Today, I read a story that made me realize that I've been spending the first 4 weeks of my sacred summer vacation focused on what I can't give my kids instead of what I can. It made me realize that that I've been letting a little of my happiness be taken every day. Social media plays a large roll in this. People always post the happy. They post the "look at my perfect life". They post the "look at where we go". Those posts have made me hurt for what I can't give my children. I can't give them vacations. Daddy doesn't have the time off work and we don't have the money. I can't give them new rollerblades or new bikes every year. They have to deal with hand me downs. I have been letting the feeling of not being enough and having enough ruin parts of my day. I'm done. I'm taking back my happiness. I'm taking back my sacred summer. I'm done focusing on what I can't give my kids. They certainly don't focus on it. They are thrilled that they get to play baseball and go to camp and play in the pool and just hang out. They are thrilled to go get ice cream uptown in the middle of the day for no reason. They are happy playing with Legos and riding hand me down bikes. They are happy playing in our cramped, one bathroom house. I only have seven weeks left with my babies and I won't let my happiness be taken away one moment longer. Especially when the one taking away the happiness is me. I've been trying so hard to make this summer as perfect as last summer that I haven't stopped to look and see that it is perfect. It is perfect because we are family and we are together. What matters is what I can give my children, not what I can't. And I can give them me. All of me.
Ideas for summer fun:
Even with the weather not completely cooperating with us and our horrible stink bug infestation, we have been making the most of every last minute of summer. We have one day left until the kids go back to school. In the past two weeks, we've gone blueberry picking, again, gone to the fair, gone to the zoo (different one than last time), gone to another baseball game, camped out, gone hiking, had picnics, visited with Grandpa, visited with Uncle M, gone to the library, gone to a birthday party at Build-A-Bear, gone to the kids' first concert, and played like maniacs. I still went to yoga and the kids still went to art and karate, too. We also managed to accomplish a ton like back to school shopping....ok, it was really retail therapy for me since I'm so sad the kids will be back in school..., worked on the bug issue, canned 14 jars of pickles, and even got some school work in there. Yet, like always, I look at all we've done and say, "I wanted to do so much more". I'm trying to let that go. We have had such a great summer and instead of looking at it and being sad for what we didn't get to do, I'm trying to look at it and take it into the school year. It's not like I will never be with my children again after Tuesday. I still have half days with Sunshine and evening and weekends with them both. That is something I need to remember. I need to remember that we can't just make the most out of the summer, but we need to make the most out of each moment. Every precious moment counts. Right about now, the people who are counting down the minutes until school starts again, are telling me to shove it, but I'm telling those people to stop, look around and appreciate what you have. Yes, the kids may be fighting, it's not like that doesn't happen here every single day, but I'm pretty sure if you really look at it, there are so many more moments of laughter than there are of anger. Those are the moments that matter. Make the most of them.
I've read this article before. I know I have. But it wasn't until a friend of mine reposted it that it truly hit home. This is us. I actually can't tell you how many times over the past three weeks I've actually told people this and Husband and I have talked about it. We didn't refer to it as "the sweet spot", but we referred to it as our kids being the perfect ages. It's true, 8 and 5 are perfect. They are old enough to do things on their own, but young enough to still want to be with us. We're hoping we get at least 2 more years out these perfect ages. This summer has really proven to be completely awesome. I know people are probably getting sick of hearing how fantastic my summer is, but it's so true. My kids' ages have as much to do with it as their personalities and things we're doing. This year I took both kids to the zoo...alone. Last year that wouldn't have happened. Are my kids different? Nope. Still the same kids they were, but they are a little more mature and independent now. Their maturity and independence has caused me to be a little different though. I'm giving them more freedom, relaxing more, and trusting them more. At the zoo, there is a slide that you have to climb way up and wait in line to go down. Last year, I either a) wouldn't have let them go down it or b) wouldn't have let them go down it. Why? I couldn't be at the top helping them and at the bottom to catch them at the same time. This year, I put Monster in "charge", meaning I told him to watch his sister and help her. They climbed up to the top, waited their turns patiently. They didn't fight. They didn't complain when other people's kids pushed in front of them. They were perfect. Perfect.
This summer we also took down the shutters and refinished them. It was years overdue. The dark green had turned into a gross yellowish, brownish, green. Last year, we painted Monster's ceiling. Just the ceiling. For the most part, the kids let us work, but there were a lot, and I mean a lot, of interruptions. We were prepared for that when we started our shutter project. Again, they were perfect. Not only did they let us get the work done, but they helped! So, they may not have helped of their own free will (at least Monster didn't, Sunshine begged us to let her help) but they didn't complain about helping when we asked them. Like most projects, it wasn't just as cut and dry as taking the shutters down and simply refinishing them. It lead to a whole other project of taking out the kids' windows, cleaning the windows and cleaning the tracks and then rinsing down the siding. Extra work took extra time, and we had it. There were no demands put on us. We didn't have interruptions. We didn't need to take breaks. The kids were perfect.
There have been so many moments like the zoo trip or the shutter project this summer. That's part of what is making this summer so amazing. I feel like, for the first time in 8 years, we are all truly enjoying ourselves. It's not that Husband and I didn't enjoy ourselves before, but now, we don't have to constantly be trying to meet a need. The kids are pretty much old enough to meet their own needs. They work it out. They problem solve. They explore. They live. Now, this does not, by any means, mean all I do is sit back and relax. They fight, I break it up. They need help, I work through it with them. Yesterday, I posted that I'm living my life with my kids. Well, these are the perfect ages because they are also living their lives with me. They haven't shut me out yet. The sweet spot. The perfect ages. I am making the most of each moment.
...at least with pictures. Last summer, I had a huge Mommy Fail. I forgot to take any sort of pictures of my darling daughter with her trophy after her last baseball game. I had to pose the picture after I remembered I didn't take one a week or so later. This year, I was on top of it! I've been trying to document every last thing we have been up to this summer with pictures. Summer is going by so quickly that I don't want to forget a single thing. This summer has been nothing less than awesome. It makes me so sad that there are only 4 weeks left. We are going to make the most out of the time we still have.
It's funny because we've been crazy busy, but we've also had a lot of down time where we are just hanging out and doing, well, nothing, just like summer should be! There is something on the calendar for every day so far, but between events, we do whatever it is we feel like doing that day. For example, the other day, I had a sitter while I went to yoga. Then, when I came home, the kids spent the next 4 hours,yes, 4 hours, playing imaginary games with each other before it was time to eat dinner and head to VBS! They played pirate, built with Legos, played restaurant, and other things I'm not even sure of. They didn't need, or want, me for any of it so I was able to mow the lawn and do laundry! I even got to watch about 20 minutes of TV while I folded clothes and they happily built things in the basement! Thus far, it has been the perfect summer and I've got the pictures to prove it!
The grandpas' birthdays are also in the summer, only 3 days apart. We made some pretty cute cards. My dad can't stand dandelions in his yard, so we thought the "dandy'lion'" card would be cute for Papa.
Of course we've done science experiments! We melted styrofoam packing peanuts in acetone nail polish remover. Cups are lined with foil so that the acetone doesn't eat away the plastic. Then, we talked about surface tension with the milk, food coloring, and dish soap experiment. Video is courtesy of Monster's cinematography. The blue and red didn't work as well as the yellow and red. Since science is actually one of my worst areas, I'm not sure why, and we tested it several times.
And we've made some yummy fruit pops and fruit and yogurt pops (didn't get a picture of the fruit and yogurt). Both are so simple to make! For the fruit pops you just slice up fruit, put it in the mold and then top it off with coconut water. Fruit and yogurt are literally just that....fruit and yogurt. I mixed a peach and yogurt in a huge bowl and them spooned it into the molds. Easy peasy!
We have also started back to school shopping, which has made me very sad. I know these next few weeks are going to fly by. This time is so precious and I don't want to miss or waste a single moment of it!
Some superhero action...
A little yoga
Some light reading...
Ice cream and popsicles, of course!
A quick trip to the zoo
Fun and fireworks for the 4th
A little bit of hard work
Learning to ride without training wheels
It's not summer without some baseball
A little bit of Mommy fun at the Electric Run
WE LOVE SUMMER!!
I can't believe two weeks of summer have already passed. It has flown by and making me wish it would never end. Summer started out with a bang. Both kids had friends over right after school let out to go swimming. After swimming, while having a snack, Sunshine lost her second tooth!
After a great summer kick off, we got to have a nice laid back first summer break weekend! Sunday, the kids literally spent the whole day in their jammies.
Just because summer vacation started, we understand that we can't take a break from our garden. Tomatoes, jalapenos, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, squash and sunflowers and other flowers all need to be watered to grow! First real day of vacation, Sunshine made a fairy house, complete with picket fence. Front flower bed proved to be the perfect spot for it. Sunshine makes sure we remember to water every night to keep the flowers pretty for the fairies!
Baseball started for Sunshine. She is the youngest on the team as well as the littlest, but she is determined! Game one she had an injury, but got right back out on the field...after some snuggles. Game two she rocked it as SS. It was awesome to see how proud she was of herself, too. She talked about how many balls she stopped for the next 3 days!
First week of vacation, we were able to make a day trip up to Nana and Papa's. The kids love going to their Nana and Papa's house! Monster was ready to do whatever work Papa needed. This time up, flower planting was on the agenda. After all the hard work, we rewarded the kids with going to the Strawberry Festival. I remember loving it as a kid so I was so glad I got to share the experience with my kids. This was the first time ever that the kids played carnival games. They had a blast! Monster rocked the balloon darts! He had to hit 3 balloons to win. First dart, he got one. Second dart missed. Third dart broke 3! Best part though, was, of course, the strawberries with lots and lots of whipped cream!
We can't let summer go by without some fireworks or rain storms...in a glass. Of course we're doing science experiments. This is the Rock household after all!
Week two of summer vacation consisted of Safety Town in the morning for Sunshine and Sports Camp in the evening for Monster. That didn't leave a whole lot of time in between to do much. Luckily, the main thing both kids wanted to do was go to the library, which we happily did. It amazes me how much my kids love the library. It shouldn't. I'm a huge reader and Husband used to be when he had time. Growing up, you couldn't get me books fast enough. Both kids are like that. It's awesome and I'm so thankful they both love reading so much!
This past weekend, was party weekend. Sunshine had a birthday party to go to and Monster had a friend over to celebrate his birthday. Yes, a few weeks late, but we were waiting for How To Train Your Dragon 2 to come out! Boys went to karate, lunch, built with Legos, out to movie and then back to build more. Girls went to Memphis Kiddie Park. Apparently this place has been around for 60 some years, yet this is the first time I had ever been there. Sunshine had the best time! Thing she loved the most, other than the roller coaster, was her freedom. She was so excited they were all able to go "by themselves" on all the rides!
Of course we can't forget Father's Day. It was very low key. We were going to go to a baseball game, but Husband decided he'd rather stay home and hang out and do yard work. So, that's what we did.
Week 3 of summer is our crazy busy week. Both kids have camp. I'll be dropping one off and then running the other one to hers, which starts 15 minutes after his! His is all day, so it won't leave a lot of extra time, especially when you add in baseball and karate. It's times like this I'm glad we have a pool so that we can just hang out and swim in the afternoon and not have to go anywhere! Friday night, I am running the Electric Run. I'm pretty excited! I'm just hoping I can keep up with my running partner!
Looking forward to another awesome week of summer!!
This weekend, Monster turned 8. That seems crazy to me that my little baby is that old! Since his birthday fell over Memorial Day Weekend, we decided to plan a fun filled weekend to celebrate. OK, so really, we just had a fun filled weekend with the bonus of it being his birthday!
It actually started out on Thursday night. Monster tested for his blue belt in karate. He was so proud of himself when he passed. He can't wait to start learning his new techniques!
Friday, after dinner, I talked Daddy into finally going to Menchie's with us. It's our favorite frozen yogurt place and Daddy has never been! Plus, it was on our summer bucket list, so we got to check that off!
Saturday brought our annual trip to A Day Out With Thomas. We've been going since 2011. This year, we didn't ride Thomas, which the kids were OK with. We still got to do all the other fun activities there and get our family picture done. After Thomas, no can say we don't know how to celebrate a birthday...we bought a new dishwasher! That may have a been more for the adults, but I'll tell you the kids are sure glad they won't have to dry the dishes as much! We also bought a new lawn mower blade. The afternoon might not have been near as fun as the morning. However, Monster got to read for about 4 hours, which is a dream come true for him, while Sunshine helped out with all the work.
Sunday was the big day. The little man turned 8. We started the day with presents and omelets and ended the day with baseball!
Memorial Day, we walked up to the parade. When we came home, Daddy was getting the pool ready. Once the pool was ready, it was way too cold to actually play in, so we opted for sprinkler fun before having a cookout.
And no birthday is complete without a cake pop from Starbucks :)
Overall, it was a fantastic several days! It gave us a taste of summer and we can't wait! Just two days of school left!
We are seriously chomping at the bit for summer. I can not wait to have lazy days, fun days, crazy days! I can't wait to be with my kids while they still want to be with me! Last year we made up a summer bucket list. It was fun checking it for things to do, so we decided to come up with another list for this summer. A lot of it repeats last year's, but that's because tradition is fun! Come on summer!!
As always, I have high hopes for vacation times. I have lots of plans and great ideas. Then, life happens. Even with all of the things summer has thrown at me this year, I have managed to stick to some of our Summer Bucket List that the kids and I made up way back in April. If I were really on the ball, I would have had photos from all these events, but, as my #mommyfail post said, I didn't even remember to take a picture of my kid at the end of t-ball, so pictures from all our summer activities is just expecting way too much.
So what have we done off our list? Well, other than me finishing my classes, camps for Monster, t-ball, karate, art, VBS, and having a bad back for more than 2 weeks, here's some of what we actually accomplished. A couple weeks ago, we went blueberry picking. It was so much fun. Monster is old enough to pretty much be off on his own picking. Sunshine still eats more than get in the bucket. We were there for an hour, which pushed their limits, but they still loved it! They were also super proud of themselves. Every time they had blueberries, they commented on how they were the ones that picked them. Love seeing the pride in their accomplishments! We got to swim in our pool as much as the weather would let us. It's not looking like we will get too many more days, but all in all, not too bad. We did take advantage of almost every nice day to be out there! We walked up to get ice cream. The kids loved that. They have had more ice cream this summer than in they have eaten their whole lives! That's what's summer's about though, right? Monster did get to do work for Papa. Papa actually let him use a hand saw and everything to help take down the roping on the deck. Monster was pretty proud of that! We have also checked off, sleep in, go hiking, VBS, Camp Invention, read, play outside (though I'm sure the kids would have liked to do this all day, every day!), ride bikes, and practice writing letters.
What didn't we get to? Well, visiting family/friends in Chicago and Georgia didn't happen. Georgia was more lack of planning on my part. I should have gotten on it earlier. We also missed out on strawberry picking because peak strawberry time was during Young Naturalist Camp and when I was finishing up my classes. Next year, I won't be working on classes, so we'll get to that one! We have yet to go to a water park, but we may still be able to do that. The weather this summer has been either extremely hot, raining, or cool. There have been very few perfect summer days. Those days, we spent in our own pool. But, like I said, we may still get to that. Maybe not before school starts, but before summer is officially over. We also have not walked to the Farmer's Market. This is something we would have normally already done several times, but with Monster having karate a block from the market, it's hard to justify walking up there and then having to drive him up to karate since his Gi is too hot to wear to walk up there. We have taken Puppy for walks, but my vision for this was to be walking him every day. Poor Puppy has gotten to go on about one walk a week. He'll actually be going on so many more once school starts in two more weeks. He walks with us to pick Monster up. One thing I really wanted to do this summer that I didn't was bake. I really don't know why I haven't done more of it. I made some great blueberry muffins and a couple of batches of cookies, but nothing like the scope of what I wanted to do. Monster did not learn to roller skate this summer. While outside, he wanted to do other things, so I let him. Learning to roller skate should be fun, not something he's forced into. We did not get to go back to COSI this summer, but we hope to get there again over Spring Break. We didn't make it to an Aeros Game, yet. But, like, the water park, that will get done before the official end of summer. We did not make it to the Richland Carrousel Park, which has become a summer tradition. I have two weeks left before school, so I'm hoping we can still get to do that!
One thing on the bucket list that I never had any intention of doing was the fair. I can't stand the fair. Growing up Cuyahoga county has carnival after carnival, after carnival all summer. That's more my speed. The county fair, not so much. Too hot. Too many people. Too much gross stuff to touch. It doesn't help that I had the most awful fair experience when Monster was little. I really thought that I could fudge this one a little by getting the kids to a carnival, but, this county really doesn't have many. We live less than a mile from the fairgrounds and we managed to make it through fair week without the kids even knowing it was going on. Bad Mommy calls that a win. There is a small festival going on next week that maybe we'll try to hit up. Or, if I can talk Husband into it, we'll take the kids to the Feast. Anyone from Cleveland (and I'm not talking about the far suburbs) has been to the Feast. It's something every Clevelander needs to experience, and I since I'm trying to raise Clevelanders, they should experience it.
Even though we didn't check off about half of our list, we did so many other things that weren't even on the list. Monster got his yellow belt in karate. The kids got to visit with their grandparents. The kids got to see where Nana grew up. We spent a lot of quality time together. The kind of time where we really, truly enjoy each other. So, even though we may have not done everything on the bucket list, we really have had a great summer so far!