But, I do know what I’m missing. Maggie is in school 3 days a week now and I work 3 mornings a week. Being in school is so good for her; she is gaining confidence, making friendships and discovering she can be fine when she away from mom. Of course, she can also get those same benefits from dance and soccer. But, so far, she is enjoying her school, a carefully chosen preschool with a play-based curriculum.
I miss her, though. This morning, after the big kids were in school and the dishes were done, we took Sadie for a walk. We looked at the leaves changing color. We marveled at the way the wind blew the trees and shook the branches and made the white clouds scurry through the blue sky. We scouted for jewel-weed and Maggie giggled so loudly and sweetly when we popped the tiny seed pouches in her hand. I thoroughly and completely enjoy her company and I know exactly what I am missing when she goes to school and I rush off to work.
I miss talking to her about everything from weather to politics. I miss her pulling out her little broom to sweep beside me while I use the big one. I miss the smell of whatever we decided to bake that morning wafting through the house, and even the mess of the paint or the glue we dragged out to do “projects.” I miss the chance to do laundry with her, laughing as she takes over loading the machine, adding soap and pushing the start button. “No, no mom, I got this!” she always says. And she does.
I feel blessed because I was able to stay home with the kids. We made choices, the right choices for us, and staying home was a gift we gave to each other. All the muffins we baked, the endless pushes on the swings, the cuddles on the couch, the luxuriously long naps in the big bed, the many, many books we read, all those delicious, divine, fleeting moments I would have missed if I had to rush off to work. The ones I am missing now every day that she goes to school and I rush off to work.
A couple weeks ago the kids asked to go camping. They wanted one last summer adventure. So, being good sports, we dragged out the tent. And when I say we, I mean me. When I was setting it up Sam was bouncing around me like a eager puppy. “Are you sure you can? Do you know how? You should wait for daddy!” Where does this kid get his ideas? I am an independent, capable person – woman – and a good role model. Anyway, he and I together with the girls, got the tent set up pretty easily. I think Moira’s expression reflects her accomplishment. Or her irritation with her brother. Probably both.
We went fishing – Sam loves fishing! He caught a couple of catfish, which we released back into the pond. Maggie was very happy with her haul- she caught tad poles galore and even got a crayfish in her net. And, of course, a few frogs. Moira caught poison ivy, which we did not realize till later.
We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows on the fire and the kids had a fantastic time. The benefit to this method of cooking is minimal clean-up, so I was on board. At bed time the kids were over the moon to climb into the tent. They were actually pretty tired. So, after brushing teeth and scrubbing marshmallow faces clean, we climbed into our sleeping bags. And when I say we I mean not me. The tent, as I explained to Scott, really won’t hold 2 adults, 3 kids and a dog comfortably. So, thoughtfully, I volunteered to sleep inside. Which is how I had the bed to myself for the first time in TEN YEARS! I love camping!
Well, we dropped them off less than an hour ago… 1st day of school 2014. Still thinking of the homeschooling thing, but not committing to it… yet. The kids were excited and nervous and tired. Yesterday was a Labor Day/birthday party at the pool and they made the most of their last day of vacation, running wild and swimming hard with all their cousins.
It has been quite a summer. We pulled a hat trick, managing to spend Memorial Day (x-rays for Moira’s finger), 4th of July (x-rays for my knee) and Labor Day (poison something-or-other, Moira’s back on prednisone) in urgent care. And in between, we have seen an allergist for Moira’s VCD, an ortho doc for my knee and my regular doctor twice for the Lyme diagnosis. Here’s hoping our fall is healthy and happyand free of doctor visits!
The days are getting cool and sadly I realize that school starts in less than 2 weeks. I am not a parent who looks forward to sending the kids back into the arms of their teachers. I actually like having them around. I enjoy their company. I am the first to admit that sometimes they drive me completely crazy, but so does my husband and I still like him, too. Families get on each other’s nerves, it is normal. I just know that when the kids go back and the house is empty, I will miss them. I will go from seeing them all day to only a few hours a day and even those hours will not be our own, they will be filled with tasks and chores not of our own choosing.
Right now I am on the front deck with the dog and my computer. It is cloudy and gray and not particularly warm for August. I have 4 kids running around the yard somewhere – a 10, 8, 5 and 4 year old. They might be catching frogs in the pond or climbing the apple trees in the backyard. They might be playing hide and seek in the tall grass or playing in the treehouse. A few minutes ago I helped pull thorns out of a toe and now they are off again. They appear out of nowhere, demand either medical care or food, and then when their needs are met, they go off again to be independent, happy kids. Until school starts.
Today, they build forts in the woods, then pick wild black berries for a snack and create stories to act out in their private lair. They yell and run and jump and collaborate and act like kids. Next week, they sit at their desks and hold their pencil the right way and raise their hand to talk in an indoor voice. Why, exactly?
Still figuring out the answer… any thoughts?
Back to the insanity of daily life… but boy, it was sweet while it lasted. We unplugged – there is no internet or cable at the camp – so we played cards and read books and took walks. We also just sat on the deck and looked out at the water and talked.
We saw bald eagles fly by… yep, seriously. Sam and Maggie went fishing and caught nothing and had a great time doing it. Daddy untangled lines and untangled hooks and did not have a great time doing it, but he would rather do that than be at work, so there.
Maggie’s favorite part was riding the carousel and she would have happily done so for hours at a time had we let her, but we did not. We also went out in go-karts and Sam loved that, while Moira and I realized we have absolutely no future in NASCAR. Maggie adored the little go-karts and drove like a pro, except when the attendant raised his hand to tell her to slow down and she raised her own hand, gave him a high 5 and kept right on going. Even he giggled.
Daddy and Moira got goofy – I’m not even sure what they were doing, I only know daddy regretted doing it the next morning when he climbed from bed moaning – ouch.
We were all tired, in a good way and we slept well and ate well and it just felt so nice to be together. Then we had to pack up and head home and the girls were sad. Until I told them they could finish the left over ice cream for breakfast. All better… and the Water House will be patiently waiting for us to come back.
Start spreading the news, we’re leaving today… wait, no. No, we aren’t. You Nork will have to wait. We are packed, stacked and ready to roll out in the morning for our almost-full-week of vacation in NY, when Sam, who has been a little blah all day, says, “Can you take my temp?” And sure enough, a fever. Not too high, but a fever none the less. Is this connected to the weird rash from last week? Could it be Lyme again? Do we leave for NY and hope for the best? We decided to wait a couple days and post-pone rather than cancel the trip. I kind of want to wait and see where the fever goes (hopefully nowhere.)
Last summer the Lyme was such a nightmare for Sam. He suffered through days of fever, chills, fatigue and feeling awful. When we went to the doctor and diagnosed the cause, we still had major issues. He was 7 at the time and the most effective antibiotic for Lyme at that age is amoxicillin, but he is allergic to that. The most effective drug for 8 and over is doxycycline – we were about 7 weeks from Sam’s 8th birthday, so the consensus was – we’ll go for it. My question – his Dad is allergic to doxycycline, could Sam be allergic too? Mmmmm…(picture Winnie the Pooh -think, think, think) good question. Our doctor’s office called the CDC, we waited for call backs, they researched the question… meanwhile Sam is spending the second week of July on the couch dressed in flannel pajamas, wrapped in blankets, too sick to even enjoy extra Wii time. And that is SICK, let me tell you! Finally, on a Friday afternoon (we’d initially gone to the doctor’s on Tuesday) we get a call saying the doxycycline is go. They call in the script, I call the pharmacy and am told that that medicine requires prior approval from the insurance and the process takes 24-48 hours. Starting Monday. Really???? When our doctor found out about this she was FURIOUS and called in a 4 day supply of the medicine and put it on her own credit card. How awesome is that? Wait, because this story gets better. We get the medicine, give him his first dose Friday evening. By Sunday morning he is covered in a strange red rash. We go back to our doctor (yes, on a Sunday morning we see our own doctor in the office.) She confirms what I suspect – Sam is indeed allergic to doxycycline. He needs to be off it for 24 hours before he can start a new medicine. What medicine? Well, after another round of research we have to special order a drug from a compounding center in Boston and then drive 45 minutes out of the way to a pharmacy that will agree to mix it (it comes in brown glass bottles.) Sam does okay on this medicine (I can’t even remember what it is) for two weeks, but the symptoms don’t entirely go away. By late August we are back at the doctor and put on another round of the brown-glass-bottle-antibiotics.
Sam has had no lasting effects, thank goodness. But when he starts with a fever and loss of appetite, I get a little nervous. Hopefully by the end of the week we can head for You Nork. Maggie is looking forward to seeing her booster seat (we keep one out there, not sure why this a highlight for her, but she is weird.) I am looking forward to sitting on the deck and looking out at this… only wish I enjoy a cocktail while I enjoy the view, but the medicine I am on for Lyme disease doesn’t allow for it. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.
On the way back from visiting Gram Cooley and cousins in Maine last evening, and the kids are giggling in the backseat. Then, a sudden silence that quickly says something is wrong. Scott looks in the rearview mirror and yells, “Is she choking?” and I turn and see Maggie is gagging but can’t talk. A look of complete panic and fear is on her face. Even as I yell, “Pull over!” Scott is pulling over. Meanwhile I have unbuckled and am half in the backseat, unbuckling Maggie from the car seat and trying to maneuver her into Heimlich position. Thankfully, I was able to get the chips she was choking on up. Crazy scary. A few minutes later and the car is parked crookedly on the grass at the side of the median. Maggie and I are standing in the grass and I am handing her a bottle of water and she’s shaky, but okay. And she looks up at me and says, “I’m sorry I spit up in the backseat.” My baby. Such an amazing, quirky funny girl and I love her so much. Thank God she is okay!
I caught her the other day enjoying little light reading…. Webster’s unabridged dictionary, in case you’d like to add it to your own summer reading list..
And she shares my woe when it comes to driving the kids around town….
She watched her big sister shave (milestone!) for the first time and later, after mulling it over, asked, “Mom, is that really arm pit whip cream?” My girl!
Moira went to Cake Camp this week. 3 ½ hours a day of culinary delights and countless calories brought home, but she adored it. And we devoured her creations. She loves baking and with a peanut/nut allergy in the house, our baked goods must be from scratch, so it is a great and useful skill. The class was full of girls (and one brave boy) and I admit to being surprised that so many kids would give up being outside on a July morning. Then, Scott pointed out to me that kids don’t play outside anymore, but he was surprised that kids would give up their electronics to spend a day in the kitchen. The class included the basics like the importance of hand washing and even had the kids helping clean-up and do dishes at the end, because, as the teacher pointed out with a wink, cleaning up the kitchen is part of it.
So, I’m sitting on the front deck this morning and enjoying a piece of blueberry crumb cake (made with fresh blueberries from the farmers market) with my coffee and thinking how Moira can take over the baking duties. It is a win-win if she loves it and has the benefit of giving her and me a chance to spend some time together in the kitchen. I’m thinking of cool fall temperatures and the lure of applesauce muffins and pumpkin bread. Then I think of school. She’ll be in school till nearly 4pm. Home, unwind time, homework time, supper time, pack lunches and bags for tomorrow, get clothes ready and …. And when are we going to bake? Midnight cupcakes?
More and more I think about homeschooling. I think about what it might mean for our quality of life. We would sacrifice my meager earnings, but most of those will go to pay for Maggie’s preschool tuition, so that might be a wash. And what would we gain with the sacrifice? We are sad to think of summer coming to a close, but is it summer, or the schedule, the freedom of time together, time to play, read, explore and enjoy? I need to think some more… and another piece of blueberry cake wouldn’t hurt.
Sam was quiet today – too quiet, and as all moms know sometimes too quiet = trouble! But, I walked down the hall and look what I saw… and the grin – he was enjoying his book. Lazy summer days, curled up on the couch, reading… oh, mommy is so proud! And, frankly, a little jealous. Looks pretty comfy, doesn’t he?
We’ve read Cynthia Rylant’s Dog Heaven approximately 428 times; it is comforting. Moira has had the toughest time, which has prompted questions about life after death, who exactly is God, what does he look like and will God mind if Milo pees on things in heaven. The last question was the easiest to answer, just in case you are keeping track.
Maggie, meanwhile, at 4, understandably doesn’t quite get the whole thing. She said, “If we miss him so much, let’s go unbury him.” Oh, so not how it works sweetie. The first night I had a dream that we had made a horrible mistake and I woke in a cold sweat with a fierce desire to run straight to the backyard. After a midnight cup of tea in the window seat and a good cry, I know we did do the right thing, the only thing we could do under the circumstances. And the kids will learn that sometimes you have to make difficult choices and do things that aren’t easy but necessary. Meanwhile, we’ll keep reading Dog Heaven and I’ll keep trying to answer the tough questions. And poor Sadie will keep waiting for her friend.