The End Of Summer Vacation ’16

Today was our very last day of Summer Vacation.

As in, what lies ahead of us are a whole lot of PE lesson plans, and me standing outside, doing afternoon recess duty amidst the arguments of WHOSE TURN IS IT REALLY ON THE MONKEY BARS?  There’s Advanced Placement Chemistry homework and cold lunches to pack and a bunch of “solving for x” business in Algebra II.  There’s more practice on the sounds the alphabet makes, even though we pretty much have that down, and I’m sure there will be a lot of glue and glitter and paint coming home on big sheets of paper, for me to tape to our refrigerator door.  There will be me, hoping to find something that requires two ingredients and three minutes to make for dinners.  There will be the boy, hoping to knock some strokes off his golf score, as he goes to practice every afternoon.  There will be Thing 2, hoping that he scores the water table center at preschool every morning.  We’re looking 7:00 bedtimes in the face.  We’re looking online, trying to find the boy some jeans that will fit him, for when the temperature finally drops.  We’re looking at the crockpot in the pantry, knowing that it’s time to pull that thing off the shelves and put her back on full-time dinner duty.

In other words…

… tomorrow we all go back to school.

(*enormous sigh heaved*)

(*from the mother*)

(*the mother who may have enjoyed her summer every bit as much as her boys did*)

Thing 2 celebrated our Last Day of Summer Vacation (LDSV) by getting up at 5:15 this morning.  I could barely function, seeing as how Hubs and I discovered some sitcom on Netflix about the very last man on the earth, who manages to find the very last woman on the earth.  As it turned out, she corrects his grammar at every turn and makes him stop at all the stop signs, even though they’re the only people in the entire world who are out driving.  We laughed until our sides hurt, and then I looked at the clock to see that it was already 11:10.

I had no idea that there even WAS an 11:10 PM.

And then I was up at 5:15 this morning, with the preschooler.

Bless.

The rest of the day was celebrated by laying hands on the laundry and getting that done, and picking up two-point-nine million toy tractors and Matchbox cars off of our floors and making beds and stopping at the grocery store and unloading the dishwasher and reloading the dishwasher and watering the outdoor flowerpots.

In other words, it was exactly like a party around here.

This last weekend, though, we really DID have a party.  Cousin K is on the brink of being eleven, as his birthday is later this week.  Sister decided to celebrate the event before everyone went back to school and had to start suffering through early bedtimes.

Not that I EVER suffer through early bedtimes.  Nope.  I embrace early bedtimes with giant bear hugs, and pat those early bedtimes tenderly and say, “How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!”

But the kids?  Yes.  The kids protest and suffer through the early bedtimes, come the end of August.  Their parents have to learn responsibilities, like brushing teeth and putting on jammies at 7:00 once again, rather than doing the bedtime routine at 9:30, after they have sat on the deck, sipping wine and watching kids blow through the dirt in the dark, with shrieks of joy.

Since Cousin K wanted a birthday party that included GLOW IN THE DARK TAG, it was best to get that done before he had to head off to the 5th grade this week.  So, on Friday night, we celebrated K turning eleven.

IMG_2198 IMG_2182 IMG_2189 IMG_2196 IMG_2186 IMG_2200 IMG_2199 IMG_2193 IMG_2197 IMG_2187 IMG_2195 IMG_2246 IMG_2233 IMG_2236 IMG_2228 IMG_2229 IMG_2231 IMG_2235 IMG_2234 IMG_2239 IMG_2241 IMG_2247After the ice cream cake had been devoured and the wrapping paper had been shredded, the kids headed outside for tag games.

I’m fairly certain that Thing 2 ran the equivalent of a full marathon.  I’m also fairly certain that he set his personal best for a marathon time, too.

IMG_2204 IMG_2205 IMG_2207 IMG_2220The kids could hardly wait for the sun to go down.  Most of them dressed in dark sweatshirts, so that they could roam the backyard in the dark without being easily detected in Tag Warfare.

And then Sister brought out the glow necklaces and the glow bracelets and the glow sticks.  The kids adorned themselves like they were Vegas performers and it was time for their big show.  They all sparkled and glowed, and their spirits were drunk on excitement.

IMG_2222 IMG_2227 IMG_7484 IMG_7488I would’ve taken more pictures of all the post-dark fun, but there’s this little commonly-known fact that I really have no idea how to actually WORK my camera.  Every shot I managed to catch after the sun sunk below the horizon turned out blurry and worthy of being deleted, to free up more room on my memory card.

You’ll just have to believe me when I say, without any photographic evidence, that the glow in the dark tag games were an enormous success.  The children filled bucket after bucket with SWEAT.  They ran and they ran.  They ran and they ran some more.  And then, when the grownups didn’t think any of them could possibly run another step, they proved us wrong, and they ran and ran again.

Their after-dark workouts shamed us moms, who sat in lawn chairs, wrapped in sweatshirts and blankets, burning only the calories necessary for nonstop talking.

By 9:30, we took our exhausted kids home, because that’s what responsible parents do…

… on SUMMER HOURS.

Bedtimes after 9:30 are perfectly acceptable, even in the homes of responsible mothers, when the calendar still reads SUMMER VACATION.

On Saturday, Hubs and I practiced even more grownup responsibility by cleaning our fish aquarium.

Do you know how beautiful an aquarium can be?  How crystal clear the water is, and how lush the plant life inside the tank looks?

That was NOT our fish tank.

Our fish tank looked like Shrek’s swamp water.

Yep.  Here’s the BEFORE PICTURE of what our family’s fish aquarium looked like, minus all the BRIGHT GREEN, as we were under the influence of DINGY BROWN.

Honey_Island_Swamp,_Louisiana_(paulmannix)We were pretty sure we had THREE fish in the tank, but we couldn’t be certain, because no one could actually SEE the fish any more.

122Mam came over to lend her hand at removing the scarlet letter of Dirty Fish Tank Shame from around our necks.

By Saturday afternoon, THIS is what we had:

IMG_7503Yes!  We still had three fish!!  And they survived their adjustment from swamp water to fresh, crystal-clear water.

Cat 1 strolled past the tank on Saturday afternoon and stopped dead in her tracks.  She hollered out, “Hey!  When did we GET FISH?!  I thought that was a glass box full of mud up there!”

On Saturday evening, after the boy was home from working an eight-hour shift at the golf course, we went out to Small Mountain Town, to have dinner with the cousins at Grammy and Papa’s house.

Thing 2 skipped dinner altogether.  He couldn’t be bothered with barbecued ribs and brisket and baked beans, because there was a riding lawn mower and trailer in the yard.  He sweet-talked Cousin W into getting the Yard Work Party started.

The two of them drove to Northern Canada and back.

IMG_2248 IMG_2255 IMG_2270 IMG_2268They collected pine cones and pine needles in the trailer.

They mowed the yard.

They drove through an entire tank of gas.

Meanwhile, there were kids who weren’t doing REAL AND LEGITIMATE WORK for Grammy and Papa.  These kids are called THE SLACKERS, as they contributed zero-point-zero hours of manual labor toward sprucing up the lawn.

Instead, they played volleyball over the clothesline.  Our kids don’t need real volleyball nets.  Our kids adapt to their environments.

IMG_2251 IMG_2267 IMG_2260 IMG_2253 IMG_2262 IMG_2275 IMG_2258 IMG_2277 IMG_2288 IMG_2290 IMG_2284 IMG_2300 IMG_2308 IMG_2292 IMG_2287 IMG_2285 IMG_2307The boy and I reffed, as Cousin B (the boy’s partner in crime in being A SOPHOMORE) took on the junior high girls in a rowdy game of OVER THE CLOTHESLINE VOLLEYBALL.

I awarded EVERY point to the girls when I reffed.

The boy awarded every point to Cousin B.

In other words, it was a very BY THE RULES sort of game.

IMG_2311 IMG_2305 IMG_2314Cousin R let the big boys know exactly how she felt about their volleyball skills and their reffing abilities.

I think she was pretty much SPOT-ON with how she called things.

IMG_2263They’re a pretty noisy and rambunctious group, but we kind of like our pack of children.

IMG_2318 IMG_2281 IMG_2283 IMG_7492On Sunday, there was church.

And then, while Thing 2 went grocery shopping with Mam and Pa… and while the boy was at work… and while Hubs took a real NAP… I watched some riveting videos for work on Blood Borne Pathogens, Sanitation in the School Workplace and Fire Safety.

Go ahead.

Ask me anything about e.coli and staph.  Ask me how many fire extinguishers you need to have in your building.  Ask me how Hepatitis B is transmitted.  I passed all the online quizzes, and my Department of Family Services Video Training is done for another year.

My lesson plans are done for tomorrow, too.  Bring on the first day of school and all the PE classes!

And THAT, people, is how we wrapped up Summer Vacation ’16.  It’s over now, and we’re off to bed, because it’s 7:00.

All the bedtime responsibility starts again… NOW.

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