Is it just me?

Is it just me or is this school year just not grooving yet? I cannot seem to fall into my lunch and snack making routine. I cannot get the hang of collecting and signing agendas, weeding through Lunch Lady ads, life insurance offers, and school lice alerts. Or maybe the letter ‘L’ is the problem.

Either way, signing forms in triplicate plus one (because I don’t know the right word for quadlicate or fourplit or signing the same form four times) and keeping the schools straight, being mindful to remember whose forms I’ve signed and who I’m waiting to receive forms from, along with which minion has or needs ‘indoor’ running shoes, new ‘outdoor’ running shoes all while checking to see if we’re nearing frost or desert temperatures on a daily basis so I can bark accurate dressing orders in the morning equates to me being officially ‘done’ with this whole school year thing. Five days into the year. (Note: I started this post over a week before it was finally published)

On the upside, my smalls are all happy with their friends (new and old) and their schools, classes and teachers. And so far (after day six now), there have been no catastrophic events that have led to any of my elementary school aged children to file for emancipation and leave home. So I do have that positive to cling to.

There was once a time when I LOVED back-to-school time both as a child and an adult. It was a time of new beginnings and new school supplies, clothes and books. It was a time of a ‘brand new me.’ Akin to New Years, I could make new resolutions, decide that “this year I’m going to xyz.” And I could relish in the list making, planning and minute details of creating this ‘new me.’

And now, I just want to freeze time and live in a bubble with my family. Shutting out the stresses, pressures and darkness of the world. I no longer want to change everything about myself. I no longer want to overhaul my whole everything. I want to grow, encourage and learn, but I want to do that with those whom I love. I don’t want to run myself ragged ensuring that I’ve properly declined life insurance for my five-year-old or remembered to recycle the offer of over-priced, nutritionally lacking delivered daily lunches.

But, instead of going on, and on, and on. I think I’ll just post some pictures and remind myself how fortunate and blessed that I am to have the people I have in my life and the opportunities that I have to enjoy said people. I probably just have the end-of-summer blues and I’ve screwed myself by not having ‘forget-about-it’ vices (Note to self: do look into a new vice at your earliest opportunity).

Watermelon smiles all around.

Watermelon smiles all around.

One of our three sunflowers <3

One of our three sunflowers <3 Next summer, I need to aim for one for each babe.

Another summer day, another playground to conquer.

Another summer day, another playground to conquer.

Hamming it up at the Rogers Store in town while we were replacing our modem to end our bandwidth drought. Gawd, I love this girl.

Hamming it up at the Rogers Store in town while we were replacing our modem to end our bandwidth drought. Gawd, I love this girl.

I carry these times and blessings around in my heart to carrying me through the dark moments, the sad days and the times when I really wonder what I’m really doing here.

And the weeks roll on.

Summer 2015 Bucket List – The Final Update or The post in which I come clean about all of my shortcomings.

I’ve put off this final update as long as I could. My babes go back to school in five days (insert this mama’s tears here) and while I’m working on cramming as much as I can into those five days, I think we all know me well enough by now to know it’s just not going to happen.

So, here’s the final update of my Summer 2015 Bucket List – my triumphs, my failures and my in-betweens:

1. Go for daily walks (not strolls) for a minimum of 45 minutes.
FAIL. I’m a slug.

2. Organize and declutter the linen closet.
FAIL – But nothing is falling out of it, so maybe just a tiny bit of a win?

3. Go for a bike ride with the kids three times a week (at least).
FAIL – One family bike ride does not 30 planned bike rides make.

4. Go to the library weekly.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! We SLAYED this one, my friends. Oh yes.

I'm so incredibly proud of how all four of my smalls worked so hard to improve their reading. And how the slightly bigger smalls helped the smaller smalls.

I’m so incredibly proud of how all four of my smalls worked so hard to improve their reading. And how the slightly bigger smalls helped the smaller smalls.

5. Do a family field trip to see a Blue Jays game.
Ha ha! Another one deserving of a poultry dinner. We’re going to see the Jays play Baltimore on Saturday!

6. Paint the laundry/powder room, including refinishing the cabinets.
In progress. Walls are painted, trim is installed in the laundry area and the cabinets are primed. Also, the door is back on, so privacy is possible again – yay for not seeing that which you cannot unsee!

7. Take my minion army to a splash pad at least once a week.
Splash pads have been a tad disappointing this year. The smalls didn’t have as much fun and I expected, so we changed it up. They played in the sprinkler and earlier this week we hit De La Salle beach for the morning. So, overall, the water play goal isn’t a total loss.

8. Deal with ‘Draft’ blog posts once and for all.
This one is a bit of a draw. I dealt with quite a few ‘draft’ posts, but, of course, I also created more. The scales may be tipped a little bit towards having fewer ‘draft’ posts than I started with so my beaten and bruised ego demands that I call this one a non-failure.

9. Do a big field trip to the ROM, complete with GO Train rides.
Done! Except we skipped the GO train and drove to my mum’s house and parked at the subway station. But we’ll do the GO another time, so giving myself a pass on that one. And bonus points for everyone surviving and having lots of fun! Yay, us! I didn’t lose a single small (for longer than five minutes) the whole time. And the kids LOVED taking the subway. Granted, we didn’t ride during rush hour, so they weren’t privy to the whole aromatic experience that summer on the TTC is famous for. Baby steps. 🙂

This is a good summary of our trip to and our day at the ROM ;)

This is a good summary of our trip to and our day at the ROM 😉

10. Go and visit with Nana once a week.
Except for this week and the weeks that we were out-of-town, we have done pretty well with this one. Happy all around.

11. Create, frame, and hang individual chore lists for each of my minions.
FAIL. I did buy the frames for the project though. That counts, doesn’t it? No? Ugh. Slug.

12. Go for one lunch and one dinner picnic each week.
FAIL. Just did not happen. But we had lots of yummy dinners and lunches, and a couple of my smalls now love eating tomatoes and cucumbers right out of the garden, which is just almost exactly like having a picnic. But alone. And with fewer picnic table splinters and less work for me.

13. Blog twice a week.
I fell down a bit of this one as of late. I have been updating the blog’s Instagram and Facebook pages but putting together actual BLOG posts has eluded me the past few weeks.

14. Set up a new bed for Pax, re-arrange the furniture all the minion’s rooms to optimize their spaces.
FAIL. Pax remains slumbering in his old bed and the furniture all remains as is. This does need to happen, so it’s still on my ‘to do’ list for September.

15. Make sure we get some family time at the cottage.
Done! I haven’t gotten around to blogging about it yet, but our time there included lots of sunshine, thunderstorms, swimming, fishing, roofing, plumbing, repairs, and destruction. There were books read, puzzles built and wild raspberries consumed on a daily basis. There were bites, stings, and a quiet afternoon spent in the ER (everyone is fine!). All in all, we packed a\lot into our cottage time and can’t wait to do it again (perhaps this time skipping the destruction, stings, and ER 😉 )

16. Read one book a week (for myself, no pictures, no large font 😉 ).
I’m working on this one, I’m nowhere near a book a week, but I’m still pleased that I’ve made a bit of time to get through a few books.

Bad Monkey at the beach. I just can't get enough of Hiaasen's writing - it just never gets old.

Bad Monkey at the beach. I just can’t get enough of Hiaasen’s writing – it just never gets old.

17. Go for nature walks weekly.
FAIL. No excuse. I may have previously mentioned that I’m a slug.

18. Wash the car with the kids twice a month.
FAIL. Mr. K.B. washed it that one time and it looked so good for quite a while. Until the kids and I drove home up Warden Avenue, which is all torn apart and a big water trunk drove past us while wetting the dirt road to keep the dust down. The state of the van was pretty much written off at that point.

19. Re-vamp the basement space.
Mostly a big, juicy FAIL. Maybe once I get Pax’s new bed set up and out of the basement I’ll be all inspired to get the rest of it overhauled. But probably not. More likely than not, I’ll get as far as creating a hiding spot for myself under the stairs…

20. Crochet blankets (lapghan or better) and/or scarves for my minion army.
FAILY, MCFAIL, FAIL. It’s just so stinkin’ hot! But, excuses aside, this also needs to happen, so on the September ‘to do’ list it goes.

So, at the end of it all, I may not have pulled off “Supermum, Superwife, SuperHomemaker, SuperBlogger, SuperCrafter, SuperFitness, Superwoman” status, but I know that my smalls had a good summer, I know that we had some really, wonderful family times, mum-child times, and summer times. So, in my whole touchy-feely, itchy-bitchy, be-nicer-to-myself way, I’m going to forgo the mental and emotional self-flagellation and instead make myself some brownies for managing to keep everyone happy, healthy and alive for another whole summer.

Can we have just six more months of this, please???

Can we have just six more months of this, please???

Now, to start my Autumn 2015 Bucket List, because my winter bucket list is easy. It consists of one thing. Just SURVIVE IT.

Greed and resentment

I found myself at the school yard this afternoon with my minion army. They were playing together while I sat on the grass and watched them, read my book and enjoyed the unseasonably lovely, warm breeze.

And that is when it hit me. There are only 59 more days of summer vacation. I only have 59 days to enjoy this time with them. And, if the previous years are anything to go by, these next 59 days will fly by in the blink of an eye and then school, work, the bitter cold weather, the grind will start all over again.

And it was then that I felt the darkness start to fall over me this afternoon. In spite of the warm, bright sun. In spite of the clear blue sky and green lushness that surrounded me in the beauty of soft grass and forests. Despite my laughing, playing children enjoying the width and breadth and freedom of having the entire school yard to themselves. The darkness crept up and pricked the backs of my eyes, causing them to sting and tear. The darkness sat himself on my shoulder and hissed in my ear ” it’s slipping away from you. It’s all slipping away and you can’t stop it.” And I felt my heart beat heavier, slower, painfully slower while I counted and re-counted the days left before I would have to relinquish them back into their schools.

And I as I watched them play through my tears, I cursed myself for being stupid, for being upset over ‘nothing’ and letting the darkness win. I berated myself for being weak and pathetic, allowing sadness into an otherwise perfect day. I chastised myself for risking letting my children seeing me cry, without provocation or obvious cause. A crying mother is a sure-fire way to create anxiety and darkness in her children, I reminded myself.

And then, as quickly as he came, the darkness lifted. And my heartbeat sped up, lightened up and resumed its normal healthy rhythm. My tears evaporated just as they threatened to spill over my lower lashline and before leaving their tell-tale signs of streaky mascara for my children to see and question. The hissing whisper stopped and was replaced with the sound of one of my babies giggling at one of the others who was growling like a bear to elicit said giggles from his sibling. It was replaced by the sound of the leaves on the trees swaying gently in the wind, their song soft and subtle with the promise of new beginnings and the sunny, carefree summer days ahead during which I would be given the opportunity to bask in and absorb every precious moment of the childhoods that surrounded me.

I found myself feeling upset and greedy, resenting the rapid passage time and greedily wishing for more, although not able to explain, even to myself, why I felt that I deserved more.I forgot to appreciate the time that I do have with them and risked the quality of our time by being sad, bitter or depressed all because eventually it will end. These feelings of greed and resentment brought on the darkness and gave him space in my head. It was greed, not time who was the real enemy. And having faced this ugly fact, felt the feelings, admitted to myself what it all meant, they are now gone and I am left with an enormous amount of gratitude for each hour and minute that I get to spend ‘just being’ with my little people this summer. And once again, my heart is happy. At least it is until the next time I have to fight off the darkness, but at this moment, I am happy.

At the end of the school year, I bake treats and write nonsensical letters

We all have our traditions, and this has become one of ours. In a nutshell, I bake treats for the teachers at the school where two of my smalls attend and at which I also work as a school assistant. I would bake for both schools (since I have kids at both and work at both), but I bake and bring everything on the very last day of the school year, which is always a PA Day and for the past two years, and I’ve had other children at my house on that day, so driving has been out of the question (people get so worked up if you toss even just a couple of kids into the trunk for even the shortest drive). So, the closest school wins the treats. And also, a rambling and manic note from me explaining the treats and my unsolicited thoughts on life.

This year, I’m sharing that note with you. You’ll have to imagine the treats. The internet remains shitty at sending and receiving food in real-time (someone please get on that, stat!). But in lieu of real treats, I’ll post a few pictures of this year’s baked offerings.

I bake because I figure teachers get enough mugs, coffee, apple-related knick knacks and cutesy teacher/school plaques already that adding more to the growing piles may not be the most awesome way to show my sincere appreciation for the jobs they do for our kids ten months of every year. But chocolate? Baked in flour, sugar, and other fine ingredients, completely consumable and storage-space-requirement-free? Well, that always shows appreciation in my book.

So this year, Breakfast Cookies (delicious!) and 1-2-3 Snap Brownies (they look and smell delicious, my poor life choices prevent me from sampling them to be able to review how they actually taste) are my recipes of choice. Only one of them has chocolate because while I cannot pretend to understand it, I do remember  hearing that not everyone likes chocolate. I also cannot say that I believe that not liking chocolate is a real thing, but that’s what some people like to claim. And I’m not judgy and meanish, so I play along with them.

I think last year I baked four different treats, cookies, bars or desserts. This year I only baked these two. Not because this year was worse, but because I'm weak. The letter explains it in more detail.

I think last year I baked four different treats, cookies, bars or desserts. This year I only baked these two. Not because this year was worse, but because I’m weak. The letter explains it in more detail.

2014/2015 End of School Year Badger Bits and Bites

 

Dear Teachers and Staff at Local School [name redacted] P.S.

 

This year, the variety of treats in the offering is lower. Like all the way down to a mere two types. I have a reason for this, not a good one, but a reason nonetheless. I’m on a diet (again). Of sorts.  Kind of. Mostly. Well, I’m trying to reduce my hip-print on this planet and so far, I haven’t snapped and knocked over the Mars Co. factory (win!). This fact really just means that baking is a much more difficult task, emotionally speaking, so to limit my temptation, I shortened the playlist.

 

But me on a diet is a bitter, sad, pitiful thing. A melancholy soul is she who cannot sample her wares before sending them on to you. So, I feel that it’s only fair to let you know that I’m trying out a new recipe (1-2-3 Snap Brownies – because chocolate (duh) and also, I know that ya’ll don’t see enough “1-2-3” during the course of Every. Single. Day.  that you go to work) that I have not yet tasted and if you’re reading this note, still have not tasted, despite spending many laborious minutes starving and slaving away in my kitchen, endlessly, preparing these treats and probably also other food stuffs for the minion army that is currently occupying my house. I think they may be here for the long haul, (they’ve gotten awfully familiar and insist upon calling me “Mummy” but there will not be any 30-year-olds living in my basement, so their days ARE numbered.

 

Anyway, back to the treats. The first, as mentioned are called 1-2-3 Brownies and because they are laden with chocolate, I figure that they must be good, or at least that they can’t be completely wretched. And also they probably an excellent source of caffeine and happy-feelings-making neurotransmitters, so if you’re grumpy (like me) or sleepy (um, also like me), try a few of these. If nothing else, one word: Chocolate.

 

The other treat ‘o the day is a crazy good (or at least acceptable) Breakfast Cookie (don’t let the name fool you, you can eat these bad boys any time, day or night – hey, I’m not here to judge you), of which I have previously tasted but not actually baked myself. So I apologize in advance if my attempt is far lamer than the ones that I scarfed down daintily nibbled on at a cotillion during my past life as a southern belle. These are healthy-ish, or at least contain more ingredients than the brownies that totally take longer to kill you. Like flax and chia seeds, unsweetened coconut and oats and the like. Still, these cookies are not exactly a diet-friendly food, so I’m calling them a treat (and totally NOT eating a single morsel myself). Oh, and did I mention that they are school safe? I believe that the school requires snacks not be 110% bad for you, AND these beauties are also nut-free, alcohol-free, drug-free and contain no traces whatsoever of shellfish. (Note: On one of the rare occasions that I got to see an episode of Maury, I learned that things in life can be 110% certain, I always thought that we maxed out at 100%, but no, because Sunnyside-Up was 110% positive that Bobby-John was her baby-daddy and she put forth a pretty convincing argument, so I’m adopting her math. But only some of it, because as it goes she was 200% WRONG about Bobby-John, which was maybe a good thing because he was mostly married to her momma but also a little bit to her aunty. Back to the math (and baby-daddy) drawing board, I guess.

 

Anyway, despite this rambling note and likely terrifying glimpse into my mind, please enjoy the brownies and cookies. And more importantly, enjoy your summer vacations. Because my kids and I will be back in September *grin*

 

Yours truly,

Allison and her motley crew of minions

If nothing else, this is probably all the proof needed that 1) I need more sleep and 2) I shouldn’t write late at night because it just escalates far too quickly when I do. Oh well. Luckily I have already graduated from elementary school and I’m pretty sure that shit is irrevocable, so I’m fairly confident that I’m safe. 😉

So, with this, I am officially kicking off our Summer Break 2015! Watch for my S.O.S. posts coming soon!

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