My oldest friends Susan and Trish (who would be quick to jump in and remind me that of the three of us, I'm technically the oldest) and I have been emailing back and forth semi-regularly over the past 6 months or so about when we'll get together next. Susan lives a couple of hours away, Trish lives many more hours away, we all work and Trish is always travelling abroad for her job. Because of all this, getting together requires significant coordination. In the past several weeks it became clear that all of us were free this holiday weekend so Susan suggested we all come to her area to celebrate my birthday and the 4th.
My girls were thrilled with the plans since they love spending time with Susan's daughters. When we arrived on saturday morning Susan got them busy making a cake for me.
Susan's daughters are older and I offered a deal to them ahead of time: teach my kids to swim this weekend and there will be a financial reward in it for them. As it turns out, they took this offer very seriously and as soon as the cake was in the oven the girls were in the pool, with each of my girls assigned to a big girl and the lessons began.
At first I stood outside and watched over everything. But it was really warm out there and John and Trish and her husband Hugh and Susan were all inside having nice, cold beverages.
"Does one of us need to be outside all day with them?" I asked John. "I don't think so. The big kids seem very focused on our kids. I think they'll be fine."
The lessons went on for hours.
Eventually the girls took a lunch break and also time to decorate my cake.
But then it was time to cool off again in the pool. And very much to our surprise our girls really, really, really made some progress in swimming. Erin swam across the width of the pool, unassisted, in the deep end, several times. Allison swam almost all the way across the width of the shallow end, and Kate also got close. So yes, we paid them a reward even though there would be more swimming to come tomorrow.
John grilled up dinner,
And my cake was served, complete with a little old lady and her walker, fashioned out of paper clips by John.
It was a casual, low-key birthday with way too much food and drink and very much missed old friends. It couldn't have been better.