Today was Day One of our Perry Summer Camp.
Following the Loosli's example, my older children contacted a bunch of our friends through flyers, Facebook, email, and personal invitations and invited their children to our home for a three-day summer camp (9 to noon each day).
I must admit that I was a little nervous. We had quite a large group of children, and I wasn't sure exactly what Alia, Grace, and Ethan planned to do for the whole time in our relatively-small home. But they kept saying, "Mom, we have everything under control."
And they did (for the most part).
For the past few weeks, they've been making spreadsheets and schedules, brainstorming ideas for crafts and snacks, and talking about all the children they hoped would come.
The girls made a little shopping list for me, and Alia and I picked out the supplies Saturday night during a 10 p.m. excursion to the store.
Alia and Grace made homemade play dough (Alia's favorite recipe!), Ethan and I swept the backyard, and we all joined together to remove everything breakable (or distracting) from our downstairs area.
Then Alia wrote the schedule on a white board, Grace counted out Dixie cups for the water station, and Ethan got the bouncy balls set up on the trampoline.
We put step stools in the bathrooms, made sure we had plenty of clean hand towels and toilet paper, got our laundry done early (since today is typically laundry day), and set up little stations where the children could play with wooden trains or plastic balls and rain gutters if they got bored.
When I tucked the children in last night, they were so nervous. But I could see the excitement in their eyes. It was like Christmas, except this time they were Santa Claus.
At 9 this morning, our little friends arrived, and Alia gave each of them a name tag and a group assignment (lions, pandas, or snakes).
We did science experiments, play dough (with only a little getting on the carpet), outdoor games, sidewalk chalk, snack time, water play . . .. Our home has never been this busy.
Of course there were a few unexpected situations that arose (tomorrow we're having one person solely assigned as the bathroom helper), and keeping track of everyone's shoes was a little tricky, but our guests were so well-behaved--and seriously darling.
We're all excited to see each other again tomorrow.
After the last friend left, we all collapsed on the couch. (Even four-year-old Spencer.) And then we spent the rest of the day talking about how much fun we had.
Everyone pitched in to vacuum, take out the trash, replace the towels in the bathroom, and prepare the snacks for tomorrow.
Grace put together an art lesson and made sure that everyone will have a crayon for each color of the rainbow.
And now I have four exhausted children sleeping in their beds.
I wanted to take the time to type out the details because I don't want to forget this feeling. There's something amazing that happens when a family works together on a project.
We were a real team today. We needed each other.
Alia got a couple of emails tonight from moms who wanted to express their thanks. She was so excited to read them to me.
This is one of the best parts of motherhood--to see how good my children feel about themselves when they accomplish something hard.
And I want to keep these good feelings coming.
What kinds of things have you done with your family (either now, or growing up) that bring a sense of unity and purpose? We'd love some additional ideas.
And now I'm off to bed. We've got a busy day tomorrow!