Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer slam

In the past week, we have weathered a week of manic fire scheduling, Liam's concerns about not getting to see Daddy many days, late nights and lots of snuggles. We muddled through graduation ceremony from the amazing, extraordinary Raspberry Lane Preschool (more on that later). We managed to pack and pull off a weekend camping trip. It has been a very busy week. Let's hope the rest of the summer is a little more relaxed.

The fire east of Homer was out by last Thursday, but there was plenty of work left to do. Matt worked 16-hour shifts for two weeks, which made it tricky for Liam and Thea to catch a glimpse of their dad. Thea managed it by waking each morning at 5:30 a.m. Liam sleeps in more and several times he missed Matt all together, resulting in some really tough days and nights. We did our best, but it is such a busy time of year. On top of the regular routine of cooking, cleaning and kid-wrangling, the outdoors needs a lot of attention in the spring. Dog poop and this year, volcanic ash, needs to be raked from the grass, the greenhouse needs to be cleaned up and planted, the garden turned over and planted, the flower beds cleaned out ... and then there was the shed, which was literally packed from one end to the other with trash and a jumble of winter gear that all needed to be properly stowed.

So each day I try to tackle something on that long list. But some days, like today, I feel totally overwhelmed by it all. The floor is a mess of dog hair and dirt from eight feet tromping in and out. Dishes. We need to get groceries. Laundry by the bucketload needs to be put away. And it starts anew each day. It makes me twitch, and all around me is the evidence of how I'm not getting it all done, and even if I did, it would only last for one day, and then revert back to its natural state - chaos. Gotta love summer.

But we had some huge distractions from all that this week, and not just the fire. Liam graduated from Raspberry Lane preschool. When he started two years ago, there were two full weeks of agony as he tried to wrap his brain around this new routine. Even after that, he had frequent meltdowns as he learned how to work through the many new situations preschool presented.

The payoffs, however, were huge. This school, with Miss Red, Miss Andrea, and this year, Miss Diane, was exactly what Liam needed - a place where his theatrical side was embraced and the class size was small enough to allow Liam and his teachers to find solutions when he became overwhelmed. At Raspberry Lane, Liam made friends with kids of all different personalities, and conquered all kinds of challenges. I owe those ladies a great deal for sticking with it and giving Liam a positive feeling about education. Let's hope I can keep it going through the years to come.

Graduation was bittersweet. Liam and his classmates put on a play "Who's in Rabbit's House." Liam was the frog, and the costume was an issue. I found out my friend Andrea had a frog costume, and I knew I needed to get over and borrow it early on in case Liam wouldn't go for it... I just had a feeling. But the week went nuts, and I didn't get the costume until two days before the play. Of course, he didn't like it (the eyes on the top were an issue), and off we went to the fabric store and got some green Bali fabric with a frog pattern on it. That meant I got to stay up till midnight sewing a frog cape with no eyes to be seen anywhere on it the night before the big day.

Matt managed to make it to the ceremony, which was very important to Liam. After the play, all the daisies (as they are called) ate and played and then lined up for their booming ceremony. Each was given a silk (a large piece of silk fabric and something they played with at the Lane) and each silk was a color chosen for that child. Then Miss Red read a poem for each one. Here was Liam's.

To My Little Knight

Dreadful the dragon, the menacing monster
Lurking alone in the dark of his cave
Fearless that fighter that marches to meet him
Bearing his bright sword, his people to save
Behold a knight so brave and true
Good deeds he will always do!

May bravery and truth guide you in all your adventures.
And remember, there will never be a dragon you can't tame!

After that ceremony - at which I got more than a little teary-eyed, Liam and the kiddos went outside to get their daisies and officially graduate. Then they posed for a zillion pictures and ran in circles until they worked off their nervous energy. After many hugs, and a few tears (mine, again) we headed out. What a day.

And Friday, no less eventful. We started packing for our camping trip on the Anchor River first thing in the morning. It is soooo much work to get out the door on one of these trips. There's food, bedding, clothes, emergency supplies, etc., etc. We got to the site and set up a couple tents to hold our spots for the weekend. Then we headed back to pack some more while Thea slept. By 3 p.m. we were on our way, and arrived just in time to get poured on while trying to set up the tent we borrowed for the first time. Wow.

But then people began to arrive and the chaos began. Thea was a mobile and into everything, and just keeping her from eating goldfish off the ground was a trip. It was a little louder this year than last, and lots of people camping, but our group wasn't too quiet either. Several other families camped with us like last year, and together we ate, corralled children, went for walks, and mostly stood around the fire (it wasn't too warm.) It's funny about camping - the during part doesn't seem like such a big deal, but the kids seem to really have strong, positive memories of camping. And it was really interesting to see how much the kids interacted when they came home. Something happens out there and for all the effort, it is truly worth it. And of course, they are so happy to be home, they play for hours without a peep.

Tomorrow, the summer schedule starts - Thea will be at daycare 4 days a week full time and Liam will be at Kachemak Kids preschool 4 days a week full time. I'm looking forward to a bit less kid-shuffling, and a less frantic work schedule. Hopefully, it will help balance things out.

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