This week Scout turned six and Alex took off to Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics (we know--it's winter there). I've been slightly over-scheduling myself the past couple of weeks, and it wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I realized the first day of school is exactly one month away!!
I didn't realize how incredibly busy our summer would be as I took on more paid photography gigs and unpaid volunteer responsibilities. Since we've returned from Wisconsin, Catcher and Scout have finished two weeks of piano camp, and Scout and Tillie have completed the first of two weeks of swimming lessons. I've created countless spreadsheets for Vacation Bible School (one of my non-paying gigs) and completed a four-hour "board training" for my other non-paying endeavor with Inherit Austin. I've also had a trio of photo shoots, two meetings for my (paid) teaching job and a partridge in a pear tree. I'm not bragging or complaining...just laying out the reasons why my blog posts continue to be spotty at best.
The house was quiet except for the little voices directing one another where to go and what to say. It was an elaborate game of imaginary play--the complexities of which I couldn't even begin to explain to you--which led these three goofballs onto their parents' bed for a king-sized wrestling match. The match was tame (by children wrestling on their parents' bed standards) and this time laughter only led to greater laughter (and not tears as is often the danger with children's wrestling matches).
These are the moments that I choose to remember from this summer; not the tears at the dinner table or the meltdown over Legos or the temper tantrum while leaving the pool. The children played so nicely this day, in fact, I forgot all about my "summer schedule" and realized that building lasting relationships with your siblings is more important than 30 minutes of XtraMath. Scout may not remember that she dressed up like a ballerina stuck in a 70s-era futuristic space film, but collectively I hope they remember that all those summer days weren't as boring as they thought at the time. And I'll have the picture to prove it...
The biggest takeaway from the Wheat Family Lake Vacation also happens to be the favorite new buzz word(s) for Alex and me: safety nap. I'll back this up to let you know 1) the definition and 2) how we arrived there.
If there is one thing that transcends childhood; one thing that rings true across gender and socio-economic lines, it's this: kids love firemen (and fire trucks and fire engines--I now know the difference between those two--and fire stations). Lucky for the Wheat family, Alex has a cousin who is a firefighter in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. On our great midwestern adventure this summer, he invited us to spend the afternoon at the firehouse, where we got an insider's tour (complete with a lesson on how to attack, er spray, your siblings with the firehose. And I'm not sure who had more fun with the firehose--the kids or Alex.
We learned the difference between a fire truck and a fire engine (the former is the one you see with the giant ladder on top; the latter is what supplies the water). The kids got to honk the engine's ear-splitting horn while sitting in the driver's seat and took a short ride from the garage out into the driveway. We learned all about the fireman's uniform and what's inside the pockets as cousin Erik put on all 45 pounds of his gear for our enrichment. And we learned about the safety nap. Because firemen work a 24-hour shift (24 on, 48 off if you're curious), they're required to take a "safety nap" during the day in case they get a call in the middle of the night. Therefore, safety nap is forever embedded in our lexicon; however, don't tell Tillie it's time for a safety nap--when it is indeed time for a safety nap--because she might stomp her feet and scream "I hate safety naps!" at the top of her lungs.
The beaches on along the gulf shore in Texas may not be the most picturesque, but when you have three kids, a bunch of sand, a bucket, a boogie board and some waves, the possibilities are endless. Add to that an additional 24 adults and 24 children, and you have yourself one crazy beach party.
This past weekend our family, along with 12 others in which Catcher was the oldest child present, braved the town of Port Aransas, TX where the sea lice attacked the boogie boarders in the water and the sea gulls attacked any child with a kernel of popcorn on the shore. Why would we punish ourselves in such a way, you may ask? To be honest, the trip is more than just a social experiment. It's a social gathering of our Sunday school class that has evolved into this wild tradition; I would be bummed if we had to miss it.
Every year someone is pregnant or about to be pregnant or somebody's baby is having his/her first trip to the beach. We share laughter and tears (the tears mostly belong to the children, but sometimes the ladies get emotional after a couple bottles of wine). There's always some guy drinking butter on the guys night out, and the women have to wait an hour for a table at the only "decent" restaurant in town when they get their own night away from the madness. You return home sunburned and bloated--because someone insists on bringing a year's worth of Doritos along, which you just can't resist no matter how "healthy" you are on a day-to-day basis--and discover sand everywhere. But establishing tradition is great for the little ones, and you just can't beat the feeling of parental solidarity. Because we're all in this crazy thing together--let's try to make it fun while we can.
Next up for the Wheat family? A lake vacation in the great state of Wisconsin (I'm labeling our "vacations" this year as beach, lake, mountains). I'll be off the grid for the next 10 days, which means I'm not bringing my computer along, so you should expect to see something from me by the end of July with the way I've been keeping up (or not) with the blogging lately. In the meantime, enjoy these lovely pictures of the Texas gulf coast, and try not to judge if your own beach vacation includes waters that are slightly less brown in color:
What's summer without a proper summer job? At the risk of becoming "bored" this summer while on a teaching hiatus (or perhaps in an attempt to escape my day job as a mom), I have taken on a new role as real estate photographer. Jill of many trades; master of none.
The opportunity to "expand my portfolio," if you will, came about as my realtor left her former company and started her own. She needs content for her new blog and asked if I would be interested in photographing some spaces for her. One thing led to another, and today I tackled my first "interiors" photography gig. It was a challenging one, in short, that required some staging on my part, but I think I worked it out. When I got home and showed the kids my proofs this afternoon, Scout wanted to know why this girl had "all the same stuff in her house that we have." I'm new here...limited resources.
We made it! One week of summer break down. Only 10 to go! Ten sounds like a lot; I'm not sure why I exclamation-marked that sentence. Especially when I think about all that we did last week. In one week. Here's a short list just off the top of my head:
- 5 trips to the gym
- 1 trip to the pool
- 2 trips to the splash pad
- 1 kindergarten end-of-the-school-year/we-love-our-class-so-much-we-can't-say-goodbye party
- 2 sleepovers
- 1 mother-son date night to the Austin symphony (dessert included)
- 2 trips to the airport
- 1 visit from the rodent guy to seal up the holes in crawl space that he missed the first nine times he came to our house
- 1 make-your-own pizza night
- 2 school work days (for me)
- 1 high school graduation
- 1 major house cleaning with 3 children actively participating (one gets the mop, one gets the duster and one gets the toilet brush)
- and a partridge in a pear tree
We also had our fair share of downtime, and I will humbly accept my award for greatest idea ever with our summer schedule that hangs proudly on the refrigerator. Don't think I'm kidding myself that things will always go this smoothly (in fact, not included in the tally above are the mini-tantrums suffered throughout the week because there are too many of those to count), but the schedule honestly keeps off the pressure of coming up with something to do everyday. Thus, I will allow myself to bask in my self-made glory until things come crashing down upon me and I find myself in tears rocking back in forth in some corner of the house during week 11...or perhaps week five.