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Posts Tagged ‘Summer’

It’s the final stretch of summer: August, the month in which boredom crescendos and humidity settles into the corners of my house, exposing odors that are decades old.

Last week we woke up to a bat in the corner of our bedroom. He’d been circling our sleeping heads until our cats woke us up chasing him. Now I wake up at night whenever the cats make a noise. My sleep is sweaty and fragmented. I crave coffee all day.

Also last week, I was officially hired to freelance on a marketing project. I’m pulsing with neediness to exceed expectations. The project outcome relies on research that has yet be conducted, which makes things dicey and unknown. I’m pacing, in my damp house, giving myself little pep talks and instruction.

I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been directing my energy at my kids and working and the return of bat. But lately, occasional lessons have poked through. I feel like I should sit down and write about them, but I’m self-conscious. My fingers have lost their ability to translate. My brain is sluggish and critical.

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Several weeks ago we went blueberry picking. It was sunny and beautiful out, so I pulled my daughters off their summer drug of “Toddlers and Tiaras” and threw them into the Honda. With windows open, we drove to a berry farm near a lake. It’s called “Sandy Bottom Farm,” a name that conjures up gritty bathing suits and sunburned cheeks.

As we walked with buckets into the rows of blueberry bushes, I delighted in the summer scenery: blue skies, humming cicadas and every so often, a cool breeze calming our skin. We started the pulling at berries and dropping them into buckets, but despite the lazy day, I felt an urgent need to finish. I would grab one or two handfuls off one tree and then move on to find a better tree. Rather than stand quietly and pick, I kept wandering in search of a better bush.

Off in the distance I could hear other people yelling out things like, “Hey, guys, I found the best bush,” and I’d feel myself getting competitive and anxious — was there a better bush that I was missing? My youngest daughter ran off to investigate, unable to stick with one bush for more than three or four berries. I started to sweat. I swatted at bees, growing annoyed. I needed to find the best bush.

Then I came across my eldest daughter. She was still standing in the shade of her first bush, calmly picking it clean. She was practically humming. Her fingers were blue. Her bucket was full.

Okay, yes — the metaphor is obvious, but I give myself credit for noting it. I can’t keep flailing around, imagining better bushes. I need to relish this time, standing still and filling my bucket with what’s in front of me.

So with that: cheers to this last week of summer vacation — to lazy mornings, ice cream, good books, long naps, sunburned shoulders and sandy bottoms.

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The Short List

lemons

It’s an impossibly beautiful morning. The back door is wide open. I’m supposed to go on a walk with my husband to loosen up my sore muscles and his creaky back, but right now he’s reading the sports page so I have a few minutes to indulge in me-me-me-time.

Waltz promised she’d read my grocery list if I wrote it down. I couldn’t possibly print the whole list — besides, I’ll assume you don’t really want to know what brand of kitten chow I buy (yes, I said kitten — kittens actually, more on that later).

Instead I’ve complied my short list of favorite things to buy in the summer. It’s the stuff I need to stockpile in case my husband loses his job, in which case my whole family will be forced to subsist on my selfish but yummy choices because hello, I buy the food.

1. Jicama.
Welcome to my own personal Jicama Festival. It started in late spring when I ran into a former preschool mom who’d lost weight and looked amazing. She was loading up on jicama.

I was like, “oh yeah, jicama…. it’s yummy, but I’d never think to actually buy it.” She told me she slices it and dowses it with lime juice and Splenda for a sweet snack. Her arms were seriously cut and unlike me, she only had one chin. I put two huge jicamas my cart. (P.S. I did contemplate secretly tailing her, three carts behind, just to see what the skinny people buy, but I’m a bigger person than that).

So yeah, jicama. Peeled and sliced up like french fries (*sigh*) in a ziploc, I pull it out whenever I want to munch on something (straight up and neat, not tainted with Splenda). Recently, Alias Mother suggested a salad with jicama, watermelon, mint and lime. Can you imagine? So I bought more jicama, some watermelon and limes and then I forgot the mint. Curses.

2. Mint.
This was my not on my go-to list this year or I’d be knee-deep in heavenly jicama salad, but gosh, mint – Mint! Nothing soothes the soul and makes me crave rum like fresh mint. One summer I planted it in two huge pots and spent months muddling it for various mojito-ish concoctions that kept me happy, boozy and lazy through September. It was a very good summer.

3. Greek Yogurt.
So creamy, so yummy. I am kind of squeamish with yogurt, but the Greeks — Op-ah! they made me love yogurt. I mix it with flax seed, vanilla, blueberries and a little stevia. It’s expensive but I justify it by returning cans and not buying shoes. Oh, and I never buy fat-free, just low-fat. Fat-free is just not creamy enough.

4. Flax seed.
I started buying flax seed when I read about it’s anti-inflammatory effects. Now, I put it on salad, in my yogurt, in cereal, and sprinkled on peanut butter toast. It’s nutty and hearty, and I love that it leaves a few little seeds in my gums that I can fish out with my tongue in a rather satisfying post-meal ritual.

5. Arnold Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins.
I’m trying to stay away from white flour and bread in general, but I’m hooked on these. They’re like thin, but hearty little hamburger buns — 100 calories and 5 grams of fiber per. They make a great snack slathered with peanut butter or with a slice of cheese, especially when you’re dashing off to Target, hypoglycemic, and don’t want to yell at your kids in front of the other moms at Target. I also serve them toasted, open-faced, and drizzled with olive oil for my people. They eat it and actually thank me.

6. Diet Coke.
Everything I’ve read about fibromyalgia says to lose the aspartame. My teenage neighbor insists Diet Coke contains formaldehyde. Screw it. I need my Diet Coke. Everyday. There is nothing like it — cold, out of can (not a bottle), bubbly, fresh, and with a little kick of energy. It’s just a little chemically beverage that makes me so happy. You may scold me all you want. I may die early and never decompose — but I just. don’t. care.

7. Lemons.
I confess, buying lemons makes me feel smug — like I’m some kind of great cook or something. But I think lemons make everything taste bright and fresh: squirted over roasted asparagus, nestled in sparkling water, splashed into mayo and curry powder for a quick dressing.

My favorite go-to chicken recipe is just lemons, olive oil and whatever else I have around: fresh thyme, garlic, red onion, Dijon mustard – smooshed together in a ziploc to marinate until it’s time for grilling. My foodie brother says not to add the lemon juice until the end, that it will pre-cook the chicken in a cheviche-like fashion, but I let in marinate for hours. It makes the chicken soooo tender and yummy.

8. Good White Wine.
I love red-wine, but I had to give it up when postpartum (or perimenopausal?) hormonal changes made me intolerant. Now I must drink white, but that’s good in the summer, chilled in a pretty glass. I won’t list a region or grape because I’m not that discerning so long as it’s not Chardonnay, which makes me shudder, and costs more than seven dollars. For some reason, I can find good wine under ten dollars, but never under seven.

9. Starbucks Verona Coffee.
I know, I love Dunkin Donuts, too – but in the morning, I need black, bitter, super-hot Starbucks.

10. Chocolate chips.
Right?

There you have it. Please feel free to add a few of your summer favorites and/or wine recommendations. We can have a virtual summer picnic. I’ll bring the jicama.

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Ending Summer

 

It’s the last day of summer vacation for all kids in JCrewviille.  Weeeeee!!!!

 

Next week I take back the house.

 

No more scrambling to feed the neighborhood kids. No more black feet and bloody scabs. No more exhausted crying spells from back-to-back sleepovers.

 

Yet no more lazy mornings sipping coffee with a bed-headed, boney-butted, pj-ed lump in my lap. No more snuggling to watch a movie with a daughter who smells like popcorn and is giddy from being up so late.

 

Like every year, it ends bittersweetly.

 

I wish I could have done more with them. We didn’t go strawberry picking or ride a roller coaster. We didn’t sleep in a tent in the backyard.  We didn’t plant a vegetable garden or make homemade ice cream.

 

Instead I made sandwiches and beds.  I distributed Band-Aids.  I squirted bug spray. I found missing flip flops. I hung up wet bathing suits, combed hair and slathered Neosporin.

 

Next year, I’ll try and be one of those moms who does more with them instead of for them. But like all moms, I guess I did my best.

 

And next week, the house is all mine.

 

 

 

 

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#16 Skip some stones

School is out. Thank god. I can’t take any more crazy school-mom mania.  The overachieving moms get me all worked up with their uber involvement and super fabulousness.  The closer we get to the last day, the harder they organize, schedule, and plan.  I am so not made that way, and I get really grumpy and rebellious when I’m around them. Cut it out, crazy moms. Go home, eat something and stop with your highly organized efforts.

I can’t handle the super summer scheduling of kids either.  I’m a firm believer in free play.  Unleash the imagination! I refuse to sign them up for a bunch of crappy camps that cost a fortune and require me to drive them all over town. I brag about this to the uber moms, hoping to induce a new competition for just letting kids play. They don’t buy it.

I relish the idea of summer: no alarm clocks, no lunches to make, no barking about homework.  Ahhhhhh just sleep, reading and the unfolding of a new day.  Who knows what today will bring.

Apparently, today (the first day!) it brings: fighting, whining, crying, pinching, pulling, demanding, eating, spilling, and trashing. Shit. I need a crappy camp to get them out of the house.  I panic. What was I thinking?  I start flipping through the catalog of expensive day camps.

Quickly, I rough out a schematic for this week: fairy camp, safety town, hip hop dancing, tennis and lacrosse. I make plans to dip into their college savings to cover next week. Everything’s going to be okay, I tell myself.

Then Elizabeth hands me the list she’s made of “100 Things to do this summer”. She’s done it on her own, inspired by a summer of possibilities. She’s decorated the cover with a crayon drawing of a beach umbrella stuck crookedly into a yellow hump of scrawled beach.  The list is written in purple marker.  It’s four pages long and stapled together in the corner. I read it and relax. Here are just a few of her summer aspirations:

#5 Watch a scary movie
#11 Ride bikes to the library
#18 Visit a relative
#22  Read a book
#35 Make up a dance
#46  Sun bathe
#50  Make friendship bracelets
#66  Go to the beach
#72  Take a nap
#85  Make a sand castle
#97  Catch bugs

I toss the camp catalog in the garbage. Clearly, she has better ideas. I start making lemonade. Welcome to summer.

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