PM_photo_summerGoing into this summer season, I knew I was challenged to squeeze out time for a real family vacation. Between camps, baseball games, youth group retreats and braces—not only was our time limited, but so were our finances. As the mother of three children, I am finding it more and more difficult to organize our schedules and have long, lingering family getaways. Although we each dream of those weeklong vacations on the beach, we have started to discover the small joys that come with just taking in the fleeting moments of summer—even if those fleeting moments are happening in our own backyard.

As the calendar filled up, it soon became evident that Friday evenings were our only free nights of the week. I held onto that one evening as if it were gold—turning down dinner invitations and play dates just to ensure that one evening of every week we would spend time together as a family. Since we were having a particularly cool summer, my husband would light up the fire pit and I would prepare all the necessary ingredients for s’mores. And there, over glowing flames of fire and melted chocolate and marshmallows, our family came together every week.

I’ll admit that I was the starter of the “Fire Pit Fridays” and my children (especially the two older ones) would have rather spent those evenings playing with their friends or watching a movie. Our first few Fridays included endless discussions on how this “family time” was a waste of their summer vacation, but with each and every s’more, their defenses began to grow weak and soon we were all snuggled in blankets on the patio laughing about something that had happened earlier in the week. I cherished each and every one of those Friday nights and when the summer days were quickly coming to an end, it was those moments I knew I would miss the most.

I still wasn’t quite sure that my children felt the same way about our new Friday night rituals until one of the last weeks of summer vacation when the children and I were  in Indiana visiting family. It was the end of a very long and busy Friday and my two older children begged their Aunt to create a fire pit on her patio. “It’s the best thing,” my daughter said. “We’ll even get the stuff together for the s’mores.” So, there we sat, my children and their cousins, enjoying a “Fire Pit Friday” of our own. As we sat there under the stars sharing stories and jokes, my youngest son looked at me and said, “Do you think Daddy is having the fire pit without us?” I was pretty sure–since he was home alone–Daddy was enjoying a cold beer and some wings with his friends at a local pub, but we called him nonetheless.

“What are you doing?”  I asked.

“It’s Friday,” he replied. “I’m just sitting on the patio eating s’mores”.

PS  I had absolutely no photos of us around the fire pit–it was always one of those times when I was so ‘in the moment’ that I didn’t even think of grabbing a camera.