We loaded up the car and ventured one hundred miles west to visit my parent’s home yesterday. Our car ride was full of snacks, games and shenanigans to distract our daughter from asking, “Are we there yet?’ over 100 times during our 105 minutes in the car.
Our evening was full of home cooked favorites from my mom’s kitchen, NCAA games, and homemade apple crumb pie. I stayed up a little later than I planned as we were enjoying each others company, sharing our stories and laughter together.
There’s something special about waking up at ‘home’ too, as often my mom is busy in the kitchen whipping up our next gourmet meal and pouring my coffee for me. She truly enjoys hosting and having a houseful. I enjoy her still spoiling me a bit. I love her ability to make a lot of different food for a large group of people. Our plates were full of waffles, hash browns, bacon and sausage this morning.
Our day was full of playing tea party, dressing my childhood dolls, playing games and riding our bikes down the block. The hardest part is that, I kept telling myself I need to sit down and write as I felt this challenge weighing heavy on my shoulders on this final day of March writing challenge and our Spring Break. Our focus was on being present and spending time together. Spending time with our family was a wonderful way to wrap up the final days of our Spring Break.
Mid afternoon the monthly group text message came through, “Come anytime after 5, we will eat at 6.” A message such as this is something that has been happening for almost ten years. It is a message that we look forward to each month. The tradition has been referred to as Neighborhood Dinner or Family Dinner, which began in August of ‘09. It began as an impromptu gathering at our home which included grilling out, playing games and catching up. At the time, most of the participants were family: my husband, my brother, my cousin, her husband and our friend from college who also lived in our neighborhood. At the end of this gathering, we made an obligation to do a similar type of gathering once a month, rotating the hosting home.
Little did we know that we would continue this commitment even with the addition of five little ones and our friend getting married along the way. Last night was the same, but different. We usually walk to our friend’s home as he literally lived down the block. We would occasionally drive when he hosted in December as the walk home could potentially be chilly. It would take less than five minutes to arrive when we would amble from our home to his. However, last night our dinner tradition continued at his new home in a new neighborhood.
When the afternoon reminder text came through, I wondered if I had missed a message in the thread as I was not sure if he had already shared his new address with us. As a result, I responded, “Can’t wait to see everyone and your new place. Please send us your address when you get a chance.” I was teasing that now we would have to factor in travel time.
Shortly after we received the message with his new address. I typed it in Google Maps and the suggested route said….eleven minutes. Once we arrived, it felt the same, but different. I love this tradition we started and hope it can continue for many years to come!
Our day began earlier than any other day of Spring Break, perhaps she knew that this was our final weekday of Spring Break. We made blueberry muffins and she was my stirrer. We wrote thank you cards and she was my signer, writing her name on the notes I wrote to her friends and our family. I was the planner and she was the decision maker. I was the driver and she was my passenger.
We climbed, walked, listened, searched and explored for a few hours at the Arboretum. We even enjoyed our lunch outside as hungry birds perched nearby to see if we would leave any crumbs. After that, she begged for more tree mazes and we ended up hunting for more blooms and buds. But then the time came, where her little legs grew tired and she uttered the words, “Carry me, mama.”
These three words are the indicator that she is getting worn out, but does not want to quite throw the towel in. She tries to step in front of me to cut me off. I begin walking faster, in which she keeps up running along side of me. I continue to walk and talk, trying to distract her mind from her tired legs by telling her the things I notice along the way back to our car. She keeps walking while insisting I carry her.
I remind her, “You are five, your legs are strong, and you can make it to the car.” Before we knew it we arrived back at our car on our own four feet. I did not need to swoop her up in my arms, though I would have scooped her up and wrapped her in my strong arms if I really felt the need to.
It did not really hit me until we were on our way home, that spring break will look different next year. As I will be a spring breaker and she will be a Kindergarten learner with a different spring break in 2020. Perhaps we will need to get creative and fill our weekends and evenings with spring break adventures, as I am her mama and she is my girl-who I love spending time with.
We ventured out to grab breakfast and coffee this morning. My daughter swooped up the pager and began hunting for a perfect spot for us to sit. She cautiously entered a room off of the main dining area. I did a quick skim of a sign on the door to make sure that we would not be in a reserved meeting space. An older gentleman, assured us that we may sit nearby and he was waiting for a few of his buddies to arrive.
My daughter felt proud to find a space for us to dine. Giving her the freedom to make this choice allowed her to have a little ownership in our outing. As we waited for our food to arrive, she was identifying numbers on the tables and pager. This was followed by a discussion of which number was larger etc. It warms my heart that she loves noticing numbers and words wherever we go. She is an observant little one.
Once our food arrived, more and more older gentlemen would enter the space with their coffees. Many of these men would greet us with a smile or a warm good morning as they passed by our table.
“Now there is ten of them drinking coffee and us two makes twelve. And if I count the pictures on the wall and the people that’s 22. Right, mama?” again her observations bring a smile to my face. She’s constantly taking all of her surroundings in. As we finish up our breakfast, she continues, “Is it a grandpa coffee party?”
I giggle and reply, “I think it may be.” I know the next time we venture out to this restaurant, she will be shouting, “Remember that time we sat over there and all the grandpas had coffee.”
I enjoyed our morning outing and her curiosity of her surroundings, even if we crashed the “grandpa” coffee party. More importantly, I think we were both excited to finally be feeling better!
Around noon today, we called my mom. “Let’s FaceTime Grandma,” Cara suggested. In a matter of moments, we are swiping through to connect with my mom on FaceTime.
“I hope she is home from pickle ball,” Cara continued. Cara suggests we greet her with a silly face today. I tip the screen to only show her silly face. “No, mama, show your face too.” I move the phone a little to show a sliver of my silly face. My eyes look tired and my nose is red.
It felt like it took her a little longer to connect than usual, which gave me an extra moment of silly shenanigans with Cara on my lap. Then, she appeared. My mom began by asking, “How are you feeling today?”
Of course Cara shouts, “I’m good, Grandma!”
My response, “I am okay, mom.”
My mom rattles off a slew of questions in one breath, “Is she coughing still? How did you sleep? Is she eating okay? How about you?” My mom has been checking in via text messages and FaceTime the last few days. My mom knows caring for sick kids, while you are sick is tough work.
Seeing my mom reassured me that we are doing all the right things on this road to recovery. She also reminded me that it is a blessing that we can lay low this week and try to increase our rest. These few minutes of FaceTime made me smile. I feel lucky to have an opportunity to FaceTime my mom for advice, support and giggles.
Out of the blue I heard, “Mama, when can we go to the Riverwalk and get ice cream again?” My daughter wondered this a few days ago. I am not sure how this memory came to her mind, but she asked this question with a sense of urgency in her voice. “Remember when we did that?”
“Yes, dear, I remember. We did that in the summertime,” I reassured her, “We can do that again this summer.” What she was recalling was a morning we went to story time at an outdoor amphitheater and then walked a few blocks to receive tickets for free ice cream. These events lined up a few times in July and we took full advantage of an ice cream cone before lunchtime as a result of seeing a post on Instagram.
Even though Spring has just begun, I do long for summer adventures. I love to seek out local kids concerts, activities, free ice cream days and outdoor story times in the summer. I comb through library events, events posted on social media, and even our local garden center for some summertime fun. There truly are endless options for activities, many of which are free. On occasion, we even double up on one outing right before the other, often packing a picnic lunch to eat in a shady spot along the way.
My goal is a few outings each week if we are feeling up for it. Sometime in May, I begin searching for these activities. I use a good ol’ paper and pencil monthly calendar to jot down options that may occur only once or twice a summer. I also like to keep a calendar for Monday through Friday options that occur each week. I feel fortunate to live in an area with so many options for us to explore. On top of that, I look forward to the weekly outings my co-workers share in a google doc that allows us a chance to meet up and get the kids together in the summer.
It’s evident that our summer outings are memorable and bring joy to both of us. Is it too early to start a countdown to summer fun?
Sniffle, sneeze, and cough, repeat sniffle, sneeze and cough. Our spring break is off to a slower start than I anticipated. My daughter was under the weather first. Sure enough, she seemed to be doing better throughout the day and I thought we were approaching a sick free home. Then, her little body began to warm up again and suddenly, I was also under the weather. She’s so generous, she shared her illness with me.
By mid afternoon yesterday, I was covered in a blanket and curled up on the couch, which rarely happens. I could feel it coming, water stopped tasting good, my head hurt, and my body began aching. At least when I touch her she is no longer running a fever, but her cough does not sound good. In fact, her cough sounds a lot like mine. I am not sure if this is perfect timing or poor timing as we are on Spring break and able to lay low.
I am not one who does well with sitting, it is just something I rarely do. In fact, it is hard for me to relax as I always feel the need to be on the go. But the last two days, I have sat, binged watch NCAA basketball tournament, the Food Network Spring Baking challenge and enjoyed extra snuggles with my girl. I look around our home and have let puzzles stay on the floor a little longer and craft projects remain on our table. I am doing self-talk, “It’s okay, I’ll pick up when I have more energy.” But deep down inside, it’s driving me a little crazy.
The only plans cancelled so far are have been a park play date with friends and my routine dentist appointment. I could not imagine having someone in my mouth while I could not breath out my nose. The plus side is that I was already able to reschedule this appointment. However, I hope these are the last cancelled plans as I had high hopes of venturing to our local children’s museum, arboretum, zoo and meeting up with friends. I did not anticipate a slow moving spring break, but maybe this is what my body needed.
I am ready to have a little more spring in my step for the remainder of my Spring Break.