The week that Dante went back to school (August 27 - otherwise known as TOO EARLY FOR SCHOOL!) was tough. Carmine and Gabe were still on vacation, and it felt wrong for us to go out and have all sorts of fun adventures while Dante was stuck in school, so it was a pretty quiet three days. And it also felt like we were in limbo. Kind of a strange week, and I was glad when the weekend arrived.
Despite some iffy weather forecasts, we enjoyed a beach day on Saturday, a great day with the family in CT on Sunday, and what ended up being what we think was one of the best beach days of the entire season on Monday.
We stayed until 5pm that day, and if the kids hadn't had school the next day, we would have stayed later. It was very difficult to leave. (made more difficult by Carmine entertaining us by running up to random people at the beach, shaking their hands, and saying "Hi! My name is Carmine, and I'm making friends.")
We had such a spectacular summer, and as I do every year, I struggled with it ending. It didn't help that last week - the first week that all three of them were in school - was a week of absolutely perfect beach weather.
I made it there one afternoon by myself and I did enjoy the quiet for a little while. But I missed my boys. I felt so bad for them being stuck in school when we could have been spending all day on the sand.
And I know the reality of that picture is that the 'perfect beach day with my boys' is usually punctuated with fights and pestering and whining and complaining. But in the end, it's still a perfect day when we get to spend it by the water, and it made me sad to not be able to do that with them.
We did pack them all up and have dinner at the beach Friday night, and it was the best possible way to end the first week of school. We even ran into some friends, and stayed until it got dark.
As I do every summer, I made a photo book of all our pictures from June, July, and August, and it arrived yesterday, and even though I've seen all the photos countless times, I still loved looking through it - and I'm sure I'll love it even more when it's 0 degrees and snowing this winter.
We definitely made some memories this summer, and I'm glad the boys will have the photos to look back on. I know they appreciate everything we do - every time we went somewhere special this summer, Dante would come over to me at some point during the day and give me a huge hug and proclaim it "the BEST DAY EVER!" and me "the BEST MOM EVER!"
Which is why I wasn't at all insulted or upset when he was talking to a friend outside on the blacktop on the first day of school, and the friend asked him what he had done this summer, and Dante's answer was "you wouldn't believe all the cool stuff we found in Minecraft."
The transition to school hasn't been without its challenges, particularly thanks to Gabe's very early bus pickup, and the fact that all three kids are in different schools, with different dropoff and pickup times, and I am constantly feeling like I've forgotten to get someone or bring someone somewhere.
We're getting the hang of it, though, and the onslaught of school paperwork has slowed down somewhat, too, which helps.
We also snuck in one more little summer-ish adventure this past weekend, when we spent the day exploring in Jamestown. I had heard of Fort Wetherill before, but didn't really know anything about it, so it was fun to check it out. It's sort of a creepy old abandoned fort, but has some really spectacular views, and the area is dotted with little coves/beaches where we found a huge amount of sea glass.
Top it all off with lunch at East Ferry Deli and ice cream on the way home, and it was a hugely successful day!
I always feel so conflicted at this time of year. There is such a big part of me that thrives on routine and schedules, and there is something about the rhythm of the school day that I like, once we settle into it. And yes, having a few hours of quiet is nice, too.
But especially as the boys get older, and we can do so many more cool, fun, interesting things with them, it's tough when those summertime adventures have to come to a close. I love all our outings just as much as they do - there's nothing like watching them experience things that I've seen or done, and getting to see it through their eyes.
And even better - doing stuff with them that I've never done before, like our first trip to the waterpark last year, and our trip to Plymouth Plantation this year. Sharing things like that with your kids is one of the best parts of parenting, I think - or one of the most fun parts, at least.
September in Rhode Island is typically a pretty beautiful month, and I know we'll still do a ton of fun stuff on the weekends, but it never has quite the same magical summer feel to it.
One other way I tried to capture some of that summer magic: about 9 years ago, when Gabe was still a baby, I found this book called "At the Beach" at the local consignment shop and bought it for 25 cents.
I loved it then, and I still love it now. It's so simple, but I love the way it reads - it just sums up the beach so beautifully, and every time I read it, I'd picture scenes from our own beach days.
So this year, I decided to stop imagining that in my head and re-create the book using our own beach pictures. I love how it came out, and the boys seem to like it, too.
It's a nice memento, and something I hope will become as tattered and worn as the original.
But for now, back to reality it is, and we're doing our best to ease into it. I miss my boys, but I'm also proud of them and happy to see how well they're all adjusting and how much they love to learn.
And there's still plenty of magic to be found out there - just a different kind of non-summer magic. We'll find it, though - we're not the type to just sit around and wait for it to come to us.