Monday, August 18, 2014


I had really been looking forward to this summer.  With The Boy moving on to middle school, a lot of my previous obligations are finished.  At least until The Girl is ready to start elementary school and a couple of other activities that she's too young for yet.  Anyway, this was going to be a fun summer.  I had no planning to do for an upcoming school year or soccer season.  All I had to do was figure out ways to keep The Kids busy.  I booked a few camps for The Boy.  I spent time looking into different things for us to do around town.  We got passports.  I started to plan out of town trips.

Two out of three fell through.

I had no idea until this summer how much I relied upon going to see my father in Tampa and my mother in Baltimore.  Four to five days in each town- in addition to you know, visiting relatives- gives us a nice break from Pittsburgh.  It's a great town, but you don't get a chance to miss it if you never leave.  My father thought he'd be traveling for work so we canceled that trip.  My grandmother has had a lot of problems this summer, so my mother has been dealing with that.  Obviously, a bad time to visit.

Not getting away turned this summer into an excess of time yawning before me.  I couldn't keep up.  Our mornings grew lazier.  Screen time got away from me and the kids had too much of it.  The Boy at least had camps.  Those were the weeks when I had hoped to schedule playdates for The Girl and I did.  But a couple of her friends had schedules that didn't match up with ours and so we couldn't fill all the days with friends and fun.  When did she become so social?  She missed her friends and found it entirely unfair that her brother had his friends over way more often than she had hers.

I was disappointed in myself for not being more creative with our time.  Not just doing things in town but also maybe day trips?  I thought of a few possibilities at the very end of the summer and was annoyed that I hadn't thought of them sooner.  Here I thought I had done such a good job of researching summer fun, but we just couldn't make it all happen.

Of course we've had fun this summer.  Because it's summer after all. Several trips to Sandcastle, Kennywood, museums, pools, parks, and ice cream parlors.  We saw lots of friends and The Boy enjoyed his camps.  Really, it's just that I knew that we'd have more time this summer than we'd had previously and I wanted to make the most of it.  I wanted to do special things with my kids.

So with one weekend left, we'll be doing the most special thing we've done all summer.  We're taking the kids to Niagara Falls for a couple of days.  Which is why we got the passports.  Anyway, we're all looking forward to it like crazy.  We can't wait to get out of town.  Pittsburgh, here's to missing you for a few days.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Joy of Fifth Grade

So, as I mentioned in my last post, it was a crazy spring.  Spring around here is always crazy, but this one was worse then usual.

The Boy finished 5th grade this spring, his last year at his elementary school.  This meant two things.  First, there were a ton of things for the 5th graders to do.  And, second, he wanted to do all of them.  Which is great.  I love that he is a kid who wants to be so involved, and that he is interested in so many different things.  A good friend of mine told me when The Boy was three that he had joie de vivre.  He did and he does and I hope he never loses it.  But oof.  It made for a busy spring.

Student council, sports, music, and of course academics.  These all took up a lot of time, not just his, but mine as well.  And, by default- because she goes everywhere that I go- it also took up The Girl's time.  Which she was frankly sick of by the end of May.  My mother came in for The Boy's spring concert.  She was surprised that The Girl was dragging her feet to get ready to go and see the performance, and she asked her, 'Don't you want to go and see your brother play trumpet?'.  The Girl looked her right in the eye and very clearly, very distinctly, said NO.  I couldn't blame her.  She was sick of her brother getting all the attention.

Probably the most intense activity that The Boy participated in was the Dancing Classrooms competition.  All 5th graders in participating Pittsburgh city schools (about 20 of them) have to take ballroom dancing lessons.  After about a month of practices they perform for their families.  Once that performance is over six boys and six girls are chosen to represent at the semi-finals and then, hopefully the finals.  The Boy not only made the team.  He was also the team captain.  Lots of after school practices, costume chaos, and general nervousness followed.  In brief, The Boy's school went on to the finals, they didn't win, but they did place.  And then we all exhaled.

The end of the year was still plenty busy- other activities were wrapping up, there was the 5th grade field trip, and of course, graduation.  I had a lot of mixed emotions. It doesn't seem possible that The Boy is growing up and moving on to middle school.  It doesn't seem so long ago that I was looking at the 5th graders and thinking that my kindergartner could never possibly be as big as they were.  Yet here he is and he's almost as tall as me.  Then, there's The Girl who still has two years of preschool ahead of her, after which we do the elementary school thing all over again.  And that will be comforting and odd and exhausting all at once. The cycle of things to come.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Where Does the Time Go: Birthday Edition

Every year I feel like neglect this space a little more.  A shame really, since there are many times when I feel like I should really be over here writing.  But I just can't seem to get my act together. 

Anyway, this year, which I've been muddling through, is no exception.  It's been a busy year.  This spring was so insane, a lot of that due to the fact that The Boy was involved in a. lot. of stuff.  His schedule in April and May was over the top.  It was all good stuff, it was just... we're going to have to find a way to keep it under control when he starts middle school this fall.

But I'll get to all that in another post.  I'm going to try to play a little catch up over the next few posts, and in order to do that properly I have to go back to when this blog was really starting to gather weeds and that would have to be February.  The Girl and The Husband both have birthdays that month, and every year it's sort of the beginning of my spring unravelling.  It's on the heels of The Boy's birthday (January) and the holidays, and I must just start to give up.  Or something.

The Girl turned three in February, which at once seems impossible because wasn't she a baby three short years ago?  And it simultaneously feels like of course she is because she was a baby a million years ago.  It seems like she's been this amazing little person who talks and runs and creates for such a long time.  I can hardly remember her not being here.

I had toyed with the idea of throwing a big party for her- The Boy had his first big party at three.  But we were in a playgroup when he was three and knew a bunch of kids really well and it seemed like the thing to do.  We know fewer kids The Girl's age because the poor thing is always getting dragged after her brother and his friends.  She has friends, just not so many that I felt like throwing a party and inviting everyone.

So, what we did instead was we had a few small celebrations.  The Friday before her birthday we went to Phipps Conservatory with a friend from the neighborhood.  They were having an event called Swans In the Garden.  Ballerinas from the PBT came and performed vignettes from the upcoming Swan Lake show.  Afterward everyone could come up and meet the ballerinas, and well, of course that was just the best.

Then the girls came back to our house and ate huge pink cupcakes.  The end.

OK.  Not really the end.  We had a cupcake playdate with another friend.  And then my in-laws came to town for a birthday lunch featuring sandwiches and… more cupcakes.

The Girl's birthday was actually on Super Bowl Sunday this year.  And while we weren't feeling particularly excited about either of the teams, we did have some good friend's over to watch the game.  And eat cake.  Because my in-laws are not dessert people, I hate to make homemade cake for them when they come in for The Kids' birthdays.  But our friends?  Appreciate a good homemade cake.

This year The Girl asked for a strawberry cake.  I found a great recipe here.  The cake was a hit.  The Girl had four smallish celebrations for turning three.  That's a lot of excuses to eat cake and get presents in less than a week's time.

Two weeks later we were back out and about for The Husband's birthday.  This time he and I went out and left The Kids at home with the sister-in-law.  We went here, which was ridiculously delicious, and we had a marvelous grown up time.  And then I went home full of food and drink and was exhausted from all the celebrating and that is really the end.