i am tired. too tired. i have been going to bed too late. and getting up too darn early. rebecca had ice skating camp this week. we have to be there every morning at 8:30. we have been going to bed way too late. i just said that, didn’t i? i need sleep. last night we went to a carnival that our fire department puts on every year. (i will post pictures tomorrow.) it is the best carnival ever. in all time. period. i went to bed at 11:00 and woke up at 4:15 this morning. could not get back to sleep. perhaps i should not be on my second glass of wine. oh well! perhaps i will have someone else put the kids to bed tonight. he will have it easy. alexander passed out about 15 minutes ago watching blues clues. the other night i was watching the news. there have been a rash of home invasions on Staten Island, NY. not that staten island is near here by any stretch of the imagination. but i have an imagination. it is stretched. way stretched. too many episodes of csi, and way too many news broadcasts. i was up for hours certain that someone wanted to invade our home. don told me that there was a black bear sighting on n. avenue. he heard so on the news. what??? so, of course, my imagination gets the best of me and keeps me up all night as i imagine the worst… a black bear appearing in our back yard as our three are happily (for once) playing together. i am inside doing laundry or something and there are screams. shrieks. i see the bear barrelling toward my children. i am paralyzed by fear. i can not move. i don’t know which kid to rescue. how do i rescue him or her? shall i call animal control? what do i do in the meantime? i am a wimpy mom. my children need me and i can not save them. i need some sleep. clearly. and i need to stop watching the news on tv.
Rebecca had a play date with her friend Eva. I dropped her off at 12:52 promptly after skating. Peggy, Eva’s mother answered the door and greats us with a “Just in time. We just set the table!” I did what I always do when leaving Rebecca off at a play date and told her to be good. I know she doesn’t need this reminder at 9, but it’s a tough habit to break! As I left, I shook my head in disbelief… she set the table for lunch??? I know Peggy enough to know that my daughter will not be served the same pb&j on whole wheat that I serve our friends, but a lovely sit down meal. As I write this I imagine a white table cloth too!
I came home and the blueberry cake (recipe on my food blog) was taken out of the oven for me. (Thank you Don!) I made the boys lunch (ham sandwiches, pickles and a few Pringles) and emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen mess from the blueberry bread. (Alexander “helped” so I had double the mess.) I tossed a couple of loads in to the machine and folded a couple too. (I have 6 folded baskets in the laundry room…they will find their way up stairs one day.) Then I came out to join the boys. After a while Alexander was getting tired (read cranky!) and I managed to get him to come inside for a nap. (A little Blue’s Clues to settle him down.) After half an hour he was in Dream Land. I sent Christopher up to the play room for a little quiet time so I could have some too! I had to watch the final episode of the Next Food Network Star as I fell asleep before I could learn the winner the previous night!
An hour later I looked up and noticed that it was time to get Becca. Alexander was still asleep. I let him be and told Don (who was asleep on our bed) that I was leaving. I snuck out! I got to Eva’s house in plenty of time so I had a few minutes to sit and chat. Peggy was telling me that she got a lot of ironing done while the girls were in the pool. (Ironing?!!!) She can stand and iron and watch the girls out the window. She went on to tell me how she irons T-shirts and jeans… (T-shirts and jeans??!!) Man, the only things that get ironed around here happen to come home from the dry cleaners.
When Rebecca and I were in the car I asked what she had for lunch — part of my anal-rententive control-freak thing. I do this with all the kids. She told me that she had chicken, potatoes and asparagus. A real meal??!! And then she tells me that “Eva’s mom has an iron… an actual iron!”
Her house was immaculate. Spotless. Not a spec of dirt. Not a crumb. No dust. No nothin’. Agh… On my best day my house is not as tidy. And she apologized for her mess! I have been put to shame. I am not a good mother. I do not cook hot meals 3x a day. My house is far from spotless. My sink has dishes in it. My floors are covered with dirt and grass, and now, thanks to Rebecca, watermelon spillage.
I am distracted by my bad-motherness when we get to the rinks. Instead of dwelling on the good mom and wife that my friend Peggy is and the negligent mom that I am, I watch my daughter glide across the ice… and pick up the cell phone…
We get back home at 7:22. I am tired even though I have admittedly not done too much today. I get home to learn that Alexander has only just gotten up from a nap and Christopher is still in the play room. (Daddy wasn’t feeling too well today.) All three kids are hungry and the kitchen is as messy as I had left it…
Screw it! Left over pizza for dinner! I warm up the indoor grill and begin my tidying up. I get the kids’ dinner set up outside. I cut up fresh fruit for dessert and pour myself a nice glass of red wine. I join them.
It is now 9:15 and it has been almost 2 hours. Rebecca should be in bed. She has camp at 8:30 in the morning. Alexander will be up for hours… maybe. I have my wine (glass number 2!) and 4 fireflies in the jar next to me. The kids are in their swimsuits. We have the lights on under the market umbrella. The crickets are chirping. We are outside and enjoying our evening. Alexander is asking about the crickets. He has just finished his watermelon. Now he hears a doggie in the distance. He likes to be outside in the darkey he tells me. So maybe like art, good moms are in the eyes of the beholder! And maybe, despite my complete lack of housewifely abilities, some will see me as a good mom after all.
By late morning I was getting irritated with all my kids. Rebecca decided that nothing was going to make her happy and she did nothing but whine about anything and everything. Clearly there would be no pleasing her today. Alexander is the most un-self sufficient kid out there — and was expecting me to do everything for him. Don was grumpy-grouchy and being a jerk. We had no plans for the day and I, myself, was seriously wondering how we were going to get through.
I was about to write my
List of 10 reasons not to have kids.
1. I would answer to no one!
2. I would take no orders from people under 5 feet tall
3. I would be able to go to the store and back in 5 minutes flat instead of it taking half a day
4. No more Cartoon Network
5. I would have complete control of televisions and remotes, all of them!
6. I would be able to go to the bathroom without everyone wanting to pile in on top of me
7. Clean toilets!
8. No more rooms looking like they have violently vomited toys all over the place
9. I would never have to hear “But thaaaaaaaaaaat’s nooooooooottttttt faaaaaaaiiiiiiiirrrrr!”
10. peace, quiet and sanity….
(Okay, that’s 12 things!)
So Alexander was starting to annoy me and Rebecca was irritating me and I knew that I had to get out of the house and away from them. Well, I ended up being successful on one front… I got out of the house! They both wanted to come with me to the tomato farm, herb farm and bakery. So I let them. (I couldn’t bear the thought of the whining that would ensue my firm “No!”) And, admittedly they were really pretty good while we ran our errands. When we came home I made a nice lunch of salad, sliced tomatoes, French bread, cheese, salami and hummus. They even behaved fairly well through the meal.
After our little picnic was over (we ate outside — had to as it was so glorious out there!) I pitched some balls to Christopher as I had promised earlier in the morning. The problem is I am a terrible pitcher and he is a pretty good hitter. But not good enough to make up for my terrible pitching. We weren’t doing so well today. He hit a few great ones, but he also had quite a few strikes, many foul balls and many complete misses. I told Christopher that he should really play with Daddy or use his pitching machine. (I couldn’t get away fast enough!) But Christopher didn’t want his father. He didn’t want his pitching machine either. “It’s okay, Momma,” he replied when I told him I was terrible (read sucked!) at pitching. “I just want to be with you!”
As I mentioned a few weeks ago my goal this summer is to ensure that my kids have a summer filled with fun, laughter and memories. I want it to be a summer that will resonate in their memories for years to come. I truly hope this is a “Remember When” summer. I think I have done a pretty good job so far.
This morning the skies opened up and the torrential rains plummeted down on the house yard and lawn. It was hard to see much of anything. Looking out the oversized family room windows it looked dark, damp and dismal out there. Part of me was relieved. The kids could be inside. I would even allow some TV. I think we all needed a break from the bright sun. As inviting as a mellow day seemed to me, I knew, realistically, in an hour the kids would be bored, kicking, screaming, fighting, bickering. Suddenly I was filled with a sense o dread. Oh, no! What will we do today? They can’t stay inside all day? And then I thought to myself, why do they have to stay inside at all? Some of my best childhood memories involved being out in the rain and getting so soaking wet and having so much fun! I remember being on Shelter Island one summer weekend as a kid with my friend Vanessa. We had this crazy notion that it would be so much fun to play out in the rain until we were completely water-logged! I also remember having a lemonade stand outside my building on Fifth Avenue. My friend Zoe, who lived 2 flights up, and I had been planning it for a while and we were devastated when it started to rain. We decided we would try to sell our lemonade in the rain! And guess what? We did! And we made so much money and had a blast!
With these memories coming to mind I thought that my kids would all love to be out in the rain. It was early still and they were all in their pajamas. I shouted to them from the bottom of the stairs. I told them to get their bathing suits on, that we were going out in the rain. Well, my kids normally as slow as molasses, were changed and downstairs in a minute flat. We all ran outside together, screaming, jumping, shouting! Next thing I know Rebecca makes a run for the pool, followed by Christopher, followed by Alexander… followed by me! After a while (it’s only 71 degrees out there today) our teeth began chattering and our lips were turning blue so we decided to go inside and warm up. While they changed out of their wet suits I made them warm cups of hot cocoa to enjoy. That was certainly a “Remember When” moment for me!
As Rebecca and her father took off for the ice rink last night I needed to come up with a quick dinner idea that would feed everyone quickly upon her return. Despite ordering groceries the day before it seemed as though my pickin’s were slim. I had some frozen chicken breasts, sausages, and hot dogs (not buns though) and assorted veggies in the freezer. In the fridge I had the fresh crowns of broccoli, a ton of fruit, some scallions, cold cuts, bacon that I had thawed that morning and some assorted cheeses. Nothing too inspiring for dinner. I had some lettuce, but it was arugula and mixed field greens. My kids don’t do that!
Once again I would need to let my creativity take control. Typical of me I have huge amounts of pasta in the pantry. I took out the Rigatoni, got the broccoli, scallions, bacon and some garlic and proceeded to cook. What resulted was phenomenal. (I will post this on the food blog in a little while)
When dinner was cooked I went to check on Alexander who had been pestering me to push him on his swing. He was on the couch in the family room. Sound asleep in his brother’s arms. It was adorable. I should have taken a picture. Instead I carried him up to my bed with the hopes this was not just a late night nap. (It wasn’t!)
I poured myself a glass of chardonnay (a perfect summer wine) and read outside on the back deck.
When my Skater Girl came back I had Daddy plug in the lights under the market umbrella and we were all set for a wonderful dinner al fresco with the cool, yet somewhat humid evening air, birds singing, crickets chirping, cicadas sounding off in the distant. I sat back with my meal and my wine in a state of contentment and relaxation. While we were out the skies started to turn their purple twilight hues and the fireflies started to appear. As the sky continued to darken the little bugs began to light up the sky as though they were busily stringing Christmas lights on a grand outdoor tree. The chirping and cicadas could still be heard. Bats came along dive bombing into the trees — looking for cicadas no doubt. Christopher and Rebecca were running around the back yard shouting with joy, butterfly nets in tow capturing the lightning bugs and setting them free. I read some more and sipped some more wine. Eventually we turned off the lights and called it a night.
As I pulled into the driveway on Friday evening it was as though time stood still. Everything was where we left it. The house was standing still, majestically, on top of her hill. (Note to self: Must have that front door repainted to change color ASAP!)
Inside my magazines were just as I left them. Alexander’s stuffed animal sat on the couch waiting for him and looked as though he had been saying “Where the heck have you guys been?” There was an empty glass in the kitchen sink and a pair of bright green Crocs waiting by the sliding doors to go outside. A box of mismatched markers and paper remained on top of the kitchen table. I thought I had asked Rebecca to put them away. The house was warm, muggy almost dank but the hum from below let me know that the air had been put on and I could feel that it was working. It would take a while to cool the house. Upstairs all the beds were made. Certain stuffed animals noticeably missing from their regular perches, but that was because they were with us.
Yesterday was our first non-vacation day in as long as I can remember! I did some laundry and unpacked 2 suitcases (saving 2 for today!) Before we left Maine I called our local grocery delivery service and placed a good sized order. The idea of returning home and have to shop for food (with children in tow) was just too much to handle! At 8:30 the front doorbell rang and soon enough our fridge and cupboards would be replenished.
The day’s main project was spent looking for an inflatable swimming pool. Whoodathunk that in the middle of July such a thing would be impossible to find? I spent nearly 3 hours and a half of a tank of gas in search for a swimming pool for our back yard. I shopped 2 Targets, a Wal*Mart, a Toys’R’Us, Sears and KMart. To no avail. I felt badly for the kids. I should have picked one up in the spring. But I didn’t. It was hot out. I was crabby. The kids were crabby. Alexander had a stomach ache. The kids were hungry. I was hungry. We left the last store defeated, tails between our legs. I assured the kids I would find something online and would look as soon as we got back home.
We pulled up to the house, the John Deere in front of the 3rd garage bay, to find Daddy excited about something. Come quick and see! In the garage, in an old plastic tub sitting under an old window screen was a toad. A real live ribbitting toad! Daddy thought we should keep it as a pet. (Asked my permission first.) Well of course. As a city girl I never got to dig for toads in my backyard. Almost immediately Daddy and the boys took off to buy the toad a home and I set off inside looking for inflatable pools and water slides. ( I still have not given up on that!)
About a half hour later Daddy returned with a huge glass terrarium, some dirt, a little toad pool, some crickets (Toad’s lunch!) and a cricket container. Our free toad just cost nearly $70 to house and feed! Christopher and his father started to set up Toad’s House. Alexander suddenly was not feeling well and curled up on the couch in the family room. He wanted to watch some Blue’s Clues. Couch and television are both so uncharacteristic of him. Uh Oh! He slept on and off for the rest of the day only to wake late afternoon burning up.
Today he seems better. He has been up since 5:00 (ugh!) and requested Gingerale and pretzels. He is now playing on the floor as I type. He seems OK. Could be the Motrin he had at 5:00. We’ll see later. I still have my suitcase to unpack as well as Christopher’s. I have more laundry to wash and fold and put away. I have health records to copy and deliver to the school. Alexander will accompany me there and we will take a little peek into his preschool classroom. I will have to entertain the kids and pick up another batch of lettuce. We’ll go to our local farm and buy some fresh tomatoes. Don will mow the front lawn and set up the pool. Someone will take Rebecca to her skating lesson… and life will continue on as we left it.
Rebecca used to kick and scream (it was terribly embarrassing) when she was little and her play date had to come to an end. She would be having such a wonderful time and never wanted it to stop. As we grow up we learn that the fun never really does last, that it all eventually does run out. The older two are starting to understand this concept, Alexander of course is not close to being there yet. Today is our last full day of vacation. While we had an amazing time — it was the best yet by far! We are ready to go home. The kids miss their home, their beds and their toys. While I feel refreshed and renewed from the sand, sun and surf, I am ready to head home as well. I am ready to go back to work on our new house as it slowly begins to feel like home. I am ready to deal with all my duties and responsibilities.
I already know that being home will not be easy. The kids won’t have 10 built-in friends (their cousins) to play with daily. I know that the arguments, fighting, bickering will resume status quo. I know there will be more tears (than on our trip) and more whining. But I am OK with all of that.
As I sit at the computer the windows next to me are open. There is a lovely Maine Morning breeze coming through. The air is partly ocean spray and partly fresh pine. The sky is blue and there is only a trace of white in the bluest of skies. Yellow, white and orange lilies line the deck. Evergreens a plenty line the horizon. There is a feeling of tranquility and peace here. My shoulders are relaxed. The headaches are gone. We all seem to be walking a little lighter and laughing a little louder. I will miss this place but we are leaving at the best of all possible times. We are leaving while the party is on. Not roaring. Not in full force. But it has not started to fizzle. For it is never fun to leave after the fun has been had. It is never fun to be the last to leave — to be left behind.
Last night we went to the amusement park we go to every summer. We always end our vacation with a trip to Funtown. At first it was a little disappointing. The older two have outgrown all the rides they so loved when they were little. While Alexander delighted in them, I could see the sadness in their eyes. It was so joyous to watch Alexander and so melancholy to watch them, the sadness in their eyes. Part of the fun of the amusement park is to watch the kids run to the rides they have loved since they were toddlers. Only now, suddenly, as if in the blink of an eye they have magically grown.
It was sad for me too. It was frustrating with the three children all wanting to go in three different directions, for the older two to be “stuck” watching Alexander ride the rides they so loved and wanted to go on. Yet I could see they were alternately happy for their baby brother. I have been watching them growing and heading in different directions for a couple of years now, but there in there in that amusement park with it’s warped, bad 80s music blaring through the old speakers, with it’s mix of conscientious college kids and amusement park freaks, that I saw — as if looking in the warped, distorting mirrors — just how quickly time flies.
Every year since Rebecca was 18 months old she would ride on (run to!) the zebra on the small Merry Go Round. She did last night to. And as she did she was shouting out to Daddy to take her picture on the horse. And there she was on the zebra, same Rebecca same smile, but the horse suddenly seemed more appropriate in a doll’s house. My heart melted a little more. My eyes welled up with a few more tears.
Eventually we made our way out of the children’s area so that the older kids could enjoy the park as well. What I was surprised to learn and amazed to see was that Alexander wanted to go on the big rides. Do you have any idea how hard it was telling him that he could NOT go on the big, wooden roller coaster! He saw the large, tilting Pirate Ship and said “Oh…. My…. God!” (I have no idea where he learned that!) And then immediately after demanded to go on it! He loved the bumper boats, cars, Ferris wheel and all the other rides he was allowed to go on because his height is greater than his age! The favorite by far the whip-you-around tea cups!
He woke up this morning asking to go back to Funnytown. I had to explain that we would have to wait until next year. Luckily, he has no idea what next year is. He would be so disappointed if he had any clue how long he really has to wait! He is already talking about all the rides he’ll go on.
We had a late night and we are tired. Tired because we have been up late many nights and tired because it has been a long two weeks. But we will leave happy and looking forward to next year.
As if I don’t spend enough time and energy on-line… now I have to waste more time that I don’t have as I have just joined a million others on Facebook. Why? Because everyone’s doing it! Would you jump off a bridge if everyone did?
If I was wearing a bathing suit? Sure! Why not???
If only I could get paid as I waste more time here…
for those of you eagerly waiting, the next installment of vacation pictures will be up for viewing tomorrow. I must now drink the last of
my Chardonnay and
Hit the hay!