Today was one of those perfectly unplanned, carefree summer days. We had a rough idea of what we thought we were going to do today, but then we just settled back and watched the day unfold in front of us. And it was awesome!
I woke up to the smell of coffee and bacon. My son had a friend sleep over, and when I came down the stairs they were already busy playing in the basement while the girls were singing and dancing in our living room. My husband was busy making breakfast. So far, it was the perfect start to the day!
I enjoyed my coffee and everyone enjoyed their daddy pancakes, bacon, and fruit. The kids quickly scattered after they were done eating and that meant I had a few minutes to just breathe. Ahhhhhh, it’s Saturday. The last one before the craze of the school year kicks in. I wanted to soak it up.
Then, I get a quick little ping on my phone, a text alert. With a simple “YES!” to the question, “Do you want to have ribs with us tonight?” BAM, our day was set! I could see it now, the kids could lounge around and play while Jeff and I got some piddly work done around the house. Then, he could run to the store while I started baking one of two desserts. Once everything was baked and the salad was tossed, we’d walk across the street for dinner… perfect!! I loved the way this day was shaping up, and all by 9:04AM!
As I was selecting recipes for dessert and deciding on which pinned BBQ salad to make, my son’s friend went home. Then, the kids and I headed upstairs to clean up their desks and hang up some new art on their walls.
I laugh at the word “new” because although the art is brand new, they have been waiting to get hung up since June…and it’s now the end of August. Normally, it would frustrate me that these beautiful items were waiting for three months to get hung up. But today, I looked at them and instead thought, I guess we had a pretty busy and full summer. I’m not sure when my mind set changed, but I think it had to do with my “reset” a few weeks ago. Since then, I feel much more at peace with myself and with my time. So, today we hung all that artwork and the kids were thrilled to get it up on their walls and I, for once, did not feel bad that it took this long to get done!
After that, we could focus on their desks and get them all organized for the new school year. My oldest needed a desk that was (in her words) cute, cleaned-up, and worthy of 4th grade homework. My son needed an organized space for his writing supplies, drawing notebooks, and a cleaned desk top for 3rd grade homework! With a little bit of help, they had tidied up their rooms and created a homework space for themselves. We were really proud of them.
Not long after that the buzz of neighborhood play was all around me. Boys and girls were in and out of my house in a swirl of summery fun. The sun was out, bikes were zooming down the block, and good old-fashioned play was happening.
I love that they LOVE playing with the neighbors. That alone makes the struggles we’ve endured to live in our our town, so very worth it. Also, I love the summer sounds of knocks at the door, little kids laughing, feet running through my house, screen doors slamming, clanks of kickstands, sweet “thanks mom, I love you and I’ll be safe” being yelled halfway down the block, and the “I’m home” upon their safe return. These are all milestones in their development and in the memories they are making. And I enjoy getting to be a part of it every, single day. Yes, fellow mom’s and dad’s, even the really long, and extra tiring days. I love those days, too.
While the kids were busy playing, I could think about a forgotten passion of mine.
Baking was on my #endofsummerbucketlist and I couldn’t believe that it took the whole summer to be accomplished! I mean, I did make cookies and the occasional box of brownies over the course of the summer. But I am talking about baking something new and special. A spur of the moment, neighbor dinner was the perfect time to try something new!
While Jeff was at the store, I started making Rainbow Cupcakes. It’s an easy treat to make and the best thing about them is that kids just giggle and love the playfulness of them! Luckily, I had a cake mix sitting around so I could start right away. Once I had the cupcakes in the oven to bake and Jeff returned with supplies, I could start on the ultimate chocolate fudge bundt cake. I’m getting ahead of myself, but that cake was a delicious treat! You can find the recipe I used here, thanks to Let’s Dish. It was easy to make and scrumptious! The cupcakes finished and I took them out of the oven to cool before icing them. When they were cooled off enough, my daughters and their friend iced them for us. They did a magnificent job with the ooey, gooey, fudgy icing they put on top. They sure enjoyed the occasional lick!
Once those were ready, I chopped up the ingredients for my Vegan BBQ Chickpea Chopped Salad, courtesy of The Garden Grazer website. I made a few personal changes to the recipe, like wanting a sweet BBQ ranch dressing. So, I just mixed up some Ranch dressing I already had with a few squirts of BBQ sauce. I also added some diced up avocado to the salad and it was ready to eat! So we carried our goodies down the block a few houses and our carefree night began.
The night was one of the best all summer. You know the kind, where it’s just easy to be together, all the kids play nicely, and the conversation flows from kids to reno-projects and everything in between. Dinner was spectacular! I think we have the best chef and grill master living on our block. I mean, they make their own BBQ sauce which is out of this world and beats any brand name BBQ sauce. The chopped salad was also a hit at dinner. It blended well with our host and hostess’s yummy smoked ribs, grilled corn, corn bread, and homemade drinks.
The food was delightful, but the joy of eating a meal with good neighbors is the icing on that cake! Ohhhh, the cake! That was ahhhhhhmazing! And the kids loved the rainbow cupcakes! Let’s just say that fudge lipstick applied by 4 and 6 year olds is going to be the next big thing!! We could have stayed all night, but it was ticking closer and closer to 10PM- I know waaaayyyyy past their bedtime. So, we rounded up our belongings, cleaned up our messes, and got ready to home. Everyone said thank you and hugs were shared amongst the kids with promises of playing again soon. We are so lucky to live here and to have the most gracious and kind neighbors, whom we are blessed to call friends.
I leave you with this. Be SPONTANEOUS. Text a friend or even someone new in your life and ask them to come to dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, heck it could be just pizza or burgers. But do it! You’ll love connecting with them and they’ll feel loved for being invited. Your house doesn’t have to be clean or tidy; besides your friends won’t judge you. Share your SPIRIT and JOY with them over a meal with laughs. Just put yourself out there and good things will come your way.
~There are no happy accidents.