Summer 2015: We are doing this

I sat in the kitchen holding the phone to my ear.

Of course, the moment I attempted to make a phone call the children piled into the kitchen with me. They were tattling on each other. Someone needed a snack. Someone needed something that they couldn’t find and only mommy could find it. 

It’s my own fault, really. I brought it on myself the moment I picked up the phone. 

It wasn’t even as if the call was for something pleasant. I had to pay a bill and I had to speak to a real person in order to do it. So, naturally, I was on hold, listening to terrible elevator music, sprinkled with intermittent advertisements. 

A commercial cut through the music. A friendly voice saying, “Soon, the kids will be out of school for the summer. So please, drive carefully.”

I felt like it was talking to me, to all the moms out there.

Translation?: “Your kids are out of school and summer has just begun, moms, but please don’t drive your car into a telephone pole in a final act of desperation.

I can do this, I thought. 

I can do this summertime thing. 

I really do enjoy having my children home with me. I honestly do. They love being home. I like having them here with me, just to hang out.

But that doesn’t mean that we all don’t occasionally get cabin fever or irritated by rainy days or have afternoons where we don’t want to look at each other’s faces anymore.

Yesterday was just our first full day of summer break together. Why do I feel like I aged about three years in the span of 12 hours?

I was exhausted by the time I sat down last night. Namely because it takes so much energy to exact large amounts of patience when dealing with children. Literally, that is why I was exhausted. I had to make my brain focus on being patient instead of throwing my cordless phone against the wall. 

They are just being children, I thought. They can’t help that they can’t stand still in Target, or that they want one of each toy on the shelf. They can’t help that they walk slower than I walk. They can’t help that they want to stop and look at and touch everything. They can’t help that they’re hungry every two hours. They can’t help it that they get bored quickly.

They can’t help a lot of things. 

But I can.

I feel no obligation to do it all this summer, or even in general. I am not doing extensive craft projects everyday. I am not driving them to fun-filled activities every day. I am not doing it ALL every.day. 

P1110521_2

BUT I do feel like I am a sizable piece to the summertime-fun puzzle. If there even is such a thing. Sometimes, the kids are crawling out of their skin and losing their grip on the day. They need someone to put them back on track. I have days where I need that, too. Hopefully, we can be that for each other.

I hope this summer that we do a lot of “nothing” together. I have found than when we decide together to do a lot of nothing, that’s when a whole lot of magical things start happening. 

Every memory I have from growing up isn’t a milestone, once in a lifetime, moment for the ages. 

It’s the car ride on the way to the movie theater. It’s the baby pool in the backyard. It’s squirt guns with the neighborhood kids. It’s Popsicles and watermelon for dinner. It’s sunburnt cheeks and jelly sandals on my feet. 

It’s a lot of little stuff. 

So, while I know that I’m going to be frustrated, because that is just what happens when you are dealing with children, I have decided that I am not going to be surprised by it. I have decided that trying to be patient is worth being tired over. Much more than running myself ragged, trying to fill our days with distractions. 

1150407_10201512462595574_1274422234_n

I’d rather be tired giving my kids the best of me, than be tired from trying to provide the “best” for my children. 

It’s summer. I can do this. 

We can do this, moms. 

 

 

Advertisements

40 summertime activities for moms that are $10 or less

Summer is coming.

(Cue the Game of Thrones references)

I actually like summertime. The mosquitos. The humidity. The profuse amounts of sweat, sweat and sweat trailing down my back. It’s great. 

No, seriously, I really do like summer, especially a summer in Maryland. Steamed blue crabs, Thrashers fries from Ocean City and beach traffic. Basically, summer is coming, so I may as well say I like it because there is nothing I can do about it. 

I am actually ready for my son to be done with school for the year. I honestly never want to make another peanut butter and jelly sandwich or search frantically for shoes for as long as I live.

Seriously, why are 90% of my sons shoes missing?? At this point, my only solution is to just buy more shoes. Because I don’t feel like looking for them. 

I know that for as anxious as I am for the school year to be done,  once mid July rolls around….I’ll probably be anxious to have some semblance of structure back in my life. Actually, I will be anxious for my littles to have structure back in their lives. 

At first, blowing bubbles and playing in the sprinkler will be fun. There will be popsicles and sun hats (that stay on for three minutes) and bathing suits. Long days, later bedtimes and maybe some sleeping in. 

That’s before we all run out of steam. Before they don’t know what to do with themselves, and mommy doesn’t know what to do with herself. 

I see a lot of lists floating around this time of year containing an endless supply of summer activities for the children. And that’s great. I do like to keep those lists handy, they take the guesswork out of my days. 

But, honestly, I don’t want to make paper mache and origami swans and tye dye shirts and do all of the things. I could probably fill up everyday with a host of activities if I wanted to. But that simply isn’t practical. By August, I’d be in the fetal position in my closet. 

While I will probably never run out of ideas for things to do with and for my children during these long months, I will be wondering what I can do to save the last shreds of sanity I have left  after I have drug out the baby pool, filled it with the hose and then hauled kettles full of warm water back and forth from the house seven times, only for my children to declare that they don’t want to swim anymore. 

Where is MY summer? Where is my lazing about, my moment to enjoy blue crabs and longer days? Where is our chance to take advantage of long, sunny days and breezy, warm evenings, moms? How can we moms savor a little bit of summer for ourselves??

Never fear, I have the answer.

What if there were lists that had simple, fun things to do for both kids and moms? I decided to do the interwebs a favor and create such a list. You’re all welcome.

Here are 40 activities for moms that cost less than $10, need hardly any energy for and can do with the kids in tow:

 image

1.) Have a cup of coffee while sitting on the back porch before the kids get up.

2.) Watch a marathon of The Good Wife on Amazon when the kids are napping or in bed.

3.) A Starbucks drink.

4.) A Starbucks drink while wandering around Target.

5.) Meet a fellow mom at the park for a playdate. 

6.) Hide in the kitchen with a spoonful of peanut butter…

7.) …Or a spoonful of peanut butter, covered chocolate chips.

8.) Pop in a Disney movie for the kids, while you enjoy some sweet tea.

9.) Watermelon.

10.) Call your husband at work to chat for a few minutes.

11.) Go for a drive with the kids with the windows rolled down and the radio turned up.

12.) Let the kids play in mud while you watch…from over there.

13.) Let the kids play with the hose while you watch…from over there.

14.) Arbor Mist.

15.) Put a bunch of pillows on the floor, lay a blanket down, and let the kids nap together in a pile. You can nap with them or in the other room.

16.) Pop popcorn.

17.) Put the kids outside, and let them eat ice cream.

18.) Invite other kids over for distraction a play date

photo-26

19.) Go for a walk.

20.) Let the kids “wash” the car.

21.) Call your bestie, just to chat, while the kids are distracted with cartoons.

22.) Take your kids to the park after dinner and turn them loose until the sun sets.

23.) Fill up the sink and let the kids play in it while you sit and watch.

24.) Tortilla chips and guacamole.

25.) Tortilla chips and guacamole with a friend.

26.) Bake cupcakes.

P1110549_2

27.) Let the kids run around all day in their bathing suits.

28.) Squirt the kids with the hose

29.) Hide and Seek – you are always the counter. 

30.) A beer with your husband on the porch after the sun sets and the kids are in bed. 

31.) Forgo all of the house cleaning for the day. 

32.) Catch fireflys 

33.) Let the kids finger paint

34.) Use paper plates as often as possible. 

35.) Go to the library.

36.) Play outside with flashlights after the sun has set. 

P1110524_2

37.) Blow bubbles – even inside on a rainy day. 

38.) Go to grandmas house (hint: take the Arbor Mist.)

39.) Let the kids catch toads (just keep em outside)

40.) Go to the library

P1070156

And ALWAYS, no matter the season:

KEEP A STASH OF CHOCOLATE

It isn’t just yummy. It’s about being prepared.

 

 

 

Nums and Boo

Plans had been mentally underway since the end of spring. Hopes and visions of the perfect birthday cake and completely organized party. All of this was shot to heck by a mother who just couldn’t get herself together when the big day arrived. Because she was too busy wrung up, thinking about the past. And thinking about the future, which sometimes seems even scarier than the past. That was how I saw my children’s birthdays this year, I am sad to say.

There are a lot of surprises that come with motherhood. And I’m not talking about the kind of surprises where a mom goes into the living room and sees that her son has drawn all over his sister, or when she discovers her daughter shoved a ton of cooked chicken from dinnertime into one of her toys. Those are surprises that are worthy of being irritated by, sure. But sometimes, it’s me that motherhood surprises me.

I haven’t been in the motherhood game for very long. It has been less than 5 years since my husband and I watched two pink lines appear on a teeny-tiny screen in an instant, hugged and kissed each other and declared that everything was going to be different. And it has been. But really, what’s 5 years when people live to be 80? I won’t ever stop being a mother until they put me in the ground. 5 years is but a drop in the bucket.

So why do I think that I have it all figured out less than half a decade in? I’m not sure. I go about life thinking that I have found a rhythm and act as though I’m decided and assured about everything and then it either changes or transitions and I realize just how deeply these children have a hold on me. And how as they change and grow, I change and grow.

I guess that is the best way to describe why as parents we become so emotionally unhinged at graduations, first baby steps, the first day of a new school year or the first time our children sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We become used to something and then it changes, and we have are surprised, even though, Lord willing, that is always the plan. And all of a sudden, when they blow out those five birthday candles we can picture life ‘without’ them because they move out or leave for school. We think about days in the autumn and winter when they aren’t home with us because it’s a school day. We think about them not needing us to carry them anymore because now they can walk and run. We think about the days when they will stop sharing whats in their heart because they’ll start wanting to share that with friends.

We get used to it all and then the game changes, yet again. 

But there is hope.

Hope that as our children grow, they will succeed in being better than us. 

We hope that they will, by God’s grace, make better choices than us. We hope that they will be smarter than us, able to tackle calculus in a single bound. We hope and pray that they will be stronger than us because the world grows more and more lost the longer you look at it and live in it as time marches on. We hope that they will be better a better friend than us, a better spouse than us, a better parent then us. Sometimes, that is what keeps me sane. Even though I can’t see the tangible differences everyday that the motherhood rat race accomplishes, I know that in the end, there is great hope that all of these seemingly insignificant days will be the tiles in the mosaic of my children’s lives.

 

Jerry, 

I am so, so proud of you. Your heart is tremendous. I can see your compassion even now, when you don’t even know what that is or what it means. You act it out every single day in how you care for your sister, how you care for me, how you care for your father. You are so very smart and your thirst for knowledge is ridiculous sometimes. I know that someday, you’ll be working on equations and problems and that I will be of not assistance to you, but that is how it should be. You are becoming more and more like your father every single day, and that is a very good thing. I love looking at you and watching you experience this world, and watching the gears turn in your head, and even though sometimes it drives me nuts, I hope that you always stand up for yourself and stay “stubborn” and hold fast to what you believe in. You make my life more colorful, you give it new depth and purpose every single day when you roll out of bed.  Thank you for being my best guy.

100_0727

20120111-231931.jpg

 

IMG_8815

 

IMG_8897

1004609_10201359465530743_933928614_n

Clara-Beth, 

You rotten little girl. I say that with a wink and a smile, of course. You drove me crazy when you were just born, and I know that someday, all of those tears of frustration that I cried will be forgotten. You are so spirited, but so tender. I know what it’s like to burn with fire and yet run deep. Your heart is ridiculous. You are so sweet and can be ridiculously kind and tender. You have a passion for not wanting anything to slip past you, a desire to see it all and experience it all. And of course, a feistiness that will help you keep yourself out of trouble, I hope. There is so much to you, so many layers. I hope that you always feel as beautiful as the people around you think that you are. And I hope that you always know that what really matters and what really affects those around you the most is what is in your heart. I get the feeling that when you find what it is you’re looking for, what you’re meant for, little girl, that you won’t let go. Don’t let go. 

 

My Sunflower. :)

 

A June Bug if there ever was one.

A June Bug if there ever was one.

 

20120826-210738.jpg

Someone should have said no. And that someone was me.

Someone should have said no. And that someone was me.

 

Cute but sneaky.

Cute but sneaky.

 

Happy Tuesday, folks!