Category Archives: summer

So Far: Summer 2017

Is it weird that even though I haven’t blogged regularly in almost two years, my brain still thinks in terms of blog posts, of story snippets? Always.

So update on the boys since it’s been a while…Luke will be a freshman, Bennett in 7th, Jack Henry in 4th. Yes, I know. They were just babies, providing daily blog fodder with their antics and lispy voices and long eyelashes. Their not being little anymore is a major reason I don’t write here much…they don’t like much being posted to social media, and I’m definitely not going to tell their stories. (But for the record: they have approved this message.)

Parents of older kids know that at some point, you cross this threshold into basically being your kids’ Uber driver because they have very active social lives. The timing of all that works out well because by that point you’re too old and tired to have that much of a social life yourself anyway. (Also for me: back to work this year + I TURN 40 NEXT WEEK + generally bad sleeper = 10pm bedtime at the latest. We’re for real gonna be calling an Uber to pick these kids up late at night.)

Anyway. Lightning quick summer recap:

Luke went on a 9-day trip to the Tetons with a group from his middle school and had the time of his life. This kid will probably end up living near mountains. (Also, he is approximately only one inch shorter than I am.) He hikes and bikes with friends at a state park near us and laughs like a maniac at The Office and looks at Instagram a billion hours a day. His baseball season: ✔️


Bennett: trip to Springfield, MO for college baseball watching with friends, trip to Lake Geneva with his youth group, baseball practice 3 days a week + tournaments 3 out of 4 weekends a month (one tourney to go next weekend and it’s a wrap). I think he still lives here. Based on the amount of food we go through, I’m going with yes.


Also he got stung by a bee yesterday, and it is no joke. No allergic reaction, and he’s been stung lots of times before, but that must have been a serious amount of venom because this picture was 10 hours after the sting (but looks better now):


And my baby who isn’t a baby anymore (guys…he’ll be 10 in a couple of months!) is thankfully able to go with the flow. Jack Henry’s had some time with friends and a basketball camp and Jump Camp, so it’s not like he’s not having fun, but of course, the older boys’ schedules dictate his more than he’d like.

He did get to do something cool last week though. Our school district’s alumni association has a “Granting Dreams” program where students submit ideas of things they’d like to experience, small businesses they’d like to start and need seed money for, etc., and the organization arranges as many as they can. An assignment in JH’s gifted class was submitting a dream to this program…and since this was all completed at school, I didn’t even know about it until I signed paperwork saying it was fine for him to apply. His dream? To work at Krispy Kreme. This was a new one to me, but of course, I signed it. Sure, kid. Dream away.

Of course it got accepted. So last week, I took him there, and it was awesome. They made him a nametag and everything. Showed him how the process works from dough to cooked and on display, and let him make his own dozen donuts to take home.



All I know is that if I’d had this opportunity in elementary school back at home and could have scanned groceries at IGA, I would have been in heaven. (I worked retail briefly when I was about 16-17, so I did finally get to use a scanner, but really I feel like that dream came true for me several years ago when the groceries around here put in the self-checkout lanes.)

Jack Henry baseball season: one more game. Naturally, on my birthday.

Matt and the boys have started biking on trails around here lately, and minus Luke getting poison ivy pretty badly, they’re loving it!


We’re headed to the beach soon, and while the boys are excited because they love the beach as much as we do, the 40-somethings in this house are looking forward to a week of just sitting and reading and enjoying an adult beverage or three. Cheers.

Today. 

The 2 younger boys are at a summer camp for the better part of the day this week Monday through Thursday (cue angels singing), leaving me and Luke to fill our days.  

This morning, I asked him to come with me to drop off the boys, then go for a walk/jog on the levee. Told him we’d go look for some shoes for him after that, then get lunch. He agreed, and he wasn’t even reluctant.

We exercised, shopped the outlet mall, and ate Pie Five for lunch. And it was just so pleasant. 


Not that many years ago, I would’ve told you that the prospect of parenting teenagers, especially boys, freaked me out and seemed completely out of my comfort zone. 

And trust me, there is still plenty to be uncomfortable and awkward about, and moments where his obvious early-teenageness makes me crazy. 

But gosh, I love it when he’s talkative and willing to listen and have a conversation. I’ve warned him before, and reminded him again today, that he has a mom who is not afraid to discuss hard topics, and give him different angles to consider, so that he can form his own opinion. And that I hope it means he knows a) I’m going to bring stuff up that may be awkward and b) it means I’m comfortable with him asking questions, etc. 

Today we talked about current events, particularly about prejudices and stereotypes, and why they’re just not ok. We talked about the difference between ISIS and Islam, and how some people don’t understand that there’s a difference. We talked about LGBTQ issues – how America views the issues, how Christianity does, how I view it all – and the horror of the massacre in Orlando, and how people are trying to use this to further religious/political agendas. We talked about how it’s entirely possible to have a different opinion than your friends, even on heated topics, if you can simply manage to approach each other intelligently and with respect.

I’m sure there were lots of times that he would’ve preferred I stop talking or asking him questions. But he’s not always easy to engage, so I took full advantage of our morning together. And I really feel like these conversations have to happen if we, as a generation of parents, have any chance of putting humans out into the world who do a better job of civilly engaging with each other.

And yes, I’m all warm and fuzzy about parenting right now. But give it an hour…his brothers are about to blow in here like a hurricane, and then it’s the supper/baseball game/baseball practice evening frenzy that is regular life (which I love, don’t get me wrong).

Just thankful for the one-on-one we got today 🙂

Not Kidding. I Had to Write This Note. 


‘Tis summer vacation eve, which means as of lunchtime tomorrow, my relative freedom ends. We are all very much looking forward to our break in routine. 

However. 

I walked downstairs this morning and found actual blood/scab on the carpet. Now, the basement carpet is nothing special, and my standards for a clean house are pretty low, but we cannot just have blood on the carpet.

I was 100% certain I knew whose blood it was. Yesterday afternoon, I heard a child who I won’t identify by name hollering that he needed a paper towel because he was bleeding from his large elbow scab. His brothers took care of it, so I did not investigate any further.

This child literally comes home from school, reads the note, and says, “It wasn’t my fault! (Brother) ripped my scab off!” (FYI: they were wrestling.)

Yes. You read that right. Clearly it wouldn’t be his responsibility to clean up his own blood. Sigh. 

So you know. Summer. 

Beach Bums

I headed into this summer’s vacation with a tiny bit of apprehension. The boys have been to the beach before, but it’s never been the whole vacation. They talked like they would love it (and they know I love it), so I was hopeful that they wouldn’t get bored.

There was absolutely no need to have been concerned.  These boys were made for the beach. They immediately understood and appreciated how important sunset was to me, and they woke up ready to hit the beach early every single day.

They were pros at helping me set up the canopy every morning, and they dragged our beach gear down from the condo without complaint. They spent their days on boogie boards and skim boards, jumping waves and playing with the sand fleas at the edge of the water, collecting shells and making drip sandcastles and a couple of real sandcastles, and digging countless deep holes in the sand.

Their favorite was digging a hole, gently filling it in so it was a trap, watching me step in said hole, and laughing like maniacs. Happened multiple times. They’re such sweet kids.

About halfway through the trip, they met some friends. A boy and a girl, J&J, who were Bennett and Jack Henry’s ages, and also Midwesterners. Their parents were sweet and fun to hang out with, and the kids just played and played together. Mine were sad one morning when we were at the beach earlier than their friends, and kept begging me to text their mom to see when they’d be there. This was such a fun and unexpected part of our trip!

So ready to go back. 

   
    
 
    
 

Beach.

So vacation was several weeks ago…and I’m just now writing about it. However, it deserves to be documented, as it was fabulous. 

There’s something I can’t even put into words about being at the beach. Matt (who loves the beach, too, but isn’t even remotely as weirdly obsessed as I am) asked me several times, “What is it about being here that makes you happy?” and I honestly don’t fully understand it. All I know is that the ocean and I are a good fit, and it’s a sad, sad thing that I live this far away from it.

{in the process of writing this post, I found the following quote, and, well, it’s just true:

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net forever.” 

Jacques Cousteau 

That sounds about right.}

We spent 8 nights in Siesta Key, in a condo that was a 2-minute walk to the beach. It rained the first day and a half, and I was concerned (read: borderline depressed) that we had brought Missouri’s rainy summer with us. However, it cleared up and the rest of our time there could not have been more perfectly beautiful.

   
 

I am afraid I have been completely ruined by this beach. It’s the only place I want to vacation. Ever. I sincerely hope that this becomes at least an every-other-year destination. In the weeks since we have been home, I’ve already started a sales pitch to my family to get them to go back with me next July. 

We drove there, driving through the night on the way down. I have found my gift, thanks in great part to my insomnia: I am a great nighttime driver! I drove from St. Louis, leaving at 5:30pm, to Dalton, GA, about 500 miles, with one stop at 8:30pm. I was so proud of myself! The boys are excellent travelers – seriously, like rockstar amazing – and I don’t think it would take any convincing to get them to do an overnight drive again. Matt was less of a fan, but I think I could talk him into it again, too 🙂

I mean. With sunsets like these, how could you not be convinced? (Confession: I am majorly obsessed with beach sunsets, and the still of the beach after dark.)

   
   
More to come. 

Confessions.

Ok. Time to just be transparent about a couple of things:

1.  I absolutely will not get political here, but I feel like you all should know that if Trump manages to win the election somehow, you can find me on an island far away. I am so not joking.

2a. So I used to have this schedule for summer mornings, where the boys would do some reading or math work and some housework, too. Yeah. I let that go this summer, and we have been so. chill. around here. They have done some reading and they do chores as requested by me but it’s not like before. Boy, have we enjoyed our lazy downtime. They’re just at an age where the schedule isn’t needed anymore to keep me from going crazy. And I’m apparently at the age where I don’t care enough because…

2b. They have played an embarrassing number of hours of Mario Kart this week. They haven’t cared about Mario Kart for years, and somehow their interest resurfaced. Here’s why I’m cool with it: they’re all playing together and not fighting. SO PLEASE KEEP PLAYING THE MARIO KART.

School starts Wednesday and I’m celebrating with a massage on Thursday. 

Happy weekend!

Three Solutions

I’m going to try to ease myself back into writing here, hopefully regularly after the boys are back in school (which is in 9 days. I can’t even believe it.). I have two trips to recap, but here’s a little story from our last weekend trip that illustrates the boys’ different personalities.

We spent the weekend at Lake Delavan in Wisconsin with Matt’s entire family. The old lake cottage was lifted off its foundation last fall, a basement poured, and the house put back. It’s still under construction, but all 16 of us were able to stay there! The boys stayed in the basement in a bunk room, and there’s a bathroom down there now, too.

And since they’re old enough to just take care of themselves, I didn’t interfere with the showering process at all.

We all bring our own towels when we stay at the cottage, and it occurred to me on the drive back to STL yesterday that I had never given the boys their bath towels after we got there. (Of course, no one asked if there were any. Typical.)

I knew that they had all showered at least once, so I asked, “Uh, what did you do to dry off?”

Luke: “I just dripped dry.”

Bennett: “I used my beach towel. There was some sand, but I didn’t care.”

Jack Henry: “I just used the towel hanging closest to the shower.” (My apologies to whomever else was drying off with that towel.)

I won’t over-analyze this, but honestly, their solutions fit their personalities so perfectly it’s hilarious.