Sunday, July 29, 2012

Freaking out.........

I always wished I would be the kind of sweet, patient mother one sees on a sitcom circa 1950-1980. You know, the ones who always look nice and sit on their children's perfectly-made beds while they dispense advice in a calm, rational manner. The ones who offer up a plate of freshly-baked cookies and a glass of cold milk when their child suffers one of the many indignities of childhood. The mom who wears stylish dresses, nipped in "just-so" at the waist, always looks refreshed, never gets her feathers ruffled, and can bake or sew anything in a flash.

BUT, guess what? That didn't happen. Oh, I do try to dispense good advice, and heal my children's hurts, and keep a nice home, and bake delicious and nutritious meals. In fact, every morning I wake up with grandiose thoughts about the things I will do, the fun we will have, the crafts I will make, the things I will bake........but who are we kidding? It's just not in my genes to be that serene mom who always has it under control.

Don't get me wrong. I can control a dicey situation with the best of them. I can juggle many responsibilities and wear many hats. But the thing is, when things get really tense.......sometimes I just freak out. As in I go completely nuts, bat-shit crazy freaking out and lose my mind (temporarily). Thankfully, that doesn't happen often, but my daily mini freak outs are a testament to my personality, which bears little resemblance to the serene, "Leave it to Beaver" momma.

Here are some examples of my freak outs:
1. When Jeff comes in and has ruined YET ANOTHER shirt because he came home from work and started working on his truck and now another decent t-shirt is stained or greasy or has paint on it. OMG! WHY can't he just designate some of his lame-ass race t-shirts from years' past to work on the truck? Recently I had a FIT when he came in with a hole in a t-shirt I had just bought him. I freaked out so much that he actually went out and bought a patch and "fixed" the shirt, good as new. And then he designated some of his lame-ass old race t-shirts as garage work shirts. YES!
2. When I see a cheese-stick wrapper on the floor and decide to leave it there until someone picks it up and four days later it's still there, only this time it's covered in dog hair and I finally FLIP MY SHIT and go on a rampage about the house, and how dirty it is, and how the kids are PIGS and how can they live in an environment such as this and finally they all get really, really quiet and start cleaning stuff up. And all is well for a few hours until someone leaves a dish in the family room where they are not supposed to eat anyway and I just pour myself a drink.
3. Here I almost typed something about my annoying dog, but I didn't want to hear the shit from people who think I'm a dog-hater because I have an old, annoying and horrible dog who makes my life a living hell. So, I'm going to leave that part out.
4. When my son comes in and reads my email/facebook over my shoulder I LOSE IT! Especially when he says "Wait, what? Who said that? What happened?" This one usually ends in my screaming "GO AWAY! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO READ OVER MY SHOULDER???" And then he sulks away, all wounded, like he didn't know or something. Whatever!
5. When the kids are goofing around and someone gets too rough and someone else gets hurt. For real. I freak out - for one, because now there's an emergency to deal with, and two, why do they always take it so far and three, it's all fun and games till someone gets hurt. Seriously.
6. When my husband: a. brings home a squash he found in the parking lot of Fred Meyer and actually thinks it's ok to eat, b. thinks a bottle of ketchup that has turned a strange brownish color and is two years past its expiration date is ok to eat, c. scoffs at me because I throw away the yogurt that's a month past its expiration date and smells funny, and he think it's ok to eat. Can you see the pattern here? I once cleaned out the garage pantry when Jeff was out of town, because I knew everything I threw away, he would either argue with me over, or fish out of the garbage when I wasn't looking and either eat it himself, or include it in a recipe without my knowledge. True story. Just because HIS stomach is iron-clad doesn't mean mine is. He thinks expiration dates are the manufacturer's way to getting you to buy more product. I think it's an FDA regulation designed to keep us from throwing up on a regular basis. Sigh.
7. When we're leaving on a trip and it's the night before and no one has packed and everyone still has to do their laundry. And each of the kids comes to me asking for a "packing list", even though I've written enough of those for them to have memorized the content, and even though I taught all of them to go "head to toe" to remember everything needed, and I KNOW at least one of them will either: a. forget a toothbrush, b. forget contacts/glasses, c. forget important medications or d. attempt to bring aboard an airplane a 10-ounce container of face lotion. GAH! So, I run around, making sure everyone has everything possible, planning for every emergency, and hastily pack my own bag in the wee hours or the morning of the trip, and inevitably forget something important. Or end up packing so many extra clothes and items I don't need that my suitcase no longer fits in the overhead.
And the number one, biggest time I have a freak out is:
8. When we're having a party/get together/people over for dinner (especially those who have never been to my house and will inevitably ask for "the tour", which means every nook and cranny has to be clean and that's not a job for the faint of heart!) and it's two hours before "showtime" and the kids are still sitting in front of the TV eating chocolate chips out of a bowl, and when I politely ask (ok, scream) for them to HELP ME, they lift their heads long enough to cast a glance about the room and say "It looks ok to me." Meanwhile, dog-hair tumbleweeds roll down the hallway, there is a pink ring in the toilet, the sink is piled high with dishes, nothing has been dusted since the last time we had company, their rooms are carpeted with dirty clothes, and there are still party decorations up from the last birthday (which, I'm sorry to say, was four months previous). That is the time I have my all-time, biggest freak out, and start barking orders like a drill sergeant (I just had to look that word up - why the HELL is it spelled with an "e" when it's clearly an "a" sound? I am a spelling nazi - which is another time I lose my shit, but that's another blog post). I'm screaming like a shrew, and five minutes before guests arrive, I throw on something decent and plaster a smile on my face like I didn't just spend the last hour with my imaginary whip, ordering my minions around. But seriously, can't they just HELP a little?

The good news is that, in the end, I sit patiently on their beds at night, listen to their hopes and dreams, and serve them fresh cookies and milk before they slip into slumber. KIDDING!

But I do listen to them. In the car, on the way to an appointment. And I do help them when they suffer the painful lessons of growing up. As in, "Forget those bitches, let's go to Starbucks!" My waist is not willowy, hence I don't wear those stylish dresses a la June Cleaver, but my jewelry always matches my top. I can serve up company with Southern grace, even though I have a bit of a temper and use the "F" word a little too much. So, I freak out a little. It's just how I roll.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I feel fat.........

Today was weird. After going to bed after midnight, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and took four teenagers to the airport for a trip to Vegas and California. Watched the sun rise on my way home. Once home, I found my husband in the bathroom asking for "help" because his ear was plugged up. Played nurse until it was determined I could not fix it. He went to work while I went back to sleep - for one hour! Woke up, took two youngest to camp, stopping by husband's work to pick him up for doctor appointment. While driving there, he said "why don't you just drop me off and I'll check in early." Paused in the street long enough for him to do a barrel roll out of the car onto the curb. Not really, but that would have been great! He did exit the car pretty fast.

After I dropped the kids off at camp, I circled back around to the doctor to wait for my husband to get his ear fixed. While waiting, I drank an iced coffee and ate three chocolate chip cookies. Sent text message: Waiting in parking lot. No makeup on. Feeling like a zombie. Super tired. Might be snoozing. I then got a picture message from him showing me the earwax ball they removed from his ear. No, I am not lying. This happened. He texted: Nurse Judy thanks u for loosening it up. Me: GROSS! Him: I couldn't see how good the pic was. Me: Well, I don't know how a picture of earwax is "good"....Him: How clear or if pic does it justus (spelling mistake intentionally left in to emphasize his lack of spelling skills). Me: I don't know! Sheesh, was it a boulder or something? Do NOT bring it out here! Him: K. 

Sorry. That was just gross.

Dropped husband back off at work, came home, ready to collapse in bed and sleep. Found giant puddle of dog pee in the upstairs hallway. Took nearly a whole roll of paper towels to sop it up. Good times.

Then, I slept for four hours. In the middle of one of the nicest days of the summer.

I woke up, had some cheese and crackers and watermelon for lunch. Ok, and another cookie. Went to pick up the kids from camp. Was late because I was watching a video about sharks online. Stopped at McDonald's for Frappes. Kids "needed" food. Placed order. When we got up to the window, they told us, "sorry, we just ran out of mocha frappe mix - do you want a caramel frappe?" I replied "No, the only reason I even came here was for a mocha frappe." They then showed me the one frappe they made, and the half frappe with what was left. Harrison offered to have a caramel frappe. They then informed us they were also out of whipped cream. Gave us four cards that said "FREE SMALL FRY" for our next visit. Joy.

Went to husband's work to surprise him with a frappe. Sent several text messages. Called. No answer. Texted "ya snooze, ya lose" and drove home. Found husband in garage. Oh! Gave him frappe. Checked Facebook and email. Decided to accompany husband on evening errands and taking son to band practice. Convinced Arlie to go with me.

Arlie and I enjoyed a reggae concert at the park, while Jeff did boring things like go to the auto parts store and deposit checks. Harrison got his jam on at band practice. Jeff picked us up and we dropped him off at Home Depot while we went on a wild goose chase to find a perfect spot to photograph the sunset. Never did find the perfect spot but drove in a giant circle through three towns, stopped at Taco Time, and finally made it back to the hardware store to pick up Jeff. Only after that did I see these texts: U forget me or find a sunset. And: Creepy young kid in an old yellow pickup just asked me if I needed a ride, hurry! Drove home contemplating young kids intentions (speculations included kidnapping Jeff and tying him up in the canopy of the pickup). Stuffed soft taco in my mouth while I explained to Jeff why we didn't buy him any food. Whoops.

Got home, uploaded pictures, checked email, loitered on Facebook. Husband ate dinner of chicken, watermelon, guacamole. Kids made pie-iron pizzas with friends. Things were loud. Things got quiet. Winding down. Bedtime.

Oh! Why did I title this "I feel fat..." ? Because I ate nothing but junk all day. We return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Maybe.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Random blogginess.......

It's been nearly three weeks since I've blogged, mostly because I haven't been "struck". By that, I mean, a sudden inspiration or idea hasn't struck me out of the blue, causing me to stay up late, or be late to something, because I simply MUST blog about it, RIGHT NOW.

However, that doesn't mean there are not blog-worthy things happening in the Moore/Gordon household. Hey, that right there reminds me of something. If you're a blended family, you can't really have one of those cute name signs on your door, or hang the initial of your last name in a giant, art-deco letter on your wall. Nope, because when you're a blended family, you have two last names (at least!) and in our house, three are Moore and three are Gordon. So, there's that.

Harrison just finished opening night of the musical "13". He was FABULOUS, and I'm biased, but it's been confirmed by many who are not even related to him, so I'm going with fabulous. He did such a great job, and the show was funny, but also poignant, at one point reminding me what a fragile, confusing, difficult age 13 can be. And my baby is exactly 13. I got a little emotional. And, wow, bursting with pride, really, at what it takes to make an individual put themselves out there on stage, sing their heart out, act with abandon, and just make it all look so easy. I'm truly in awe of this kid. He is incredible!

Next week Harrison and Arlie will be camp counselors for Camp Coyote again. My kids have done this camp for twelve years now. First, as campers, and now, as counselors. Hard to believe my little ones have grown up to the point that they are now the ones leading the "little kids" in camp activities. Gah! Where does the time go? I always use the camp week as a reason to take a mom break, hang out, enjoy some kid-free time. However, this time Hannah won't be participating because she's headed off to California (with a side trip to Vegas!) in a few days, so the first few days I'll be hanging with her, I'm sure. Plus, Hayley is here and working off and on at Subway. It's a different kind of summer. And before I know it, ALL the time will be like "camp week" and all the kids will be off doing their own thing and I'll be a sad, old lady alone at home with my cat. (HA! Who am I kidding?).

OH! Exciting news! I have a new hobby - archery! I even have my own recurve bow, which is amazing and all Robin Hood-ish. I have six shiny new arrows and a target on the side of the house so I can practice my skills any time. Jeff and I have been involved in a few friendly competitions, and I'm not too shabby for a beginner! I really love it. It's something I can do anytime I want a little break, it takes little preparation, can be done any time of day, and is right outside my door! Awesome!

Summer is flying by way too fast and I've not had nearly enough adventure to sustain me. The busy-ness of life has prevented us from doing a lot of the "usual" summer stuff like camping or going fishing in the evenings. So, I'm looking forward to trying to squeeze in some more good times, like our recent trip to Boise. Jeff participated in a half-marathon (2.5 hrs to finish!), and we got to spend wonderful time with our family, including a birthday party for my adorable great-nephews. I just love those babies to pieces, and their little sister, too. I could spend every day with them. I miss having babies!

Well, Jeff just walked in the kitchen in his boxers, a t-shirt and running shoes. Guess it's ghetto exercise time at my house! :) Gotta run.............

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day!

It's the Fourth of July and I'm lounging in bed with my husband, both on our respective laptops, doing a whole lot of nothing, debating whether or not to get out and go to a parade or perhaps take in a fireworks show tonight. He mentioned staying home to "the craziness in the neighborhood, so we can protect our house and keep the dogs sane." Sigh! I think he just got old.

I remember when I used to dress my kids up in little matching patriotic outfits and go to the Bothell parade every year. They would stand on the curb, cover their ears at the Pirate cannon "booms", eagerly grab candy off the pavement. That was usually followed by a bbq or party at our house, then a trip to the old Lynnwood high school field for a fireworks show. Some years we'd skip the public display in favor of blowing up hundreds of dollars of fireworks purchased at a local stand. We'd light them off in the street, and tell the story of the one year the Roman candle went awry and into the entire stack of fireworks in the garage! Good times.

Today Hayley is working all day at Subway. She has her own patriotic plans - when asked what kind of cheese customers want, if they don't choose American, she will hold up a slice, sniff it and say "Are you sure? It smells like freedom!" Here's hoping she doesn't get fired.

Hannah will be joining a friend downtown at Gasworks Park to watch the frenzied and way-too-crowded Seattle public display. Considering there's been a shooting in downtown Seattle or the vicinity nearly every night for the past week, I'm not too excited about her going down there. Not to mention the higher incident of car accidents on the Fourth. But, YOLO, right?

Arlie is in Spokane, where she will also be downtown, enjoying the city's festivities with her relatives.

Harrison is spending the day with his dad and best friend, where he will blow up his purchases from Boom City.

So, that leaves us childless, firework-less, plan-less on this (shockingly) sunny 4th of July. Time to seek out an adventure! Time to eat from the patriotic 4th food groups: hot dogs, lemonade, corn on the cob, and watermelon! Time to put the flag decorations up (hey, it's still the 4th! And patriotic theme is chic for summer, right?)! Time to put on the flag t-shirt and paint the fingernails red, white and blue (ok, maybe not)!

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's not my fault you're irresponsible.........

Today I forgot an appointment my daughter had at 1 p.m. She texted me asking if it was still on and I replied yes, and could she ask her sister to take her? I was visiting a friend and knew her sister didn't have to work until later in the day. I was willing to get her if that didn't work out, but it did and she was dropped off, albeit late, to the appointment. I received a phone call shortly after from my eldest, asking if I would be picking her sister up from the appointment. Since it was only an hour, I said no, she could wait for her sister. She immediately gave me a litany of excuses ranging from "I haven't even showered yet" (um, hello? It's 1 p.m.) to "I wasn't planning on spending an hour of my day doing something for YOU!" (well, I wasn't planning on spending 19 years doing everything for YOU, but here we are) and "what am I supposed to DO for an HOUR?" (I suggested some self-reflection on how she could do more for others). She then told me I was "irresponsible", "she's YOUR daughter!" and "it's not my job to take up the slack for you screwing up".

Whoa. The joy continues.

Well, I'm off to happy hour with my husband! :) Hope the kids find something to make for dinner tonight.

The one where the mom loses her mind.........

Today was Jeff's 44th birthday. It snuck up on me - I couldn't believe it was July already! I had ordered him some backpacking/hunting type things as gifts, only one of which arrived in time for his actual birthday morning. I picked up double chocolate muffins the night before, because in our house, the "birthday fairy" (me) decorates the table and puts up balloons and puts your gifts on the table so it's the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning. So, I had to scramble a bit because I didn't plan ahead. But all was well, and the birthday morning went off without a hitch (even though it was just the two of us, because no one else could be bothered to get up that early to say happy birthday).

Then, came the party part. We invited over our two best neighbor friend/couples for appetizers, drinks and cupcakes. I had planned what I'd make, purchased (most of) the ingredients, and had a plan for getting the house cleaned for the party. That "plan" included the kids, as it should have, since they LIVE here and should be helping out anyway, right? Wrong. I asked Hannah to vacuum. For four hours. Over and over I asked and reminded and finally said "I need your help now". All of which were met with grumbling, whining, "just a sec" and other avoidance techniques. When she finally did make motions to do it, it was not without grumbling about being "the only one" who "ever" does anything. And I lost it.

A blogger friend of mine said "even Superman had his kryptonite" and I guess this was mine. I am sick to DEATH of my kids whining, grumbling, eye-rolling, debating, tantruming, etc. when they are asked to simply contribute to the household chores. I've held hour-long debates about why someone shouldn't have to vacuum the upstairs (which takes 15 minutes, tops). I've been called nasty names and accused of being "OCD", "you care too much what other people think", "maybe if you didn't yell at us, we'd do it" all over asking for the garbage to be taken out or the dishes to be done. I'd like to qualify this by saying my house is NOT picture-perfect and never will be. My standards are very relaxed. I don't ask much, but what I do ask is ALWAYS met with negativity. And I'm just DONE.

Nasty words flew from both of our mouths. Things neither of us should have said, and all over a simple request to vacuum. What a sad, sad example of how things roll around here. In the end, she retreated, I vacuumed, and did ALL of the other cleaning, party prep, household chores. Needless to say, nothing was ready when the guests arrived and my girlfriends ended up helping me get things finished off. Definitely not the way I planned for the day to go. Especially the part where Jeff arrived home early to a kitchen in disarray, the bedding in the wash, and all he wanted to do was come home early and take a nap. I had planned to have a clean bed, planned to be a lot farther along in the food prep process, planned to NOT be in yoga pants and a sweaty shirt, not showered, at 4 p.m. I had not planned to reach my breaking point when I got the final whine about vacuuming.

This evening, after scrambling to find sheets for the bed (flannel, that's all I had clean!), I told Jeff I could not imagine making such a production over chores when I was younger. He said "what's the difference?" to which I could only reply "my mom would have smacked me!" Now, I don't want to debate corporal punishment here, but I'm sure the threat of being smacked was not the only motivator. I just knew that some things were not debatable. And chores were one of those things. Not to mention I would have NEVER called my mom the names my daughter called me. Would my mom have called me the names I called her? Probably. The bottom line is that my mom would NOT have put up with that kind of behavior, and I knew better than to cross the line. With my kids, it appears there are no lines.

I've modeled the behavior I expect. We have rules and chore lists - both of which seem to be ignored more often than not. Which makes me the constant enforcer. The drill sergeant. And I'm so sick of it. I honestly do not understand 1. why anyone would want to live in filth, 2. why it's such a big deal to spend a few minutes each day picking up after yourself and doing some chores for the good of the household and 3. why all the rules seem to be "negotiable". I stick to my guns. I dole out punishments when warranted. I put up chore charts, I remind, I nag, I ignore, I leave things on the floor for days hoping someone will notice and pick it up but no one ever does.

The kids share a bathroom and it's filthy. Not just cluttered, because it's certainly that, but it's disgusting. Towels stacked five feet high tower in the laundry basket, and the floor is covered with a layer of clothing (rule: no leaving your clothing in the bathroom), and more towels. The counter is covered in cosmetics, bottles, toothbrushes, smears of toothpaste. Hayley leaves her contact wrappers all over the countertop. No one ever puts the toilet paper ON the roll. Perhaps the effort of unwrapping the paper is just too much and putting it on the very difficult contraption called the toilet paper holder is impossible for their minds to grasp? The shower walls are covered in hair. How hard is it to just rinse that away after your shower? Arlie complains about it all the time and doesn't even want to shower in that bathroom. I don't blame her. I wouldn't.

We have a rule of no eating in the family room. Yet today I found three pop cans, two bowls, various plastic wrappers, a spoon and a plastic take-out container in there. There is no way in the world I have time to police who the offender is. And no one would 'fess up to it in a million years.

When the toilet is clogged, "no one" ever did it. Instead of plunging it, they will use another bathroom and ignore the clogged toilet for days, unless I happen upon it and fix the problem. They've all been taught basic plunger techniques so there's really no excuse. Dog messes will remain "unseen" until I notice it and then it's as if I've asked them to cut off an arm when I demand they clean it.

Our dishes rule is "rinse and put in the left side of the sink". They're not even required to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, for cryin' out loud, and do you think they can follow that rinse and to the left rule? Not a chance. Some days, Jeff refuses to cook because he can't get to the sink for all the dishes piled on both sides. Bedrooms floors are covered in clothing that is sometimes clean, sometimes not. I've actually seen them dump baskets of clean clothes on the floor because I demanded they return the baskets to the laundry room. The clothes lay in a heap so long they can no longer tell which are clean and which are dirty so they will just rewash them. And dump them back on the floor.

I wash, dry and fold the towels. I only ask that they bring the dirty towels into the proper receptacle in the laundry room. They don't. I wash the ones I use and put them neatly in the linen closet. When they have exhausted that supply, they reach for beach towels. When those are gone, they use hand towels and complain that there are "no towels" clean. Back to that five-foot pile of towels in their bathroom. All they have to do is move them a few feet and they could be washed, dried, folded and put away by ME. What service!

The kids do their own laundry. Which means they don't do it. And here is where I admit a huge mistake - buying them clothing. I have bought them way too many clothes, because they can go weeks without washing and still have things to wear. And when they run out, they've been known to just pilfer out of the parents' closet. Without permission.

It makes my kids very angry when I say this, but the truth is, Arlie is the only one who consistently follows the chore list and the rules. She does her chores not because she loves to do chores, but because she enjoys a clean living space. And because it's a requirement of our household. No questions. So, why can one child do it and not three others? Priorities and choices. My three spend almost all day in front of a screen, so I know they have plenty of time to keep things neat, follow the rules, and contribute to a tidy household. They just choose not to. It's summer and they have very few obligations, but they spend a good portion of each day sleeping, laying around, and eating. They rarely go outside. They never exercise. Any attempt to "force" these issues is met with World War 3. Screaming, dramatics, long, drawn-out missives on why they can't do it. It's utterly exhausting.

So, I would like to know - what chores do your kids do? What are the consequences to not doing the chores? How is it policed? Because I am sick of hearing the whining and excuses. It should not be such a debate or such a big deal. Certainly a simple request to do a simple chore should not result in the screaming match that greeted my husband when he arrived home early on his birthday. Is it really too much to ask? What I do know is this: I need a vacation. I suggested today that my three kids should spend the next week at their dad's. Let him see how lazy they are. Not that it would make any difference, because a week is barely enough time for the novelty to wear off. And getting the girls to spend a week there would be like pulling teeth,. Plus, it would be vacation, not a lesson. So, what's the point, really?

All I wanted was for today to be a fun birthday celebration for Jeff. We did have fun, and laughs, when all was said and done, but the stress I went through just to try and do it all myself with no help from anyone else was NOT worth it for me. Next year, we'll just go out to dinner like everyone else. Parties and gatherings used to be our "thing". We were the "fun house". But the effort required to host is just too much for one person, so I'm hanging up my hat, until someone else decides to come forward and help just for the sake of being part of a family. Isn't that what it's really all about? Helping others just because it's the right thing to do? How does that lesson get taught? Where am I going wrong?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Summer Vacation - Day Seven

So far this summer is turning out to be a bust. For one thing, the weather sucks. Rainy, grey, drizzly - kind of like most of the rest of the year around Seattle! :) No big surprise, really, since our "summer" weather often doesn't start until after the 4th of July (and we are usually guaranteed a drizzly 4th as well). But, with a lack of lots of summer plans, it just feels like the rest of the year, only I'm off work.

Sure, you say, who would complain about that? I'm not - I LOVE having this time off. But, usually our summer is packed with camping trips, road trips, VBS, day camp, and lots of day trips and adventures. For some reason, this year, we just don't have too many plans. One road trip, day camp for two of the kids, a trip to CA for another, a summer job for the oldest. Tomorrow is Jeff's birthday, then the 4th, then Hayley's birthday following right after. It's a big birthday week! And we have small plans. A little get-together for Jeff, absolutely no plans for the 4th, and nothing as of yet for Hayley, since she's undecided.

Gone are the days when I spent weeks planning a fun summer birthday party for my oldest girl. Princesses and pink and fancy themes defined each and every birthday. But even that fizzles out over time in favor of more grown-up pursuits. It drove me nuts to walk past the 4th of July displays in the craft store yesterday knowing that I have not even put up a single patriotic decoration around the house, nor do I have anywhere to take that cool patriotic fruit platter I saw on Pinterest.

This time is golden - all those times during the school year when I was up to my eyeballs in busy, when I wished I had just an hour to organize my photos, or scrapbook, or craft, or clean the bathroom properly, or write a book, or hone my photography skills - this is that time I wished for! And yet, now that I'm blessed with hours upon hours of unscheduled time, I find myself scrambling to get motivated; to decide how to spend it, to maximize it because I know it's finite.

Gone are the summers when I had a passel of kids to care for, and I made homemade popsicles in Tupperware molds, and carefully planned an outing to a beach or park each day. Now it's like pulling teeth to get my teenagers up before the crack of noon, much less motivated or excited to do anything planned or structured or requiring the energy to actually put clothing and sunscreen on. Not that we really need the sunscreen.......oh yeah, we covered that already.

So, I find myself wanting to just do things for me - do what I like and what I want, when I want it. And yet, I still find myself limiting my "wants" and using "kids" as an excuse, as though by simply being a mother I am somehow limited. Oh, sure, it's not like I have the time and money to jet off to some tropical locale, or sit in a villa in Italy eating pasta, or take a spiritual journey to a peaceful country where I wander barefoot wearing gauzy dresses. But that doesn't mean I can't browse the shopping center I never get a chance to go to, or go see an outdoor concert that sounds interesting, or take advantage of an online discount ticket to a show I've been wanting to see.

Still, I hesitate. Because I want to share these things - with my husband, with my kids, with a friend. With someone. I like being alone, but I don't like doing things alone. I find I spend all my time thinking "the kids would love this" or "Jeff would think this was so cool". And no amount of cellphone pictures can do it justice. So, I keep trying to organize, to schedule, to find time to squeeze in quality family time, memory-makers, with kids' visitation schedules, and play practice, and camp schedules. I love me a lazy summer day as much as the next person, but I find myself restless and bored after too many of them. I want to DO something but I don't know what.

In the meantime there's laundry to fold, and that bathroom to clean. But who wants to do that? I want a summer adventure like no other. I want to end the summer knowing we squeezed every last drop of sunny goodness out of it (once we get sun, anyway!). I want a long, lazy road trip full of mishaps and hilarious moments. I want some camping, some hiking, some adventures in the woods. I want a group bike ride, a day without being glued to the computer, and iPads and cell phones, time outdoors and barbeques on the deck, and fires in the fire pit with s'mores and bare feet and citronella candles burning.

Ahhh.......summer! Where are you?