Summer is a bit nutty. It starts way before the actual season begins because I have to figure out the entire schedule for summer in March. But, the actual summer itself is a bit insane. My work doesn't let up in the summer but is thrown into chaos because every week is a new camp, with a different drop off time and pick up time. Plus, the ridiculously hot weather makes us all a little cranky. And, the long days make it difficult to get children to bed on time. Throw in a few days of a broken air conditioner or a sewer line that decides to give out... and, it's just a lot of chaos.
There is also quite a bit of fun in summertime. We all like spending time outdoors and it's fun to be adventuring together. But, by this halfway point in the summer, I am always craving the routine of the school year.
So, to recap some of our summer activities:
Over the 4th of July, we took the week off and headed to MacKerricker State Park, which is on the ocean near Ft Bragg. We went there last year, too, meeting up with two other families. It's a blast for the kids because there are 7 of them and they have such fun playing in the woods together from dawn to dusk every day. This year, they built an amazing fort -- improving upon it every day. By the time we left, they really had built something magical, complete with an "intruder lookout post", entryway, and swings. It was fun to watch them work together and bring their vision to fruition. And, they were very inclusive of each other -- even Alden, who is the youngest of the group by several years. We also had a great time playing at the beach, playing in the sand dunes, riding bikes and making lots (lots!) of food together.
Last year we attempted to make a lemon meringue pie camping -- without a blender, it's pretty hard to whip meringue. But, we did it! Our failure was in letting the pie cool sufficiently before digging in -- so, it was a bit of a mess (but, a tasty one). This year, I saw a video online for bacon smores. Basically, you weave bacon together, put brown sugar on it, cook it and then use the bacon weaves as the graham crackers -- each smore has about 4 pieces of bacon. Weaving the bacon was a bit messy. Cooking it was messier. And, in the end, it didn't even taste that great. Graham crackers are better for smores. But, it was amusing to try to make them and we all had a good laugh in the process.
It was fun to get away for a few days with the kids -- they love camping. Hopefully we'll get at least one more camping trip in before the summer is over. We are supposed to go the last week of August, but Eric and I are both feeling like we have had to miss so much work with all the other summer activities that we may bag it.
Last weekend, we braved the state fair in 108 degree heat. Somehow it was fun despite how hot it was. Alden and Will had a great time together on the rides. Kai won a ginormous stuffed frog bursting balloons with darts (it cost us about $30!) The kids loved watching the horse races (and Alden has been playing pretend ever since that he is the #3 horse and he races around the house while Eric plays a pretend trumpet tooting out the racetrack song). They liked riding the ponies and seeing the farm animals. We're going again tomorrow with some families from Alden's preschool.
So, we've definitely been having fun... I love camping and I love the fair. But, in between the fun, work has been insane and makes the breaks a bit stressful. Since June 1st, I've traveled to Washington DC, Houston, Milwaukee, Eureka, and multiple trips to LA (I've traveled more this year than any other since joining the Alliance... partly because there is so much change happening in the LA office, partly because I'm hiring, partly because it's a year of training/implementing a new law, and partly because work at the federal level has picked up and requires me to be interfacing with folks beyond California a lot more)... but, it makes it hard to get other things done. Eric is beyond over my travel schedule (as am I), but I'm not sure it's going to get better any time soon. And, because I feel guilty about being gone a lot, when I'm home I try to do the lion's share of the child activities when I'm home -- drop offs, pick ups, cleaning, cooking, shopping... basically it has been non-stop.
Adding to the chaos, we're continuing to transition over to a vegan lifestyle, which has caused a lot of learning and some exasperation since the kids have the same resistance to eating vegan food that they have to ALL food. But, both Eric and I have limited patience for complaints about food, especially from Kai, since we're all trying to switch what we eat because of her desire to not eat any animal products. We are on board with supporting her and making the switch -- but, not accompanied by a refusal to eat vegetables or complaints about the new diet! I have to say, minus a few difficult nights, she has mostly been amazing. She is trying new things, she made her own lunch all week for camp, and she is very committed. We went to a pasta place for dinner last night and she ate all her dinner, without using any parmesan (which she used to love). It's been impressive to watch her adopt and adapt to her new lifestyle and clear that she feels empowered by the choices she's making for herself. Very cool.
On Tuesday, we drive to Oregon to spend a few days with Eric's mom, attend the salmon bake at IPNC (which we haven't done since Kai was 5!!) and then drop Kailey off at my parent's house for a week of fun. It's not a great week for me to be missing work and the day I get back I have a new staff person starting, followed by a two-day trip to LA later that week, and then a 3-day trip to New Orleans the following week. Eric has Paddle to the Capitol and a bunch of other training activities going on. And, Kai's soccer is starting up in August. Practices are at 4:30 this year, which is a bit of a pain and is going to make work even more complicated to get done.
I probably should not be writing a blog update today because I'm in a cranky and tired mood. I just want one of those Saturday mornings from before kids where I am completely in charge of my own day and no one is demanding anything of me. But, instead, Eric is on the river for the third weekend in a row and Alden has been up since 5:30. Both kids have been asking non-stop for videos, food, water, snuggles, games... the list goes on . They are banging on the piano and drums and mauling me every few minutes. Alden is at the age where he asks the same questions over and over again -- when are we going to the fair? When will Nonnie and Papa be at our house? And then he whines that "it takes soooo long" after I explain to him when these things are happening. And, of course, they are squabbling and fighting with some frequency. In short, they're being kids... but I need a break.
When I was a kid, I remember feeling like summer break just dragged on and on. I was so bored during big chunks of summer. Now, summer is this jam-packed, non-stop ordeal that leaves me completely frazzled. I've lost the "break" part of summer. But, I'm trying to hold onto the fun... just, today, I'd rather be napping.