Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Means Heat

Summer officially began Sunday. Here in Sunnyland we know summer's here because since Saturday it has been too uncomfortable to be outside for any length of time. I know, many of my Northern friends are thinking - too hot! at least you have predictable sun! Yes, we have sun - a lot. Aside from the sweat that breaks out on your forehead upon stepping off the porch, here are a few other signs of summer:

When the child pool is too hot to use for swimming (a few hours after filling), you know it's summer.

When the inground pool is warmer than average bath water, you know it's hot.

And when the Gulf of Mexico is as warm as your shower, you know it is summer in Sunnyland!

I am not complaining, just explaining the need to do things early or late (and my reasons for being lazy in the afternoons). But in the mornings we can be productive - here is a video of Boy and Hubby fishing!

It does look like paradise - doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

She is a Worrier

The last few weeks have been a time of much stress and more sudden bouts of tears than any other time I can remember.

There were the silent flowing tears of worry: Youngest riding home from school lamenting her fate. Leaving daycare, a place of refuge and safety and heading to kindergarten, an unknown.
me: "There will be lots of friends in kindergarten, a nice teacher, and you get to be at the
same school as Boy."

youngest: "But I will miss my friends. Look, I'm about to cry here!"

There were the angry tears of frustration: Youngest yelling through the house as she walks to the living room with her suit bottom at her knees, "I can't pull up my wet bathing suit!"

There were the jagged tears of change: Youngest: "But I like 4. What if only bad things happen at 5?" (Kinda nice that 4 was so great)

Yes, youngest turns 5 today. The stress of the day has been apparent in her restlessness, tears, and night waking for weeks. I tend to believe it is not the actual age that brings about the stress, but all the changes that are to accompany it. There is a farewell to the daycare that she has been attending since infancy, a change into the schedule (or lack thereof) for summer, the age thing, and the looming unknown of school.

Though we understand these things, it has not made her an easy person to live with the last few weeks. Waking this morning, I had no idea what the day would bring. Would we be experiencing the hard-to-please princess that has emerged? Or would the flexible easy-going child celebrate her birth? When she bounded onto my bed this morning, I opened my eyes and hoped for the best.

Greeted by a bright smile and a shining spirit that was born 5 years ago, I knew that some of the stress has been lifted from those still small shoulders. Sometimes we forget that childhood can be stressful. Every change is major, as the basis for comparison is so small; and the only reassurance is time. So, here is to time bearing out my repeated assurances that 5 is a great age to be. Happy Birthday Youngest!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dad is in Charge

Everyone needs a place to which he can escape the concerns of the everyday world and just unwind. My parents graced our family with such a place - the cottage. When my parents divorced (i was 8) this abode of serenity stayed with my father.

I know that my father often looks with regret on his divorce, blaming himself for the struggles his children faced as they grew. I have told him, and I now tell you reader, that because of the divorce I was given a gift that many children of my generation never experienced. The gift of my father's full attention. Each weekend my dad would drive to our house, pick-up my brother, sister, and me; away we would go. Sometimes the oldest 3 siblings would join us, sometimes not. Regardless of who was there, at the cottage dad would be in charge of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and caring for us kids. There was no mom to take over the daily duties or clean our scraped knees. It was all dad.

I learned to drive a golf cart, caddy when he wanted to play a "quick 9 holes," shoot a BB gun, and fix a minibike (ok that didn't stick but you get the idea). I learned all about Paul Bunyan and how to roast a perfect marshmallow at our regular fires. That only sissies don't bait their own hooks and how to take a fish off a line without getting poked by gills and scales. I had to prove that I would not drown by swimming across the lake as dad rowed beside me, before I could venture to the raft without a lifejacket. In addition to these, there were innumerable more lessons that I take with me. But above all, I learned the gift of tranquility that can be found in a quiet wood.

Dad would grab the bug spray and we would head-out. Walking new or old paths, we would look for signs from nature. Dad would talk about sassafras and gum trees. (He knew an awful lot for a city kid from Detroit and businessman from Chicago.) We would find and eat wild raspberries. My brother and I would play explorer and pretend we were lost in jungles. We would find old stone house foundations and Dad would talk about the Underground Railroad. He created a vision in my head of a world filled with opportunity, mystery, and safety. In short, he gave us his time. A precious commodity in the life of any adult. In the woods there were no trees to trim or boats to tinker with. There was the adventure the conversation and us. That was it.

It is no wonder that last summer as we visited the cottage my sister and I were hit by the need to bring our children back each year. Sadly, I will not be making the trip this year. It weighs heavily on my mind. My father is getting older and my children love the freedom the small lake with small local woods have to offer. Hubby and I will pack-up our family and head to the woods, but they will not be northern woods. They will be woods that pose real dangers in the guise of alligators and snakes. But as my father taught me in my childhood, woods of any kind are filled with mystery, opportunity, tranquility, and above all are a symbol of the love and time a parent is willing to share with his children.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Flying Time in a Photo Journal

I can't believe it has been so long since I posted, and to those gluttons for punishment adoring readers I have no excuse and a million excuses. Life over the past few weeks has been busy - I'll show you.

No, we are not personal friends of the Bishop. It was teen's confirmation day. Notice that her hair was all one color and she did wear a skirt and dress shoes!

Quickly followed by 8th grade dance for which the same outfit was worn with Converse high tops to vary the appearance of said wardrobe.

There was big band music, offering an evening of entertainment for all.

There were journeys into the sea.

Another evening of music. (note the small child to left striking a pose instead of singing)

Quickly followed by a further step into the wide-world of life - well elementary school anyway.

(after a small cap adjustment she proceeded to wave at her adoring fans)

Recognition for volunteer and community works.

(Teen is second row, wearing, what else, white over tank. Altered today with a pair of black slacks - school doesn't rate a skirt)

note: the hair color change - a reliable indicator of a rapidly approaching summer vacation)

Yet another child stepping forth - into the wide world of high school.

Yes, I do admit it has been a combination of events that has lead me to be reflective at times.

But, through all the changes we have managed to keep our happy faces.

Waiting until the final color indicator made its final change.

And we now, we have reached our destination....