Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer Recap

I always have such high hopes for summer. For a few months, I get to be a real stay-at-home mom. I get to focus on my projects, my pleasure reading, my agenda. There's time to get the house back in order after a school year of neglect. And there's time for fun. Road trips! Reunions! Swimming and park playing and staying up late to watch movies!

And then, of course, you get a few weeks in and despite having finally scrubbed all the bathrooms for the first time in months every surface is dirtier than ever because we are all home all day long making messes, and those trips to the park actually turn out to be kind of miserable because it is so dang sweaty hot, and staying up late for fun activities does not translate to my kids sleeping in later the next morning (why can everyone else's kids sleep in?!?!?) so they are all super grumpy, and there are several attempts at potty training that make me want to lose my mind, and I realize all over again that being a stay-at-home mom is actually just as difficult as being a working mom because of that incredibly draining part where your children never seem to let you even go to the bathroom alone, or so much as finish a thought. Living in a state of constant distraction is exhausting.

So here we are, dragging ourselves to the finish line of summer. My oldest has been in school for a week-and-half now, but the Littles and I start on Monday. I'm both salivating over that quiet little dungeon office where I'll get to spend up to six uninterrupted hours a day not wiping poop off of anyone's bum, and feeling incredibly apprehensive and sad that our beautiful season of freedom and fun is over. In an effort to help remind myself that this summer actually was fun (and not just an unending series of tantrums and bug bites), I'm journaling some of our highlights here. It's all about perspective, so let's focus on the positive!

Smith Family Reunion

My family is pretty spread apart, and we hadn't all been together since my brother's wedding in 2016. Two babies joined the family in the meantime, and it was well past time for us to get together again, so we finally made an official reunion happen this past June in Island Park, Idaho (my aunt and uncle own a cabin there which was able to house the whole crew, and it was just perfect!).

We had the longest trek to make to get there, and we broke it up into a two-day road trip which was actually fairly pleasant.

My favorite part of the road trip was pulling over to a rest stop in the mountains above Jackson Hole to build a snowman! In June! It was a little piece of whimsy that the kids talked about for days, and was so worth the fifteen minute delay and muddy shoes.

We rafted down streams, spent a day hiking in Yellowstone, saw waterfalls, ate a ton of really good food, played games, sang songs and roasted marshmallows by the campfire, and generally had an amazing time just hanging out together.

We hired a photographer to get some real family pictures together, and while it was a bit of a miserable experience (the sun sets so late we couldn't start till 8 PM, and with the time zone change my kids were exhausted and going crazy and had to be bribed with a constant stream of jelly beans, also it was really cold, because, Idaho), but it was worth every penny. Beautiful family, beautiful location, beautiful memories. I love these people so much, and I'm so happy we got to spend time with them all again, even if it was just a few days.

4th of July

You guys, I didn't take a single picture worth mentioning over the 4th of July. I blame this on the fact that my husband was out of town for five days over that holiday. He went to a board game convention in Florida and spent his Independence Day playing game after game after game in a hotel ballroom with a bunch of other sweaty guys (actually there were some women too, and even children!) (and, also, it wasn't all that sweaty, because my husband complained about how fierce the AC was the whole time). I, on the other hand, corralled the three kids over to my in-laws for a weekend of barbecues and paddleboarding on the lake (although we got rained out on that adventure), and staying up late to watch fireworks (and then being very grumpy the next day, because like I said, my kids are physically incapable of sleeping in). It was all much fun, but solo parenting (even with in-laws involved) over a holiday weekend with sugared up kids is anything but relaxing. Also, we got some of the worst chigger bites of the season this weekend. Summer highs and lows right there.

San Francisco Trip

My sister has been living in the Bay Area for the past three years, and I always figured we'd get out there to visit her and get a good tour of her stomping grounds at some point. But then this spring she up and applied to MBA school and got accepted and suddenly we had a deadline to get out there this summer before she moved back to Utah. So we squeezed a weekend trip in between conventions and reunions. We bought our plane tickets back in May when this seemed like the best weekend available, but then her really good friend went and got engaged and scheduled her wedding for this very same weekend. So it ended up being a bit of a crazy schedule, with her trying to balance being tour guide and maid of honor, and we ended up crashing the wedding reception (which I didn't mind one bit, considering the bride's family owns a chocolate company and that dessert table was one of the most exquisite things I've ever seen, and you better believe I left that party stuffing handfuls of decadent chocolates in my pockets and purse).

We actually ended up missing our flight out of Kansas City (it was a super early morning flight, and we naturally got out the door a little later than planned (guys, 3:45 AM is hard on a body), and din't take into account the fact that security would be bonkers that time of day, but surprisingly United was amazing and rebooked us on a new flight out just forty minutes later (and even refunded us $10 per flight? Because it was cheaper?), but because of the stress of it all by the time we landed I had a major headache and was super nauseous. It took me half a sandwich, a couple of ibuprofen, and nearly throwing up on the side of the road before I picked up enough energy to dive into our touristing schedule. Our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge (naturally), and I feel like I still look a bit peaky in this photo, but all that brisk Bay breeze up on the bridge really helped pick me back up. I'll spare you the onslaught of photos, but we spent the rest of this day roaming around San Fran, and what a charming little city that is! Never want to live there, but it was so fun to visit!

Day 2 included some hiking in the redwoods, hitting up the beach at Half Moon Bay, and then an evening strolling about Stanford campus and the Palo Alto area (not pictured, but really beautiful campus).

Saturday was wedding day. We did a session in the newly renovated Oakland temple during the ceremony, and made it out in time to catch some photos of the wedding party. You can see my sister there in her maid-of-honor glory (she's not really that much taller than me, she just had on some fancy high heels and I was in flats). The reception was down in Carmel, which was about 2.5 hours south of Oakland, so we headed down there. Nathan and I wandered about that cute little touristy town and had a little picnic dinner on the beach before crashing the latter end of the reception. We flew out super early Sunday morning, so it was a quick trip, but I'm so glad we made it! It was a ton of fun and I would not mind a more extensive trip back to the Bay Area again some day (and next time, I'll be prepared with warmer jackets, those are chilly beaches!).

Tanner Family Reunion

Toward the end of July, we had a small Tanner family reunion on my husband's side. This one was close to home for us, because it revolved around his little sister's mission farewell, so it all happened at my in-law's home and we just had to travel across the border to Missouri. Festivities were dampened quite a bit, however, when my father-in-law suffered a minor stroke the week before the reunion, and then in the hospital they discovered even more serious and concerning issues with his heart that required quite a few procedures. So he was in the hospital for the whole weekend, and several of the planned activities were canceled and he missed the farewell talk.

We had quite a time cramming this crew into his hospital room for visits a couple times.

But we did manage to make it out to the lake for a fun swim day with the cousins! So it was still a great time.

The week after that was rather stressful for my in-laws, as Evy continued to prepare for her mission while my father-in-law prepared for what we thought at the time was going to be open-heart triple-bypass surgery. We went out to dinner with the family the night before Evy left, and then we headed over to the hospital where she was set apart. She flew to Utah the next day while my father-in-law went in for surgery. They ended up not doing the bypass surgery, opting instead for stents (which, while being a less invasive surgery, was actually a choice they made to keep him viable for a heart transplant at some point in the future). Anyway, while everything is fine and he's home from the hospital now and recovering well, we were all a little tense and stressed for a while there. Like I said, this summer has been all about highs and lows.

Little Things

We had a lot of other smaller activities, of course. I tried to plan some fun outings on a weekly basis. We usually made it to the library once a week, and had the occasional swimming or splash pad outing, or trip to the local nature preserve. Some of these little outings were fun, most were a struggle. If it wasn't the two-year-old throwing one of her epic tantrums, it was the four-year-old having an anxiety melt-down, or the seven-year-old exhibiting some early signs of attitude (everything was dumb and boring, which made me want to scream at him so much). Kids are so unappreciative of how awesome their lives are.

Surprisingly, while taking my kids on outings was usually a flop, staying home and in our usual routine was shockingly successful this summer. All three of my kids play really well together, and they had a great summer making circuses in the backyard, and building block cities around the basement, and all around just keeping each other entertained together. I mean, we had occasional spats (usually between the younger two), but I've got to say, this is the cutest group of little sibling friends, and it melts my heart every day to see how much they enjoy each other. I hope this dynamic lasts forever (fingers crossed!).

And speaking of staying home and sticking to routine, we actually had a surprising amount of success with chore charts this summer too, which I might write about at some point. And also, it meant I got a ton of reading in. So maybe that sounds super boring, but hey, I'm calling it a win!

But, it's over now, and we all head back to school/preschool/daycare on Monday. This semester will be very different for me, as I no longer have any coursework of my own. I will still be teaching and holding office hours, but I will be spending the rest of my time reading like mad to prepare for my exams (orals, comps, whatever they are called) which I'm tentatively scheduled to take around the end of November. I have so much work to do (I am feeling so much overwhelm and anxiety about preparing for these exams), but the scary thing is, this starts the part of my PhD journey that is all self-directed. I'm in charge of my schedule, and while there is a ton of work to do, I'm the one who has to set the pacing. So, if you notice me posting here or on Instagram a little too frequently, feel free to remind me to stop procrastinating (writing here will definitely be one of my pleasant procrastination tactics!) and get back to reading all the early modern drama! I really need to be disciplined, which means I probably need to be a little MIA around here.

So farewell sweet summer! Good-bye dear readers! I'll drop by occasionally (got to keep up with my monthly round-up posts at least), but you really shouldn't hear much from me until exams are over. Wish me luck!


  1. Sounds like a great summer, and best of luck as you prepare for your exams!

    The problem with summer vacation is that just as you adjust to the new rhythm it's time to go back to school. Like how I think maternity leave is even harder for WOH moms, as all the routines change (and with a newborn, keep changing) and by the time you have a handle on things, back to work you go! I admire your philosophy of remembering the good while acknowledging what was hard.

    What games did they play in Florida?

  2. Thank you! They played a whole bunch of games, I couldn't begin to name them all, but I do know that he came home with his new favorite called The Quacks of Quedlinburg, which is a lot of fun.