What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago who asked what I’ve been doing with my time since I haven’t been working.

A fat lot of nothing. 

Riiiiiiight. (You didn’t really believe that did you? Not even for a second.)

What I’ve been doing with my summer vacation. Which basically started with Memorial Day weekend…

Went to ATL for the 2013 new baby tour. It was a road-trip that started at 9:00 PM on a Friday with decaffeinated me behind the wheel. It was touch and go until Suit and Tie came on the radio–and then it was a three hour dance party in the driver’s seat from Gaffney, SC to Suwanee, GA. We rolled in at 2:30 AM. Hey. Whatever works. (Also, WHY ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE ON THE ROAD, TOO?) But those babies are super sweet. And their parents are managing well–all things considered.

Worked on putting documents together and obtaining a passport for my Ukrainian born child to deal with citizenship stuff and learned that bureaucracy is bureaucracy regardless of the nation’s government. When Boy #1 says “This is like being in Ukraine” as you run all over the county in which you live to obtain the right forms and this one government agency only works 8:00-3:00 and you show up at 4:30 and realize you’ll have to make the trek back downtown the next day, you realize that (a) perhaps you picked the wrong line of work (I mean with hours like 8-3, come on) and (b) this mess really is crazy

Took a random, spontaneous trip to the beach with my best friend and her family while the hubs drove my new car home from Ohio and in and around Raleigh until I got home two days later. He hasn’t sat behind that steering wheel much since.

Hubs and I took the East Bloc Boys (our collective reference to the teenage boys living under our roof) to DC to deal with the Ukrainian’s citizenship and–when we realized that wasn’t going to happen without a US passport–proceeded to spend a few days playing in DC instead. Museums, metro stops, and food trucks, oh my!

Attended the graduation of my Hungarian born child (Boy #2 who moved in in April) and sent him off to his first day at a new job

Received the report card for Boy #1 and was more than a little frustrated with the results

Learned that Boy #1 was going to be fired–primarily due to complications with some faulty brain wiring that is beyond his control but increasingly becoming a hindrance–and started planning for the possibility of meds and more testing to see if there’s something more or better that we can do. Also became a little afraid of his options for the future. Meanwhile, he didn’t seem to be too concerned about anything in his world. And then frustration set in.

Interviewed for a job. Was offered the job. Didn’t know at that point where exactly the job would be. But I’ll have a job.

Left the kids at home while hubs and I went to the beach for a few days. Alone. With no agenda. Glorious.

Opened our home for weekly game nights with the youth. Their means of world domination via board game was pretty entertaining. Also, the secret is out about the awesomeness of my cookie dough dip.

I got more creative in the kitchen, making up recipes as I went–often inspired by road-trip snacks and/or food truck experiences. And those culinary experiments generally were successful.

Temporarily found some really good body confidence–long enough to sport a bikini on the beach. For the first time. Ever.

Helped a friend pack up his office to move to a new job after 13 years.

Celebrated a friend’s 30th birthday and another friend’s family adopting a child they’ve tried to bring home for far too long

Opened my home and my dinner table to countless people (we finally had to break out the leaves for the dining room table and USE ALL THE CHAIRS)

Had lunch and/or coffee with people–for more than 15 minutes. Those conversations often stretched over two hours.

Brought a third teenager home to live with us–this time a girl.

Realized once again that my life is a circus and I’m the ringmaster. Until the inmates run the asylum. And then I just leave.

Had beautiful conversations with family and friends

Was truly honored to be invited into some of the most important moments and conversations in others’ lives

Got a job assignment that was totally unexpected but has made me incredibly excited the more I sit with it.

Got thoroughly pissed off with the state government and was ready to junk punch some politicians–or a wall. Supported Moral Monday from afar–lest my anger push me to do something stupid before this job thing really came through.

Started scheming ways to take over the world–in a good way.

Realized that this whole youth ministry thing I started on the summer before college has come full circle. I learned along the way that there are many ways to do youth ministry–and often outside of church. I also made the statement at one point that once I became a youth minister, I’d have a psychologist in my back pocket as a resource. Then I became that psychologist.

Pulled together a stack of books classified as thematic professional reading that I’m slowly making my way through

Seriously considered getting the “Mom’s Taxi” for my car because it’s true. Especially the week of youth camp when I’m the only licensed driver in the house and have two teens to care for.

Tried to let it sink in that I have finished school and have a PhD. Definitely became increasingly thankful for the training, experiences, and opportunities I have had along the way.

Stalked one of my favorite people from a parking lot into a bookstore to make sure it really was her–and then had an hour and a half long conversation standing around another store in the same shopping area.

Became a stand-in on-call fake doula for a baby who was born about two weeks later (and the daddy was home for the whole thing…which meant I could celebrate with the announcement text). 

Consulted on emerging adult male/female relationships

Provided unofficial parenting consultation

Fell madly in love with US Marshall Raylan Givens as I became addicted to the show Justified.

Worked out in the sweatbox that is my garage–sometimes twice a day. Just because I could.

Met neighbors I hadn’t met before because I started walking the dog more after a redistribution of household responsibilities

Seriously considered a new blog about DIY furniture and house projects–to be called pigtails and power tools. This after having to supply my dad with a drill or two after the battery in his cordless died as he was trying to put together a new bed. (Note: one of those drills was the same electric drill he handed down to me years ago when I moved out; also, that old faithful Black and Decker has helped us finish projects the battery packs on the cordless just couldn’t. Moral of the story: well, I think you know.)

Filled up a social calendar like never before

Received beautiful and powerful words of affirmation and hugs from people who’ve watched me grow as a person and professional over the past X number of years

Went back to yoga (kinda) and ate more fresh veggies. (Olives dipped in hummus, y’all)

Loved bigger because hubs does.

Realized that children stuck in rough family situations are my kryptonite

Struggled against having so many people in the house and this basically became my mantra about half the time. 

Saw some movies. In the theater. Even when I kinda didn’t want to. (Side note: Pacific Rim = Godzilla + Iron Man(steroids) + Independence Day speech + Armageddon)

Worked on my licensure application and found that I still had some brain matter that could ooze out of my ears. It’s just about finished though. The application, that is.

Survived monsoon season in NC this year–WITHOUT an Ark of my own

Drank the Candy Crush Kool-Aid (Note to Kool-Aid: new flavor idea!)

Finally was invited to new employee orientation and can for really real get this job thing going.

Ran outside. On some big hills. Early in the morning. And usually thought I was swimming instead. #NChumidsummers

Doled out resources in the form of book titles, notes from books I’d read, links to really great articles, and just putting some thoughts on paper

Read a few really good novels.

Squeezed some babies

Baked. A lot. And apparently even my cookies are therapeutic.

Survived #singleparentweek2013 while Al and Ryan were at camp.

Celebrated some more birthdays. Ran with my girls. Enjoyed some group therapy on a screened in porch. Celebrated new jobs with my people.

Scheduled at least half a dozen meetings/appointments to take me through my last full week of no paid work. What vacation?

And then I went to that orientation, got my shiny new ID badge, signed a bunch of forms and forked over a voided check. This job thing is official. I start Thursday.


How To Get An iPod

Earlier this year, Ryan expressed interest in owning an iPod. Late in the spring, my seester-in-love worked out a trade with Al (who was divesting himself of all things Apple) to get his iTouch in return for her iPod. Al then brokered a deal with Ryan to be able to purchase that iPod if he was interested–and if he continued to do well (behavior-wise) in school. Once he had the money and the rest of the school year went well (especially after a setback at the beginning of May), Ryan would be able to purchase said iPod.

Then summer rolled around. And Ryan had to spend his mornings at the Hill Center for 5 weeks. And he wasn’t excited about having to spend part of his summer doing school. And the not so appropriate behavior started all over again. So we once again pushed back the eligibility criteria for purchasing the iPod. But he seemed motivated by that, and his time at Hill was productive and very helpful for him.

And so, during the last week of the 5 at Hill, Al and I had our parent-teacher conference to get a recap of the work Ryan did this summer. His teachers had very good things to say about him–both in terms of his personality and behavior as well as the kind of progress he made in such a short time. Ryan was a little nervous about the conference–he still associates parent-teacher communication with something he’s done wrong and nothing he’s done well. After we finished that meeting, we congratulated him on being able to become the proud owner of a sleek black iPod Nano.

And we went to lunch at one of his favorite places.

Good work, kiddo.

Sweet Summer Time

Apart from the 90 degree days we’ve had already in May–which are way too many for what should be allowable by law–there are signs of summer popping up everywhere.

I’ve had lots of time on my deck this month, what with my nights and weekends free and all. And I’ve even managed to finish and/or start a few books. As in more than one.

Cherries, strawberries and corn are coming in and they are soooo tasty.

And Brooklyn’s Summer Ale, New Belgium’s Skinny Dip, and Sweetwater’s Road Trip are back on the shelves.

Leave it to seasonal beers to help me think about living seasonally. I became well acquainted with Brooklyn’s Summer Ale and Skinny Dip last year…and developed quite the fondness for cherries. I have so looked forward to both for a while. The anticipation of the last month has mounted to the point that when I saw the cherries and Summer Ale in Whole Foods this week, I squealed…and did a little booty dance. Right there in the store.

I plan to enjoy both of those and so much more of summer’s bounty for the next few months. I’ve never been a fan of the heat around here, but I do love summer produce. Really. LOVE. And summer beers. And I will thoroughly enjoy them until about September, when the Indian Summer starts, the heat dies down, the days grow shorter and the festivities of fall start to arrive. I’ll leave the summer produce on the shelf–because it’s not nearly as good at that point–and return to Yuengling, my old standby.

It’s an interesting rhythm, these seasonal changes. I’m starting to really be aware of the differences–the promises and beauty of each–and to really look forward to the beginning of each new season and all it has to offer.

And all that because the summer brews are back on the shelf.

I’ll Never Be A Centerfold

I hate summer. It’s hot, it’s humid (at least in the southeast), and women everywhere are expected to look good in a bathing suit…and are somehow less human if they don’t.

I do love the fresh produce summer brings, however. But no matter how much I consume of summer’s bounty, I (at least I’m currently convinced) will never…ever…look like a centerfold. No matter how many miles I run or Strike! classes I go to, it’s not going to happen. Not ever.

Good thing I have days where I’m a badass. Because at the end of the day, I’d prefer that to being a pretty little flower.