Saturday, June 30, 2012


I blinked and suddenly it's the 4th of July next week, which always feels like the beginning and end of summer to me.

I want lazy days of gardening and splashing in the river and eating popsicles and ice cream and hanging out in the yard. But gardening isn't lazy and then there's all the fresh food to process. I love canning and jamming, but it's not fitting in so well with Elizabeth's nap time or with Brian's work schedule this year. I'm still navigating his second shift hours and sleep schedule that has me yearning to run or garden or DO something in the cool early hours and then sweating when 10, 10:30 rolls around and I finally have a hand with the girls.

I'm trying to find family time and us time and me time and work time. I want garden time and running time and reading time and canning time. And there just isn't that much time. So I'm trying to prioritize (ugh) and let go.

Yesterday, Kathleen asked me to fill up the pool, which is really a tiny sandbox. Then she wanted to practice swimming, so she asked me to take her to the waterfall. The waterfall is a great little swimming hole minutes from our house—with big, rough, awkward steps to get down to it, very difficult to navigate for 3 year old legs. It was hot and I just wanted to sit and drink iced coffee and read a book. But while I sipped, I mulled it over. It would cool us all off. Okay. Yes.

It did cool us all off, even though Elizabeth clung to me the entire time. Kathleen laughed and shrieked the way kids do in water. Seriously, I think there is a specific pitch they hit when splashing. Her eyes sparkled even as she shivered, or as she would say, shimmered.

By the time we got home she was melting down again, the problem being the wrong popsicle. Sigh. It's not perfect, but we splashed in the river and ate popsicles and ice cream and after the kids went to bed, I emptied the kiddie pool and watered my peppers, so I guess I got gardening in there too.

July and August stretch before me with raspberries and green beans and cucumbers and tomatoes, cookouts, vacation?, another trip home to the beach. There is so much I want to do and so much nothing I want to do. I'm working on some odd balance of both.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My 30s

Today is the last day of my 30s.
Turning 40 doesn't phase me much. The weirdest thing is that I remember quite clearly when my mom turned 40. I was in high school—my kids aren't in preschool yet.

It's the last day of my 30s, which made me think back on this past decade and just how much has happened: I met Brian, got married, had a baby, learned more about various kinds of pediatric ICUs that I ever wanted to know, said good-bye to and buried a baby, had two more babies, watched them grow. Maybe it's not how much happened, but how momentous those each of those things were. The last half of the decade was particularly jammed-packed.

Maybe my 40s will be easier? slower? Probably not, I don't think life really works that way. Gentler, maybe? That might be nice.

I turn 40 tomorrow. The 40 celebrations I've allotted myself have already started and will continue. I turn 40 tomorrow. Feel free to use that as an excuse to enjoy cake or ice cream or to raise a glass of the libation of your choice.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Peaches on the Literary Mama Blog

Around here, the strawberries are starting to turn red. In some places they are coming in thick already, and there were pint boxes of them in the farmer's markets yesterday. In my garden, we've picked a handful. Tuesday, my canning friend's strawberries were wet and yellow. The sun today should make a difference, though. I have a jam-packed weekend, but might have to pack some jamming in there. Although there are a few earlier season projects (violet syrup, pickled asparagus, maybe rhubarb jam), strawberries signal the true kickoff the canning season for me. 

If strawberries are first, peaches are the most anticipated fruit of the summer. They arrive in the sticky, hot days of August and stretch into September. I wrote about canning peaches and being Henry's mom as part of a contest held by the lovely Kate Hopper to launch her book Use Your Words. You can read my piece the Literary Mama blog.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good, Bad, Patterns

Yesterday's tantrum was not an isolated incident. Late afternoon is often a time of meltdowns and tantrums and general fussiness. Last summer, I found myself ending each day exhausted and frustrated and thinking what an awful day it had been. Except, like yesterday, it usually wasn't. Usually it just ended badly.

For a few weeks, I made myself write down the good and the bad of the day.

Good: taking a break to sing with Kathleen, lunch in the garden (Kathleen's idea), great run 3 miles+
Bad: Dinner started too late. I was storming around the kitchen fuming at B for making pie late in the day. Up way too late

Good: Elizabeth's morning giggles, taking a break to let Kathleen sit on my lap, knowing what Elizabeth needed to settle tonight (being put down)
Bad: Grumbly this morning about my "plan" for the day and B. sleeping in

Good: Elizabeth crawling!, watching Kathleen interact during our last music class (what a difference from the first class), dinner quick and smooth (yay for my plan of take out on music days!)
Bad: Feeling stressed about getting work done tomorrow

I'm thinking its about time to start doing this again.

Writing these things down over several weeks helped me identify patterns. Those patterns helped me make changes to make my days at least a little smoother. I prepped dinner early in the day when everyone was content. Even when it felt like we had plenty of time until dinner, I cut off all activities after 5—no walks around the block or a quick dip  at the swimming hole. I made myself stop working by 5—even if I was "almost done." When I stuck to the rules it helped, wasn't perfect but it was better.

What I really loved about this practice, though, was that it gave me my days back, much like that massage did yesterday. It helps me remember when the milestones actually happened and those amazing, non-milestone moments that you think you'll remember but you don't, the morning giggles and singing breaks and meals in the garden.

Today's bad: Struggle at bed time, Kathleen kicking on the floor
Today's good: Elizabeth moving her hands and singing "gooly gooly" when I was changing her (she learned part of the song I sing often during her changes!), planting the plants neighbors gave us for Henry's birthday

It got rough toward the end, but it was a pretty good day.