Monday, September 30, 2013

Weekend Warriors



I have rarely kept my girls as busy as I did this past weekend. Proof: Genevieve reportedly fell asleep two times between dinner and bedtime last night. I was off helping friends clean the just-vacated house of our other friend, who had a baby last Tuesday and MOVED--same town, different house-- less than one week later (GAH!), so I did not witness this napping, but I had a reliable source, so I believe it.

Normally I believe in a nice moderate mix of planned/structured activities and open playtime during which I expect my girls to entertain themselves. But since this was the second weekend in less than a month during which Daddy was gone to compete in a bike race, I had to keep us fairly on-the-go to keep Genevieve distracted and happy rather than crying. (Julia's old enough that she doesn't really care.)

We did go to the apple orchard on Friday night, and it was beautiful. We've had this hot, windy, summery weather here, and by five or six o'clock it had mellowed to a warm and lovely evening. The girls and I bought apples, mini doughnuts, and some jars of jams and salsas for future gifts, then went home and had a girls' movie night. It was nice.

On Saturday it rained most of the day. In a fit of desperation to get the children out of the house and moving, I took them to the indoor track at the rec center of the college where Christopher works, where we get in free, and the three of us walked and ran for a long time. A bit of fortune-telling: Vivi is going to rock the track team when she gets older. This girl stepped onto the track, said, "I'm going to run," and took off SPRINTING an entire lap (1/8 mile) like a speed demon. She then ran seven more laps, each one at almost sprint pace, which cracked me up because she is TINY and it looked so incongruous--the sight of her tiny body and glowing blonde head moving so fast around the track.

When the rain finally stopped, we met friends at the annual Alpaca Farm Open House. There was a baby alpaca that had been born only two days prior, and a handful of others only a couple of weeks old. Adorbs of course.

After the alpaca farm, we went to Target, where I realized I had forgotten my list. We managed to buy about a third of what I actually needed, and threw in some extras like sweet potato tortilla chips and yogurt-covered pretzels for good measure. Heh. Another movie night rounded out the day, and a second night of sleeping in "Mama's big bed." When I say "sleeping," I mean them, of course. I don't get a lot of sleep with two small children tossing and turning and stealing the covers and talking in their sleep. But it's so worth it. It's one of my favorite things in the world.

Sunday morning I made waffles and then we went to the Arboretum for a hike in the gorgeous sunny weather. The prairie grass is taller than I am in some places. After that it was time for swimming lessons.

This may be the most boring blog post ever written. But my point is: KEPT THEM BUSY. KEPT THEM HAPPY. TIRED NOW. ;)

Have a wonderful week, you all.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Short Takes

Happy Friday, friends!

Even though the weeks fly by with somewhat worrisome speed, I for one, am glad it's Friday because the girls and I have some fun things planned for the weekend.

We have friends at our house to play with after school, which always makes my daughters' day, and after they go home we're planning to drive out to the apple orchard for apples and warm cider doughnuts straight out of the fryer, which we plan to bring home and eat as "dinner" while watching their absolute favorite: Season One of "The Muppet Show" on DVD (such a retro trip down memory lane). I have promised they can stay up late and sleep in my bed because we're sort of on our own again this weekend.

Now doesn't that sound like a kids' Friday-night dream come true? Friends, doughnuts for dinner, TV, staying up late, sleeping in the big bed? Yes.

And on Saturday we're going to the annual open house at a nearby alpaca farm. We've gone every year since the girls were toddlers. We love it. The babies are sky-high on the cute-meter.

Moving on to a few quick thoughts to kick off your weekend...

* Fall running is the best, isn't it? I'm still running to Katy Perry's "Roar" on repeat, and so should you. Have you seen the video for this song yet? It's awesome. I love how, even though the song is an obvious revenge note addressed to her ex-husband Russell Brand (grrrrrr.....), for the video she crafts a campy, literal interpretation of the lyrics, making sure to look extremely lighthearted and super-happy and as if she's joyfully reveling in the fun of it all, just in case anyone (Russell Brand?) was watching. She's pretty cheeky, isn't she?

* I have not tried the white chocolate candy corn M&Ms yet. I'm on it, though.

* Both my daughters' teachers have asked me, as a school volunteer, to lead weekly book clubs for select students in their classrooms this year.  If I do that, I'll be involved in three different book clubs: the 4th-grade class one, the 2nd-grade class one, and the outside-of-school mother-daughter book club I joined with Julia last winter. Do you think I'll have enough children's literature going on in my life? Ha.

* Remember how I won that blog giveaway for a free pair of Danskos last week? Well, right after that, I won a different blog giveaway for a three-pack of Nuttzo. I should probably go out right now and find a lottery ticket to buy, right?

* This recipe. Yum.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

[Edited to add: Update: My daughters did not end up eating only doughnuts for dinner, in case the nutrition police is reading. They also had vegetarian hotdogs and raw veggies dipped in homemade hummus, plus crisp juicy apples from the orchard. And a little yummy doughnut for dessert. :) ]






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Frenzy

fall at the farm

 Hello again, friends.

Vivi's back at school, my cold is almost gone, and the days are sunny and gorgeous. Fall is here, but when it looks like this (sun, 72 degrees), it's fine with me. I mean, yes, I'd prefer long strings of blissful summer hours at the pool with my kiddos, but this is pretty good too.

Truth be told, one of my other favorite things (besides summer at the pool with my kiddos) is the time after school each day when my girls come home, I feed them a homemade snack while listening to them talk about their days, we do a little homework, they go outside to play in the backyard with their friend(s), and when it's still warm out like it is now, the back door is open to the screen and sun is streaming in the wall of windows and I can see and hear them all playing together while I start cooking dinner. (Longest sentence ever.) Love it. Truly, truly love it.

Family life in the fall is so busy. There is so much going on and coming up right now: school volunteer planning, school fundraiser, parent-teacher conferences, a dear friend here in town HAVING HER 3rd BABY TODAY OMG!, the kids' swimming lessons and upcoming tae kwon do (they're trying something new!), homework, the usual.

fall farm bounty

But I have to confess. Among and amidst the usual, some not so usual things are going on too, things I haven't mentioned here.

For one thing, I have a job interview coming up, for some part-time therapy work. More deets later.

For another, in just a few weeks, I am going to Toronto for five days and four nights (two of those days are mainly travel) with my good friend Laura, to celebrate her 40th birthday. She wanted to go on a trip to an interesting city for her 40th, with her favorite women, and guess what, I guess I'm one of them! (I'm flattered!)

This is a huge, HUGE deal for me, and it's both good and bad; I'm super excited to have lots of fun with Laura, her sister, and her college BFF (neither of whom I've met yet) and see the Toronto (and Niagara Falls) sights, but I'm saaaaaad at the prospect of five days away from my kidlets (FIVE. DAYS!), and I do not actually like to travel. At all. I'm a homebody (and I'm VERY happy that way), and ever since having babies, I've been terrified of going on a plane trip and dying in a plane crash and leaving my girls motherless. Yes, I know, it's irrational.

That's all I really want to say about that right now, because honestly I get too sad if I think about being away from my daughters for that long. But I am busy trying to prepare for all that.

Because fall is here, it's time to bake fall things and put up Halloween decorations. Are you?




Friday, September 20, 2013

Still Here!

Is it time for this yet? Because I kind of think it should be.

Hey, all. Just a quick visit today to say hello and explain that Genevieve and I have been sick (welcome back, first cold virus of the school year!) and that, paired with the usual busy-ness of normal mom/kids/school life, is why I haven't written more this week. I haven't been sick since last Christmas, so I really can't complain; I've restocked up on zinc and Emergen-C so hopefully I can reclaim my healthiness streak soon. As for right now, my brain is in a fog so if I write something that doesn't make sense that's why. [I actually just wrote that last sentence wrong, with some words out of order, and had to retype it. For reals.]

But in other quick news, my 4th-grader just got elected to student council! I'm so proud of her.

Oh, and: pumpkin spice M&Ms aren't all that great. Meh. I know! So disappointing.

But! I won a blog giveaway for a pair of Danskos this week! Also for reals! As someone diagnosed with arthritis in her feet at age 28, I've been a hardcore Dansko fan forever. This was SO exciting.

Hope your week went great and that your weekend is relaxing and fun. TGIF and all that, right?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall, Wheat, Weekends, and Whatnot

Autumn-y but wheat-y

Yes, my fingernails continue to grow at a supernatural pace. It's awesome. Have you bought your biotin yet? I think it's working with my hair too although that takes a lot longer to ascertain since hair grows much more slowly than do nails.

Anyway...

So have you read the book Wheat Belly? OMG, you guys. A friend and fellow mom recommended it, so I checked it out of the library on Friday. I don't normally jump on dietary bandwagons--honestly, in our house we just eat pretty much everything (other than red meat and most pork) in moderation and stress the fruits and vegetables at mealtime--but I could not put this book down and I read the whole thing in 24 hours. So compelling and fascinating, friends.

Too bad I also made chocolate chip cookies, multi-grain apple-cinnamon muffins, and whole-wheat chocolate chip zucchini bread this weekend. Ha! Oops. :(

Anyway, you all know about genetically modified wheat, right? How the wheat that's in almost every packaged item in the grocery store in some form or another is NOTHING like the wheat our grandparents ate, because it's been modified for greater yields so dramatically that its entire chemical makeup has changed? And the current wheat is far, far less healthy than its predecessor? But no one in charge tells you this, because it's in everything, and food producers want you to buy it? Well, that.

And also, according to the M.D. author of Wheat Belly, this altered wheat is terribly addictive, and actually makes you (strongly) crave more wheat-containing items, because it causes blood sugar ups and downs that make you hungry again two hours after a wheat-heavy meal (i.e., cereal or toast for breakfast; sandwich at lunch). So you snack. On crackers, chips, cookies, etc. In other words, on wheat.

Gah, you all! This seems right to me! Have you ever in your entire life eaten just one Oreo, after all? HAVE YOU?

Well, listen. This friend who recommended the book has followed the book's advice, and has been wheat-free since May, and she's a living success story and SWEARS she doesn't miss it at all (as the book promises). 

So now I'm intrigued. Although I'm not about to toss out every loaf of bread, Ritz cracker, and homemade chocolate chip cookie in the house. But I am interested, now, in reducing the wheat foods we eat at meals. I already avoid grain carbs at breakfast and usually lunch too, because I've noticed myself that I feel better and fuller for longer when I go the protein-and-vegetables route, but dinner and snacks would/will be killer.

OK, OK, moving on. This isn't a sponsored post or a commercial for the book. Just something on my mind these days.

In other news, I fear the Fall/Winter/School-Year Weekends of Horror have begun. What is it about school-year weekends in my house?! Non-summer weekends seem to turn my kiddos into bickering, whining, grouchy goblins. There is something about being out of the usual school/work routine, having a small house where there's no place to escape from anyone else, and long stretches of unscheduled time that wreak havoc on my household. It's one of the reasons I dislike winter so strongly, because it only worsens when the weather gets really cold and we can't be outside as much. Anyway, clearly once my kidlets settle into their school schedule, the free-for-all of weekends does a number on their brains. Gah. Don't like.

Here are a few oldies-but-goodies I do like about fall. In case you sometimes need a reminder of things to do with your kids on those long, unscheduled weekend afternoons.

Remember the seed hunt??
Mmmm....pumpkin muffins, nothing better
Leaf rubbing art: a classic, and oh so pretty
The autumn collage
Apple orchard visit
And of course there's always apple crisp to make
Mini caramel apples! So cute!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vitamins

Oh, and one more thing you guys. Unrelated to the cover shoot or pretty much anything else. It's this:






I have one thing to say about this photo, and that is: biotin.

I've been taking this high-mcg. biotin supplement specifically for my hair, but look what it's done to my nails! CRAZY.

So anyway. If you want your fingernails to grow very long, incredibly fast, and be super-strong, take biotin.

That's my public service announcement for the day. You're welcome.

My Adventure as a Cover Model

So, yesterday was my photo shoot for the cover of Savvy, a Twin Cities metro-area women's lifestyle magazine that's publishing a literary issue in November. Somehow, some way, Savvy's editor-in-chief, Britt Johnsen, heard about me, and called me up a few weeks ago to say that she wanted to feature me and my book in the issue, including putting me ON THE COVER OF THE MAGAZINE.
What the what??

Needless to say, I was extremely flattered and honored to be asked, and said OMG YES right away.

The photo shoot was a ton of fun. After putting my girls on the school bus yesterday morning, I drove up to a studio way out in the middle of far-western-suburban nowhere. It was a miracle I found this place--thank God for MapQuest, you all, seriously, it did an impeccable job even with tiny industrial area streets and whatnot--and fortunately I arrived 15 minutes early so I had time to get nice and nervous. ;)

No, really, everyone there was super warm and welcoming and put me immediately at ease. The first thing they did was plop me into the makeup and hairstyling chair. I had been instructed to show up barefaced and with clean but unstyled hair, and you guys, despite the fact that Genevieve told me that morning that I looked "so pretty" as I was, let's just say there was quite a bit of paleness and dark circles (gah! sleep is elusive at this time of year) and frizziness going on.

No worries. The hairstylist and the makeup artist, Mary and Jill, worked their magic over the next 45-60 minutes or so. I looked glam, people.

The amazing photographer, Steve Lucas, took multiple shots with me in three different outfits. Britt, Mary, and Jill were all there the entire time, and between shots they kept doing things like straightening a shirt hem, tweaking my jewelry, arranging my hair just so, and adjusting my lip color to go with my clothes. Let me tell you, I could get used to having an entourage ensure my polished appearance every day. I told Mary and Jill that I need them at my house each morning.

The whole experience was really fun, but the funniest part was when one of them said that I was "a natural" at posing for the camera and I "must have experience doing this sort of thing." HAHAHAHAHA! Too funny. For the record, I have zero experience doing that sort of thing, am a hardcore introvert who generally dislikes public attention including photographs, and was mainly just hoping that I looked as if I'd gotten some sleep sometime in the past nine years, and wishing I had somewhere to go afterwards in all that glamorous makeup and fancy hair (the nearby Caribou didn't count).

You'll have to wait about a month to see the actual cover with the final photo, but Britt took a few behind-the-scenes cell phone photos she is graciously allowing me to share here.

Here's me getting a lip color change from Jill between shots. I want to know how Mary made the back of my hair look that perfectly Hollywood-starlet loosely-wavy. I mean, really. I want that hair every day! Also, you can't appreciate it from these photos, but that striped top I am wearing is to die for. It was so long, lean, incredibly soft, comfy, and autumnal that I dearly wanted to find a way to "accidentally" take it home with me. (Just kidding, Britt! I would never do that.)



Here's a sneak peek at some actual shots. The cover photo isn't going to be full-length, which is why the hem length looks off and I'm not wearing cute heels or boots or something but just my leopard-print ballet flats from home.




Thanks again, Britt, Mary, Jill, and Steve Lucas Photography for all the fun yesterday! And you all, be sure to check out Savvy magazine. You can connect with their Facebook page here. Can't wait till November! :)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Another Angel

I just wanted to update those of you who have asked about our dear family friend with cancer, who I mentioned last week. I didn't write more about it, but it was a hard week. She passed away a week ago yesterday, and all I can say is that she was one of the best people, with one of the biggest hearts, I have ever known. I know she is in heaven looking down on her family and friends with love. I wish her husband, daughter and son-in-law, and three grandchildren as much peace and comfort as possible at a time like this.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Apparently it's Fall. Despite the Fact that it's 99 Degrees.

So. Over the weekend I learned that THESE now exist and are on sale at Target:

PUMPKIN SPICE M&Ms, you all.

As if I needed another flavor of M&Ms to become addicted to if I so much as open a tiny corner of one bag. Surely you know about the peanut butter ones, right? (NOT the peanut M&Ms (yawn), the PEANUT BUTTER ones.)

Oh and then there's apparently also this:


Help!!! White chocolate candy corn? M&Ms? Are they TRYING to rot my teeth, give me high triglycerides, and make all my clothes not fit? (I think the answer there is technically, "Yes, as long as it makes them money.")

I have been addicted to candy corn (in the fall only, of course) since I was a kid, and pumpkin spice anything totally makes my day. Also, I recently discovered the (plain) white chocolate M&Ms on a clearance endcap at Target and found them completely delicious, more so than I had expected. (Not sure what I was expecting.)

OK, MOVING ON from the Ecstatic Candy Chronicles....

I had quite a weekend. It started out with a trip to the city on Friday morning while my kids were in school, to pick out clothing for the magazine photo shoot I'm doing this week. (Those are certainly words I never thought I'd have reason to say in this lifetime.)

I met with the editor (super nice! so sweet!) at a boutique they use for things like this, and we picked out things to try on. I was so glad she was going for a stylish but casual look. She wants the cover to project my personal style, and as a busy at-home mom, blogger, and writer, I'm certainly not running around in pencil skirts and four-inch heels. We found some cute clothes and accessories and I was on my way.

A bit later, Christopher left with a few cycling club friends to go on an out-of-town trip for a big bike race a few hours away. The race was the next day, so the girls and I were on our own Friday-Saturday. It turned out to be extreeeeeemely hot and humid even though, as I've mentioned, the POOL IS NOW CLOSED. Oh well---at least I wasn't doing an all-day bike race in that weather!

Rather than going to the pool, the girls and I headed to our CSA farm on Friday after school, to pick up our share and to U-Pick cherry tomatoes.


I made a ton of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer on Saturday. This photo only shows part of the tomato haul we brought home.

But before the marathon tomato-preserving task, I took the girls downtown to this big festival my town does every September. My town is the site of a famous attempted bank raid by the Jesse James Gang in 1876 (the bank is still standing!), and the festival commemorates the defeat of the gang by local townspeople. It's a HUGE event and people come from all over for it. Townies get dressed up in cowboy gear and there's a rodeo, carnival, parade, and even an exciting live-action bank raid re-enactment with local folks as actors, live horses, and prop guns.

Anyway, there's a "kiddie parade" on Saturday morning, and my daughters wanted to be in it with the pals with whom they did the One Direction dance routine at the school talent show last spring. They made a 1D-themed "float" out of a little red wagon over the course of the past few weeks, complete with a paper cutout of one of the band members with a moveable arm "for waving."

(There is no enforced theme to the kiddie parade. Plenty of kids dress up as cowboys or bandits, but all that's required is a costume of any sort, decorated bike or scooter, silly float, or anything else remotely cray-cray that your kid wants to do, ride, or wear.)

I took the kids down there and hooked up with these friends and their dad. (Their mom, my friend Connie, was also out of town, so we joked that everyone downtown probably thought he and I were a couple, and were mom and dad to four blonde quadruplet girls.)

It was hilarious as expected.




my daughters and their pals with their homemade float and the festival "royalty"

By far the funniest part of the whole thing was the fact that my daughters' friends' dad showed up in a giant black wig with a sign taped to his chest that said "Harry Styles." (The shaggiest-hair member of the band One Direction, for those of you without 7- to 13-year-old girls in your house.) I died laughing. I'm not sure he wants his photo on the Internet though so I'm not including it here, which is honestly too bad for you.

And that was my crazy weekend.

If you've tried the pumpkin spice or white chocolate candy corn M&Ms yet, let me know what you think, OK?

Friday, September 06, 2013

Friday Quick Takes

A few random thoughts for your Friday...

Last night I made this summer soup for our dinner. It was delicious. DELICIOUS. And so easy. I didn't have any mint or hot peppers but it was fine that way and perhaps even better for children's palettes. During this culinary endeavor, I discovered that the immersion blender I've owned for over a year and a half has a DIAL near the base for ADJUSTING THE SPEED/POWER. And now I understand why I've always felt I was not using the immersion blender correctly.

I confess that, during my trail run yesterday afternoon, I was caught mouthing the words to "Roar" by Katy Perry (which was on my iPod running playlist) as I ran by TWO different runners. Oh hello there, serious male runners, I am a dork. A happy, singing, running dork. And I am not used to encountering other people in the woods very often.

Also: I am fully aware that I am the last person on the planet to actually finally hear the song "Roar" by Katy Perry (thanks to Grace over at Camp Patton), and that all the rest of you have known for ages that it is an awesome song and that Russell Brand is the biggest @#$!# who ever lived (I did actually already know that second part, though not to the extent that I now do after reading this).  Roar on, girl. You deserve it.

This morning I am going to a clothing consultation for a Twin Cities metro-area magazine cover shoot--as in, going to look at, try on, and pick out clothes to be photographed in next week. How crazy does that sound?! OMG.

Talk to you soon. We've survived the first week of school! How about you?


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

On Day Two

The treat I had waiting for my girls after school on their first day of 2nd & 4th grades: cake batter milkshakes.

Yesterday was the first day of school. It's only been two days and I'm as tired as my daughters. As I type this, I'm fantasizing about going to sleep. I think it's because the night before the first day of school I woke up at four a.m. and couldn't sleep, so finally I just got up and began my day. First day jitters and all that, I guess. Since then I've been in a bit of a whirlwind of household-running and whatnot, and haven't caught up on my sleep yet. Hopefully tonight.

The jitters were for naught. The bus came Tuesday morning and the girls got on. No tears. No worries. No drama.


As for me, I was too busy rejoicing about the fact that the morning bus stop this year is our next-door neighbors' driveway to shed tears about the start of school. The driveway that is mere feet from our front door. Hallelujah, people! Do you know how thrilled I'm going to be in January when the windchill is twenty below zero and I can just prod my daughters out the door with a hug and a swig of my nice hot cup of coffee?

The afternoon stop is down at the corner, but I can see it from my driveway, so if I get my way eventually I can do away with all walking and energy expenditure altogether.

Kidding. I love meeting my kiddos at the bus stop, and I also love being super-active. Just not in January.

I was lonely yesterday, for sure. Even though I had plenty to keep me busy, I missed my girls. Today too. It was hot and sunny and all I could think about was being at the pool with my daughters. Of course, the pool is closed anyway.

Last night at dinner, Genevieve said she missed me all day long at school. That broke my heart a little, but what can you do, homeschool? (That's a resounding NO, from me.) I know that we'll all get used to this, as we always do, and then all the changes of a new school year will be nothing but normal.

I suppose you want more photos. Or maybe not, but if you're my mom, I know you do, so here you go. The rest of you, I'll be back soon with musings on stay-at-home motherhood when your kids are in all-day school, the "opt-out" generation of moms trying to "opt back in" (are they really? are you? am I?), yummy after-school snacks for hungry kids, and the magazine cover photo shoot coming my way soon. (Yeek!)






Soldier on, mamas. These kidlets, they just keep growing up.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Shutting it Down

 The view from the deep end.

Sunday was our last day at the pool. We went with our best friends for Sunday Picnic Dinner, a several-years tradition among the group of families we hang out with the most and love the best. Because it was only 73 degrees and windy, not to mention Labor Day weekend, everyone else opted not to join us, but my BFF and I (and our combined four girls) are hardcore about the pool. We were committed to going with our families and shutting the place down.

Which is exactly what we did, saying goodbye to summer in the most fitting way: by spending its next-to-last hours at the place we only half-jokingly referred to as our "second home" this summer. (I said to her, "Seriously, don't you feel like you spent your entire summer at three places: home, the pool, and Target?")

You guys, it was an epic pool summer with my kidlets and their best buddies. We went to the pool almost every day. We spent hours and hours there, watching the girls jump off the diving board with their silly actions and antics and try the climbing wall again and again, supervising their deep-end endeavors, eating countless picnic lunches and dinners, sitting on the edge of the pool having heart-to-heart convos about mothering and marriage and life (not to mention lighter conversations about running, cute clothes, snacks, shoes, and which other dads we have (harmless) crushes on from afar). (My lips are sealed.)

  With pal Lucy at the climbing wall

All four girls

 BFFs

Happy pool gang

It was a summer of dramatic growth and change. We started out in the second section of the pool, where even Vivi could touch if she stood on her tiptoes. But before long, we had made the leap to the deep, deep end---way around the corner and down in an area that had always seemed very far away and the domain of other moms with older kids.

My view at the beginning of the summer. See how far away the deep end is?


Genevieve and buddy Lucy--in the deep end

Now we were (are) those moms. By the end of the summer I hardly remembered being back at the shallow part of the pool where I'd just spent some five or six summers, hoisting babies and catching toddlers jumping off the side and watching, watching, watching the tricks and tries of preschoolers and early-school-agers. Now they're 7 and 9, and proficient swimmers, and I can sit on the deck chairs overlooking the water and observe.

I miss the pool already, and that's because it represents summer to me, and all the hours and days I get to spend with my girls during the warm season off from school. It's the home and holder of many summer memories of these girls when their bodies were smaller and less capable, rounder and more babyish--and of the memories of this summer, when we just had so much fun.

When the lifeguards click-clacked the plastic lounge chairs down and we went out the pool gate at six o'clock on Sunday night, my BFF and I were beset with nostalgia and tears. Because is there anything better, for a mom, than all the happy memories of summers spent with your kiddos under the sun, happy and hot, laughing and living only in the moment? I can think of nothing.

Onward. A full school year awaits us, and we'll be fine. And the pool will be there, waiting for us, next June.