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Monday, June 24, 2013

summer, here we come

I would have to say that the first week of summer vacation was a huge success.   
I feel like I should confess that I love summer vacation but it scares me a little.  I love the idea of lazy days with the girls, Popsicles in the afternoon, beach trips,  sitting on the patio with a cup of tea in the morning and no where to else to be.  Yet the reality of these stretches of days without scheduled hours to myself is that my long stretches of imagined serenity and feet-up summer leisure, is a hiccup called sibling disagreement. 
Last summer I had to lay the law with the girls. I told them they would earn all the fun things we would with good behavior.  If they fought, I would simply hang the car keys up in the key box next to the door and let them ponder their consequences in the sweaty in-land heat rather than on the breezy sand of the beach.   It worked, but it took a significant amount of energy on all of our parts. I felt like I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting like a Vegas dealer to shuffle and hand out consequences. 
It seems a year makes all the difference. 
I realize I am only one week in but so much has changed from last year.  First off, I am in a much better place.  While I don't know that I would go so far as to say I have mastered mostly single parenting, I do have a much better handle on it.  I know how to pace myself, where to plan and when to leave time open.  I can anticipate the kids' needs and their exhaustion levels better and avoid the pitfalls that used to knock me squarely off my feet. 
My ongoing internal work that began this winter also finds me in a much more peaceful, more patient, happier state of being.  I breath more, enjoy more, let go more, laugh more, play more.  I rarely yell or totally lose my cool.  The girls are responding in kind and our family life has a more buoyant, carefree and more joyful feel.
It is also very obvious to me the great strides in maturity both the girls have made.  While they still argue and tattle some, they don't seem as interested in stirring the pot just to get the other in trouble.  Ella seems to understand that this only creates more problems for her and she seems to see the bigger picture more.  If Maya says something about her that is blatantly inaccurate, she can (sometimes) shrug and I can almost hear her think the thought I've been trying to teach her:  I am bigger and I understand more.  You go ahead and think the sky is purple but if I know it to be blue than it doesn't matter.
Maya's independence has caught up with her abilities.  She can play on her own for long stretches and can do most everything she wants.  She can pump on the swing, hoist herself up to the gymnastics bar on the playset, turn on the hose and fill her basket with all the petals the garden has given up.  She has collected thousands of peony petals and strewn them all over our yard and driveway.  Yesterday morning when I got up it looked like a family of peonies had been massacred on our front lawn.
This is all to say, that with one successful week under our belts, I feel relaxed and excited about spending the summer with the girls.   I know how to drop everything and play Go-fish, how to stop what I'm doing to have a tickle fight, how to relish these little people who are at the perfect age of old enough and young enough.

Other than my very light massage schedule, the girls and I will be together.  I don't have them in any camps or classes, nothing to cramp our summer style, but that also means no built in breaks for me.  The biggest consequence of that is getting time to exercise.  Last year I was in a similar boat and found some ways to be creative about exercise.  This year is no different and the key to my success is in getting up early, really early. 
Some mornings I get up at 4 and go for a run before Sandi has to leave at 4:45.  Other days, I do some yoga and pilates in my living room.  In a pinch, I can resort to the elliptical machine.  An added benefit of getting up at 4 (which I do almost every day) is that sometimes I get 3 whole hours of quiet and two cups of tea before the girls wake up.  I don't need more motivation than that.  But I may need some under eye concealer.
Thankfully, as promised from last summer to this one, Sandi has a bit more of a normal life this summer. While she is still putting in long clinical hours and has lots of traveling still to do, she is free on the weekends and that means two wonderful things:

1. We get to have our family time back.
2. I get to ride my bike early on weekend mornings.
Biking in the early morning with no traffic, the cool air, the wildlife and the rising sun is its own reward.  This weekend I got to ride nearly 40 miles both Saturday and Sunday. 
I feel like as a family we are able to breath easier this summer. We have already had campfires, family bike rides and hikes.
We've had breakfast on the patio. 

And snacks in the clubhouse.
In other random summer news, the girls and I saw a snapping turtle:
 and Maya has determined that the peony is her favorite new flower.  At least this week.
 It is kind of like Sandi is slowly returning to normal life.  In the past 22 months, her life has been trimmed of all extraneous activity.  She rarely has gotten to do school drop off, make dinner, get a haircut on time or sit and have coffee with friends.  The few times she has cooked alongside me in the kitchen I relish her presense since this was something we always loved to do together.  Having her in the car with us doing anything feels like a victory.  This week she actually got to make the trip out to the farm with us and the kids were like, "REALLY? Mommy gets to COME WITH US?!"  It kind of makes us want to cry.


We have 152 days until graduation and Sandi has secured a job.  Every little step we take closer to the end of this journey, whether it is a trip to the farm or purchasing her cap and gown, we will celebrate for the milestone it is.  Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of her.  She is at mile 20 in a marathon and needs some endurance.  Anyone have any Clif Shots or Gu?

Here's to a super fun, carefree, playful summer absent of overtired kids and sibling fights and full of parental patience and presence.  We can do it. I know we can.

We've come a long way baby.

Summer 2008

Summer 2013

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