Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Zoom of June

I have remarked to more than one person that this is the best June I can remember since living in Atlanta. I was mostly referring to the weather, which has made morning runs and playground visits not just bearable but pleasant, yet has also been warm enough to hang at the pool. Beyond the weather, though, it has been filled with the kind of fun, relaxing days that one envisions for their kids' summer vacation but so often fails to happen in reality.

And suddenly it's nearly over, which means the kids and I are about to embark on our annual summer grandparent tour (10th year in a row!). So what have we been up to, exactly, besides our vacation in Florida?
Danny returned to Josh Powell Day Camp and loved every minute.
Laura has become enamored of playing tea party, occasionally with special outfits.
Tim and I escaped for a weekend sans kids at the stunning Ritz-Carlton Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee (view from our room). 
Playdates and sleepovers with good friends.
Lunches out (sushi!).
Quality time.
Playing at fun gatherings with friends.
Enjoying the playground and beautiful mornings during Clare's swim practices.

And, of course, hitting the pool.

Sometimes with friends...and lunch.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Winning Some, Losing Some

Today was the kind of day where I sent an SOS to a babysitter with the hopes that she had some availability soon. Laura and I are simply not seeing eye-to-eye these days. Mostly because she's terrible (two). She is pitching fits right and left, has reverted to her unbecoming habits of throwing items and hitting me out of frustration, and has gone to bed two nights in a row without a story because of that.

This photo says a lot about her personality of late. It's June in Atlanta, yet she defiantly insisted on wearing socks. And deliberately chose mismatched ones. Two days in a row.

At her worst moments, I fear she is what some would call a brat, and I wonder if she can be rehabilitated. I try to remember that she's only two, and does have her good moments, too. And I also remind myself that how I respond to her outbursts will affect whether or not she continues to be a brat. But man, it's hard. Hard not to explode, hard not to just give up. Hey, has anyone ever mentioned that parenting is hard?

While we were on vacation, she charmingly asked me one day, out of the blue, "What are you thinking about, Mommy?" I think I said something along the lines of, "What a nice time I am having." Then I asked her the same question, to which she responded, "Laura." Well, if that's not toddlerhood in a nutshell, I don't know what is. She is the center of her universe and assumes ours as well.
Photo taken through the glass doors because I was so fearful of disrupting the peace.
On the positive side, both Clare and Danny have really made an effort to engage her. Clare shows infinite patience in round upon round of tea party or "taking care of babies." Danny plays chase, and gives her horseback rides, all of it allowing me to escape to fold a load of laundry or blog about how frustrating my youngest child is.

It's easy to obsess about the battles I've lost and will continue to lose, but we've had victories, too. I made a new recipe tonight that all three kids ate. My eldest are reading together, not for the first time this summer vacation. Laura didn't get a story, but still went to bed as easily as she always does. When I think of these things, it seems silly to even make the analogy of parenting, or life, as a war or even a game. It's a gift, and I will endeavor to enjoy the present.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Clare the Guardian Angel

Clare, 5, with her Guardian Angel
Clare, 10, Guardian Angel

It was one of those "how can time possibly fly that quickly??" moments. The CKS eNews put a call out for all interested rising 5th and 6th graders to submit their names to become Guardian Angels to the incoming Kindergarteners. That included Clare. Surely it hasn't been five years already? I vividly remember writing this post about Clare's own Guardian Angel. Sunrise, sunset.

I've always known Clare would make an excellent Guardian Angel. I feel bad that we didn't get the chance to call her ahead of their first meeting, as Claire did for us, but small matter. Clare evidently made an excellent first impression on both Elle, the sweet little girl to whom she has been assigned, and Elle's mother when they met the first week of May. Oh, and on the Kindergarten teacher, who happened to mention to my carpool partner that Clare sweetly asked her if she needed any help before the kids arrived. That's my girl, and she really is an angel.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chasing 1K

On February 26, 2012, I started using an app that I credit with enhancing my running motivation in a big way. I downloaded Nike+ as a way to track distance and speed, since my brief flirtation with a heart rate monitor was simply frustrating. Before I knew it, the overall miles logged was my favorite statistic to watch. Why skip a run when it could nudge that number a little higher?

A couple of months ago, I realized I was approaching the 1,000 mile mark. In fact, it took me just over 15 months, and 248 runs (June 3, 2013 was the exact date). Now, a handful of runs never made it to the app, so maybe it was closer to 14.5 months. Regardless, I'm pleased and looking forward to the next 1K, which I'll try to hit in less time.

Many of these miles were logged with Laura in tow. Often she fell asleep, a site I never tire of photographing. Other times she was a cheerful, often singing companion.While I prefer the freedom of running without pushing the stroller, for the most part these were delightful workouts. Let us carry on for the next 1K...and after that, she should be in school enough (not to mention bigger and heavier) for me to run without her. Exciting!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sarasota Family Vacation 2013

We're barreling down 75 North, headed home after another fabulous family vacation in Florida. As much fun as we had last year, I think this visit surpassed it.

We came prepared to spend a lot of time at the pool, various local attractions, and some divide-and-conquer trips to the beach. Instead, the inaugural swim in the pool the night we arrived was the only one, because we were too busy beaching it as a family.

The forecast was a little grim, so we flew by the seat of our pants. Despite the fact that, as a general rule I am a planner, I found this a refreshing way to spend the week. We managed to work in everything we had hoped, too, including the traditional trip to the water park for Tim and the big kids, plus a bonus day at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Orlando in order to visit Harry Potter World. Both of these were a big hit with all, but probably the most pleasant surprise for me and Tim was how much time we spent at the beach. Danny made the most strides in that department, spending every moment in the ocean (always a given with Clare, but for him a far cry from last year). Laura was still very tentative around the water, but consented to being carried into it, and always enjoyed cruising along the shore to look for shells.

These two spent a lot of time together, and Clare kindly got her up for me a few mornings so that I could go for a run. Laura definitely sought her out. So we were amused and baffled when, on the ride home,  Laura would get frustrated with me or Tim and start ranting, "You're naughty, okay Clare?! And you're going to go swimming, and to the playground, and to Costco!" as though these were all punishments. (You sort of had to be there, but trust us: it was funny.)

Laura and I visited Turtle Beach while the others were at Adventure Island.

We saw this gator several times, and looked for him every time, with Laura asking, "Where is him?"

One morning we visited Lido Beach, which none of us had been to before. Nice change of scenery.

Laura's preferred position for going into the water.

Inside Hogwarts, getting ready to ride The Forbidden Journey.

Laura rode this carousel in Seuss Land NINE times.

Butterbeer is a featured beverage in some of the Harry Potter books, and they have admirably brought it to life in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Someday, when Laura is older, we figure we'll embark on a family vacation somewhere new and exotic, but for now we're already looking forward to our next trip to Sarasota. As always, a big thank you to Donna and Larry for trusting us with their fabulous winter home!