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. photo dump 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! IMG_2654 We also got a sneak-peak at the new Cars Land attraction at Disneyland. IMG_2772 And of course, a little princess time. IMG_2785 But if there is a picture that captures the essence of our summer, it’s this one:   IMG_2798 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. IMG_2833 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. IMG_2834IMG_2836 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. IMG_2920 It’s funny how a blanket on the grass turns takeout food into a fancy picnic. They love doing this. IMG_2922 On another day, India and Kembe decided they would have a picnic with fruit. “A fruitnic!” India proclaimed. IMG_2927 We got to attend the Dwell on Design expo, where the kids took an illustration class and I contended with my furniture coveting issues. IMG_3013 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 . . . IMG_3877 and ambushed him.  This may be my favorite picture of the summer. IMG_3878 The boys and I rode our bikes to the beach . . . once.  I wish we had done this more. IMG_3882   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. IMG_3887 Some might call this a leak in the hose, but to the Howerton family, it’s a “bonus sprinkler”. IMG_3900 Our one big beach excursion. I do regret that we didn’t do this more. IMG_3906IMG_3909IMG_3912   IMG_3916 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. IMG_4004 IMG_3988IMG_3995 And then, we had “Fun With Errands”. We always spend way too much time in the Mac store. IMG_4210 Or trying on sunglasses at Target. Classy, Kembe. IMG_4278 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. IMG_4378IMG_4390IMG_4402IMG_4409 IMG_4414IMG_4421IMG_4440IMG_4445IMG_4456IMG_4457IMG_4460 IMG_4465 We had a quick but fun visit from the cousins in Seattle. IMG_4542   IMG_4553 The girls spent a lot of time wearing leotards and perfecting their dance/gymnastics/runway routines. IMG_4566 The boys started a band. IMG_4573   We visited a farm. IMG_4577IMG_4581IMG_4590IMG_4591 Best photobomb ever. IMG_4607 And that’s our summer! Hectic, busy, and far from perfect, but loads of fun in spite of all that. IMG_4019