Sometimes The Best Things, Are Unplanned

Guess who’s back, back again. Mary’s back, tell your friends! If you did not sing that in your best Eminem voice, it made little sense. (Man, I love some 90s Hip Hop!) I haven’t blogged in a few months, and now it is August already! Summer, other projects and making family memories took priority.

Despite Covid restrictions and precautions, this summer was probably one of my top favorites! Due to quarantine requirements, we could not travel to Ireland to spend time with our family. It was a devastating blow to all of us, especially my husband, who is longing to be in Donegal with his parents and siblings. We haven’t seen them since 2019.

I decided to make the best out of the summer and try to ease everyone’s disappointment. For the first time, we got a pool membership. We quickly learned to stick with weekdays at the pool to avoid larger crowds. The water truly is a happy place for my kids. It was wonderful to watch them challenge themselves in the water. I especially enjoyed watching my son. Every day, he became a little more confident in his abilities. I am in awe of the strides he made. My daughter has always loved the water, but she pushed her limits as well. The downside of the hours spent at the pool was that there was not enough high SPF sunscreen to keep my pasty Irish kids from burning. I can only assume the sun reflected off of my pale legs and burned them. While the pool has given us some super fun days, we had other grand adventures.

My son has never had much of an interest in sports, but stepped far out of his comfort zone and joined a baseball team. There is no better baseball town than St. Louis, and no better team than the Cardinals. I am a diehard St. Louis Cardinals fan. I always knew they did great things for my city, but this summer they blew me away. My son played for The Redbird Rookies, a program sponsored by the St. Louis Cardinals. It was an AMAZING program for St. Louis residents. The program was free for children and supplied the uniforms and equipment. (Cleats and gloves were optional). It is a co-ed non-competitive program that teaches the fundamentals of baseball, while also teaching the importance of health, education, mentoring and cultural arts. They had several off the field events that were both educational and fun. Kids could earn prizes for attending these events and completing small activities. The end of the season included a health fair at Busch Stadium where the kids collected fantastic prizes and gifts. They handed out book bags with a generous amount of school supplies. The Cardinals definitely made baseball possible to kids who might not have otherwise had the means.

My son went out on that field never having swung a bat and terrified of being hit in the face with the ball. With the encouragement of the great coaches and his friends, he learned to hit, catch, and throw. Most importantly, he built confidence. I loved watching him grow and get better each week. I was amazed by the skills he developed over the eight-week period. He got hit with the ball several times, including in his face, but he definitely developed a love for baseball.

My daughter also stepped out of her comfort zone this summer. She spent a week working as a group leader at a vacation Bible school. She had a group of toddlers and came home exhausted every day! I thought to myself, welcome to my world! She also attended a couple of summer camps at a high school she is interested in attending next year. She has done Irish Dancing nearly her whole life, and never had much interest in trying anything else. This summer she attended a cheer camp and the high school’s dance team camp. These differed completely from what she was used to. It was a challenge for her and she found some aspects of the routines difficult, but she embraced it. It opened up a new world for her, and she now is considering trying out for Cheer for her final year of middle school and in high school. All I want for her is to do what she loves, but not regret not trying new things! While Cheer wouldn’t be my first choice of activity for her, I am thrilled that she is now considering branching out and trying new things.

As an almost vaccinated family, we decided we could safely travel a little. We took a weekend trip to Louisville, where we did some Irish Dancing, bet on some horses and learned how they make baseball bats. It was a super fun weekend. I highly recommend that people visit Louisville if they have never been. There is something for everyone!

The highlight of our summer was taking a much needed family vacation. We visited my best friend and her family in sunny Los Angeles. Like the rest of the world, Covid kept us apart for a year and a half. I know poor me, but in 40 years of friendship we had never been apart that long. What was supposed to be a relaxing week with friends was anything but! Our gracious hosts went out of their way to make sure that we were never bored! Our whirlwind week consisted of watching fireworks from the roof, riding rides at Santa Pier (where my husband rode his first-ever roller coaster), soaking up the sun at the beach, an outdoor movie night, and a jammed pack day of fun at Knott’s Berry Farm. Everywhere we went was an adventure that we will never forget. However, I think we spent our best day at the house. The kids had a water balloon fight on the trampoline while also being sprayed with a hose. The kids, ranging in age from toddler to teen, had a blast. It was also AMAZING to lie in bed next to my best friend talking and laughing, just like when we had sleepovers as kids and teenagers. Los Angeles is full of so many attractions, yet the best times were spent together and were inexpensive. It was a pleasant reminder that sometimes the best things in life are free (or almost free).

This may not be the summer we expected, but it was definitely the summer we needed. We all grew as individuals, but also as a family. New things and opportunities were discovered. We spent quality time together and learned to make the best of our situation. This summer was definitely full of new experiences and beautiful memories. I hope the rest of my family remembers it as fondly as I will.

Comments

  1. Great to see you back Mary. Your cheery post made me smile. What a fantastic summer for you and the kids. Would love to see some of that Irish dancing sometime.

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  2. So beautiful! I used to plan everything but never in my wildest dreams did I plan how things ended up unfolding. It’s very beautiful!

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  3. Sometimes the best things are the ones that happen on a whim!

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