10 Things I Learned This Summer

As I write this it’s nearly midnight and I’m running down my list of things I have to do in the morning to prepare my children for school. Both of them. My youngest started Kindergarten last week and it was a momentous day in our household. I was excited for him, but there it was still a little bittersweet. He’s my youngest, my baby boy, only now he is definitely not a baby. He goes to “big kid school”. There is a twinge of sadness, but I didn’t cry. Like I said, I’m excited for him. And for me, too, honestly. I love being a mom. LOVE it. But it’s nice to reach a point in my children’s lives where I get to be both mom and an adult with an actual first name.

I spent the summer preparing for this emotional rollercoaster. We did all the things and went all the places. The beach? Yep. We even went with friends so the kids had someone to play with that they weren’t related to and wouldn’t fight with the whole time. It was glorious. The lake? Of course. In our family you can’t really call it summer if you didn’t get lake water up your nose at least once. Camp? Zoo Camp is a perennial favorite. Mountains? Why, yes. We did take a hiking vacation to the Smoky Mountains while I was recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. If ditching your crutches to hike with your kids out to the giant osprey nest and back isn’t love, what is? We colored, we painted, we read books, we visited the library, they each earned a trophy at the end of baseball season, you name it we did it. A last hurrah before I turn them over to the care of (excellent and wonderful) elementary school teachers each day for the next nine months.

Note: Before I continue I just want to interject that I recognize the level of privilege that allows me to do all this with my kids. It does not make you a lesser parent for not being able to afford (with money or time) to take your kids on special vacations.

During all of this, I learned several things. Being as it is very late and I need to punch this out if I want to actually make my deadline, I thought I’d share a few thoughts as my 10 Things post this month.

  1. Blue Buttons are not technically jellyfish. They are hydroid colonies (made up of a ton of smaller organisms). I didn’t know this. I knew that their sting didn’t hurt, but that some people still react to it, generally with swelling, rash, or itchiness. However, I always thought they were a type of jellyfish. I figured if it looks like a jellyfish, swims like a jellyfish, stings like a jellyfish, and washes ashore like a jellyfish, it must be a jellyfish. Not these little wonders.
  2. Manta rays kept in captivity in places where people are allowed to touch them, often begin to act like domesticated dogs. They crave “pets” and attention, and will even “wave” and splash people to gain their notice.
  3. In some after sun lotions there is enough spf built in that if you accidentally cover your whole family in it before spending an entire day at a friend’s pool (you know, instead of actual sunscreen), you won’t all come home baked to a crisp. Whew.
  4. I never sunburned as a kid or a teen. Never. And hardly ever even considered sunscreen. It was never a concern. I have skin that tans really easily (one of the few gifts my genetics gave me), and didn’t have to worry about it. I’m in my mid-to-late thirties now and I can sunburn. It’s still not a common thing, but it can happen. It’s usually not too unpleasant, but just uncomfortable. What’s not comfortable is remembering that after an entire morning of snorkeling off the coast of Belize. I had to sit on a towel at dinner.
  5. Cashews grow on trees. I never really thought about where cashews come from before because they don’t grow anywhere near me. I buy them in containers from the local grocer. But they grow on trees and there is even a cashew fruit. It’s quite pretty to see in nature, actually. Unfortunately, the cashew fruit also contains the same toxin found in poison ivy, so don’t try to eat it. I didn’t make this mistake thanks to some well timed advice from someone who had made the mistake before me.
  6. I have reached the age where I can, in fact, fall asleep on an airplane if I’m tired enough. It’s still uncomfortable, but no longer impossible.
  7. No matter how old you get, riding in a boat with wind blowing in your face and the water occasionally soaking you from head to toe is still fun.
  8. When you have one kid, school supply shopping involves a list and a timeline strategy over your area’s tax-free weekend. When you have multiple kids, school supply shopping involves a spread sheet, hours of price comparisons online before ever setting foot in a store, and purchases from multiple vendors before you can be sure you have everything covered. If you want the “supply chain issues” of the world solved, put moms who are pros at back-to-school shopping in charge of it all. The problems will be resolved by next week.
  9. They make attachments for stand mixers that will shave ice for snow cones at home. You can order the flavor syrups online. Of all the things we did this summer, and the all the places we went, having snow cones at home whenever I would allow it was probably my kids’ favorite part of the summer.
  10. Blue light blocking glasses can make a substantial difference for some kids. My youngest seems mostly unaffected by it, but my oldest has had limited screen time for years because his behavior always spirals after he spends too long in front of one. This summer, as an experiment, we bought him some blue light blocker glasses and it is like he’s a different kid. I still limit overall screen time because, well, I’m that mom, but I’m able to let him have more than I did before because he doesn’t have the same struggles he did even just a few months ago as long as he wears his glasses. I wish I had figured that out before he learned how to play video games or read e-books!

Vacation is over. Back to our regularly scheduled learning! And hopefully, my regular posting schedule too!