Family Vacation

We are not well-traveled people.  That’s by choice.  We did not grow up well-traveled, either. I  have done more traveling than Husband, but never outside of the US until I was an adult.

As a married couple, we visited Aruba for our honeymoon in 2003 and we loved it. We met a fabulous couple there who lives close by to us – you know who you are! – and we are still in touch.   I could have stayed and stayed but Husband was so ready to come home after a week. He missed his cats. I did, too. But not so much that I wanted to ditch this other world!

A couple of years later, we went to Mexico. It was just eh. I had an issue with the glitzy hotel we stayed at that was built smack in the middle of poverty. We met another amazing couple though – you know who you are! – and to this day, we are still in touch (thank you Facebook!).

Since having Girlfriend, we have considered visiting locations within the US at some point … California and Florida, namely, to experience the coastlines and the different landscapes, meet new people and breathe new air. We even talked about traveling to Aruba with her.  We didn’t.  There are things that got in the way.  Then we had our little Monkey Man. And, now, honestly, I am not sure – no, I know it – I do not want to travel with all of the craziness occurring in the world literally every week.

Our vacations have been limited to the ocean and lake, both under 2 hours from our home. And we have wonderful memories of swimming, playing, shell, rock, and sea glass collecting, ice cream by moonlight, dress-up dinners out, trolley tours, rainy days at museums, hikes through the woods. We have loads of pictures that we look back on joyfully. We are so lucky that we’ve had beach friends to visit and a family lake cottage to stay in.

This summer, tomorrow in fact, we are going to do something very similar yet very different. We are going to vacation by the lake but this time it’s a resort, a village, a place where there will be tons of other families with children in the same community.

Our cottage will be spotless and sparkling when we get there, and while we will maintain that level of cleanliness, we will not have to spend a minute before we leave putting it back that way because we are not the owners. There are people who work there who will do this for us.

We will  not drive to reach the lake or the pool.  It’s practically outside our front door.

We will not chop our own wood for fires. A person will make daily deliveries to us so that each night, we will have fresh firewood for the campfire that’s right there in our cottage yard.

We will not have to throw our clothes in a dirty pile and carry it all home. There is a laundromat right there.

There’s an amazing pool, a splash pad, mini-golf, an arcade, fishing spots, boat rentals, a playground, all right there on-site.

The only thing missing is meals being prepared for us. However, we have a full kitchen in our cottage with a coffee maker, a stove, a fridge, utensils, pots, and pans. If you know me in real life, you know that Husband is a master chef so we will be eating “like royalty” as we always do.

You might call this our first real vacation. Girlfriend is calling it our vacation get-away.

A get-away it is.  And we can’t wait!

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If You Change the Way You Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change – Dr. Wayne Dyer — The Seeds 4 Life

Change your thinking, change your life!!  If you aren’t following The Seeds 4 Life, check it out!

The circumstances of our life will change when we decide to change. When we change our thinking – our emotions and attitudes change. When we change our approach – our actions change, which in turn changes our destination. When we change our perceptions, the way we respond and interpret our environment, ourselves, we transform the…

via If You Change the Way You Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change – Dr. Wayne Dyer — The Seeds 4 Life

Expect the Unexpected

Summer is a time for many things.  To spend extra-extra-extra time with my children. To breathe more expansively than I do at any other time of the year. To visit a number of locations at the drop of a hat because I can do that. To not know what our schedule will be like from day to day, because life is just open.

And summer is also a time for me.

I rarely have time for myself. But during summer, as a teacher, I am off the clock in terms of having to show up to my classroom every day and be there, teaching, following the rules, being really good at what I do, and being something to everyone with whom I interact.

During summer, my brain opens wide and the ideas that have filled it during those other 10 months explode like sparkly confetti, begging to be acknowledged.

I organize more.

I read more.

I write more.

I breathe more.

I notice more.

I hear more.

I sleep more.

I enjoy more.

I process more.

I balance more.

Summer is my time.

Since welcoming our two wonderful children into our lives, that has not changed.  What has changed is the amount of time that belongs to me. It is infinitesimal comparatively.  It still exists, just not a whole lot.

I spent three summers in a row with Girlfriend.  The first summer, she was 4 months old. What else would I be doing?  It was an amazing time of my life. The following summer, she was 15 months old.  We had not yet enrolled her in childcare. I was struggling hard with my time as a full-time mom coming to an end as I re-entered the work force.  The summer after that, the 3rd summer, Girlfriend was a little more than two years old and by the end of that summer, which we’d spent together entirely, we were both sick of each other and ready to move out into our own apartments.

During the 4th summer of her life, we separated two days a week and it was glorious. She went to the summer program at her early learning center and I stayed home … doing whatever I wanted to do.  This included 4-mile walks, yoga class, tea time with whatever book I was reading, uninterrupted thoughts about the upcoming school year, hours roaming the local book store, cultivating the artist in me, things like that. On the other five days when she was home with me, we baked, we painted, we played, we read, we traveled. Often she would ask me, “Mommy, where are we going today?” That break was good for the both of us.

Last year, we spent our first summer with Monkey who was 4 months old in July. Girlfriend had 2 weeks of CCD in the morning, and two weeks of full-day art camp.  Monkey was with me 100% of the time.  He slept a lot. I had my time.

This summer, Girlfriend is 8 and Monkey is 16 months. She didn’t want to spend her summer in camps. Not entirely.  She wanted to make her own fun. She participated in Camp Invention for 1 full week, and she’s currently in morning CCD for two weeks. But other than that, it’s me, Girlfriend, and Monkey. Monkey was enrolled in childcare wayyyy earlier than his sister was, at 5 months due to circumstances we could not rectify.  If I have learned anything being a mother these last 8 years, it is this.  MOMS NEED ME TIME.

So I have kept Monkey in child care two days a week.  It’s good for everyone.  On those two days, Girlfriend and I spend some time together without Monkey ruling the roost, but she also knows that much of that time these two days is for me.  So we plan out our days to balance me time and our time.  I don’t ignore her, don’t misunderstand.  She just knows that I want – I need – time to do adult things, even if those things are very boring, like cleaning, school work, and errands.

Well, this week, me time was not in the cards.

This week, Monkey had a fever on both days he was enrolled for child care. Not only could he not go by state standards, but even if he could, I would not send him when he’s under the weather.

So, while most children do not fall ill during the summer, my sweet Monkey Man did and on the two days … the only two days … he was scheduled to be with teachers and friends.

And of course, I had plans, however loose or delusional.  I was going to bang out a bunch of chapters in this math workshop book I’m reading.  I was going to clean my house, like, really clean it – dust, vacuum, wash, change bed linens, sort through the kids’ clothes to make way for the new apparel we’re going to be stocking up on, finally tackle the art closet with so many old supplies that could either be ditched or donated.  I was going to map out the first few days of school to get more grounded there.

All of these plans went right out the window with that fever of 101.3.

Sigh.

What’s a mom to do?

I’m a realist.  I knew me time was gone. With his fever, naps would like not happen.  I knew his appetite would be decreased but that in my hope to nourish him anyway, food was going to be flying all over my kitchen.  I knew that I would not be able to even attempt to walk away from him because when he isn’t feeling well, all he wants is mama.  And obviously, I knew that any chance of him playing alone in his playroom while I tried to tackle ANY of my goals for these two days was a joke.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words.  

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Who here can guess what this picture is saying good and loud?

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That’s me.

Well, I’ve gotta tell you.  It’s been a challenging couple of days. Even Girlfriend is sick with a fever of unknown origin. She has needed lots of hugs and snuggles too, and Monkey wants in on all of it.  Yesterday we tried to read a few chapters of The Borrowers but he was not havin’ that.

But, early on, I figured, I can mourn my lost me time that I was calibrated for, or I can make the best out of it.

So that’s what I did.  

We turned lemons into lemonade.

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Sharing breakfast.

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Hangin’ out with books.

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Listening to an audio book.

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Painting with a brush for the first time!

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My favorite artist.

 

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Who doesn’t love outside time?!

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And the picture you do not see here … we three got into the pool and had a blast. Monkey was amenable to trying out his new float and Girlfriend was feeling well enough to take a cool dip.  The water was gorgeous, so clear and refreshing.

After, we picked up the yard, changed back into dry clothes, and treated ourselves to lemonades and chocolate chip cookies at our local bakery.

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Perfect ending to our day.

These last two days were not what I expected … but we turned them into memories worth keeping for a lifetime.

It is days like these that remind me, being a mother is hard work … never ending work … there really isn’t me-time … not surely … and it is merely a privilege, not a right …

and I was also reminded that being a kid is hard work, too … especially when you aren’t feeling good or lack the language to speak that.

But the reality is, with positive attitudes, we can work hard together and make the best of anything as a family.

Swimming

It’s summer.  Ahhhhh.  The long-awaited bliss.  It’s got me thinking about my favorite summer activity:  swimming!

There is freedom in being able to swim.  It’s something I’ve always been able to do and something I’ve always loved to do.  My sister and I were very fortunate to grow up with a pool in our backyard.  It was an in-ground pool, with a shallow end and deep end, a diving board, and eventually a slide.  We loved it.  Our parents had us in there swimming constantly. Our dog even joined us from time to time!

In addition to the backyard pool, we were at the lake and beach often. There is nothing like swimming in fresh water or riding the salty waves.

Swimming just feels good!

When Girlfriend was really little, she wasn’t crazy about the water and that made me sad, because I loved it so much.  Husband and I tried early and often to get her in the water: pools, lakes, oceans, splash pads, her own little pool with a seat.  Nothing worked.  She just wasn’t a fan.  Eventually, she found her fins and the rest is history.  Recently we were at my mother’s and spent most of our time in the pool!

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Today, we spent the day with my sister at a water park up North.  Girlfriend had never been on water slides, and my sister and I hadn’t since we were teenagers.  We had a blast!  That feeling of no control but confident that you are safe, as you fly down a watery hill that twists and turns without warning, finally landing with a massive SPLASH into the waiting pool at the end – it’s heaven!  The wave pool held just enough people to feel fun and laugh together at random things, but not so many that I wanted to scream, “STOP TOUCHING ME”  We were all having fun, floating, bobbing, swimming.  Girlfriend loved the Lazy River, which we ambled along till we were ready for slides again.

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Late in June, we brought a friend of Girlfriend’s to one of our favorite lakes up north. I couldn’t get the girls out of the water!  They almost chose to swim extra instead of leave to get ice cream on the way home!

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Husband and I are able to provide a pool in our own backyard for  our children (and us!) to enjoy through this hot season.  Without fail, Girlfriend is in it just about every single day.

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Earlier in the week, we decided to visit the town beach with Monkey.

I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be a mermaid.

 

#IMWAYR 7/25/16

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This is my first It’s Monday What Are You Reading? post and I am so excited to participate! As an avid reader, I am going to blog about both what I am reading as an adult as well as what I am reading to my own children and my students! Who knows, maybe I’ll even start posting this on my school blog since I love to share with parents what we’re reading at school.

What I’m Reading

I’m currently reading Annie Barrows’ The Truth According to Us.

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I read and loved a previous book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which was written entirely in an epistolary format.  This new book follows in somewhat the same form but not straight through.  I’ll admit that I don’t love it as much as I did her first, but that could be because I have a lot of interruptions in my reading right now that I did not have when I read *Guernsey.  I’m trying to figure out the point of all of the characters and what this truth is that is constantly referenced.

At the same time, I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire:  A Game of Thrones which I love.

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If you’re a fan of the HBO show Game of Thrones, you know this is a beautifully written set of stories that the show emulated perfectly until the show became its own thing outside of the books.

I’m also reading, in bits and pieces, John Holt’s How Children LearnRaising Cain by Dan Kindlon, and Masterminds & Wingmen by Rosalind Wisemen.

 

What I Read

I recently read and loved Donna Tarrt’s Secret History.

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I read most of her book, The Goldfinch but gave it up 3/4 of the way through because I thought it was depressing.  I was waiting and waiting for something great to happen to the main character but when I realized nothing was going to, I just stopped.  However, the author’s prose was deeply moving.  I was led to her first book, Secret History, which I absolutely loved, finding it to be a compulsive page-turner rife with rich characters and intense mystery.

What I Plan to Read

I’ve read it before, but I plan to read it again, and that is The First Six Weeks of School.

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I’ll be teaching a brand new grade soon – first grade!  After 14 years of teaching second graders (and loving it!), I’ve decided to change things up a bit.  Ever inspirational, this book always gives me a little boost before I take my first steps back into the classroom each August.

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What are you reading??  Comment below!

Motherhood

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Can I be honest?  Being someone’s mother … it sucks.

Alright, alright, alright.

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Now that I have your attention.

No, it doesn’t suck.

Not even a little bit.  Well, maybe a little bit, but only sometimes.  You know it’s true.  If you are a parent, you know that every now and again, your role is just freaking HARD.

#1.  I’m hardly ever alone, for one thing.  And when I am, it’s a race to jam-pack as much as I can into those few precious hours.

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Due to #1, my house is a constant mess.  I don’t know why I bother picking anything up at all, ever.

Also due to #1, I’m pretty sure I’m going deaf with all the noise~noise~noise~noise~noise. I need a good set of headphones.

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Again, thank you #1 … My chiropractor is quickly becoming my best friend. Monkey is heavy.  And he loves to be held.  I love it, I do.  Girlfriend liked Husband to hold her.  So I’ll hold Mr. Monkey Man as long as he’ll let me.  But man.  My back. My neck. Especially during tantrums.  Which happen at least 3 times a day.  Over things like the TV remote and phone.  I’m certain that unless I become the Queen of Sheba, Kappy is going to get to know me real well.

My  kids are always hungry.  So I can’t really think of a time when I’m not in the kitchen preparing food and then cleaning everything up.  Or preparing food (and then cleaning it up) to take somewhere with us for when they next say they’re hungry.

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And, they keep growing (aforementioned hunger) so I’m in a never-ending cycle of buying clothes, socks, and shoes.  Even so, Girlfriend is forever expressing her horror over a lack of suitable clothing. And, we can lately never find the shoes, because Monkey loves shoes!  So he’s into the shoe rack whenever possible, offering shoes, throwing shoes, hiding shoes.  At least he doesn’t throw them in the garbage anymore (which is why the garbage is currently stationed in the first floor bathroom with the door shut – shoes are too expensive and necessary – we’re not taking chances).

No one ever talks about this one and that is, cleaning dirty bodies in the bath tub is quite the work out and no picnic by any means.  I am perplexed as to  how I don’t have arms of steel, people.  And getting them out is just as taxing because once they’re actually in the bath, they realize warm water and bubbles are glorious and so is that plastic bowl good enough for filling up and pouring out over and over again!  Stuff like this nonsense below doesn’t help anyone, thank you very much. Are there people out there who actually do this?!

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If you want more of this insanity, click right here

*important side note:  now that Girlfriend is 8, bath time is waaaaaaay less dramatic than it used to be (and we’re slowly getting there to showers!).  It used to be Oscar-worthy with, basically in this order: screaming, crying, ranting and raving, joyful singing and hoots of laughter along with pouring, mixing, splashing, protests about hair washing and soap rinsing, and finally threats if a certain small child did not get her cute little tush out of the empty bath by the time mommy counted to 3.  Monkey does not pose nearly the problems his sister presented with.  Instead, he’s excited to get in the tub, more excited to splash every drop of water out of the tub, and downright exuberant to get out, soaking wet, to attempt running through the entire upstairs in his adorable nakedness while he squeals gleefully.

And then there’s the laundry.  I have hired and fired too many laundry fairies to mention. It’s hard to find good help.

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I’m becoming a tea addict … due to, you guessed it … #1.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a huge fan of tea.  I have an assortment of teas in a lovely basket, ranging from the basics like Chamomile Lavender to the detox teas such as Roasted Dandelion Root or Hibiscus, take your pick, to the hardcore Wellness Mama tea that I ordered online in a desperate moment. My kids know not to mess with Tea Time for Mama which occurs, without fail, ever afternoon.  Sometimes I go nuts and have two cups.

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I can’t recall the last time I really slept soundly – you know, the to-do list I mentioned earlier.  That thing tabulates 24/7 in my brain. Nor can I remember the last time I made it more than 4 or 5 days without having to fill up on gas. I don’t know when we last had one full week where we weren’t expected to be somewhere do something, be it to get to an appointment or an event or a scheduled thing like Brownies or Lego League.  (And by choice, we’re not crazy-busy people, either! I can’t even imagine if my kids were involved in every activity offering there was!  No!  Just, no!)

Motherhood is just a whirlwind.

There are occasional moments when I wonder why I ever thought having kids was a good idea.

But then I remember …

The hugs.

The kisses.

The snuggles.

The reading.

The games.

The learning.

The talking.

The family dinners.

The holidays.

The playing.

The growing.

The togetherness.

The memories.

My children.  Their mom.  Me.

They were whispers in my heart well before they were my reality.

I grew my children for 9 months inside my body. We communicated with each other before they spoke to anyone else.  I did everything I could to make sure they were born as healthy and loved as possible.  And they both were born absolutely perfect.

What was that bit about motherhood sucking?

Oh, right.  It doesn’t.

It just feels like it does every now and again.

Because frankly, what would I be doing in all that free time without my kids?

Complaining about how busy I am and how pointless it all seems, more than likely.

The reality is, I’m extremely lucky to be experiencing motherhood at all.

I’ll drink it up, slowly but surely.

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Sunday Afternoon

I talk a lot about summer.  Mainly because summer is my favorite season. Well, today was just another amazing summer day to add to my collection of memories.

Sometimes, we just need to get away from, well – stuff.  The original plan for today was to visit my mom and dad, G and P, at what I like to call their Villa- all four of us – me, Husband, Girlfriend, and Monkey. Unfortunately, Monkey has a nasty bum rash probably caused by and definitely exacerbated by some tummy upsets which may or may not take root from good ‘ole teething. Plus he was a bear and needed a nap bad. Husband elected to stay home with him while Girlfriend and I headed to The Villa.

We had a great time.  Upon arrival, G and P were in the pool so that’s where we joined them. For well over an hour, we four just floated, talked, and laughed. We later settled ourselves at the picnic table and snacked on fresh summer fruit along with crunchy chips and sweet peach salsa.  Girlfriend and I continued to work on our index cards while we four kept up the chatter. Once inside, G and I caught up on news and such while Girlfriend watched The Weather Channel, her new favorite, with P and the family dog.

Really, it was a lovely day full of simplicities, sunshine, and family.  A lovely summer day that I know months from now I will recollect as one of my favorite summer memories.

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