Katy Bell tells us how she closes out the season with her two daughters.

As hard as it is to believe, we have come to the end of summer vacation and I, like many of you I'm sure, am making lists of fall/back-to-school necessities and slowly transitioning my children into their school year routines.

At the beginning of each summer, I make a "bucket list" of things that I want to do - both with and without my kids. It's around this time of year that I sadly realize that there is no possible way for me to accomplish everything that I've set out to do. My list usually consists of some gastronomical endeavors (eat lobster rolls! have a leisurely dinner on a gorgeous patio!) as well as day trips and some quaint standards (drive-in movie, mini golf). This year, I have fallen sadly, horribly behind on this list.

When I'm wrapping up my summer, it's so important to me to put aside my dreams, my big adventures, and focus on spending meaningful time with my daughters. I value a quiet trip to the beach with a picnic over a major trip to an amusement park, or we might take an easy boat ride over to one of the islands for dinner. That's the magic of summer, after all - having extra time with the kids, longer evenings outside and tossing aside schedules and rules and letting life take us where it chooses.

My personal end-of-summer tradition is to take each of my daughters on a one-on-one date during the last week of vacation. We dress up, I take them to a nice restaurant of their choosing, we stop into a store to get a cute set of pencils or a new notebook - something special for school. We chat about what they are excited about for the upcoming year, what they are nervous about, what kind of snacks I should stock up on in the pantry and what extracurriculars they are interested in. My daughters (6 and 7 years old) reveal things to me during these dinners that they would not say in front of their sister or sitting with me on our couch. I think that they feel mature and special and heard in a way that they do not when we are sitting at our own dinner table. I learn a lot from these dinners and cherish them so, so much. For me, this is the best way to close out the summer and start a new, wild and wonderful school year.


42 Exchange St

Portland, ME 04101

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