It’s Still Summer

first day of summer

This was the first day of summer. I think the last day of summer is going to look pretty similar…

We have four more days, and I’m not giving them up.

I’ve been watching all my family and friends’ Facebook posts about the first day of school all this past week and everyone’s kids look adorable and happy and like they’re growing too fast.  But all I can think is how glad I am that our school district doesn’t start until after Labor Day.

There’s some kind of mental boost from knowing school doesn’t start until September.  Never mind that it starts September 2nd…it’s still September, which means the whole month of August is summer, which makes me happy.

I don’t love the years when Labor Day falls late and we go back to school on September 7 or 8, but September 2nd seems just about perfect.

Yesterday we had the open houses at all the kids’ schools and met their teachers.  We dropped off the school supplies we purchased, picked up packets of papers to fill out, and actually got into the school-is-starting mode.  It was exciting!

We have a few more purchases we still have to make before we’re 100% ready for back-to-school, including several new pair of sneakers and other assorted shoes for some little boys who haven’t worn anything more structured than $2 flip flops from Old Navy since summer began.  Like last year, we won’t do any big “back-to-school shopping trips” until later in the Fall when it actually cools off.

I’ve already cleaned out the dressers for two kids in anticipation for eventually buying some new clothes, which is a huge task checked off my list.  It also made me realize we don’t really need any new clothes at all for a certain girl who just turned ten and got almost an entire new wardrobe as birthday gifts from lovely family members.  The boys will all need new pants once the weather turns cool because I think they’ve each grown 2″ taller over the summer.

This weekend we’re going to grocery shop and go to the farm and bake some healthy snacks I can use to pack lunches next week.  We’re going to play with friends and go to the pool and watch movies and read books and get haircuts and pack up school bags and and go to bed early on Sunday and Monday to attempt to get back in some kind of school-night routine.

It’s the final weekend of summer.  What are you doing?

A Decade

 

BB first day

It seems more than impossible that you should be turning ten today, my little girl.  After all, you were born mere moments ago.  I cannot have been at this mothering thing for ten years, and you are still supposed to be toddling around carrying a stuffed-monkey-dressed-in-a-bunny-suit under your arm everywhere we go.

B and monkey bunny

But I can’t deny the dates, and I certainly cannot deny the fact that you are no longer a baby.  Not by a long shot.

lion_king_B

I simply cannot separate your birthday from a birthday of my own–the day I became a mother.  You’ve defined my life for the last ten years, every single day, whether you were with me or not.  I am not me–the me I am today–without you.  And you?  You are, quite simply, my favorite girl on the planet.

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When I had you, I struggled through 24-hours of labor.  I had no idea what I was doing.  Your birth, though pretty normal, was kind of scary and kind of intense and more than a little exhausting.  I don’t remember what I said the first time I held you, and I don’t clearly recall the immediate hours following your birth.  But what I do remember–as clear in my mind as if it were happening right now–was the first time you woke up in the middle of that night to eat.  I fed you, in a dark hospital room with light from the nurses’ station shining across us onto your father, snoring as he slept like the dead in a tiny fold-out chair.  I fed you and I swaddled you and you immediately got your hands and feet out of the swaddle and as I stared at you and drank you in, the immenseness of it came over me.  My eyes filled with tears and I prayed, silently, the most fervent and heartfelt prayer I’ve ever said before or since.  All I said was Thank You.  Thank you for this little girl and please, please, take care of her and let her live a long, happy, healthy life.  It’s my daily prayer for you–and your brothers–still.

cupcakes in summer

You are a bright and shining thing, my daughter.  You are whip-smart and funny and goofy and silly and outgoing and creative.  You can be a bit of a drama queen (you may have gotten that from me).  Remember though, as you begin this journey into your pre-teen and teen years, to use your smart brain and don’t get wrapped up in drama created for drama’s sake.  Use your smart brain to create beautiful drama–the kind you plan, and write, and act out for a purpose.  Always be your strong, confident, goofy self.  Don’t ever worry about or try to hide your silly side, and don’t ever, ever hide your intelligence.  Not for anyone.

upside down B

You read books like you breathe air.  I love that.  It may be my favorite thing about you actually, because there is nothing I love more than to get lost in a good book, unless it is to later discuss said book with you.

B and G reading

You run and play and jump and climb and swim and use your strong, capable little body with great grace and abandon.  You’re fast (you definitely, definitely did not get that from me).  You’re confident.  You move like you know what you’re doing.

BB running beach

You’re not patient (I’m blaming Daddy equally on this one).  Even if it’s the hardest thing you ever do, you’ve got to learn to be patient with your brothers.  Be kind to them even when it’s hard.  Especially when it’s hard.  They love you, and I know you love them.  Show them–it seems annoying and it seems dumb, but show them you love them. They adore you and even when they refuse to let you see, they think everything you do is awesome.  Except when what you’re doing is being mean and bossy to them.  They don’t like that as much.

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I know you think Daddy and I are old and dorky and have no idea what we’re talking about.  You’re only partially correct.  We are old-ish, dorky-ish, and occasionally we know what we’re talking about.  Even when you don’t want to listen to us, know that you have to.  But know that everything we’re telling you is because we love you, we’ve been where you are, and we know what’s best.  I know you won’t listen anyway, and you’ll push back and try to do your own thing and we’ll push back until eventually we all find a place we can live in peace, but I just thought I’d throw this out here, just in case.

little B and Daddy

Know that above all, you, my daughter, are the best girl I ever knew and you are restrained only by the limits you put on yourself.  I am grateful each and every single day that I get to be your mother, and I cannot wait to see what unfolds for you in these next few years.  I know they will be full of adventure for both of us.  I love you a Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around the Neck!

young mama and BHappy Tenth Birthday!

Summer Finale

We were up in Massachusetts last week visiting family and friends.  It was an amazing and fun week and I loved watching my kids play with my nephews and niece.  It’s awesome.

cousin sleepoverI’m telling you, New England has the best summers. We kayaked, swam, had tons of ice cream, visited multiple playgrounds (including one in NYC on a one-night stop on the way to Boston that might have been the coolest playground I’ve ever been to), went to the beach, had cousin-sleepovers, movie nights, and boat rides.

ice cream on the cape

gun showI also got to hang out with my sisters and my parents, which I don’t do enough, and see a few friends (although not as many as I usually see when we go home).  It was restorative.

nana aunta B

My Mom, my youngest sister, and my B.

sisters on newbury

My middle sister and I hanging on Newbury St

Unfortunately, halfway through the week I got sick with what I thought was my third round of strep throat in six weeks.  Ugh, being sick on vacation is terrible.  I tried to make the most of it, but I felt pretty miserable for a few days.

Now I’m home and have seen my Doctor and she doesn’t think it’s strep after all, so I had a bunch of blood drawn and am being tested for a whole slew of fun stuff.  Until I get results, I’m just supposed to rest and take it easy (which is really, really hard to do the week before school starts).  I’m trying my best, because if it were anyone else I would make them follow doctor’s orders.

And with that, we have one week left until school starts.  I think we’ve made this summer pretty amazing, and I’m excited about getting back to school.  But I still plan to spend the next few days relaxing at the pool while the kids swim.  It ain’t over til it’s over.

My Two Cents On Ferguson, Which Is About All It’s Worth

This is a major departure from the normal posting here on Little Nesting Doll.  I try really hard to concentrate on positive things, to avoid discussing majorly polarizing topics, and I don’t usually comment on current events that don’t relate to my immediate family.

But.  I am nothing if not opinionated, however carefully curated my opinions on here usually are.  And this morning I find that I am talking to myself; I have all these sentences bouncing around inside my brain and the only way I’m going to get them to stop stumbling about and colliding with one another is to write them down.

I hate to add more noise, because goodness knows there are enough opinions on this incident floating around the internet.  But I’m going to throw my two cents in anyway.  That’s exactly what it’s worth, by the way.  Here’s what I believe:

I have no idea what it’s like to be a black man (or woman) in the United States.  I do absolutely believe, though, that black people are often treated unfairly.  I think there are laws that discriminate, that racism still exists, and that getting ahead is often more difficult for black people.  I think that same thing applies to ALL minorities.  Gays.  Women.  Immigrants. The system as it exists sucks pretty badly in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to respond with violence or disrespect.

Playing the victim does not help.  Bemoaning the unfairness of life does not help.  You were dealt a hard hand?  Play better, work harder, and overcome the difficulties. Don’t let your challenges reduce you to whining.  You are responsible, 100%, for your own actions.  Every day.

Looting the convenience stores in your own neighborhood does not help your cause, it only reveals an absolute lack of understanding of what the problem actually IS.  Every single person who reacted to the killing of a young black man with retaliatory violence made a choice not to do the right thing.  Nothing justifies those acts.

And then you have the police, accused of brutality, racial profiling, and extreme violence.  I am biased here, because I have many, many family members and friends who serve as police officers.  However, I am not naive, and I absolutely know and agree that there are plenty of people in law enforcement who abuse their power.  That is 100% true.

I also know, though, that the job of a police officer is difficult in ways I cannot fully comprehend.  The fact is that cops are faced every hour of every day with the worst humanity has to offer; they are the ones who see the ugliest parts of society on a daily basis.

Some of the stories I’ve heard from family and friends who are police officers make me gasp in horror and cry in disgust.  One of my good friends, at my comment that it must be so awful to be the officer on scene after a brutal car accident, remarked, “Do you know how many dead bodies I’ve seen?  It almost doesn’t even register anymore.”  It’s PTSD-inducing, but without the P-, because it’s their job, every day.

While there are definitely cops who overstep their authority, there are also more that don’t.  The job of a police officer is to serve and protect.  They maintain order in a chaotic world, they see shit I can’t even imagine, and they put their lives in danger to keep the rest of us safer.  Basically, it’s a job that is more stressful than I can imagine with fewer rewards than are deserved.  And certainly less respect than is warranted.

Did the officer who shot Michael Brown take it too far?  Possibly.

Or maybe he thought his own life was truly in danger and reacted accordingly.  I am far from the person to make that judgment.

Did law enforcement overreact to peaceful protests and use excessive force against innocent people?  Possibly.

Or maybe those police officers felt their own lives were truly in danger from the handful of decidedly NON-peaceful participants in the protest and reacted accordingly.  I don’t know and I can’t say one way or the other.

Are there cops who abuse their power?  Yup.  Does that give an entire community the right to explode in violence and insanity?  Nope.

Is life harder in this country for minorities?  Yup.  Does that give minorities free reign to play the victim, to justify violent actions with excuses of hardship, or to disrespect authority figures because they represent oppression?  Nope.

I wish the world were a more fair place, but it’s not.  All we can do, as individuals, is make choices every single day to work on making things better.  We can treat people as we would want to be treated, in each and every interaction we have with each and every other person we meet, all day, every day.  We can take personal responsibility for our own actions and stop blaming others for our own bad behavior.  When we act like assholes, and we all do it, we need to apologize and do everything we can to rectify the situation.  This is kindergarten shit, people.

It is sad that a potentially innocent young man was killed by a police officer.  It is sad that that police officer’s life may have been threatened and now he is being forced to defend his decision to defend himself.  It is sad that black people (and women, and gays, and immigrants, and many other minority groups) in this country face more challenges to get ahead.  It is sad that when faced with the choice to work harder and do better or complain about disparity or injustice, many people choose to do the latter.  It is sad that the response to Michael Brown’s death was violence and destruction.  It is sad that there are authority figures who abuse their power.  It is sad that police officers are faced with death and pain and drugs and hopelessness every day and are still not given the respect they deserve.

But mostly, it is sad that in this day and age, in a supposedly great country, we are still faced with racism, hatred, disrespect, violence, inequality, and extremism.

I have no solution, other than to take responsibility for MY own actions and to make sure I choose to do the right thing, even when it’s hard.  And I will sit here, hoping others will do the same.

Sans Kids

pool alone

This is everything I took with me to the pool. Unprecedented in the last ten years.

Last week the kids went camping with Matt’s parents for two days.  They went during the week, so Matt was at work all day and I was home alone.

I used some of the time to attack a project I’ve been meaning to do for a while: repaint the kids’ bathroom.  I was going to do it whether the kids were home or not, but it was SO MUCH easier to do while they were away.  (The only problem was that, because I had to wait for the paint to dry between coats, the bathroom is still in need of one more coat and I haven’t managed to get it done this week while the kids have been around.  So it’s mostly done…but not completely done.)

Once the painting was as done as it could be until it was dry, I used the rest of my alone time to actually relax by myself.  I went to the pool, alone, with nothing but a book, a towel, and sunglasses.  It. Was. Heavenly.

That night Matt and I went out to dinner at a restaurant we’d been meaning to try.  We tried to go to an antique shop I’ve been eyeing for literally years, but it closed at 5 and we didn’t get there until after 6…so that’s still on the list for the next time the kids are away.

The kids were gone for less than 24 hours, but it was a nice little break.  When they got home they were excited about the bathroom…although they’ll probably be more excited when it’s actually finished and they can use it again.

Relaxing

lazymorningsMost mornings this summer break, my kids have watched a movie or TV show for a good hour or two almost every day.  I feel like I should maybe feel bad or guilty about that.

But I really don’t.

They usually wake up by 7:30 at the latest most mornings.  I am finally at a point in motherhood where they don’t really need me to make them breakfast, which is pretty awesome.  And I really like to sleep until 8AM.  It is the perfect time for my body and my brain to wake up, and thanks to the goodness of my husband, who is up and getting ready for work when most of the kids wake up anyway, I get to sleep until that golden hour most mornings.  He comes in at about 7:15 to kiss me good-bye and let me know which kids are up and which kids are asleep, and I roll back over and close my eyes for another 45 minutes.  It feels luxurious.

When I come downstairs, the kids are usually snuggled up together, all four in a row under a blanket, watching a Disney Channel movie or show, having already eaten breakfast.  I drink my coffee in a mostly-quiet kitchen, check my email, clean up from breakfast.

I love that short space of time in the morning when the kids are getting along (or at least not bickering because they’re engrossed in a movie).  No one is running around or climbing the door frames pretending to be Spiderman.  I can clean up the kitchen before anyone comes in asking for more food and making a mess as I try to clean.

So I don’t feel one bit guilty about the TV babysitting for a while–it’s such a departure from our school year routine (no TV ever before school, and very rarely do they watch TV after school).  The kids read for at least 30 minutes a day all summer too, so we aren’t watching TV at the exclusion of books.  Mama gets a little quiet time to drink my coffee and check Facebook, making me a happier, more cheerful person.

Plus, I’m learning all the words to the songs in Teen Beach Movie by osmosis, so really, it’s a winning situation all around.

Summer Break

We’ve been making the most of summer.

Firepits and s’mores in the back yard.

making smores

O smores

B smores

Swim meets.

B breaststrokeQ swimming speedo brothersBuilding forts in the woods with cousins visiting from across the country.

fort buildingPlaying at the pool until it closes.

pool_funWatching soccer games and hanging with our favorite soccer player.

with NikiHeading to the Kennedy Center for the Lion King to celebrate an upcoming 10th birthday.

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Ice cream and movie dates.

movie time ice cream night date with 4 kidsWe’re checking items off our To-Do List and loving every minute of it.  It may be the shortest summer break ever, but we are making it count.