Summer angst 

Every summer I tell myself that I am going to hire a sitter who will come up with a huge game plan for the kids during the summer. I interview college kids and tell them my expectations. They all respond with positive affirmations like “that sounds wonderful “or “I love that idea “or “I have done that in the past and it works well”. But then the summer begins and the new sitter comes over and nothing falls into place in the way I expected it to weeks before. 

This year, both kids fell in love with the same sitter. In the past, they have had to bargain together because one of them liked one sitter and the other liked another sitter. They would go back-and-forth on the benefits and detriments of both of their choices and eventually land on one for the summer (typically Maria’s choose with some bribery on her part).. So this year, I was excited that they both selected the same girl. She seemed very nice and grounded during our telephone interview, and she seemed upbeat and chill  when she came over to the house. She studied Chinese and finance in college, and was getting ready for a full-time job starting in September. Her references stated that she was one of the nicest people they had met. The only issue they had with her is that she was “too nice.” Their kids loved her because she would let them do anything they wanted. So there lies my dilemma. This would probably be the last year that we have a full-time summer sitter. Jon and I had been seriously contemplating letting the kids be on their own next summer and just putting them in numerous camps, etc. So as much as I dreamed of a sitter who would have detailed plans for the week and get them to do 2 hours of homework a day, I also dreamed of a sitter that would have fun with the kids and who both kids enjoyed. Hence, why I decided to go with the girl both kids liked. 

And so far, it has gone well with our current sitter this summer, as far as the kids and her  getting along. However, I have gone a bit nuts through this summer with the lack of itinerary planned for the kids. The sitter quite enjoys watching TV with the kids and caves as soon as they start begging for anything. The upside is that if I tell her certain things must be done, then she will get them done. But that means that I have to spend time in the evening or in the morning writing down all of the things I want done. This would not seem to be a huge task but when I’m dealing with work, cleaning the house, tending to the kids and to the hubby, walking the dog, working out, that one more thing may just put me over the edge. 

I had dreams of the kids waking up in the morning and taking a walk with the dog, coming home and doing some workbook pages, engaging in a cool project together, hitting the pool, coming back to a siesta and reading their books for an hour, putting a book report together of what they read, starting a nonprofit to help needy children in the world, learning Spanish fluently…. ok, a bit much but a mom can dream.

A few weeks ago, I about lost my mind over   what the kids were doing (actually not doing) through the day. I called the house and heard the TV in the background. I asked my sitter how long they had been watching it. She responded that they had only watched a few shows. Only watched a few shows, I thought?! Are you kidding me? It is 80° outside and sunny and they are in there watching tv shows for hours on end? I came home that night, ignored the dishes and clutter, and wrote down a list of things the kids needed to do the next morning – dust, water the flowers, do workbook pages, read…. The next day those things were done, and I was happy. The following day I had no time to write anything down but I was still happy from the previous day’s accomplishments. Who knows what the kids did throughout the day. I began to fret about it but then I thought about my summers. I don’t recall my parents worrying about the amount of reading I was doing or buying me any workbooks during the summer. Rather, I recall watching Famoly Feud and Three’s Company and Family Ties.  I recall jumping on my bike and trying to find a friend to play with in the morning. I recall walking down to the carry out to get snacks with my girlfriend. I recall arranging and rearranging my stuffed animals in my bedroom. One thing I don’t recall – learning multiplication or reading 300 page novel. And now look at me. I’m not a Nobel laureate but I turned out ok. My kids will do the same. 

And since I’ve let go of my angst and worry about summer activities for the kids, I am able to appreciate all they’ve done.

1. Created their own lunches and made videos of the preparation.


2. Thought about activities they could do to earn money (babysitting, dog-walking and dog-sitting).

3. Started a backpack drive to get backpacks for kids in need. 

4. Went to play practice Tuesday through Thursday each week.



5. Dusted the house.

6. Watered the flowers. 

7. Completed workbook pages.

8. Read their books.

9. Started reading a book with me in the evenings (The Giver).

10. Babysat their cousin.



11. Cleaned their rooms.

12. Played with friends.



13. Swam and dove at the pool.


14. Visited the pet shelter and gave kittens love.


15. Coached a K-6 soccer camp with high school girls (Maria).

16. Got tutored (Maria).

17. Played in a basketball league (Mario).

18. Completed swim team (Maria).



19. Played in GBSA baseball and fast-pitch softball.


20. Went to basketball and football camp (Mario).

21. Went to Akita camp.


22. Visited their grandmas.


23. Watched a deer play with Rocco.


24. Learned how to fake fight each other. 


25. Played Clue and Monopoly.

26. Hit a neighbor’s pool party and Ri baked a killer 4th of July cake.


27. Watched fireworks in the car.


28. Played with cousins.


29. Biked to Tim Horton’s for donuts.


30. Drank lots of Starbucks.


31. Went to a church festival.


32. Tried out modeling (Ri).


33. Fell in love with Jake Paul (Mario).

34. Enjoyed Jeni’s.


35. Visited The Wilds and became mesmerized with an ostrich. 

36. Visited my work and played at the Barnes & Noble. 


37. Visited the Boathouse in Marietta on the River and ate ribs and pulled pork.

38. Ate at Skyline (one too many times)!


39. Rocked some heels at Robert’s lakeside wedding.


40. Learmed how to play Balckjack (his counselors taught him at camp)!


41. Hit The Beach water park and braved the slides and zip line with Ri.


42. Partied together at Lia’s wedding.

43. Ate s’mores and held baby chicks at the farm.


44. Made family meals together and ate on the patio.


45. Held family meetings to discuss the week ahead.

Not bad, and we still have a month to go. The kids are hoping we can add Kings Island to our list; I’m hoping we can add two more completed books:).

The life of a pinball

Mario and I met up with Maria and her friend and friend’s mom at 9:30 am at Stauf’s.  The rest of the day is a blur.  Thank god for iced coffees.

We walked down to the parade on First Avenue – the same place we go every year – nearly parallel to our old house but two streets over.  We sat with Amy and Gracie and Joe and made a sign saying “Go Mets” in honor of Zach.  Zach is on the Mets baseball team this year; Amy was so excited to see him in the baseball truck with the other soon-to-be second graders.  All I could do was think of Mario in that truck three years from now, and the only visions of him were ones of him pelting people with tootsie rolls.  There is always one or two little squirts that engage in such activity each year; last year, Mario got pelted in the eye by someone.  So hopefully that horrific experience forever scarred him and he won’t engage in such behavior.

The parade was fun this year because we knew so many kids in it (and they limited the politicians)!  After an hour parade, we gathered our two hefty bags of candy and walked a mile back home.  Maria walked the entire way with me holding Mario.  She is a machine (she did it in sandals; even I would have complained).  We made a pit stop at the library to take a computer break.  Maria played Go Girls Games and Mario played Ben Ten.  I got a little reading time in, which was just the break I needed.  Middle-school kids were signing up younger kids for the reading program.  Maria asked to sign up.  I was excited about her initiative.  She asked to do it last year, too, but she could not read on her own and she wasn’t that into it.  I am hoping that her ability to read better will lead to her reading more this Summer.  She picked out a Junie B. Jones book and a couple more random ones.  Let’s cross our fingers….

We plodded our way home from the library in the 88 degree heat.  We immediately threw on our bathing suits, grabbed our goggles and towels, and jumped in the car.  We had to drop the stroller off at the bike store because Mario and I bust a tire on our stroller ride earlier that morning (there was a loud firecracker-like bang and Mario yelled “Cool!”).  Once at the bike store, Mario spotted a sweet red and black bike with training wheels.  He jumped on it and flew around the store.  I looked at the tag and it was expensive.  How can a kid’s bike be over $100?  Really?  But I have had such bad luck with used bikes for him – none of them are steady or ride well – and it has caused him to get scared about riding.  I do not want that with as much as Maria likes riding.  So, I decided to bite the bullet and get it reasoning that he will have it for the next few years. 

We left the store for the pool, which was absolutely packed since it was opening day.  Mario and Ri went off the low dive and high dive, respectively.  Mario tried the high dive but second guessed it after getting on top (I don’t blame him).  He will jump off by the end of the Summer, I am sure.  We only lasted at the pool for about 45 minutes; I was exhausted and luckily, the kids probably were, too.   

Once home, we made bowls of cereal and rested in front of a Ben Ten on tv.  Within ten minutes, Maria was snoozing on the couch.  I tried to move her but she was solid dead weight – there was nothing waking her up.  Mario, meanwhile, was wide awake and insane, jumping all around the room and acting like random aliens.  I let him play on my computer while I went out and mowed the grass and watered the flowers.  Then I came in and cleaned out the Study a bit in order to move our new desk in it.  I was in cleaning mode.  You’d think that it may have been wise to put my feet up and nap a bit with Ri, but that would have been too easy.  Gotta keep the momentum going – once I sit down, I am useless for the rest of the day.

Maria finally woke up – two hours later –  and she was a piece of work.  Pissed off at the world.  She stomped across the kitchen moping and pouting and crying.  I left her alone and she finally buried her head in my chest and rested for a few minutes.  Then she finally morphed into the Maria we know and love ready to ride her bike and play.  We got Mario off the computer (not an easy task) and headed off on his new bike.  He rocked it out on his bike almost keeping up with Maria.  We had hoped that the Art Hop would offer a bouncey house or kids’ music but it only offered a couple of vendors selling necklaces.  We dealt with our disappointment by going to the church park.  I played tag with Mario and Maria climbed up the top of the slides (her favorite thing to do at the park).  Amy and Joe met us up at the park with the kids and they all played for a bit.  We all looked like zombies.  It was comical.  The day felt like three days.  We finished the night off with Orange Leaf and a bike ride back home. 

When we pulled in the driveway, there was a spectacular slice of moon looking down at us.  We all stopped and gave reverence.  Then, Maria shouted “Mario’s old bike is still at the library!”  So, what else to do but jump in the truck and head to the library to pick up his bike.  We finally got into the house at 10 pm.  Maria wanted to read Junie B. Jones, and Mario was listening to music on my phone so I didn’t fight it.  I just let them be and relaxed over a bag of Cheez-Its, and Maria later joined me. 

What a whirlwind of a holiday Saturday.  I swear to myself as I sit here tonight that tomorrow will be low-key day but I know myself better than that.  We will be off and running – but not until 7:30 am.