You can feel it in the air. A crispness. The sense of anticipation. The deliberate savoring of the last few lazy breaths of summer.
Here in New England, the wind-down has already begun, as the temperatures begin to dip at dusk and the sweatshirts are donned.
Backpacks are unburied. School supplies are checked off the list. Summer reading is done. Or not.
School starts on Tuesday for us, and I am completely torn as to whether I want this to happen. Not that there's anything I can do about it, but still.
The days when I telecommute and spend the majority of my hours listening to bickering, refereeing fights, saying no to ridiculous requests, mediating arguments and issuing orders for the thousandth time, I am SO READY for school to start.
The nights where I'm a short-order cook because everyone is rushing off to football and they all want something different to eat, I am SO READY for school to start.
The times when my Trenches are a complete mess because I have three children who are home alllll day, I am SO READY for school to start.
The moments when absolutely no one hears what I'm saying because their faces are buried in their electronic devices, I am SO READY for school to start.
And yet there will be much to miss about the relaxed ease of summer days and nights...
Camaraderie and laughs
Lazy lego days
Fun with friends
Spontaneous beach days
Beach baseball sunsets
Blissful moments of quiet
Quality cousin time
And then there's the ice-cream-for-dinners; the "go to bed whenever you wants"; the swimming counts as a shower nights; the s'mores streaked faces with firepit-scented hair; barefoot feet; the pungent scent of chlorine; and the no-homework/no school lunches/no early wake-up mornings.
We had a WONDERFUL vacation at the Cape this year! After taking last year off, it was nice to remember how relaxing it is to go away with good friends. To laugh, to play cards, to watch all our children play on the beach. Good for the soul. I highly recommend.
That, in turn, flooded the ENTIRE basement of the house we were renting. This is important to note because three of the five children were sleeping (not at the time though - it was 6pm) in that partially finished basement in a room that had a queen bed and a single bed. Water was GUSHING in through the basement window during the storm. Thankfully we were there. Thankfully both husbands stepped up to the task of damage control. After calling the owner to tell him, they pulled up all the carpet remnants (that were now soaked under an inch of standing water) and proceeded to wet-dry vac the basement for the next FOUR hours. Studs, those men of ours.
So now we were short a bedroom. And uh, my Sis was already on her way to spend the night and go to the beach with us the next day. Sleeping arrangements were quickly procured. Jay and Mary would stay in their bedroom with their two children sleeping on the floor on sleeping bags. My older two would sleep in the room with two twin beds. And Baby and my Sis would sleep on the living room couches. Problem solved!
But that's not where this story ends. Oh no. There's more.
Fast forward to later that night, when only the 5 adults were still up. Close to midnight. Jay lovingly prepared a sausage, egg and cheese breakfast casserole while the remaining four of us (me, Hubby, Sis and Mary) played cards. We decided he should bake the casserole that night and then we would heat it up in the morning before we trekked to the beach. The entire house smelled delish, and after it had cooled down a bit, it was placed in the fridge. It was probably about 2am by the time we all retired for the night.
The next morning, I awoke at 7am, ready to prep for the beach. My Sis was awake on the living room couch and Jay was already in the kitchen. I opened the fridge to grab stuff to make sandwiches and noticed that the two pot holders for the casserole were on the shelf in the fridge, alone, so I took them out and put them back in the drawer, figuring that the casserole was already in the oven or microwave.
As I started making sandwiches for the beach, Jay asked, "Should we heat up the casserole?" and I said, "Yeah, I figured that's what you were doing."
Um, except he wasn't. The two of us quickly realized that the casserole, in fact, wasn't in the kitchen at all and that it was uh, missing???
No casserole in the oven. No casserole in the microwave. No casserole to be found IN THE HOUSE. OR THE YARD. OR THE GARBAGE. OR THE BASEMENT. OR ANYWHERE. It was, quite simply, GONE.
Wanted: Dead or Alive
At first, we were joking about it. Figuring someone had maybe sleepwalked? And ate it? Were we too drunk to realize we had all eaten it the night before? Nope.
At this point, my Sis realized something else. Her backpack was also missing. [*insert eerie music here*]
It seemed that now we had a real mystery on our hands.
Lost: One Sausage Egg and Cheese Casserole
Also Lost: One purple North Face backpack containing a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew. (It also, sadly, contained my Sis's designer sunglasses, her appointment book, her journals, and her prescription medicine.)
(What 5 grown adults felt like after searching for hours and coming up empty.)
1. Did someone break in? My purse was right in plain sight, as were all our electronics. Nothing else was missing. There was no sign of entry. All the doors were locked. All 10 of us were sleeping on the main floor. No one heard anything, which leads me to...
2. Was it a hungry ghost?
3. Or even creepier, was it a hungry stoner jonesing for some snacks and WATCHING US while we were merrily unaware and the scent of casserole was wafting throughout the neighborhood? The backpack (open, with the bag of Doritos peeking out) was last seen in the living room, right where my Sis and my 9-year old son were sleeping.
4. Did someone (a family member, a previous renter) have an extra key and walk right in?
I know, I can't believe summer is practically over either. It's almost August, and for us here in New England, that means Back to School. (Growing up in NY, we always started AFTER Labor Day!) (Which I find much more reasonable.) (Bygones.)
With the school days approaching, I find myself almost in a "nesting" phase, much like pre-pregnancy. I feel the urge to try and create order and routine out of the mess and chaos that summertime, with its lazy mornings and late nights, has wreaked upon our Trenches.
The summer reading lists are unburied and uncrinkled. The school supply lists are printed. The school physical forms are filled out. Football practices are beginning.
School days bring forth memories of that distinct disinfectant smell, the clanging of lockers, and the old-school combination lock that NEVER worked on the first try. You totally know what I mean.
Kids these days have it so much better, right down to their fancy locks for their lockers.
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It seemed that once-upon-a-time that "All You Can Eat" food and salad bars were en vogue. I have fond childhood memories of the cafeteria lines at Ponderosa Steakhouse and the salad bar at Pizza Hut (Tuesday nights were Family Night--where I'm sure kids ate free--and it was a treat to get a pitcher of SODA); the massive highways packed with buffet restaurants in Ft. Lauderdale when we'd visit my grandma (early bird specials!); and hell, even now there's still a good ole' Ruby Tuesday when you want one. Or Myrtle Beach. Still TONS of seafood buffets there. (Blech.)
Which brings me to my work, and the omelet bar we have for breakfasts (you pick the ingredients, they make it for you) and the salad bar we have for lunches. Both of which are quite popular.
However, I hesitate to attempt either one of these if there are other people around. I have learned my lesson the hard way and am here to instruct you all on the proper buffet etiquette:
1. Please don't step on the heels of the person in front of you in your eagerness to begin your salad bar quest. The romaine lettuce and spinach isn't going anywhere. Promise. "This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don't go into yours, you don't go into mine." (Even Patrick Swayze knew as much.)
2. The salad bar is a double-sided LINE of items. Stay in LINE. Because when you jump around, you throw everyone else off and upset the rhythm of the salad bar LINE.
3. And speaking of being in line, it's a moving line. Don't come to a halt to chat with a co-worker about last night's CSI: Idaho (or wherever they're finding dead bodies now). You're blocking me from the roasted red peppers.
4. Put the utensil back where you got it. There's no need for the black olives to have 3 scoopers in it, while the poor shredded cheese has none. And now the cheese is gonna taste like olive juice. Thanks a lot.
5. The salad bar is not a custom-order menu. You can't stand there with the scooper and try to avoid all the raisins in the shredded carrot salad. Take a scoop and move on. Remove the raisins on your own time, my friend.
6. I'm totally judging you on your gross-looking salad mixed with beets, hard boiled eggs, tofu, edamame, cottage cheese and yogurt. And shredded carrot and raisin salad.
7. It's a common fact that most salad bars pretty much consist of the same basic ingredients. Especially in a work cafeteria. So there's no need to peer over my shoulder and breathe down my neck while I'm in line so you can scope out today's fixings. They're the same as yesterday's. And will be the same tomorrow.
8. And finally, when we all make it to the end of the line, there's the ever-important salad dressing. Ladle carefully please, for I don't need a clump of your bleu cheese dressing slopped into the balsamic that I want in your eagerness to dress your damn salad. It's not rocket science.
(Oh and by the way, you seriously think tofu and beets taste good?)
Middle child loses a tooth to little fanfare because (a) neither parent even knew it was loose and (b) he just randomly walked into the bathroom and pulled it out.
Child puts tooth in a ziploc baggie and carries it up to bed with him, placing it carefully under a mound of pillows, anxious to see how much money he'll get in the morning. Said child loooooves to save/hoard his money and then splurge on big-ticket items (for example: a handstitched Blake Griffin basketball jersey; customized Lebron sneakers).
Both parents go to bed, neither of them playing the role of Tooth Fairy.
Middle child awakes to disappointment, for the Tooth Fairy has forgotten to pay him a visit.
Repeat Act II, except Middle Child decides to only sleep with ONE pillow, so as not to confuse the Tooth Fairy on this night. Perhaps she couldn't find the tooth under alllll those pillows last night?
Mother goes to bed, completely forgetting about the damn tooth.
Father goes up to bed and plays the role of (generous) Tooth Fairy, taking the tooth and leaving the child a $5 bill in the ziploc under his pillow. Mother is already asleep, so no discussion is had.
Mother awakens before father and realizes that shit, no money was left AGAIN by the Tooth Fairy and this would be BAD. So mother scurries down to her wallet and unearths three one-dollar bills. In the interest of time (and not getting caught), she throws the money on the side of his sleeping head.
Mother goes for a run.
When she returns, father is awake. Mother informs father that she left money from the Tooth Fairy. Father informs mother that he, in fact, did too. Crap. An $8.00 payout for an insignificant tooth is quite outrageous and needs to be remedied.
Mother sneaks up the stairs and cracks open middle child's bedroom door. Middle child stirs and 2 of the 3 dollar bills float down off the bed to the floor. Mother gets on her hands and knees, and snakes her hand in to reach the money off the floor. She stands up, and quickly grabs the remaining dollar by the sleeping child's head and rushes off, realizing how foolish she must have looked.
As you can see, playing Tooth Fairy is complicated. At what age do they not believe so we can be done with this foolishness??
Number 1 is this hand cream from Bath & Body Works. It smells delish (like vanilla cupcake, but not too sicky sweet), goes on smooth, and lasts all day. It's honestly the best lotion I have found in a long time! (I use it on my arms and on the bottom of my feet too.)
Smashbox blush. Sephora is a dangerous place, I know that. I go in there and lose all my willpower and start buying wayyyyy too expensive makeup that I don't really need when I can just buy the Normal Everyday Brands (Covergirl, L'Oreal) at freaking' Wal-mart and look FINE. But there's something in the air vents at Sephora. I cross the threshold into the store and it's like I'm brainwashed and am a zombie looking for braaaaaaains. "Bluuuush, I need new bluuuuush." But honestly, this price point wasn't that bad (right??) and I feel like it will last me for a long time and I rully rully rully like the color (I got the Petal Pink).
Next on my list is this Southwestern Black Bean salad dip. (Psssst....are you following me on Pinterest?) One (meaning me) could seriously eat this as a meal. (I use a bag of frozen southwestern style corn and omit the chili powder.) I serve it with the whole grain Tostitos scoops chips and it has gotten rave reviews. And most importantly? It's WICKED easy to make.
Legos. People love 'em and people hate (stepping on) 'em. I feel like I go both ways with Legos as well. When Middle was younger, at age 6 or 7, he had an interest and so we had a few sets around our Trenches. But shortly thereafter, he tired of them and there they sat, all lonely, until I purged and got rid of ALL of them. Fast forward to NOW. Baby is into them. Like - that's all he wanted for his birthday - into them.
And thus, I find myself once again with Legos allllll over my Trenches. (Bad) But but but he spends HOURS, I tell you, HOURS, building sets with nary a peep out of him. (Good. Very good.) I guess I will suck it up.
Next up is TV-watching (of which I probably do too much of). I absolutely loved Season 2 of Orange is the New Black! There are so many possibilities for Season 3! And I truly enjoyed the ending of Season 2. I thought it was wrapped up nicely with a bow for us viewers. I'm only now just starting to watch Scandal. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who hasn't watched yet??) Kerry Washington does something weird with her mouth when she talks (is it over-enunciating?) but other than that, I dig it. And of course there's my summer pleasure, Big Brother. Oh, and all the new Bravo shows that start in July. My DVR is working overtime.
Next up on my list of faves is this pair of shoes from Charming Charlie. I actually bought them super-early in the season back when it was still winter here (as in, the entire month of April). You guys, even though they might look kinda tortuous, they totally aren't! I think wedge heels are very comfy and flattering. The criss-cross straps on these are elastic so they fit my narrow foot really well. If you like wedges, I highly recommend these - and who would've thunk that Charming Charlie would have great shoes, as well as stylish and cheap jewelry!
Ok, so grocery shopping isn't one of my favorite things but this is a new favorite discovery: Market Basket. I know it's probably local to my area but holy cow - do you have one of these? For YEARS, people in my town have been swearing by this store for groceries. Yet I stubbornly continued to do my one-stop-shopping at our cruddy Super Wal-mart. (We also go to BJ's for paper products and meats, and I get my produce elsewhere because the Wal-mart produce is horrid.) (So uh, yeah, it wasn't really one-stop-shopping.) But I have an aversion to learning the setup of a new grocery store. I hate not knowing where things are. And I don't want to drive any further than I have to. But after much peer pressure (Laurie!), I decided to give it a shot, and OMG I cannot believe how CHEAP this grocery store is! I'm easily saving 10-15% more. Wal-mart, you are dead to me...unless I need tampons and/or cheap makeup (see above).
And finally, it wouldn't be summer without a fun summer drink! I'm always up for trying (and experimenting) (which sometimes leads to trouble because taste-testing a bunch of different alcohol recipes = whoops) (again, Laurie!) but this flavor of vodka (Red Berry) mixed with Sprite Zero has become my go-to cold and fizzy and refreshing summer drink.