"Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can't put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don't overlook life's small joys while searching for the big ones."
This summer, I feel an increased sense of urgency and responsibility to teach my kids to appreciate every day, every adventure - big or small - every season for what it uniquely brings. To soak up the little things and be consumed with gratitude for them. Not necessarily by using words to emphasize the importance of it all - but by living it out. They are little now. They are in awe of the world around them. Ice cream cups and a trip to their favorite park is all it takes to bring joy to their days. But their summers of youth are fleeting, and the memories we make with them and for them are all so important.
My summertime memories are filled with Ray Edward's pool and Maryhill Dr. With Casey and James and Amanda. With swimming in our backyard pool and swinging for hours on the Newbern's backyard swingset. My memories of those summer nights mean more to me with each passing year. And it seems like every summer that my kids get a little older, I feel a little bit more nostalgic when those memories come to mind. Memories matter. Moments matter. Big or small. And a blip in time that can seem so small in the making can last a lifetime in our thoughts. Like when Casey and I would sit on our front steps and talk about anything and everything. I don't have a single memory of what our conversations were about, but I remember being there together and I remember it happening often. Or when we spent a whole evening in Patty and Kevin's yard catching lightning bugs. Or when Patty taught me how to ride my bike without training wheels by pushing me down the small grassy hill in their front yard. I fell over and over again, but she told me to get right back up and do it again until I no longer fell.
So many of those little moments stitched together to make up the fabric of what I hold on to and cherish. I want my kids to have a memory bank full of summer nights and summer days. I want them to have a reserve of happy thoughts stored away whenever life gets tough. I want them to be able to always find happiness in skipping rocks and sprinkled ice cream cones.
Tonight, Cody decided to forego all the work that needed to get done at the office to take his boys fishing. And as a mom who is usually a stickler for routine and a structured bedtime, summer inspires me to stretch the nights out and forget about the alarm clock the next morning. Jaden surprised us with some really good casting skills and Brandon found joy in rocks and water ripples. Most of all, we were together. With nothing around us but open sky, Big Woods Lake, a setting sun and appreciation for an Iowa summer -- that may be short - but all the sweeter because of it.
We didn't catch any fish, but we did catch some gorgeous views and have found a new favorite spot for picnics and late night snacks in our pajamas.
That is a happy daddy.
So much inspiration to live life to the fullest just from sitting on a park bench and watching my boys fish.