beach babes

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:


summer job

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.


quiet time

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.


last day/first day

Thursday was the last day of school--and by the looks of Catcher's handmade sign, he could use a little summer "scoolh" to work on his spelling--which made yesterday the first day of summer break. By 10:00am I had changed all the beds and washed the sheets, the kids had eaten breakfast and a morning snack, we had played (but not finished) a game of Monopoly, the girls had played two rounds of dress up and three rounds of Go Fish and Catcher had started and finished the [chapter] book his second grade teachers gave him as an end-of-year gift.

By 2:00pm, after an hour trip out and back to the school where I teach along with a rambunctious lunch at Whole Foods, I had come up with what might be my greatest idea to date. We'll wait and see how the summer shakes out to confirm and/or deny this bold statement, but let me share a bit of my genius with you...

After the 12 zillion activities we got ourselves into and out of the morning of our first day of summer break, I realized that 1) I can't live like this and 2) I really can't live like this. I was thinking of all the "enrichment" we need to keep up with over the summer--reading, math, piano, etc.--and how we could work this into our regular day. Our "regular" day also has to included outdoor recreation and plenty of swimming because these kids need to learn how to swim this summer. Before I knew it, I was mapping out a schedule in my head, so I called in my bossy-rule-maker-organizer guy and asked him if he could help me make a summer schedule. [Hint: kids love to do stuff like this; it gives them ownership, and they think they're the ones who came up with the idea in the first place, which makes them much more likely to actually follow the schedule.]

Now...I'm not totally crazy and regimented (says the woman who came up with the idea of a planned summer schedule), so what we came up with has large blocks of time and plenty of wiggle room for improvising on the spot. It's also a M-F calendar like school because that's something the little ones can understand. Just to give you an idea of what our day looks like, in the morning there is breakfast followed by quiet reflection--i.e. Mom's coffee time--and then morning recreation. There's a weekly rotation of cooking, art, board games and errands. There are math, reading and music blocks every day and afternoon outdoor recess. We even made time for "entertainment" every day, which sounds fun and exciting but could simply mean turning on the TV.

More than anything, I think this plan will serve as a weapon when the kids come to me with a resounding chorus of "I'm bored!" I can simply point to the schedule and say, "Oh. It's 1:00 and you're bored? According to our schedule you should be practicing piano right now." There's no flaw in this, right? It's totally going to be smooth sailing this summer. And hopefully by the end of it all Catcher will be able to spell school.

The last day of school 2015-2016 (or "dress like your sibling day). It isn't really dress like your sibling day, but it is rainbow day. And it turns out that these siblings have matching tie dyed shirts, which they acquired during their respective stints in kindergarten. I'm hoping Catcher's will fit him all the way through the fifth grade.