Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Blessings

Yesterday some friends came by to swim. It was rainy and cool, so we sat around the table eating snacks, and G asked us each to answer- "What is your favorite thing so far this summer?"
The kids said things like- "Six Flags," or "Our Trip to San Antonio." Ali chose- "Chiheb"- our friend who was visiting for a month. I thought a lot of those things sounded good.
I've been thinking about this still today. We've had a really blessed summer. I thought June was going to be stay at home and do nothing month, after a busy semester of soccer shuttling, girl scouts, and work. But my brother-in-law had asked us to invite a friend's son to visit, so early June, just before school got out, we greeted a teenager from Algeria at the airport. Right away it was clear he was polite. We soon found out he was also a really great guy. Ali took to him as soon as he found out Chiheb knew about Pokemon. They watched some videos online and hung out. By the end of his 5 week stay, which he had extended by two weeks, he was part of the family. He took the kids out to ride bikes almost every day, and willingly watched them in the pool so I could work. He also joined in with the chore jar, prompting A and L to participate uncomplainingly. He was interested in everything, and learned to make cookies with Leila.
I taught an online class in May and then 2 in June. Usually H is home to help out with Sami, but this year he started working in May when I got out of school. So I got P, a college student from Iran, to come and hang out with Sami in the mornings so I could work. She's been another blessing this summer. Even though I'm home much of the time, she takes Sami for walks and plays with him, and I've been able to get away a couple of times to run errands.
We drove down to San Antonio one weekend to see the Alamo and go to Sea World. Other than traffic that extended the 4.5 hour drive to 7, we had a great trip. The kids went to Six Flags one day with Joy and T, and I hung out with my sister who had flown in for a day. We also went to the mall more times than I've been in the last 10 years- it's one of the things Chiheb really wanted to do. We had friends over for dinner, and went to friends' houses, too, and in between I graded papers like mad.
Sami learned to kiss for real- I got a couple nice ones last night. He's also fallen down or bumped his head frequently enough that his face hasn't been unmarred in weeks.
Ali learned to ride a bike in the Spring with Grandpa's help and using a bike he and Grandma gave him for his birthday. Leila finally learned to at the end of June. It turns out there's a really easy way to do it, which I found on the internet. Go to a grassy hill. Coast down. Repeat. Then start pedaling at some point. Practice, practice, practice. Now the two of them ride up and down our street- which is my biggest blessing this summer.
Before we moved we lived on a busy, busy street with the garages all in front. This in turn means the driveways were in front. Now we live on a very long street with no feed ins, and most of the driveways are in the back. The few in the front are just little curved ones. Although there are busy streets on both ends of our street, people don't really cut through. This means that I feel pretty good about the kids riding around and even walking over to the neighbors across the street to play. As well as being a great biking street, it's been wonderful for Sami to learn to walk. When my parents were here, and now with P, he takes numerous walks down the sidewalk, with no danger from someone backing out of their garage.
Part of the street blessing is our great neighbors. There are lots of little boys Sami's age on the street, and there is a family halfway down the block with 4 kids. One boy matches Ali, the girl matches Leila, and the oldest one enjoys playing with them all. They spend their days together in that magical summer endlessness, riding bikes, hanging out, spying, exploring, and sometimes swimming. The other day the two girls had a lemonade stand- a first for both, and well supervised by the moms because of their dad's protectiveness.
All in all it's been a great summer so far. Now that I've wrapped up my June classes, I'm feeling like my summer has finally started. I'm working on so many things, of course, but I finally feel like I've got some times. Today I spent cooking for tomorrow night's Iftar dinner which we are holding here. Ramadan started last week, and dinner is late- just before 9. Last week we were at a friend's, and this week here. Next week the kids and I will be traveling, so I don't know what goodies they'll enjoy.
I do expect more blessings, though, because the summer is only half way through.