Tag Archives: summer


Change sucks.

I apologize, fellow writers. I should have made the effort  to create a clever analogy or metaphor to explain my situation. Unfortunately, sometimes we must fall back on the simpleness of terms and emotion.

Change sucks.

There is one clarification needed in the above statement. When life has turned a dark corner and we are stressed, grieving, depressed and hopeless, the only thing we must count on is the absolute certainty that things will change. There is my disclaimer.

Let’s talk change. Summer is over. I am a lover of summer. I crave the heat of the sun on my bare skin and the freedom of sandals and the lure of beaches and vacation. I love long lazy mornings and endless evenings filled with Dairy Queen runs and barbeque grills, as I watch my boys throw a ball to my dog and play in the sandbox, their laughter echoing through the soft summer breeze. So, as many people look forward to crisp air and orange leaves, I battle my dread of the winter and try to stay in the moment. There are things I do love about the rotating seasons but I must stifle my instinct of preservation. I should have been born in Florida or some tropical island, but sadly, New York is bred in my blood so I am stuck here. Maybe forever.

My boys are growing and will begin school. Jake will attend kindergarten (as many of you have heard me crying and whining about endlessly) and Joshie starts pre-school. This change is ripping my heart into tiny little pieces because I am watching them grow up. For five years I have protected and watched over and loved my child to the best of my ability. Now, society says I must turn him over to a public school where I have no control over the teachers or how they will treat him, or the children he interacts with, for the majority of his days, five times per week, for the rest of his 18 years in the world, maybe longer.

So, after orientation this week, when I met his teacher and found her distant and cold; saw the huge yellow school bus where his head would barely reach the edge of the window to wave good-bye to me; saw the chaotic cafeteria with monstrous long tables and lines of food where he wouldn’t eat anything anyway, I told my husband I was going to begin home schooling.

He didn’t take me seriously, but I have already begun my research.

I know flocks of mothers have felt like me, but why does society laugh at them and pat their head with patronizing smiles and tell them everything will be ok?  What if it won’t? What if he hates school and the institutionalization of society stifles all of his uniqueness and creativity in an effort to make him conform to “normal” standards?

Change sucks.

 I am now 40 years old. Well, almost. I am happier than I was a decade ago, but somehow my body doesn’t agree with that statement. The eight pounds I have gained through my love of ice cream and skipping the gym has molded to me like krazy glue and refuses to be shaken off. I am suddenly in high risk factors and at my normal physical; I was bullied into an array of new “baseline” tests because basically, everything is going downhill from here. Including things that used to be quite perky, like my boobs and backside. My diet needs to be more carefully structured, I tire more easily, and I now have to battle both acne and wrinkles. I am beginning to realize what a jokester God truly is. Your mind grows sharper and more focused, growing with leaps and bounds full of wisdom. Your body turns and retreats in the opposite direction. Such the cliché, “Youth is wasted on the young.” What I would do for my mind now in my awesome twenty year old body.

Change sucks.

I used to love my job. I went to work and kicked ass. Tired, worn out, yet feeling proud of my accomplishments, my work was a part of who I was, even though I struggled with the time constraints of writing and raising a family. Now, the joy has been sucked out of my days, and I am moving to part-time. I am looking forward to more personal, quality time but the huge cut in pay will force some serious decision making regarding every financial choice. Oh, if only things had remained the way they were!  But as so many have reminded me, with change – good and bad- comes a fork in the road and always growth. My gut is saying it is time – there is something around the next bend but I must have faith it will all work out. My family will prosper throughout the hurdles, my work will remain true no matter what the format, and life will go on.

So, fellow readers and writers, let’s hold on for the ride, because hopefully, it will be a long one.


Ah, summertime. Sun and sand and surf. And vacations. Sometimes, I am afraid I live for vacations. I did so when I was younger, too. I remember my father telling me whenever I had a few extra dimes in my pocket (or savings account) I was researching another tropical island to visit.

My European days are over for a bit, so the four of us trotted off to my new favorite place: Sesame Place. It’s a beautiful, clean park well suited for younger children. It has tons of water rides, shows, a parade, and games. As usual, the biggest attraction for my kids?

The hotel.

They love hotels. They run up and down the hallway, look at the vending machines, and swim in the pool. They jump on the kingsize beds and play hide and go seek in the closets. They love going potty because it’s a brand new bathroom. And their favorite vacation ritual is to snuggle up in the blankets and watch America’s Funniest Home Videos together and laugh like crazy. They don’t really watch it at home – but on vacation it is a must see. Part of their happy place.

We moved from Sesame Place to spend the next couple of days in Lancaster County, PA, the heart of Amish Country.  We experienced a horse and buggy ride to an Amish farm and watched them milk the cows.  We saw Thomas the Train, took long rides through rolling hills, swam in the lake, and ran free at night chasing lightning bugs. The cabins had no phones and no television. Not even a radio. We bought farm fresh strawberries and ate corn on the cob and all the food was made with whole milks, real butter, and real sugar.

I had forgotten what it was like to get back to basics and it installed in me a new perspective of what I want my children to grow up with. I proudly told my husband we were changing our ways. I was going to go to the organic butcher for all of our meats. I would only buy fruits and vegetables from the farmstands right down the road from me. I would cook more and microwave less. I loved the way real sugar settled in my stomach and the natural sweetness of farm grown foods.

I began worrying about cancer and hormones and what my children were ingesting. I was completely enthusiastic and motivated to change our lives. No bad foods during the day. One dessert at night. Fruit every day without fail or they will be punished (Jake, not Josh. Josh eats fruit but Jake only recognizes bananas as something he would ingest.) My husband, knowing me well, nodded and approved of this change and just let me go on and on and on…

We spent the Saturday evening in the cabins during a thunderstorm reading, talking, and playing. This is what family is about. This is what I want for my kids. Game nights instead of tv.

It took us hours to get home with all the traffic that Sunday. Unpacking, baths, dinner, laundry, getting ready for work the next day – the usual schedule when vacation is officially over.  We had pizza that night.

The next day, I had to work late so we had soup.

OK, and chicken nuggets. But NOT from McDonalds – no way – I always tell the kids it’s unhealthy there. These were Perdue nuggets with REAL chicken.

On Tuesday, I was finally able to food shop. I made my list, was going to visit the special butcher and the farm stand, and things seemed to happen.  The day passed far too quickly and I compromised by going to the regular supermarket where I could buy everything under one roof and I can put the kids in the shopping carts that have cars so they don’t fight.

Yes. It was official. I am a complete sell out.

I bought peaches and apples at the farm stand, but I couldn’t even make it that week to Adams. I still haven’t. I would like to buy organic and still plan on visiting the butcher, but I found out it’s really expensive too, and my budget is tight.

Oh, and the kids gorged on movies and Noggin for days on end after the vacation, half starved from not seeing any technology for three whole days. My husband and I did the same – and had DVRd all of our reality shows.

The good news? We visited Hershey Park and took the chocolate tour. We bought tons of candy bars made of whole milk and sugar – a very healthy treat in my house.

I guess that is the extent of my Amish efforts.

The Park…

I am a park addict.

I am discovering in my older age, that all of the things I once turned my nose up at is something I now do. For instance, birthday parties. For most of the first year my son was in pre-school, I would receive these invitations to birthday parties for other kids in his class. I would glance at them and pretty much throw them away. After all, I did not know these people. My son wasn’t personal friends with the classmate, so I figured it was just a nice gesture.

Halfway through the year, I discovered I was the only mother NOT participating in these parties, and I quickly scrambled to begin RSVPing to everything I was invited to. I had to prove myself worthy for a while, but then my son was quickly re-invited to all of the small town events and we were part of the group. I continued because I loved it – not because I felt trapped or needed to make my son part of a clique. The lure of a small town is something very special: it pulses with dark drama and gossip, homemade cookies at every turn, and celebrations of tiny events on a grand scale.

Back to the parks.

Once again, parks were something I believed stay-at-home moms ruled, along with packed lunches and mommy groups. But as the weather warms, and the need to get my children away from 8 hours of television looms, I found myself seeking out the only thing left in the world of motherhood that is still free: parks.

A box of teddy grahams, some bottled water, Goldfish and pb&j is all you need and  I kill a few hours of old fashioned fun. When I first began, I only haunted my tiny neighborhood park and started a tradition of hitting the library, the park, and then a walk for ice cream. I branched out soon as I heard about the popular park with the giant lake and trails to walk. My kids loved throwing rocks into the water, skipping around geese droppings and taking a small adventure through the woods. I became ever greedy for more, and would coast through all the small towns looking for their neighborhood treasures. I found one with a giant sandbox. I found one with covered bridges that looked almost like forts where the children could huddle together in secret. One had a small creek where the kids could take off their shoes and jump around the rocks without getting too dirty.

The parks began to receive tags from my children. “We want to go to the park where Jake got stung by the bee!”  “Yeah!”

or, “We want to go to the one with the lake.” or “I want to go with the one with the sand.” then “NO, I don’t like the sand, the lake.” “No, the sand!” “Lake!” “Sand!” “Lake!”

And so on…

There is something beautifully meditative about parks. Pushing my son on the swing for long peaceful minutes calms my mind. For a little while, I lift my face to the breeze and feel the warmth of the sun against me. I hear the steady creaking of the chains and the up and down motion of feet just learning to pump. I hear the children’s screams and laughter and watch the lazy flight of a bee. I become one with everything and sink into the moment.

I can also mark each year of growth by the park. When my three year old first began climbing the rock wall and told me he could do it by himself. I remembered how I would stand by the open spaces, always afraid he would take a tumble. Now, with dizzying speed his little legs fly up the stairs and hurtle down the slide with no hesitation. My older son, who was always afraid to socialize with anyone, now names the stranger beside him his new best friend. And I remember like it was yesterday how he would run over to me and hide his face and mumble, “There are other kids there. I don’t like other kids.”

So, as I circuit this summer in search of a few hours of mindfulness and child play, I am reminded to enjoy the days ahead and mark another year of growth. I know one day my kids will be too big for parks unless they are cool enough to hang out with their friends. They won’t be holding my hand or screaming “Watch this, mommy!” every two seconds.

I spent Memorial Day at a city park today. They turned the sprinklers on so the kids could run through the spray when it got too hot. The ice cream truck parked by the curb, and we all licked snow cones of bright rainbow colors and got sticky as we sat on the park bench and just enjoyed the day. And I remembered everything that was good, for a little while.