We first had our nieces to stay for a week in the summer back in August 2011, when they were 7 and 10. It's been an annual summer ritual ever since, and has gotten easier and easier the older they've been. So this summer, when they are 12 and 15, was really a delight. We went to the beach and the zoo and the park, watched movies, tried a new recipe, went kayaking, read ... all of the ingredients for a lovely visit. Plus, they're old enough to be real companions now.
It was also, as always, exhausting! Their visit turns our lives upside down, which is probably a good thing to happen once a year.
I drove home from the airport this morning, feeling simultaneously sad that they were gone and relieved that the house would be our own again. And then I crawled into bed and slept for several hours (not just because I was tired from their visit; I also slept horribly last night). I'm spending the evening doing not much at all, and then tomorrow I pull our house back together and my real summer begins.