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In the Blink of an EyeShari McStay
Summer break will be here before we know it, and if you’re like me, you’re already thinking about this lovely stretch of time, hopefully complete with your precious college kids!
Might this summer still look a little different? Sure. But the potential for meaningful time with family and friends, fun adventures and a taste of some of the things we used to take for granted is substantial.
After last summer, with cancelled vacation plans and scarce summer job opportunities for kids, my family isn't wasting time planning for this summer! We’ve been brainstorming ideas for our family and for each of us individually.
My son, a sophomore, is already confirmed on staff at the same place he worked the past two summers, a local mini golf place. And to ensure he has all the credits and courses he needs by the time he graduates, he's also looking into taking an online class at a community college near us.
My daughter will graduate with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education in June! Celebrating this milestone is at the top of the list for all of us. Sadly, her graduation ceremony will be virtual, which is disappointing on several levels. Because her graduating class is so small, they were really hopeful that they could have an in-person ceremony. But since that is not to be, we plan to bring as much specialness to the occasion as possible.
There will be pictures on campus in cap and gown, perhaps with a few friends from her class. There will be a graduation party with extended family and a couple of close friends. And my daughter and her best friend are planning to take a trip together at some point during the summer. This will be her first “friends only” trip and I can honestly say that I share in her exuberance!
Family time is always a priority for us, and it becomes even more cherished as our kids get older. This summer offers the perfect opportunity to take some time away as a family. We recently purchased a small townhome in Florida and are thinking of spending a week there to fix it up and soak in some sunshine.
Many summers ago, our family went to Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina and this started a new tradition. Wrightsville Beach is a real escape. We take long walks by the ocean, are just steps away from our favorite coffee shop (which we visit every morning) and — because Wrightsville Beach is located between the intracoastal waterway and the ocean — we get to enjoy both sunrises and sunsets. Summer 2021 will definitely feature this beloved getaway.
Maybe your family has a tradition like this, that had been put on hold? If so, and if you’re still not comfortable flying, consider a road trip to your destination. My brother-in-law recently rented an RV and drove his family across the country to Arizona for a month. It was a whole new experience for them, with some challenges, of course. But they had a ton of fun and made many amazing memories.
Of course we don’t need to take a vacation to enjoy quality family time! But after this past year, we’re looking for a little more than hanging out at home or taking long walks. With restaurants fully open near us, I definitely foresee family dinners out at a few of our favorite places — Chicago Cut Steakhouse and Masa Azul to name just two. One of the highlights about Chicago in the summertime is the ability to enjoy patio dining. So if indoor dining isn’t yet your thing again, summer was made for enjoying meals outside!
This summer brings a special milestone for my husband and me — we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary! We haven’t yet decided how we’d like to honor this momentous occasion, but it will probably be with less fanfare than for our 25th (we went to Hawaii and brought our then teens with us).
For those who like to play in the dirt like me, gardening is always a great summer activity. This summer I’m building a new wooden raised garden bed, complete with chicken wire covering, for all the veggies, herbs and berries I hope to grow. Summer is also the perfect time to take care of those house projects you’ve been putting off. We’ve had loose pavers on our patio for over a year now and that’s on the top of my project list.
The possibilities for summer enjoyment don’t end here! We can’t forget all the simple summer pleasures like running through the sprinkler, taking those long walks, beach days, picnics, coffee and ice cream outings with friends, late-night fire-pits with plenty of s’mores and more.
Yes, summer may still look a little different than it did two summers ago, before so much changed. But my family plans to embrace it fully, soak in precious time with each other and with friends, and create memories we’ll treasure always. I'm wishing the same to you and yours.
Big choices — and big changes — are on the horizon for your senior and your entire family.