It’s 7:32 on Thursday night. Our girls are outside with the neighborhood kids playing jackpot in our backyard. The evening light is low and captures the smiles and laughter on their faces. The smell of jasmine permeates the air. Our bellies are full from the afternoon ice cream run. Summer is in full swing around here.
There is not much to report. We have found our rhythm this summer with ease. Pool hair and tan lines. BBQs and summer friends. Dahlias and hydrangeas. Thunderstorms and sticky days. Dirty feet and painted toes.
Some favorite photos from the halfway point…
Our town fireworks were spectacular. This year we ventured to the park to see them up close and it was worth the crowds.
This one is for E.S. — my bike saw the light of day again! Hit the road solo on a quiet and gorgeous Sunday morning. Even passed a field of cows and wildflowers.
Swim team snack break. Smart food popcorn is the snack of choice these days.
Once or twice a week we will venture out as a family on an evening walk. This particular evening we went to the local swimming hole. The girls didn’t let a little thing like NO BATHING SUIT stop them!
Caught Oldest cloud gazing one late afternoon. She is my day dreamer. (And checkout my hydrangeas this year…would have thought the brutal winter would have killed any chances of blooms, but just the opposite has happened).
Happy halfway point!
What I’m reading:
My bedside table has a pile of books just waiting for a good read by the pool! Our book club selected The Boston Girl by Anita Diamond and I just loved this story of the author’s grandmother and her upbringing in Boston (oh, the relationship with her mother had me seething!). The generation from 1920s is so full of stories — heartfelt and tough stories that explain how the trajectory of their lives was changed forever.
What I’m wearing:
Sunscreen, and lots of it! I’m trying this new powder sunscreen in an effort to be more diligent about re-applying sunscreen throughout the day.
What I’m eating:
We’ve had weeks of 80 degree temps so our summer salads made their appearance a month earlier than usual. My favorites are watermelon/feta and quinoa/corn/avocado medley. We also enjoyed our first ice cream from the ice cream truck…a true sign of summer around here.
What I’m doing:
Scheduling all doctor appointments for the first week after school so we can get the “must dos” out of the way early in the summer. Optometrist, dermatologist, pediatrician…we will see you in a few weeks.
What makes sense to me:
David Brooks article about The Small Happy Life resonated deeply with me. I struggle with the feeling that I need to be doing more — creating, working, producing, suceeding. Yet this article reminds me that my place in life right now is right where I need to be….celebrating the small daily joys — evening walks with my husband, morning snuggles with my daughters, family dinners, lively discussions with friends — and not needing anything more.
What I’m thinking:
I’m thinking it can’t be June again. Weren’t we just saying goodbye to 1st and 3rd grade and now here we are approaching 3rd and 5th grade?! I’m holding this summer close to my heart as next year holds a lot of changes for us. Most notably is that Big Sister is off to a different school with a longer day schedule than Little Sister. I’m sad to think they won’t be together anymore….and possibly never again. AM trying to determine how I can align their schedules for next year so that even if they don’t have parallel school schedules, there will still be plenty of together time.
After 8 years of living in this house, I finally have managed to create a garden that blooms every few weeks. Lilacs kick off the growing season with a sweet fragrance that dances around our backdoor. Just as I’m mourning the end of my lilac tree, the azaleas explode in pinks and whites, providing visual delight when I’m washing dishes from the kitchen window. Shorty afterwards my roses and rhodies start to awaken to the early summer days which leads to the main event….the row of hydrangeas that will dance under the summer sun. It’s a symphony of flowers and I celebrate each movement.
The parallel between my garden and my life is not lost on me. This time of year is so bittersweet to those of us who are sensitive to the passage of time. We mourn the “as is” state of our little people who are now taller and smarter. We are sad to say goodbye to the established routines of the school year. We will miss the teachers that have so kindly and empathetically nurtured our children’s brains and character. And we will miss the snapshot of time that captures the life of a 2nd and 4th grader.
And similar to how I mourn the loss of my lilacs only to be excited by the azaleas — I also mourn the goodbyes to my 2nd and 4th graders, only to be excited by the 3rd and 5th graders who will occupy my heart for the next year.
Life around here is about to change with only 17 school days left in the calendar.
We are definitely in the minority in that we don’t sign up the kids for summer camps. Partly because I want them to slow down and enjoy the childhood summer days that I remember in the seventies; and partly because all of the local camps are five days a week without a part-time option.
So effective Monday, June 15th — the “Camp of Mama” begins. Roughly, our days will look like:
- 10ish: Head out for some fun. Swim, bike, picnic, tennis lessons, playdates, nature exploring, berry picking, farmer’s market…it’s all on our summer fun list.
- late afternoonish: Home for some downtime. Typically this involves reading on the hammock and some TV time.
- 5pm: This summer, each girl will be in charge of dinner for one night (Oldest has Mondays, Youngest has Thursdays). There are many things I am doing well as a mother — but teaching the kids basic kitchen skills has not been one of them! Time that they learn how to measure a teaspoon, boil some water and use a paring knife.
- Evening chores: This is a hot topic in our house. The girls are itching for every item under the Calico Critter umbrella. They have a mason jar of dollar bills from odd jobs around the house with the goal to reach $50. I figured the time after dinner would be a good time for them to earn some dollars by watering the plants, weeding, changing sheets, and folding and putting clothes away. Any other idea of age-appropriate things to do around the house?
My favorite month is June. I love the anticipation of summer and BBQs, the picnics with friends before everyone heads off for the summer, the end-of-year celebrations. And mostly, I love that summer is just beginning — the first bike ride to the ice cream store, the first pajama morning on the hammock, the first swim of the season — all are still novelties in June.
Seventeen days left.
May 5, 2014. The date was etched in my memory for over a year. It was the date of a final work project. Every email, PowerPoint slide, meeting and analysis was driven by this date.
I remember carefully selecting my slim fitting black pants, a white eyelet blouse and my turquoise necklace — I wanted to be professional but comfortable. I arrived at work around 7am before everyone else to be available for any last minute mishaps. I was mentally ready for this day — the finish lined was about to be crossed and I was ready to celebrate.
Except I never made it to the celebration. Around 9:30am, the school nurse called to ask that I pick up my then 6-year old who had thrown up in the classroom (or as the nurse so delicately stated, “all over the classroom”). With a husband traveling for work, I was the only available parent and the one who had to yet again, leave my work responsibilities behind while I tended to my little people.
My memory of the rest of the day was chaos. Cleaning vomit between conference calls and snuggling a limp little one while typing with one hand. It was this day that I realized this ongoing juggle was too great for our family of four and that it was time for me to consider being at home full time.
Fast forward a year. May 5th, 2015. And someone started throwing up again last night. That same daughter, now 7, had once again contacted a May stomach bug. Our day was full of snuggles, coloring, gatorade, naps and a whole lot of love. No stress. No juggle. No feeling of failing.
It is not lost on me that I am having a Groundhog Day experience from a year ago. Same 80 degree temps. Same flu bug. Same daughter. Same day. And yet something is significantly different….ME. I strongly believe that a Higher Power is sending me a powerful reminder. And I’m so grateful for that reminder.
…and other miscellany.
So, this happened.
You’ve probably been there, so I won’t bore you with the details. If you have kids and haven’t been there yet, just wait. It’s awesome.
In other news, I have a new girl crush. Eireann Dolan and her boyfriend, Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle, promised to buy empty seats for LGBT Night in Oakland this June. She has two “hella gay” moms, is incredibly funny, seems very real, and she sucked me into her blog and insta feed for a good few hours tonight. She’s a badass.
And, one last, unrelated topic. The books on my nightstand would have an inch layer of dust if not for my excessive cleanliness. But, I have found a few good things to read here and there. These articles all have a common parenting theme, which I clearly need given my 8 year old’s love note from last night.
- The SAHM conundrum: How I Became the Worst Critic of Stay-at-Home Moms
- The SAHM luxury: Being a Stay-at-Home Parent Is a Luxury … for Your Spouse
- Rupture and repair: I’m Not Sorry for Yelling
- Precious parenting: What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside)
What’s going on with you? Can you top my love letter? Any thoughts on these articles, or others I have missed?
Here’s hoping you don’t have the worst day ever.
1. I sleep with green ear plugs from Walgreens. Occasionally they cling to my pajamas and will find new homes all over the house — at which time a disgusted yelp will be heard from the other members of the family.
2. I had a six month spree where I called 911 monthly. Saw a stumbling drunk woman trying to get into her car; noted a wheel loose on an 18-wheeler; smelled gas by the neighbor’s house…if I was slightly suspicious, I called.
3. I didn’t start flossing until age 40. My husband was not a big flosser which resulted in a painful deep cleaning — I’ve been flossing every day since.
4. I’m a classic introvert and need solo time each day. In the winter, this most likely means 30 minutes in the bathtub to warm up before bedtime; in the summer, I grab a good book and enjoy a quiet 30 minute of reading before making dinner.
5. I was in the Los Angeles riots. I was attending University of Southern California and living in an off-campus apartment – blocks away from where local business were being looted and burned to the ground. I didn’t feel fear until my Dad showed up with a gun to whisk me away to safety (didn’t even know he owned one).
6. I still don’t carry recycling bags to the grocery store and feel a need to make up a story — “Oops, I forgot them”; “Oops, we are using them for library bags”; and “Oops, I wasn’t planning on stopping at the store and didn’t bring them”.
7. I am no longer a natural redhead. After years of highlights to hide the grey, I finally bit the bullet and started to go the single process hair route in September.
8. Turbulence makes me nervous. I’ve been known to assume the emergency position on more than a few occasions.
9. I feel very protective of Friday nights. While I’d love to be the type to have impromptu dinners with other families or grab a date night with my husband — I find that by Friday night, all I want to do is to re-connect with my family of four.
10. I’m much happier at 42 than I was at 32. My frantic pace has slowed and my gratitude has grown. I can only imagine and hope this will continue with each decade.
No, not digging out of snow like Mia and all of our friends and family in Boston. Rather, more like digging out of a bunch of little rock slides that piled up over the course of a few weeks.
It all started with minimum days at school for my boys. Seems rather innocuous, but having only 8:25-12:20 sans boys for an entire week-plus really rocks my world. Productivity hits an all-time low during minimum days, and this time was no exception.
Then, my sweet dog experienced a health setback that caused some more disruption in our schedule. For a week, she would only eat if it was out of my hand. Sweet, but with boys only at school four hours, 30 minutes of hand-feeding a day put a serious kink in the schedule. She is getting back on track, I think, so that is a start.
On the heels of that was a trip to Arizona and a baseball tournament for my husband and oldest son. They had a great time, but the prep and packing was crazy and the aftermath of that included a ton of laundry and the stomach flu for my oldest (which, in turn, caused more laundry). Of course, the illness was over the two days my husband was in Seattle.
Just when I was getting back together, I lost my house key on Thursday. I actually think I left it in the door (!) and after a few deliveries it was no where to be found. I booby-trapped all of our doors that night, didn’t sleep a wink, and was so thankful for the locksmith who arrived at 10am on Friday.
This weekend was consumed with more baseball and the dreaded science fair project. You know the funny quotes and write-ups about how awful the science fair is that you see on Facebook? All true. My son conducted his experiments all in a timely manner, created a fantastic report, but the seemingly simple task of creating a trifold presentation board was nothing short of challenging. I wouldn’t call some of our interactions over the weekend my best parenting moments.
However, it is now Monday and – aside from my dog falling down and skinning her cute little nose today on a walk – I think I have dug out of the rubble and am back on top of things. Looking forward to this new week with full days of school and a few more hours a day to get things done.
Before I get to my to-do list, though, there were a few bright spots amidst the rock slides:
We have a big decision to make and are currently evaluating the best choice for our family.
Big decisions are tough — Should I follow my heart and move to San Francisco with my beloved? Should my beloved and I move from San Francisco to Boston to chase a dream? Should I go back to work with my newborn at home?
I remember having a really difficult time with that last question. My firstborn’s colick started to disappear right about the time I was due back at work. My heart wasn’t ready to leave this new life right at the time she was awakening to the world — but I was afraid of “giving” up my career. I finally worked up the nerve to speak to my manager about options and she gave me the best advice:
Make a decision on what makes sense for the next 6 months and keep re-evaluating every 6 months. You’ll know when it’s time to make a change.
Suddenly, everything became really clear. No longer was I making a “forever” decision, but one that would be for the short-term. That felt doable — and I decided to go back to work (part-time) and kept re-evaluating until 18 months when it was time to take on a new change.
So as we are yet again faced with another big decision and I’m relying on that same advice. And sure enough, once we broke down our decision into 6 month increments, we found our answer. And some much needed inner peace as well.
How do you go about big decisions?
While the rest of the Boston Irish are downing green beer, this Freckled Redhead will be quietly wishing my grandmother a happy birthday.
Today would have been her 93rd birthday. I remember…
- her love of wool cardigans and long sleeve polo shirts.
- the brown/orange lipstick that complimented her Greek olive skin and was worn 24 hours/day.
- her tangy Italian salad dressing that she’d serve in round wooden salad bowls.
- the beach towels that she had embroidered with each of her five grandchildren’s names.
- her golf swing that was perfected after 50 years of golfing.
- the smell of her perfume mixed with Aquanet.
- her folded newspapers consumed at 4pm each afternoon with a glass of dry sack sherry.
One of the last times I saw my grandmother was when my oldest was 9 months old. Her dry and wrinkled hand held my little one’s baby-smooth chunky fingers. At the time I was struck by the contrast between old and new; lifeless and full of life. Yet now I think of that memory a bit differently – it was as if she was sending her last bit of love and energy to the next generation. And as I look at each of my children, I can’t help but see a bit of that social and feisty Greek grandmother in each of them.
Happy Birthday my lovely Bobo!