Three Is the Magic Number

For the past week I have been making the rounds to all of the schools with all of the kids to meet teachers, secure lockers, and drop at least a couple of Benjamins (in $15 increments so I could write as many checks as possible, natch).  By now everybody has attended their sneak previews and school information days.  They have their backpacks and their supplies and their bus schedules.  Yes, friends, because school starts in just three more days.

Looking back over the summer I recall lots of sun, fun and road trips.  We hung out at the pool and at the beach and we saw lots of relatives and friends.  We did everything and nothing.  Almost everybody got to have an OK Day (every day is an OK Day for Kid A and Kid E doesn’t get one until he stays in his bed all night, every night… so I’m not holding my breath).  Sheepdog even joined in on the fun with us whenever he could.  We really had a great summer.

But I have had enough quality time with these people.  Seriously.  I’d like to be done now, please.  Thank goodness that the new school year is beginning next week, or else I’d be signing everybody up for sleep away camp.  Or farming them out for some manual labor so they’d be so exhausted when they got done that they’d just fall into their beds and sleep for 12 hours straight.  I could buy a pile of bricks and just have them move it from one spot to another and then move it back again when they were done.  They wouldn’t even have the energy to complain or request anything or fight with each other or me.  Bliss.

For the next three days I'm going to hang this picture on my refrigerator with the caption "Don't bug me or this will be you... except I won't give you a bagel."

Maybe I’ll just jot down those ideas for next summer.  It’s always good to have backup plans.

I just have to hang on for three more days.  We may go to the pool again.  I’m sure that Kid A will have plans with her friends.  Kid B says she still needs some more clothes for school.  We have talked about swapping Kid B’s and Kid C’s rooms, so we may tackle that project.  Sheepdog is going to move some other furniture with House Captain and set Kid E up in a new bed as well.  There is an Open House for Sunday School at a church we are thinking of attending this Sunday – maybe we’ll check that out too.  Or maybe we’ll just play video games until the school bus honks on Monday morning.

Whatever gets me through the next three days, right?

Wish me luck for the weekend…

Thirteen Hour Car Trips Will Almost Always Lead to Drinking

Our vacation this summer is going to be spent at my mom and dad’s house in Somers Point, New Jersey.  They live in a marina in a not totally kid-friendly house that is close to the beach.  It is an all-around awesome place, except for the lack of kid-friendliness and the fact that they only have three bedrooms and not enough beds to house the seven people in our family without blowing up some extra sleeping arrangements.  Fortunately, for space reasons, my parents are in Mexico for the first two weeks of our visit.  For the last few days of our trip, we will all cram into the house, go to the beach, celebrate the 4th, eat and drink together and basically remind one another why it is good for children move out of their parents’ house when they grow up and have families of their own.


On Wednesday morning at 1 a.m. Kid E wandered into my bedroom and climbed into my bed.  About an hour later he informed me that I could take him back to his bed because he was no longer comfortable.  About an hour after that my alarm went off, signifying the incredibly early start of our very long travel day.

“Let’s get this party started,” I mumbled, 98% sarcastic, as I dragged myself out of the warm bed and put on my clothes and pulled my hair up into a ponytail.

By 3:45 a.m. I was easing out of my Georgia driveway with Kids A – E fully seat belted inside, an insane amount of beach gear zipped into a gigantic Thule bag on the roof, and too many bikes racked onto the back.  I may have looked like Jed Clampett, but I felt like The Bandit, (North) East bound and down, hopeful that I could avoid the Smokeys as I hauled ass along the I-85 and I-95 corridors.

As far as long car trips go, this one was really good.  We stopped just north of NASCAR’s Mecca (Charlotte) for some breakfast, but that was our only break other than one pit stop for gas (the kind that makes the car run) and one “I have to poop right now!” false alarm from Kid E when we were just 60 miles from our destination.  So, it was really two gas pit stops (LOL: fart joke).  The traffic was fairly light, road construction was minimal, and the Po-Po must have had a Beef and Beer Fundraiser somewhere else, as they were not occupying many of their standard access road hiding spots along the highways.

We pulled into our destination just after 5 p.m., very ready to stretch our legs and eat some dinner.  Luckily, my mom is awesome and she left two trays of lasagna and two pies for us to eat.  I stuck dinner in the oven, enlisted Kids A, B, and C to carry our gear in and unpack, disassembled the bike rack, and detached it from the trailer hitch.  Then I proceeded to sit on a beach chair and do nothing while the older four kids rode their bikes, RipSticks and scooters around the gloriously flat and virtually car-less street out front, all while Kid E squirted everyone with water guns.

Mommy's BFF

I said another silent prayer of thanks for our safe arrival, the minimal in-flight fighting and “Are we there yet?” queries, and for the ability to put the pedal to the metal and make it here in just over thirteen hours.

Then I did some quick math in my head, figuring that I had basically been up since the middle of the night.  I realized that one of my kids is a new swimmer and another can’t swim at all and we are staying in a house that is surrounded by water.  The kids had car trip fever and they had now begun fighting and trying to run each other over with their bikes.  Sheepdog is not due to arrive for another whole week.  How am I gonna do this all by myself?

So I opened a bottle of wine and proceeded to drink the whole thing.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

“OK Day”

Summer may seem endless, especially to a stay-at-home parent who is suddenly one day in May or June each year invaded by kids being all up in your house space.  The survival of all eighty-odd days without incident can seem impossible, especially early on in the process.  I just hang in there, taking it one day at a time (or more appropriately referred to as one Happy Hour at a time) until about day thirty-five, when I then realize that the summer is a few days shy of being half over and whereinthehelldidthetimegoandhowarewegoingtodo allthethingswewantedtodothissummerwithwhatlittletimewehaveleft?

For part of the summer the kids and I travel, mainly visiting both my parents and Sheepdog’s parents.  For another part of the summer we just lounge at our neighborhood pool.  We usually do not participate in any summer sports or activities, although this summer Kid B was planning to do a short soccer camp at a local high school (I just realized that the camp started yesterday and we have already missed two of the three total days…oops! no soccer camp this summer either).  We all seem to enjoy not having schedules and just doing our own thing and lounging around, watching movies, playing with friends and each other, reading books and magazines, and perfecting our tans and Triple Lindys.

I am really up for most suggestions of things to do from the kids, as long as they don’t inconvenience me too much (e.g. interrupt my intense summer schedule of playing Zuma on my laptop, or of watching HGTV or MTV shows from my extensive DVR queue) or cost an arm and a leg.  So when somebody suggested each kid having a day during which they call the shots, I was certainly up for it (within reasonable limits, of course).  Everybody tossed around some ideas about fun stuff to do on their days, but most of them are playing it pretty close to the vest and not sharing details until they reach the limit of the required 48-hours notice so I can plan meals, supplies, travel and details.

Part of Kid D's plan was for his siblings to create and play a reality TV game show with him. He, of course, got to win.

“Mom, can I have cake for breakfast?


“Mom, can I play Wii all day long and go first every time and pick the teams and pick the games and win every time too?”


“Mom, can we go bowling after we go to the pool?”

(bowling – really?  ugh, but…) “OK.”

“Mom, can I have cake for lunch…and dinner?”

(you are so gonna vomit, but…) “OK.”

“Mom, can we set up an elaborate reality game show in the house, complete with video instructions, painted poster and challenges?”

(speechless) “OK.”

“Mom, can I take a shower with my clothes on?”

(weird, but…) “OK.”

See, that’s all innocent enough.  We are only on our first Special Day (the honor went to Kid D based on recent good behavior), which has now been re-named “OK Day” (obvious explanation above).  I love hearing their ideas and plans and what they choose to do when they have very few limits.  So far I have not had to say no even once.  But Kid B hasn’t gone yet, so give it time.  As the kids get older, their ideas will no doubt become more ridiculous and I will be wishing for the end of summer and start of a new school year, schedules and all.  But for now, we’re all doing OK.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…