Reflections on a Summer Almost Gone

I’ve been back to school for a week. Our kids still have one more week, but soccer practices have already started. The calendar says it’s still summer, but as far as our schedules go, it’s fall.

I wasn’t the fun mom or the productive writer or the great house organizer I wanted to be this summer. I didn’t do the things I wanted with my kids, I didn’t meet my self-imposed deadlines, and exactly zero of the organization projects I wanted to do this summer got done.

I keep blaming the fact that my summer break was shorter by two weeks and that I had less kid-free time, but to be honest, I just didn’t manage my time well.

But the kids loved the summer. We made trips to the library, walked to the donut shop, splashed at the splash pad, played at parks. It wasn’t such a scorcher this year, so we were able to go outside almost every day. Cortney expanded the sandbox so all three kids could play in it, and they took advantage.

It wasn’t a super busy summer, and that was Ok.

We did go again with my parents up to Pentwater for a long weekend. It was pretty windy and a bit chilly, so my dad didn’t take his boat along this year, but we had fun anyway.

We went from a Thursday to Sunday, and we packed in a whole lot of sitting around, not sitting around, and yummy snacks.

Grandpa made breakfast every morning and since the Sluiter children could basically eat ONLY breakfast foods for the rest of their lives, they were thrilled with homemade french toast, pancakes, and breakfast meats each morning.

And even though it was cloudy, windy, and sort of chilly, we still went to the beach on Friday because guess what? Kids do not care. They just want to play. So we adults sucked it up, and let the kids play for a few hours.

While Alice and Charlie stuck mostly to the sand, Eddie (who may be part fish) was in that chilly water almost the entire time we were at the beach.

Last year Alice wouldn’t even let her big toe touch the sand. This year she literally rolled in it as if it was the best thing ever to touch her skin. Kids are weird. And awesome.

My mom and I planned the meals/groceries a few weeks in advance, and we kept it pretty simple: grill foods and snacks. Of course my mom brought the fixing’s for s’mores even though the cottage doesn’t have a fire pit. But we had a charcoal grill!

Mmm…s’mores over charcoal!

Of course beach + s’mores = messy toddler, so a sink bath was in order. What cottage experience is complete without a toddler in the sink?

And just because it was cooler than usual, didn’t mean that the grandpa couldn’t take the boys fishing each day. Or that we couldn’t do a little ring toss, badminton, or card games.

Grandpa even helped Eddie with some of his cub scout adventures. They spent a lot of time on the fishing adventure learning types of fish in Michigan, Michigan fishing regulations, and of course catching fish!

They even learned about canoeing since the wind died down on Saturday.

Charlie got a ride in the canoe too!

Sunday was warmer and sunnier, so we hit the beach one last time before heading home. And of course Grandpa and Grandma had to treat us to ice cream!

I love that we have this summer tradition with my parents. It’s so fun to spend time together playing for four days.

Plus it’s a nice way to wrap up summer before I go back to work and the craziness of fall kicks back in. Even though the summer didn’t end up being exactly what I had in my head that it would be, we still had a great time.

And now I have to get back to lesson planning and making seating charts.

 

 

A Break from the Break

Summer is supposed to be a break, right? The kids get a break from school and/or full-time daycare. I get a break from work. We get a break from School Year Schedule that is full and rigorous, and exchange it for a slower, more open Summer Schedule.  It’s supposed to be easy…well, easier anyway.

Except that a lot of times it’s not easy at all. In fact, summer can be downright difficult.

I’ve mentioned before that I try to have something for us to do each day whether we head to a park, the library, the splash pad, or the farmer’s market. But sometimes it rains. Sometimes the bickering and whining is too much that I don’t even trust that leaving the house will help–and it might actually result in a worse meltdown, and in public.

We need some sort of break from each other on those days.

Because we (let’s be honest here: I) need these breaks often, my kids probably get more screen time than most during the summer. Alice’s break is her nap (thank the Lord), but the boys need to be separated for part of the day too.

Days like yesterday that are lovely and not so horribly hot that we feel like we are on the face of the sun, I shoo the boys outside. In fact, I may have even been so desperate for them to stay out of the house that I tossed their afternoon snack of a Popsicle off the deck and made them catch them. Allegedly.

But on days like Monday and Wednesday when the storms started around 9am and continued ALL DAY LONG, they needed something else.

You know this means Netflix.

Netflix is the way we take a break from each other. Our house is not that big. It’s easy to be all in each other’s business, so the boys can either sit in separate chairs and watch the same thing like Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale–which is kind of cool because it’s like a choose your own adventure show.

They giggle about songs and choose which way to have the story go.

Or if the need to be physically AWAY from each other (or I get sick of the stupid “trout” song on Puss in Book), one can be upstairs watching Octonauts (Charlie) on our smart TV, and the other can be downstairs watching the latest episodes of Dawn of The Croods (Eddie) on the Wii.

Sure we also play games or read books, but let’s be real. The best way to make the house quiet is to turn on something everyone wants to watch.

Which is probably why we watched Zootopia again this week. Twice.

What?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and devices to watch it on, but we choose what we watch and provide our own opinions. And yes, we really do love Zootopia that much. It’s almost a sickness.

Summer FOMO

FOMO. Fear of Missing Out.

Mix in a little Paranoia that Nobody Likes Us and you get my signature summer mental cocktail: Fear of Missing Out because Nobody Likes Us.

It’s not as tasty as it sounds.

Around May I start getting the itch for the long, lazy days. Warm, but not too warm. Slight breeze. Beers under our tree. Books in the sun on the deck.

School lets out and I allow myself to indulge in these things a little–mostly on the weekends. June however brings a whole lot of busy-ness. We have Eddie’s birthday and our anniversary. And at some point in the spring, I start saying, “let’s wait until school’s out in June to do that.” Suddenly it’s June and all “that” hits us.

Glances onto social media show family and friends at beaches, on boats, in pools, and at cottages. They are making memories. I’m wiping up lunch crumbs and telling kids to get outside so they don’t wake their sister.

A few open weekends allow for us to do some much-needed outside housework. Cortney checks a bunch of stuff off his list, cracks a beer, and feels good about it. I log on to Facebook and inform him about what everyone else is doing.

“Do you think people don’t like us? Are we downers? It’s me, isn’t it? The boys? They are always fighting. No one wants us along. Or maybe they forget we exist.”

He has been sitting, leaning his head back with his eyes closed, listening to me blather. He lifts his his head, scrunches his eyebrows, and says, “I don’t think that’s it.”

He’s probably right. After all, isn’t this what we wanted? Time to get stuff down and to be able to sit back and relax after we did it?

But neither of us has put on a bathing suit yet this summer. It’s July. We live within throwing distance of lakes. We have friends and family with boats and beaches and pools.

“Do you even WANT to go to all those places every weekend?” He asks me?

“Not really. I like to sit in peace and quiet.”

“Then why…mmmm.” He doesn’t finish. Just lays his head back again and shuts his eyes. He worked hard today and is probably sore.

“But I would like the chance. It looks fun.”

I hate getting the kids all ready to go somewhere fun. I hate the stomach I give myself imagining every single worst case scenario. I hate how I talk too much when I am finally with people. I hate that I don’t listen to others better. I hate that it’s my kids rolling around screaming at each other. I hate it when people say, “they are fine. It’s fine!” because I can’t even believe them.

It’s not fine to me.

I hate the hot tears and nauseated stomach and tight chest that all threaten to take me down in front of people.

But sometimes it is super fun. Sometimes the kids and my brain cooperate. Sometimes I am able to relax.

On a Saturday night, Cortney will sit down and turn on a ball game. I put my feet in his lap and flip through social media on my phone. Everyone is out doing something fun: outdoor concerts, beer tasting, movies, dinner and drinks out.

I’ll tell Cortney what everyone is doing.

“Mmm hmmm. Sounds fun,” he will say as he either flips through is phone or watches the game.

“I wonder how come we weren’t invited. Do you think no one likes us?”

“No. That is not it.”

I know I frustrate him with our paranoia. He points out that then we would have to find a sitter. It’s hard to do that and we feel guilty asking our parents and our regular sitter so dang often as it is. I also have a hard time feeling Ok about spending money on fun stuff like that all the time.

“It would be fun, but it comes with having to set it all up and that stresses you out.”

He’s not wrong.

I’m known to wish for invites, but when I get them go back and forth about whether I really want to go. I am known to bail at the last minute, and then take a nap because I have stressed myself out so badly. I’ve been known to accept and get super grumpy with my whole family while we get ready. My stomach eats me from the inside out.

But sometimes we end up having fun. Sometimes everything aligns and I don’t freak out and my stomach and brain stay under control and we laugh and have a wonderful time.

I don’t know where I’m going with this other than to say that my brain is always trying to make me miserable, I think. I mean, I know things logically, but my brain tries to override the logic with feelings of self-doubt and paranoia. It’s dumb. And also if you are like this, you’re not alone.

And people probably don’t hate our guts.

And maybe I should just stay off Facebook in the summer so I don’t see what I’m missing. Because really, we have a pretty good time here.

Summer Schedule 2017

One more day. That’s it. After tomorrow the Sluiters will be on the much-anticipated Summer Schedule!

This year it’s a little wonky because the district where I teach went a week longer than usual which puts my last day of school the same as Eddie’s last day. In years past, I always got out a week earlier. That extra time allowed me to do some heavy duty cleaning and organizing to get our Summer Schedule ready for kids to be home. Not so much this year. Starting Monday we are on it!

I have found over the past few summers that having “free-range,” unstructured days in the summer is exponentially related to how much fighting and whining goes on. The Sluiter kids are used to some sort of structure thanks to being in daycare/school since six months old.   Therefore, I try to keep our days to a specific routine that varies slightly each summer due to the ages of the kids.

Generally the boys wake up first and are pretty good at getting themselves settled into watching Netflix without waking me or Alice. This lasts until about 8am when they are allowed to get me up to make breakfast if Alice hasn’t already gotten me up. Since the boys are into shows like Slugterra, I make them choose something more Alice-friendly once she is up. Sometimes she wants PBS, but mostly she is into shows like Pocoyo, Beat Bugs, and Octonauts. Ok, we ALL like Octonauts!

summer schedule

By 10am, we need to be dressed and going somewhere–anywhwere–because the natives will get restless and begin to pick and bicker and it will be a matter of time before all out chaos ensues. Mondays we go to the library, Wednesdays are for the Farmer’s Market, and Fridays we find a park. Tuesdays and Thursdays the kids go to daycare.

After lunch, they can watch a show to settle down before Alice’s nap/boys’ quiet play time. Again, it has to be Alice-friendly.

summer schedule

Then we start the long TV-less afternoon (my favorite part of the day). Alice naps, the boys have to either play downstairs or outside (or rest), and I read, write, or clean something. I’d like to say this part of the day is always nice and peaceful, but Eddie and Charlie are close enough in age where if they are not getting along super great, they are trying to murder each other. There really is no in between. As long as they don’t wake up their sister, I can usually keep my calm.

Just before Alice gets up, they may choose to watch another show. Lately, Eddie has been binge-watching Inspector Gadget since season 3 was just released on Netflix. But he is just as likely to pick Pokemon or something like that too.

Once Alice is up, the boys usually retreat back to the basement or outside and she follows. The TV goes off until bedtime (or until Cortney and I turn on the news). Then I get dinner ready, Cortney comes home from work, and our daily schedule turns into the evening schedule.

I know to some people, I let our kids watch a lot of TV, but I think it’s really all about balance. We also go places, play outside, play with friends, do crafts, and of course read. Letting them veg out in front of some shows they love gives them some down time, and it gives me a break.

What does your summer schedule look like?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Netflix provides streaming and a device to stream on, but we choose what we watch and give our honest opinions.

The Best Part

This past weekend our little family joined my mom and dad in a little cottage up in Pentwater, Michigan. I love that cottage. My parents have been renting it on and off for more than 20 years. I have some great memories there, so it was so fun to take the kids and help them make some great memories too!

At the end of each day, we would ask the boys, “What was the best part of today?” They would laugh and giggle recollecting all the fun we had. It was always difficult to choose just ONE best part.

pentwater, michigan

I will say the 90-minute drive was not my personal favorite. Usually I enjoy the trip; it’s a very beautiful drive, however you see how close the boys sit to each other? And Alice is rear-facing behind me. Yeah, there was loudness.

pentwater, michigan

Breakfast was always a highlight. Grandpa made lots of breakfast meat and french toast for the troops. You can see that Charlie is dressed and has his backpack on. He was so ready for the beach, man. SO. READY. Sandboxes are his love language and the beach? Dude, it’s one big sandbox.

pentwater, michigan

See? Homeboy is in heaven. We had the best possible beach weather ever. Charlie still talks about this as being one of his “best parts”. He would live at the beach if he could. Annnnddd…cue beach pics….

pentwater, michigan

Alice hates sand and dirt and getting dirty. Such a diva. But she sat in that little beach chair just as nice as can be for two plus hours with her cold drink looking cute. That is really my kind of beach day too.

pentwater, michigan

Grandma gave the boys a snack of Vanilla Wafers…on frisbees! Grandma is so smart when it comes to snack distribution.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice enjoyed some beach vanilla wafers. With her cold drink. In her chair. Not touching the sand at all.

pentwater, michigan

It was a super hot day, but it was quite breezy, so we didn’t feel like were were sweating too much. Plus Lake Michigan was around 75 degrees.  I could have stayed much, much longer, but Alice needed a nap and the boys were getting sunned out.

pentwater, michigan

We did plenty of sitting around too. That was probably one of my best parts. I enjoyed not having too much access to wifi and having no TV or other screens available. I read a whole book from start to finish from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. My mom and I both brought a plastic horse shoes/ring toss game, so the boys had a good time sticking the stakes into the ground and making up rules about what “level” they are on. My very patient parents went along with these nonsensical rules and laughed and laughed as my mom pretty much missed every time she tossed.

pentwater, michigan

When we got home, Eddie made the comment that Grandma is so good at helping us find things to do when we might be bored. My mom totally understands that four and seven-year old boys need to keep busy. If there started to be hints of whining or fighting because of boredom, grandma would swoop in with a game of Go Fish, or Old Maid, or going for a walk to the dock or around the block. Eddie helped set the table most of the time, and Charlie helped carry out food.

pentwater, michigan

Charlie made a comment that we are pretty lucky to have a Grandpa who shares his boat and fishing hooks with us…and “cuts up a good watermelon!” Charlie is pretty much his Grandpa’s shadow–both lefties, both bearing the name “Thomas”, both loving watermelon and “putzing” around.

pentwater, michigan

Speaking of watermelon…apparently I bought a good, crisp, juicy one! It wouldn’t be a summer vacation up north in Michigan without a messy delicious watermelon after dinner.

pentwater, michigan

Alice even needed a sink bath after she demolished a huge chunk of melon. All of the sticky in her hair and on her whole body!

pentwater, michigan

I mentioned my parents have a boat. They were kind enough to haul it all the way up north and my kids LOVED it. They boys always love boat rides. When we out of the channel and onto the big lake, my dad “put the hammer down” and as we lifted up, Charlie–who was sitting in the “first mate” seat–said to Cortney, “THIS IS MY BEST PART!” After a ride, we circled back to the beach.

pentwater, michigan

It was another HOT day, but with no wind. My dad anchored off shore from the beach and we all took a dip! The boys jumped off the boat over and over into the refreshing water!

pentwater, michigan

Both boys showed us all the things they learned in swimming lessons, but with life jackets on since we were in water that was around 6 feet deep. Little Bird paddled around for hours!

pentwater, michigan

It was so hot we even got Alice to float around a bit with her Daddy! She clung pretty tightly to him, but I think she enjoyed the cool dip.  In fact, she fell asleep on me on the ride back to the boat launch.

pentwater, michigan

Both boys have fishing poles my dad gave them for their birthdays. They were so excited to fish with Grandpa! He was super patient with them as fish after fish swallowed up his hooks. I even showed off my casting skills (that my dad mocked!) and ability to reel in a bluegill when Charlie got a little nervous about doing it himself. I think Cortney was impressed!

pentwater, michigan

It rained on our last morning at the cottage. My parents tried to keep everyone busy with Old Maid and other games, but things got a little punchy by afternoon. Luckily, the sun came out and we were fortunate enough to get to town to get my dad the ice cream cone he was craving and find treasures for the boys to take home to remember their vacation.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice was getting antsy to leave the cottage by the time the sun came out. It’s a lovely cottage, but it’s small for seven people–three of whom are small people with a lot of energy!

pentwater, michigan

Before we left, we put jammies on everyone so they would be all ready for their beds when we got home. But we couldn’t leave without one more tickle session with grandpa!

pentwater, michigan

We were all stinky and tired and ready for our own beds…and showers…by the time we hit the road homeward bound. But we were happy. Because being able to spend so much time with Grandpa and Grandma was definitely the Best Part.

Thank you, mom and dad, for the awesome time. We are grateful to you for sharing the cottage with our noisy, energy-filled crew. Hopefully you got some sleep and quiet after we left! We love you!

June: The Friday of Summer

June has always felt to me like the Friday of the summer months. You know what I’m talking about. That feeling when work gets out on a Friday and–even if you do have plans–it feels like the possibilities are spread out for you to choose from and that you have SO MUCH TIME.

june

That is what June is like. The kids and I make lists of things we would love to do this summer. We make our weekly schedule which includes the library on Mondays, the farmer’s market on Wednesdays, and the park on Fridays. We talk of splash pads, the beach, and visits with friends. I make my weekly chore list: what laundry and household task I will tackle each day so that our weekends can be wide open for family time.

I make piles of books to read.

The kids list all the water-related fun they will have.

June is the best because it’s so optimistic. But there is usually a crash of expectations that first week the kids are home from school. We don’t have our groove yet. People get cranky with each other since they are not used to being together all day. Last year was incredibly rough for some reason. Maybe it was the newborn? Maybe it was because I had been off since March when school let out in June? Maybe it was because I had at least one kid with me every single day? I don’t know.

This year I allowed myself some grace. This first week with the kids would be hard. And Monday was difficult. The news left a giant hole in my soul, we had a funeral visitation, and the kids were just cranky and out of sorts. But then things turned around.

For one, I have two days where ALL three kids go to daycare. ALL THREE.

That means I was able to get groceries all by myself on Tuesday. I could linger over labels and carefully peruse the produce. It means I could have lunch with a friend on Thursday, and stop at the library and look for books for ME (and even sit and read awhile).

The days home with the kids haven’t been perfect, but like I said…we are adjusting. There have been too many screens because we have been frustrated and finding our way. We are figuring out how to be around each other for so much time when we are all used to being away from each other all day.

Sitting here in June, on the first day of summer, it looks like we have endless time to play and melt into each other’s personalities and routines.

Summer Out, Fall In

Oh Summer of 2015, what a mixed bag of emotions you have been.

My time “off” started March 5–the day before Alice was born. Summer break officially started June 5 after I picked Eddie up from his last day or Kindergarten and Charlie up from daycare.

2015-06-04 12.22.35

We made a Bucket List of things we wanted to do this past summer. We made a daily schedule for when screen time was and when nap was and when meals were. We made a weekly “adventure” schedule with planned days for the park, the library, the farmer’s market, and more. We started a behavior chart to help two boys who were used to structure and lots of kids around cope with a little less structure and only each other. We had systems in place. This summer was going to be full of fun and adventures!

2015-06-11 19.42.45

And we had fun. We did.

But it wasn’t what I expected.

For one, our daily schedule did not go by what we posted, but by what Alice decided she needed. Her feeding and sleeping drove our days which meant that our weekly schedule also went out the window. If we didn’t leave the house to do fun stuff in the morning? We didn’t go because we needed to have lunch or the kids would turn into monsters (seriously. I learned that if you don’t feed one of my children by a certain time, you will enter into the “point of no return”. Food will help curb the beast, yes, but you have killed the day). And Charlie naps in the afternoon.

Many days because of Alice’s eating/sleeping schedule, we did not leave the house. Or if we did, I fed her while we were out and the boys did awful things out in public.

So I tried to keep the awful out of the public’s eye.

2015-06-17 10.30.59

That is not to say we stayed home ALL the time. We did make it to the Farmer’s Market quite regularly in the beginning of the summer. The problem is, it’s open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Saturdays are a large NO because I hate the massive crowds. So Wednesdays were perfect. But if it was rainy or we didn’t have spare cash, we didn’t go. By mid-July we stopped all together.

2015-06-16 11.57.10

We did the library and the bakery a few times, but it wasn’t regular. In fact, this is the first summer I had to go return the books on my own once so we wouldn’t get late fees. In years past, we could easily go once a week. Nothing was “easily scheduled” this summer.

But we did double the number of books we would normally read because Eddie turned six this summer, and could get his own library card! So instead of ten books each visit, we could do twenty books! I bet we read well over a hundred books this summer, and that is pretty awesome!

2015-06-09 10.23.24

Speaking of books, we also did a neighborhood Kids Book Club this summer. We read three books along with the other kids in the neighborhood and met every other week to talk about it, do a craft, and have a snack! Because of weather, schedules, and other stuff, we ended up not meeting in August, but the boys and I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. And Eddie ordered a couple books by Geronimo Stilton so we have been reading Paws Off, Cheddarface (which I just realized is number 6 in the series. Maybe we should have started with number 1. Huh).

2015-06-19 12.18.00

Something we did almost weekly was the park. Originally, the boys and I wanted to go to every park in our town. We called it “Pick a Park Friday!” Only Charlie thought we were saying “Pickle Park” and when our first choice was a favorite that was close to our house, he thought that park was THE “Pickle Park.” Also we tried to go to a different park once and the boys whined, so we went to the same park every week after that. The Pickle Park. Heh.

2015-06-19 12.18.11

Alice loved the park too, so that was a bonus. Other than the one time we ventured to a different park, every park visit was great. The boys always played so nice and Alice and I sat in the shade while I sipped my coffee.

2015-07-08 19.08.10

I tried my best to get the kids outside every day, but if I am going to be honest here (and I always am), it did not always work. It usually went something like this:

Me: Turn off the screens. You boys need to go play outside for awhile.
Boys: WHAT? NO! THERE IS NOTHING TO DOOOOO OUTSIDE! I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH HIM! WELL I’M NOT GOING OUTSIDE IF HE’S NOT…EVEN THOUGH I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH HIM.
Me: GO!
Boys: Grumble grumble QUIT PUSHING ME! GIVE ME MY SHOES! ::door slam::
(2 minutes later)
Eddie: MOM! CHARLIE HIT ME WITH A BUBBLE WAND!
Me: Go.
(2 minutes later)
Charlie: (scream crying, so it’s sort of indecipherable, but this is what I think he probably said): MOM MOM EDDIE SAID THERE IS A BUFFALO IN THE WOODS AND IT’S GOING TO EAT ME AND THEN HE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE!
Me: There are no buffalo in our woods. Tell Eddie to be nice. Go.
(2 minutes later)
Eddie: MOM! CHARLIE IS HITTING THE TREE WITH A GOLF CLUB!
Me: Go.

And so it goes.

There were days–ok–almost all of the days–when I just said, you know what? Fine. Watch hour 3 of Netflix. Whatever. Leave me alone.

So they did. Usually without pants.

2015-07-01 19.04.44

Sometimes I bribed them outside by going out with them. That usually just meant they sat next to me to do their whining rather than fighting to the death and tattling via opening and shutting the door so often that flies thought our house WAS the outdoors.

2015-07-31 11.30.29

To be fair, we did some fun stuff too. We had a few beach days, went to the zoo, played with friends, and hit up the splash pad.  Adventures were had.

2015-08-13 11.37.20

We ran the sprinklers, flew down the slip n slide, and hauled out the inflatable pool. We kicked soccer balls and played catch. The boys went fishing with Grandpa. We sweated in the heat and ate camp fire food.

2015-08-15 16.55.28

We had fun.

And it was hard.

All at the same time.

Today I go back to work for three days before the holiday break. Then it’s all official. Summer will be done.

We are ready.

I have a bunch of other feelings about my time home with Alice being done, but that is separate from the summer being done. I am ready for the summer “schedule” to be done. I am ready for us to start our fall schedule.  And I know the boys are too.

Because they are almost as sick of sitting in time out as I am of sending them there.

We Are Trying

This summer is a bit less…exciting…than I thought it would be. I thought we would do all these adventures and go to the park all the time and hit the beach once a week.

We have not done that because, even though she is my easiest baby yet, we are sort of on Alice’s schedule rather than our own most of the time. Also? Three kids is way more exhausting than two.

2015-07-31 11.26.06

So rather than go to the library every week, we have opted for every other week…or just when the books are due. We try to get to a park once a week, but sometimes we don’t.

My kids are whiney and bored most days. Even when I kick them outside, they complain there is nothing to do.

2015-07-31 11.28.50

So I gather up Alice and we go outside too.  And they plop their toys and chairs by us under the tree and complain. I come up with games and ideas for them. They play nicely for a few minutes.  Then they are back over by me tattling about what someone did to the other.

2015-07-31 11.29.29

There is only a month left before we go back to school. Technically a month plus a week, but I go back in a month. I finally got my teaching assignment: All 8th Grade English this year. I’m pretty jazzed about having only one class to prep and hoping to do some awesome things with Reader’s Workshop this year.

We are still waiting to find out who Eddie’s first grade teacher is, when orientation is, and what he will need as far as back to school supplies.

2015-07-31 11.32.20

We still have some summer left.

And I am determined to make some fun memories. We have a couple beach days planned, a zoo trip as a family, and hopes for a few other things.

2015-07-31 11.31.17

The boys are starting to feel the need for their regular schedule. I can feel it too–the pull back to the classroom.

I also feel the sadness that means by going back to school, the whirlwind will start and Alice’s baby-ness will start to go even faster as I don’t get to see her all day, every day anymore.

2015-07-31 11.29.16

We are trying to make the most of this last month of this last summer of having a baby around. We are trying to breathe it in rather than look forward to “it will get easier” and “it will get better”.

We are trying to live in the now.

Even when the now makes me want to pull my hair out and run screaming down the street.

We are trying.

A’cottaging We Went

When I was a kid, our family vacations consisted of my family packing up our vehicle and towing our boat “up north” to an inland lake and renting a cottage for a week.

This continued until I was in high school when we took a few summers off to do “regular” vacations like go to Disney and hit up Cedar Point. By my sophomore year we were back to cottages…one cottage in particular in Pentwater.

My family went to this cottage for about 8 years before it was apparent that my siblings and I were becoming adults with busy summers of doing other things.

Last summer, my brothers and I asked my parents if we could do The Cottage again.  We missed it. We missed the lake, the boating, the meals together, the Tootsie Pops that my mom always brought, and the family game time each evening.

Last summer we reignited the tradition, this time with spouses and children in tow, and needing two cottages to house us all rather than just one.

This year we gathered again for five days and four nights.

That time gave me many blog posts (and a bazillion photos). I’m not sure I’ll ever flesh them all out, or post all the pictures, but there were many realizations and experiences this year that need to be “written out”.

For now, however, I will give you a quick glimpse into the pattern of those five days….

Breakfast

Breakfast

Every morning, my parents got up first and sat outside in their bag chairs reading and drinking coffee. Eddie and my nephew Jack were usually next up followed by me, Cort, and Charlie.  Slowly my two brothers and their wives and my baby niece Maria would wander over from their cottage.

Someone would make eggs or pancakes or bacon or toast. There were numerous pots of coffee consumed. It was always a nice slow start to the day.

The Beach

The Beach

Every single day we followed breakfast clean up with putting on our bathing suits and heading to either a tiny beach on Bass Lake or over to the Big Lake (Lake Michigan) for a couple hours of beach. Some days we played in the sand and water, one day my dad put the boat in and pulled a few of us around the lake on the knee board, and one day we drove/walked to Lake Michigan for a big morning of sun and waves. But every day had a beach in it.

After the beach was lunch time. Lunch time was usually around 1:30 or 2pm.  Then Charlie would take a nap.

Game time

Game time

Between Charlie’s nap and dinner we filled the time with walks, relaxing, playing, and of course games.  My mom bought Old Maid and the kids (all of us) LOVED it. It got quite competitive with lots of hooting and hollering whenever anyone picked The Old Maid.

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

We ate outside every night as a big family of 12. Each family was in charge of one dinner…that included bringing all the food, cooking it, and cleaning up. The Sluiters were in charge of Food on the Fire Pit Night (hobo pies and hot dogs) and also for one big breakfast.  I think our meals were a hit.

More playing

More playing

It seemed like dinner was later and later each night. We would play until it got to be around 8pm and then the Sluiter kids…or at least Charlie…needed to be cleaned up, pajama-ed, and put to bed.  Eddie usually stayed up late with us to play a card game or sit by a campfire, but because he and I shared a little bed, I usually went to bed when he did…around 10pm.

Don’t get jealous…it was hard to sleep with a windmill-like child on a lumpy tiny bed. I didn’t sleep great, but at least we had cool nights so we didn’t add sweating to why we didn’t sleep well.

The weather was perfect, the days were long, and it’s always great to see the smiles that our boys bring to the faces of our family.

There is so much more to be said about those five days, but for now this is what I remember…we still had structure to our day, but that structure was all about relaxing.

June is…

June is a time of beginnings in Sluiter Nation.

School ends for the year in May and June bring the start of long days, lazy evenings, and relaxing afternoons.

027

June is when I begin my annual three-month stint as a stay at home mom.

We begin new routines that are less rigid and stressful.

We start smelling fresh air more often and wearing pants less often.

035

June is when we can’t be bothered my calendars.

Even though the calendar looks packed, we don’t find ourselves racing through our time together.

We sit back and take it bit by bit. Moment by moment.

047

June is always full of possibility.

The summer looms before us filled with potential.

For months Eddie and I have lain in bed listing all the things you can do in the summer like go barefoot and play with water without getting cold.

060June is when we are both busy and lazy.

Doing all the things co-exists with doing nothing.

079June is a lack urgency to use every last drop of summer before it’s over.

We have time.

093

June is newness.

New flowers, new projects, new possibilities.

The boys are a year older which means there is more we can handle together.

116

June is a release.

All the months of being everything to everyone else…June is when I am mine…and my boys’.

129

June is a deep, cleansing breath.

workshop-button-1

**Also Charlie is 15 months old today. WUT?

***Also Eddie will be four in 10 days. DOUBLE WUT??

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...