Monday, October 19, 2015

we needed a win

I intentionally remind myself, quite frequently, of all the good things that we have going on in our lives. I do this because I'm a weak person who is prone to jealousy in all its forms, and though I love to celebrate my friends' successes, sometimes they have a negative spiral effect on my perspective about my own family's life.

For many years, I've suffered from some recurring house jealousy, and as friend after friend has moved into spacious and attractive single family homes, our cozy little town house has sometimes felt as if it's closing in around us.

Three years ago, we put our townhouse on the market and tried to get into a bigger house. In hindsight, I'm glad that we didn't get a buyer for our place, because the two houses we were looking at back then would not be a great fit for us in our family's current day to day life. But a couple weeks ago, a single family house came on the market, and after going to see it, we immediately decided to make an offer and to simultaneously put our home back up for sale.

What followed was an anxious and busy weekend of prepping an offer and doing (almost) all the things on the ever-accumulating list of little house repairs, along with cleaning out some of the excess junk that magically appears in corners and on shelves and such. After an exhausting four days, we learned that our offer, though above asking price, was still not sufficient to grab what was arguably one of the most beautiful houses to come on the market in our city in many years.

It is really damn hard not to feel as though we just can't catch a break.

After shedding tears that felt silly, effectively mourning something we never had in the first place, we continued to trudge along. We've had several showings of our house in the last two weeks, and we've received positive feedback, but even if we had a buyer offer our asking price tomorrow, there still remains the issue of no house to move into. So while it's been quite lovely having a house that's almost always 95% clean-- just in case-- the whole house hunting process is losing its luster pretty quickly.

It was hard not to feel like a plain old loser when our offer wasn't accepted. I had committed the cardinal sin when we looked at the house, in that I immediately began planning the next 30 years of my family's life under its roof. (And in its gorgeous backyard, as well.) When that loss became apparent, Hubby and I lamented our pattern of striking out. Hubby's last words in one of our conversations really stuck with me:
"Our family needs a win."
That it did. That windy path that started with looking at a newly listed house for sale wandered back into well-trodden conversational territory. Territory that was hinted at in the last post right here, after the passing of our Betta fish Corny-- the children's nonstop campaign for a pet. Now mind you, the children were mostly of the understanding that their desire to get a pet, more specifically a dog, was not shared by me and Hubby.

They were wrong, but only because as the grown-ups in the family, we felt it was our duty to be the practical and responsible ones. We have a tiny house. Dogs need a lot of attention. The cost of food and care are high. Dogs can be stinky and messy, and dog hair is just not something that either one of us wanted to deal with. But underneath all that, all the realistic challenges that the children couldn't really understand compared to the delightful idea of having a dog in the house, the truth was that of course both Hubby and I have long wanted a dog. We both grew up with dogs. We both like the idea of a companion, a child-like creature who cannot talk back. Of course we wanted a dog.

We'd been talking for weeks about the possibility of getting a dog like the incredibly chill and loving dachshund that belongs to friends of ours. Small dog = okay in tiny house. Shedding, minimal. Hmmmm.

Our family needed a win. With this thought echoing in my head, I looked at rescue sites, read listings for doxies who were adorable, but not quite the right fit, especially with our need for a dog that would be good with young children.

Every time I sent Hubby a new link to a dog, or brought up the idea again in casual conversation, I had a voice in the back of my head asking incredulously, "What are you doing?!" I admitted aloud that I didn't even know what was going on that I was taking this seriously after all this time. I thought again and again about how this could go, and yet I continued to Google our way to a new family member.

Then it happened. Over the course of three days, we submitted our application, got our references in line, and heard back that we seemed to be a good match for the 3-4 year old dachshund male that the rescue group was fostering (after an initial mistake that resulted in an email that informed us that he was no longer available for adoption... but an hour later, that mistake was corrected and we had the green light!). We tried to get in touch with the foster parent Saturday afternoon to set up the meet and greet that could lead to us taking him home, but we didn't hear back. We visited friends on Sunday, and as we left their house in the later part of the afternoon, we thought we'd give the foster one more call, just in case.

Not only did she answer the call, she was willing to meet us as soon as we could drive up to her area. A little over an hour later, we were sitting on the floor of a meeting room in a pet store, watching a mini-dachshund run around smelling all the smells and peeing and pooping out his nervous energy. Not only did we pass the inspection, but the foster helped us walk around the store getting the initial supplies that we needed for the brand new sixth member of our wacky family. Though it was past the store's closing time, the staff was very accommodating and kind, as well.

We loaded up the little guy in his crate in the car, and we headed home. The big topic of conversation, of course, was over what to name our new guy. His listed name of Chaz had only been used for the last month or so while he was in foster care, so we didn't feel that we needed to be married to that, and we wanted to give him a new name to associate with his new life, maybe helping to eventually erase any possible negative times in his past. Lots of names were thrown around, including our original (half-joking) Ron Swanson. This little guy just didn't seem like a Ron, Swanson or other, and the lot of other suggestions given just didn't feel right.

Until Max. A smile slowly crept up on Hubby's face at Max, and he nodded. The kids, too, agreed that Max sounded like a good fit. Maxwell, if we're feeling formal, but Max in everyday use.

First official Family of Six selfie

Getting introduced to his new home, aka High Alert Status

After the kids went to bed, Max discovered the heaven that is the couch corner...

... and lying on Daddy, too, bringing life down to a total Code Green
This is the moment that Max begins to realize that his Mama is a selfie fan. It's going to be a long life.
We're officially dog people. Sure, our dog is smaller than probably every cat I ever had as a kid, but he's got a big spirit. A big spirit that is curled up on a blanket at my feet, snoring his head off right this moment.

At least he's not farting like last night. Seriously, people, this dog could not be more perfect for our family.

Monday, September 28, 2015

two years, four months, and sixteen days (give or take a few days...) or ode to a fish

There once was a family that was pet-shy. Though the parents had grown up in families that included dogs and/or cats throughout the years, they themselves were not quite over the shared emotional experience of approximately seven years caring for a cat with digestive issues that required special food and mental health issues that required an antidepressant.

"No pets," they said. "But we want a pet!" the children said. Back and forth. Forth and back.

Until a day in May when it seemed that the then five, seven, and twelve year old might just be at-least-momentarily satisfied with a little fish in glorious reds and blues.

Names were suggested, and a pull-from-the-hat was conducted, with Cornelius winning out over the other, now-mostly forgotten other names. A feeding schedule was created, and in the beginning, there were arguments about whose turn it was to feed Corny because everyone wanted to be the one to do so. Eventually that wore off, until the visiting toddler friends would be the ones to remind the children in the morning. "Whose day is it to feed Corny?" said in an adorable toddler tone would be just the prompt the children required to remember to tend to his needs.

The mom tended to his cleaning needs, perhaps not always as often as she should have, but always before it got to be a problem. She, perhaps, was the one who interacted with him the most, in as much as one can interact with a fish. But she will swear that their fish had personality. When the food container was shaken over the tank, she would notice his quick ascent to the water's surface, sometimes while puffing his gills in what she would call his "intimidating" act. She would giggle and talk to him in a way that might have appeared silly for a scene containing only an adult and a Betta fish. She frequently joked about his lazy qualities and the fact that they had in common a love of lying down, for the fish did often swim into his floating log and appear to settle onto the surface, resting his lower fins and not moving for extended periods of time. She would reassure folks upon seeing a nervous expression on their faces, "No, no, don't worry. He's alive. Just relaxing." A shake of the food container would usually be enough to get him swimming around again.

Time marched, or perhaps better said, swam on. Corny's novelty definitely wore off, but the children still took time to feed him, always waiting to see if he would do his dramatic big gulping movement with his face coming up out of the water for a split second as they dropped his food in. The daughter even fashioned a hanging toy from twine and colorful buttons that she suspended in front of the fish tank so that Corny could have something "for entertainment."

He wasn't a pet to snuggle. He wasn't a pet to cuddle. He wasn't the pet they had wanted.

But he was loved.

Two years, four months, and fourteen days after Corny became a part of the family, the people went away for the weekend. Upon their return, Corny was no longer a part of the family. No tapping on the side of the tank or shaking of a food container would get him moving again.

The parents waited until morning to break the news, trading what might have been a tough bedtime and night's sleep for a rocky, emotional morning before school on Monday. As soon as the words, "We have some bad news. Corny --" escaped their mouths, both younger children, grown to seven and nine, burst into loud, unapologetic tears. Their eyes darted to where the tank still sat, as always, and their wails took on the tone of confirmation. The parents tried to ease the blow with the knowledge that Corny had actually lived longer than the average life span for his kind of fish, but they knew full well that death at any time is still a hard pill to swallow.

When given the chance to choose how to handle Corny's body, the children's vote was a unanimous three for burial in the garden. The father, trowel in hand, prepared a small hole near the back of some bushes, and the children watched as the mother placed his body onto the paper towel they had prepared for him.

He was only a Betta fish, but he was their pet. Thank you, Cornelius, for giving them that.

Monday, September 21, 2015

if you continue reading this post, turn to page 43

As a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but I couldn't ever be satisfied by following just one or two story lines. I had to systematically follow each possibility, each turn that was available. It was an undertaking, re-reading to each fork in the story and keeping track of each way already followed while pursuing new paths.

By the end of all possible stories, I was exhausted. But I knew all the paths, all the endings. No stone left undisturbed. No story left untold.

Dammit if life is nothing like a CYOA book in that sense. While we can ponder all the what-ifs, we can't truly see what our lives would have been like had we made different choices at key moments in our histories.

Don't get me wrong; I don't want to go back and change any of my important decisions. But I still have a curiosity of how different things would be had I pursued a different course of study in college, or if we hadn't taken the vacation with friends whose darling baby gave us the reassurance we needed to try to grow our family beyond just one child. What if I didn't have the liquid courage to kiss the tall, cute guy at the college party freshman year?

Like I said, I don't want to live those other lives, but I'd love to read them as stories or watch montages of them on the screen, just out of curiosity. Alas, that's not how life works. Instead, we make decisions and move forward, each moment in time forever sealed with that one fateful choice.

Fork in road - - 1142202
Dave Spicer (, via Wikimedia Commons 

Thinking in a forward direction, however, we do get to choose. I have wondered if marriage itself could be compared to a CYOA book, because each day we make choices that can affect where we're going. I've been making a concerted effort to keep this frame of mind in my day to day behavior, especially toward my husband. After being a couple for over twenty years, it's easy to take him for granted, and we may not always think about what we're saying or doing in our interactions.

It's funny, because I know what I want our "ending" to be, for we have talked at length about what we want out of life when we no longer are responsible for caring for the kids. (Yes, there will come a day, even though it feels a million years away.) For us to get to the part of our story where we travel around the country in our tricked out RV (with some DIY hacks, I'm sure), we have to make the right choices now. Gotta get to the correct page numbers, right?

I guess, in a way, marriage is like a CYOA book, though we only get one shot to work our way to the end of the story. There are no true take-backs or do-overs in relationships, though we certainly are human, so we sometimes need to ask for and to give forgiveness as an old path is reconciled.

But, I do believe that we're trying our best to make the decisions that will lead us to our ultimate goals. Not that I'm in any hurry to make it to the final pages of our shared stories, mind you. Hopefully this is one thick book, with tons of chances to turn to a new page.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

peace be with me

Upon waking this morning-- and waking naturally as opposed to the dreaded weekday alarm clock surprise-- I knew that the day held many responsibilities. Our small house was a wreck in every room. Mt. Laundry was to be a monumental task. A pending book review was hanging over my head. Pretty much a typical Sunday.

For a long time, those typical weekend days would be a source of stress for me, bringing forth a heavy feeling of anxiety if I couldn't get right to work in the morning. If I got a late start, or if we had other out-of-the-house obligations, no one else might know it, but my insides would be churning the entire time. I make these expectations for myself, and I need my home environment to be "reset" each weekend so that Monday morning brings a fresh start. If that didn't happen all the way, or if the worry was there during the weekend that it might not be able to get completed, the anxiety would creep in and take hold.

Today, however, things went a little differently. And it was fucking lovely.

Hubby and I had talked about going down to our town's farmer's market to finally try the crepes about which we'd heard nothing but rave reviews. When I awoke first before 7:00 am, I knew that was simply too early to be acceptable. Resettling under the covers as the wonderfully welcome chilly morning breeze blew through the open window, I quickly fell back asleep for another couple hours.


Take two came at 9:30 am, at which point we got moving. I took my time showering and getting ready, deciding to put on something a little nicer than my usual t-shirt and baggy shorts. I applied mascara, another rarity. I paused for a moment before leaving to survey the mess that awaited me upon our return, but even then, I put it out of my mind after locking the door behind me.

As I shoveled the deliciously light and airy crepe filled with peanut butter, marshmallow, raspberry jam, and bananas into mouth, I didn't picture the hours of work that would come later. (And yes, I did order a crepe fitting a five year old. With pride.) I sat on the grass under the shade, chatting with Hubby and a friend, smiling and laughing with ease, not needing to hide any tightening in my chest or nagging thoughts racing around in my head.

I was happy.

The kids ran off to play foosball and ping pong in the youth center while we grown-ups walked around the market. Choosing my favorite asiago french bread from the bakery tent made my smile grow. Holding my love's hand while strolling in the sunshine felt peaceful.

Eventually, we needed to leave, but even on the walk back to the van, I didn't feel a rush of the familiar "oh crap, I just wasted too much time" feeling. Getting started on the housework happened, and I even had a moment while elbow deep in dirty dishes that I realized was still happiness. Music blasting and singing loudly and totally off-key, I could still feel calm about the big tasks ahead.

What a difference four months can bring. That's how long it's been since I went back on an SSRI, and though I've had mixed feelings about needing to go this route again after almost a decade off of any anti-depressant, I'm not afraid to say publicly that this is what is helping me right now. Today, I enjoyed time with my family and felt able to relax knowing that a bunch of responsibilities were not being addressed immediately. It may not sound like much to most folks, but this is a game changer for me, and I hope it lasts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

we worked hard over Labor Day weekend

Three day weekend. It's a lovely phrase, conjuring up leisurely images, maybe a hammock and a book involved in there somewhere. Three whole days sounds so much better than a typical two-day weekend that can too often be a blur of household chores, grocery shopping, and prepping for the week to come. But THREE days? Holy cow, that'll have to involve some relaxation, right?

Unless everything fun in the world is planned over the course of those three days and you have no choice but to do all the things.

That would best describe our Labor Day this year, as each of the three days had something big and eventful going on. Sure, we were exhausted come Tuesday morning when we were to assume our positions for a new work week and school week, but damn if it wasn't a blast while it lasted.

Saturday: A Time to Celebrate Books in an Environment in Which it is Totally Acceptable to Act Like Paparazzi Toward Authors and Illustrators

That would be the National Book Festival, of course, and in its 15th year, it was as good as we've all come to expect it to be. We were bummed to miss it last year, but I didn't plan well for the switch in dates to the busy Labor Day weekend Saturday, and I was wary of the change in venue from the expansive outdoor National Mall to the indoor Convention Center, which just happens to be totally expansive, as well, I now know. This year, I knew we had to give it a go when I saw too many names on the list of authors to pass by. I could give a detailed play-by-play account of our day, and it would be exhausting to read, because JAM, Red, and I arrived at the festival around 9:00 am, and JAM and I didn't leave until 10:45 pm! No, we didn't abandon Red to make a new life at various conferences. She left with a friend when the programming switched to fodder for more mature audiences. In essence, I split my day between picture book and middle grade author and illustrator presentations and discussions by cartoonists and graphic novelists. I'm happy that I enjoy what my kids adore in this realm.

For all the talks that we did get to and all the authors we had the immense pleasure of seeing, there was at least the same amount, if not more, of talks and authors we missed because of scheduling conflicts or big crowds. Hermione's time turner would have certainly come in handy!
Kate DiCamillo, who did much of her talk off the stage walking around the front of the room, including when Red asked her a question and she stood right in front of my amazed daughter. Red asked her who her favorite author was, and when DiCamillo turned the question back around to her, Red answered, "J.K. Rowling." No schmoozing to see here, people.

The awesome Mac Barnett was as gracious as he was two years ago when I last accosted him at the NBF. I used the excuse that my daughter was not with me that time, and she totally wanted to meet him, too. Sure, that was it.

We had lots of waiting time, sometimes in line because of the inside venue process for the sessions that get the most crowded, and other times just because we needed a break, whether it be with a book or a game. Huge benefit of the indoors, besides real toilets and air conditioning? Outlets!

Two of our absolute favorites- Tom Lichtenheld and Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Their collaborations never fail to make me smile, and it was fantastic to see them talk together.

There will eventually be more to come about the why behind our fun meet up with Amy Krouse Rosenthal, but for now, this picture just has to be shared. AKR let Red try on her "book jacket jacket," which is exactly what the name indicates. It fit her perfectly, and it was awesome to see so many familiar book covers!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal was so kind and generous with Red, even bringing her a signed copy of her and Tom Lichtenheld's newest book, Friendshape!

When the kids pointed out to me that Mac Barnett and the INCREDIBLE illustrator Christian Robinson were sitting down in a hallway, I couldn't help but go over. After reassuring Barnett that I would not be accosting him for a second time that day, I began gushing to Robinson how much I adore his illustrative style and the way that he represents the world in his work. I believe I went on and on before asking if we could get a picture. Absolute fan girl moment.

Red sat on the floor right in front of the stage for Cece Bell's talk, which was the one she was most anticipating and the one she said was her favorite by the end of the day. Holding her amazing El Deafo, she talked about her life experiences chronicled in her award-winning graphic novel. 

Images from the official 2015 poster, and Red's interpretation. 

He had to wait until 7 pm, but the part JAM was super excited for finally began-- the graphic novels pavilion's talks with cartoonists. Keith Knight, Lalo Alcaraz, and Scott Stantis shared a ton of their work and how their personal lives, beliefs, and experiences go into their respective strips. Keith Knight especially hit a nerve with both JAM and me, leaving us just blown away.

Two of Knight's strips that were presented that left me speechless.

One of Alcaraz's strips next to a photograph sent to him after the strip had published... life can be super eerie sometimes.

Stephan Pastis, of Pearls Before Swine, was a huge draw for the teen, and he laughed heartily throughout the whole thing that went a bit later than we expected. These cartoonists were a blast!

Pastis took requests from the audience on which of his characters to draw, but my favorite was definitely his cartoon self-portrait!

We made it! Almost 14 hours later, we walked out of the Convention Center still on a book loving high!

Sunday: A Day for Rides, Lines, and Sudden Realizations

The Labor Day Festival in our fair city is a tradition, and our kids still won't let us live down the fact that we opted to go camping a few years ago over this particular holiday weekend. Never again. We choose to get the bracelets for a few hours of rides on just one day each year, because four hours may not sound like much, but four hours of standing in lines, holding kids' stuff, shuttling back and forth between festival grounds areas, and some actual riding gets to be exhausting. There's no way that we could do it for two days in a row.

And something else that we found out this year. Apparently we will be saving $24.00 next year, as it's clear from this picture taken a few minutes after riding the previously categorized "easy" ride, the Scrambler, that Hubby and I will no longer be needing to purchase passes for the rides.
Our "Officially OLD-Old" picture.

The children, however, found their favorite rides and went on again and again. And even after getting all queasy from a simple, spin-around-on-the-ground ride, I was somehow convinced to try a spin-around-while-going-up-to-the-treetops kind of ride. Not once, but TWICE! Side note- the second time, I thought Red was going to be my partner, so I was trying to put on a good show for her, but when she changed her mind at the last minute, I figured that I shouldn't waste all the time in line, so I rode with JAM again. I had to make him stop talking about halfway through the ride so I could concentrate on NOT losing my breakfast, and when the operator woke up and finally remembered to turn off our ride, I had to lie down on the grass for at least seven minutes or so to get reacclimated to normal life being still on the ground. No joke. It was the official end of my ride riding days.

A friend's friend posted a pic of their kids on this ride, but caught me and JAM in the car ahead of them. LOOK HOW HIGH I AM COMPARED TO THAT TREE, WHICH IS ACTUALLY QUITE A LARGE TREE! It was so frustrating to actually be okay with the heights of this ride, but be totally undone by the spinning factor. GAH!

Good big brother moment when JAM did the pedals to make it easier for Pudge to drive the bumper car.

One of Pudge's favorites, on which he screams with delight THE. ENTIRE. TIME.

Look at that face, all zoomed in. Dude is loving life.

The young ones, not rendered useless by the Scrambler. JAM looks like he's just sitting casually in a non-nausea-inducing chair. Jerk.

Pudge's new favorite ride this year, which he went on multiple times during the day, including one run of three consecutive rides, with his pal by his side.

A few days after the weekend, I peeked in Pudge's writing journal to see this gem. It needs to be next to that photo.

Monday: Friends, a Bunch of Folks Walking Down the Street, and a 10,000 Calorie Kind of Morning

The Monday morning of Labor Day weekend is also steeped in tradition. We wake on the early side, for a holiday, pack tarps, blankets, camp chairs, and an assortment of breakfast eats and treats and head back down the town's center area for the Labor Day Parade. There is a particular corner we like to sit upon, and we get there early enough to spread tarps on a sufficient amount of grass to contain the group of pals who will be joining us. Over the next half hour to hour, they filter in in waves with their own assortment of even more food, and the party begins. The children likely consume as many donuts on this one morning as the rest of the year all together, and laughter rolls off our patchwork of blankets until noon. Then everything gets packed up, with one last farewell wave to summer. 

This year, I didn't even take one photo of the parade itself. None of our family members were in the parade, which was a first, so I just sat back, clapping and cheering, and repeating our state senator's name again and again because it cracks me up. (For the record, Paul Pinsky is a fine senator with a fine name, but for some reason it reminds us of an old, now-forgotten-by-us SNL skit, and Hubby and I just can't let it go.)

Donuts, donut holes, cinnamon buns, raspberry danish, apple strudels, more donuts, bagels, and more donut holes. Seriously, we do not play.

We are hard core about our parade spot. And friends, I promise we'll remember to move about 15 feet over next year so we can stay in the shade!! 

One last selfie for the weekend. I love this guy, and I love our wacky life. I even love his shirt, which he likes to remind me that I actually purchased for him.

At the conclusion of the parade, we had to return home and admit that there were actual household duties that needed tending. Three days, very little rest, but a crap load of fun. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

all good things must come to an end, apparently

I've been that parent using this trite phrase with the children when it was time to leave the playground or a friend's house, thinking that I was imparting some great wisdom upon the next generation. Or, if not wisdom, at least the understanding that life is tough sometimes. You better get used to it. Right now, I'm the one having to buck up.

Today was the final day of summer break. Tomorrow ushers in a different way of life, full of early mornings, school days, homework afternoons, and squeezed-in dinners. Summer will soon be a distant memory, an unbelievably relaxed image in our heads.

I will miss many things from summer, including but not limited to:
  • 9:00 AM wake-ups
  • 10:00 AM actual get-ups
  • any time of the day reading
  • cicada crescendos in the treetops
  • busy broods of birds on the feeder all day long
  • that one Carolina Wren who would perch almost daily on our fence post and systematically sing in all four directions (man, I hope he found some love this summer)
  • mid-day board games, especially teasing Red about her ability to get a bazillion 6s in every game of Trouble
  • getting excited for the oldest's annual Youth Circus performances
  • Hummingbird Watch 2015 (we know you're drinking that red juice even if we've only seen you three times)
  • day trips with friends, with or without children (yay for grown-up time enabled by work-at-home husband!)
  • encouraging the children to go play in the rain
  • encouraging the children to go play at the playground
  • encouraging the children to go play in any space that's away from me and my book
  • eating homegrown cucumbers, peppers, green beans, basil, rosemary, and tomatoes (well, not the tomatoes for me personally, but you get the idea)
  • marveling at the variety of skinks/butterflies/moths/cicadas/praying mantises/spiders/beetles/songbirds who like to call our little homestead theirs, too
  • lazy pool afternoons with my totally independent swimmers, making the lifeguards actually earn their hourly wage
  • looking up from my pool chair to cheer on the younger two's latest diving accomplishments

That's not to say that Everything Summer will be mourned. I bid this all adieu with a one-finger salute:
  • mosquito swarms when I go on our front step to open the mailbox (I know I may have to suffer a few more weeks of patience until you're completely gone, you assholes)
  • humidity... enough said
  • my nonstop "glistening" look, which I've been chalking up to the previous bullet point rather than attributing it to any big changes on the old lady body horizon
  • day-long bickering... yes, I'm looking at you three... I still don't care who did or said what... enough already!
  • watching "this" and trying to accomplish the impossible at the pool- getting the goggles to fit the right way
  • my daily job as Time Keeper of the Electronics
  • asking particular questions dozens of times a day, like:
    • Did you put your bikes AWAY-away?
    • Whose cup of milk is this on the counter/table/shelf/bathroom sink?
    • Can you please put your socks into the actual laundry basket and not on the floor/couch/chair/stairs/toilet lid?
    • Who left this light on?
    • Why aren't you outside?
  • later summertime bedtimes (aka having to wait until 10:30 to be able to watch Orange is the New Black, I mean c'mon, we only have a few episodes left!)

If you're more a picture kind of person than a list lover, how about some of those positive bullet points in images?

Summer's end brings us to this evening, the night before the new year. New school year for the kids (though the high schooler still gets a couple more weeks' break thanks to the late Labor Day date) and a new beginning for me, too. Of course, we're all hyper-aware of our feelings tonight. The younger two whispering exclamations of nervousness along with the questions that are weighing heavy on their minds as they snuggle under their sheets: "Will my teacher be nice?" and Will my teacher like me?" Meanwhile, I am pondering my own potential inadequacies, hoping that I can rise to all the expectations that begin tomorrow. Here's hoping.

Summer, you've been pretty awesome, even if you were one of the shorter ones in our family history. You'll be missed. Fall, you've got some pretty big seasonal shoes to fill.