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I always have big plans for summer. Somewhere around March or April I start dreaming of what our days will be like. Long lazy trips to the pool with PB&J picnics on towels in the sun. Book after book after book marked off our summer reading list. Day trips and field trips and endless adventures. Maybe a weekend or two sneaking away to some seaside location.

The truth of summer always disappoints me a little. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it. It’s just that it never quite lives up to my hype and I spend most of August feeling guilty for not providing a more magical Pinterest-worthy, Instagram beautiful summer.

I’ve become so much more aware of how quickly time is moving. Kai is 12 and there are fewer summers home with us ahead of her than there are behind her and I feel an urgency to make them all count. Life moves so quickly and I find it so hard to cherish the moment I am in and seem to spend so much time wishing I had savoring the moments that have passed.

I’m working on being mindful of my present moment. I’m working to put my phone down, stop worrying so much about things being perfect, and start appreciating those seemingly mundane experiences together as a family. Because those are the memories my kids seem to love the most.

We moved a few years ago from the house we had spent most of the kids’ lives in. It was a cute quaint retro ranch when we bought it and it turned into a bit of a money pit that, in the last couple years we lived there, had no heat and no air and a basement full of mold. It took our kids nearly a year to stop crying about not living there at least once a week. And to this day they all have the fondest memories of that place. When I remind them that the house didn’t have heat they say, “But it was so fun to cuddle by the fire together.” When I remind them that it didn’t have air conditioning they say, “But that meant we got to eat popsicles on the couch all summer.” They don’t remember a single bad thing about that house. It occurred to me this summer that if they could cherish those memories of a too small house with so many discomforts that they will probably remember the mediocre summers we have with great fondness as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot to make a wonderful memory. It takes time spent together, a willingness to be present in the moment, and a whole lot of love.

When my kids look back on Summer 2016 they won’t have fantastic and exotic adventures to relive. But they will remember:

*Nights spent catching fireflies and listening to live music under the stars at Matilda’s.

*Eating blackberries and blueberries straight from the bushes until our stomachs were full and our faces were stained with juice.

*Days spent snuggled on the couch under quilts watching our favorite Netflix shows together.

*A Fourth of July weekend spent in the country with their grandparents splashing in a cheapo plastic kiddie pool.

*A weekend visit with a special Hawaiian cousin and a night spent camping out on the living room floor with her.

*Days spent playing throughout the neighborhood with their best friends.

*Countless kisses on sweaty heads and skinned knees.

It doesn’t really matter if these moments were glamorous. Because they will likely grow up to view these things through their own magical sepia toned filter. As adults, its the ordinary childhood moments that always feel more fantastic in hindsight. I know that is certainly true for me. As a kid I did get the chance to travel a lot and spent a lot of my childhood adventuring across most of the country on road trips. We took fun trips and made great memories. But one summer memory always stands out in my mind. My sister and I spent our days playing all over our family’s 8+ acres of land most days and getting into as much outdoor trouble as we could. One particular day we found what had to be the biggest mud pit we had ever seen in our lives. We spent what felt like hours playing in the mud. We jumped in it and rolled in it and threw it at each other.  I know for a fact that neither of us even once worried what our parents would say. We finally showed up on the doorstep for dinner fully clothed and covered from head to toe in the worst smelling mud you can imagine. I will never forget my mom’s face when she saw us and realized we had been playing in the septic tank drain field all day. Turns out our greatest adventure was actually a big field of sewage. Seriously.

And that, my friends, is one of my favorite childhood memories. Swimming in a pool of crap for an afternoon. And I guess I only share that to remind myself (and all of us parents) that if I can grow up and cherish a memory of playing in the grey water of a septic drain field then surely my kids will be able to grow up and cherish these less than picture perfect summers.

So, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack on my stress over memory making. Because ordinary and special don’t have to be opposites. We make memories every day. And some of them will be extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime adventures. And some of them will be moments spent discovering a new favorite movie on Netflix. And all of them will be special.

Even the ones spent covered in crap.

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This post has been shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.