Thanks so much for all of you who weighed n on my post about summer regrets. It was a great reminder that I’m not alone in these feelings, and that the reality of the daily grind is true for every family, working moms or not. I put too much pressure on myself to have the perfect summer. Next year, I’m going to shoot for relaxing, unstructured summer – and if that means the kids jump around on the trampoline in costumes like they did for most of this summer, so be it. Ironically, I had also intended on doing a photo purge of our pics from this summer, because it has been months since I did a photo dump post. (I realize these posts are self-indulgent and probably interesting only to the grandmas, but bear with me. These is my version of scrapbooking, so I like to try to get all of our photos up on the blog from time to time.) Anyways, as I was picking photos for this post, I was struck with how much fun our summer looked in retrospect. So I guess it just goes to show the “highlight reel” phenomenon. What I feel was a rushed and less-than-perfect summer might look epic in photos. So perhaps we should stop comparing our lives to what we see on instagram. (And by we, I mean me.) We kicked off summer with a little graduation celebration for the preschoolers in our family. Three cousins starting kindergarten this year! We also got a sneak-peak at the new Cars Land attraction at Disneyland. And of course, a little princess time. But if there is a picture that captures the essence of our summer, it’s this one: Lots of free, creative play in the backyard this summer. I don’t really know what is going on in this picture. Yoga? Sun worship? Interpretive dance? Who knows. Jafta wrote a book this summer. It’s about zombie robots and it costs $20. It’s available at www.com. Not sure how he scored that domain. About two seconds after taking this picture, Jafta shot me in the face with his pellet gun. He was trying to do a 3-D effect. It was hard to punish him because it was rather creative. It’s funny how a blanket on the grass turns takeout food into a fancy picnic. They love doing this. On another day, India and Kembe decided they would have a picnic with fruit. “A fruitnic!” India proclaimed. We got to attend the Dwell on Design expo, where the kids took an illustration class and I contended with my furniture coveting issues. One day Jafta was making water balloons, and Mark heard talk that he was going to be the target. So we hid around the corner . . . and ambushed him. This may be my favorite picture of the summer. The boys and I rode our bikes to the beach . . . once. I wish we had done this more. Both of the boys someone gashed their feet on the rocks at the beach while climbing around. We had to go to the lifeguard station for bandages. I think they were secretly thrilled about this. Some might call this a leak in the hose, but to the Howerton family, it’s a “bonus sprinkler”. Our one big beach excursion. I do regret that we didn’t do this more. We didn’t do a lot of swimming this summer. Honestly, three of my four kids cannot swim and so I find it rather stressful. We are doing swim lessons finally but it’s slow-going. But we did spend a few days at our YMCA. And then, we had “Fun With Errands”. We always spend way too much time in the Mac store. Or trying on sunglasses at Target. Classy, Kembe. Our big summer event was a road trip to Palm Springs. We do this every year for Mark’s birthday, and several other families join us. It’s always the highlight of our summer. We had a quick but fun visit from the cousins in Seattle. The girls spent a lot of time wearing leotards and perfecting their dance/gymnastics/runway routines. The boys started a band. We visited a farm. Best photobomb ever. And that’s our summer! Hectic, busy, and far from perfect, but loads of fun in spite of all that.