Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Love-Hate Relationship With Back-To-School

I’ve been counting down the days. It’s getting close. I feel like I’m in a marathon race in which I’ve fallen on my face a dozen times, but I keep getting up because there’s a big prize at the finish. That prize likely consists of hours of alone time and possibly a margarita at noon, but it’s there. I’m salivating. I’m in the home stretch.

Back-to-school is almost here, y’all. For some of you, it’s already arrived. For some of us, there are a couple weeks left of summer break.

Summer bucket list item #27: the carousel
We’ve got just enough time to finish off that summer bucket checklist that I so optimistically posted in the kitchen back in May. You know the one, it has “TONS OF SUMMER FUN” on it. The Mary Poppins activity planner in me created it, thinking it would be a good idea to list countless exciting adventures like amusement park days, Omnimax Theatre trips, lemonade stands, pottery painting, pizza-making nights, crafts, and even hiking for God’s sake! She was fired around week three of summer vacation — yes, it was the pottery that broke her (pun intended).

At the start of the summer, we were all about our bucket lists. We were crafting the shit out of paper plates and pipe cleaners thanks to our Pinterest friends. We bought the kids all the candy they wanted at the matinee showing of Trolls. We hauled their beach towels, sand toys, sunscreens, and Capri Suns in our canvas totes over our shoulders every day for a week in Florida. We bared our muffin tops at the splash park. We did cannonballs off the diving board because the kids begged us to.

But let’s admit, summertime wears us down. The hot, sweaty days at the park, the whiny days at the pool, the sibling bickering from morning to night, the “I’m bored” chants from four little people who couldn’t possibly know what true boredom is, and of course, the mealtime preparations every day for 80 days straight. Summer has become an unbearable eternity.

So we count the days until they put on those brand new backpacks filled with freshly sharpened No. 2s and all the other school supplies you painstakingly gathered, and march them through those big double doors at school. The school that will keep them most all of the day for the next nine months. It means I will be able to sit at the pool alone for a couple hours on those last few summer days. It means I could probably schedule a massage on a Wednesday morning and stop for an iced mocha afterward. I could drink it alone. My heart just skipped a beat. It could possibly mean I could take an afternoon nap before the bus gets here, and I could listen to a completely empty house save only for the hum of the air conditioner.

All this sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is. Here’s where the love-hate part comes in.
Baring it at the splash park
We all know what misery comes with back-to-school, and it starts with a capital H.

I’m already having anxiety about the holy hell that will be the homework my fifth-grade son is going to bring home. It’s a lot of fractions and geometry and figuring out how many more miles Sally needs to go on the train to catch up with Paul, who left three hours ago with a sandwich he divided into 6/8 or something. I just hope for Paul’s sake he has wine for Sally.

I’m not ready to handle. Not only will it be impossible fifth-grade homework on the kitchen table, it’ll be two times the second-grade homework, which has apparently gotten a lot harder than it was in 1983. They are doing some serious wizardry in 2017 classrooms because I have to consult Google for every question in that math workbook. I only hope kindergarten homework on top of it all won’t send me over the edge.

I’m not ready to handle the 6 a.m. alarm clock buzz to drag four kids out of bed in order to get them dressed, fed, brushed, packed up, and dropped off for that 7 a.m. school bell. And packing lunches — for four kids every day for nine months? I’m hyperventilating at the thought.

We all know back-to-school also means we undoubtedly turn into Taxi Mom. Get those minivans cleaned out ladies because we are going to be living out of them for the next nine months. School pickup and drop-off, academic team practice, piano practice, soccer practice (make that four different soccer team practices), gymnastics league — I’m 1 or 2 miles away from running the minivan into a ravine some nights.

But I think the worst part about back-to-school — at least for most of us middle-northern-part-of-the-country moms — has got to be when cold weather shows up at our door. The nippy September mornings, cold and rainy October days, the frosty November mornings when you can’t possibly find the energy to roll out of bed, and the frigid, snowy December days when the last thing you want to do is look for four winter coats, hats, boots and mismatched mittens. I’m exhausted thinking about it.

I guess these sweaty park days and popsicles on the swing set don’t sound too bad right now. Yes, summer is dwindling down. We’re in the homestretch. We’re exhausted, yes, but there’s a fresh new version of exhaustion coming soon.

Soak in those 90-degree days. Sidewalk chalk the hell out of that driveway. Let them stay up to catch fireflies. One more cannonball. We need to finish strong, moms. Keep at the list. Eye on the prize.

This blog post was originally published Aug. 15, 2017 at

Friday, August 11, 2017

Countdown til Back to School: 5 Survival Tips

If any of you moms are like me, the final days of summer leading up to that glorious return to school have got you feeling like you are running the longest, sweatiest marathon – a marathon in which there are no cups of water lovingly shoved in your face when you need refreshment. Some of us want to faint and give up – but we can’t because we know the other runners will literally trample our bodies. That’s what the last few days of summer can feel like for mothers of little ones.

We’ve done the amusement parks, we’ve done the zoo. We’ve baked in the sun at the splash pad and fried our shoulders at the beach. Our Pinterest kids craft bin stash is drained. We are all out of pizza coupons for Friday nights and we’ve exhausted every kids movie available on Netflix (we are literally down to the bottom of the barrel of the Pup Stars sequels right now). The kids are bored. You know this, because they’ve only said it about eleventeenthousand times.

I know you are exhausted. Me, too. So here’s where we need to help each other. We need to ask fellow moms, sisters, our faraway Facebook family members whose kids are grown (the ones who tell us they’d “give anything to have their little ones back home”). Ok then, I’m asking you, tell me what to do with them. Because at this point, anything is better than the Nick Jr. marathons I find myself turning on during these waning summer days.

In the meantime, here are a couple of my own suggestions for anyone who might be struggling with ideas for the kids, before we send them off to school for nine months. Here are my easy go-to’s for keeping the kids occupied at least a fraction of the day when you just can’t think of anything else.
Let’s finish this marathon to the back to school finish line together, y’all. Pinterest, eat your heart out.

1. RAINING MARSHMALLOWS. If your kids are bored, but you know they aren’t hungry (because they ate an entire loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter about three minutes ago), then proceed to the pantry and pray you have mini marshmallows. Take them outside and tell them to close their eyes. Bust open that bag and start throwing marshmallows up in the sky, because it’s raining marshmallows! I promise lots of giggles as they scramble to find as many marshmallows as they can and shove them in their mouths. You’ll laugh for at least 10 minutes, because of course, they can’t talk with all those marshmallows in their cheeks. This also works with big marshmallows, if you didn’t already exhaust them on s’mores night.
It's raining marshmallows: because let's face it - you're out of ideas

2. PILLOW CRASH PILES. I know you probably spent all day picking up the basement, but let’s face it, it’s going to get messy again in about five minutes, so don’t sweat the mess on this one. Collect every pillow and cushion you own and put it in a big pile. You know what to do. Let them take turns running and jumping into this pile. This never gets old – that is of course, until someone bangs her head into the TV. Game over.

3. WET BUTTS. It’s a hot day. You’re sweating the hell out of those yoga pants, I know. You don’t have the energy to pack up and drag them to the pool today – we’ve all been there. Let me tell you about a little game we played in 1986. It’s called fill ‘er up, and it’ll be your savior for at least an hour or so. Tell the kids to put their bathing suits on and get the hose out. Have them line up and stick a hose down the back of their suit and then shove them off to run a lap around the house with their ‘full tank’ until they come around to fill up again. It’s always fun to be in charge of the hose, sitting in your lawn chair, lowering the property values in your neighborhood with these shenanigans, or you could also get an older child to do the filling up. Either way, you’ll get a lot of laughs and so will they.

4. THEY ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM. They want ice cream. Again. At this point in the summer, we have been to Graeters way too many times and have paid way too much for black raspberry chip cones and turtle sundaes. Seriously, I own at least 89% stock in the company and I should at least have a flavor named after me by now (something tells me it would be called the Vanilla Nut Job). So if you’re all out of money too, but the kids want that ice cream fix, get yourself some cheap vanilla ice cream, put it on the table and raid your pantry for every possible item that could make a good topping. Get out the old sprinkles from last year’s birthday party, chocolate chips leftover from baking cookies, crush some graham crackers, find some M&Ms in the picked over Halloween candy bucket – anything works. Put the toppings in little cups and set it up in a do-it-yourself station on the table. They are going to love scooping it themselves and pouring on toppings (we let the kids use special bowls we painted at the pottery place in our optimistic week 1 of summer vacation). It’s a cheap treat and mom rules for letting them have all that crap on top. Suck it ice cream man!

5. ICE. Here’s where we’ve just plain given up. My kids love this one. I fill big bowls, tubs and pitchers with ice cubes and put them on the deck. I give them spoons, spatulas, tongs, ladles and even a potato masher. They will crush, smash, pour and eat ice for longer than they ever play with any expensive Christmas toy I buy them. The best part is the fact that when it all melts, you just give them more ice. I’m not sure whether I should be embarrassed because of my lack of creativity here or patent this as the cheapest, most brilliant summer activity. Something tells me I should just pin it.

My blog was originally published here at Cincinnati Moms Blog: