My summer vacation

Things I learned this summer:

1. The lyrics to dozens of classic songs to appease the insatiable children who suddenly want all new songs at bedtime. Songs I’ve memorized include Home on the Range, Do Your Ears Hang Low, Polly Wolly Doodle, There’s a Hole in the Bucket, and I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. Useful for bedtime and ending unwanted adult conversations early, for nobody wants to stay in a meeting with someone whistling Polly Wolly Doodle. All six verses.

2. How to plan, prep, and cook four meals a day without any childcare help, ensuring that my kids won’t kill each other or watch t.v. (Hint: pretzels and hummus for dinner) (Second hint: and lunch and breakfast)

3. The name of every sea creature ever discovered. Go here and print out all the cards. Make your kids cut them out, color them, and play with each other. Mine wouldn’t, choosing instead to make me read each card to them. Over and over and over.

4. Scrivener is exactly what my novel and I needed to be better friends. Editing is proceeding slowly but steadily. In addition to learning how to use Scrivener, I’ve learned how to use it while one of the four yowling creatures in my house howls in a different room. Editing and ignoring: skills from the professional world translating to an investment interval at home. Sounds like someone should update her LinkedIn profile.

5. The name of every type of truck used within a 30 mile radius of our house. Butterbean is keenly interested in trucks in a way that rather devastates my desire to raise the boys in a gender neutral, “everyone likes trucks and trains and fairies and glitter” kind of way. Thankfully, he likes pink trucks best, so I’m not too worried. But my willingness to debate skid steer versus front-end loader, dump truck versus tipper truck rather frightens and annoys other parents. And construction workers. And everybody, really, except my youngest child.
6. Several online recipe sites have the chutzpah to categorize bacon posts as vegetarian, asking me to “try making without bacon for a vegetarian option.” Chef? You and I both know recipes made with bacon taste good. Taking out the bacon means not enough salt or flavor. Please don’t tease me. Create a veggie recipe that stands on its own and take this deliciousness out of  the veggie category, ‘cuz you’re just taunting us.

7. Buying local costs a heck of a lot more and involves kids throwing major fits and breaking stuff in public.  I’m not saying I’m not willing to have more stress and pay through the nose for that stress; I’m just saying consider that in your self-righteous campaigns about how good it is for my community. Try the tagline, “Buy Local: It’s Good For Everyone but You and You Owe It to Your Neighbors to Subvert Your Needs and Sanity for Your Principles!”

8. Six Year Olds are totally old enough to play Scrabble. Since I had children primarily to have Scrabble playmates, my life is finally beginning in earnest.

9. Returning to fencing at 40 has pros and cons. Pros: great exercise, rare opportunity for intense focus, good reason to ditch Spouse with the kids. Cons: knees, ego, knees.

Thank you PlayMobil for including fencers in the Olympic figures collection. Thanks for giving them foils. Next round maybe add a lefty and a female, please.

I also learned how to remove creosote from a toddler’s nose, how to make cool alka-seltzer rockets, how to fold paper airplanes, how to switch to fluoride-free toothpaste to thwart a goofball toddler, and to never go on a roadtrip with my children ever again.

But the best thing I learned this summer? Scientists can take a huge robot, mount it on a crane, fit it with an ablating laser, fill it with chemistry sets, launch it 350 million miles into space, and land it safely in a Martian crater. I am so gobsmacked by this real and actual fact of intergalactic engineering I have nothing  to say. Congratulations JPL, NASA, and scientists everywhere. You rock space rocks.

Looks as though I’m avoiding the dreaded summer knowledge loss. How about you?

18 thoughts on “My summer vacation

  1. Ok, hold up a second. Novel? can you point me to some posts about your writing process or your novel or what the hell Scriverner is? YOu are a great writer so I am totally jazzed you have a book. And only a little jealous and threatening-y, but mostly happy. And this post is fantastic as well. That bacon thing for vegetarian recipes– BOGUS. And sometimes I want to smack Alice Waters and Barbara Kingsolver in the kissers because the whole “eat local” thing– it’s awesome and terribly expensive and time consuming. And since I don’t have any time and little money, I am doing my best.

    Nasa? Just awesome.

    • Outlaw! NASA is awesome. Alice Waters started an amazing school garden program here and I’m forever grateful. But I’d really like to buy stuff online because then my kids don’t touch, beg, cry, or fight.

      Novel was a screenplay in 1998. Put in a drawer until Peanut was born, then came out and slowly became a novel. Worked on it for the two years that he wasn’t completely dependent, then Butter arrived. I have a few more days’ work left to go, but that hasn’t happened in 2.5 years. So soon it’ll be a three-year process that took 13 years. Can’t wait to send you an autographed copy.

  2. First, I would like to be in a meeting with someone singing Polly Wolly Doodle, all six verses. Second, Zachary loves trucks. Isabelle loves dolls. I assure you, I was a tomboy and my husband loves musicals. Clearly this behavior was neither taught or inherited. Just is.
    Third, Fencing? Really?
    Fourth, I too would like an autographed copy of your book.

  3. Perhaps they have deposited all the knowledge into your head so they start the school year conveniently empty? Kind of like they hand us their dirty sock to hold while they play hopscotch?

    • Awesome theory. I still get a lot of watermelon rinds, even when I sit right next to the compost. And “I am not a trash can” is generally met with a look of confusion. Maybe I’m the song lyric and truck name trash can.

  4. Wasn’t there a post a while ago about the misery of having to sing the same song every night? So all these new songs, that’s progress, right?

    • Absolutely, Matt. Huge, giant, awesome progress. I’m not knocking the use of brain space for I’ve Been Working on the Railroad. I’m sure it’ll come in handy with grandkids. And not bemoaning my state of mental decay is a big step, too. Plus, there’s a robot on Mars. Win-win, I say. Sincerely.

  5. O.M.G. You and I had children for the exact same reason: “Six Year Olds are totally old enough to play Scrabble. Since I had children primarily to have Scrabble playmates, my life is finally beginning in earnest.” You have no idea how excited I am to learn that 6 is the magic Scrabble age. Only a month or so away… THANK YOU NAPPY!!

    • Now, I don’t want to scare you off, but six-year-old Scrabble partners tend to ask, “Is ropo a word? Is poro a word? Is skaw a word? Is slak a word?” But they don’t know to block triple-word-score spaces, and they leave a lot of juicy nouns that can be “-er”ed and “-s”ed.

      • Husband is a recovering Scrabble player, so he has never agreed to play with me. I’ll take what I can get!! Slak is a word, right?

        • Nope. Xat is.
          We always played English words only, no acronyms, initialisms, or abbreviations, But exceptions can be made for six-year-olds who would cry if NASA weren’t a word.

  6. I’m laughing hysterically at the “buy local” paragraph of this post. Our food bill has increased by over $100 dollars a month, and I don’t even want to think about the increased costs of household goods!

    All to support good ol’ Petaluma before Target comes to roost!

    • Holy guacamole, we’re thinking of moving to good ol’ Petaluma!

      Our food bill would be seriously 30% lower if we bought conventional stuff, and our toy/garden/holiday bills would be half what they are if we would just abandon our local bookseller and toy store.

      I still love me some Target for contact lens solution. I think I’m still supposed to be boycotting them (two boycotts, three years, but I’ve been boycotting Walmart for 10 years and need to disinfect my contacts) but I don’t care.

      But I can’t imagine a Petaluma Target. Sorry.

    • Thanks, chickadee. It makes me at once happy that someone else is complaining about the same thing and terrified that most people will find reasons to brush aside the locavore message because it’s too hard, expensive, and elistist.

      Hey, wait…I just wrote the whole book. ;-)

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