Better Than Nothing

We’re on week two of a stomach bug at my house. Three-quarters of us have been hit, one person every three or four days. My fourth grader, who we’ll call Patient Zero, had a mild case. No big deal, I thought. Four days later, I nearly died, followed in three days by the first grader getting slammed.

Only Mark has escaped the bug. I lie awake every night waiting for him to fall victim, even though he claims a super immunity. I won’t relax until he makes it a full two weeks from Sunday without barfing. I know this is a waste of my energy, to worry about Mark catching the bug. I know I should close my eyes and get some sleep. I know.

So here we are, three weeks of summer left, and the past 10 days lost to a never-ending loop of sickness, cleaning, washing, disinfecting. I started thinking about the best way to use these last few weeks, and decided now would be a good time to update you on how well we managed summer expectations this year.

(I assume you’ve all spent a good deal of your summers wondering about mine. No? Okay. I’m still forging ahead with this update.)

You may recall that I had expectations going into the summer, and concerns that all would devolve into chaos. You can revisit that post here if you need a refresher – I’m not wasting space by pasting it in this post, so go ahead and commit the unrealistic schedule to memory before you pop back over. Got it memorized?

Now, let’s see how reality looked.

Most mornings – not every morning, let’s not be crazy – I was up before the boys, walked the dog, and ate a real breakfast. This is a breakthrough for me. Mornings are not my favorite. Or, they weren’t my favorite. I embraced them, and we’re getting chummy, me and the a.m. hours.

The kids still ate their fair share of cereal (organic, but still, cereal) and frozen waffles. As for the pleasant conversation, does “he’s looking at me!” and “why are you so gross when you eat?” and “this yogurt looks weird!” count?

We did do “school,” but we didn’t do it well. There was some math fact practicing, some reading and writing practice. I doubt anyone made big leaps in their grasp of basic educational concepts, but perhaps their brains aren’t entirely atrophied. If knowledge of every American Ninja Warrior counts for anything, the boys are going to be fine in school this year.

The kids actually did their chores every day. I may have donned my crazy mom face, and announced, through gritted teeth, that “I will not tolerate any whining or complaining about chores, under penalty of… well, something awful, I promise.” For once, it worked. They even earned enough Stevens Bucks to buy a new Xbox game they wanted.

They did not, however, do a quality job on all of their chores. I decided to let this go. For now. When school starts, I’ll put on the hazmat suit and tackle things; until then, there are worse things than sub-par dusting by elementary school students.

We did not excel at enriching fun time! activities. We did some stuff, sure. A lot of days we did… nothing of significance. It rained frequently during the first half of summer, so we hung out inside. There was more screen time than I wanted, especially during our recent plague.

The screen usage will likely result in residual mush-brain. If the number of times I heard “Boom Beach” or “Disney Infinity Marvel” or “can I get that app?” or “why do I have parental controls? I’m not a baby!” is any indication, then good luck, teachers. Re-programming their little brains to focus on school is going to take some effort.

I tried. I did. And I also gave up a few times. Summer is hard work, screens make it easier sometimes.

There was, at least, a lot of reading for all of us. Maybe I’ll do a What I Read post soon. Yet, the first grader still tells people he can’t read at all. That’s always a proud moment for me. He can read, but he cannot tackle Harry Potter or War and Peace yet, so in his mind, he cannot read. At all.

We ate dinner every night! That’s all I have to say about that.

Mark and I did a 21-day elimination diet (more on that another time), so we did, in fact, eat a clean diet most of the summer. Even now we primarily stick to our clean eating plan. Primarily, but not entirely.

As for bedtime and teeth brushing, I’m kind of dreading the pediatric dentist appointment in a couple weeks. They brushed. Didn’t they? I’m sure they did. And that school bedtime schedule is going to hurt us all, for sure.

My personal goals for the summer were lofty. Drum roll, please… I did not finish the book. I barely worked on the book. But I made some progress, and some progress is better than no progress. I did, however, exercise most days. By exercise, I mean “took a walk.” Better than nothing? I’m saying yes.

That’s going to be title of my memoir: Better Than Nothing! (I hope the cover looks like the Jeb! logo.)

The photos are still a mess. Not a bit of headway made there.

We – mainly Mark, honestly – have made a big dent on the home improvement front. There’s a lot still to do, but I can see the end. I can also see ladders and tools everywhere. Soon, I’ll have an office (I’m sitting in it now!), though at the moment it’s serving as storage for all of the displaced items we packed up until construction and painting end. Mark has built bookcases, installed wainscoting, built a bar, and more. He’s a rock star.

It wasn’t all chores, screen time, and halfhearted educational efforts. We took a family trip to Chicago, where the boys learned how to hail a cab and hop on the L. I learned that they might as well lick the floor of every cab, because they touched the entire city… and then touched their faces. Repeatedly.

The boys spent a week at Pine Cove Camp in the City, which they loved. We had a fantastic swim season, and a lot of fun at VBS one week. Only one person went to the ER for a head wound. We call that winning around here.

There you have it, our summer in a rather large nutshell. Like a Brazil nut-sized shell. But we still have three weeks to go, including one, last summer hurrah at the beach. There’s still time to cram in more memories, and maybe practice a few more math facts.

I bet I’ll even get those photos organized, scanned, framed, and album-ed.*

*No. Probably not.