one naptime occasion to quickly cool off in the refreshing water. Though I love fall, it's too bad our swimming season is so short - before August had even ended, it was too cold to swim!
We, especially the children and I, were also were privileged to spend several lazy lake days with my mom. Last fall, she and my step-dad bought a house on a quiet pond just 15 minutes away from us, and their small strip of shore is just right for young waders. The boys spent hours digging and splashing, sliding into the water, going for boat rides, and paddling out to the raft in their floatie tubes. With some help from their uncle and Daddy, they even caught a few fish!
The tranquility of the water and lakeside picnics (not to mention the built-in babysitter grandparents) made it feel like vacation. I enjoyed a canoe ride with my husband as well as swimming (always staying afloat to avoid touching any muck at the bottom!) and floating on the inflatable raft...though after last time, I will be hesitant to get in the water again. I thought the bugs, frogs, and small rodents in our pool were bad enough, but they pale in comparison to leeches and a watersnake! In this picture, taken just prior to the vile creature's beheading, my heroic husband has him pinned with a rake.
Oblivious to the wildlife encounters, Lydia enjoyed the fresh air and family snuggles, whether she was looking "berry sweet," or modeling vintage (okay, hand-me-downs from mom) fashions.
I have more to share, but it will have to wait for another day. Meanwhile, I want to post this one before another month goes by!