That House in the Neighborhood

When we first moved into out house in the suburbs, I wasn’t sure how I’d like living so far out from the city. Having lived in a city for the past, oh, 20 years, I was used to the hustle and bustle and living within walking distance to a variety of restaurants and bars.

Then came the kids and the “walking” to our local establishments became a process. It was still fun and convenient, but the ease part of that equation was now missing. And there is no, “go outside and don’t come in til dinnertime!” when you live on a busy main road. I mean, that my kids were 3 and 1 was also a factor, but I also didn’t see it as something that would occur in the near future. If my kids wanted to go outside and play, I would need to go with them.

So off to the suburbs we went. Now the prospect of throwing my kids outside and having them find their own fun was a reality. Except there were no other kids visibly outside for them to play with.

But then…a family moved in across the street with a similar, “go outside and don’t come back til the streetlights come on!” mentality.

I saw a girl near-ish Mahlie’s age, scootering down the sidewalk, by herself. No adult.

“QUICK! Get your scooter, go outside and introduce yourself!” The possibility of a partner in cul de sac crime was imminent.

Since then, a wonderful friendship has grown and my girls are out gallivanting with the neighbors with minimal adult interference. There has been the occasional pine cone throwing  misadventure leading to a poked eye, a less than pleased neighbor that received an apology note from my kids for all kinds of trespassing on her property, but overall my ideal neighborhood situation was emerging.

My husband and I always said we’d be fine with all the kids gathering in our yard. We’d know where they are and there would be someone else to keep them occupied.

Yesterday I had the picture perfect experience. My girls were super disappointed that mommy was no longer keeping her promise to go to the pool all day because oh my gosh long weekends are long. So we put out a sprinkler and I said all the neighborhood kids could come.

And come they did. A sprinkler on the law during the summer is like a Bat Signal to kids. They converged from up and down the cul de sac, lugging their towels, asking for goggles (for the sprinkler?) and squirt guns. Some parents came along and I got out extra chairs and we had an impromptu gathering in the driveway. Some parents looked at me in that knowing way and I immediately gave the invite; “feel free to leave them here- we’re good if you need to go do something.”

For 2 hours my kids had water fights and water chases and water battles. I got to spend more than 5 minutes sitting down.

I’m good with being “that house” in the neighborhood.

Have a great crazy day!

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Summer Days

Ahhhh. Summer. Relaxing days at the pool. Evenings spent on the patio with a cool fruity adult beverage. Husband grilling up dinner. This is summer living.

Everyone has their “summer activity list”. You know the ones, they pop up at the beginning of each summer, listing all the fun things to do in summer with your kids.

I have found, though, that these lists are not really reflective of my summer. Even my own list that I created is not an accurate picture of what goes on in my family during the summer. I thought I would update portions of my list to show what the summer for a family of young kids truly looks like.  This is a more realistic list of how those “fun” summer activities get checked off my list.

  1. Spend the day by the pool. I will take my book, fully understanding it will remain in my bag because I will be too busy adjusting goggles and “watching this” to read more than a sentence. Also, no matter how many times we reapply sunscreen, some random bright red spot where we clearly missed will pop up.
  2. Have a picnic in the park. I will have grand plans of chicken salad sandwiches, and a fresh fruit salad . In the morning, I will realize I have run out of mayo for the sandwiches and will need to make a “quick” trip out to the store. When I get home, I actually read the entire recipe and realize I skipped over the whole “boil chicken” part. Once the boiling of chicken is complete it is now noon and the kids are whining for their lunch. I give them fruit snacks and leftover pizza and have them eat in the backyard. Picnic, CHECK!
  3. Go for a hike. Before going for the hike, make sure to study which trail is for “beginners” so that the 3yo can complete it without being on someone’s shoulders for 3/4 of the hike. Even with intense studying of map, I will end up taking a wrong turn, resulting in the last 3/4 of the hike being for “experts” and the 3yo will be on our shoulders. Oh, and I will forget the bug spray or the sunscreen, or both, leading to miserable scratching of massive bug bites or sunburn that will keep the kids up all night. We will stay indoors the rest of the summer watching “Dora the Explorer.”
  4. Go to an amusement park. Spend the day filling my children with sugar, taking them on rides that will make them throw up, and spend a lot of money on carnival games resulting in a buttload of very cheap stuffed animals.
  5. Visit cultural exhibits on a rainy day. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Once you realize you are never finding a parking space remotely near a museum, you head home, make a huge vat of Sangria and part the kids in front of the TV.
  6. Make homemade lemonade. Watch as your kids make puckered faces and spit it out. Buy a case of extremely sweet lemonade that doesn’t seem to have any traces of actual lemons in it. Sit back and experience your kids bouncing off the walls after drinking this “less than 10% real fruit juice”.
  7. Pitch a tent in the backyard for a camp out. Spend 4 hours setting up the tent for 10 minutes of kids being in it before claiming it is “too scary”, “too dark”, “too outsides-y” and they come back inside.
  8. Have a water balloon fight. Spend hours tying together balloons because in true parenting fail you forgot that even though velcro shoes are a nice alternative, there are other reasons to teach your children how to tie something in a knot. Then listen to your kids as they cry because the other one threw something at them and got them all wet.
  9. Go to the liquor store. Your summer budget of going to the liquor store only one time a week is blown out the window. Spend evenings sending recipes of tasty drink recipes to your Pinterest page and learn 10 ways to make a pitcher of sangria.
  10. Hire a babysitter. Because you are ALL DONE with summer.

Have a great crazy day!