Friday, August 31, 2012

2nd Annual ABC Summer Weekly Report: X and Y


Ah, 'X' and 'Y' week. Always a challenge, these two. If someone out there comes up with some great ideas for 'X' activities--in case we do a 3rd Annual ABC Summer!--let me know. That's a tough one!

Our week was chock-full of last-hurrah summer fun. We visited the pool almost every day. (It closes on Labor Day.) We visited the farm, and U-picked green beans, edamame, cherry tomatoes, and flowers. We had playdates, went to an outdoor movie party, ate popcorn from the downtown cart for the last time this summer, and attended our neighborhood elementary school's Back-to-School Open House. We made chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-flavored Popsicles, which were a huge success! And in between all that, we tried our best to do some ABC Summer activities for 'X' and 'Y.' Here's how we did:

X
 
* got plenty of eXercise: kickball, swimming, and more
* made soft pretzels in X shapes (recipe here, and also in my book in the bonus chapter of at-home kids' activity ideas)


Y

* made soft pretzels in Y shapes
* did Yam print painting:



* ate Yams (roasted in coconut oil: YUM!)
* made and ate Yogurt "sundaes"

And that's it! OK, so it was a bit challenging. But I think we did pretty well for the last week of summer vacation--and, thus, (almost) the last week of ABC Summer. (We save 'A' for September every year, so we can pick Apples and visit a local Alpaca farm's annual open house.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Scratch That


Apparently the morning of Back-to-School Open House is the time when tentative excitement and relief over getting a break from nonstop kid-duty all summer once school begins next week morphs into the usual horrified sadness that school begins next week. Because while yesterday I was still feeling pretty exhausted from 12 weeks of Super-Mom-ing and looking forward to the major transition that will come next Tuesday when my kiddos leave me all day for the first time, this morning I've got my old familiar sad-stomachache which translates to, "Noooooooo!!!! It can't be time for my kiddos to go back to school!" (Also applies to, "Noooooo!!!! My kiddos can't already be done with __ and __ grades!", on the last day of school.)

I hate the stomachache. It is destined to be with me now at least through next Wednesday. Possibly all next week. It will be especially acute this afternoon, at Back-to-School Open House, when the tasks will be to drop off school supplies, meet teachers, fill out dozens of forms, find cubbies, etc., but I will be distracted the entire time by my mama instinct to cry. And of course next Tuesday, when the bus pulls away, I'll be a miserable wreck. I still cannot wrap my brain around the fact that little tiny Genevieve is going to be at school all day from now on. It's such a long day. She's so little.

But then, I'm well familiar with this stomachache. It's there for awhile, then it miraculously disappears. Everyone does fine--even me. We figure out our routines and schedules, and adjust to what first seems difficult. Our stamina improves. It all works out.

And there's no doubt that for me, it's going to be a whole new adventure. I can't even picture what my new life is going to look like right now. Will you come along with me, to see? I hope so.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tired But Happy

Popcorn!

Last night my daughters got to bed three hours later than usual. It was the night of our friends' annual End-of-Summer Outdoor Movie Party, when literally almost every family we know in our town comes to these friends' backyard with camp chairs, bug spray, blankets, and sleeping bags for the kiddos, with the littles dressed in pj's and everyone ready to crash out on the lawn to watch a Pixar DVD on a big sheet/screen strung on the playset.

Our friends put up tiki torches and convert their screened porch into a snack center, with bowls of mini candies, jars of glow sticks, and paper bags of popcorn. There's a bonfire in the back of the yard for the grown-ups, and the driveway is festooned with chalked renditions of every child guest's name and the greeting, "Welcome, Friends!" It's ah-maaaay-zing fun.

Halfway through the movie, amidst the giggles and good-natured commotion, a friend of mine turned and said to me, "I just love our town!", and I couldn't have agreed more. When you're surrounded by that much love, friendship, and fun, how can you not?

Of course my daughters were up by 6:30 a.m. But I didn't expect anything less (more?) from them, so that's fine.

We've got a busy day ahead. Although a morning playdate was cancelled due to illness (not ours, thank goodness), it's the day before School Open House during the last week of summer vacation; there's plenty to do.

It's our last chance to have "Popcorn Wednesday" (a personal tradition between the girls and me); I promised my daughters long ago that I'd take them out for lunch during the last week of summer, so we may do that today, too; we still haven't made chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-flavored Popsicles, and those are definitely on our must-do list! We've got a friend's birthday to shop for, three pairs of swimming goggles to replace (one for the pair Genevieve lost; one for the pair Genevieve borrowed from friends to replace her lost ones, and then lost; one pair for the pair of Julia's that finally broke at the pool yesterday), and groceries to buy. It's going to be 95 degrees today, so there's the pool. (This is the last week for the pool!)

It never ends. It's all wonderful. It's all amazing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

One Week to Go

I love these two cuties--my constant companions.

This is our final week of summer vacation. In my town, school begins the day after Labor Day--one week from Tuesday.

Normally, the phrase "final week of summer vacation" makes me horribly sad. I love summer so much--for the weather, outdoor activities, etc. AND for the unstructured time with my kiddos. As all my mom friends know, the end of summer is extremely difficult and emotional for me, and I'm never ready for it.

Until maybe this year.

I fear I have hit my limit of mama-stamina for constant (CONSTANT! No day camp! No sitter! No stay at the grandparents'! No park programs!) interaction with my children. For their constant need for supervision, assistance, and referee intervention. For the energy and effort that goes into planning, executing, supervising, and cleaning up after scores of summer activities. For keeping them entertained 9 hours a day, for cooking/preparing all their meals and snacks, for having their company on every errand, appointment, and shopping trip. Thirteen weeks is a whole lot of all that. This year was even more of all that, because I solo-parented for a whole week way back in June (Christopher had a work trip) and for many summer weekend hours so he could go on training rides for his 100-mile bike races. That's fine; I agreed to do it, but the bottom line is that's just a heckuva lot of kid time, all day every day, and not a lot of break from the challenges and demands of full-time parenting.

I love them to NO END, I even love doing all of the above most of the time--I CERTAINLY wouldn't give up this job for anything in the world--and summer will always be my favorite time of year I am sure, but I'm tired, you all. I may even be ready for school to begin.

Maybe. Just a little.

Friday, August 24, 2012

2nd Annual ABC Summer Weekly Report: I and M


Our 2nd annual ABC Summer is winding down.We're running out of letters, and our Summer Books are filling up. Only a few pages are still empty at this point. The other pages are filled with my daughters' written and drawn memories of all the wonderful adventures we've had this summer, peppered with glued-in photos of many of our experiences. Priceless.

Toward the end of summer, we tend to lose motivation, and sometimes it's hard to get going with letter activities each week. After all, we're so busy with other things--the errands and playdates and sports and pool outings. But we usually gather steam at some point and end up doing a fairly good job squeezing ABC adventures into our days--as happened this week. We started off slowly with I- and M-themed library books, and ended strong with a field trip to Minneapolis to see Minnehaha Falls AND the Mississippi River (specifically, Lock and Dam #1, under the Ford Parkway Bridge). Have a look at our whole list:

I

* checked out library books about Insects, Iguanodons, and the cooking of Italy
* played with colored Ice outside on the patio
* ate Ice cream sundaes

colored ice! so fun.

M

* checked out library books about Mexico, the Mississippi River, and Monkeys
* made apple-cinnamon Multi-grain Muffins:


 
* had a "Movie day" (a cartoon DVD, pillows, and snacks during quiet time)
* went to Minneapolis to see Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi River (that's 3 M's, people!)

The falls are usually far more impressive than this. We have been having a drought in MN this year, sadly. Minnehaha Falls Park is a famous Minneapolis landmark and is truly beautiful and a bit awe-inspiring. After all, these falls were here hundreds of years ago, before settlers and cities. And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalized them in his famed poem, "The Song of Hiawatha."

Our "field trip" to Minneapolis was especially fun because Minnehaha Falls Park is in my old neighborhood--where Christopher and I lived when Julia was born, until she was 18 months old. I drove the girls past our old house--tiny, shabby, on a scruffy, tight, inner-city street--and the little park at the end of the block where I brought Julia near-daily as a baby. I drove them down blocks I once pushed the stroller along several times a day, and past the two city lakes--Hiawatha and Nokomis--we used to play near and run or bike around. It was a little surreal. I haven't been back there since we moved away 6-1/2 years ago, and it brought back a rush of memories of my pre-baby and then new-mom days.
Any ABC Summer week that includes eating ice-cream sundaes, watching a movie, baking, and hiking around a gorgeous Minneapolis urban wilderness is fine by me, let me tell you. We had a GREAT time. I hope you had a good week, too.

Public Kid Meltdowns, Learning About Puberty, and a Huge Honor

I know I haven't been the best at updating this blog over the summer. Between ABC Summer and just the usual whirlwind of being outside a lot and going to the pool all the time and having playdates and going to the CSA farm (and, now, back-to-school prep), I've just been too busy. For instance: yesterday I took my girls to Target to buy their school clothes, shoes, and Vivi's first lunchbox, which took more than two hours and involved one public meltdown (not mine) and all manner of mama-stamina; as if that wasn't enough for one day, I also did a painting craft project with them, (re-)taught Vivi how to tie, made them mini pizzas for dinner, and gave them a let's learn-about-puberty lesson about getting your period. Oh, and hand-mended a ripped backpack. Is that too much information? Not the backpack, but the puberty? Sorry. My Facebook friends already know all about it.

My point is, there's a lot going on.

One thing that's going on is that NYC blogger Mom and Kiddo, of What Do We Do All Day?, included my book in her list of favorite books for parents today. Really! Can you believe it?! I am honored like you would not believe; I am in very impressive company with the other authors/books on her list! Thank you, Mom and Kiddo! I so appreciate your comments about why my book made your list!

I'll be back later with the usual end-of-week ABC Summer report. After a slow start, we were pretty busy with our letter activities this week.

Enjoy your summer Friday, and maybe get reading?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pre-September Preparations

December, 2009. Wearing the same shirt she wore through spring 2012.

This morning I took both girls to the pediatrician (who is also my awesome friend and fellow mom Heidi) for their annual well-checks. These are supposed to be scheduled around their birthdays but since Julia's isn't strictly required anymore, I can schedule them both at the same time right after Genevieve's birthday and kill two birds with one stone. (Actually I don't think Genevieve's is actually "required" anymore either, now that she's had her five-year-old pre-Kindergarten shots--last year--but I do like an annual check-up just to monitor Julia's heart murmur and both girls' growth and whatnot.)

Turns out my sweet little eight-year-old is still .75 inches away from four feet tall (she's dying to hit four feet, for some reason) and is barely skimming the 6th percentile for height. Poor little honey. She's so adorable, yet all she wants is to grow. As for Genevieve, she only gained two pounds in the last year and has yet to break the 40-lb. barrier at six years old, but her height and weight percentiles-for-age at least reach the double digits.

My little cuties.

After their appointments, Genevieve went on a playdate so Julia and I took the opportunity to do a little closet inventory for the upcoming third-grade year. One advantage to having tiny kiddos who barely grow is that they wear the same clothes for a long, long time. Example: we just now moved four size 5T shirts and two size 5T dresses over to Genevieve's side of the closet, from Julia's side. Julia got those items three years ago at the beginning of kindergarten and is just now growing out of them. (They're easy, loose styles that were easy to grow in, but STILL.) Yes, she wore these same clothes for three school years. And on Genevieve's side, she's got size 4T shorts she still adores, and the new 5T swimsuit I just bought for her was too big. They both also have sandals they've worn for two summers now--sizes Todder 10 (Genevieve) and Toddler 12 (Julia). Yes, my 3rd-grader still wears Toddler shoe sizes.

I am not complaining. NOT AT ALL. For the most part, the lack of growth spurts in this family makes my life very easy.

Next up: buying Genevieve her first lunch box. Do you think I've learned anything since this experience? Dear God, let's hope so.






Saturday, August 18, 2012

2nd Annual ABC Summer Weekly Report: R and W

the pretend bride, complete with handmade paper veil and paper bouquet

Ah, what an insanely busy week. Birthdays, day trips, grandparents visiting, parties. Amidst all that, we still managed to do our ABC Summer activities for the week--or most of them, at least.We never did get to watercolor painting or making rainbow pudding pops. Fortunately, I can file those activity ideas away for the next solo-parenting weekend day or listless afternoon.

Our letters this week were 'R' and 'W'. Here's what kept our bodies and brains busy this week:

R

read the picture book Red Red Red, by Valeri Gorbachev
did the letter R maze, dot-to-dot, grammar, and coloring worksheets
visited Wild Rumpus children's bookshop in Minneapolis (this trip worked for both letters, thanks to the shop's perfect name!)


W

had a pretend Wedding, complete with white frosted cake we baked beforehand
ate Watermelon
did Water play on the patio

 
read the picture book Wemberley Worried, by Kevin Henkes (one of our most beloved authors and favorite books, by the way)
went for a Walk
did the letter W maze and coloring worksheets
visited Wild Rumpus children's bookshop

The thing I like best about this list is how it really illustrates how simple ABC Summer can be. Most of the activities here, except the trip to Minneapolis to go to Wild Rumpus, are simple, every-day endeavors easily doable with materials around the house, a library card, and your kids' imagination. The worksheets are free and printed off the Internet--and they help reinforce academic and fine-motor skills. Anyone can do ABC activities with their children. It doesn't take a lot of effort or money or even energy, unless you want it to.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Sneak Peek

We have a 6th birthday party coming up today. This is what I did all day yesterday:



It is no exaggeration to say that the only time I sat down yesterday was when I was driving and when I sat down for dinner. Go, me!

I'd better rally up an encore of energy for today, though, because by five p.m. there will be seven little girls running around my house! And two grandparents (not running).

You'll understand why I can't post the weekly ABC Summer report today. Tune in tomorrow for those deets. In the meantime, happy summer Friday! Do you remember how awesome it was to be six? I hope you do. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love This.

This summer I have been on somewhat of a mission, working on arranging our household environment in such a way that my daughters are more able to do things without help: transferring milk from the giant gallon jug into a miniature pitcher so they can fill their own cups from the fridge for breakfast each morning, moving the cat food to a low shelf so they can feed the cat themselves rather than having to wait for a grown-up to get the canister down from the high cupboard, filling a jar with pre-packaged and approved snacks so they can grab one for their swim bags at pool time.

These may seem like small things, but the difference they make in the life of a stay-at-home mom is enormous when all added up, because each is one less thing I have to do myself. These are small examples of the idea below; but they are something, they matter, and they are the seeds planted now that set the stage for future expectations.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Six Years Old




Happy birthday to the smartest six-year-old I have ever known. I'm still not sure how we could possibly have gotten from there to here so quickly, but I do know there will never be a dull moment with this one around. We love her so!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On the Go


Wow, we have a busy week over here. It's only Tuesday afternoon, and so far this week we've already had a 90th birthday party for our dear next-door neighbor, Julia's gymnastics class, Genevieve's pre-first-grade reading assessment at the elementary school (where I think she blew her soon-to-be teacher out of the water with her ability to easily spell the words "confident" and "pleasure" and read 4th-grade chapter books aloud), several humdrum but necessary errands, and (earlier today) a day trip to one of my favorite neighborhoods (an hour away) in Minneapolis, where we visited a kids' bookstore, a toy store, a bakery, and a playground (details to come on Friday).

Did I mention it's only Tuesday, and coming up this week we still have Genevieve's 6th birthday (with the requested birthday dinner of homemade pizza and ice cream sundaes); a pool date with friends; farm share pick-up; Julia's classmates' pool party at the home of her old 2nd-grade teacher, as a reward for reading all summer; grandparents coming to visit; sports-themed cupcakes to make; and a birthday party to plan, prep for, and host? Oh, did I mention that so far I have nothing planned for this birthday party other than the sports-themed cupcakes? And that her birthday is tomorrow, but I still have to wrap presents? Ah well. There's still time.

My reward for all this craziness will be on Saturday evening, when grandma will be providing free babysitting so that Christopher and I can go out for a belated anniversary-date dinner and movie. (Our 17th anniversary was yesterday. No, we're not super old. We got married when we were mere babies.)

I could say so much more--there is always more I could talk about--but I can barely keep my eyes open, and I have two little girls here begging to go to the park. So, off we go. Then, back home to make dinner, put kiddos to bed, and clock an hour on my elliptical machine, which is standing in these days for my usual runs. (Injured.) In the morning I'd better get myself to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients and necessary icing accoutrements to make these. 

Whew! This job never ends. And it's a good thing, too. Job security, you know.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day Job

This one! Going off to all-day school in the fall!

I'm sitting outside right now on our patio, enjoying 60-degree early-morning temperatures, listening to the rain fall on the awning above my head as I write. The past few days have felt, weather-wise, just like fall. The early mornings require me to pull on a long-sleeved t-shirt over my tanks and pajama pants if I want to drink my coffee outside or even sit by an open window. Even though I can't run in it (ideal running weather), this change of pace on the weather front feels mighty refreshing. This is why I'm ultimately glad I live in a region with distinct seasons: because as much as I love summer (and I do, a lot), a break in the heat and humidity feels blissful come September. (Not that hot weather is over for the year. This is a brief interlude, I am sure; most autumns in these parts have sunny, hot Septembers.)

Now if only we could just do away with winter entirely. Ha.

Three weeks from Tuesday, both my children will climb a school bus at 8 a.m. and leave me for nearly seven and a half hours, for the first time ever. Then they will do it again the next day. And the next. And the next.

You might think I type those words with at least a hint of giddy glee, but you'd be wrong. Nor am I on the verge of tears at the thought (yet). Mainly I feel a great well of confusion and mixed emotions. The mix of emotions is weighted toward the regretful and sad, though, rather than the giddy glee. I'm going to miss being with my babes.

What will I do with myself this year, once my girls have climbed onto the school bus? I'm not completely sure. I think most people who have never taken on the work of parenting and household management as their full-time job think that there's not much to do once the kiddos are in school all day long. And truth be told, I can't know myself for sure, yet. But what people often don't remember is that, all those things you do in the evenings and over your lunch hour (if you're lucky) and on weekends if you're a full-time working parent--the grocery shopping and meal planning, the cooking and baking, the runs to the dry cleaner and Target and the hardware store, the servicing of the car and the calls to the doctor and dentist, the window-washing and vacuuming--those are the things that we full-time stay-at-home moms do during the day, which then frees up (at least part of) our evenings and weekends for relaxation, family time, or whatever brings us joy and balance.

It's a pretty sweet gig, actually--even if it takes a minimum of six years to get to the point of doing all those things without a child or children attached to your hip while you're doing them. This particular sweetness of the gig comes all these years later, as a sort of reward for all the times you did a giant grocery-shop with two babies in tow, breaking a sweat as you wrangled toddlers in diapers (or worse--potty training!), your mile-long list, an envelope of coupons, and the ever-present ticking of the clock, counting down the limited window of tantrum-free time available to you. Or the times you had to drag both kids with you to the gynecologist, or the times you lugged an infant carseat, a diaper bag, five shopping bags, and a two-year-old in from the car, and then still didn't get a chance to sit down for eight more hours. I know a fellow at-home mom whose husband told her that she could have the entire first-grade year, expectation-free, to do whatever she wanted and chose to do--even if that meant sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee and a magazine every now and then--because she had well and truly earned it in the years running up to the beginning of all-day school.

Of course, is all of it enough to fill seven hours a day? I don't know. Will I need to find a job? I don't know. I know that I plan to volunteer in both daughters' classrooms, which will take up at least one morning or afternoon per week. I'm toying with an idea for a second book, one that this year practically begs to be written. And I admit that--should this running injury go back into remission--I look forward to getting my workouts done during daytime hours. (Something plenty of working parents do on their lunch hours, but which has been rarely possible for me during the last eight years of full-time parenting.) Beyond that? I don't really know, although when I think of all the tasks that go into running a family and combine those with school volunteering, running, and being home to do childcare and homework supervision by 3:20 each day, it seems like plenty to fill the days. But I can't know for sure.

It's a time of transition, of big unknowns, of leap-taking and trust that everything will become clear in time. Some periods of life are like that; they come up again and again. This is just the next one.

And it begins in three weeks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

2nd Annual ABC Summer Weekly Report: C and K

Zumbrota, MN

It's Friday, which means it's time to discuss our ABC Summer activities for the week. It was an odd week; the weather was somewhat cool, and we had some last-minute playdate opportunities arise, both of which meant that we didn't get to the pool this week--not even for our traditional Sunday night multi-family Picnic Dinner at the Pool. (We went to a park instead. Too chilly for swimsuits and water!) I can hardly express how strange it was to have an entire summer week go by with no pool-time. We've been to the pool many times per week since the very first week of summer vacation way back at the beginning of June.

In addition to that strangeness, my running injury has reared its ugly head again and I'm no longer running. (I know; happened very suddenly. Sort of. You know how running injuries often go. It's sort of like they happen gradually--and then all at once.) In other words, my usual routine was all shot to hell this week and I felt completely unmoored. No running, no living at the pool? How do I even know what to do with myself and my kiddos each day? I don't know. It was crazy.

I did my best. The week had some definite high points: flying kites with dear friends after dinner one night, five little girls scattered across an expanse of green field with the sun getting low at their backs; a mamas-and-girls field trip to see the last remaining covered bridge in Minnesota (at a park with the most amazing playground). No need to discuss the lows. At least not today.

C

made Chalk art on the driveway
Colored
ate Cupcakes
ate Chocolate-zucchini Cake
(We also ate lemon-blueberry bundt Cake for the birthday of a friend--so....clearly I know how to properly celebrate 'C' week. Namely, eat lots of Cake.)
went to Covered Bridge Park in Zumbrota, MN


K

flew Kites
made and ate sandwich Kebabs and fruit Kebabs

Even without the swimming and running, we had a very busy week, including an orthodontist appointment for Julia, four different playdates (three at our own house), a half-day trip to a nearby town to meet up with an old friend from out of state who happened to be back in MN for a few days with her newborn baby, and--coming up this morning--a 2-1/2-hour gymnastics "camp" for both girls. So I basically ran around like a crazy person every day and collapsed on the sofa in a fit of exhaustion every night.

Maybe back-to-school really will have its advantages, after all. I'll be able to rest up. Right?



Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Bill Me Later


I had one of those mornings where money seemed to be leaking out of my very pores and leaving a trail behind me wherever I went. Well, actually, no--because that would mean I was made of money, wouldn't it? So, not quite that.

Fifty dollars at the vet for daily thyroid medication for a cat so elderly that, were her age akin to human years, she'd have memories of the Roaring Twenties. A consult at the orthodontist--a universe I had never before visited, not even in my youth--for the child who, it has been determined, will inevitably require braces. (OMG). Not right now, thank heavens, but eventually. Which gives me plenty of time to, what?--save up? (Ha.) Lastly: a stop at the grocery store for a handful of things which, even though they included no overpriced packaged snacks and I had a coupon and/or a sale price for all but one, still added up to 35 dollars.

I'm studiously avoiding the thought of the back-to-school shopping (clothes and shoes, I mean) that's coming up this month. Not to mention praying that daughter number two inherits MY teeth.

Friday, August 03, 2012

2nd Annual ABC Summer Weekly Report: H and O


Happy summer Friday, friends! Time for our weekly ABC Summer report. This week's letters were "H" and "O."

Before I tell you what activities we did this week, I should mention that we're not quite done. Christopher is doing an all-day training bike ride on Saturday, so the girls and I are saving some ABC activities for tomorrow. Gotta fill all those solo daylight hours, you know.

So what did we do this week?

H

* checked out library books about Horses
* went on a Hike
* practiced Hula-Hooping
* made peanut Haystacks (yum!):

 
and still to come:

* having Hot dogs for dinner
* making our Handprints with paint
* playing Hopscotch

O is for orange
O

* watched and played Olympics
* read library books about the Ocean, Octopuses, and First Lady Mrs. Obama
* painted our nails Orange:



and still to come:

* making an Obstacle course

It was a good week. If you're looking for something to do with your littles today (or this weekend), why not try hopscotch, an obstacle course, or painting everyone's toenails orange? Or if you really want to get in good with the kiddos, head to the supermarket to get Haystacks ingredients and make a little treat. They'll love you for it.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

August is Over Four Weeks Long. Think About That for a Second.


So now it's August, and it feels like every conversation I have includes some version of the sentiment, "Can you believe summer is almost over already?!"

This bothers me to no end. It's August 2nd, you all! That leaves an entire month of summer stretching in front of us. (I realize that may not be true where you live, but in MN summer vacation is approximately 12 to 13 weeks long, from early June until the day after Labor Day.) A month is no small parcel, people. A month is a full one-third of summer!

You don't hear anyone saying, on June 1st, "Wow, can you believe it's already almost July?!", do you? So why does everyone mentally skip right over the final month of summer vacation the second the calendar flips to August? It drives me crazy.

Live in the moment, people! Summer's not over yet; it's not even truly almost over, unless you consider 33% left as almost over. I keep reminding my children of this, because they've begun echoing the school-supply ads and the adults they hear, exclaiming (sometimes with melancholy, sometimes with excitement for the new school year to come) how crazy it seems that "summer is almost over." When I tell them there are still 4-1/2 weeks of summer vacation, they seem surprised.

I want to train my girls to enjoy each day as it comes, not miss out on the simple pleasures in front of them because they're so focused on a big event on the calendar next month. "There's lots of summer left!" I tell them. "Don't forget about the whole rest of summer. We've got a lot of summer fun ahead of us, still."

I say the same to you. August has just begun. How are you going to live the next month to its fullest?