Summer has officially begun. The kids are out of school, and we've already ordered a couple of books apiece from their summer reading list. I just love that beginning of the summer feeling. At first I get a little nervous because I know I should have accomplished SO MUCH MORE while they were in school, but I'm just so happy to have them out and together. It's like they begin to build their relationships with their sibs all over again. In my house, my eldest daughter always hangs out with my youngest son, and my youngest daughter and oldest son pair up (the two middles). For whatever reason, that has been their pattern for years. If someone gets scared in the night, they ALWAYS go for that other half and rarely for another sibling. But something strange happened today. They shook things up. On the first day of summer, my eldest daughter and eldest son hung out, and the two youngers paired up. Very strange dynamic indeed. But everyone was happy and enjoying each other, so I was grateful.
We're at our cottage on the Outer Banks. I came this morning with the kids after a prolonged period of packing and trying to get out of the house. At one point a friend of mine called and said, "The back of your car has been open for over two hours. Did you forget about it?" And I had to confess that, no, I'd been actually packing the car for that long with MANY distractions. My DH came tonight after work. He has this family theory that I totally agree with. He thinks that the patterns we set the first and last days of vacation determine how well we go back and forth from reality to vacation time. For example, at the beginning of the summer, he always takes a day off right after the kids get out of school. We put them in the car for FFT (forced family time) and get out of town for a day. IT doesn't matter WHERE we go, it's just about getting the kids away as a family, all together, and away from the ringing phones, etc. to bond as a family. Then, he theorizes, summer will progress smoothly with them understanding that family comes first. We also do it right before they go back to school, so we have a FFT sandwich in the summertime. Now throughout summer, we hang out all the time but often with company,friends, family, etc. FFT is for family ONLY.
So tomorrow, we are leaving the beauty of the Outer Banks (because people find us here!) to go to Williamsburg,VA to an artificial beach and water park (Water Country USA) for FFT. The kids are SO excited. Of course, I'm not particularly in favor of the existence of such places when we can be in REAL water or on a REAL beach, but I've got to admit, they're over the moon. So I've spent all evening organizing snacks, drinks and lunch, so we don't have to eat in the park. If they eat everything I've packed, they'll SINK. And I have our library cards packed because they give a discount if you show a library card (is that the coolest incentive EVER???). Now if I can just get past the fact that I've got to walk around all day in a public place wearing a bathing suit...
It is so beautiful here tonight. Clear and cool and the water's flat and calm. I'm nicer here and calmer. I can literally feel my heart rate slow down when I arrive. My hair even looks better in the salt air. It's no wonder my kids are making such radical changes. They don't recognize their mother! At any rate, I'm so grateful summer is finally here. Now if I can only find a minute to write.
Redneck Picnic Tips
1. Cheese doodles. Nothing tastes better slightly warm and straight from the car. The bouquet of asphalt, often found at amusement parks, perfectly complements a meal featuring cheese doodles. I believe that if a chef in NYC invented cheese doodles today, they would be as expensive as truffles or something. Sheer perfection in a bag.
2. LUNCHABLES. The greatest invention for parents EVER. Food and entertainment all in one tidy box that stacks so nicely in your cooler. I can't say enough about lunchables. (of course, I don't eat them, but the kids think they're the greatest treat ever and now our Dollar Tree carries them, can you believe it?)
3. MONDOS. Where did those things come from? It seems like they've been around forever yet they're a new craze. And we never called them MOndos I don't think. Is it a new brand? Or an old retro comeback thing? I don't know, but they're cheap, cheap, cheap. The liquid equivalent of Fla-vor-ice.
4. Pickles. Healthy, great in a cooler, the only vegetable that travels well. Truly. And so refreshing when it's hot out.
5. In an expensive amusement park, buy everyone a bottle of water first thing. Then, let them refill their water as many times as they like at the drinking fountain. Good for hydration and you don't spend a fortune on sugary crap like those Mondos in the cooler in your car.
6. Take a tablecloth. Those public picnic tables at theme parks are really disgusting.
Have a wonderful day. Do any of you still have kids in school, or was I the last one? Woo Hoo for summer! Yee haw! Enjoy a little FFT.
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.