Quick Quiz!

Which of the following do you guess has occurred at my house in the past few days?

A) Our previously quite cooperative cat has begun a Reign of Poop Terror, soiling our new quilt twice, along with Cute W’s duffel bag and our living room rug;

B) I lost it completely and blustered to my children, “I want to send you both to your room right now, just because you’re both so annoying!” which led to some tears and eye-rolling, but not to anyone actually going to their room;

C) While cooking up a storm and listening to an audiobook, I used kitchen shears to cut off the stems from a massive bunch of kale and then spent a good 5 seconds wondering why it was so quiet before I realized that I’d cut my headphone wires in a sad multitasking fail;

D) My 12-year-old, who is in charge of giving Madison the Fish breakfast each morning, mentioned in passing that she “actually hasn’t fed the fish in about a month;” or

E) All of the Above.

Oh, come on, you guys. You totally know the answer to this one.

Little Free Library

Yesterday J and I took a walk around the neighborhood in search of our new neighbor, a Little Free Library. We’d heard it was on Myron Street, and I guessed blindly and took a right turn  that was also correct, heading  headed off Grand Boulevard and toward Nott Street. It’s rare that I guess right, direction-wise.

So it wasn’t long before we found it. In fact, J ran ahead and yanked open the super-crafty-and-adorable handles.

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Embracing Summer

On the first Friday of summer I decided that we needed to seize the summer a bit, so we went strawberry picking at Bowman Orchards.

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I don’t think that we’d ever gone to Bowman for the strawberries before. It was surprisingly busy. In fact, when we saw everyone, we were all a little worried that the place would be all picked over. Turns out that that wasn’t a problem:

Summer Begins

We had an inauspicious beginning to summer vacation, a day marred by rain, rain, rain.

rain on summer day

 

Also, the kids were crabby. I can’t remember why they were crabby, just at this moment, but they were. Wait: it’s coming back to me. M spent the night at a friend’s house, so the first day of summer began with J by herself. I asked her how she’d like to start vacation. Her First Day Of Summer Wish was modest:

Mexican Radio

So, we’ve visited Mexican Radio! Actually, we’ve visited Mexican Radio multiple times. It’s World Cup soccer time, and we have no cable. So there’s been a number of outings to bars lately, because Cute W is obsessed, M and I are very interested, and J will happily come to watch if it means sodas, Shirley Temples, Buffalo chicken wings or nachos are involved. But Cute W and I also had a date there–woo, hoo! We went on a Friday, fully expecting to wait around quite a bit, because, really, hanging around and drinking margaritas while chit-chatting with your spouse ain’t so bad. And we did wait, but we had a lovely time.

So! First, I should tell you that Cute W was extraordinarily excited for Mexican Radio. If only someone would give him a massive amount of capital, he has all sorts of economic development schemes that he’d like to implement in Schenectady. We’ve been pining for a sit-down Mexican place with margaritas for a very, very long time. Actually, we would have liked one on Upper Union Street so that we could each drink a pitcher and stumble home, but we were still psyched about Mexican Radio. And Cute W particularly likes to see businesses that are willing to invest in creating an awesome experience for customers (as opposed to when folks half-ass it–insert passive aggressive link here). So the gorgeousness of the new building and even the oh-so-slowness of the opening, only increased the hype in our household.

Deprived

This is how deprived my 12-year-old is. When a friend got a new phone, M crafted a phone for herself with the friend’s discarded packaging materials:

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“Mom, Mom, look!” she called, batting sorrowful puppy dog* eyes at me. “Isn’t this so sad? Oh my gosh, it’s really sad, isn’t it?”

I acknowledged that the homemade phone was both heartbreaking and a poignant reminder of her strength in the face of adversity.

“You know what’s the saddest part about my fake phone, though, Mom?” she asked.

I waited.

“I only put numbers–I forgot the letters. So I can’t even fake-text with my fake-phone.”

My darling girl. She is so brave.

 

 

 

 

*Speaking of puppy dogs, my children still don’t have a puppy dog, either.

Schenectady JCC Pool

You’ll be glad to hear that icy hatred has melted in our house. Meanwhile, we’re glad that it’s finally heating up around here!

This year is the first year I’m not throwing a large lump sum at the Town of Niskayuna. Both daughters have decided that they’re done with town camp, except possibly as counselors later. I’m a little sad about that. Cheap as heck and within walking distance of our house, it was a great way for the kids to have fun while I got things done in the mornings. Luckily, they’re independent enough now that I can leave them at home while I run to the grocery store. I can’t help but be a little wistful, because it’s the end of an era.

It’s also the end of the Era of the Town Pool. We’ve been loyal members for years, and the kids have grown up there. But during the spring I started checking my kid’s favorite people to hang around with against what I knew about local pool hangouts, and I realized that they have more friends over at the Schenectady JCC. To make it more dramatic, my friend/mom to J’s BFF had become an indoor member at the J over the winter, so she was considering the outdoor membership as well. Now, here’s the deal: M will find some way to entertain herself, but if J doesn’t have a friend, she will alternate between climbing into my sweaty lap, asking for another snack, and asking me to swim with her. Now, I enjoy a good lap-sit or swim or snack, but two or three hours of it in a row, and I’ll start to get fussy, and next thing you know, I’ll have a tantrum. So the surest bet to Optimum Enjoyment for Mom is for my kids to have friends who will entertain them while I chit-chat or read on a chaise lounge.

So for weeks we were wavering, largely because I wanted to ensure that J and her BFF would be together. M was advocating the JCC, because she’d visited often with friends and preferred it for the pool itself and the kids she’d find there. J was leaning Town, because it’s been such a big part of her summer every year. Finally, one day the BFF and her mom and J and I went to visit the JCC pool. I was surprised to hear that they’d never been to the pool, so they’d decided to check it out and come to a decision already. My friend loved the bigger pool and wide-open spaces, and another friend who’s a member answered our many questions, while J and her BFF watched their friend splash in the pool. Then J and her BFF headed over to BFF’s house, where they planned to have some dinner and create a definitive Town vs. JCC Pro-Con list.

That night, I asked J about their verdict. “Everyone wants the JCC, and it had more Pros,” she responded softly.

“Hmm,” I said, “But you don’t sound like you feel too excited.”

At which point her eyes filled with tears. She climbed out of bed and retrieved a photo album from her shelf, a gift from the BFF of pictures of them together as babies. She paged through, pointing out adorable shots of them at the Town Pool, like this one:

Pool Girls condensed

Oh, my gosh. She was adorable. It was heartbreaking. So we talked about changing and making new memories and visiting old places, and she agreed that the new pool might be fun, too. We talked a little bit about the Pros that made the JCC the winner:  kids are allowed to swim in the deep end even when they’re not going off the diving boards, and swim lanes are set up at all time, so there are no “adult swim” breaks like at the Town Pool.

 

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Another perk was that the pool was open earlier in the season, so we were able to go swimming weekend before last, when it was so warm and sunny. Oh, and the water’s warmer! We all liked that.

Sure enough, J adjusted quickly, and their first visits to the pool brought a slew of new Pros, like noodles that the kids were allowed to use:

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They kept pointing out little amenities and making plans for the summer, so those nostalgic tears are over. The girls were also pretty excited to find out that the snack bar includes fried dough. For the mothers, this seemed like a bit of a Con: honestly, who can enjoy fried dough while wearing a swimsuit? Which reminds me, if you go to their Facebook page, you might even catch a picture of Cute W and I lounging on chaises. After Cute W’s visit he declared himself strongly pro-JCC. Yes, I’m going to miss a few mom friends, but overall, it feels like more of a vacation than the Town Pool did. And I’m very excited that it’s closer to our house, which makes biking there easy and fun. The only tweak my friend and I want to make is to see if we can get a trashy magazine exchange going somewhere–that was one of our favorite pool activities, so we’ll see how it goes.

Perspective

Way back when my little brother was a teenager, he hit another car in a parking lot with my parent’s car. Then he panicked and left the scene, no note.  But someone had observed the whole thing, took down his license plate number, and left the information for the other car’s owner. The owner called our house and got my Dad–I don’t remember if my brother had already confessed or not. Either way, Dad listened, apologized, said that my brother would be punished, and pulled out his insurance information. The guy on the phone was irate, and he was baffled that Dad wasn’t completely blowing a gasket on the phone.

“You don’t even seem angry about this at all!” angry car owner spluttered.

The Village is the Best Mom Ever!

Among M’s social set in particular, I frequently feel like there must be some massive competition for Best Mom Ever that everyone forgot to tell me about. Seriously, how else can one explain that every single one of her 6th grade friends has a phone and that four of them have recently acquired puppies?

The only bright side to the phone ubiquity is that when the kids all walk over to TCBY or Starbucks after school, I can wait half and hour and then check Instagram for the Required Group Selfies With Frozen Treats and reassure myself that my child has been neither abducted nor run over. Yet.

There is no bright side to the puppy trend, at least here at our house.

Keeping Our Priorities Straight

I woke up to J hacking up a storm in the middle of the night.  Strange how I’m excellent at ignoring lawn mowers and chatter and random noise every morning, but sickness and distress get me up and at ‘em lickety-split.  J was hot and miserable, and I was just asking her to catalog her symptoms when she dramatically symptomed all over her bed. Awesome-sauce. Just so we’re clear, this is sarcasm: the sauce was not awesome.

My kids are not big pukers (knock on wood), but it’s funny how timing can be. For this little episode, I gritted my teeth, thinking about how she’d spent the entire evening at a friend’s house, no doubt spreading infection hither and yon, and the morning hours ahead were packed with a busier-than-usual agenda. In fact, I was mentally assessing and dismissing agenda items even as I bundled up the fitted sheet. By this time Cute W had called out weakly, did we need help? That would be great, I called, as I scooped up sheets and J blearily wiped her mouth while clutching the plastic trash can I’d handed her.