Friday, August 30, 2013

Last Gasp of Summer

Oh my, what a week.

A very, very close friend of my parents'--so, then, a very dear person to my entire family--is very suddenly and unexpectedly dying of cancer in my northern MN hometown. So this week has been an odd combination of desperately trying to squeeze in the last gasps of summer fun with the kidlets while also coping with that horribly sad situation. I can't go into details because it's not my place, but....well, you can imagine.

At the same time, remember that magazine that wants to put me on the cover of their November issue? Well, they called, and I've been scheduling outfit-procuring appointments with them and time to get my brows and lashes done before the shoot and of course the shoot itself. None of this happens in my own town, so between working around my kids' school schedule and the uncertainty of a loved ones imminent death, my head is spinning and it's a miracle I'm even speaking in complete sentences at this point.

Thank you for understanding.

I did want to pop in here though and wish you all a good holiday weekend. If you live in MN, this is likely your last weekend of summer vacation with your kiddos. Whether you're counting down the hours or wishing it would last forever, I hope you have fun with those you love.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


It's been in the 95-105-degree range all week here, with no end in sight, so---I bet you can't guess---we've basically been living at the pool. School starts next Tuesday, so the pool closes on Monday. In other words, can you imagine a better combination of circumstances? One hundred degrees, but the pool is still open the entire week? Score! (Also: thank God the pool is still open!)

I don't like to talk too much about the beginning of school. I take comfort in the knowledge that there are other mama-writers out there who feel exactly the same way I do about the onset of a new school year. Also, I recall that about three or four days into the school year, I historically become OK with it. But right now, I'm all, Noooooo! Don't take my babies from me all day every day! I'll be loooonely! And then winter will come!

It tends to all sort of run together in my mind at this time of year: the start of school, the end of summer, the looming dark seasons.

However! It's not quite over yet. And so in these last few precious days, the girls and I are treasuring every lazy morning (right now, we're watching "Curious George" and lounging in our pj's on the sofa at a time of day when, before too long, they'll be sitting in a classroom) and soaking up every strong ray of sun during our pool afternoons. (One hundred degrees! Bring it.)

If you can't stop time, your best alternative is to squeeze every drop of wonderfulness out of days like these.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Miss My Girls.

I miss my girls. And they're not even gone.

School days are on the horizon. No, actually, they're knocking on the door. In just one more week plus a holiday weekend, I'll put my girls on the bus at 8:05 and not see them till 3:20.

I realize that many moms are counting down the days. And yes, there's something mildly appealing about a return to structure and routine. I said MILDLY.

I do look forward to grocery shopping solo (sort of--although honestly, we've been having fun at the supermarket together lately) and exercising during the day instead of at five a.m. or in the evening. Also, I'm totally that mom who digs doing things like greeting my kiddos after school with home-baked cookies or banana bread fresh from the oven, getting the scoop on their days while they eat their snack and I go through their backpacks. Until about halfway through the year or so, I sort of even like packing lunches.

But none of that is as good as spending every day with them all summer. And this past week, with the kitchen calendar staring me in the face but the weather so gloriously hot and sunny that we went to the pool every single day, and with most of those pool afternoons at some point including my littlest kidlet cocooned in a damp beach towel and snuggled between my legs on a reclining deck chair after wearing herself out in the deep end, well...I miss them already, before they're quite gone. The days, and the girls. My best summer buddies and constant companions.

It's important at these times to remind one's self of the other, less halcyon times: the mornings of nonstop bickering, the tantrums over putting away laundry or cleaning the bathroom, the pre-pre-teen sulks and glares. Gah.

But mostly it's hard to remind yourself of why you'll be glad school's starting when your heart is willing the calendar to freeze.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tick Tock

last Thursday

It's officially the last two weeks of summer vacation before school begins (sob!).

Just two remaining weeks to get to the pool and squeeze in any final activities off our Summer Bucket List. I'm afraid we overdid the out-of-town "field trips" on that list. Most of the items not yet crossed off are things like "Go to the Eagle Center in Wabasha" and "Visit Covered Bridge Park in Zumbrota." We just don't have time to go out of town on day trips very often. It's hard to fit them in among all the pool dates, play dates, picnics, errands, chores, birthday preparations (two summer birthdays in this house), visits from relatives, etc. that have to go down all summer too. Still, we've had a great, busy summer filled with plenty of adventures, both in town and out.

Last week was a particular blur. Over the weekend this happened:

Yes, my seven-year-old requested a "One Direction"-themed birthday party. In case you are not familiar, "1D" is a British boy band, popular with the teen and preteen girls. The only reason my daughters even know about (= are obsessed with) them is because our next-door neighbor/their daily playmate is ten years old. (I must admit I get a kick out of seeing my girls get all excited about some cutie boys singing harmless pop. Didn't we all, at some point?)

The homemade chocolate-peanut butter ice cream cake was a big hit, and all the girls wanted to take their little miniature British flags home with them.

What do you do for a One Direction birthday party, other than eat cake festooned with miniature British flags printed off the Internet, meticulously cut out, and then glued around toothpicks? Good question.

We played "Pin the Microphone on the Singer" using a 1D poster provided by Grandma (thanks, Mom!), as well as musical chairs with One Direction tunes. I had also printed One Direction and rock-and-roll-themed coloring pages off the Internet (everything exists on the Internet, folks) and the girls colored those for awhile.

After that, we resorted to generic party activities to fill the time around cake and presents. I had the girls do a nature scavenger hunt in the backyard, and they loved it. It was all good.

Prior to the week-ending 1D birthday party, there was the grandparents' visit and the celebration for the actual birthday. This included things like birthday waffles for breakfast and frozen layered chocolate-Oreo cupcakes after dinner. Yum.

Not to mention perfect presents:

No, she doesn't know how to play the guitar. Please do not muddle the topic with details.

Somewhere in there I actually got dressed and groomed nicely and went on a movie date with my husband. Yes! True story! Grandma and Grandpa were kind enough to babysit.

You guys! I'd just had a haircut with a newish stylist and OMG---the layers, they are perfect.

Seriously, how often do I look that freshly showered and nicely groomed? Not often, not in the summer as a stay-at-home mom, let me tell you. I feel like for the last 2-1/2 months I've basically been living in swimsuits and workout clothes. Oy.

Oh! And somewhere else in all those goings-on last week, a regional women's lifestyle mag called me up (well, the editor-in-chief called me up) and said they wanted to put me on the cover of their November issue. Interview me, talk about my book, have me come for a professional photo shoot up in the metro (complete with makeup artist and hair stylist and wardrobe coordination). Would I be interested in that?


(What the?!? Seriously, this is the craziest thing ever. Not to mention insanely flattering. I'll keep you posted.)

Anyway. The days roll on. Summer is on the wane, but as you all know by now, that fact is completely tragic and nightmarish in my little brain, so I trust you not to try to discuss it with me. Let's just move on. Deep breathing, deep breathing... It will be OK.

So! That was my week.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seventh Heaven

Seven years ago today, in the middle of the night, I gave birth via an early C-section to my youngest babe, Genevieve Rose. I had gone into labor late the previous afternoon, but since I'd had Braxton-Hicks contractions all summer, it took me until 1 a.m. to take it seriously. My due date wasn't for three weeks, and my scheduled C-section not for 1-1/2, but Genevieve has always had a mind of her own.

This one completed our family, and grew into a lively, silly, genius-smart, hilarious, willful, curious child who was reading by age three and riding a two-wheeler at four. The ups and downs, highs and lows, crazy chaos and sweet surprises haven't stopped since. I'm so, so grateful.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Last weekend our family went on a rafting trip with three other families on the Cannon River (near our town). It was cray-cray. No, not really; it was a lot of fun. But we had never, EVER rafted in any way, shape or form (though we were with friends who are very experienced in the outdoor/water sports/rustic-type recreational arts) and basically had zippo idea what we were doing. It went quite well anyway, after the initial going-through-the-rapids-backward-with-Vivi-screaming-and-crying-that-she-was-going-to-die part.

Anyway, the girls and I followed up that all-day adventure with another trip out of town yesterday, when we went up to the city for our annual summer "field trip" to our favorite Minneapolis neighborhood--the one with the children's bookshop that has a miniature door within a door and houses pet chickens and cats and ferrets; an awesome playground; an award-winning ice cream parlor (Oreo ice cream cones, holla!); a huge toy store; and a drool-worthy bread bakery that gives out free slices and also sells the BEST whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies the size of a baby's face EVER.

School starts four weeks from the Tuesday just past. Therefore, it is time to step it up and do all those Summer List adventures not yet crossed off. Linden Hills was one of them.

In between the two days o'fun, I took my girls to Target and we literally bought every single school supply on their lists, plus new backpacks, lunch boxes, water bottles, and tennis shoes for P.E. Why yes, I DID feel like a superhero after that feat. Because we did it in ONE STOP. In TWO HOURS' TIME. With NO MELTDOWNS IN THE STORE.

And we didn't even have to search for the mythical Flair pens.

I give myself a huge pat on the back for this week, friends. So yes, I've skipped workouts, cooked lazy dinners like individual pizzas made from tubes of crescent roll dough, consumed too many sweets, and slept horribly; you can't succeed at everything at all times. Some things go awesomely, some things not so much. That's life.

Enjoy your summer weekend, you all! Next week my baby turns 7, grandparents come to visit, and all manner of busy-ness occurs. I'll fill ya in later.

Monday, August 05, 2013

All Bark, No Bite

Right around this time every year, when the idea of sending my kidlets back to school all day makes me want to cry with pre-missing them, I start to think about homeschooling.

Of course two seconds later I come to my senses.

It's hard not to feel sad about no longer seeing this face all day long, though:

She lost her two top front teeth within a five-day span last week. The second one had been hanging by less than a thread--I swear--for four full weeks. She refused to pull it, because the other three teeth she has lost all just fell out painlessly when she was eating, and she was scared that it would hurt to pull a tooth out. Our friends had begun taking bets on when this latest one would fall out. It kept defying all odds. At the end, she could push it with her tongue to make it stick out perpendicular to her gum. (Gah!)

The cuteness is almost unbearable, but it's not just that fantastic, beloved jack o'lantern smile we parents all wait for; it's also the sweet lisp that accompanies it.

See, parenting is all about the little moments. Most of the time they mean much more than the big milestones, because they happen more frequently and they pepper an otherwise (perhaps) sort of humdrum life with jolts of love and joy and happy surprise, every single day.

Thank God for that.

Friday, August 02, 2013


Shut it, Target.

On Wednesday the girls and I went to the Minnesota Zoo with some of our best friends. My BFF and I had decided to go after an early lunch for a change, so we wouldn't need to carry picnics with us all over the place, and we figured we'd stay two or three hours and see only portions of the (huge) zoo. My kids, especially, and her younger of her two, typically have strict stamina limits.

We ended up staying almost five hours and nearly closing the place down.

The kiddos insisted we see just about everything--we did miss a couple of things--and even though there were a few dicey moments late in the afternoon when we seriously doubted any of us would be able to actually walk back to the main area of the zoo from aaaaaaall the way out at the Farm area, and it was only the presence of a handful of lollipops and Tootsie Rolls in my bestie's purse that saved us, we scoured the place and even managed to go back to the Tropics Trail to see the Burmese python that one of the children was so insistent upon. (Said python unhinged his jaw and opened his mouth wide enough to eat one of us as we were watching him, causing mass hysteria on the part of the moms, even though he was safely behind a glass wall.)

There are no words, truly. Other than "get me out of here."
(photo by Dan Opdal at

We had SO. MUCH. FUN.

And then we came home and the next day spent the afternoon at the pool.

During which time I was once again made extraordinarily aware that in the summer, being a stay-at-home mom is the BEST GIG EVER.

I know that some moms start a fevered countdown to the first day of school right around this time, but I have to consciously avoid thinking about it to keep from crying. As usual, the Back-to-School ads and Target aisles stab me in my heart.

My BFF and I decided to just call yesterday "July 1st" instead, so it's all good. Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, after all.