Peaks and Valleys…

Summer has flown by and yet there were achingly slow moments where time seemed to stand still.

The summer was filled with our usual flurry of activities that left us exhausted, drained and planning our next day’s adventure with hopeful anticipation. There were camps, counselor-in-training camps, swimming, scouts, over nights, island living, lunches, brunches, gardens, library trips, movies and baseball which morphed effortlessly into football as we drove from one event packed event to the other. 

We got a puppy, because life just didn’t seem complete or full without the added unconditional love of our beautiful dog, Bella Luna, “beautiful moon.” The boys have been asking for years and I succumbed to the pleas and relented. Turns out Bella is the kindest, gentlest, dog ever born. Her beautiful brown eyes smile gratefully as she settles into her new home with not one but two boys who lavish her with praise, devotion, and affection. Ahh, the life.

It truly has been a memorable and wonderful summer with a view from the mountain top of happiness that I will remember and treasure. I am blessed.

Still, the glory of the summer was interrupted by the sorrow and grief of losing my 35 year old cousin, Drucilla. My beloved Aunt Maureen, has now lost both of her children, a sorrow no parent wishes to contemplate let alone discuss. A waking nightmare. 

I know there are no words to say. No comfort that will ease the hellish and unrelenting despair that has seeped into the crevices of her spirit and etched itself on her face and in her skin. Drucilla’s young children are dazed and lost in a land where solace has no home, no name. Their life’s tapestry, woven since their births, has been forever altered, splintered and shattered into millions of pieces and life will forever be defined as “before and after.”

The summer’s joy for all of us will be shadowed by the finality of her death. While the summer peaks offered magnificent views and gratitude in abundance, the valleys remind us that the “woods are dark and deep,” and traversing the terrain of heartbreak and grief requires humble acceptance that life is a balancing act. Nimbly moving through joy and pain with alacrity and I pray, Grace.

 

 

Silence in Summer…

What a glorious summer we’ve been having. It’s seasonal arrival was right on time and our family has reveled in its warmth and verdant views. It is truly a blessing after the winter of Snow and huddled nights under the blankets for warmth and comfort.

Spending most of my summer waking hours with my beloved sons, is a tapestry of color, laughter, and love that I will carry with me all the rest of my days. I take a piece of each of them with me, in every breath I take.

Still, there are days, I long for a lazy summer in the hammock, reading, drinking iced tea and the only sound for miles is the birds, squirrels, and the whispering of the wind through the shades of the over abundant and ever-present, green leaves. Silence is never truly silent, is it? There is always some sound or another present in the stillness. I long for it anyway.

I loved living on my own, in my own company. I loved knowing that when I got home the expectations and demands of other people, were locked safely outside my door. Their presence only required, if I requested.

Family life is nothing like that. You are totally ensconced in each other’s daily rituals, foibles, side jokes, habits, and plans. There is nowhere to hide even if you wished silently and perhaps fervently to. And believe me when I say, there are days that I wish to hide away from the inane and mundane, to run away and lounge about in a supine position, and veg., all day and night with a great book and drift mindlessly away.

So it’s ironic that when I finally get those rare moments of solitude and silence that I so longed/begged for; I miss the bedlam and mayhem that encircles my son’s lives like an orbit of chaos, where ever they go. I miss looking over and seeing their eyes alight with joy as they jump off the dock into the water, or ride their bikes, camp, pitch a good game, score a soccer goal, toast marshmallows, or pitch a tent in the yard. 

I miss their mischievous giggles when they are up to no good. Usually that means they are getting along even if they are teaming up to spray me with the hose or trick their dad into taking them to the lake for an evening swim.

I miss their curiosity and fearlessness that gets me to try things I would ordinarily wish not to try, simply by saying, “Come on Mom, you can do it”. This is how I found myself staring down at a darkened floor well at the “Drop Floor” ride at the local water park. I climbed into a sealed, coffin like, bubble tube and the floor dropped out from underneath me with a flourish and a thunderous jolt. There was a moment of sheer panic when my brain realized that the floor beneath me had disappeared. Soon I was falling, tumbling, choking, coughing, and swirling, awash in a giant, enclosed, snake-like, colored hose, with gallons of chlorinated water tossing me about like a stick in a stream. Abruptly, I arrived, spit out of the tube, and unceremoniously dumped, gulping down gallons of chlorinated water,  gasping for air, into a shallow pool awash with fluorescent lights and a cacophony of indiscriminate sounds, where the staff smiled benignly and perhaps with a bit of smirk, at my valiant effort not to drown. 

I struggled with as much dignity as I could muster, positive everyone had heard my lady like shrieks and screams throughout the park,  to get out of the water without further embarrassment or worse yet tears. Tears of joy mingled with tears of all-encompassing terror and fear. I am proud that my kids got to see me and my mom do something so terrifying and live to tell the tale.

So while I long for a day of silence from time to time, there is nothing like summer days and nights with your kids. Photographs and vignettes for the mind’s eye photo album. It makes me glad to know that I am building memories with my kids and that they know I love them so much that I would even take risks with them that no other people on the planet could ever convince me to take. Now that’s real love folks.

I hope everyone is having a blessed and joyful summer. I hope in the midst of the long lazy days of summer, you take sometime off to enjoy a bit of silence.

#summermemories

 

Blizzard of 2015!

It was a lovely Monday morning that suddenly, and with much expected, pomp and circumstance, the day had morphed into “The Blizzard of 2015!” Panic arrived at the grocery store, the Packie, (New England for liquor store), and tempers mounted at the gas stations, as hearty New Englanders jocked and braced for 2-3 feet of snow, depending on where you live. It is no surprise, I live where 3 feet of expected snow raged and fell heartily and steadily for two days and two nights.

If you live in New England, as they old saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.” It did change with the fury of 1000 winds, as snowflakes danced determinedly, gracefully, purposefully, and endlessly to the startlingly white covered ground. Even knowing the snow was coming, it arrived at an alarmingly fast pace; relentlessly, dramatically and unceasingly, until bedtime last night.

My sons declared it the “best snowfall, ever,” well at least for now. They suited up and as surely as New Englanders know the weather will change, we also know that we must also buckle up and get about the cleaning up after surviving the storm. Be it, hurricanes, wind gale seas, flooding, or snowing, we must get our outer gear on and start to shoveling, period. My sons made me proud and we tackled the Blizzard of 2015, with zeal, delight, and vigor, shoveling our way out of the storm, sort of , mostly just to the street where the plows pushed it back on the driveway. But hey, that’s still progress. We can know see the street.

What could be the reward for working so hard, you ask? Well if your 9 and 12-year-old boys; white and milk chocolate chip pancakes. Yum, and they did shovel for two hours, well what is a mother to do? I sat back, ate an omelette (just looking at the pancakes hurt my teeth). Indeed eggs and coffee may just pull me through the next few days, as school was canceled for another day. Can’t say as I blame them, it’s a blizzard out there, haven’t you heard?

Yup, the Blizzard of 2015, (so far), has come and gone. I’d say we should just continue to count our blessings for being warm, safe, fed, shoveled out, and loved. 

The door opens, snow has arrived.
The door opens, snow has arrived.
Shoveling begins at the door.
Shoveling begins at the door.
The Blizzard rages on.
The Blizzard rages on.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Neither sleet nor rain.
Marshmallow snow mounds.
Marshmallow  fluff snow mounds.
Just Rewards.
Just Rewards.

Summer’s End…

By now all the backpacks are packed, lunches are made, schedules outlined, bookbinders and folders are all labeled with each child’s name and the Summer is Over!

It’s been a great and memorable summer of lounging around with my two boys. I admit the pace was hardly, restful, but I learned a lot about my sons, maybe more than I thought I wanted to know.

1. If I let them they would stay up all night or until they fall out on the floor exhausted and still they insist they are not tired.

2. The have a never-ending need to discuss our menu options for the day. And since the two of them rarely agree on anything this conversation can last from breakfast well past lunch. Unsolicited food reviews in my house are a common occurrence.

3. Even if they say they like a certain food, or have had a particular food, (“I love Quiché I had it at Grandma’s”),  I have to check, and double check their expressions to see if they actually like it. If the food isn’t up to their standards and or expectations and they don’t want to eat it, I launch into my usual spiel, (#74), about the blessings of having food, having the choice of food, and about people starving all over the planet…ok, you see why they might avoid going down that road, again.

4. They are frequently cavalier with their never-ending criticisms; of my work (“do you really have to?”), of food (“is that our only choice?”), adventure (“my friend went to this other place and said it was way better”), vacation plans (“but I wanted to go to the Bahamas!”), hairdo (“did you mean to make it look like that?”) and affection in public, (“it’s better if you don’t hug or KISS us EVER in front of people”). If I was dating them, I would have broken up with them by now for sure.

5. They have begun to question the wisdom of  well, My wisdom!? Do I really know how to get back to the bumper boat place? Ah yeah,  I was there with you guys and I drove you there in first place, remember? This is followed by blank stares.

6. They have perfected the middle school/ junior high school eye-roll when I ask mundane/chore related questions. I must do this far more often than I realized or their eyes are locked in a perpetual roll. I fear head spinning isn’t far behind.

7. Swimming played a big role in our summer fun and I don’t mean swimming like regular people swim, I mean like jumping on your brother’s back and pushing him underwater until he lurches out of the water gasping for air, Swimming. Big fun!

8. My beloved sons are not capable of minding their own business especially if they feel they are well versed on a subject. When I am talking to one son the other chimes in with his opinions, insults, useless and often irrelevant remarks and then is supremely offended when I ask him to butt out. Of course, being 9 and 12 does not lend itself to vast experiences, still they can wax poetic for hours until I am forced to leave run from the room, some say shrieking. I can neither confirm nor deny this as I am usually covering my ears and humming at this point.

9. They pass one another in a hallway, driveway, store or kitchen and they poke, push, and trip each other all the while giggling with ghoulish cackling, and fiendish delight. Then they look up at me with their beautifully innocent brown eyes and say, “What, it wasn’t me, he did it first.”

10. The funny thing is that when they return to school tomorrow, I’m going to miss them more than I thought. They made me laugh out loud at silly jokes and antics that I remember laughing about with my friends and family as a kid too. They made me forget about being an adult for a while. I plotted ways to sneak up on them and douse them with the garden hose in our yard and with great superiority and no shame, I would pull out the “Mother” card when they tried to reciprocate, (please note; this is not a good use of the  Mother card as it gains you no respect when they return fire soaking you from head to toe, and they will).

Having kids forces me to be the parent and to be a “Grown Up” and I discovered this summer, I don’t want to grow up, so there.

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer. Have a happy and safe school year.

IMG_2760IMG_2779DSCN0399

Camp Mom

Well, the kiddies are out of school, finally, and I foolishly thought I would be able to incorporate the kids summer needs, (read demands) and work and write and take pictures, and frolic on the beach and chill.  HA!

This year my sons requested they spend a little less time at camp and a little more time with me, “you know Mom, just hanging out together and having fun.” An idyllic image of us playing croquet on the front lawn, sipping lemonade, and laughing uproariously with one another, while the crickets and cicadas serenaded us, sprang to mind. Our summer vacation resembles none of this moments.

Realizing the true depth of my commitment, I discovered I had replaced the traditional camp experience, (with other people running the show) with my own version of Camp Mom. My sole role; to entertain my sons and sometimes if I am lucky, their friends and cousins too.

At Camp Mom, I have provided a bevy of exciting adventures designed to thrill and delight young boys of all ages. We begin our day lazily, debating what to eat and deciding if the choices offered are agreeable to their sensitive palates. While there is usually a menu, provided at Camp Mom, I am often barraged with suggestions that would enhance their eating pleasure. What chef doesn’t appreciate the culinary critique of a 9-year-old?

Then comes the endless questions, thoughts and concerns about our plans for the day. This is the trickiest part, as a miscalculated suggestion can create blank stares, and glazed eyes as they ponder the seriousness of my plans. As mentioned above, I make suggestions and they make adjustments. A canoe trip down the river was fun but apparently I overlooked getting seat cushions for their paddling comfort. I bet a real camp takes into account the comfort of their campers bottoms while they paddle away.

At Camp Mom, I offer campers; crafts, photography, games, water play with hoses or water guns, swimming in a pool or down by the lake, go-carting, roller skating, biking, boating, hiking, driving range, and water bumper boating, meals, drinks, snacks, ice-cream, eating out, sports, movies, and traveling.

This has all taken place in the past 3 weeks and I just realized the summer is just getting underway and I’ve used up all of my creative ideas. I have tried to coerce, cajole and bribe them to try another camp but they are having the time of their lives. Suspiciously, when I thought I could do no more, I heard my oldest son say to his brother,  “No one is a better camp counselor than Mom.” Hmmmm.

I haven’t had time for much else and I may have bitten off way more than I can chew. Who knows what will happen next year? With all of this been said, I do love spending time with my two favorite souls on the planet, even when they look at me with their beautiful bright eyes and innocently ask, “what did you plan for us to do today Mom?”