Tag Archives: Summer

The Strong Smile

As I stood there watching the photographer set up her equipment, I attempted to give the boys one last round of instructions.  It was important to me, and I wanted to get it right.

It was day three of our beach getaway – our cheeks were rosy, our shoulders tanned. The sun was setting at the perfect angle and the surf was gently lapping at the sand.  The photographer called us to our places.  And I tried not to cry.

The vacation was planned late in the summer to give us one last time to be together.  One last set of memories before my husband left for Iraq.

I was trying to tell myself that this photograph would be a reminder of my happy family.  But inside, I was wrestling with my greatest fear:  that this photograph might be the last image of the five of us together.

© The Lucky Mom

Through it all, I smiled.

We sat on the dune together, and walked at the water’s edge.  The photographer patiently captured the essence of each child, then seated me and my husband together.  With his arm around my shoulder we smiled for the camera, trying to forget why we were there.  She took the final shots of us separately, me last.

When the photos arrived in the mail a few days later, I was quite surprised at what I saw.  The smile on my face was not at all what I expected.  That day I felt afraid and anxious.  But the smile I saw in the photograph was not.

The smile in that photograph became part of me, and I wore it for the better part of the next year.  That smile kept from crying many times.  That smile meant everything would be alright.  That smile meant that I was, indeed, strong enough.

Good Night, Sleep Tight . . .

I know I’ve already extolled the perks of having big kids, but a few weeks ago, Mr. Wonderful and I pushed the envelope a little further, and planned an overnight trip – without any kids.  The Trailblazer is still home for the summer, so we left him in charge and darted down I-10 to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a get together with Mr. Wonderful’s old high school friends.

We had a lovely time, and for a few blissful hours, I actually forgot I had kids.  (There’s something about being around the people who remind you of a time before you had kids that can actually transport you back to that time. Aaahhh.)  We hung out at a casino (no one under 21 present), had dinner at a lovely restaurant (no chicken nuggets on the menu), and spent the evening at an outdoor venue listening to music (drinking refreshing adult beverages) in the July Mississippi heat.  The next morning we gathered again for brunch, slowly bringing ourselves back into reality for the trip home.

This is the critter I found in my bed. * cringe *

It was so blissful I completely forgot about a topic that has been in the news quite a bit lately.


I don’t travel much anymore, so when this topic hit the current events circuit in every news outlet in America I brushed it off as something that really didn’t apply to me.  I disregarded all of the advice on how to inspect a room for evidence of bedbugs and how to handle your luggage in a way that reduces the likelihood of bringing them home with you.

I now regret not paying better attention to that advice.

Sure enough, as I’m stripping beds last week, I pull back the fitted sheet on my bed to discover a little brown critter sitting all comfy at the foot of my bed.  Not realizing what it was at first, I made an audible noise of disgust and flushed the little sucker.  It wasn’t until the following morning that I realized what I’d seen.

Then the panic began.

I Googled BEDBUGS to look at some photos, only to confirm my terrible suspicion.  As I feared, it was, indeed, a Cimex lectularius, a common bedbug.

The cleaning process. I was making sure no bugs sneaked past me.

I read a few articles to get an idea of what I was dealing with, watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to inspect a room for infestation, and put in a call to my exterminator.  Then I began the process of dismantling my bedroom.

I discovered that eradicating bedbugs is a lot like getting rid of fleas or lice.  (Both of which I have done at various times in my parenting career.)  It involves lots of laundry, intense vacuuming, and thorough cleaning.

Our search produced only one live bedbug, so my exterminator seems to think I got off easy.  (Probably just a single stowaway who wasn’t in a family way when he/she hitched a ride to my house.)  Whew.

Now I just have to get over the heebie-jeebies I get every time I walk into my bedroom.  And figure out if I ever intend to use that suitcase again.

As for the cute little saying “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite…” I’m no longer amused.

 Bedbug advice:

  • NEVER place your suitcase on a hotel bed.  Put it on the stand, on the dresser, or if necessary on the bathroom counter to unpack it.
  • Pack plastic garbage bags, and seal your luggage in the bags during your stay.
  • Examine the sheets for small, rust-colored flakes.  (Bedbug poop.)  Or for actual bugs.
  • If you find them in your home, don’t panic.  But do get ready for a boat-load of work to get rid of them.

Nearing the End of Lazy Summer

There must be a glitch in the space-time continuum, because there’s no way on earth it can possibly be July 20th.  Two months of summer are behind us, which can only mean one thing.  And I’m not ready for that one thing.

As I’ve said before, during the school year we have to be pretty structured.  Our schedule is busy, and great distances often lie between events, requiring Mom’s Taxi Service to run from morning til night.  It’s hard sometimes to keep my calm and sanity, rendering me Not So Agreeable.  So Being Agreeable About Things has been a top priority for me lately.

I’ve tried really hard this year to make this a “good” summer for the boys.  I’ve let them sleep late (otherwise they’re crabby), eat on their own schedule (otherwise they’d starve), hang out with friends til the wee hours of the morning (otherwise they’d be social outcasts).  There’s been far too much video gaming, far too little reading, and their rooms – oh, I don’t even want to discuss their rooms.

We’ve had lots of day trips to the beach, The Caboose has had lots of friends at our house, Slick has spent a lot of time at his friends’ houses (the ones who don’t have little brothers).

There has been very little yelling, and I actually watched an ENTIRE MOVIE in one sitting in my own home.  It’s been quite pleasant.

The Caboose made a comment a few days ago about my Agreeable-ness.  He was quite surprised when I offered to take him to Chick-Fil-A (his fav!) for lunch, even though we were nowhere near Chick-Fil-A.  I’m just hoping the lesson isn’t lost on them when I have to resume my other persona.

Alas, I now have the feeling that the end of Being Agreeable is near.  There are, in fact, books to read, summer work to be completed, and Doc Martens to be found in a size that I don’t think Doc Martens come in.  In other words, I’ve got to get my game on.

So if you hear the screaming from afar, don’t worry, it’s just me.  Because these boys have gotten a case of The Lazy this summer.  And while it’s been fun getting there, it’s probably going to be ugly getting back.

They’re Still Mocking Me

The record heat we’ve been having here has been rough on a lot of things.  My tomato plants would probably argue they’ve had it the worst.  I just can’t seem to water them enough to get them through the daily 95+ degree temps.  Other people seem to be doing alright.  I see huge, healthy plants dripping with ripe red fruit.

Mine have decided to live despite me.  Or perhaps to spite me.  I don’t know which.

I’ve kept them on life support long enough for the ones already there to ripen.  And I’ve picked a few, and (despite the appearance of the branch from which they were plucked) they tasted really good!

Perhaps I should just stick to flowers.

Hard-to-kill Black Eyed Susans

Hardy Mandevilla

Even the drought-tolerant daisies are looking sad.

Hello, Summer. I’ve missed you.

When your children are little, time is measured on the Julian calendar.  Years begin in January and end in December, and you recall the year by the age your little ones were at the time. Once they start school, you recall the time by what grade they were in, and the calendar changes: years begin in August and end in May. The time in between is the wonderful period known as Summer.

As for me, I’ve finally realized what summer really is to us: A cleansing. A renewal. A release. (To my IT-guy husband, a reboot.) And we’ve developed a few rituals to welcome it, and habits to make it fun.

The 2011 Burning of the Notebooks.

One of the rituals we began many years ago is the event we call The Burning of the Notebooks.  After cleaning out backpacks (and checking for things others might be able to use) we light a fire in the backyard fire pit and ceremonially toss in the notebooks of the subjects that caused us the most grief that year.  The Trailblazer gave up on this ritual a few years ago, opting to just toss them in the trash.  But Slick gets a perverse particular pleasure out of it, so it continues.  This year the only subject to make it into the pit was Latin.  The curriculum this go-round included the mastery of advanced grammar, as well as the translation of Cicero’s orations and literary works.  (Makes my head hurt just thinking about it, so I’ll indulge him whatever release he needs.)  He had hundreds of pages of translations reduced to ash in just a few moments.  But the smile stayed on his face all afternoon.

We also dispense with haircuts.  Attending Catholic school, my kids are told what to wear and how their hair must be cut 9 months out of the year.  Mr. Wonderful and I figure the least we can do is lay off during the summer.  (Slick has figured out how to gradually eek by on haircut standards for the last month of school, so he usually starts the summer already looking a little shaggy.)  One summer there was a family wedding, and I figured a good chance for some lovely photos, so I insisted on a trim.  But we usually let them look like homeless dudes if they want to, because it’s only for a short time.

Our laid-back look from last summer.

Shoes also become optional.  There was a time when leaving the house (or returning home from someone else’s) meant a shoe-check.  More than once I got phone calls from friends giving me the count of how many shoes were left behind.  I was always a little puzzled when it was an odd number.

My favorite summer accessory is the attitude I get to assume:  Being Agreeable About Things.  From August til May, my role is that of Drill Sergeant.  Get up on time.  Get dressed in the right uniform.  Brush your teeth.  Eat your breakfast.  Load the car.  Go to school.  Do your homework.  Feed the dog.  Clean your room.  Eat your dinner.  Take a shower.  Brush your teeth.  Go to bed.  Whew.  It’s exhausting.  And most of the time we can’t vary from the routine, or all hell breaks loose.  So when they ask to do something off the regular path during summer, I like to say yes.  I like to surprise them with my agreeability, hoping to send them the message that sometimes you have be disciplined, and sometimes you get to go freestyle.

Summer has already commenced for the two oldest boys.  The Caboose has a few days of school left.  Once those days are over, you’ll find us hanging out, often doing nothing in particular.  I checked the calendar this morning to see just how long I get to be laid back.  As school starts earlier each year, the summer gets a little shorter.  This year we have until August 15th.  That’s long enough.

What are some your favorite summer activities??  I’d love to hear about them!