Posts Tagged ‘summer’

It’s going to be a very long month.

July 11, 2017

It’s only been three days. Wait, no – scratch that. Two days. I saw the girls the day before yesterday. But two days feels like three days; it feels a long longer than even “just” three! The girls are spending their month of summer visitation with their dad, and it feels like an eternity.

When the girls were little – those late toddler years and early school years – July was a much needed respite from broken nights of sleep and exhausted late evening hours filled with whining and bickering. I could sleep in sometimes as much as 45 whole minutes on work mornings if I didn’t need to drop the girls off at daycare, or, later, twenty minutes if I didn’t need to drop them off at Stepmom’s. I could spend evenings hanging at Crisanna’s pool, or on my own patio in a lounge chair reading a book. I could cook grown-up meals with herb-crusted chicken and asparagus or mac&cheese that didn’t involve shapes. It was a delirious month-long staycation, even though there was still work and responsibility. I still got to see Bee and Gracie for dinner two nights a week, and I still got to keep my weekends, and that was just enough time to enjoy fun summer activities, but take a break from each other so we could leap into each others’ arms and finish off the summer with gusto and renewed appreciation for one another’s company. And that’s just how it worked out.

But then this thing happened when my daughters morphed from little kids with all the trappings of early childhood (tantrums, stubbornness, grouchies, minds of their own, the Up And Down Bedtime Brigade, , vivid imaginations in the middle of the night, picky appetites…) into imaginative and delightful kids in the thick of middle childhood, and then Young Adults and burgeoning Actual People who I would be honored to call my friends. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m their mama, not their friend. I am not afraid to pull rank or put my foot down. I set the rules, and I expect them to be followed. Without fail. There are consequences for rule-breakage. And there are rewards when toes stay on the right side of the line. And for the most part, that’s how it goes, generally. I have good kids. Kids I enjoy spending time with. Kids I like watching – and discussing – movies with, or participating in readathons with, or going adventuring with. It’s fun! It’s not fun all the time, but enough of the times.

Enough of the time for me to feel it keenly this year. More this year than other years. Because my house is really empty this year. This year there is no boyfriend or boyfriend’s extremely willful kindergardner-who-acts-like-a-toddler. This year there is no puppy-dog to hang out with, or cuddle with, or talk to, or go on runs with. It was more than two years ago when I picked out the boyfriend, and more than three years ago when I adopted the puppy-dog, and that long ago the girls were still in the blossoming stages of middle childhood. Young enough that I still needed the break. Long enough ago that things were different.

And so July is passing by turtle slow. There are 90 minutes left before I’ll see the girls again and enjoy my mid-week sleepover. A week-and-a-half before my next weekend with them. Seventeen more sleeps before vacation. And after vacation, July will be over and I will have survived it for one more year! And, if my memory serves, almost immediately after that, there will some sort of incident that comes with an inevitable rock re-entry that will make me wish we were still back in July.

But that, like July, will pass. My girls will be home and all will be well.

All will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

Or, so I’ve been told.

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5 for Friday.

June 9, 2017

The first week of Summer Vacation is in the books! The girls are enjoying themselves immensely. They’ve completed their chore cards every day but one – and then when they lost their phones for the evening, they were pretty quick to complete their chore cards the next day! Don’t worry too much – there’s plenty of time for fun and hijinx after chores. Let’s see what we’ve been up to! (Uh, otherwise known as “What’s. Your. Evidence? Heh.)

1. Bee’s been making her own fun, just like a curious, fun-loving, independent 11-year-old outta! Every night when I walk in, I ask how their day was, and I get stories stories stories like the girls are going to pop if they don’t tell me everything as fast as they can. So I was surprised when I looked over at the bookshelf the other night and saw this:

Summer3

Isn’t that the prettiest sand art? I love the shape of the middle one best, and the colors in the one on the right would look perfect in my office. [Fun fact: 3/4 of my office is decorated with art designed by Bee-girl.] The sand art kit is something Bee got for Christmas – Santa knows how much we love crafts and crafting at my house – and I had forgotten all about it. But apparently Bee went excavating in her closet or among the shelves in the front room and found it…and then made pretty, pretty sand art without asking for help or, you know, telling anyone. I adore how independent my girls are becoming! They will make excellent grown-up!

2. That is, if I don’t kill them first. I am slimed out, you guys. No mas! NO MAS! The slime fascination started a year ago. I thought it would, by now, have abated, but no. Not my kids. My kids hang the hell on when they sink their teeth into something. Consequently, my kitchen counter looks like this:

Summer2

Seven containers of slime. SEVEN. And it’s only “neatly” gathered because I snapped at them to do it. There was slime here, there, and everywhere, and I was seriously about to pitch it all. I love that my nerdlings know how to science slime out of borax, glue, lotion, markers, shampoo, and thin air (okay, maybe not that last one), but I’m about done with it. D-O-N-E, done.

3. I think I unleashed some sort of unstoppable force from a corked bottle, you guys, and the undo button doesn’t seem to be working. Trust me, I’ve been Ctrl-Z-ing that sucker all week and, yep, not working. See, I found a shoebox of Magic: The Gathering cards, and I thought, Oh, hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if I taught Gracie and Bee? Bee wanted nothing to do with it, but Gracie…hoo boy. First, she loves organization. She was an ace at helping me to sort color, and then sort by category – creatures, enchantments, sorcerys, interrupts, instants. Then I made a few decks (nothing fancy because I didn’t have many cards) and taught her all the moves. Which wasn’t easy because Magic has a lot of details and moving parts. But Gracie’s whip-smart and picked it up and OHMYGODYOUGUYS. I wasn’t in the door five seconds before she was all, “Do you want to play some Magic?” I’ve created a monster. A very cute monster, but still…Summer4

4. My other bit of mad genius this week involves the television – which may be why Gracie is enthralled. I’ve been trying to get the girls to watch West Wing for AGES. Seriously. I just don’t know why Gracie won’t give it a shot! I got her into Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Lie to Me, Christy, Dr. Quinn (okay, guys, they were much younger and needed a family show!), and my sisters got them into Once Upon a Time, Vampire Diaries, and who knows what else! The point is that she should trust me and give it a shot. But no luck. Until…I maybe thought to bribe her with extra sleep time. I told her she could push back her wake-up time by an hour if she watched an episode of West Wing. That worked so quickly I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before! After that episode, I told her she could shorten her reading time from one hour to thirty minutes if she watched another one. Success! And then…she was hooked. We’ve been watching as we play Magic every night for an hour or two. It helps that she’s in love with Sam Seaborn, but I’ll take whatever I can get!

5. Of course Gracie and I were playing Magic and watching West Wing last night just after dinner. She wanted to get in a game and an episode before I dropped her and Bee off at Stepmom’s last night. We were in a time crunch, trying to finish all the things, and I needed to change my clothes. So I asked Bee to go get me a t-shirt. (I was in a work shirt that was not going to be going-out-to-Target appropriate.) Bee was gone a long time, and then came out with jewelry. “These are going to be you accessories…” and I saw what she had and my brow crinkled. Huh? Turns out Bee thought I was asking her to create an outfit for me for work! I saw what she had picked out: jeans and a t-shirt and a necklace and earrings. I wouldn’t have thought to put any of it together, but then again, I don’t have a single fashion gene in my body! I told Bee I was going to wear her outfit today and I did:

Summer1

The t-shirt was too casual for work, but with black peep-toe heels and flashy jewelry, it work! The cardigan…I wasn’t too sure about that. I’m still not too sure! But I did it anyway.

So what do you guys thing? Does my outfit work today? Is the cardigan knot ridiculous? Isn’t our week of summer fun the absolute best?! I’m pretty proud of it. And of all the fun my girls had. It was a good mix of responsibilities and free time. (Though I’m sure the girls would disagree.) How do you guys regulate summer time for your kids?

Tell me in the comments. And make sure you have a fabulous Friday and wonderful weekend!

 

 

How you know it’s summer…

July 12, 2016

It must be gettin’ hot around here because Stepmom convinced the girls to get their hair cut! The girls (Tween Gracie Action Figure, especially) refuse when I suggest such things.

“Long hair looks better, Mom,” she says.

“I like long hair, Mom,” she says.

But the color is fading and it’s 200° outside, I say.

Doesn’t matter – long hair, don’t care attitudes have upper limits, apparently. Either that, or Stepmom is even more magical than Tween Angst. (Guess which I’m banking on…)

Haircut2016b

Boom.

Even cuter than the pic may have been Gracie’s excited twee-ing before hand. “Going to get our hair done!!!” read 23493945 texts beforehand. And I gushed right back because isn’t that exactly what every tween should have? A mama (or two) who gushes right back and makes them feel understood and adored?

She does look fabulous. They both do. Even if I kinda miss the funky colors!

Wait – what month is it?

July 7, 2015

It didn’t dawn on me until last week, just as I was planning what we would do as a family the night of Bee’s birthday. The one that’s on June 30th. June. 30th. The last day of June. As in: the day before July.

July.

Every other year I have counted down until July. I’ve counted days, weeks, even counted down the months sometimes when my sanity was holding on by the tiniest of threads. I love my children and I have always loved having them in my house (yes, even when they were two and four and studiously woke me at 6 a.m. every weekend), but having that month off from the Up-and-Down Bedtime Brigade and Shower Monitor and Arbiter of Constant Arguments gave me a chance to recharge. To be me. To have five flippin’ minutes all to myself.

This year, though, I didn’t realize July was here until…well, until it was. Maybe it’s because this year I have 80 zillion other distractions going on in my life, most of them delightfully wonderful. Maybe it’s because this year we’re in the middle of a Wednesday-Night-at-Dad’s-House sleepover trial and so I get a taste of sanity every week. Mostly I think it’s that my girls are 11 and 9 and that’s a far cry from 4 and 2. (Or at least 11 and 9 sips on your sanity in very different – liveable! – ways.)

It’s not that I don’t love not having to wrangle two grumpy girls through a morning routine, or taking the “easy” way to work, or worrying about being home by a certain time. I still enjoy all of the freedom. It’s just a different sort of deep breath this year. Right now I’m not all BLAH!ing that a week is already gone; I’m sad that the girls won’t be home this weekend to play with Xander and make us laugh at their antics. I don’t know…I think this means 9 and 11 are my favorite ages yet. And that my kids are growing up into awesome people.

It’s certainly because I appreciate them more, that’s for dang sure.

So live it up, July. [Heh. I typed “love it up, July”, and that fits, too.] Knock yourself out. I won’t wish away the days. But my heart will be very happy when August rolls around and my girls are back, filling the empty spaces our family is certainly feeling.

In which all the rain showers stopped just long enough for some burgers.

May 27, 2014

This was the first weekend in forever that I had the girlies for Memorial Day Weekend. They must have been worried that we wouldn’t be doing much. “What are we doing?” they asked rather early on. “Is anyone having a party?”

It just so happened that we were.

My friend Tiffany and I had colluded to spend some time together, and it just so happened that because of visitation schedules, the only time we could sync up was Memorial Day. So I threw a get-together around it. I invited Corrie and her gang, and Ms. G. and her awesome hubby, and another teacher friend, and some work friends, and before you knew it, I had about twenty people planning to come over!

Only problem was, it was supposed to rain all weekend.

I have a tiny house you guys. I mean, it does pretty well for the three of us. It holds small gatherings. But I mean small gatherings. Twenty people would bust its seems if we couldn’t all hang out on the deck. I really needed the rain to hold off.

So I set about making preparations. I bought all the burgers and hotdogs and buns and made Bee’s year when I told her she could pick out three different types of pickles (as long as one of them was sweet baby gherkins), and we picked up a few more stackable patio chairs in teal. On Sunday, the girls and dragged out the inflatable water slide we splurged on last year to see if it had survived the winter. After two hours we spent untangling the very carefully packed gear and finding the missing water bags (Hey! There’s the tarp!), we got the waterslide hooked up and the girls volunteered to test it out. You know – for leaks and stuff.

And then a sudden downpour opened up. I ran for the house, trying to keep my phone dry. Gracie started shrieking and panicking because the blower that keeps the waterslide inflated uses electricity and the rain was going to make it explode or shock them or something. I’m pretty sure Bee was giggling and dancing in circles, I’m not sure. Of course, once I ditched my phone and got the motor unplugged and in the house, Gracie swore she wasn’t panicking that it was Bee. Hunh. Who knew she could throw her voice like that. The rain shower passed quickly and we went back outside until dinner time.

And so it was that we spent yesterday chillin’ on the patio, the kids laughing and giggling and making up all kinds of games on the water slide and pool, and the adults enjoying beverages and laughing. We ate our weight in fresh fruit and somehow found room at the end of the afternoon to add burgers and hot dogs on top of all that. No one got sunburned. No one got any more ant bites, other than the MOTHER of all fire ant bites that I got on Saturday setting everything up. Only half the people made it, but it was still a very successful party. I don’t know who slept better last night – the puppy or the chilluns.

Thank you, rain showers, for showering on our drought area all weekend except when we needed to party.

Thank you, friends, for making me laugh all afternoon and for bringing your childrens to entertain my childrens.

Thank you, inflatable slide, for making it one more season and for keeping the kiddos busy all afternoon.

Thank you, Justin, for taking over as Master Griller of the Meats.

And thank you, to all the fallen soldiers, who fought and died for our country, so we could spend our weekend worrying about something as silly as whether it would rain. I know it seems rather meaningless sometimes that your holiday has become about kicking off the summer, but please accept it as appreciation for just how successful you were. Your sacrifice might have been forgotten by some, but not all.

Slide

The simple joys of summer.

August 15, 2013

There is a certain water spigot at my mom’s house that has gotten quite a lot of us kids into trouble over the years. It’s the outside faucet, one that we kiddos quickly learned how to turn off and on. We’d use it to make mud pies, to make moats in the sand box, to fill the pails when we were playing soup chef, to give the dog more water, and, on more than one occasion, to splash each other.

All of this abuse is certainly why, after shouting through the window to Stop turning the water on!, my mom eventually took water privileges away from us.

One day we went out and the handle to the water faucet was gone. I’m sure there was a lecture that probably went along with the mysterious disappearance, but I’ve blocked it if there was. But, because my mom loves us and because she was a softie (and quite possibly because we were rather lovingly relentless), we discovered before long that the handle to the water faucet was kept in my dad’s top dresser drawer. Now, my dad was kind a scary person when we were little. He was a strict disciplinarian and not very big on parental bonding. You can imagine how daunting it was to go fetch the faucet handle out of his drawer even with our mom’s permission, never mind when we were sneaking it out. Of course, the very idea of sneaking is kind of laughable now. Sure we were quiet and sneaky enough to get the handle out undetected. We could even put it back exactly as it was. But the thing about the outside water faucet is that the sound of the water coursing through the pipes was loud. It could be heard throughout the entire house. Not so sneaky. But definitely fun!

When I was trying to think of ways to keep the girls entertained while we spent time visiting my parents, the idea of water guns came to mind. I thought it would be a fun way for them to interact with their (immobile) grandfather. He could sit on the deck, armed with a water gun, and they could run around down in the yard and try to evade his fire and get him back. Add in Uncle Joey as a not-so-secret weapon for either side and you have a lot of fun. Grandpa didn’t play, but the girls and Uncle Joey sure did. Auntie Kim and I bought Joey a huge super-soaker and the girls these tiny little guns. The disparity cracked us up. The girls didn’t think it was so funny at first, but I did hear a suspicious amount of laughter and shrieking as they ran back and forth to the water faucet to reload.

The three amigos had been at it for more than an hour before I remembered that I didn’t think to bring extra clothes for my soaked urchins to change into. Whoops. Oh well – I was planning on buying them new Red Sox t-shirts anyway. I maybe had to negotiate a cease-fire as I made my way to the car to go get dry clothes, and when I came back, the girls were running around nearly nekkid, but that’s what summer’s for, I guess. Water gun fights, playing with crazy uncles, and filling the house with the sounds of shrieking laughter and that damned loud water faucet running full tilt.

Simple fun, but the kind that makes you sleep like the dead at night. How can you beat that?

IMG_2752

Did I slide into a wormhole into October?

July 15, 2013

You know how you’ll see something fantastical in the weather reports, something a few days off, and at first your heart leaps and you hear angels singing and you start making plans (big plans, I say!) and stars start dancing in your eyes as you dream your big dreams? Only then the weather guys start chuckling their evil chuckles and pushing that fabulous, glorious weather one day out…and then another day… and then finally yank it from the weather outlook altogether? That is totally what I was expecting to happen.

On Friday, I noticed the five-day outlook called for rain. In July. In North Texas. Which is paramount to the END OF DAYS. But not just any rain – we usually have one big mega-storm that hits just as June is ending and July begins, and we missed it this year. So I thought, hey, maybe that’s what this is. Maybe some supercell that they’re randomly predicting kinda far out. Only it wasn’t just one day and it wasn’t even supposed to be all that stormy. It was supposed to last four days. Four days of rain and only scattered storms.

Have I mentioned that this is July? In North Texas? And that this never happens?

Only it did. This time Lucy actually held down the football for Charlie Brown to kick it, forever planting in his head doubt and uncertainty. The ultimate psych out because now he would never know… okay that’s getting away from me a little bit because I’m talking about the weather. Not mind games. Sure, the rain and the cool temperatures and the minor miracles felt like mother nature’s ultimate mind game, but not a single person was complaining. We don’t get rain from after that big early July storm system until mid-August. It just doesn’t happen. We have droughts. And instead, we had a really nice Sunday filled with soft, pattering rain and – get this – cool temperatures. The high never crept out of the 70s. IN JULY!! I seriously contemplated dragging Corrie out to my patio last night. Sure, it was raining, and the cushions were soaking wet, and it was almost really dark out – but it was 69° outside! We could drink outside! In July! I’m pretty sure that calls for cocktails because it was colder outside than it was in my house.

Yes, today is Monday. And it’s going to be a pain driving because everyone seems to drive 20 mph in the rain, and traffic gets snarly, and hey! work might even be crazy today! But I woke up to this:

Rain

So I’m pretty sure it’s going to rate higher than a Monday over here.

Let the summer begin.

June 5, 2013

Technically, school doesn’t let out for us until Friday, so part of me hates to welcome summer yet. Using summer vacation as our ruler, summer still isn’t here. Technically.

But try telling that to me after I spent a very happy lunch at a nearby car park, with the windows down, feet up on the dash, temps only in the low 90s (a summer miracle here in hell Tejas), and a cool breeze blowing across me. I had a new Stephen King book cracked open and a pretty good story spilling out of it.

Go ahead and tell me that’s not a perfect opening to an awesome summer ahead! Because it sure felt like a rather awesome summer afternoon, even if only for just an hour.

Lunch

I’ve got big (summer) plans, big plans I say!

May 29, 2013

You know that you’ve been chanting to yourself jussst under your breath a little too often when even your
own children stop paying attention to you. “It’s almost summer, it’s almost summer, it’s almost summer.” It’s like I’m a broken record. Or maybe an escaped inmate. Or just a mom with one fraying thread holding it all together.

Thank god it’s almost summer.

We have one summer of quasi-normal scheduling at Casa de Katie, when the kids will be going to daycare full-time, and so I might as well be dropping them off at school because wake-up time won’t have changed and so everything else might as well be the same, too. Well, except there won’t be homework to finish or spelling words to drill or agendas to sign. Still – almost the same. After that – freedom, baby! Bedtimes can relax, rules can relax, and praise jeebus – mama can relax, too! In fact, Corrie and I might have jumped the gun and already instituted a Sunday night cookout summer series. Last Sunday was Grilled Fruit For Dinner; this Sunday is Taco Bar With Patio Seating.

But along with all of the fun and excitement comes a little bit of responsibility. Yes, summer might be a time for us all to take a breath and relax from homework death marches, but if I’m going to work on relaxing and letting go of the reigns, the girls are by golly going to work on something too: a little more responsibility. I’ve decided that 9 is certainly old enough to start learning to do a little laundry. I didn’t do so much as a single load of laundry ever until I was off to college and had worn everything I owned and couldn’t put it off any longer. I’d rather Gracie was a little ahead of the game. So she can start small, maybe with her and Bee’s laundry, and she can learn how annoying it is to have to march around the house and gather stray socks, and have to turn everything right side in again, and how to hate the socks that always migrate to the farthest corner of the tumbler possible. (Socks. Man. It’s a good thing they’re so darn loveable or else I’d really learn to hate them.) I’m sure it will be nearly as much work for me to supervise and explain each step in minute detail 8423984 times, but knowing that eventually I’ll just have to toss out a reminder? Even just the hope of one day having that is pretty darn priceless.

But I can’t just give Gracie a brand new “grown-up” chore. If I hand one out, I have to come up with another for the other pint-size minion. So I will let her vacuum every week. The girls bicker over Swiffering and vaccuuming as it is (not that I drag them out all that often – let’s be honest), so having Super Premium vacuuming Rights Supreme should offset the sting of not getting to do laundry for Miss Bee.

And why stop at chores? LET’S KEEP GOING! Because meal plans! I don’t know about how things go down at your house, but usually how it goes at mine is like this: “Mom, what’s for dinner?” “Blahblahblah.” “UGH! MOM! I hate blahblah! I don’t want that!” Whinewhine whine-whine whinewhine. So! I will let the girls each pick a night on the weekend (except for Sunday – Corrie and I have already covered that. Ahem.) and they can plan what we’re eating. See how they like all the complainypants. And maybe if they go through the trouble of picking something that sounds halfway tasty, making sure we have what we need, and then preparing the meal, I might not hear as much complaining when I cook. Or at least a few more thank-yous. Pffft, yeah, okay like that’s really going to happen. But maybe the girls at least will know how to cook a few things before they go out into the world. [Next up on summer planning: therapy for Katie because WHY AM I EVEN WORRIED ABOUT THAT WHEN THE GIRLS ARE 9 AND 7?!]

I’ve only started breaking the news to the girls about our new summer plans and I can already tell this is going to be a blast: Gracie was all, “Laundry? YAY! And COOKING?! This is the best summer ever!” and when I let Gracie tell her sister, I heard lots of groaning and crying and something to the effect of why am I trying to ruin her life?! BAH! I can already tell: this summer is going to be epic.

Five more lunches…

May 22, 2012

The end of the school year is in sight. In fact, it’s so close, I can practically taste the freedom! Just five more lunches to pack. THANK GOD. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve stopped caring how many lunchables I throw into my grocery cart. I just need to “get ‘er done” as my boss would say. The same time my 2nd grader is getting lectures from her teacher about finishing the year strong and sucking up just enough energy to write legibly and put actual spaces between words, her mama is sitting the corner drooling over the idea of having to pack lunches again. Silly children – I just fed them this morning.

At least I know Gracie and I aren’t the only ones struggling. I think we’re all there.

Bee has woken up crying every morning because she wants to stay home from school. I’ve tried counting off the school days left. (“Look! Only this many! I can hold them all on TWO HANDS!”) Counting down the number of sleeps left. (Mmm….sleep.) I’ve even resorted to bribing her to get through the day. (“Stay in school all day – without going to the nurse and trying to come home – and we’ll do something special tonight.”) I can’t help it – neither one of us has the energy left to be the student OR the mommy.

The teachers are exhausted, too. No one activated their common sense superpowers yesterday during recess when the bulldozers were clearing trees right night to the playground. No one thought: Oh, hey, something unplanned and unsafe might happen, somewhat endangering the children.” And guess what happened? No, a tree didn’t fall on the children. But there was a bees’ nest in one of the trees. Guess Gracie isn’t allergic to bees like I am! Ha. Ha ha. Heh. She and another kid in her class were stung before the teachers hurriedly gathered all the kids back into the classroom. Gracie and her friend had to stay in the nurse’s station for an hour to make sure they didn’t have an allergic reaction.

And I know the nurse is exhausted (or maybe just tired of calling me in particular) because I didn’t even get a note about the incident. You might think bee sting, schmee sting, but I get notes and calls from the nurse more often than I did my friends in junior high. That’s a lot of love notes. Er, um, incident reports. Instead, the nurse just slapped a fabric band-aid on Gracie’s arm and called it good. Gracie then managed to get her entire class to sign it with teeeeeeny tiny little signatures. Because it was her bee cast. I kid you not.

Five more lunches. Eight more sleeps. I can do this. Right?