22 August, 2011

Things I Learned This Summer

It's been a great summer. We didn't cross the country, but we did some fun things, and our kids are happy. It's also been a hard summer for me. I worked more, and had less childcare, and no or less school for the kids. I had several trips that I went on solo, which were each amazing, but also required monumental amounts of childcare coordination and scheduling.

Here's what I learned on my summer vacation:
  • All camps should have drive-through drop-off and pick-up. Letting the baby sleep, keeping the special needs kid buckled-in safely, or the dog comfortably stay in the car is so wonderful. I am ever-thankful to the camps that made things easier for parents this summer. It specifically made my life less complicated.
  • We need to figure out a way for there to be childcare for special needs children. Really. What happens to all of those aids when school lets out? What happens to those aids after 1pm every afternoon. Finding childcare for a special needs kid is always hard, somehow during the summer it is a lot harder. Maybe we could private pay our schools to have after school care like every other typical kid has? Where is the after-school care for special needs children?
  • Camp for my son is one of the most awesome experiences we have as a family. He gets time in the woods with people who focus on him. We know he's safe so we can relax and leave the doors unlocked for a few days. If you have a camp in your area that offers care for special needs kids.. make a donation to them today. They are life savers for the parents, and the learning the children and adults do at those camps is life-changing. 
  • Air conditioning is not a luxury for our family. If things get "more than regular" difficult and I am hot, I cannot function. The first things I do is turn on the air conditioning when I am going to need to deal with something hard in our house or car.
  • My children love the outdoors. I've always known this, but it is amazing how happy they are when we are in a National or State park. It's like they might actually be 'getting' the lessons we are teaching them about the beauty of this country, and the amazing natural resources we have right here in our own state that no one else in the world has. 
  • From our house, it's possible to drive to Yosemite for dinner, and we will be doing that at least once every summer. It is ridiculous not to. If you live that close to a National Park, please go, or send a donation in to keep it well-staffed and full of rangers who answer every single question my daughter can squeeze in.
  • It's also possible to get to Muir Woods before lunch; even with a gaggle of children. We will be doing this more often as well. A lot of it is wheelchair accessible.
  • I get teary-eyed every time I'm in a National Park. I am just that sappy.
  • In-n-Out Burger can provide the right nutrition and fun for my family, and as long as we don't do it all the time, it is not only okay, it is a happy, inexpensive treat that makes everyone relaxed. And if you go to In-n-Out  and then stop by my house, assume one of my children will steal your milkshake. They don't care if you have a cold.
  • I need to put in automatic sprinklers in the front yard. I cannot actually water that many square feet every single day by hand. It looks like my front yard is a chapter out of The Grapes of Wrath, and the crops from our garden this summer are about as good as a 1937 Texas panhandle farm. 
  • My son has a lot to say if we are willing to wait patiently for him to answer the questions we ask him. Once again, he is teaching me that I have a lot to learn about listening and not assuming.
  • Home-brewed beer is awesome, not that hard to make, and something my husband and I can do together that does not involve leaving the house or watching television.
  • I miss my family when I don't see them, and even though I make them crazy, I think they might miss me too. As much as I love living in the Bay Area, it has been a summer with no visits to my family in the O.C. 
  • Buying school supplies for my
  • kindergartner was unexpectedly one of the most exciting and heartbreaking things I've done lately; there are no more babies in my house. 
  • Always buy more sunblock than you think you will need. Now that we have taught children that they must wear sunblock, it is very hard to get them out of the house/car without it.
  • I live in such a great, warm, activity-filled city, and we love going to all of the music in the park concerts. We have also discovered another version of a perfect summer Saturday in our town: farmer's market with friends, beer garten with those friends, and more friends, splashing and running around the downtown square fountains, then home for a family nap.
  • and, of course, I figured out that my children will get older no matter how hard I hug them. I knew we were all going to grow up someday, I just didn't see it coming for a few more years.
I hope you had a wonderful summer. We had our first day of kindergarten this morning: 

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