Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer Vacation Countdown

And just like that, there are only 4 more weeks of summer vacation left. After the first two very busy weeks of summer break, full of antsy bored kids demanding more of everything, my girls have now settled into an appropriate summer mindset. They have ongoing games that carry over from day to day, have read through their stacks of library books, and have binged on their favorite TV shows. We've taken family trips, had tons of play dates, have visited the zoo and several parks. They've perfected their swimming skills, we've made homemade ice cream and blender snow cones, and I've put on more bedtime puppet shows than I can count. Both girls are tan, lean, toned from their endless activities, and totally off their usual sleep schedule.

We're noticing the back-to-school stuff in stores now, and the girls are thinking of what kind of school supplies they'd like this year. We still have a lot left on our to-do list, various outing possibilities I'd come up with before summer break started that we haven't gotten around to doing yet. We'll squeeze in what we can before the end of August rolls around, but I'm glad we're not keeping the same frenzied nonstop pace we were at the beginning of summer. Of course, the relaxed days of later bedtime and slow-paced mornings mean the school transition will be a shock to the system for all of us. Maybe a week before school starts I'll try to get us all back to early bedtime and early waking. Maybe.

We've had plenty of fighting in the house the last few days. The girls, now five-and-a-half and seven-and-a-half (those halves are so coveted at this age), have gone from whining, fussing, and bickering to wrestling, slapping, and kicking each other. Whether it's a product of doing too much or not enough, I have no idea. Maybe it's just from being around each other 24/7 since June. Come fall, they'll be separated almost seven hours a day and will have plenty to fill each other in on when they're reunited each weekday afternoon. I've tried separating them a few times a day, and although they each have their own room/books/toys, they simply refuse to be separated. Yesterday, at the peak of frustration, after the tenth physical fight of the day, I made the ridiculous declaration that for the rest of the summer they were not allowed to play together. They both cried: "But we love each other!" followed by lots of hugging and kissing that soon turned into another wrestling match. So there it is. So now I'm letting them fight it out with a little safety supervision. That's the point of having a sibling, right? All of those conflict management skills you rack up at an early age? So add that to the summer accomplishment list: perfecting the art of the surprise attack, self-defense, and learning when the best solution is to give up and walk away (or run to Mom, if it's the feisty five-year-old who is after you, because she won't stop until she has made her point--often with her teeth).

And despite the busyness of monitoring my kids' social schedules, I have found time to write. Thanks to my tireless Dad and step-mom, who watch the girls 2-3 times per week for a few hours, I've managed to finish a short story and start a new novel. I'm watching the calendar, waiting for the days when I'll have bigger blocks of time to myself for my writing, but in the mean time, I'm very happy with the progress I've made. And if I can just keep the girls from seriously harming one another, I'll consider this to be a great summer.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


We're 2 weeks into summer break, and to be honest, I'm tired already. We've had daily play dates, swim lessons, and lots of kid requests for more activities. I've run through my usual toolbox of entertainment ideas, and it's time to get some new ideas. When your 7-year-old, who spent the first month of the school year crying about having to go to school, tells you she misses school, it's a clue that you aren't keeping her busy enough, even though we haven't stopped moving since school got out.

Last summer the girls were in summer school for six weeks, and it's a luxury I'm missing this time around. This summer we're living on a tight budget, which means free activities and no childcare for me. Having kids with me all day every day means they get to help me squeeze in all of those boring and practical errands around the park trips and visits to friends' houses, and I can tell you they aren't a fan of watching me clean the house or try to fix the broken clothes dryer or trim the dog's nails. I'm not sure what kind of parties they thought I was throwing when they were at school, but they seem disappointed by the lackluster quality of my days.

"Is this what you do all day?" my 5-year-old asked. The answer is yes and no. I had a lot more free time when they were in school all day. And only half as much housework. It's amazing how much harder it is to keep a house clean when there are two kids in it all day. You never catch up!

"Well, this and writing," I told her. They also promised me writing time. Then interrupted me every three minutes with questions and demands and fights I had to break up. So, the writing is mostly in my head these days, stored up until my precious few hours when their grandpa and step-grandma have them and I can rush to get it all down on paper before it evaporates.

Next week we have our first summer trip planned. Well, our only summer trip. Just a three-day getaway with my mom, sister, and niece, to a big hotel/casino with a bunch of pools. The girls can't wait. Three days of swimming! An arcade! An ice cream stand in the lobby of the hotel! My sister and I are looking forward to some sisterly bonding time while grandma watches the girls. And I'm looking forward to three days of not hearing the words "I'm bored" or "what else are we going to do today?"

After that, who knows? I have 9 more weeks to fill. That's a lot of play dates to schedule. A lot of messes to clean up. A lot more errands to drag kids around on. It's also a lot more afternoons of chatting with friends while our kids play together. More hot afternoons sitting in the shade attempting to write while my girls splash in their kiddie pools out back. More experimenting with making snow cones in the blender. More family hikes where the girls search for unicorn hoof prints while the dog runs his endless energy out. More puppet shows to put on with them. More memories to make so that when they are back in school I can miss them and their silly jokes and crazy antics and impatient morning wake-up kisses like crazy. Because that's how it is being a mom. When the school grind is 8 months old you can't wait for summer to get a break from it. And when summer is dragging on you start to wonder how you'll survive until school rolls around again.