Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life is better in flip-flops

Today is one of those days where I feel so tired, so sluggish, I have to psych myself up just to get a glass of water from the kitchen. (Internal struggle: How thirsty are you? Because once you drink the water, you’ll only have to get up AGAIN after that to use the bathroom.)
Thankfully, now that the boys are older and sleeping through the night (Adam slept until 11 a.m. on Sunday! A new record for him!), these tired days are few and far between, but they still hit me every now and then like a ton of bricks. [I should clarify, Ben still gets up every.single.night and comes into our room, where he asks for water, a dry pull-up, and to sleep on our floor, usually around 2 a.m. Aaron sleeps through it. I get the water, change his wet pull-up, get him dry pajamas, and make a bed for him on the floor. I can usually fall back asleep, unless I’m worried about something, and then I’m up for awhile trying to quiet the nagging thoughts in my mind.]
Anyhow, on days like this I miss the old luxury of being lazy after work. Instead of going home and lounging on the couch, I’ll rush to school to get the boys, then grab something quick for dinner, then rush to the ball field, then rush home for baths and bed. Rush, rush, rush.  

I was talking to my friend Kirsten recently about parents with multiple kids in activities, basically wondering how they juggle working full-time with the constant rushing after work. They make it seem so easy. Are they just programmed differently than we are? Aaron coaches both Ben and Adam’s ball teams, so I’m the picker-upper/dinner-feeder/dropper-offer/bringer-homer on Mondays and Tuesdays, and that’s just two days a week. What about the parents who have kids in daily practices? Or seven-hour-a-day weekend tournaments? What about the parents with kids who have piano lessons on Mondays, soccer on Tuesdays, dance on Wednesdays, swimming lessons on Thursdays? Do they simply say goodbye (for now) to precious free time? Isn’t everyone just exhausted by Friday? Why are today’s kids so over-scheduled? We weren’t in a million activities when we were younger, and we turned out ok. (I think.) So when did it become normal for our kids to become hyper-involved? Will they lose the skill of filling their free time with their own imagination and creativity?
And while we were on the topic of our childhood—and how we stayed entertained during the summer—we reminisced about the arts and crafts wagon. I had no idea that more than one city had an arts and crafts wagon in the 80s, but apparently they did, since I grew up in a St. Paul suburb and Kirsten grew up in Minneapolis. I remember walking over to the park with my brother, paying whatever the fee was (50 cents? A few dollars?), finding an empty spot on the bench of that big blue wagon—sort of resembling a modern-day food truck with benches on each side—and spending hours with my neighbors and the city staff making art projects (I vaguely remember pipe cleaners, glue, and construction paper) and playing games. I loved it. *Warning: I’m going to sound old now.
The good old days.

June came and went with sunshine and then rain, rain, and more rain. It also brought Ben’s first t-ball game (he's more interested in the 50 cent gold chains in the rec center vending machine than in actually playing ball), Adam’s first baseball game (it's fun to watch him because he's really into it this year), and the surprise three-week-early birth of our friends’ Kyle and Rachel’s son Francis (Frank) Bruce [only three days after we threw them a baby shower!]
Sweet, tiny baby
June also brought a Friday evening wedding at 413 on Wacouta for my sister-in-law April’s best friend. Aaron's immediate family was all invited, and since we hadn’t been to a ceremony and reception since 2011, I—a SUCKER for a good wedding—was very excited. Aaron and I spent a lot of time explaining to the kids what a wedding is, and the terms “maid of honor” (April) and “ring bearer” (Logan) and “husband” and “wife” and “bride” and “groom” – and made sure to explain that if two girls or two boys love one another they can get married, too. The ceremony was blissfully short and sweet, and after a long break between dinner and the dance (including a long fight with Adam about the importance of wearing his shoes), a fun, young band took the stage. In order to get more people on the dance floor, the lead singer joked that there would be a dance contest, which immediately transformed Adam from a reserved kid into a crazy, sweaty dancing machine. Lesson learned = in order to get Adam to participate in anything, just add the word "contest" and the competitive side of his personality kicks in and he's 100 percent THERE, whether it means reading the most books in his kindergarten class (205) or dancing like we have never seen him dance (the reception). Watching him was the highlight of the night for us. When the band took a break, I told the lead singer that Adam really believed there was a contest, and that's why he was dancing his little heart out, so the singer made it a point to announce Adam as the dance contest winner. His prize? High-fives from the band. "I didn't get a trophy," he said afterwards. "But two people complimented my dance moves." We took video, and despite the bad lighting, you can see Adam in his green shirt, dancing in front of the band, a look of sheer determination on his face as he frantically bobs up and down to the beat. That kid was on a mission to WIN.

Our fun-loving godchild & beautiful SIL, "I'm so fancy ..."
End of the night. I danced, too. Ben was ready for bed.
He worked hard for his dance contest winner title.
Ben also turned four in June. 

New birthday donut tradition. Yeah, we go all out.
His actual birthday was the same day as the wedding, so we pushed it back to Sunday. The weather was beautiful and there was a great turnout, complete with an appearance by Batman (aka Jeremy, the best "uncle" EVER - man do we owe him favors for that one!), who delivered a Batmobile in a head-to-toe Batman costume. Even in costume and with a disguised voice, Jeremy didn’t fool Ben. 
"Wasn't that SO COOL that Batman came to your party to drop off your Batmobile?!" I asked Ben right after Batman disappeared.
“Can I tell you something, Mom?” Ben asked in front of all the guests. “That wasn’t Batman. That was JEREMY!”
Best present ever

Other June happenings: we celebrated Aaron's birthday at a get-together at his mom's house, celebrated Father’s Day in Forest Lake, had a multi-family all-weekend garage sale that was probably more work than it was worth (yes, ok, we’ll take 25 cents for that), visited Minnehaha Falls a day after President Obama was there, where everyone but Adam enjoyed fish tacos from Sea Salt Eatery, and helped two of our little friends celebrate their birthdays at Edinborough Park, after watching Uncle Jeremy compete in the City of Lakes Tri-Loppet. 

Minnehaha Falls
It's really cool when your uncles own chickens
Brotherly love
Uncle Jeremy's biggest (smallest?) fans

July is better told in photos. (Fourth of July/cabin photos courtesy of my friend Holly & her awesome photography skills.) 

My dad caught a 51-inch muskie. So proud.

Water fun at preschool
The Almighty ORBIT! At Holly & Kevin's cabin north of Green Bay

TOO BRIGHT! Cannot open my eyes all the way. NEED SUNGLASSES STAT.

Small-town parade = lots o' candy

God's country
Smoke bomb boys (happy Fourth!)

The water was as mucky as it looks, but the company was superb
Adam hardly swam at all; Ben didn't get out of the water.
We tried to stand on the Orbit after having a few drinks, and we all fell down. Were we tipsy or was the Orbit?
Good idea. Let's kneel instead.
Autumn in July
That FLASH! Too bright!
Adam couldn't part with his bag of parade candy, even when going for a walk.
At the water ski show
Some of my college girls
Adam + Quinn = two peas in a pod
Ben got soaking wet. He loved every second.
Ahh, summer.
Three amigos reunited.
East Side summer fun
The glamorous life of a coach
Good times at Teddy Bear Park, Stillwater (followed by ice cream at Leo's Malt Shop).