Best Summer Ever!

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We started this summer with a plan, I even made an official Summer Bucket List with a few things each of us wanted to do this summer.  I was looking back over my Instagram account this afternoon with my youngest and I’m so excited about how much fun we had this summer.  I’m not writing this to brag or gloat over all the cool things we’ve done, but rather for me to look back over the best summer ever!

It’s really hard for me to believe that our 10 week summer is already coming to an end.  I’ve been a little emotional all day thinking about it.  This was the first summer that I didn’t stick my kids in summer camp most of the summer while I worked.  I decided that, as much fun as they have at camp, I really wanted to be part of their summer too.  I have an amazing boss and a flexible job that allows me to sneak away from time-to-time to make memories with my family.  I’ve paid for that fun by staying up past midnight many nights completing projects, but it’s been so worth it!!

We started this summer by taking a family vacation to Palm Beach Shores, FL where we started our very first sea glass collection (20 Things Only Beach Lovers Will Understand).  We then watched as my son accomplished one of his goals of becoming a 1st Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do.  These two experiences alone could have made for a memorable summer, but we didn’t stop there.

I let my kids stay up late and sleep in the next day.  I let my kids watch TV and play video games.  I let my kids get creative and make up their own games to play while I worked.  I let my kids, be kids!

My daughter experienced Vacation Bible School for the first time and I got to watch God do good things in her life.  I watched her grow up a lot this summer and slowly transform into a big girl who is reading and learning every day, soaking up life like a sponge.  I remember this age with my son and how much they absorb every day.  I enjoy seeing him watch her learn new things and help her along the way.

As they do every summer, the kids took a vacation with my parents.  It’s something I never really did with my grandparents growing up and I’m thankful that my parents enjoy spending time with my kids making memories of their own.  I can’t wait to hear the stories they tell their friends about their trip to the mountains, their new friend, and the loft they got to sleep in.  While they were away, my husband and I escaped from reality for a few days in Vegas.  It’s always good to rekindle your romance without the kids and have fun just being with one another.

We stayed nearby for the rest of the summer, not venturing more than a few hours away.  We went to Busch Gardens and played hard.  We went to Ichetucknee Springs and unplugged for a weekend with friends.  We roasted marshmallows and watched lightening bugs after dark.  We saw mermaids swimming at Weeki Wachee Springs and took boat rides with friends.  We played in the sand, swam with fish, and floated lazily in the pool after work.  We played hard at Tradewinds on St. Pete Beach and made new friends.  It feels like we packed these 10 weeks full of adventures and that’s not even all of it!

We watched movies together and laughed hard!  I introduced them to the Neverending Story and we laughed hysterically as we watched Sharknado (yes, even my little one loved the shark-silliness).  As if that wasn’t enough, we ending the summer with a boom and a bang!

Yesterday we spend the afternoon at Clearwater Marine Aquarium meeting Winter and Hope, our newest dolphin friends.  We learned more about their story, the aquarium, and the movie from a behind the scenes tour with CEO David Yates and Winter’s trainer Abby.  We met a turtle named Bailey (just like my youngest) and watched the river otters play in the sand.  We ended the night on the other side of Tampa watching a concert as a family.  It’s so much fun to see your kids sing songs they hear on the radio, while watching the signers live on stage.  My son learned that even popular bands play musical instruments like the violin and cello.

Finally, today we had a few more adventures.  We watched an early screening of Dolphin Tale 2 the movie (coming to theaters Sept 12th) and my kids watched me cry to yet another movie this summer.  It brought so much joy to me watching them see this movie.  After just being at the aquarium the day before it was cute to hear them point out things they saw the day before.  My daughter actually went to sleep tonight saying, “Mommy, be quiet! I’m having dreams of dolphins tonight!”

As if this wasn’t enough, I made a few memories myself!  After the screening of the movie, I was invited (along with several other local bloggers) to interview the cast of Dolphin Tale.  The kids and I were in the same room with Cozi Zuehlsdorff, Nathan Gamble, and Harry Connick, Jr for about 15-20 minutes.  Cozi and Nathan were first to enter the room and they were so much fun.  For teenagers, these kids were so respectful, so well spoken, so confident, and appreciative that we were there.  I think every lady in that room lit up as soon as Harry Connick, Jr entered the room.  There is something about his smile, his ocean blue eyes, and his cajun accent that makes every woman swoon!  I’ve been swooning since high school when I saw him in concert for the first time.  We actually had some great conversations for those 20 minutes and learned that Winter and Hope really have an impact on everyone’s lives they encounter; including these actors.  It’s not every day you get to work with dolphins and making such memorable movies.

I think we made some pretty amazing memories this summer and my kids both went to bed with huge smiles on their faces.  They are both excited for the new school year and ready for new adventures to begin.  As I send my first baby off to Middle School and my last baby off to Kindergarten I can’t help but be a little emotional.  I spend most of my days talking with new moms and I never thought I’d keep stressing just how quickly time passes.  I wish I could push the pause button and savor this summer a little bit longer, but it’s over!  The kids are in bed and they are headed back to school first thing tomorrow!  To all my readers who have been around since my daughter was born (or before then), and to all my readers (and friends) who are sending their kids off to new adventures tomorrow, I wish you a good nights sleep!  I’ll pass you the box of tissues in the morning because I know I’m going to need them.

I hope you’ve had the best summer of your lives!!  XOXO!

Disclosure: Some of these adventures were sponsored but that clearly doesn’t make them any less special!  I’ll be sharing more in depth about some of them later this week.  

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