The two faced nature of the end of the school year

standard June 6, 2014 Leave a response

There are five days of school left in the school year. Well, more like 4 days since today’s a half day and is already half gone and the last day is also a half day.

Four precious days of alone time. Four days where I have no one to answer to for a few hours, no one looking over my shoulder as I type, no one asking me a bazillion questions every five minutes, no one arguing right next to me, in the next room, in the yard, anywhere.

Four more days of not having to make lunch for anyone other than myself. (Wait, only three more days of that since the last day is a half day.)

Four more days of not having to be the MC to two little people’s days.

I’m mentally ticking off the minutes until my relative freedom ends. Until I’m not alone, at all, until they go back to school August 20th. (Why yes, that’s already on my calendar, why do you ask?)

I’m a little anxious about the whole “never alone” thing that’s looming ahead. I know from past summers that come July I’ll already feel like a big hen is perching on my head pecking, pecking, pecking away at the thoughts, the words, until all I can hear is noise both inside and outside of my head.

And yet, this morning I woke up, stretched, and smiled as I remembered that there are only four days left until the kids are finally free from school.

Come Friday we can get up when we want, get dressed when we want, eat when and what we want, not pack lunches, not do homework, not worry about finding socks to wear inside our shoes.

Four more school days and we can go sockless all. summer. long.

Four more school days and we can stop worrying about getting to school before the bell rings, about whether we forgot something at home, about girl drama, teacher drama, school drama.

Four more school days and we can heave a big sigh of relief, brush ourselves off, and put another year behind us.

The working/writing side of me is freaking out about the summer. The mom side of me is dancing a gig.

I love lazy summer days. I love letting the girls just play. I love the creativity that emerges after hours of unstructured time. I love hanging out at the pool, going to get ice cream, spending hours at the library or the park. I love the lack of obligations and the way summer days melt into one another until no one really knows exactly what day it might be.

I think it all boils down to the fact that I’m not good at transitions. Never have been. I don’t do change very well. I like stability and continuity. I like knowing what tomorrow will bring, what situations will have to be managed. The start of a new season, with no plans, no established routine, makes me anxious, even knowing that we have done it all before, that we’ve even enjoyed it all before. It’s just a question of transitioning to that new state, to getting into the new flow.

I’m sure that getting through the next week will prove to be a challenge as my brain waffles between anticipation of both bliss and doom, never quite knowing which side to land on.

All I can do to prepare myself is to enjoy the alone time while it lasts and do my best to plan out the next 9 weeks. Even though that goes against the very nature of summer.

Was it enough to make the summer count?

standard August 12, 2013 Leave a response

I am not the type of person who wakes up in the middle of the night filled with anxiety. I leave the 3am panic attacks to M. Once I’m out, I’m out until someone shakes me awake so I can dispel fears, nightmares, or tummy aches.

Last night was a first.

At 4 am I lay there, awake, gripped with a fear I could barely articulate.

Later this morning I was able to pinpoint the cause of the panic.

School starts in 10 days.

Considering how excited I am to get back to having time to myself, you’d think I’d be thrilled, that anxious thoughts would be far from my head. And yet, there I lay, trying to breathe through the tightness that gripped my chest like a vice.

We only get 18 summers before they head off to college, before they plan their summers themselves. Did I do enough? Did I make this one count? Was hanging out, not doing anything the right thing to do?

Maybe we should have had more day trips? Maybe we should have gone on more hikes? On more excursions. Maybe we should have learned something together? Worked on family projects?

Should I have pushed for a family vacation? Should I have done more?

At the begining of the summer the thought of not having a clock to punch for 9 whole weeks seemed too good to be true. We got up when we wanted, got dressed when we wanted, left the house when we wanted. Our only real plans were “lunch-out Tuesday” (decided on by the kids) and swim lessons once or twice a week. Some days we meandered to the park or to run some errands. Other days we just hung out at home. We had a few playdates, a few outings with friends. But really, for the last 8 weeks, aside from one week away in Chicago and a long weekend in Tahoe, we’ve let our desires shape our days.

It’s been lovely. Yes, despite the lack of alone time, it’s been lovely.

The kids have played, have ridden their bikes, have hung out with the neighbors, have fought, have read, have laughed, have done some art projects, have sat around, bored, and whined. We were the poster children for the “stop over-scheduling your kids” campaign.

And I do think it has been a great thing for them. They needed the down-time. They needed to not do anything.

And yet.

I wonder.

Did I do enough? Did I make this summer count?

I have a really clear memory of being 8 or 9 and discovering that summer was almost over and that school was about to start. I remember the crushing feeling of the kind of despair only a kid can feel. I remember letting myself sink into a tight corner between my mother’s dresser and the wall and sobbing. I was in my bathing suit, uniform of that summer, and I sobbed. I had spent that summer just roaming, biking, playing, utterly free. I didn’t want it to end.

I think my goal this summer was to give C and Little L some of that same taste freedom. (Minus the sneaking into the neighbors country club, that wasn’t my brightest moment.)

This morning, because everyone was getting a little stir crazy with back to school anxiety and in need of interaction with other kids as well as a little physical activity, I sent the girls to a half-day skateboarding camp for which they had to wear “real” shoes. As I helped C lace up her sneakers she complained that they were too tight. For a second I wondered if we’d bought her a pair that was too small. Then I laughed and reminded her that anything would feel tight after a summer in flip-flops or barefoot.

She bounced off to get her skateboard and I watched her go. She’s tan and relaxed. She’s had fun this summer. She doesn’t care that we didn’t go on crazy adventures or traveled to places far and wide. She’s just happy.

Maybe it was enough. Maybe it was just what they needed. Maybe next summer we’ll do a lot of the same. A lot more nothing.

Oh yeah! We dog sat for a week too. That was fun!

Ice Cream: Always the best reason to smile!

standard July 27, 2013 1 response

(This may be a sponsored post for Dreyer’s, but you know you love ice cream, so trust me, you want to read on!) 

July is an awesome month. And no, I’m not just saying that because it’s my birth month and the birth month of my big sister and second daughter. No, July is awesome because it’s the heart of summer and because it’s National Ice Cream month.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Sorry. I get a little bit silly when I start thinking about ice cream. I can’t help it. A great bowl of ice cream just brings back a million awesome memories of fun family time, time spent with friends, or even just time spent on a couch in front of a good movie.

Ice cream. It’s just a happy food.

My children are prone to agree.

Now, 90% of the time, when we get ice cream, it’s when we’re out and about. Our freezer is about the size of a tin can and I have to prioritize important things like frozen chicken nuggets and corn dogs. So I constantly forget how much amazing ice cream is available in the freezer aisle of the grocery store.

In honor of National Ice Cream month Dreyer’s has issued four Limited Edition flavors and I highly encourage you to hurry on out to your grocery store to snatch them up before they vanish.

Four Limited Edition Dreyer’s Ice Cream Flavors

“Take the Cake”: Yellow cake-flavored light ice cream with a frosting swirl and multi-colored sprinkles. We tried the Slow Churned version (All the taste and 1/2 the fat (with 1/2 the fat and 1/3 fewer calories than regular ice cream! Yum and thank you Dreyer’s!) and it’s amazing. It’s seriously like eating a bite of frozen cake.This was, hands down, Little L’s favorite.

NEW “German Chocolate Cake Spectacular!” Chocolate ice cream with a caramel coconut swirl and brownie pieces. We also tried the Slow Churned version and oh my… it’s creamy, decadent, and delicious. C couldn’t get enough. Even Little L loved it, and she’s not a a real chocolate lover.

“3 Stripes You’re Out”: Vanilla Ice Cream with Mixed Blueberry and Strawberry Swirls. This is my favorite. It’s vanilla-y and fruity all at the same time. Delicious.

NEW “Sunny Salted Caramel Pretzel”: Vanilla ice cream with a salted caramel swirl and pretzel pieces.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a pint of this. There’s no way I’ll be sharing with anyone. Don’t even ask.

Operation Smile
Ice cream makes everyone want to smile, but sadly not everyone can. This year Dreyer’s is partnering once again with Operation Smile, an international children’s medical charity, to make possible 500 reconstructive surgeries for children around the globe suffering from cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities. Since the middle of May and through September 31, 2013, Dreyer’s is using their Facebook page to educate visitors about Operation Smile and to encourage fans to donate. Dreyer’s will donate up to $125,000 to Operation Smile this year.

Want to know more about the “A Reason to Smile” campaign? Check out the Dreyer’s Ice Cream Facebook page. Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #ReasontoSmile.

Want some ice cream? 
I have two coupons for free Dreyer’s ice cream to give out to one of you lucky people! Yay! Want to win them? Leave me a comment telling me which flavor you’re excited to try! If you live in an area of the US where they sell Edy’s feel free to enter too we’ll send you the right coupons!
I’ll pick the winner July 31st at 10pm PST

Please note: This post is brought to you by me, courtesy of Dreyer’s and The Motherhood. I was provided product coupons and compensated for my time, but, as always, the opinions and stories and mine and mine alone.

Summer is for relaxing, right?

standard July 24, 2013 Leave a response

When I worked in an office and had to be at a desk every day, summers were exactly like every other day of the year. The kids had to get up with me, had to get dressed and ready, had to get out the door, had to be on time to their activities. It was a necessity, but it meant that summer never felt like, well, summer.

This is the second year in a row where summers are really feeling like summers. The kids get up when they want, have breakfast when they feel like it, get dressed eventually, have no real scheduled activities, and follow no set schedule of any sort.

For instance, right now they’re outside riding their bikes in the street.

I love that they finally get to experience true summer downtime. I have awesome memories of hot days spent riding my bike up and down the street, swimming, hanging out, and yes, sometimes being bored. I’m glad my kids are making their own memories.

But I’m loving it so much that it’s making it hard for me to stay productive.

For the first half of the summer I was doing a great job of creating a daily to do list and cranking through it before we headed out every afternoon to go swim. Then we headed to Chicago for a week of quality family time with my sister and her kids and, after a rather hectic two days of cramming work in while trying to enjoy all my nieces and nephew, I shut down my laptop, ignored my emails, and just relaxed.

You try organizing 6 kids for a photo when all they want to do is go swim.

We’ve been home for a week and I just can’t motivate myself to get back into the swing of work.

My office is a mess, my to do list is pretty light, and I have zero motivation to tackle the things on my “I’ll get to it when I have time” list.

I’m in full on summer vacation mode.

Now, trust me, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s good to take some time off, it’s good to relax and read a book for an afternoon, it’s good to step out of the rat race. But, every day that I stay stepped out makes it harder to step back in.

I know this. I know I should be at least thinking of stepping back in.

And yet, the books call, the couch and the lounge chairs beckon, and I really want to listen.

It stands to reason that organizing and cleaning up my office would be a great first step. Maybe even creating a bubble chart of my Summer/Fall goals. After all, I do have a book coming out soon that I need to start promoting.

But it can all wait, right? At least until after swim lessons and this evening’s picnic with friends? Maybe until after tomorrow’s morning at the park?

It’s just that summer doesn’t really last all that long and fall will be here all too soon. It makes it hard to feel guilty about putting it off a bit longer. 

4 more weeks of summer. We’re going to embrace each and every one.