Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summertime and the Living's Easy

Several months ago we decided that the kids and I would spend all of July and some of August in Massachusetts. My parents-in-law were suffering from too much peace and quiet in their house, and needed help eating all their food. I wanted to avoid being stuck in the air conditioning for weeks at a time with three bored kids and a baby.

Tim drove us up right at the end of June, and stayed with us a couple days before he had to go back to work. At about four weeks into our six-week stay, there's no doubt we made the right decision coming here. This change of scenery is exactly what we all needed, and since Tim Sr and Carolyn are both retired, they've been helping me a ton with the kids. The Big Three are too busy to be in my hair. They've been going to a half-day summer camp the majority of weekday mornings in July. They swim in the pool out back with no need for me to be there since we have plenty of lifeguards in the family. They go on bike rides with their grandpa. They go on a lot of outings with or without me along, depending on how I'm feeling on a particular day or how well I think Joey can handle it. It takes all the pressure off me. I can't stop sharing pictures on Instagram and Facebook of the beautiful places we've been going and the fun things we've been doing. We are incredibly blessed to be able to give our family such great memories.

But as I suspect is true in everyone's life, there's a side to the story that the nice pictures don't show. It has been very hard to discipline a headstrong and meltdown-prone five-year-old without his father to help. He has really been testing his limits. And it is hard to effectively parent him or any of the other kids when I'm running on maybe a few scattered hours of sleep because the seven-month-old has decided he hates sleep. I have been weary and sad at times. It's tough, too, being separated from Tim all these weeks, and to not have him be a part of all these good (and bad?) times. But we knew going into this that was the price we'd have to pay. We keep agreeing again and again it's all worth it. Besides, he's been traveling so much we'd only be seeing him a few days at a time in South Carolina.
There are events every week at the town common.Here we are at a concert by the Navy Northeast Rock Band.
Teaching Grandma how to play Uno on a rainy afternoon.
Goofy cousins
There's this place that is has a picnic ground on a lake AND a waterslide park. We spent a whole day here and had a blast. Timmy was old enough this time to go down the slides by himself, and he finally worked up the nerve toward the end. He went down the scariest slide! I wish I had pictures, but I had gone down first and was waiting for him at the bottom. There's an opportunity for the park to make a fortune selling pics of people coming down the slides. In the picture above, Joey is being held by his auntie Kathy, and that's her older daughter Sofia smiling at him.
Auntie Sam got him to go to sleep a couple times while we were there. He's warming up to his female relatives in spite of himself. There are too many of them and they wore him down.
Birthday party for Delaney and Timmy at Davis Farmland. Delaney's BFF Norah, who used to live next door to us in SC, got to come and sleep over with us that night.
We went on a short hike at Purgatory Chasm one day, but I seem to be missing all the pictures I took with my phone. They must have gotten lost somehow, between uploading a bunch of pictures to Google Drive, and then deleting them off my phone. That was really something. My kids were really unsure of themselves at first, because any hiking they've done up until this point has been on smooth, even surfaces. There are no hills in the south. Here, they had to climb up and down rocks! I thought I'd have to turn around with Timmy 20 seconds into the trail because he was petrified (no pun intended, haha). I really enjoyed watching their confidence grow every time they made it over an obstacle. That's an experience every kid ought to have -- many times. The same could be said for me too! One time, Delaney and Sofia cheered me on as I climbed up a rock that looked too tall and too sheer. I haven't done much climbing of anything since my Marine Corps days, and I'm out of shape. But they wanted me to do it so I did it, and had a nice skinned shin to show for it. Everyone needs a little adventure in their lives.
I've been informed that they don't normally do all this stuff in summertime. They have a lot of lazy days and sometimes go two weeks without seeing one another (gasp!) They've been planning all these excursions because we're here. I feel very special. Here we are right before we left for Lake Quinsigamond.
The morning after a cousins' sleepover, they all spent time outside with the next door neighbor, Diane, along with her grandson and her dog. Diane once raised baby eagle chicks herself and helped bring back bald eagles from the brink of extinction in New England. She wrote a book about it, and told them stories and showed them pictures. Needless to say, Delaney was utterly captivated and is now in possession of her own signed copy. Oh, and she let them feed the fish in her pond. A morning at summer camp can't compete with that!
Eight more days until Tim returns, and three days after that we begin the two-day drive back to SC. A week later it's back to school, and the kids can annoy their friends with stories that start with, "This one time in Massachusetts.." They think it's perpetual summer break here!

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