Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Time Flies When You're the Mom

This is what I am learning this summer: That you (and by "you," I mean "I") actually have LESS time available to you as a stay-at-home mom to slightly older kids than you did when they were toddlers/preschoolers.

Because back then, they napped or had quiet time. Every day. They went to bed earlier too. And for some reason, I had my girls in more structured activities when they were littler; not a lot, but a few classes here and there that allowed me to either drop one of them off for a short time or sit somewhere watching their classes or lessons while reading or taking notes for my book or making my grocery list.

This summer? I am arguably having more fun--I always have fun in the summer, so it's hard to say, but this summer, with bigger kids, is especially fun--but my "free" time is more negligible than ever. (Can something be "more negligible"??)  Especially now that the girls' twice-a-week afternoon class at the playground is over.

I didn't sign them up for any sports or lessons this year. We hang out together--all day, every day--and my personal philosophy is to say "yes" every time they ask to go to the pool. If that means we spend twelve afternoons in a row at the pool, and that's twelve afternoons with zero time to run errands or do a workout DVD or, ahem, write this blog, well, it is what it is.

Yesterday afternoon the girls and I were driven inside from our backyard because the mosquitoes were so bad and I literally had not had time to go to the store and replenish our bug spray supply. I mean, really. Mainly that was because we had relatives visiting all weekend so there wasn't time to do things like run to Target for bug spray (or the other twenty things I'm out of), and because last week I had two sick kids for a couple of days (and now have one sick kid, again). It's also because once you've gotten used to being able to do the family shopping on solo trips while the kids are in school, it's painful to consider running those same errands with two children along.

I tend to throw up my hands and say, Whatever. Let's just go to the pool. But then I find us out of bug spray and peanut butter and the sunscreen sticks that work so well for their faces. And a blog that hasn't been updated in two full weeks.

I haven't had time to write here. I don't even have time to deal with the fact that I was planning to pepper this post with photos of some things we've done lately--build forts and paint on uncooked lasagna noodles--but for some reason iPhoto is refusing to acknowledge the fact that YES I DO have photos on my iPhone to be uploaded. I'm sorry. I don't know why that's happening and I don't have time to figure it out.

It's all about priorities, people. The pool over Target. Fort-building over blogging. Painting on noodles over pretty much anything.

Summer's calling! Enjoy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prairie and Sky

flower bed at Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Society, DeSmet, SD

How can it be mid-July? Today marks only one month until my younger daughter's birthday--the birthday that always seems sooooo far away when summer vacation begins in early June.

I dropped by my elderly next-door neighbor's house yesterday to deliver some homemade treats and she remarked that she'd hardly seen me for a week. More, actually, because the week before that we were gone, but she meant last week, when we were back, but I was doing the solo-parenting show while Christopher was at a conference in Ohio.

She's right! We were so busy. We went to the pool nearly every day. The girls went to their little parks-and-rec class. I took them to their first movie in a movie theater -- a nearby suburb runs free kids' movies one morning a week all summer, and last week's was "The Lorax" -- and to the candy shop and to the farm. They played at friends' houses, and we had another friend over to play and to stay for dinner and ice cream sundaes. We were almost never home, and when we were home, we were busy: the chores, the playing, the usual.

So here we are another week later. It's high summer and I love every second. The sun, the heat, the humidity--I don't mind any of it. I keep thinking of last winter, and how I wore sweaters and three layers and scarves and gloves until well into "spring," and I wish I could bottle up this summer-ness and tuck it away in a closet to pull out next November, next January, next March.

So remember? We went on a great family trip. I've shown you some photos already, and likely most of you don't care to see more. But I did promise my mom a bit more of a recap, so either enjoy or scroll down (or click away).

The short story is this: Our family went on a driving trip to visit the historic Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in DeSmet, SD. DeSmet is just one of several historic Laura Ingalls sites in the Midwest, but it's where the famed author lived the longest in one place, where she spent the bulk of her growing-up years, where the majority of her books are set (By the Shores of Silver Lake all the way through These Happy Golden Years), and where her parents, Charles and Caroline Ingalls, lived out their lives and are buried (along with others from the family).

DeSmet was fantastic---almost magical, to explore the actual prairie homestead (expansive, gorgeous, peaceful, with endless grasses and fields and sky) and the house in town, see the annual outdoor pageant, visit the cemetery plots, and experience all the related sites (which my parents took my sisters and me to when we were little). But on our way to SD, we also visited two other historic places--sacred Native American sites in the southwestern MN prairie--that were equally fascinating. At Jeffers Petroglyphs, we discovered ancient Native quartzite carvings that are 7,000 to 10,000 years old--mind-boggling! And at Pipestone National Monument, we saw the quarries of pipestone that have been mined for thousands of years by Indian tribes that consider the stone precious and holy. Those places were beautiful too.

At the end of our trip we went to the lovely sand-bottomed pool at Flandrau State Park in New Ulm, MN, where our best friends met us for a day trip of picnicking and swimming. It was a perfect summer day.

I'm not even going to tell you more about tent-camping on the prairie. As the one disaster of our vacation, I'd prefer to put it out of my mind. (No, not really. By 8 a.m. we had already turned it into a relatively humorous adventure, but suffice it to say that those homesteading pioneers were tough, you all. Because those prairie winds are nothing to sneeze at. They will keep you awake all night long with their deafening roar, and then whip off your tent's rain cover....right before a rainstorm moves in. And you will end up in your car with two small children at three a.m., trying to sleep upright in your seats. At which point you will marvel at the pioneers who not only didn't have a car to escape to, but who withstood the wind and the noise and much worse every single day for years on end.)

Happy Summer. Long live family vacations--and family vacation memories.

At the Petroglyphs.....

At Pipestone National Monument...

At Zesto Drive-In in Brookings, eating butterscotch dip cones as big as their faces (size small)...

At DeSmet...

 At the Ingalls Homestead outside of DeSmet...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Home Sweet Home

You all, we have a problem.

You want to hear all about my family's summer trip (by which I mean, "my mom wants to hear all about our summer trip"), but I am doing the solo-parenting thing all week because the second we got home from said trip, my husband left town on business. OK, it wasn't the very second. It did feel like it, though.

In other words, I am hella busy from dawn to dark handling all the things that come along with being a grown-up with a house and children.

There is no time to write up blog posts about driving trips. I'm sure you're so, so disappointed. (If you're my mom, you actually are.)

So let me just say this. We are home. We are back from my daughters' mere second family vacation of their lives (not counting the week-long stay at the grandparents' when they were two and four, which was sort of a family vacation I guess, but also not really quite the same, but was instead more, well, a visit to the grandparents').

We saw a lot of things. We made a lot of memories. We took a lot of pictures. It was great. Really great. Well, everything was great except the night we almost got lifted into the air in our tent by prairie winds that were so strong and deafeningly loud that my children cried, I slept not one wink the entire night, our rain cover got whipped off--right before it started to rain--and we ended up "sleeping" upright in our car at three-thirty a.m. All four of us. Sitting in our seats in the car. Gah, you all.

Oh my, I got carried away into "writing about family trip"-land there for a minute. No time for that. So in the meantime, here's this:

There are lots more, as well as words to go along with them, but those will just have to wait. Home Sweet Home. Onward.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

July, July

I've been wearing my swimsuit so much that perhaps it's time we just agree that the top can be considered actual clothes. A swimsuit top as a shirt? Why not. Just makes changing for the pool that much faster later on.

(In actuality I would not venture anywhere other than my house, my yard, or the park--or the pool, of course--in my swimsuit top worn as a shirt. I do have some standards. They're just not all that high in the summer.)

Since we last spoke, Vivi and I have discovered painting on aluminum foil,

lazy Saturday morning, hence nightgown and uncombed hair

we hosted our very first sleepover/slumber party (it's called a slumber party when it's a group, right? three guests? plus my two? partying?); picked the first, hesitant strawberries of the summer (so, so late this year, because winter lasted into May); tried pea tendrils for the first time, straight from the field at our co-op farm; and ate a lot of homemade smoothie popsicles (recipe here). 
We're getting ready to leave on a family vacation into the wide summer prairie this week, so I will wish you a happy 4th of July a bit early. 

Go to a parade, watch some fireworks, eat some ice cream bread (what the what, right?!), and don't forget to wear some red, white, and blue!