Crazy. Stupid. Freelance. Love.

Wow, A Mom’s World is sure full of crickets lately. (Much like my inbox from recent subs, but that’s a whole other post.)

But it’s been a crazy busy time for me since I last checked in. I spent a week or so as guest editor for the Hingham Patch. My former duties as community board moderator for boston.com changed into a new position altogether — I’m now the events editor for the site’s new parenting blog, Parent Buzz. It’s a fun (though more time-consuming) gig, as I get to stay on top of cool and fun family activities in the Boston area. I’ve also been keeping busy with my regular posts at besuretotest.com, a site for diabetics and their families (you can find my work on the parenting blog section of the site). I’ve also tried to keep up with my other freelancing aspirations, and will be having an essay in the September edition of FamilyFun Magazine.

Something had to give, and sadly, this month, it was this little blog here. Because after a morning of work that sometimes dribbled over into the afternoon, I still had a house full of kids eager to do something fun. I mean, I could only let them get zombified in front of the TV or Wii for so many hours…..

Luckily, my Patch job allowed me to take the kids along much of the time (ice cream and photo shoot!). And we’ve spent a lot of days getting reacquainted with the outdoor pool at a nearby YMCA. Cooper started summer baseball and Mitzi is doing a summer pickup basketball group. We treated ourselves to a day out in Boston to take advantage of the free admission at the Children’s Museum, and have discovered many new books at the library.

And speaking of which, I am so excited to share with you a great new novel I read last week. But another day. Believe me, it’s one you want to hear about. And I’m hoping to do a better job at sharing my thoughts on books I’ve loved, new and old, in future posts.

Oh, and my own novel? Sadly, it too has taken a backseat with all this lovely freelance work and super summer family fun. But I think of it often and sometimes even jot down those thoughts, so when the whirlwind subsides I’ll be ready to give it the attention it deserves.

Time to get the kids ready for their afternoon at police camp — and, yes, I’ll tell you all about it. Tomorrow.

Summer vacation: Day One

Summer vacation, day two. I won’t count last Friday because I think we were all too hungover from the last day of school extravaganza to do anything. And, in the interest of hygiene, I spent the weekend cleaning the house. (Whew. Long overdue.) So I guess yesterday was our first official day of nothingness.

I got up early and did some work for my gig at the Parent Buzz blog on boston.com. Then, also in the interest of getting done what is painful and you just want to get it out of the way, I dutifully headed over to my annual girl exam. Enough said. By the time I’d gotten home, Ray was camped out on the computer to do his work, so I took the kids to play tennis for a couple ofhours. We had a late lunch, Ray headed into the city for a few hours, Mitzi went to a friend’s house, and the other kids headed to the backyard to do whatever it is they do out there when I’m not glancing out the window.

And while I did re-mop the kitchen floor and vacuum the living room rug, that was the extent of my chores. (Some day I’ll get the hang of the domestic thing). Mitzi stayed at her friend’s for dinner, the other kids showered, I fed them. Ray went to a school committee meeting and I had some wine. There was a game of Sorry, some brownies, then bed.

The first day of summer vacation nothing gets an A+.

I can’t wait to see what today brings!

 

This is the summer of nothing….and everything

It’s the last day of school today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t be happier. The kids will get on the bus in 15 minutes and get off at a friend’s stop for a neighborhood pizza party. Then summer begins.

I’m so looking forward to slowing down, to not having to rush here and there and grab meals on the go. Not having to harangue the kids about homework and projects and practicing their instruments. To not having to get up by 5:30 a.m. just to try to shower before everyone else gets up.

Lots of other moms have asked me in the past couple of weeks about our summer plans. “Nothing,” I answer, trying not to smile.

This summer I want to play. I want to take the kids on hikes through our local parks and make day trips into Boston to walk the Freedom Trail or picnic in the Public Garden. I want to swim in pools and lakes and the ocean. I want to play every board game we own. Twice. I want to stay up late and catch fireflies and sleep late the next day. I want to build forts in the living room  with pillows and blankets, and cuddle with the kids under the fabric, peering out to watch a movie. I want to borrow and read 500 books from the library.

My kids will probably wish they were going to rec camp with their friends, and maybe they will, for a couple of weeks. Maybe. I haven’t signed anyone up for anything yet, so maybe there’s no space left. I sort of don’t care.

Life gets faster every day you are alive. Mitzi is going to fifth grade next year, and that will zip by, then she’ll be in middle school, then, in an eyeblink, heading off to college. Their childhood is pooling in front of me right now and I want to float in every second of it before it is gone, water through my cupped palm.

This is the slowdown summer, the take-it-easy summer, the get-to-know-each-other-again summer.

It starts in eight minutes, and I am counting every second down.

I can’t wait to get started doing nothing — and everything.

Tick, tick, tick…..

Playing for fun — not for runs

Last week, Cooper spent an early weekend morning trying out for a summer baseball league. Depending on his performance that day, he would be drafted to play either the local team (“sandlot”) or the travel team (“self-explanatory”). My Cooper loves him some baseball — but, mostly, he loves to play ball with his friends. He didn’t seem to care where he ended up, so long as his buddies were by his side.

Come to find out, he was picked for the competitive travel team, but most of his friends got into the Sandlot league. So Ray and I gave him the choice — it’s summer, after all. He’s nine years old. The point of playing is to have fun. Did he want weeks of on-the-road playing-to-win competition? Or in-town games? If he wanted the challenge, we were on board. If he  wanted casual games with local friends, well, that was awesome too. We left it entirely up to him. After a few hours of consideration, brows furrowed in serious thought about what he wanted — to play to win, to play to laugh — he let us know. “I want to be with my friends,” he said. “I just want to have fun.” Sandlot it was.

Secretly, I’m glad. I know that my kid has a natural athleticism and affinity for sports, and while I recognize that he’s not a nine-year-old phenom, I’m not surprised that he often gets picked toward the top. It makes me proud to see him perform effortlessly, and a little part of me wants to encourage him to challenge himself, to be better, to excel, to tap into that inherent potential I see buzzing through his entire body.  But, at the end of the day, I don’t care about that. Because for me, sports is about fun, not competition. Yes, I understand that at some point you play to win, but, being me, a sort of granola-munching, Kumbaya-singing Mom, I just want everyone to play. Play. As in, be joyful. Smile. Cheer. Whoop-holla-woot!

Whatever the score.

That’s why I am so glad that Ray coaches. Even though sometimes I get a little nuts watching, I know his heart is always — and first — with the boys. Both he and our team’s other coach each take his role seriously enough to help the team improve their skills and understand the game, but always, always, playing is about having a good time. And even though it seems that, around here, draft season is a big deal for a lot of coaches, when Ray picked the team, he not only chose boys with strong skills, he also chose boys who were friends. Kids who would enjoy playing together. Boys who hung out with each other in their free time — even if their abilities are not on the same level as some of the others.

I think he chose very, very well.

We’re nearing the end of baseball season. Last night our little purple-wearing team played a great game — their opponents were a fairly even match for us, and all the kids did well, even if, in the end, our team lost by one run.  I could see the improvement from a couple of months ago, the solid hits and the well-executed fielding, the way that all the boys are starting to remember where the play is without being reminded, and working together to get the job done. Best of all was seeing the giant grins on the faces of boys who, for the first time this season, got a few RBIs or remembered to throw to the cutoff man or touched home plate.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to win, and nothing wrong with being exuberant and proud when you do. But those smiles, that pride, that unabashed joy — that is what sports ought to be about, not the scores or standings. There’s a reason it’s called “a game.”

If only we could figure out how to help kids to hang on to that feeling.

Coaches?