Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Adventures 2015....Wrap up.

We have one more week of Summer vacation before school starts.  Other than the kids fighting with each other (it's gotten so out of control!) and that little snafu where Jeff and I slept on couches for 7 nights at the beach, it has been a most excellent summer.  I called the Summer of 2014 "Epic" and didn't think I'd be able to top it, but I came close.  Very close.

It was a dream of mine to show the kids NYC and I was able to make that happen.  It feels like a lifetime ago we did that trip, but its only been 2 months.  Since school let out, it has been a whirlwind of adventures, fun destinations and making the most of each day.  The short list is this:  NYC, Cruise with Jeff's parents, Ian spent a week in Connecticut with his cousin, Orlando for 3 weeks, and Ocean City, NJ.  Oh yeah, Jeff and I went to Wisp for a weekend.   You can't say we watched summer pass us by.   Have suitcase, will travel.  :)

I don't have a favorite thing we did or place we went this summer.  I loved all of it.  The best part is all the time we spent with family.  For not living close to anyone, it is so wonderful that my kids are growing up spending so much time with grandparents, cousins and aunts/uncles.  This means more to me than anything.  Family is so important.  

I believe one of the coolest aspects of a being a parent is watching your kids experience new things.  Seeing it through their eyes is wonderful.  It makes me want to give them the world and go along for the ride.  You know you are on the right track when weeks and months later, they are still talking about some of things we've done and seen.  There is nothing better than getting nostalgic and reliving the memories.

We are slowing down our days and gearing up for the coming school year.  Sam will be going into 2nd grade and Ian will be entering 5th grade. I am still in awe that I am mom to a 5th grader.  Yowzer!  When did that happen!!?!?

I am continually grateful to my husband who supports me in my decision to be home for the kids.  Having all these flexible part-time jobs gives me the opportunity to provide summer vacations I hope my kids never forget.  While not all of our days are ones you want to brag about (I am pretty sure there were a few days I was ready to put the kids up for adoption, but I do a good job of blocking the horrible-don't-even-want-to-think-about-how-I-survived-without-turning-to-heavy-drinking-kind-of-days from my memory), our good days outweigh the bad ones. 

The years are flying by.  It's important we do the most with our time off because before we know it, the kids will be going in separate directions and will be busy with their own lives. As Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop to look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Making friends in the 'hood

We've never had the traditional neighborhood where my kids became friends with those who lived near us.  Our house is on a pipestem and it has never lent itself to us being outdoors much and seeing other kids around.

That is until now.  The house right next door to us has always had a revolving cast of characters. It is not an exaggeration to say that this one house could lend itself to a reality show.  A really successful reality show.  Recently a new duo moved in; a single mom and her 6 year old daughter.   I guess the odds were in our favor that eventually a normal set of people would take residence. 

Even though the little girl is one year younger than Sam, they seem to have hit it off.  I was jumping for joy when I saw Sam was ok (and even nice!) with the girl next door.  It was a refreshingly 'normal' few minutes when the little girl asked Sam if she wanted to come over to her house and Sam said 'yes'!   And then after an hour, the two girls came back to our house to play.  Before you know it, the girls logged 4 hours of playtime on Sunday. 

This is uncharted territory for us.  I've always had to apologize for Sam's shyness and tell myself its ok if she doesn't have many friends.  All you need in life is one or two good ones, right?  And just because I am outgoing and love to be around people, doesn't mean my children will be.   But for this one day, Sam went with the flow and allowed herself a little fun playing with a new neighbor.  I was so proud of her.

Maybe, just maybe, the social skills therapy group has proven to be helpful. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Summer Adventures 2015..My happy place post script

I ended my last blog about our week at the beach too soon.  I forgot to mention that mid-week Jeff had a raging sore throat.  Yep.  So not only was Jeff at a location he despises and paying a good sum of money to do it, he was working the whole time (among a very full house of people!), sleeping on the couch each night and got a horrid throat infection.   Jeff googled the closest urgent care clinic and found one just 4 miles from our beach house.  After a 3 hour wait, he was given a prescription for antibiotics.  Within 2 doses, Jeff felt better.  The sore throat didn't slow him down any, he managed to keep going.  G-d bless him.

I love my husband so much. I sincerely appreciate all he went through to allow the kids and I a fantastic week.  He did a good job of covering up what he was feeling on the inside and not letting it show too much on the outside. For those who know my husband, they know this can be a big challenge.

And to Jeff, I have this message for him to read:  It can only get better in 2016!   You are a rockstar.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer Adventures 2015....My happy place!

I am still smiling from this past week.  It was the coming together of the three families (plus lots of relatives visiting throughout) at Ocean City, NJ. This was our 2nd year returning to the beach and I felt like we really got in a groove this year.  We knew what to expect and especially knew all the favorites we wanted to do again when we returned one year later.  From renting a Surrey, to visiting Uncle Bill's Pancake Place twice, to going on the rides, playing putt-putt, and logging countless hours being on the beach, it was a fun-filled, sunny-filled week..  The weather was gorgeous.

The craziest thing was the forecast looked like Friday was going to be our day of stormy weather and we'd have to do something indoors.  We told the kids on Thursday afternoon, this was going to be our last day at the ocean.  Soak it all up now and enjoy it, the weather wasn't looking good for us to put on our bathing suits for Friday.  Even at 8:00am Friday morning, the forecast still reported thunderstorms.  We did miniature golf in the morning, stopped for lunch and checked the forecast again.  It was no longer going to storm.  It was going to be a very sunny hot day.  We put on suits and headed to the water.  It was a bonus beach day for us!  5+ hours later, we told the kids it was time to go in.  No one wanted to leave.  We had to pull the kids off the beach kicking and screaming.  That's how much these kids love the beach.  We had 7 full days at the beach and the kids wanted more.

This year my sister Lori, her husband and their 21 month old daughter joined us for the week.  In addition, my mom and stepfather was with us the whole time too.  Over the course of the week, we had visits from cousin's parents (both my cousin Leslie's mom and dad and her husband's mom and boyfriend), my brother-in-law's sister and her husband, and my cousin's sister-in-law with her 2 kids.  It was a revolving door of visitors!

I love the beach!  I love that we get a whole week to be there!  I love being with my extended family!  I love that the kids love the beach!  I love that Ian and Sam are perfectly matched with my cousin's, Max and Ellie. I love how much I walk when I am at the beach. I averaged 16k steps a day!  Yay me!

Unfortunately Jeff does not love the beach.  He doesn't even like it a little.  If we're being honest, he HATES the beach.  His feet didn't touch the sand once in 7 days.  His toes didn't get wet in the ocean once in 7 days.  He didn't even put on a bathing suit once in 7 days.  Jeff didn't take any vacation time and worked remotely the whole week from inside the beach house.  While I am a disappointed that this is the way Jeff prefers it, I have accepted it and moved on to enjoying his company at the end of the work day.  Jeff joins us for dinners out, boardwalk fun and of course, lots of trips to get ice cream.  It's a good compromise and I am thrilled that he even wants to come period. 

Our week wasn't without major turbulence!  In our beach house, we were packed in there like sardines.  It was a big snafu and I am largely (ok, 100%) to blame.  We booked a 3 bedroom, 2 bath place.  It would've been enough room for the group we had last year (mom/Jim, Ian/Sam, Me/Jeff) all having their own bedroom.  However, I went ahead and invited Lori/Ben/Rachel and never increased the size of the place.  Let me tell you, this wasn't ideal and since we were paying for it, it was a major insult to injury when Jeff and I ended up on the pull-out sofa in the living room.  But wait, it gets worse!  The pull-out sofa was a impossible to sleep on.  I am not sure how they can call that a bed.  It was worse than the bar you think will be in your back.  Much worse.  I don't think there was any cushioning in that "mattress" and I use the term "mattress" very loosely.   After the first hour on it on Saturday night, Jeff and I ditched the pull-out sofa and slept on the two couches.  His was the length of his body.  Mine was the size of a loveseat.  I had from the calves down hanging over the edge.  Good thing I am on the short side.  Ugh.  This wasn't my finest moment and I really felt for Jeff.   I know he was hating being there to begin with, but then we shelled out so much money for this place and didn't even have a bed to sleep on for 7 NIGHTS!    Needless to say, I wasn't on Jeff's favorite people list until we started the drive back home.

Other than that, it was great!  :)   But as I promised to Jeff NEVER AGAIN!!  We will not be put in that position next year or the year after or the year after that.  It was only with that pinky swear promise that Jeff has given his blessing we can go back next summer. 

The 3 families.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Advenutres 2015...exploring new areas.

 A few months ago when I knew which weeks the kids would be in Orlando, I put on the calendar "Jeff and Robyn go somewhere" on the one available weekend we had completely kid-free.  I patiently waited until Jeff discovered it and asked where we were going.  I said it was up to him and to surprise me.

At first Jeff said, "We just bought a car!  We haven't even made a car payment yet!  I know, we will take some lawn chairs and spend the weekend in the freezer section of Wegman's."  Ha!  At least we won't overheat.  Whatever Jeff came up with was going to be okay with me.  It didn't have to be elaborate as long as we got to spend time together.  I was already thinking in my head all the ready-to-eat-food Wegman's offers. 

At some point, Jeff changed his mind and was ok spending money on something a little more exciting than Wegman's.  He surprised me! Jeff picked Wisp Resort, near Deep Creek Lake as our destination.  We had never been before to this part of Maryland. I was very much looking forward to checking it out and spending a fun weekend with my husband. 

We signed up for the Flying Squirrel Canopy Tour (Zip lining!) and the Segway Tour. Both were super fun!  However, if you ask Jeff, he doesn't need to do the zip lining adventure ever again.  Once was enough.  I challenged him that if the kids asked him to do it with them, he would.  Hours after we had safely made it back on the ground, Jeff was already saying there was a chance he'd give it a go again. 

We had never been on Segways before.  Oh what fun these two big wheels are!  It is surprisingly easy to learn to ride and after a quick demonstration, we were off!  Not to sound like I am bragging, but Ted, our instructor, couldn't get over how good I was on it.  It's true, I was a natural.   The segway felt like an extension of my body.  I loved it!!  I now want one for Burke Centre Parkway.   I had no idea how much fun these things were going to be.

I had googled "Gluten free restaurants" and found a trio of places that offered some really great options. All the places were owned by the same people.  It was a five minute drive from where we were staying.  The coffee shop had great sandwiches (Hello Gluten Free Focaccia bread!), waffles, scones and muffins. Brenda's Pizza (located right above the coffee shop) had the most amazing pizza and other items.  Jeff loved his chicken parmigiana hero so much he said that "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" needs to do an episode on the place.   Personally, I see nothing wrong taking a 3 hour drive (one way!) to come here just for dinner.  Or just lunch.  Or just breakfast.  Jeff and I ate all of our meals at one of these two places.  No, I wasn't embarrassed coming in meal, after meal, after meal.   It was that good.

I got halfway thru my pizza before I realized I wanted to take a photo of it.

On Sunday, Jeff suggested stopping at Frederick, MD and walking around the downtown/ historic area.  Again, another place we had never been before.  It was a nice way to spend a few hours.  There is a beautiful river walk area.

We realized how much we actually miss the kids when we get out of the car and kept mentioning all the things Ian and Sam would enjoy.  Pretty much the whole time we were at Wisp/Deep Creek Lake, we planned a return trip to come back with the kiddos and the various things we wanted to do with them.  There is so much to do!   And of course, many more dishes to try at my new fave restaurants. 

It was a great weekend!  And I love my husband so much for being willing to try something new and tackle the Flying Squirrel Canopy Tour with me.  It may not have been his cup of tea, but it was mine and that was enough for him to join me.  That's the sign of a true bestie!