Monday, August 26, 2013

The Summer in Review

It would seem I took the summer off from my blog. Now, I am mentally gearing up for the widely anticipated, and equally dreaded return to school. Which camp am I in? Both. Some stay-at-home moms go crazy all summer because their kids are all home and often bored. Siblings fight, and kids get overtired from staying up past regular bedtimes. Moms of school-age kids are more exhausted than normal because they are suddenly back to having all their kids with them all the time, for two solid months.

Personally, I have a mix of school age and younger kids. This means I am already used to not having any space or time for myself, and used to not being able to keep my house clean because there are always small people around to mess it up. However, I also experience an increase in the number of kids at home for the summer, so I understand that it can be more difficult than the school year. However, I have a distinct advantage over many stay-at-home moms out there, and that is, my husband is a principal. (And was previously a teacher.) As such, my summers may mean having extra kids at home, but they also mean I have another parent with me for backup. I may have mentioned once or twice (or a few million times) how vital backup can be. My backup returned to work this morning. I am lamenting that fact.

The return to school brings with it a mix of challenges and emotions. When I was a kid, I liked getting new school supplies, even though I dreaded going back to school. I love school supplies still, and most of the summer I was excited to get my supply lists so I could shop with the boys. Last week I took all three of them to town at once, without backup. There I was, with three boys, and three different school supply lists. I guess I am naive, but I had no idea it was going to take that long to get all their stuff. But the worst part was, once we got (almost) everything on all the lists and came home, the real work was still waiting for me. As a mother, it is my solemn duty to label every school supply with my boys' names. Doesn't sound like a big deal, does it? Well it is. If you have three kids in high school, this is a non-issue. But if you have three in grade 2 and lower, huge deal. You see, my kids all have to have markers, crayons, pencils...etc., and apparently it is not enough to just put their name on the boxes. Nope. I have to label each individual crayon and marker. Do you know how many that is? Let me do a tiny bit of the math for you. All three of them need 24 wax crayons. Right there, 72 labels. Two of them have 16-packs of washable markers. That's another 32 labels. Two of them also have small washable markers, in 24 packs. That's another 48 labels. Cody needs 24 pencil crayons and 20 pencils. That's another 44 labels. Add to that 3 pairs of scissors, 3 glue sticks, 2 bottles of white glue, 4 erasers, 3 backpacks, 3 binders, 5 notebooks, 5 duotangs, 2 folders, a dry erase marker...I'm losing count here. Where is my total so far?? I'm at 226 so far. And that doesn't count their indoor shoes, and several other items on the list that I can't remember right now. Wowsers. That translates to hours and hours of work, people. I already did one stint, because I am NOT leaving it until the day before school starts. I should be doing more now, but I just don't want to face the giant pile in my room. Sigh.

Aside from getting school supplies purchased, labeled and packed, inventory must be taken of clothing, which generates more shopping. I did that online today, and I'm excited about my purchases, but my bank probably isn't. The return to school also means I have to get it together, personally. That's right, I have to get back into some kind of a routine. Inwardly, I am rebelling a little about that. No, wait, that's what's happening outwardly. I really do want to get back into a good routine, with housework, meal planning...etc, but that will take a bit of planning and effort. That's okay. Part of me is excited to get out of the slacker mode I have been in all summer. It's just a little overwhelming, that's all.

The hardest part about this year's return to school, is that Micah will be part of it. My little Micah. He turned four this summer, and is now going into Jr. Kindergarten. It's only every second afternoon, but it makes me feel like he is such a big boy, and I'm not ready to let him go yet.
Here he is on his fourth birthday. My sweet little Micah, who is still the most cuddly, loving boy. 

I will end this post with a series of pictures summarizing what has been going on around here this summer. 

Lauren's Birthday:

Yep. My baby turned one, a few days after Micah turned four. How time flies. Lauren is adorable and hilarious, and just so much fun. I love the stage she is at right now, though I am sad that she is already growing up so fast.

 She wore her one and only princess dress, the same one she wore at Christmas. It's a size 12 months, and it still has lots of room for growth. Maybe she can wear it again at Thanksgiving. Who knows?
She reached for that cake pretty quickly. We changed her into a different outfit so she wouldn't ruin the beautiful dress. 


This one (above) produced a tornado to the north east of us a mere 20 minutes after this photo was taken. It doesn't look that bad in the picture, but in real life it was creepy. We could tell it was a dangerous one.
These two (above and below) show a system that already passed by us. I went outside to take these, and there was a continuous rumble coming from them, with no break. They rumbled on for a good five to ten minutes without a single pause in the thunder. 

 Above, another scary storm system.

This one (above) had just passed over. Wow. So scary.

Yep. For a couple of weeks there, hardly a day went by that we were not under a tornado watch, and several touched down in our area. Thankfully, we were not hit by anything, but we sure got some amazing clouds and a couple of scary, scary storms. It was a major blessing to not worry a single bit about flooding when there was an abundance of that happening in close proximity to us. This year, our sump pump didn't even have to run once. Which brings me to another part of the update. 

The House:

Mike spent nearly all of his days working on building our deck so we could use our upstairs doors to get in and out of the house, and not just the basement door. Here are a few pictures showing the progress that has been made. 
 Above, the first work bee we had. Or was it the only one? I don't remember. I think maybe it was. Anyway, the guys got the "foundation" in for the posts (I don't know whether that's the correct terminology in this case), and not much else got done, as far as I remember. It was a time consuming effort that had very little to show for it, visually. However, it enabled Mike to continue the building process on his own, which was what we needed. 

 Above: Jamie on the ladder with his dad, "helping".
Starting to take shape.
Tabu, perching on the edge of the deck. You can't tell in this photo, but where she is sitting is at least 10 feet off the ground. She didn't mind a bit, of course, and navigated the entire deck before any of the floor boards were down.

This gives an idea of how the boards will look when it's finished. The boards are all on now except for one or two, I think, and Mike is starting on the railing. Except now he's never here, so it's hard to say whether this deck will be done this year or not. Super frustrating, as we wanted it done mid-summer, but our engineer took six weeks to get our plans back to us and that was a giant delay. I don't have any more current pictures, but I will add some when we get the railing up.


We finished the drywall and most of the painting in the basement this summer. 

The photo above shows our stairwell opening from upstairs. This area had extensive damage on the walls from our cats and our kids. It is now fixed and looks nice for the first time in many years. (The baseboards are still off in this picture.
Just another shot of the stairwell, also showing the landing that Mike built at the bottom. 

Here's the downstairs view of the landing. 

And you can see my future "bench seat" under the stairs. It is not finished yet.

Aside from drywall and paint, we also got our flooring installed last week. Our basement is now officially usable. 

And our holiday:

We didn't go on a vacation, exactly, but we spent three nights in the Duck Mountains with my family, in adjacent cabins on the lake shore. The mosquitoes were bad, but they didn't ruin it, which was my biggest fear. This was two weeks ago. It was our second year in a row of doing this trip. The boys had a blast with their cousins and we enjoyed the beautiful lake, which was calm and glassy nearly the whole time we were there. Because it is a very clear lake, with the water so calm, we could see right to the bottom from the boat, even deeper than nine feet. It was beautiful. We saw a lot of bald eagles, and a few of us even saw an otter from not too far off. All in all, we enjoyed our time there very much.

They all got nets from their grandparents, and they spent a lot of time at the little beach in front of the cabins catching minnows. Micah also got two leeches. And I don't mean he caught them. That was a little traumatizing for him, but he survived. Lauren also loved the water and ran right in. She was scary, in fact. She had no fear, so we had to watch her like a hawk. 

Mike with Lauren, sitting by our little beach.

Jamie fishing for minnows.

Cody driving his auntie's remote control boat.

Lauren walking over to the playground, looking all grown up.

Jamie on the boat, rocking the windblown look.

And all three of my boys in the dinghy, behind their older cousin. They did this for hours on the calm water, and we didn't have to worry about them drifting away. It was great!

The only other thing that has really occupied my summer has been Maybelline. I have been riding her and doing a lot of ground work with her. (Which is basically training from the ground instead of in the saddle.) It is going very well. I have no pictures of me with her, but here are a couple of Mike's first real ride on her, which happened a few weeks ago.

And that is my extremely long update. Sorry to cover the whole summer in only two posts. Yeesh. Now I will be getting back into the swing of things. I'm off for now, seeing this post has had me occupied for way too long today!

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