The Mom Gets in the Pool*

*With a tip of the hat to Allison Tate’s “The Mom Stays in the Picture”

If you don't get in the pool, you can't hurl your one year old across the pool. But look at her face!

If you don’t get in the pool, you can’t hurl your one year old across the pool. But look at her face!

Yesterday I spent four hours at the official opening of the neighborhood pool, which we joined for the summer. There were at least 200 people at this party.

You know how many moms got in the pool over the course of four hours?

Six.

At one point I counted the number of moms wearing suits: 15. Every other mom in the joint was wearing regular clothes, huddled up with a friend or hunched over a phone while their children frolicked with dad. Or alone.

This was not a weather issue. It was gorgeous. A high of 81. I spent the whole time in the sun with SPF 50 and hardly got any color.

No, I’d bet my bathing suit top–a significant bet, trust me–that it’s more of a bathing suit problem.

And ladies, let me be clear. I HEAR that. Me and bathing suits go way back and not in a friendly way.

But that will not stop me from getting in the water, for three reasons.

1. I’m a So Cal girl and I love the water more than I don’t like the way I look in a swimsuit.

2. I gave birth to three children who are half fish.

3. Two of them are girls and I would rather poke my eyes out with my big toe than make them feel that only women who look the “right” way or wear the “right” size deserve to be seen in a swimsuit.

Sometimes, I can can rock the suit out of the gate. And other times, like today, I take a deep breath and fake it til I make it. Today that moment was when another mom leaned over and said “I am so glad that you swim. So many moms don’t swim.”

Dana pointed out a long time ago, it’s really true that nobody’s looking at us.

I mean, they may have been looking at me when I was screaming, laughing, splashing with my kids. Or doing the Chicken Dance on the pool deck—that’s because I do a mean Chicken Dance.

But they aren’t looking at us like that, like “Who does she think she is walking that fat a** all over this pool?”

Not the nice ones anyway, and who gives a flying fig what the mean ones think?

Your children will love it. When you get your hair wet, and do cannonballs and partner up for the water balloon toss. You’ll be that mom, the fun one. And if you think they won’t remember, they do. I do.

My mom got in the water with us and played hard. You ain’t seen nothing in this world until you have seen your mom come down a water slide head first and shoot through the inner tube hooked on the end.

I can’t tell you what she was wearing or how she looked in it.

But I can see the grin on her face and hear her scream as she hit the water. WHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

So what if this summer, we made a pact to do it differently? And what if I could promise you that all of the following are true:

The kids are waiting.

The suit doesn’t look as bad as you think.

Your hair will recover.

And you know you want to.

So let’s all stand up. Take off our t-shirts.

And be the moms who get in the pool.

Ciao, Summer

It has been one of the greatest summers of my motherhood.

But I am not sad to see it go.

We’ve been to all the movies. I liked Kubo and the Two Strings best with Pete’s Dragon a close second. We swam in pools, lakes, rivers and oceans. We camped and hoteled and grandma’d. Went to bed at 10 and woke up at 9. We ate a lot of ice cream.

We are fat and tan and sassy.

It was a wonderful season, but the wheel is turning and I am ready for the greatest season of all: SCHOOL.

Blessings to the teachers whose school year started weeks ago with trainings and planning and classroom setting up. I see you.

But please, do not expect to see me until at least October.

My ears are bleeding from the 13 million times they have had to process the word Mom since June 10. Or Can I have a snack? Or Can we do something fun today?

My back is aching from loading the dishwasher twelve times a day with thrice the number of drinking glasses as children in the house.

My brain is weak from trying to solve the mathematical conundrums of laundry, like the ratio of shorts to underwear (many vs. hardly any) and family word problems (If five people are going to the pool and mom asks you to pack towels for everyone, how many towels do you need? SHOW YOUR WORK.)

My heart must recover from things like this cup of yuck I found on my hutch:

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“What in the HIGH HOLY HEAVEN is that??” I thought to myself. Then I called for Gabe.
“Oh yeah” he said. “I wanted to see what would happen if I rehydrated a piece of beef jerky.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Annie ran up the stairs yelling “Is it swimming??”

Or this hide and seek playdate run amuck:

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YES, I took a picture. I’ve learned to grab my phone when someone screams.  My friend said I’m like a war photographer. But who’s going to believe this stuff without proof?

I need a moment, just a month-long moment to recharge.

And then come October 1, armed with a pumpkin spice latte and orange cranberry muffin, I’ll be ready.

Cupcake-pocalypse

Some kids read books the first week of summer. Some kids go to camp.

Gabriel decided he wanted to make chocolate cupcakes with strawberry butter cream frosting. From scratch.

I was ten when I made my first cake. It didn’t go well and the trend has continued my whole life. However, Shea is awesome at cakes. He made this for Kate’s shark party last year.

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So really, Gabe had a 50-50 chance to nail this thing.

I was home for the cupcake part and it went awesome. He managed my Kitchenaid like a boss and cranked out perfectly cooked dark chocolate cupcakes.

Then I left to pick Kate up from Girls Scouts camp and take her to a doctor’s appointment. He was home alone for an hour.

When I got home, the hand mixer and the mini-prep food processor were in the sink. In a bowl of water. The appliance parts. The kitchen was a mess, but Gabriel swore he’d been cleaning for 30 minutes.

Huh.

I kicked off my flip-flops and headed to the sink, where things became curiouser. The floor was slippery.

In fact, everything was slippery. I took a closer look and noticed chunks of butter, well…everywhere.

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When I pointed out the butter on the watermelon, he finally caved.

“Mom, the butter was everywhere. It was on the lights over the sink.”

What happened???

“I don’t know. The hand mixer is broken or something.”

Or.

You turned it on high? You took it out of the bowl before you turned it off?

“Mom, I thought I was going to have to take a shower!”

Where’s your shirt?

“In the laundry. But mom–”

Oh no.

“It’s ruined. It got stuck in the beaters.”

Stuck. In. The. Beaters.

“I leaned over the bowl to see what was happening and then my shirt got in there and stuck.”

I found a little pile of buttery goodness on the floor in the laundry room. It was a 3 dish towel clean up. That’s impressive.

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HOWEVER.

This is the finished product.

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So the good news is, he can bake himself some cake.

The bad news is that I’ll be cleaning butter out of nooks and crannies for the next six months.

 

 

Leave The Thighs Out of It

It’s that time of year again, mamas.

You have to decide—are you going to be the mom who sits on the sidelines, fully clothed.

Or are you going to be the mom who gets in the pool?

We had some success with this post last year. My favorite was the story of the grandmother who at age 69 hadn’t been in a pool in twenty years. But her grand-daughter came to visit and she decided she was not going down on the side lines.

She got in the pool.

Then there was one raucous afternoon at the local pool where three of us moms joined the game of sharks and minnows. Not just in the pool. Diving in the pool. A crowded pool. With lots of moms watching on the sidelines.

The kids were delighted. When we got out I said to one of the other moms “See, that was fun!” She rolled her eyes at me and said “I read your dang post.”

Lol. I’ll take it.

The pool opened two weeks ago and there have been lots of moms in the pool. It might be my imagination, but it feels like more moms than last year.

Could be the weather—it’s been early hot this year.

But I was thinking that it could be the memory of that game of sharks and minnows last summer. Right? All that screaming fun? It could be. I’m calling it progress.

Then I was forced to swim suit shop the other day because my tankini top had a structural failure. Let’s just say if you’re going to call something “DD”, you best bring your game.

In the middle of the Fred Meyer swim suit section, I saw this:

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Ladies. DO NOT THINK “Yes! Just what I need!” No, no. no.

Here’s what it looks like:

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It came in a size 8 and a size 22 and every size in between. You can see that this was not in the interest of modesty, since it had molded cups in a push-up formation.

You know what else? That swim dress is not lined. So when you and your thighs, who were just minding their own business, try to swim, that top is going to float up and show all the business.

The only thing I can figure is the people at A Shore Fit want women and their thighs a thunder to stay out of the pool, with their objectionable parts covered up and their desirable parts running over the cups.

I socked that cheeky swim suit right on its tag, in the name of women everywhere.

Do not build me a bathing suit to hide a part of me that I may want hidden in such a way THAT I CAN’T SWIM IN IT.

Do not assume I am so self-conscious about my thighs THAT I WOULD PREFER PEOPLE STARING AT MY BOSOMS.

And for the love of goodness–do not call me, or my God-given and -blessed parts, nasty names on your sales tag. THIS IS BAD BUSINESS.

Sheesh.

Happy Summer, 2016. #momsgetinthepool

Summer 2015: Camp Happy Update

  1. Clear water swimming is a lot less stressful than ocean water swimming. (Except when your son yells “Mom, I found an underwater cave!” and you tell him not to swim through it and he already did. That’s stressful, maybe even more than the thought of a shark lurking in the surf.) We have enjoyed swimming holes and rainbow trout nibbling our toes and water so clear we can see forty feet down. And we learned that lake hair is much better for our hair than beach hair. But not as cute.
Hair courtesy of Lake Siskiyou.

Hair courtesy of Lake Siskiyou.

  1. The summer pool membership was a good call. Mostly because they serve booze there.

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  1. I came out large against camps and our kids only did a few. For the most part, it was a good call. We really got into a summer rhythm of going to bed late and sleeping later. There were lots of activities up my sleeve that we never even had to try, like the $2 summer movies or the local kid’s museum. However, I was really ready for school to start yesterday. Really, really ready. I need a break from refereeing Every. Waking. Moment.

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  1. There were lots of playdates. I enjoyed getting to know the moms better. We bonded over muffins and floaties and even a camping trip. There are some rock star moms here in our valley.
This was a playdate. At a swimming hole! Oregon rocks!

This was a playdate. At a swimming hole! Oregon rocks!

  1. In August, there will be smoke in the valley. And when I say smoke, I’m talking 31 days straight. Not like in So Cal, when the smoke can hang out for three or four days and then the wind shifts and blows it all back to Arizona. It just sat there for weeks and weeks. Can’t see across the valley bad. Can’t go outside bad. Shouldn’t be having football practice but the season starts in two weeks so what are you gonna do bad. Bad.
  1. We did a lot of reading. I am three books into the Clan of the Cave Bear series and have three Alice Hoffman books waiting on the bench. I love me some Alice Hoffman. Gabriel highly recommends the Wings of Fire series for boys his age (9-12). He’s read it twice this summer, he loved it so much. Kate continues to believe that reading is over-rated, but she liked her Frannie K. Stein required reading book well enough.
  1. Once Upon a Time is a really good show. Not really, but it’s been my summer TV binge and I’m Hook’d.
  1. The garden. The garden is a whole other post which I don’t have time to write because I have one million tomatoes to turn into sauce. And I’m nervous about that because there have been two canning fails over the last few weeks. I’m shook.
The seals blew on these red hots apples. They aren't supposed to float. And they surely are not supposed to be up side down.

The seals blew on these red hots apples. They aren’t supposed to float. And they surely are not supposed to be up side down.

The bottom of the jar blew out of this one. What???

The bottom of the jar blew out of this one. I don’t even know…

We have one last camping trip this weekend, and then we say goodbye to summer 2015, one of our best yet! Next up: 100 Days of Holidays!

Only 115 days until Christmas!

Road Trip!

We just got home from a family road trip where we drove this many miles:

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The kids were rock stars. I mean…rock solid rock stars. We drove in 12 hour increments and they stood it. No tears, no whining, no fights.

Before you think we are raising angels, please. We have a 3rd row seat. Separation is the key to happiness, folks.

We stopped first in Temecula, near where we used to live. JFK Amy met us there with her family and pizza. We stayed at a SpringHill Suites and I have to give them huge props here because when Gabriel hurled his dinner and half the pool water all over our room at 11 pm, they very quickly moved us to a new room. File it away, Mama Network, it’s always good to know the hotel chains that can handle a family of five and a puking child without breaking a sweat.

The next day we hit the mall in Temecula, because Disney Store. And Williams-Sonoma. Then we went to Front Street in Old Town for dinner. We love Old Town Temecula and if you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit. Craft breweries, antique stores and restaurants with locally sourced food and wine.

We made a point to stop by the old house and dig up the St. Joseph statue that helped us sell it. Then we had dinner with our old neighbors and the kids got to play with their friends. It was pretty awesome. And weird to see our house that’s not our house anymore.

Our time at Grandma’s and Papa’s can be summed up in one word: Water.

My parent’s pool is probably 40 years old. They don’t make them like that anymore. It’s huge and it’s deep, almost ten feet under where the diving board used to be.

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The kids were in it early and late and they got to do that most magnificent summertime So Cal thing—come home hot and sandy from the beach and jump in the cool pool to wash it all off.

We also hit the Long Beach Aquarium, which is such a great deal.

Shea took this picture with his cell phone!

Shea took this picture of a bioluminescent jellyfish with his cell phone!

On Sunday we had a big ol’ pool party. There are 7 August birthdays in our immediate and near family, from my niece turning 4 to my mom turning 69. There was cake. There was sangria. There was pulled pork.

And in the middle of it all, there was an army of preschool girls, long hair curly and straight, marching around my parent’s home with dollies under their arms. They were led by Faith, and she knows her way around Grammy’s, from the paints and crayons in the play room to the big bag of Otter Pops in the freezer in the garage.

They got what they wanted because they only asked the daddies. And if that didn’t work, they asked the Papa, who these days only loosely resembles the man I called “Dad”. I actually saw him stand and wait patiently while they each chose the perfect pop.

I felt better after he told the two oldest boys “Take what I give you and be happy!”

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When I see this picture, I can’t really blame him. But dear God, the men in this extended family of ours have to gather their wits about them before these ladies are teenagers or we are all in trouble. Do you hear me? TROUBLE.

Annie is not here because one of the themes of our trip was puking and it was her turn.

We drove off the driveway at 9 am and after stopping to meet my friend Jo and her kids—who were driving home from Oregon while we were driving home to Oregon—we pulled into our driveway at 10:30 pm.

At 2 am, Kate hurled all over her bed and needed a shower, completing the puke trifecta. It was ok though because I got to wash her hair, something that hadn’t happened in a week. “But mom,” she told me, “it wasn’t like I didn’t have a pool bath every single day.”

My wise girl. It’s true that in summer, soap and chlorine are interchangeable.

We have four weeks til school, but many of you are sending your chickens back to school in the next ten days.

I have one thing to say about that: YOU MADE IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Boom

Back in California, we had summer thunderstorms.

But nothin’ like what happened on Tuesday.

If we lived somewhere flat, I’d have been huddling in the cellar. Because there is no that the sky can be these colors without mayhem following.

This was the beginning...

This was the beginning…

Sustained wind at 40 mph? Blowing all the newly mown field grass and dirt up the street?

Up to 100 lightning strikes per hour?

An inch of rain in an hour?

“Hasn’t been like this since I was a girl” said my neighbor who has lived here her entire life. “Did you bring it with you?”

The rainbow came in the middle

The double rainbow came in the middle

And my husband, standing outside with the camera. No matter our cell phones were blaring warnings to stay inside, downstairs and away from windows.

The dogs were not impressed. Sugar retreated to my closet and stayed there til morning. Lizzie, who is too stubborn to follow Sugar’s example on principle, had to get the fur scared off her on the balcony by a huge boom of thunder.

It was a fine and awe-inspiring display of the majesty of the heavens. Take a look. These pictures are basically the same view over the course of an hour.

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