Sweet, Innocent Summer

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You can’t help having a pit in your stomach at the end of summer. The arrival of Labor Day reminds you of all the things you didn’t do that you wanted to, the people you didn’t get to visit with and the things you just couldn’t pack in–in time.

One summer of my childhood memory, my family was coming home from a rare trip out to dinner. There was a band playing at the park in my hometown. At some point, the band initiated a dance contest. I danced my little girl heart out hoping for first prize. It was a couples contest so my Dad was my partner. Slowly, couples were eliminated all around us. Then, much to my little girl expectations–we WON!

Is it my fondest memory of summer? Probably. It’s now a blur in my mind but I will always know for certain that one summer my Dad and I danced in Johnson park together and won a dance contest. It was pure. It was peaceful. It was innocent. It was summer.

Looking at my own children at the end of each summer unloads this same type of sappy overwhelming nostalgia. As parents, summers become emotional threads by which you hold onto your children. You tug gently on them, to pull them close, to take a mental snapshot, to keep them as the little people they are this summer.

But you also bear the burden of being the to ringmaster of their summer circus. You want the memories they have to fit the very carefully composed painting you have of the-perfect-summer-you-want-them-to-have.

My days this summer were filled with sandy feet, snarly hair, sticky fingers and sunscreened cheeks. I watched them wade in the lake, bury each other in the sand, suck on purple popsicles and race each other all over the beach. I saw, in them, what summer truly is: sweet; fleeting; precious.

You hope for their memories to be as sweet as your own. The hunt for “beautiful rocks” to add to our rock collection, the way you danced with them to “Wagon Wheel” with the Friday Night band. You want them to have your own memories and be able to say, “I had such great summers when I was a kid.”

But your memories, over time, will become their memories too. I will be able to tell Parker ten times over about the time he posed with the Asian family for a photo at Central Park Zoo. I will be able to tell Celia how she at two years old would putter around the shops with me and her grandmother, as if she were just another girl on the shopping trip, checking things out. I will tell them about our summer bucket list, our long car rides and even the struggles I had with them as a parent.

So, my sweet Parker and Celia, this is what I hope for you:

That you appreciate a refreshing swim in the lake, a stunning Adirondack view, a good hot dog with ketchup. That you carry the zest for playing– everything in your life and never grow tired of games of any kind. That you cherish quiet, long, pajama mornings as much as you love loud, boisterous family gatherings.

But mostly, I hope this summer and every summer you have is pure, peaceful and innocent. Just like that girl dancing in the village park.

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20 Reasons My Toddler is Losing His or Her Mind

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Okay, so I totally stole this from these Daddy blogs here and here. But, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The summer schedule has been great. The lazy mornings, the sandy feet naps and sunscreen greased pigtails. Popsicles, ice cream cones and S’mores. My kids are having the best summer ever and I think some of the credit goes to their dear old Mom here. After all, if I still am able to organize craft and story time after seeing each of them, on a daily basis, lose their mind over various not-really-apocalyptic events, I think I deserve a great, big, sparkly gold star. And a hot bath. And a pedicure.

Reasons my Toddler is Losing His or Her Mind.

1. I have mentioned that hot dogs are for dinner and he does not eat hot dogs, he only eats hot dog buns.

2. He’s NOT TIRED and I have implied, said, thought, or looked at him in a way that has indicated that I think that he could possibly be— tired.

3. I’ve asked her not to take her diaper off after she poops.

4. I did not “catch the bubbles” that he blew over my head.

5. I would not let her bring her wet towel to bed with her.

6. He pushed his straw into his juice box and can’t get it out.

7. His sister ate the breakfast that he didn’t want that has been sitting at the table for the past two hours.

8. I am not able to pick up the toy he dropped and know exactly where it is on the floor while I am driving the car.

9. The restaurant we went to “just ran out” of chocolate milk.

10. I am not able to dice up his waffle 3.4 seconds after putting it onto the plate in front of him.

11. I did not let her hold the entire bag of chips as she took a bite of each chip and put it back.

12. I got sunscreen in his mouth when he shook his head while I was applying it.

13. I’ve mentioned a word that rhymes with, has the same connotation as or somehow implies the word “nap.”

14. I won’t let him bring the Ipad in the shower.

15. I am trying to put pigtails in her hair.

16. I keep switching her shoes from the wrong feet to the right feet.

17. I won’t let her put on a hooded sweatshirt on a 98 degree day.

18. I won’t let her play with Windex.

19. I’ve mentioned the word “banana” and HE DOESN’T LIKE BANANAS!

20. I’ve asked if maybe he would like anything other than a butter sandwich on the beach.

 

If you have any reasons YOUR toddler is losing his or her mind, feel free to comment below!

 

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Perennial Mayhem: The Move to the Lake

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Each summer, in a blend of pure temporary insanity, a Rosie the Riveter-esque attitude, a love for adventure and “there’s got to be some perks about having an old house” justification, I ask my husband, “we’re going to rent our house this year again, right?

You see, my family never really vacationed growing up. Sure I was taken as a tag along on my Dad’s business trips to Washington, DC and Reno, Nevada– but picturesque family vacay? Didn’t really happen.

Instead, I was an amazing companion to my friends on their family vacations and loved going to my aunt’s camp on the Susquehanna River. That’s where I first fell in love with the camp life.

So, every summer since Parker was born, we pack up our entire house into two cars, make two trips, one hour each way– and settle into a local lake for 6-8 weeks.

Being teachers and living in a touristy town– this is a no brainer. The horse racing season is about six weeks bringing many vacationers and workers to the town. Free vacation and all you have to do is—- move out of your house. For six weeks. With two children. Easy, right?

Notsomuch.

Parker was just a little squirt of a person when we first did it. Six months old. We were all “we just bought a boat and we are a big deal– see? Kids don’t slow us down!”

Some of the best memories of my life have been spent on this lake. Already my children have memories of lazy summer afternoons spent here, amidst all the stunning beauty of the Adirondacks.

Plus I am instilling the very important qualities of learning to be a hobo in my children. They see that we can, in fact, live out of just our belongings in our car. We can learn to sleep, eat and play in another person’s home. We can learn to slow down and get out of the rat race completely.

But living the hobo life is not for the faint of heart. I had a bag of shoes in my car for a week straight as we changed residences.

“But Mommy, I’m not wearing any shoes.”

“It’s fine, I have more in the car.”

“But Mommy, I need a snack.”

“That’s fine, groceries are on the car too.”

“Mommy, why do we keep shoes and good in the car?”

[This is where I give a blank state because it’s a completely valid question:)]

And, to add crazy to crazy, this year my husband was working on the west coast while I made the move. Was it hard? Yes? Was it exhausting? Extremely. Was is totally and completely worth it times ten? You betcha.

But as I type this, I sit in a semi-unpacked camp with two water logged children napping upstairs and think, no matter how hard and frustrating and tired I am, there’s truly no place I’d rather be.

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Shortcut Girl’s Summer Bucket List 2013

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Well, it’s my favorite time of year. The time of year where I turn from a working Mom to a stay at home Mom. While I am already positive that I have to work on my patience, my endurance and my crafty stay at home Mom skills, I am also convinced it will be a fabulous summer. So, this morning, as I sipped coffee and let one child sleep in (Thank heavens), I assembled my summer bucket list 2013. I thought I’d share it in case you would like to make a list of your own!

We got a head start yesterday and hope to get a couple more ticked off in the next week. Happy Summer!

Bucket List Summer 2013

1. Read 10 new books- Mommy and child alike.

2. Pick strawberries.

3. Pick blueberries.

4. Go to a fair.

5. Go to breakfast at the track.

6. Go to the ballet at SPAC

7. Go to the sprinkle water park.

8. S’mores.

9. Fireworks.

10. Beach picnic.

11. Play games on the boat on a rainy day.

12. Drive in movie.

13. Go to a theme park and ride a roller coaster.

14. Go to a water park.

15. Go fishing.

16. Go to Cape Cod. Eat clam
Chowder.

17. Go to a zoo.

18. Build the biggest sand castle on the beach.

19. Make lobster, clams and oysters at home.

20. Go to a bonfire.

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Bye Bye Summer. Sniff sniff.

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Well, I was quiet this week for many reasons.

1. I had to go into school and get organized two days. That alone zapped my blogging energy and creativity. It also depressed me. Summer is over :(

2. It was our last week at camp so we tried to get in as much beach, fun, family and quality time together as we could. Read: We didn’t want to think that we were actually moving out of camp as well as moving back into our house and starting school, all in the next three days. Holy Moly.

3. I decided to turn our typical big Gallagher family gathering into Celia’s early 1st birthday party. That, as it turned out, was a great idea. A great time was had by all and PHEW, it’s all said and done before the craziness of school starts. Post to follow with the featured cake and party accouterments.

4. My Mom came for a visit. So did Mike’s Mom. Just squeezing in more quality time!

5. I didn’t want to face the facts. Start of September means the end of something. And that something is the end of the time with the kiddos. No more of their waking up and coming into my bed to snuggle me with their kid morning breath. There won’t be long, quiet naptimes where I get to decide whether to lounge outside or inside. There won’t be any more late nights watching documentaries with my husband. No more Goldfish on the beach, no more 2 mile walks as the kiddos snoozed. No more negotiating ice cream treats and naptime books. No more Oakley, the lake dog who followed Parker around. No more “Mommy? I’m awake! Are you down there?” from Parker’s lofted bedroom.

There will never be another summer where Celia takes her first steps or a summer where Parker becomes an official big boy- potty trained and all. There will never be another summer where Celia is 10 months and Parker is 2 1/2. And that is what I am mourning. Not that I am not ready for my house back, my job back, my routine back, but I will never, ever have another summer the same as this. And that makes this Mommy a little sad.

Yes, there will be other ones. And hopefully many, many more spent at this lake. I will not go on blubbering because I know I am lucky to have the time with my kids and so, so lucky to spend that time in a little lake town in the Adirondack Mountains.

So, see you later Summer. It’s been amazing. Hurry back. I’ve got two kids (and two parents) who can’t wait for your return in about ten months.