Remember that blog circle I told you about, like, MONTHS AGO? Where a group of us moms all write letters to our kids and link to one another's posts?? Well, I'm back on the wagon with posting. When you've finished with my post, click over to Evangeline's blog and check out her letter.
What an incredible adventure it has been this past month! We have had such a crazy, exciting July, haven't we? After both of you just returning home from week-long camps at the end of June, we jumped on a plane and headed to San Antonio to visit your grandparents (but not without a fun Independence Day, first).
In San Antonio, we visited your great grandparents, then headed to Corpus Christie to stay at Gran and Gramps' coast house. You got to know your cousin, Brooke, who you haven't seen since she was just 8 days old. As a rambunctious 2-year-old, she was much more entertaining this time around. You fished, played in the Gulf, skipped rocks from Gramps' dock, blew bubbles with Brooke and had squirt gun wars with your grandparents. Then Daddy and I flew home while you stayed on for more spoiling from the grandparents. Schlitterbahn, Incredible Pizza Factory, movies--you had a blast. The hardest part was saying goodbye, though--both of you seemed so sad, Aubrey crying and begging us not to leave. It took your dad and I a lot of strength to pull away from the club but that day, but we knew you would have so much fun once you got over the momentary sadness, and we were right: you had such a great time. But it was an incredibly joyful reunion when we watched you march up that plane jetway and run to me in the Tampa Airport. We had missed you so much!
Just a few short days after your return home, it was back on the road again. This time, we headed out for a 10-day road trip to visit family and friends. First stop was Atlanta for a quick overnight before hitting the road again. We still managed to cram some fun into our few hours in the city. Torched Hop Brewing Co. was a hit with all of us: video games, shuffleboard, card games, an indoor bocce ball court and great food and craft beers.
The next morning, we hit the road and headed to Kentucky to visit our friends, the Foxes. The Foxes are our lifelong friends, we met them in Texas during your dad's stint at the Dallas Recruiting Battalion. In those days, Aiden and Stella were teeny tiny ones, Aubrey and Vivian were both born into our families during those years, and we all grew so close (along with a few other couples in our lives at that time). The last time we'd seen them, they were living in Arizona and we visited on our way to driving our van to San Diego for shipment to Hawaii. That was 4 long years ago, so a lot has happened since then! But despite the years and distance, we all fell right back into our friendship, laughing, talking and having a wonderful time.
Aiden, it was so funny to see how you and Stella would interact with one another. Both of you were still fond of each other, but adolescence had put a strain on your once-easy friendship. It is such a joy (and heartbreak) to see you attempt to navigate these new waters, to see you muddle through the complexities of more mature relationships. Watching you grow into a young man is such an unsettling experience. I am filled with pride and admiration, with equal measures of terror and frustration thrown in, at times. Seeing you open your familiar mouth and yet hearing this alien, keeping voice come out of it is so odd. Watching you stand up and realizing that your pants are too short yet again and that your body is longer and bullies and more man-like is equally awe-inspiring and horrifying. The time is passing so quickly, it seems, and the mere recognition of this phenomenon brings tears to my eyes, which I valiantly choke back as I try to write this letter in a very public place.
After our visit with the Foxes, we headed to Mammoth Cave National Park for a bit of family time. We had rented a cabin at Jellystone Park, a cute little campground that had lots of things to do. Both of you loved the waterslide and the pool, bouncing on the giant air pillow and playing mini golf. But as usual, your favorite part of any type of camping is the campfire. Both of you are such little pyromaniacs. Aubrey, you've finally reached the age where we could give you a bit more freedom to explore, and you loved every second of it--lighting sticks, poking the embers, and playing with the kindling. It is so fun to watch your eye light up with discovery, to see you dirty and ash-covered and having a blast. We had a great time exploring Mammoth Cave, both of you enjoying the cave tours, and I was so pleased to see how you confronted your fears and put aside your worries so that we could have a fun time.
Soon our Mammoth Cave adventures were over, and it was back on the road, this time to Tennessee to visit your great-aunt Shirl and great-uncle Cecil. Shirl and Cecil have always held such a special place in your daddy's heart--they were the relatives he would go and visit every summer for about 2 weeks--so he was so excited to share them with you. Granted, their health is not what it once was and our fun was a bit slower and closer to home than his was as a child, but playing cards, laughing, telling stories and being silly with them was a wonderful treat for us all. It also gave you both the chance to spend time with your cousins, who have watched you grow from afar and love to hear of your adventures.
We returned home just a couple of days ago, and already the hectic demands of our daily lives are piling back upon us. In just a few days, you both will head back to school, Aiden tackling the 8th grade and Aubrey headed to 4th grade in a new school. Both of you are excited to go back, and I'm glad. I'm also looking forward to the comfort of a predictable routine, but I must admit, I'm going to miss having you home. This summer has flown by, and I feel like much of it was spent either apart or with others. I selfishly wish I'd had more days for lazy summer adventures and exploring, for playing without the stress of a schedule looming. I remember when I was a kid, summers seemed so long. I couldn't wait to go back and tell my friends, who I hadn't seen in AGES, all about my adventures. But now, nearing 40, with the clock hands spinning so quickly, summer vacations seem so brief. I look back, and worry that I've wasted our precious time together. Although you both can drive me nuts at times, I am perpetually aware that each day brings us closer to the day when you'll leave our little nest and head out into the world on your own, and it is such a bittersweet feeling I get. Although I am so proud to see you grow, to watch you both morph daily into more mature creatures, I miss the chubby fingers and drool-covered cheeks of yore. I love you both dearly, and I am so proud to be your mom. Keep patience with me, my loves, when I momentarily forget the incredibly blessing that you are to me, when I take for granted your presence. Because I promise, my dears, I wouldn't wish away a moment of our time together.
OK, now click over to Evangeline's blog and check out her letter. Then click on her link and so on, and eventually you'll land back here...after reading a lot of great letters and checking out some really cool photos! Ready...set...GO!