Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School Bleus by Diane LeBleu

Whew! I made it through another summer with my sanity (mostly) intact. Four children and a husband that works out of the home office can make for a very chaotic situation for the months that we call summer a ‘break’. A break for whom, that’s what I want to know. The teachers? Most certainly. They work hard all year for very little compensation so I think their ten weeks off is well deserved. For working parents who have to cobble together camps and carpools for their youngsters while trying to fit in a family vacation for themselves. Definitely not a restful period. And for the group of us known as stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) or stay-at-home-dads (SAHDs), we look forward to the time when kids are out of school so we aren’t running ourselves ragged trying to stick to activity and academic schedules and an early bedtime. So why is it that we also look so eagerly to have our kids back in school when this ‘routine’ must start anew? I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s because I need a break!

Looking back at all the highlights of the summer it seems as if we are actually busier in the off-season when we are supposed to be sleeping late, relaxing, and catching up with the friends we don’t see much in the year. We have so many to recount, I don‘t even know if I should try but I do have very fond recollections of our visits with our dear friends the Wrights, who regaled us with fantastic and humorous stories of life in Budapest and the Castillo family who we miss so much and still cannot convince to move back to Texas. We went to Schlitterbahn and Corpus Christi and spent many hours at the pool either practicing for or attending swim meets. Danielle flew unaccompanied not once but twice this summer – first to see Grammy and Grandpa Bob in Albuquerque and then to visit Maggie and her family in Roanoke, VA. They got to see the great sights of our Capitol and the Smithsonian Museum. Danielle’s favorite was – the Hope Diamond, of course. I got a jailbreak to Las Vegas with Holly for our annual girls retreat. Travis got to attend a Mad Science camp and Six Flags in San Antonio and Danielle finally qualified for STAGS for the 400 Freestyle (no small feat!) and drove down to San Antonio to compete. Oh, and we got a kitten. I usually only hear the phrase ‘Mom, I’m bored’ come up mid-way through July when it seems all the neighbor kids are on vacation or at camp. This is met with a favorite quote from my own mother ‘Bored are you? Well, let me put you to work. I’ve got toilets to clean, floors to mop, windows to wash. Where would you like to start?’ ‘Bye, I’m going to (insert name here)’s house! I’ll be back later!’ That usually does the trick.

Even after all that, the end of summer vacation always seems to sneak up on us at the LeBleu household. It’s probably because we wait until the end of the summer before embarking on a traditional family vacation. We fly the whole brood to the beautiful northwest city of Tacoma, WA in August since the weather here is so dang hot and the weather there is consistently warm and dry at that time of the year. We have tried in the past to go in late June or early July only to be met with chilly temps and wet days which is worse than 100+ days in Austin. We just got back from our trip that I’ve affectionately titled ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ due to my youngest girls terrible sleeping habits, which only added to my summer vacation fatigue (when will it be over!). It was two weeks of family fun and gorgeous weather – the natives complained a bit about the 90+ days but I was so happy to have dry air that can actually hold a hairstyle that I did not mind a bit. By the time we flew back, we only had three days left before the first day of school and little time for the boredom complaints to resume.

Danielle and Travis really enjoy school and do well – once they are back in school with their friends and teachers and activities. When they are out, however, they romanticize being home and not having to get up to an early morning alarm. In fact, on the run up to school this year, both of them were pleading with me to (stifled guffaw) HOME SCHOOL them. You might think the look of horror on my face would be enough to deter them but oh no, they kept coming at me. I tell them Mom would need to be taken away in a straight jacket if I attempted to educate them on my own. That seemed to satisfy them – at least for this summer.

Last night was our first school night in many moons. We prepared diligently with clothes laid out carefully and alarms set precisely to go off at the crack of dawn. Danielle even got up BEFORE dawn to shower and make lunch for herself and her brother. We shall see how long THIS enthusiasm lasts. I give her one night of late swim practice before I am poking her out of bed with a big stick and threats of extra housecleaning chores. There was no whining this morning about having to ride bikes to school on behalf of Travis, who is the pokiest rider of the neighborhood posse and no last minute tantrums about ill fitting socks (well, ok there was one) or heavy backpacks.

Looking ahead, we have four nights of swim practice this week and two of football when Tom and I will once again be thrust back into the routine of too many routines. Another summer under our belts, they come so quickly now. I know these are days I should treasure – I need to remind myself of that more often. Two more years until Sabrina joins the back to school gang and three for Caroline and then I really will have something to celebrate. For now, I’ll enjoy the few hours of daylight peace that I am still thankful to have while the little girls nap. A time to write, a time to sit, a time to catch my breath before the next round of mayhem descends on the LeBleu home. Oh look at the time! School is almost out – where did my day go?

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