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Archive for the ‘summer’ Category

We’re all together again …

Maya came home yesterday, looking healthy, happy and full of stories of camp. She appears to have loved every minute of it, as we predicted. Sometimes, parents really do know best (she didn’t want to go for years, this one included, but we basically told her this year she had no choice, because we knew it was the right thing for her).

It was the same camp her dad attended, and all the cabins, activities and events are in Hebrew, which means that the rest of us don’t understand what they are talking about.

I figured she’d be tired, without anyone to demand she go to sleep for 3 weeks, but what I didn’t know until yesterday is that on the last night, they don’t bother with a curfew at all, and she stayed up all night. I have never voluntarily stayed up all night. I have forced myself a few times in university and have done so since when attending a birth, but I would never do it for fun. As far as I’m concerned, that’s akin to taking an ice cold shower for fun,  or fasting all day for fun. But Maya has never found sleep very appealing.

That being said, it caught up with her in a big way. She dozed off before dinner, I woke her to eat, and she dozed off after. I put her to bed at about 8:30 pm. When I need to go to the doctor this morning, I woke her at 9 am and immediately realized I was being an idiot, as my cleaning lady/mother’s helper/wife had arrived and would be staying until I returned. I apologized to Maya and asked if she’d like to just go back to sleep. I didn’t hold out much hope, as she’s the sort of kid who, if accidentally awaken at 5 am by the birds, won’t go back to sleep. This time, however, she just rolled over and closed her eyes.

She finally got up at 11 am. Fourteen and a half hours sleep. Now, we are doing laundry. Much laundry. Thank goodness for front loaders.

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Well, Maya is still at camp and, at last report, is still having a marvelous time. We’ve actually received four letters from her, all happy and full of detail. She seems to  have inherited her mother’s letter-writing ability.

Asher and Boo are also happily at camp – daycamp – for this week and next. My goal for these three child-free weeks was to make significant progress on the book-writing and decluttering the madhouse. The decluttering is going better than the book.

Mostly, this is the fault of the editor of our local Jewish newspaper, who asked me to fill in for a columnist who took the summer off. I guess he liked what he saw, because he then asked me to write a three-part feature for the next three papers. The first one, a general overview of converstion, is due Friday. He said, “Can you do 1000 words by Friday?” I said, “Sure!” And I can too, but it means not much happening on the blog, or the book.

And that is why it is quiet around here.

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I know I’m a garden geek, but I can’t help myself. My garden is finally looking really nice, and I am getting all kinds of positive comments from neighbours. Of the rest of the houses on my street, most now have squares of brown, dormant grass, thanks to the heat. The few that are green are absolute water hogs. My garden is green and lush and beautiful, and I don’t water it at all. Yeah for perennial gardens!

This is what my Shasta Daisies looked like as I was leaving for vacation, with all the buds just about out:

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This is what it looked like when I got home:

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Pretty little pansies:

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My African Daisies, after finishing their blooming from when I first bought them, suddenly stopped budding at all. I was resigned to nice green plants until I came home to discover the plants had grown significantly and were producing dozens of new buds. This is the first one to bloom:

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Daylilies:

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Real lily:

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My flax has stopped blooming, which is weird because it is supposed to bloom all summer, but it isn’t so bad, because of the hundreds of seed pods:

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Okay, she’s not exactly a baby, since she is 11, and she’s only gone to camp, but still, it’s weird.

I started going to sleep-away camp when I was 6, but that was just for a weekend. I can’t remember when I began to go longer, but it would have been a gradual process, working my way up to a whole summer in my teens. Maya, in contrast, refused to go before this year and therefore missed the shorter introduction to camp for younger kids. She (and we) just gets thrown into the deep end, 3.5 weeks.

The longest I have been away from her is 10 days, and that was when I was going somewhere, not her. It’s a lot more fun that way, let me tell you.

I know she’s going to have lots of fun, and her cousins, who she is really close to, are there so they’ll show her the ropes, and the weather got lovely, and she’s such a mature and responsible kid that she’ll do just great and I loved sleep-away camp when I was a kid and I’m sure she will too. But there’s still a little twitch of a worry that she won’t.

And I miss her more than I expected. I already wrote to her. In the age of instant communication, the parents can email their kids, and the camp will print off the emails twice a day and deliver them to the kids. The kids are low-tech, though, and have to write to us the old-fashioned way. Maya insisted she would write daily, but I think we’ll be lucky with two letters total, and that is just because I wrote the first one for her, as a bit of a joke. (I wrote stuff like, “(Circle one) I am having a great/okay/awful time. The food is better than you’ve ever fed me/okay, I guess/makes me want to puke…”)

I wonder how often I can write to her before her cabin mates start to make fun of her?

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Vacation update

I have not been online since my last post. In fact, I’m writing this offline to then copy and paste, so annoying is dial-up service.

 

I haven’t read a blog for over a week. And you know what? I’m coping okay, except I’ve run out of stuff to read up here. No computer time means much more reading time, and I didn’t bring enough books. I am catching up in my journal, though.

 

I do feel very out of touch, although I’m not sure that is a bad thing.

 

This week, we are at the cottage with our three kids and two of our nephews (I’ll call them B and C), who are 9 and 11 years old. The four of them – Maya, Asher, B and C – have remarkably similar interests and have gotten along without a major tiff for two weeks now. They spend every waking moment together, doing things as a pack. They are happy to include Boo when she wants to be (there are younger kids here for her to play with) and also include an 8-year-old girl from across the road when she is around.

 

Five kids is actually easier than three, as there are more play options, and since B and C find their younger cousin utterly charming, Asher and Maya are more patient with her too. The only thing that we find difficult – as I mentioned before – is feeding them, since there isn’t a picky eater among them. MominIsrael is right, kids who eat everything is preferable to kids who won’t eat, but it still pains the pocketbook. The five are voracious. We are constantly throwing enormous amounts of food at them. When feeding them dinner, I am reminded of the nature clip I saw years and years ago, where you see a hand holding a huge joint of meat from some animal like a goat or sheep. The hand lowers the joint into a large fish tank and the water boils with frenzied piranhas for a few moments, and then the hand lifts the joint, now cleaned of all meat.

 

I’m just thankful that mine have huge appetites too, or the shock of feeding them all would have been much worse. A couple of days ago, the mom of the kid across the street offered to make lunch for them all (beside the 8-year-old, she has 5-year-old twins). Pasta, she said, that would be easy.

 

My eyes bugged out when I saw the amount of pasta she’d cooked for them. It was enough to split in half and feed the two oldest. I braced myself, hoping the kids wouldn’t be rude about not having enough food. They were good, though. They all ate their share, then came home and ate more. Turns out that, like my kids, my nephews are used to eating meals at friends houses, leaving hungry and filling up at home.

 

I have no idea how large families feed everybody without being rich. I should point out that the whole lot of them, save one normal-sized nephew, are so skinny you can play the xylophone on their ribs.

 

I did not intend to write so much about food. I guess it is just that I’ve been forced to be preoccupied by it. What I intended to write about was that I love it up here. The loss of my beloved internet has been worth it. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but up here the kids get thrown back to my childhood, where they roam around all day playing, and their parents don’t always know exactly where they are. No schedule, no playdates, no parents.

They swim at the beach for hours. They hunt frogs. They invent elaborate games in the forested land behind our cottage. They collect rocks and wild berries. Sleeping all in bunk beds in one room, they whisper to each other long after bedtime, ignoring our half-hearted demands to be quiet and go to sleep.

 

We feed them, bandage scrapes, build bonfires and try to prevent them from emptying their rock collections on the couch, but other than that we hang out and read. It’s lovely.

 

 

It’s not all sunshine and roses – for me, at least. As I write, I am emerging from the pit of a 28-hour migraine. Today was spent lying in bed with earplugs and an eye pillow, throwing back useless drugs. I have no idea what set it off. I haven’t had one this bad in ages.

 

My own personal cottage-holiday ritual is to become ill or injured, so I should consider myself lucky this only wrecked a day. On different years, I have: recovered from carpal tunnel surgery; had an abscessed tooth (two different times and only on holiday here); had severe strep throat that took multiple courses of antibiotics to cure; had an ear and sinus infection so bad I spent the two nicest days of the vacation feverish in bed; had the Norwalk virus (‘stomach flu’); had the real flu; been pukey and exhausted from the first trimester of pregnancy (Asher); been crabby and exhausted from being in the last few weeks of pregnancy (Boo); and had mastitis.

 

Still, I’m not complaining, because at least when I get sick here, I have J to look after the kids. In fact, I actually planned the carpal tunnel surgery that way. Only once I got here did I realize that it was a little bit stupid because I couldn’t swim or play in the sand with the kids. It was still better, though.

 I hardly miss my garden.  

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We spent the long weekend at the cottage. I thought it was obscenely cold, but the kids still swam. I wonder when a child develops nerve endings? Not at 11 years old, judging by Maya.

Old family friends of J’s family have the cottage across the street, so our kids play together every summer, picking up like they’ve never been apart. They swim, play in the sand, climb around on the rocks, have campfires, go on adventures in the woods and basically have an idyllic a childhood summer as seems possible these days.

This year, of course, we added the dog to the mix, imagining that he will make it just that much more idyllic. And they do love him, take him for walks, play with him on the beach when he’s allow there. What I didn’t expect when I got him was that I’d want the dog to have good summer too. Now, instead of hanging out on the beach all day, I go back up to check on the dog, and take the time out to go for long walks down country roads and in the woods. He’s clearly delighted and I’m glad he’s happy too.

My mother-in-law is not so happy. His existence drives her nuts. We delusionally thought that if we had a good dog, one that didn’t shed, bark, jump or beg, she wouldn’t mind him. We never expected her to like him, but at least maybe she wouldn’t mind him. And he was good this weekend. He does still counter-surf and steal food off neglected plates. He sticks his nose under Maya’s arm at dinner and tries to get as close to her plate as he can, hoping to snag something off her fork. He takes kids’ toys and jumps on the furniture, staring at us like we are mad when we order him off. But he did none of that this weekend. He was the Stepford dog, he was so good.

But we knew it was hopeless when she snapped during lunch that we had to get him out of the room, as he was driving her crazy. We, including my father-in-law, looked in amazement at Jasper, sitting several feet from the table completely quietly, nose in the air in appreciation of the foodie smells, and asked what he had done to offend her. “He’s smelling!” she objected.

She might well have said ‘he’s breathing,’ since clearly that was the real problem.

She does appreciate one thing – I walk him. I clearly need more exercise and, for Jasper’s sake, I get it. I walk him for hours, and I like it, as it is peaceful and he is happy. But you now what pisses me off? I haven’t lost a single pound. Bloody figures.

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Here’s an ‘Eeewwww’ for you – a couple of weeks ago, I wrote my Thursday Thirteen on the heat, trying to appreciate my lack of air conditioning. I naively entitled it Thursday’s Hot Thirteen. I  was surprised to see how popular that Thursday Thirteen was, until I realized that the search string people are using to find it is “hot thirteen.” I just realized they aren’t looking for the Thursday Thirteen meme, they are looking for thirteen-year-olds. So, for those of you who make it here with the same search string: stop being such a pervert, you freak.

And, frankly, that goes for the people looking for ‘funny videos of teenagers breastfeeding’ too.

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Thirteen Things about just making it upThe kiddies are out of school! Yesterday was the last day. At 6:50 am, Asher showed up beside our bed and whined, “I’m so bored!” Not a good sign. Nevertheless, inspired by summer vacation, I’m going to come up with 13 good things about the kids getting out of school for the summer.1. NO MORE MAKING LUNCHES. Sorry about yelling, but I loathe making lunches for school. We have milk days and meat days and children who will eat practically anything we hand them at home but pretty much none of it at school and it drives me nuts.

2. I don’t have to drive back and forth to the school twice a day.

3. NO MORE HOMEWORK. Okay, I know I’m yelling a lot, but I loathe homework too.

4. We don’t have to be so rigid about bedtimes.

5. No schedule in general.

6. I get to sleep in more.

7. Family vacation.

8. The kids and I get to hang out more.

9. No homework (it’s worth two).

10. Lessening peer pressure.

11. I get to feel like less of a failure for incessantly forgetting to return permission slips, send in magazines to be cut up, signing spelling tests, etc. There’s less to forget in summertime.
12. Asher is a happier, less-frustrated kid out of school (although this year was better).

13. After two months of this, I’ll be delighted to see school start again.


Links to other Thursday Thirteens:
1. Pass the Chocolate

2. Bring Your Own Cheese

3. Burnt Offerings

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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