A Deserving Break

In a move of monumental bah humbug-ness for the second grade set, Henry had a full lid of homework last week. The week before Christmas break. The week when you’re supposed to be gluing pipe cleaners and googly eyes to candy canes and watching a disproportionate amount of in-class videos and coloring a lot of “worksheets.” But, nope, not for us. The holiday spirit died every evening when we sat down to work on math and vocabulary and reading. It’s like the school system is dedicated to fulfilling their pledge to educate my child, or something.

Basically, besides all the smarts, the only upside to school I can see is all the hand-crafted presents that arrive home in backpacks this time of year. The Holiday Haul of Stuff that Didn’t Cost too Much, if you will. This year’s loot included a picture frame covered with Charlie’s fingerprints and a tissue paper-covered decorative votive holder that I’m pretty sure is an actual fire hazard.

I will never not love that picture of Charlie. (Even if the threat of lice is large from a shared preschool Santa hat.

I will never not love that picture of Charlie. (Even if the threat of lice looms large from a shared preschool Santa hat.

It felt like Christmas break truly arrived this past weekend. Our calendar was empty, our to-do list minor and the weather unseasonably warm. It was really, really nice. We lingered over coffee on the front porch and lounged in pajamas until inappropriate hours. There was lots of book reading and casual meals and long, lovely walks. It was enough to make me pledge that our life going forward should always be as unscheduled as possible. And, with a lot less laundry.

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Guess who demanded we bring the doll stroller on our walk? Now, guess who got tired of pushing the doll stroller after approximately one (1) minute? Go ahead, guess!

Today is the first school-free weekday and with Bob at work, we’ve been occupying our time by completely destroying every corner of our home. It’s a pre-Christmas free-for-all. There are trucks underfoot and Legos on every surface and baby doll clothes hanging from lampshades. It looks like a Sesame Street fraternity house around here. In fact, I just heard Millie dump the contents of the board game cabinet on the foyer floor. Hooray!

Thus far, my kids have had the most fun with two cardboard tubes (from the last of the wrapping paper rolls) that they fashioned into light sabers (of course). Apparently, pummeling your brother while making those swoosh-swoosh noises never gets old. Also, we played a rousing game of catch in the kitchen with an empty, balled up chip bag (classy!) from Chipotle (of course). That had them in stitches.

I should be glad that playing with garbage is so entertaining since the other option on this rainy day would be sitting in front of All the Electronics for hours. That is DEFINITELY my Plan B though, if we run out of trash.

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I am especially pleased with myself for buying all of those fancy presents, not made from cardboard, that are underneath our tree. Money well spent, obviously.

My feelings may change dramatically by the time dinner rolls around but, right now, I’m enjoying the break from our regular routine. School days can be so monotonous. They begin and end with lots of responsibilities and must-do’s and don’t forget’s. The early start, the lunches to pack, the breakfasts to force-feed, the shoes to tie, the bus to catch – go, go, go.

So, we will relish the lack of regular programming over the next two weeks. Then, I will slowly start to lose my mind just in time to send them all back to school. Which, doesn’t preclude me from complaining about homework as soon as that kicks in again. Thus completes the circle of life.

Tell me, what are you doing this Christmas? Are you celebrating at home? Traveling to be with family? Hiding in your parents’ bathroom while polishing off a bottle of Merlot and praying no one brings up Obamacare around the dinner table?

Drawing to a Close

I don’t know what it’s like at your house right now but we are pretty much holding our breath around here as summer comes to an end; just waiting for the long exhale that the first day of school brings. On the one hand, I feel like we must Make! The! Most! of the last couple of weeks of free time but, on the other hand: tired. So tired.

The kids are bored. “Bored, bored, bored,” they say to me. (Well, not Millie. Millie is never bored. I found her eating a marker this morning and she was pleased as punch so she’s a bit easier to entertain.) The boys are a different story. I resisted the urge to sign them up for All of the Activities this summer because I had the naive notion that we would spend our days together. In our home. Doing things. Having fun. I even contemplated craft-like activities and was willing to go so far as to involve glitter.

Turns out, we just watched a lot of Disney Junior interspersed with the occasional trip to Target for more Goldfish.

It hasn’t been all bad. The lack of planned camps and activities has forced the boys to make their own fun, pioneer-style. Even though he has access to an endless supply of toys, this is what Charlie has been playing with for the past two days.

I actually need some of this stuff back.

I actually need some of this stuff back.

He’s made a tractor out of a Bruder trailer, a large box containing our new (unassembled) mudroom bench, my “good” pillows from the living room and an expired car seat that I have yet to figure out how to properly dispose of. It’s a very complicated set-up and please don’t disturb him while he works, he explains to me. Also, this whole… vehicle is located right in the middle of my foyer. So, you know, convenient to work around.

Henry has devoted the greatest amount of time this summer to Legos. The good news is, he will entertain himself for hours building boats and castles and cars and entire towns that are honestly, amazing. I am consistently in awe of his creativity, imagination and dexterity. (My hands would cramp right off if I worked with those things for more than 15 minutes.)

The bad news is, well, reading. Aren’t we supposed to be reading more this summer? Or, writing? Practicing punctuation? I definitely think we were supposed to be practicing punctuation. Also classified as bad news, the fact that I am constantly stepping on, tripping over and pulling out of Millie’s mouth tiny, tiny Lego pieces. They are so small and they are absolutely everywhere. As evidenced by what I found when turning on the light in the playroom last week.

Whee!

Whee!

That’s a Lego Coast Guard/Firefighter/Security Guard/Mine Worker mini-figure rappelling from the light switch. He’s probably having more fun this summer than we are.

As much as I lament the school year and the homework and the lunch boxes and the forms (oh, dear heavens, the forms), I think our family is definitely better with the routine that quality public education brings to our home. The more structure, the less aimless wandering. Even if some of the aimless wandering this summer has had the best views.

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