Summer is coming!

Last year, summer was glorious but confusing and full of uncertainty. This summer just feels glorious! It took a while to get here, but we have spent the last few days outside, and I don’t know if we are more excited or if the kids are. Playgrounds, feet in the lake, more sunshine, and picnic dinners. Is anything better?

Everyone in this posse needs a break. Somehow, the weather makes it feel like we’re getting one. Watching Sylvie tackle monkey bars, the kids all clamber onto a giant swing that can hold them and call it a boat, and Dave and I grabbing coffee on the deck in the morning makes every other part of the day better. In four weeks, we hope to say goodbye to virtual school forever! Our plan is to celebrate with a summer of playing in water and sand, spending oodles of time with Sassy and Poppi, and hopefully wrapping it all up with vaccines for the kids in early fall.

We are reaching ages where we can see more significant strengths and weaknesses at school. The kids are talking more about feelings, and are playing really silly games with each other that make everyone fall off their chair with laughter. Fart jokes abound! Shoes are left in front of the door, dirty clothes are strewn across the bedrooms, and everyone has forgotten how to make their bed. We are trying really hard not to care right now, and just to focus on getting to the end of the school year.

Despite all odds, there have been some sunshiny moments this year. Today was one of them. It’s awesome to experience many things going right, to laugh with people you love at sunset and watch everyone get silly. We made an old recipe of mine, one that cooks for 12 hours or so. If you’re off by an hour, it doesn’t matter. That meant whipping a salad together for dinner and a relaxing night.

We need more of these, and this summer we will actively look for them. We plan to spend many hours barefoot in the yard, whether working with our feet propped up on a patio chair or splashing the kids! Our goal is actively enjoying our time together and building a fun summer after such a stressful adventure. We are sure to get it wrong, and I guarantee you there will be many temper tantrums from adults and children in the coming months. Still, as the long days stretch blissfully out ahead of us, anything seems possible. That’s the beauty of spring, right?


Coming back to life

Over the course of the tumultuous last 14 months, our blog has fallen by the wayside. With virtual school, virtual opera, virtual consulting, and roaming the wilderness as we were able, something had to give. We miss our people, online and off, and drew tightly into our own little family sphere, wearing deep groove patterns into our habitual paths. (I’m surprised we haven’t worn a hole in the floor in front of the coffee machine!) We simply gave up, on so many commitments. The exhaustion of steering this huge crew through this pandemic was simply too much.

Then the adults got vaccinated, and all breathed a sigh of relief. We still are a bit fuzzy on what feels okay, but we’ve returned to eating in small restaurants, and outdoor play dates. School moved to hybrid a few weeks ago, and we started performing live in a theater about the same time. It felt shocking, and exciting, and terrifying to contemplate our next chapter. We’ve decided all outdoor activities (that don’t involve a horde!) are cool for adults, and activities with one or two other families is ok for the kids.

School was tricky; it came down to weighing the risk of unpredictable returns home against the joy of returning to friends and normalcy. In the end, we felt the risk of disrupting their schedule so close to the end of the year wasn’t worth it. As we felt at the beginning of the year, there’s simply no “right” answer. We went with what would be easiest for the kids. At least one of them is very worried about COVID; this choice gives us more time to address that anxiety.

As winter loomed, I remember feeling quasi desperate. How would we possibly survive so many months without our outdoor living room?! We bought adult snowsuits and set up the garage, but it’s a lot harder for kids. As the weather warms up, we’re thrilled to let them at the playground again, let them chat with the neighbor kid and start private tae kwon do classes. We may not be back in school, but we are coming back to life a step at a time.

So as we slowly re-examine and commit to what our new normal will look like, until the kids can get vaccinated anyway, we are so grateful for sunshine, understanding friends, and the umpteen joys of a Wisconsin summer. On our first hot day, the kids went skinny dipping in the pond at Sassy’s house after lunch. They got filthy, laughed their heads off, and demanded a golf cart ride and multiple desserts, which Sassy happily provided. With a summer like that ahead, who can complain?

And as we all spend more time out of our house and each other’s hair, our parental exhaustion is incrementally lower day by day. So we return to our weekly reflections, and to giving you a window into what life in our family looks like. Welcome back! To all of us.