Summer Break

It’s the kids’ last day of school.  They will sit in classrooms for 1.5 hours.  When I get home for lunch hour, they’ll be back already.

Why? Good question.

Something to do with seat time.  We had no snow days this year – no snow at all, really – so this is the end of the year from the original 2014-2015 calendar. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma, with tartar sauce on the side.

Zac is no longer a sophomore and Ruby isn’t a third-grader anymore.  Where does the time go? I’d post photos, yet they slumber on. Besides, Zac would kill me.

The good thing about summer is that I’ll get to see them both kids more. Ruby will attend a few camps here and there.  But most of the time she’ll be underfoot, filling water balloons and jumping on her friend’s trampoline next door. Zac will be one with his computer, taking breaks to crack terrible puns and pester his little sister.

I wish regular jobs had summer breaks.  Sure, I’ve got vacation days scattered throughout.  Nothing of any duration, though.  I’ll take my vacation where I can find it, spending time with family and friends. We’ll barbecue and picnic outside.  Might even throw in a little karaoke for good measure, enjoying the sunshine. It’s going to be a great summer, folks.  Don’t miss it.

Rockaway Getaway

Yesterday, we left Shelton and drove south to Rockaway, OR. Here are a few pictures.

Our accommodations.

Our accommodations. Probably 500 sq. feet altogether.

Twin Rocks

Twin Rocks

Rockaway beach

IMG_20140717_151947_976

Coastline view past Seaside.

The neighbors.

The neighbors.

And their hydrangeas.

And their hydrangeas. I am loving this flower lately.

I’m sorry I didn’t get a post up, but we took the long way home. We hit US 30 and drove through Clatskanie. The sun made the day feel like the best ice cream cone, delicious and cool. Summer in the Pacific Northwest – there’s nothing like it. I think it’s our reward after 60-plus inches of annual rainfall. We hit 101 in Astoria and sailed through the picturesque towns – Seaside, Gearhart, Wheeler, Netarts. They’ll never be hugely popular destinations due to the nice weather only making an appearance around June-October.  But that makes it even more special, like blueberry season.  You treasure the sweetness even more because of the fleeting nature of the fruit.

I love the Oregon coat. I grew up vacationing down here, trips with my mom and brother and trips with my dad and brother. We stayed in big houses and small houses, more like shacks. We stayed on the beach or close to the beach. Oregon’s beaches are public access, which makes it magical for little kids. My brother and I would get up early and comb the beach, searching for shiny rocks and shells.  We pocketed whole sand dollars.  One time, we even found a Japanese float.  Score!

This morning, steeped in memories, I headed out for a run. It’s a great way to explore places. I find running in a new place irresistible.

The fog shrouded everything in mystery. I angled down our street and over. I went into a little dip in the half-paved road and saw a truck idling in its driveway as I hit a rise. I ran a few steps further and saw why. A deer, not 20 feet from me, nibbled the petunias in the neighbor’s yard. He looked up at me. He had 2 soft half-grown antlers covered in fur. His companion, an adolescent fawn, nibbled grass near the small house. I wished, not for the first time, that I’d brought my phone to snap pictures.

We stood there, frozen in foggy morning amber. His big brown eyes watched me. I gazed back, unsure what to do. I looked at the truck behind me. I pointed out the deer to the baseball-capped driver. He nodded. No way could I keep going on that road, as much as I wanted to. I would scare off the deer and wreck a beautiful moment for someone else. I turned around and jogged back the way I came, smiling all the while. Today, I would carve my own route and a new memory.

 

A Summer to Remember

Every time school lets out for the summer, I feel the same way.  My heart fills with elation.  The kids are home! I want this summer to be a summer to remember.  I want it to be epic, filled with adventure, fun and laughter.  I picture the kids goofing off outside, eating popsicles, frolicking in the ocean’s waves, camping out in the front yard under the stars.

Friends, most of our summers turn out much. much less epic than these glorified images of fun in the sun.

In fact, I hear a lot of, “I’m bored!” From Ruby:  “Are we going anywhere today?” If I respond in the negative, a heavy sigh escapes her tiny body. She is a people person. From Zac: “Do I have to get dressed today?  Why?  We’re not going anywhere.” Then, heavy sigh from Mom.

I don’t think the kids experience nearly as much disappointment about lackluster summers as I do.  Not that I have incredibly memorable summers from my own childhood to compare them to.  In grade school, my brother and I lived with Mom.  Mom worked full-time. During the summer, we went to daycare all day.  We did fun stuff, like heading to a community pool.  We sewed pillows.  Lots of pillows.  Again, not sure why.  We took urban hikes.  We played a lot.

I guess I just want them to get the most out of summer and the freedom it brings. To quote Thoreau:

“… to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life”…

Now that I’m well into adulthood, I know how fleeting those years of carefree times truly are.  Life is finite. Unfortunately, feeling this pressure to capitalize on every moment makes me a little anxious.  I don’t enjoy what is because I see, in my mind’s eye, what could be. I need to let that go and be happy now, choose gratitude for this time with the kids.  Soon enough they’ll be grown and on their own.

Since we have no huge plans for this season, I want to pick up adventures as they come.  We’ll plan a few outings.  We’ll still do the regular stuff like laundry and shopping.  But along the way, we’ll find big and small ways to suck out the summer’s sweetest nectar.

 

 

Fly Away

I like this bird.

I like this bird.

The last day of school finally arrived. They each had a 90-minute school day. Hurray!  Both kids are home now, for the summer.  Zac is done with 8th grade and Ruby with first.  Zac will be a high schooler next year, though still at the same school.

Yay?

Zac turns right around and flies out to Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning.  He will be gone for 4 days.  We spent the time right after school buying him new shoes and a couple of short-sleeved T-shirts.  Turns out he had very few that fit.  “Too much arm showing, Mom!”  Alrighty.  Never mind the long-sleeved shirts you’ve been wearing since 6th grade…

This is a very full weekend, full of celebrations.  School’s out (for summer…), Father’s Day, going out with friends.  Yes, we have friends.  I hear you snickering!

Summer vacation stretches before us, long and languid, like a cat sunning itself.  We are filled with contentment because one phase is done and we look forward with anticipation to the next.  Ruby has an art camp at the end of the summer.  Jonathon and I will be flying to Minnesota in August.  And in the meanwhile, we will sip the pleasures of the season.  Summer is my favorite season.  It’s a riot of color and flowers and sunshine.  Well, at least the first two out here.  Sunshine can be iffy but is always appreciated.  It’s much like exact change in that regard.

As for right now, Zac plays on the computer, skyping with his friends.  They discuss strategy and God apples.   I have no idea what those are.  How many varieties do they come in? Ruby is in her room giggling during an extended quiet time.  She’s using her phone to make funny videos, narrating made-up story lines.  Rex naps luxuriously on his favorite chair.  Chloe does similarly in a different room.

Thank God we were once an agrarian society, scheduling school years with harvest season months off.  I can’t imagine going to school all year round.  When the sun comes out here, people get a little crazy.

It’s cloudy and cool  but it puts no damper on our joy.  The possibilities seem limitless as the bluest sky.  We’re all feeling a little giddy.  I know there will be days when we all wish we were back on the more structured path. We might even wish for some blessed time apart. But not today!

Anticipation

Tomorrow Jonathon goes back to work.  Tomorrow we get Jonathon’s last unemployment disbursement, which we really need.  The sky is overcast yet it doesn’t rain – or clear off. Such a tease! And I’m still wearing fleece. Tomorrow, I take both kids to school for the first time, a juggling act I hope to pick up easily. 

So today is…waiting.  Sigh.  Here we are again, folks! 

I went to work this morning for 3 hours to learn and input end-of-month payroll.  I cleaned the house.  Well, the downstairs anyway.  And now what?  Waiting some more.  Waiting to pick up Ruby from school. Waiting to pick Zac up from his robotics intramurals at OMS.  Waiting to start making dinner.

I hate waiting!

I think I need to change my thinking again. I need to anticipate.  Did you know there are 6 definitions of anticipate?  I am focusing on #2:  to look forward to, especially with pleasure. It’s been a long time coming on some of these.  Perhaps if I anticipate, I won’t get trapped in the “waiting” place.  I can move to the “excitement” destination instead. Kids do this so much better than we do.  I remember telling the kids about going to Disneyland 2 years ago for spring break.  We gave them a week’s notice, I think.  Plenty of time to dream and plan and get pumped about it! They talked about every part of the trip:  the plane ride, the hotel stay, the hotel pool (still a great memory!), sunny weather, eating out every day, and Disneyland itself with its intrinsic joys.

I am looking forward to later this afternoon to getting the kids back home.  I missed them today after our long weekend together.  I am looking forward to being in the black, paying the last of the bills from May and going food shopping.  I am looking forward to Jonathon scooting off to a regular job for the first time this year, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for adventure in a new line of work. Oh, and having the house to myself on a regular basis during the day, for a couple of weeks, until school lets out for the summer.  (Wait, did I say that?!)

It’s gonna be good.

Hope and a Future

The dream

It looks like Hawaii is on for our 20th anniversary.  I should get paid for all the transcription very soon. And, we should be able to do a refi on our house, which will lower our monthly payment considerably…in 60 days or so. 

Zac wore shorts to school today.  Ruby tried to scoot out the door in red patent leather red wedge sandals. Me?  I drank an iced coffee in hopeful anticipation that we will somehow regain spring.  We’ve done our part.  Now, sunshine, heat and warmth, where art thou?!  Back to fleece. I know it’s out there, though.  That spring!  Teasing and lurking behind all this wind and rain.

Jonathon’s already got work stuff scheduled for his new job – a conference in Spokane early next month.  He’s probably going to be helping with the videoconferencing and technical aspects as well as being an attendee.  He’s excited to get started.

I’m gnoshing a chocolate chip Clif bar.  It’s not bad, considering it’s not really a chocolate chip cookie, which is what I wanted.  But Hawaii looms and I’ve got 7 lbs. to lose.  God provided a way for us to pay for the tickets, a trip we planned more than a year ago! It’s fabulous. I don’t care so much what other people think about how I look at this point.  I just want to be able to look at the pictures later and be proud of how I look now  20 years from now, when I think, “Who WAS that short girl?  Oh wait, that’s me! Did I ever look that good?”

So now, I see we have a hope and a future.  We have things to look forward to, other than getting paid once a week and how to budget for the twice-monthly bill paying and other sundry expenses that come up. We are moving forward and planning ahead.  We can see our way clear to getting out of debt and thinking about college for the kids.  Maybe we can squeeze in a little family vacation this summer at the coast somewhere, too.  S’mores sound awfully good right now. Sigh.

That scripture out of Jeremiah comes to mind:  11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.12 In those days when you pray, I will listen.13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

This feels like exactly where we are right now, in the palm of His hand. We haven’t been exiled to another land.  Nothing that extreme has happened, but we are moving back into the place of abundance and promise.  We called, and God answered.  He is so good.  I know there are several people, good friends of mine, who can’t see that goodness right now due to some tough circumstances.  Hold on. Keep hoping and praying. His goodness is coming your way soon.  If He did it for us, He will do it for you.  He loves you so much. His love endures forever.

Day Off

Jonathon’s got the kids today.  He will make breakfast and lunches, take the kids to school and pick up (Ruby at least), resolve squabbles and make any parenting decisions that need to be made. I have…the day off.

Ah, this is the life!

So far, Jonathon’s managed to make waffles – from scratch, endearing himself to Zac. Waffles are his favorite. Jonathon’s made lunches, adding Combos, one of our favorite salty snacks and my staple snack in college, to each sack. He might have even added small treats to each lunch. He’s got it nailed. Sigh.

I have a kid-free day.  Sure, I see them, talk to them, even hug them.  But I don’t have to deal with the messy bits of parenting.  “Why did you hit your sister?” “If you spill milk, you need to clean it up.  Fast.”  “The cat doesn’t want you to hold her right now.  That’s why she scratched you.” “No coffee! Do you think we need any more stunted growth in this family?”  “Alright, who took all the toothpaste caps?!”

Ahem. I digress.

I confess I will miss the munchkins. I probably won’t get as much interaction with them today.  It sort of comes with the territory of parenting, good and bad, ups and downs.  Having a baby is messy business.  Raising a baby is even messier.

I taught in Ruby’s school-age class last night at church.  The kids can be a bit unruly, talking  lot and generally being kids.  My kid is in the mix with that. Generally, I am a bit overwhelmed in there.  I’m always trying to come up with some ways to make the lessons more applicable to kids ages 5-10.  It’s a wide age range, a wide range of understanding and intelligence. I try to make it fun.  But those kids, they make me laugh. That’s what keeps me coming back. I asked for praise reports last night instead of prayer requests.  One boy told me he was becoming a pig.  Okay.

While they were eating snack, we were telling clean jokes.  No bodily functions, nothing questionable in any sense.  Kids aren’t as innocent as they appear. I’ve learned this the hard way.

One boy said, “Knock-knock”.

“Who’s there?” I replied.

“Susan”.

“Susan who?” I asked.  I’m thinking, Now what?

“Uh…what’s your last name?”

My name became the punchline of the joke.  I had to laugh.  Sometimes parenting feels like that.  You’re so excited!  You had a wonderful bundle of joy, a beautiful baby.  And then…it won’t sleep.  It won’t eat.  The baby eats too much, provoking projectile vomiting. It cries all the time.  You don’t sleep.  Your heart is suddenly, as the saying goes, walking around (or hanging around) outside your body. You feel vulnerable.  You are no longer an island. Haha!  Sucker punch! The joke’s on you.  But…

The moments of pure joy are amazing.  Holding a toddler Zac in the middle of the night, and pointing the moon out to him.  The eerie orb glowed in the sky as he said, “Moon!” for the first time.  I remember teaching Zac his numbers, letters and colors.  He knew them all by the time he was 2 1/2.  He wanted to learn them; how blessed I was to be his first teacher.  I remember finding out I was pregnant with Ruby, and knowing long before the ultrasound that she was going to be a girl. God had promised.  How tiny she was as a “jumbo preemie”! Yet even, then, a fighter.  My two kids – Zac, who hates almost all vegetables and adores meat, and Ruby, who loves vegetables, and could take or leave meat, would make an ideal vegetarian. Kind of like Jack Spratt and his wife of the nursery rhyme.

I do have a few things I need to do today, like folding clean laundry. Unfortunately, that least-favorite of tasks has no children involved in it. Just piles of dresses, jeans, undies and socks  in intertwined miscellany, mixing in a riot of color on my couch. It’s my mission, should I choose to accept it, to pull them apart and bend them into squarish shapes, suitable for drawer dwelling.

Today, I will make the most of the time off, doing things that make me happy. I will come back a rested, happier mommy. But also, today, I’m going to take this day to remember the good times and think of new ways to bless them. They’re good kids and deserve the best I can give them.  They are having a happy childhood, after all.  Right?!