The end of school, some animals and the sweet spot of parenting.

It’s been a doozy, friends. One for the books. A year to remember. Interminable, exhausting, exhilarating, and joyful. But sweet hallelujah — the school year is OVER.

Have I told you this already? With my endless bitching and moaning and OHMYFREAKINGGODAMIREALLYSICKAGAIN? book slamming? Sorry. Really. No one likes a Crabby Patty, and I ended the year like a napless five-year-old with uncomfortable clothes. In the classroom I was all smiles and “These things happen, guys” when my students were concerned. In the office and at home, well, not so much smiling – a lot more napping and stomping and unremitting diarrhea. But you know what? These things happen.

A student of mine had a similar year; it seemed like they couldn’t catch a break between crisis and injuries and illness. I’d like to write a revisionist history where I handled my setbacks in the same way as my student. However, I didn’t, but I learned a lot.

Some chronic health issues have colored the last few months. While untimely, it has forced me to examine the ways in which I spend my time and energy.

How I spent the last week of school - alternately titled "barfing during finals"
How I spent the last week of school – alternately titled “barfing during finals”

 

And the dogs. My God The Dogs.

Sam is recovering from surgery to repair her cruciate ligament and meniscus. Everyone is saying “poor Sam” but you know who you should feel bad for? Her poor mom. Literally. Poor. She’s being spoiled and loved and well cared for. Her sister is pissed.

Sam demands to be wrapped like a burrito while we ice her knee. She says it's too cold.
Sam demands to be wrapped like a burrito while we ice her knee. She says it’s too cold.
And Bella is BORED.
And Bella is BORED.

Sam has doggie rehab/physical therapy once a week. Consequently, Bella likes to terrorize her at least once a day. Now Bella looks like this as she goes to doggie daycare:

Actually this was on the way home. She loves her new friends.
Actually this was on the way home. She loves her new friends.

Then they can snuggle like the best friends (bahaha!) they are.

It's rough, right?
It’s rough, right?

Oh, and we’re trying to keep the chickens and garden alive. What? Oh yeah. By ‘we’ I mean Matt. Obv.

None of the chickens were harmed in the making of this post . . . yet.
None of the chickens were harmed in the making of this post . . . yet.

 

So between illness and runaway chickens and injured or otherwise assholish dogs, I nonchalantly asked Matt if he would want to go to the beach with us this weekend. July is a hot, uncomfortable mess with Colby going between our house and with his dad. I desperately wanted to do something fun – with all of us. I was so surprised Matt agreed that I kept waiting for him to come up with an excuse not to go. I was okay taking the kids to the beach on my own – I always have been – but I was really hoping for his company.

We made arrangements for a friend to come along (lest Colby be stuck with the old farts all by himself), and I packed the car last night. I took sandwich orders: pb with fluff and nutella (x2), gluten-free pb and nutella (x1 and g.r.o.s.s.), pb with nutella and a banana (x1). I packed drinks and four tubes of sunblock and hats.

I had us in the car by 8 a.m. and we were off.

9 a.m. gas station Red Hot. Great idea, right?
9 a.m. gas station Red Hot. Great idea, right?

We drove and listened to the radio and barely heard a peep from the kids. Thank you teenaged sleepiness and Nintendo DS.

See the kids? Way up there?
See the kids? Way up there?

As I scrambled up some rocks, it dawned on me that we are still in the sweet spot of parenting. (I’m sure you’ve heard me say this already – and I’m sorry if you’re not there yet. I’m not trying to throw this in your poor, sleep-deprived and over-stimulated face. I’m just letting you know: Trust me. It gets better.) I was ahead of the kids, not directly behind or beside them. I could climb a bit, stand ahead, and know that they were coming along (instead of being convinced of their imminent deaths). Matt and I could carry on a conversation EVEN IF THEY WERE OUT OF EYESIGHT. I knew that they were okay.

I run anxious already, but it’s like I never knew how debilitating it was until the fabric of worry and doom and danger that had covered me all started to unravel. I think I lost a strand in the third grade when Colby could finally tie his shoes. Another when we entered into a new school community. Another with some honest conversation. Another here, another there, until WOMP – here I am.

We got home from super-awesome-beach-day a couple of hours ago. Not long after that, Matt left with the dogs and Colby left with his dad. Even a year ago – the sudden absence of all of my people (yes, dogs included) from my immediate reach would have sent me into a vortex of nothingness: where I couldn’t concentrate on anything less something catastrophic happened and I needed to be ready to run. But – here I am, sitting on my front steps with a glass of Pinot and talking to you!

I don’t know if THIS is the result of Colby’s independence or my, uh, maturity (does that make me sound geriatric?). I guess I hope it’s both.

We spent our day here..
We spent our day here.

So I spent the day in thanks. Thankful for the warm air that felt better than my heated blanket EVER will, thankful for the company of my husband who will swim in the cold, cold ocean with me, the soft breeze and the sound of the waves. Most of all, I was thankful for the opportunity to read AN ENTIRE SECTION of the weekend Times, on the beach, knowing that my kid was just a half a beach away, and he was just fine.

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Summerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtime.

I’m not looking to jinx myself, but the living really is pretty easy.

I’m sitting under my $34.99 Christmas Tree Shoppe umbrella and sweating through every stitch of clothing I have on.

This is not a complaint. It’s just fact.

But also, it is so hot and sunny that I have to sit under the umbrella or hide inside with the air conditioner on and the blinds drawn. That, my friends, is a miracle.

Matt and his father are framing out the space for the new barn floor, and it seems like every time they set aside a day to dusk-till-dawn work, it is a bazillion degrees out. I feel badly about this. We should be at camp  (and by this I mean I want to be at camp and I want all of us to pick up and go and I feel the teeniest bit guilty that my tiny work ethic only kicks in only when it is raining or snowing, but really those are good times to lay around and read, too).

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Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.
Someone, thankfully, gave the Panther a new home.

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My flowers are blooming. Between the frequent appearance of a green John Deere and some helping hands and flowers appearing on my doorstep, it is easy to make the call that we have the best neighbors ever. We get annuals from one side, perennials from the other. As the annuals are blooming now, I’m operating under the assumption that the flowers will not still be in bloom for our September wedding. Oh, well. That’s what supermarket flowers are for. But look at our gardens now:

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I spy . . . four rows of greens. Note to self: next year, diversify.

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I just dropped my baby off at music camp (keep your band camp jokes to yourself, thanks. I can’t handle it!) for his first overnight camp. I realized, with every step I took, that it would be five measly years before I did this, moved him into a college dorm, for real. Holy Holy Holy Shit.

Colby and I did get a good dose of time together today; we waited in an hour’s worth of lines for registration, drove back and forth across campus, moved him into his dorm, met his roommate, had lunch, and sat through the full-group (kids – behave, parents – don’t worry) meeting. We simultaneously realized that we were about halfway through July. And then we didn’t mention it again. Please summer, just stay. Please kid-version of Colby, just stay.

This is what we’ve done so far this summer:

I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.
I schedule stuff, drink coffee, and check email. This is how I look 50% of the day.

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Watching fast cars and funny people.
Watching fast cars and funny people.
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).
We swim with friends. Colby likes babies (understatement of the year).

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And we swim elsewhere.
More on this local 'beach' later.
More on this local ‘beach’ later.
United Methodist Strawberry Festival. . I ❤ cheek pinchers. Really, I’m serious!
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Chard pie with savory herb crust
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Oriechiette with chard, chickpeas, and smoked gouda
Turkey Lurkey!
Turkey Lurkey!
Swiss Chard Pizza - I'm sensing a theme here.
Swiss Chard Pizza – I’m sensing a theme here.

This week, more of the same. I have recipes for all of the above (up soon). Do any of you have chard/sturdy green recipes for me? I’m running out of ideas.

xoxo