It has begun, summer break is here! No more school, sleeping in is an option (well at least for Aidan it is – Cianne is still an early riser) and we have all day to have fun and do whatever we want. What could be better?
We really kicked off the summer well this year. We started with an awesome camping trip, our first as a family, with our good friends to Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. What a great place! Aidan, you and Kaden had so much fun together. You ran a bunch, helped put up the tent and prepare our campsite, ran more, poked the fire with sticks and then ran a lot more. It seems as though you were made for the outdoors. Daddy and me really enjoyed watching you in your element, having fun, laughing and doing all the things that good campers do. This was my first camping trip EVER, and you put yourself in charge of teaching me all the rules of good camping. Foraging for sticks and fire starting materials, tying the trash bag up high, checking the area for poison ivy and reading the campsite signs were just a few of the things you demonstrated for me. When we sat down for a snack together, you laughed wildly as you watched the tiny mosquito bite on my forehead rapidly grow to a swollen 3 inch mass. It WAS pretty funny looking, and I was happy to be your source of amusement because the sound of your laughter is my favorite sound in the world. It was just you and me and my giant mosquito bite, and I felt happy (and ichy). You grabbed an ice cube from the cooler, wrapped it in a paper towel and told me to hold it on my forehead. Meanwhile, you set the bug spray in front of me, told me I must have missed that spot and walked away. I quickly realized that even though I am an adult and you’re almost 6, I had nothing on you in this environment. You’re a pretty amazing kid. I hope you’ll always know that.
And then there was Cianne, my sweet little girl. I must admit, I was worried that you might not take to the outdoors the way your brother had. He had been on father/son camping trips before, but this was your first. Just like Mommy, you were new to sleeping in a tent, not having running water and using a pothole toilet. But true to form, you truly surprised me with your ability to adapt and thrive in an unfamiliar setting. As soon as we arrived, you grabbed a big stick and off you went! When I asked where you were going, you said “I going to search for little animals Mommy.” On the second day, we all went on a long 2+ hour hike. Again, I was apprehensive about taking you down the trail marked “intermediate” because I thought it might be too much for your little legs to handle, but you trekked through those trails, uphill, downhill and wherever else they led us like a champ. You only asked to be held for a little while toward the end, but you did exceedingly well and everyone was very impressed. You really enjoyed roasting marshmallows for everyone, holding the lantern in the darkness and sleeping in the tent. I also learned some valuable lessons from you. I learned that you, my little 4 year old girl who loves horses and the color pink, are NEVER to be underestimated. You are an incredibly strong girl, and I am very proud of you.
I will always remember this camping trip fondly. We all had such a great time. We played kickball, had cookouts, talked, hiked, explored and even went to a quiet little beach to finish off our last day there. We saw some really pretty things and some fun little slimy things (two frogs jumped on our car on the way out :), but the most beautiful thing I saw was the smiles, the laughter and the connections that we all made with our friends and with each other.
I wish that every summer kickoff can be this amazing!
This post is part of a year-long project with some other very talented photographers and mothers around the country. Click to see what Bethany has written this month!
Cianne Mitchell Photography specializes in modern newborn, child, maternity and family photography in Chicago, IL and surrounding areas including the north and west suburbs of Chicago.