5 Foolproof Ways to Have a Really Awesome Summer

Dear Joshua, Sophie, and Jonah,

Hey kids! I’ve got some great ideas on how to make this the Best. Summer. EVAH! You know as a mom I have struggled in the past with having you home all summer and up in my GRILL,  but those days are GONE. I’ve come up with 5 ways to make this summer super-tastic and I think if we all work together on these, we are gonna have a GREAT time. Ready? Here goes!

5

1) Get up early

Listen up, pups. You know I get up at 5:45 every day to work while you’re sleeping, but the truth is that the whole time I am drinking my coffee and being super-productive, I am longing to see your little faces and be constantly interrupted. Plus, there are SO MANY EXCITING SUMMER  THINGS happening in the WEE HOURS of the morning, you just do NOT wanna miss it. So PLEASE, do not sleep any later than 7:30 a.m. every day or our summer is gonna SUCK.

2) Ask me for stuff constantly

Just because you’re old enough to make your own cereal, use the microwave, and get yourself dressed doesn’t mean I still don’t want to do EVERYTHING for you. I’m a MOM,  even though I have a work from home job now. If you fail to interrupt me every 5 minutes to look at your latest bug bite or tell me a really annoying story or ask me to do something that you can totally do for yourself, I will FORGET WHO I AM and become completely depressed. Please do not under any circumstances attempt to be independent!

3) Beg me to have a friend over at least 3 times a day

School’s out! YAY! I love summer! Except for when I remember I won’t spend all day, every day with my friends! Easy solution to this one kiddos. I LOVE to be nagged, I also love to moderate play dates when I’m trying to do my job, SO – please request the presence of a friend at least 3x daily, or I might think that our house and yard full of toys is enough to keep you content and  busy. Also, please pick the friend that lives the farthest away to avoid any attempts at convenience.

4) Fight with each other

There’s nothing worse than peace and quiet on a summer afternoon so for the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE BICKER ON A REGULAR BASIS. If you need tips on how to get a row started, let me know. If you don’t give me a fight to break up I’m going to a) get super bored and b) have really low blood pressure and c) be extra-productive at work and possibly break the internet so – start being jerks to each other, STAT!

5) Say you’re bored

This just in: I LIVE TO ENTERTAIN. And since we’ve already established that I have nothing better to do, y’all need to keep me hopping by claiming  boredom so I can come up with a huge list of activities to combat that. BONUS POINTS if you reject ALL my ideas and go back to doing what you were doing before you claimed boredom.

Are you ready for some FUN, kids? I’m sorry I wasted 3 weeks of summer before coming up with these,  but we’ve still got 56 more days to rock these five steps out to the MAXIMUM! Don’t let me down!

Love,

Mom

 

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What My Grandmother Taught Me Without Saying a Word

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My grandma turned 90 years old a couple of months ago, on April 6, 2015. A few weeks later, my cousin Anna snapped this photograph proving she is still young at heart.

Grandma swinging 2

It was the first birthday she spent away from home. Though we celebrated her at my mother’s house and had a wonderful time, I know we all wished we were celebrating her as we usually did, at her green house across the street from our favorite park.

Grandma's House

But about 4 months ago, due to early Alzheimer’s, Grandma had to move into an assisted living cottage. As we were going through some of her things at her beloved home to see what keepsakes we might want, as we were running our fingers over her memory-laden dining room table one last time, as we stood together as cousins in the emotion-filled rooms where we also became friends, I began to think about all the lessons I have learned in that house. It dawned on me bit by bit, memory by memory, that my Grandma taught me about what is really important in life – the most profound, meaningful lessons a child can carry into adulthood. And she did it all her way, which is, without saying a word.

Grandmas-House-4

No, my Grandma is not mute. She is quiet, but she talks perfectly well. It’s just that she’s the kind of person who shows and teaches by doing. The consistent actions of this quiet woman assured that she’d never need to deliver a lecture.

Every Sunday for my entire life, and indeed, long before I was born, Grandma’s family gathered at her house Sunday afternoons. She cooked us a smorgasbord of food: meat loaf, biscuits, green beans, corn, pork chops, roasts, cauliflower salad, fried chicken, and always, always desserts: chocolate pound cake, Hershey pie, home made cookies and apple pies and an endless supply of ice cream.

grandma cooks

 

She spent all morning cooking and always had the big table and the kids’ table set for a crowd. She made sure everyone had their plates and glasses filled and rarely sat down to eat herself until everyone else was almost done. When she was doing for us, she was truly in her element.

grandma table food

And she loved every minute of it.

By serving us cheerfully and tirelessly, my Grandma taught me that there is great joy and value in serving others. 

After lunch and more dessert than necessary at Grandma’s we kids would run off to play. Grandma, who had just served lunch and dessert to a minimum of 10-12 people, never cleaned up a dish or accepted help with the dishes in our presence. She preferred to sit and enjoy her company and clean up the mess when her house was empty again. A dozen or two plates, ice cream bowls, glasses, sets of silverware, and serving dishes sat there for hours until all her company had left with a grocery bag stuffed with aluminum-wrapped leftovers, and then, and only then, did she tend to them.

By saving the clean-up until after we were gone, my Grandma taught me to savor each moment with the people you love, and to prioritize time with loved ones over the “clean dishes” of life.

jack at gma table

Grandma loves children and she absolutely delighted – I cannot think of a more fitting word – in her five grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. She was definitely one of my very favorite playmates. She would play hide-and-seek with us for eons, never tiring, and finding the most creative hiding places.

grandma hide n seek

“Here I come with big eyes open,” she’d say loudly in a sing-song voice. It was then that we knew the hunt was on and we’d better not move a muscle.

Even into her 80s she would get down on the floor with my children and play blocks or ball or whatever they wanted. Grandma was game, no matter the game. If we wanted to do it, so did she.

grandma and Lily 2

Grandma loved to play with us. With us.

By prioritizing play with me as a child, my Grandma taught me the paramount significance of playing with my own children, and of speaking a child’s love language.

Grandma And Jack

Though Grandma loved to play with us, she was, as I have mentioned, a quiet person. Sometimes we could get her to talk and tell the old stories but mostly she preferred to listen. When I struggle with patience when my daughter verbally details and categories every last mosquito bite on her body, I think of the way my Grandma would sit silently at the dinner table with us, not talking much, but very much engaged, listening to everything every one of us had to say. I think of the way now, with her hearing going, she leans in and concentrates when my children want to tell her something, because she wants to hear it. It is not manners that dictate her behavior, but true interest in what each of us has to say. She has no motivation, as I often do, to pepper the conversation with witticisms and draw a few laughs. She doesn’t want to be the center of attention, but she’s excellent at giving attention.

By listening thoughtfully to me, my Grandma taught me that what I had to say had value, and that listening to someone who needs to talk is a gift.

My Grandma now lives in a small room in an assisted living cottage. I take my kids to see her about every other week. Because of her Alzheimer’s, she may forget a name or say something a little wacky, but she is for the most part, the Grandma I know, and I am thankful. She still went down the slide at the park with my kids today (and almost got stuck), she still scrounges up some candy or a drink to feed us as best she can, and she still listens intently to everything we have to say – even if she can’t hear. But the truth is, there is a time coming when, even though she may be living still, I will not have my Grandma anymore.

And that pains me more than I can say. I would love to be eloquent about it, but all I can say is – it really hurts.

But below, above, and around the hurt there is gratefulness. There is serving joyfully, playing with abandon, knowing and doing what really matters in life and saving the small potatoes for later, and there is listening to others and showing them they matter.

Those are values I will always possess, and when I intentionally act them out every day with my loved ones, I will have my Grandma with me.

I will always have the things she taught me without saying a word.

Thank you to Anna for the beautiful photographs.

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Desperate Times Call for FREAKING OUT

Today is the first Monday of my first summer as a work at home mom with KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL. To say I’m nervous about this enterprise is an understatement. I work about 30 hours a week and I have child care 14 hours a week.

It seems that perhaps the odds are not in my favor.

Jonah has summer school June 15-July 12 so basically I’m living for June 15th right now. At least then I will have four hours a day when he’s not perpetually pissed off that Joshua would rather play Minecraft than play with him. Of course that week the big kids are also in VBS, so I have to drop Jonah off (15 minutes each way. Last year summer school was at the school 90 seconds from my driveway. This year, ACROSS TOWN.) and then truck it back home , be home for 15 minutes, and take the big kids to VBS. So really I shouldn’t be that excited about the week of June 15th I guess.

*tears out hair*

I need to go read some blogs about how to organize your life when you’re a work at home mom in the summer that does NOT involve spending 75% of my income on day camps.

But I didn’t get up at 5:45 to do THAT, so I better just get to work and see how much I can get done before they jump out of bed at the crack of 7:30  (The time at which I have told them they may emerge, you KNOW they are awake before that. Maybe THAT’S why I hate summer, DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT JUDGY PEOPLE? MY KIDS DON’T SLEEP IN!) and get to work.

But first I am going to read every single square on this and laugh a LOT. And guzzle coffee. You’re welcome. Happy June, everyone!

(Click on the pic to be able to read it well. It’s hilarious!)

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