Summer Weekend

A summer weekend:

I wake at 6, lace up the shoes and go for a run.  The summer heat and humidity is already so intense, my peppy run quickly devolves to a walk/jog.  I shuffle over to Audubon park, do lunges around half the circle, wilt some more.  I stagger home, and Craig flings open the front door for me, shouting “Duh-Pwize!”  (This is his thing now – cheerfully “surprising” everyone who comes to the door.)  I walk in, stripping off shirt, shoes, socks, and guzzle iced water.  It takes a while to cool down, and I do some yoga.  (That was yesterday, and today my back feels much better than usual, but the muscles are sore and stiff from the lunges.)

When I get home, the boys are up, and we all lounge for an hour talking about summer camp, school, stuff.  We leave the tv off.  Liam calls this “Mom and Dad Camp,” and crawls over and gives me a squeeze.  WWOZ plays softly in the background.

We get them all dressed in swimsuits and head over to the pool.  We swim for a few hours, reapplying sunscreen again and again.  Mid-swim, the boys are whining, and so I pull them out for a rest in the shade and a snack.  They droop, listless and half heartedly chewing, but perk up when the Capri Sun hits their blood stream, and then dive back in refreshed.  Craig, who wears a full floatie suit (we now have one that floats him fully out of the water, instead of just the top of his head) has learned to leap in (shouting “CANNONBALL!”), then turn and swim to the side, hoist himself out (not at a ladder or steps or anything), then turn and do it again.  Self sufficient beast toddler for the win.  He talks about himself in the third person – “Craig’s do cannonball!  Craig’s do it!”

Both parents are usually in there with them – I serve as an island for when the big boys get tired, and the Prof tosses the boys – “Again!  Again!”  He can still throw Jack across the pool, but not for much longer . . . #heavy.  However, now that both big boys can swim reasonably well and Craig can entertain himself, we are able to take the parent’s prerogative for a few minutes and drape ourselves out on a poolside chair, relaxing, lifeguarding but not interacting.  It is a blessed few moments of peace.  We need refreshing once in a while, too.

We come home for a late lunch of sandwiches, pretzels, and fruit, and then they all take a nap.  I take the rare moment for a nap myself.  In the afternoon, after they’ve woken, rubbing sleep from their eyes and ravenous for more snacks, we go to a friend’s for burgers on the grill.  They have people over every weekend, always a big group, always new folks in the mix.  We contribute buns, brats, and a twist on strawberry shortcake – small Belgian waffles, strawberries, French Vanilla ice cream.  The sun beats.  They put a tent in the backyard to cover a wading pool, and my boys splash in borrowed swimsuits, Craig naked.  The wife is pregnant – she’s a tiny reed of a person, and the belly sticks out so far, but nevertheless none of us want to ask.  Finally they volunteer the info – she is twenty weeks or so, they’re not finding out the sex.  This is #3 for them.  They just bought this two bedroom house, so where Surprise Baby will go is the source of some tension and worry, but not much.  They’ll figure it out.  She is my age, 37, but looks ten years younger, carries this pregnancy well.  She is one of the lowest key people I have ever met, and it shows in the (lack of) lines on her face.

There is a giant pot of enormous shrimp, spiced and boiled with citrus and onions and Old Bay.  Jack, who is allergic as you may recall, bosses everyone loudly about washing their hands before they touch him.  We’ve trained him well.  I have an epi pen in my purse, so I relax and eat them myself, shrimp as big as a lemon, firm and crisp.  There are boiled new potatoes, sliced and roasted with yellow squash and asparagus.  There is a salad of avocado, cherry tomatoes, kale.  I eat too much, sweat too much.  The boys eat their giant hamburgers and asparagus, and ask for more.  Craig disappears at one point, and we find him downstairs in their playroom, happily playing cars all by himself.

We come home, put the boys in bed without baths, and I’m asleep on the couch in seconds.  I’m forever falling asleep on the couch.  I’m told the day will come when they no longer completely wipe me out, but for now, that day has not yet arrived.

I wake today and feed the guinea pig that we are responsible for this week – Liam’s kindergarten class pet, who gets farmed out to the rising first graders every summer, a week at each household.  She loves kale, carrots.  Craig likes to hold her – she is gentle, much larger than the hamsters I had as a kid.  He will go and fetch the towel we have co-opted for guinea-pig-cuddles, and say “Get Rosy blanket.  Craig hold Rosy.”  He strokes her fur with two fingers, from between her eyes down to her little tail-less rump.  She snuggles in.

I water our porch garden – cherry tomatoes, basil, a jalapeno pepper plant that has yielded but one pepper.  The cherry tomatoes have some sort of bug that tends to get in them and hollow them out.  I water them anyway.

Craig is playing trains on the floor.  The big boys, shirtless (shirtless is a big thing this summer), watch the Voltron re-boot from the couch.  The Prof is soothing his OCD by cleaning out a kitchen drawer, purging mis-matched tupperware.  I’m on our recliner, stretching my coffee, feet up.  Later today, we plan to take the kids to see Finding Dory.  I’ll finish the laundry, grocery shop.  Maybe a bit more swimming.  We’ll see what the day brings.

 

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Beach 2016

All three boys are napping – the big boys just requested a nap, and we put them in our bed.  It’s kind of amazing.  We had a long morning swimming and the sun drained them of life force, as it did me.  We’ve all had a nice re-charge and are about to go to a friend’s house for grilling.

I worked well over 60 this weekend, in order to make up for taking two days to go to the beach last week with the Prof’s side of the family.  Liam celebrated his sixth

Our balcony

Our balcony

birthday there, and we spent most of Thursday and most of Friday in the pool, and then all of Saturday at the beach.

Boat and dolphin watching

Boat and dolphin watching

Panorama

Panorama

This was one of Liam's new presents - a wrestling robots game

This was one of Liam’s new presents – a wrestling robots game

We got him a telescope - my wee 3 year old niece is modeling it here for you

We got him a telescope – my wee 3 year old niece is modeling it here for you

My older niece Ella enjoyed the telescope quite a bit

My older niece Ella enjoyed the telescope quite a bit

I couldn't be prouder of this specimen of toddlerhood right here.

I couldn’t be prouder of this specimen of toddlerhood right here.

Occasionally the kids got the privilege of eating at the kids' table, instead of at the main table with us

Occasionally the kids got the privilege of eating at the kids’ table, instead of at the main table with us

Lazy afternoon watching movies on the day bed

Lazy afternoon watching movies on the day bed

Jack was in love with this monkey, and begged that we let him keep it.  The monkey had to stay at the condo we rented, but we got to keep this picture of him.

Jack was in love with this monkey, and begged that we let him keep it. The monkey had to stay at the condo we rented, but we got to keep this picture of him.

We had to check out early Saturday morning, and the extended family headed out on a long car trip north while we (with only a few hours to drive home) hit the beach and then had a seafood lunch

We had to check out early Saturday morning, and the extended family headed out on a long car trip north while we (with only a few hours to drive home) hit the beach and then had a seafood lunch

One of us fell into an M&M coma on the drive home

One of us fell into an M&M coma on the drive home

I worked a full day Sunday upon our return, and every day since, so today I’m wiped.  After some domestic chores and our swimming outing, I’ve taken the prerogative to relax a bit.  The Prof has discovered some sort of ESPN app on our tv and so we watched Ireland play Portugal in women’s rugby earlier, and now we have the college world series of baseball playing in the background.  A lazy summer day.

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Weekend Rain

I sit on my couch, surrounded by sick and napping children, rain pattering on the roof, the radio playing low.  I want to write a typical post, a “Day in the Life” of the RG family, but today is the day of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and the day cannot pass without comment.

In July 2012, the night before the final day of the Alabama bar exam, I wrote this post.  That was the day after the Aurora movie shooting.  Since then, we’ve had Isla Vista, the Charleston church, the Oregon Community College, San Bernardino, and hundreds of domestic violence annihilations, school shootings, suicides, murder-suicides, accidental shootings by toddlers and children and grown men cleaning their guns around babies or getting drunk and firing their weapon through an apartment wall.  33,000 deaths a year in this country from guns – close to (or perhaps already) surpassing deaths by motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death for Americans.  We have studied motor vehicles and causes of motor vehicle accidents, created new safety standards and regulations for cars, roads, and humans in cars, disseminated public health information campaigns on safety seats, demanded recalls on defective airbags.  Motor vehicle deaths have steadily decreased as a result.  We can do the same with gun deaths, if only Congress would fund CDC research on the public health problem of gun violence, and be willing to consider implementing the changes they propose.  Right now, it’s not happening, for reasons you all already know.  But that doesn’t mean we give up, or despair.  I do volunteer work with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.  Congress does nothing, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless.  Please consider joining your local chapter and being part of this movement.  We don’t have to live like this.

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The Prof is finalizing a book manuscript, and has worked long hours on both days this weekend.  Saturday morning, before he headed out to work, he took the big boys for haircuts and swimming, and I took the littlest boy to shop for some birthday presents for Liam.

Liam will be six next week.  We typically either do a party plus a couple dollar store presents, or we do really nice presents and a basic cake-after-dinner type of family party.  Jack got the former this year (with his movie theater party) – Liam gets the latter.  I bought him a small kid’s telescope and a book about stars.  I also got him a few other less expensive things – an ant farm, a bubble blower for the porch, Chinese checkers, a Kidz Bop CD.  As we wandered through the Toys R Us, Craig sat cooperatively in the shopping cart and narrated with enthusiasm the bounty of toys in each aisle: “Ooooh, wook!  Issa dinosaur!  Ooooh wook mom!  Issa dragon!  Ooooh wook!  I see books, mom!”  He’s too young to have yet learned the art of whining for me to buy everything in sight, so it was overall a pleasant shopping experience.  We had said “no gifts” at Jack’s birthday party, but a couple of kids brought Toys R Us gift cards, which I totally used to buy Liam’s gifts.  Parenting – I got this thing down.

We loaded up the trunk with Liam’s bounty, then drove home with Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” on repeat play.  Craig knows every word, and sings along.  Every time it ends, he says first “I wike dat song!” and then “Mama, Wreckit ball, pweese, dat song.”  If I decline to play it upon request, he makes life quite miserable, so I bow to His Majesty’s request and have resigned myself to listening to it over and over and over again for the next few weeks, til he moves on to something else.  I pulled through a McD’s to grab a drink for myself and chicken nuggets for him, and by the time we got home he was sound asleep, mouth full of half-chewed nuggets.  I scooped the choking hazard out with a finger, flinging it into the garbage disposal, and then carried him (still sound asleep through the entire scooping experience)  to his toddler bed.  With the Littlest thus tucked up and snoozing, I turned my attentions to wrapping Liam’s gifts, and placed the last piece of tape on the last wrapping paper seam just as they arrived at the front door, a bit damp from the pool and looking handsome in their new haircuts.

The Prof left shortly thereafter for work.  Craig’s nap was short, and the remainder of the afternoon entailed my three sons running up and down the house and generally making a huge mess.  I moved laundry through and hand washed every dish (since our dishwasher doesn’t work), and gave up on doing anything else besides following Hurricane Craig through the house.  Among other fun tasks, I had to scrape stickers off the floor, clean yogurt off the walls/beds/dressers/kids’ hair after Craig took hold of an open go-gurt and  spun himself in a circle, pick up a dozen tiny pieces of a dinosaur model that Liam had left out within Craig’s clutches, and fetch Craig from the top bunk countless times (he can climb up there even when we remove the ladder, and gets himself stuck – then hangs there shouting “I tuck!  I tuck!  I need hep!  Hep, mama!”).

After a day of basically just keeping my toddler and house from total ruin (and this while sick – I had a fever and sick head on Friday and Saturday morning), I fed the boys chicken nuggets and frozen veg, ran them through the shower, read them a story, and put them down.  Then I collapsed on the couch, and texted and talked with my family until I fell asleep.

Sunday we woke to the news of Orlando, which dimmed the mood.  The Prof did some work from home, and the boys watched tv.   Eventually, we got it together enough to load them all into the car and head downtown to take a quick jaunt along the riverfront, a short family activity before the Prof headed back to work.  He dropped us off at the waterfront and then headed off to park.  The boys and I walked toward the river and spent about thirty seconds there before Liam leaned over and threw up.  So much for that venture – I called the Prof and told him to circle back around, and then we headed right back home.  We stopped at the small Jewish grocery in our neighborhood, and I picked up Powerade and chicken soup.  Jack started complaining as well on the way home, so we unfolded the futon into a bed, and got them both set up with pillows and mugs of soup and cups of iced Powerade.  (Craig, who seems fine, was given the same lest he protest at being left out.)

Liam hadn’t had breakfast and had little for dinner last night, and I think that was truly his issue.  The food and drink perked him right up, and he seems fine now.  Jack was likely just having sympathy tummy aches – he is also fine and is eating me out of house and home.  Craig is napping.  The Prof is off at work.

I’m still running slowly due to my own mild illness, but we are keeping a low profile this weekend.  The Toddler Tornado will wake up soon, but until then, I’ll do a little work and rest a little and hang with my lazy boys.  Lazy rainy days in the early summer in NOLA. . .

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Drizzly Zoo Trip

Faced with the prospect of a rainy Saturday with the kids by myself, I contemplated staying home – them destroying the house, fighting, bouncing off the walls.  I contemplated the aquarium – eleventy million people, kids scattering in three directions and being swallowed up in the crowd in seconds.  So I settled on the zoo!  Rainy zoo days are the best days – if it’s not pouring, the trees keep most of the rain off, and it’s empty of people and full of animals who come out and enjoy the Not-Heat for a while, before the sun comes back out and makes us all feel like we’re in a double boiler.

I pulled out some ponchos that I purchased in 2013 for our Disney trip that we hadn’t ever used, and the boys predictably fought over who got to wear which one.  The red ladybug poncho was the favorite at first, but in the end the green frog, orange penguin, and blue sports theme won the day.  It fit Craig pretty well (though his kept spinning around so his face was covered up, and he’d just stumble around, apparently unconcerned that somebody turned the lights off).  Jack – not so much!  As my sister said when I texted her this pic – “where’s the rest of Jack’s raincoat?”

You only get one hour to pee

You only get one hour to pee

We got in when the doors opened at 10 am, and headed straight for the frog exhibit.  The boys agreeably posed in the somewhat random Macbeth sculpture.

Double Double Toil and Trouble.  That could be their new names.  Guess which one is "Trouble"?

Double Double Toil and Trouble. That could be their new names. Guess which one is “Trouble”?

We stopped by a tortoise that had been brought out to run around on the grass under the watchful eye of a few zookeepers, and with my split second mom reflexes I saved both the tortoise and my 2 year old from and encounter that likely would have been unpleasant for both, and certainly would have ended in tears.  Then we headed to the monkeys and elephants, all of which were out and frolicking in the drizzle.  Craig found a puddle and leapt into it, soaking his shoes and shorts, then demanded I pick him up so he could see the “e-phants.”  Mmmmmm, muddy wet boy, come into my arms so that we can both be filthy and damp.

Three monkeys at the orangutan exhibit

Three monkeys at the orangutan exhibit

It was great.  The rain came and went, but it never got particularly torrential, and once I gave up on puddle policing, the boys had a great time ranging around the largely empty zoo, stomping in puddles and making animal requests (“let’s go see the [insert 3 different animals here, forcing me to pick, causing two meltdowns]” x infinity).

Two boys pretending to be lizards, one boy keeping a watchful eye at all times on the big lizard

Two boys pretending to be lizards, one boy keeping a watchful eye at all times on the big lizard

We were members here for 3 years before we moved to Alabama, and have been members for the 6 months since we’ve been back, and yet I had never been in the reptile house.  We did it today.  Jack practically climbed back into my womb, he was so frightened of the reptile house (especially a large plaster cast of a giant snake suspended from the ceiling).  It was not my favorite place either, let me tell you – I’m not as terrorized by snakes as by spiders, but this subconscious Mom-Alarm button goes off every time I see my children near a snake’s giant venomous head, even when a huge slab of glass separates the two.  This little two-headed number was particularly creepy, but they insisted I take a picture of it.

Siamese twin two headed snake of my nightmares

Siamese twin two headed snake of my nightmares

We took a brief break from the minor trauma of the reptile house, then headed over and got some ice cream for lunch.  Because, why not.

Taking a rest break on the komodo dragon statue

Taking a rest break on the komodo dragon statue

It took Craig seven hours to eat this tiny cup of ice cream

It took Craig seven hours to eat this tiny cup of ice cream

Then we came home and the boys had corn dogs for lunch, then the Beast Toddler took a nap.  The big boys chilled and watched tv while I cleaned up the house and kitchen, and then our neighbors came over for a bit after Craig woke up.  The girls are a 4 year old and twin 2 year olds, god bless their parents, and these popsicles were probably a mistake.  The big boys managed, but the three littles could not figure out how to push up the popsicle from the bottom, and there were lots of tears.  Ah, well – we tried.

Three of these children are two years old!  And none of them are particularly skilled at eating popsicles.

Three of these children are two years old! And none of them are particularly skilled at eating popsicles.

We played at our house a bit, and then we had dinner at their house, and then we all came home and I put the boys to bed and collapsed on the couch.  Now it’s Sunday morning, and Jack wants help building legos, Liam wants help building a dinosaur model, and Craig wants help building a Marble Run course.  So I’m just gonna go divide myself into three people and handle that.

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Summer “Break”

Summer ‘vacation’ is so different as a working parent!  Ugh, 3 months to find something for the kids to do each week, 3 months of slight guilt that they aren’t getting any lazy time at home, 3 months of wondering why the heck summer day camps run from 9am to 3pm . . .  When will school come back??

Anyhow, the boys have a good mix of camps this year.  Some arts, some sports, some church, a couple of vacation weeks.  Since the camp day is so short, they don’t seem too tired out.  The Prof (who does drop off and pick up) generally is, though.  Tired out, I mean!

This week, I did a little volunteering for a gun violence prevention group I’m involved with.  We had an event on June 2, a nationwide day of recognition for gun violence prevention.  It’s the birthday of Hadiya Pendleton, the young teenager who performed with her dance troupe at Obama’s inauguration and was shot as a bystander in Chicago just one week later.  Turns out it was also the birthday of this young man, whose sister came to our event, and told me he was shot to death on her street a few years ago.  And it was the day of the funeral of another New Orleanian whose name I didn’t catch, but who died young from a gun, and whose cousin came straight from that funeral to our event and asked how he could help.  We gave these people, and others, some resources to connect with other gun violence survivors (no need for advocacy attached, these are simply support groups for the families and friends of the 30,000 Americans killed each year by a gun, as well as the thousands of others who are themselves shot but survive).  We signed numerous folks up to volunteer.  And, in typical New Orleans fashion, we drank beer, ate food, shopped in outdoor tents, and listened to a band.  It was heartening to see such a crowd.

Educatin'

Educatin’

A very unflattering selfie of me in three layers of tops (camisole, dress, this orange tee), because I walked straight over from work. I was very hot.

A bluebird day

A bluebird day

The band was pretty good!

The band was pretty good!

Food trucks, booths, beer carts . . . the works.

Food trucks, booths, beer carts . . . the works.

I left this event somewhat early to go home and guest teach a class in employment law online, through the local university.  It was not too stressful, and I had a sudden feeling of “I kind of know what I’m doing now . . .”

The short week kind of dragged, as they tend to do (the psychology of a post-holiday weekend is weird), and then we got to Friday.  We took the boys to an Irish pub in the city for dinner. Live Irish music, bangers and mash for me and a full Irish breakfast for the hubs, plus plenty of good Irish beer on draught and rain on the streetcars outside our windows – it felt very Irish (except for the streetcars).  The boys were well-behaved, even Craig (who is a Monster Toddler right now, generally).  The owner of this pub is actually Irish, and wanted to create a space where adults can socialize while their kids play nearby, like they do in many pubs in Britain.  I loved it – we’ll be back.

Watching the rain

Watching the rain

Jack gazes pensively, while the little boys get a boost from dad

Jack gazes pensively, while the little boys get a boost from dad

Now it’s Saturday morning, and raining.  No pool today, or zoo, and the aquarium is sure to be packed.  Hmmmm.  We’ll find something to do, me and these boys, while the Prof takes a short road trip to pick up our new car (at last).  Always something to do in the city of festivals.  Happy weekend, all.

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