The Toughest Week of the Summer

by Abby on July 29, 2014

It’s mid-summer. The pool is strangely uncrowded. The parks are almost deserted. Every other car that drives by is laden with bikes and kayaks. You know what that means… vacation time. No, not for us. We already went on our vacation. For our babysitter. Each year when it rolls around, a mild panic sets in, as I wrote about in this post from my archives. Will we survive the week? Or will we destroy each other in a fit of boredom and too much togetherness? Read on to find out.

The Week I’ve Been Dreading

I’m not going to lie: I’ve been dreading this week with a capital D. Because this, my friends, is the one week a year my beloved, hardworking babysitter is on vacation. It’s actually worse than my husband going away on an extended business trip, but don’t tell him that.

The funny thing is, it’s not like she watches my kids full time or even close. I’m not some clueless Real Housewife who can’t work a stroller or peel a cheese stick without help. But just knowing I have the OPTION of backup is a huge comfort to me. We don’t live near any relatives. My closest friends all have their own kids to worry about. So my sitter has become the closest thing we have to family.

There have been plenty of mornings I dropped off the kids – particularly the Tiny Terror – and announced ominously, “I may or may not be back to pick them up.” There have been plenty of Sunday nights when I overestimated my parental patience and texted her in desperation, “Can u take R for 2hrs tomorrow, pls??” She’s our emergency contact, our relief pitcher, my last link to sanity. I have figured out through painful trial and error that I am a much better mom and wife, not to mention a more productive writer, when I have short, regular breaks from my kids. Especially during summer vacation.

So you can see why I was dreading her week off. I tried to line up a day camp for the kids, only to have the little one miss the age cutoff by a month. Doh! I tried a backup sitter, who was also on vacation, as were half the families I contacted to set up playdates. Double doh!!

Monday dawned, and I was Dead Mom Walking. Grimly, I faced my dinosaur-PJ-wearing foe across the breakfast table, where he slurped his Cheerios and plotted major mayhem and unpredictable fits of rage to be unleashed at intervals throughout the day. My coffee turned to acid in my clenched stomach.

As we dropped off my eldest at camp, I braced for the certain tantrum from his sidekick. It never came. As we drove to the gym, I steeled myself against the whining and complaining. But it, too, never came. All day long, the Tiny Terror was sweet and obedient, agreeable and adorable. After the gym, camp, and lunch, we whiled away the afternoon watching cloud formations, rolling down hills, and picking clover. They even ate the meal I cooked for dinner without (excessive) threats or bribes!

This must be what my sitter meant when she always says at pick-up, “They were no trouble at all.” Until now, I always thought she was lying through her teeth. Either that, or I was a totally incompetent mom who brought out the worst in my children. I guess the moral of this story is, everyone needs a break from the routine now and then. Of course, it IS only Wednesday. Check back with me Friday at 4pm.

Lazy day at the park

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Field of Dreams

by Abby on July 21, 2014

The hubs and I had dinner with some old friends of his recently. The guy is retired from the military and involved in all sorts of exciting pursuits, from going back to school to taking cooking classes, which he enthusiastically told us all about. His wife seemed so supportive and thrilled for him. I don’t think I’m that kind of wife. I’m more the “what do you MEAN you’re doing something during my yoga class, the one day of the week I actually have time to myself?!” kind of wife. Not so much beaming as glowering. I’m working on it.

It’s just that TIME is in such short supply once you have kids. No parent intends to abandon their dreams, I don’t think. It happens gradually, in an I-don’t-have-time-for-hobbies-anymore sort of way. Oil painting, running marathons, making elaborate craft projects – no way. Sleep takes precedence over following your passions, or at least it did in my case. And then when the kids get older, it’s all about THEIR interests, THEIR activities. How else do you explain grown people clapping and singing along to nursery rhymes in their socks in a toddler gym class?!

So it was an unusual feeling when my sons and I found ourselves on the sidelines of my husband’s baseball game one Sunday morning. I was used to seeing him in his role as Little League coach, soothing kids after strike-outs and yelling at them to stand up in the outfield. (That’s our boy, picking daisies and his nose in right field!) As the dad who said, every time we visited his hometown, “Look, guys, that’s the field where I played baseball when I was a kid.” But then, 20 years later, he’d gotten called up to the majors. And by majors, I mean the adult recreational league in our town.

looking out over a baseball field

He was in heaven. In the days before the game, he took the boys to the sporting goods store and the batting cages. He broke out his glove and broke in his cleats. He was ready. As the boys and I sat in the shade on the sidelines, I could see it in his stance. He was in his element. I was impressed. Proud. And his butt did look pretty cute in those baseball pants, I have to say.

“That’s my dad,” said my son in an 8yo’s braggy tone to another boy watching the game. “His is the best team in the league.”

“Daddy! Daddy! Are you next?” yelled my 5yo every 2 minutes as we waited for my husband to bat. “Do they have snacks, Mom?” No, buddy, no juice boxes and granola bars here. These guys play simply for the love of the game. Remember what that’s like? Me either.

Watching my husband out there, I felt happy. For him, getting to play a game he loved. For our boys, getting to see their dad doing something just for him. And for me, getting to see him in the unfamiliar role of a regular person again, not just a dad and husband. Remember what that’s like? I actually kind of do. (I got a taste of it recently, following one of MY dreams.)

Because this is our life and not a Kevin Costner movie, the pleasant morning was shattered by an ear-splitting shriek when my 5yo got stung by a wasp. (Yes, THAT son. The one who got bitten by a dog and stung by a jellyfish already this summer.) Luckily, there were a couple of doctors on the team who got him fixed up with some ice and a Band-Aid.

Following your dreams is a little trickier when you’re a parent. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

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On Dinosaurs and Talking to Kids About Death

July 15, 2014

I will never forget the night my older son, who was maybe 5 or 6 at the time, appeared in the living room doorway long after we thought he was asleep, sobbing. His narrow shoulders were shaking and his hand was pressed to his lips. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” we asked him, bewildered. “D-d-does extinct mean […]

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My YouTube Debut, and Other Things On My Bucket List

July 9, 2014

My bucket list, if you could call it that, all started with the Milestone Birthday I recently celebrated. Leading up to it, I felt the urge to try some new things, put myself out there, take some risks. I decided to start with public speaking. Because why not tackle the one thing most people fear […]

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Fun with Photo Apps

July 7, 2014

I’m back from vacation but not really “back” yet, if you know what I mean. All I want to do is leave the unpacking and laundry for later and go through all my photos. So today I thought I’d share a couple of fun photo apps, under the guise of imparting some useful information while […]

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Scenes from a Summer Vacation

July 2, 2014

This post from a couple of years ago is one of my favorite vacation-related posts. Kids and their questions. And poop jokes. Originally posted Aug. 2012: Some scenes from our annual family vacation at the lake: On a walk with 3 kids, ages 6, 5, and 3 “Guys, see that flower? It’s called Queen Anne’s […]

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The Evolution of a Family Vacation

June 30, 2014

When you have a baby or very small children, your summer vacation is drastically altered. It usually goes like this. Remember that sleep-deprived summer when my youngest was 5 mos. old when I considered bailing out of our family vacation at 4:30am? I stayed, but only because I couldn’t take out the car seats by […]

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A Lazy Summer Morning

June 27, 2014

“Mama? Can we go downstairs yet?” I crack one eye open and squint at the clock: 5:56 a.m. Are you kidding me?! “No, not yet, buddy. It’s way too early. Come lie down with me.” Shuffle, shuffle, kick to the kidneys, swipes the covers. Oh, what’s the point? No one’s getting any more sleep this […]

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Wise Words (and Wall Décor) from Dr. Seuss

June 23, 2014

We are big fans of wall decals in our house. When my kids were little, I got some shaped like blocks, which we made into houses and boats. As they got older, we swapped those out for life-sized Batman and Spiderman decals. (Although my older son admitted it was slightly alarming to wake up and […]

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Fun Friday: 3 Things I Like

June 20, 2014

Happy Friday! Looking for something fun to do this weekend? Have I got suggestions for YOU! First of all, you must go see this movie, Chef. Watch the trailer here. I love, love, loved it! It touches on all my favorite themes – parenthood, social media, doing work you love. Plus, the cute kid in […]

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