I've been away a little from this blog recently because of the hecticness of getting everyone off for summer... and going on holiday... and of course the inevitable laundry that has to be dealt with AFTER the holiday!!!
So I have been thinking a lot about the summer and about our plans for it. Here in Nothern Ireland we get off at the end of June and go back to school during the last week in August. So this year we have 8 weeks off to do 'whatever we do in summer'. (Sorry I've been watching Frozen this week!!!)
I recently read a couple of great blog posts where the writers talked about thinking about how many summers you have left with your children before they start to go away on their own and don't really want to do things with you.
My family were slightly different. As I grew up we went on lots of fantastic holidays to the Republic of Ireland - firstly with our tent and then with the trailer-tent (a tent that packs into a trailer so you can tow it easier and you don't have to sleep on the ground!). I have lots of great memories of these holidays - lots and lots - but the biggest way out family was different was what happened when we grew up.
Our first BIG holiday happened the summer before I was about to go into my final year at school. That year we all went to Australia to visit my dad's three sisters and all my cousins. It was fantastic! I loved every second - including the first flight when one of my sisters (who shall remain nameless) cried her eyes out because of her sore ears, or another flight were my sister (who may or may not be the same one) punched me in the face for something I may or may not have said!! Ahem... Sisterly love :))
The next year, we had another camping trip. I'm not sure Mum and Dad had planned to take everyone - but everyone wanted to go!!! We travelled to England, then across to France - into Disneyland and into Paris to see everywhere at night because Dad didn't want to drive in all the traffic!!! - then into Luxenborg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, before back up through France and back to the UK. It was amazing. And fostered my love of all things Italian!! It was after this trip that I decided to take Italian with my chemistry degree at uni!! A weird combination but one I thoroughly enjoyed!!
Then our final big holiday, a couple of years later, was a transatlantic one. Mum and Dad decided they were going to visit some friends in the States. My sister K and I - both of whom Mum and Dad had assumed would rather stay at home... Eh?? Seriously?? No way!!!! - were very excited and immediately planned what we would take and what we'd do etc... So Mum and Dad now had to plan a trip to Canada and the States for a family of 6 instead of 4!!! Again it was fantastic - lots of lovely places visited, lots of memories made and lots more sisterly love shown!!!!
I could bore you with countless stories of getting our photo taken on a glacier (above)... or driving up a mountain in the boiling sun with the heat on full blast and all the windows open because of a faulty car... or the mornings Dad brought us back freshly baked croissants from his morning bike ride... Delicious!!! But I won't!! The point I'm trying to make is that up until we always wanted to go with Mum and Dad - and sometimes they had to say no rather than us say no. We had a close family bond, and thankfully still do - my parents have two of sisters living right beside them but that's another story!!! - and that is what I'd love for my own family.
As I seek to try to make their summers the most enjoyable ever, I also want to help them to see family time, and family holidays, as something very special, something not to be missed, and something to continue long after they leave home. I want them to learn that our family traditions are worth saving - that they help keep us together in a world where brother is fighting brother and where dysfunctional families are the norm.
And I want to remind them of the God of love who unites us even when we are badgering each other, arguing over whose turn on the Xbox it is or over whose cool new baseball cap is whose!
Family time to me is so important and I want it to be important to my children. Sorry for the long post. More thoughts tomorrow!!
Keep shining xx