Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lessons from Bikini Bottom

Yesterday was a perfect beach day. Hazy, hot and humid everywhere but on the shore. Bright sunshine, barely a cloud in the sky, so off we went. I was up early, packed the cooler and the beach bag, then set about waking up the rest of the house. 
The two big boys, teenagers that they are, summer drunk and drowsy from late nights and days filled with soccer opted out, but the little one and hubby were raring to go.
We arrived at the beach around 10:00, and payed the $20 parking fee. Ouch! $20??  I know I know, seems a little pricey, but where else can you spend $20 for a full day 'o fun?
We unpacked the car, carried chairs, cooler and ourselves to the sand, picked the perfect spot and set up camp.
We chose Wingaersheek in Gloucester. The best little kid beach around. No huge waves, but at low tide you can walk for what seems like miles, there are rocks to climb on, and great tide pools for hunting. It's such a shallow beach that when the tide does come in the water is Carribean warm because of the sand that's been baking in the sun all day.
When we arrived the tide was pretty low, so the three of us started walking to see what we could find.
It wasn't long before I had a handful of sand dollars. We kept walking and Little found a huge shell sticking out of the sand, I picked it up and discovered the most disgusting looking sea slug oozing out from it. 
He named it Gary and I have to say, this disgusting slug looked nothing like his Sponge Bob counterpart. 
I put him back and started walking ahead of the Little One and the Dad, but I could hear their conversation.
The Dad has a little bit of Mike Brady in him. He will take any teachable moment and turn it into a life lesson and somehow, our disgusting, not so little sea slug was just what he needed.
He talked about how even the ugliest of creatures have a place in the world. (Food for seagulls)
Then somehow the conversation turned to Mr. Crabs and Mr. Square Pants himself. 
Little: Mr. Crabs would love these sand dollars, he loves money.
Dad: He is kind of cheap isn't he? He's not very nice to Sponge Bob either.
Little: That's because he makes Sponge Bob work harder so he can make more money at the Crusty Crab.
Dad: Well he still shouldn't treat Sponge Bob like that.
Me: (because I can't mind my own business and I'm a little critical at times...) Sponge Bob is too stupid to know better and quit.
Dad: He's not stupid, he's just young and naive and Mr. Crabs is taking advantage of him.
Little: Yeah mom,  and Sponge Bob loves his job.
Me: (now staying out of this one, sometimes it's better to just listen.)
Little: Hey look, little fish.
Dad: That's krill, it's what whales eat.
Little: You mean like Plankton. He's Mr. Crabs' arch enemy. He's always trying to steal the recipe for Crabby Patties. The Crabby Patties recipe is an old family recipe you know. He and Mr. Crabs were childhood friends, but now they hate each other.
Dad: See what greed will do. It tears people apart.
Little: Well maybe someday they'll work things out and be friends again.
Dad: Let's hope so.

I don't know how much Little got out of this conversation, but I enjoyed it, and do know I'll never look at a sea slug the same way again!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Art of Doing Nothing

Doing nothing sounds blissful in a too busy world. After a very productive, often stressful, yet triumphant school year, you would think the down-time would be very much appreciated, and it is. But here I am faced with all this time and I find it strangely uncomfortable. 
My days are filled with time, time for my kids, time for myself, time to read a juicy novel, time to catch up on all those house things that get put aside all year long, but I find it hard to have all this unstructured time. No set time to get up, shower, do my hair, get dressed, no schedules to keep, nowhere to be. 

Relaxing takes practice.

I find it hard to switch gears and with no "real" vacation planned,  I put a lot of pressure on myself to find things to do to keep the kids entertained. The beach one day, mini golf the next, The Willows, ice cream, the movies, camp, sailing, play dates, bike get the picture.
I feel horribly guilty when we just exist. I feel like a day hanging around the house is a day wasted in a summer that is all too fleeting. 
I know my friends reading this who work full time all year long are now shaking their heads and saying, "those teachers, they don't know how good they have it"  but the fact of the matter is, very few of us take the entire summer off. There are classes to teach, workshops to take, rooms to rearrange and, although none of us become teachers for summers off, it's a pretty good perk that I refuse to apologize for, because we work really hard all year...and we deserve it damn it! 
So here I sit, blogging from  my front porch, which has become my new favorite place to practice doing nothing. I'm getting better at it and should have it mastered...hmm, right around Labor Day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Sound of Summer

I went for a bike ride tonight after dinner. There is a bike path that begins just down the road from where I live, along a tidal salt marsh.   I was just riding, enjoying the evening, alone in my thoughts. I was thinking about how much I loved riding my bike when I was a kid and how much I still feel like a kid when I'm on it now. I started thinking about my friends then, how we'd ride up and down the street going nowhere in particular. 
I thought about how quiet it was there on the bike path, but then I started to listen and realized it wasn't really very quiet at all. I realized what I was hearing were the sounds of summer. 
A squeaky swing, a seagull's call, the clicking noise when pedals move backwards, the hollow crack of a wiffle ball bat, and the cardinal in the tree above.
I started thinking about other summer sounds, the ones I couldn't
 hear from my bike like waves crashing on the shore, kids squealing as they run from the waves before the cold water hits their toes, the cicadas that buzz on hot humid days, thunder rumbling in the distance bringing cooler air along with the rain, and fireworks bursting on the 4th.
 Some summer sounds are not as pleasant, too loud music from a car, the sudden roar of a Harley and the mosquito that buzzes in your ear at night as you pull the sheets up over your head hoping to keep from getting bitten. 
Then there are the crickets who save their summer songs 'til August, when the days are hot but the nights are cool. As much as I love the sound of those crickets I know what they are telling me. All too soon those summer sounds will fade and the sound I'll hear most often is the sound of the school bell.
I enjoyed my bike ride today, and I'm really glad to have a few more to take before the crickets start to chirp away the days.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just a suggestion...

I've been in a funk. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, I've been uncomfortable in my own skin, and I just can't get out of my own way. I'm not sure what it is. Maybe the very un-summer like weather, maybe it's not being on a real schedule or because I've been feeling physically yucky but whatever it is it effects everything I do. My ambition, my energy level, my blog!
I am slowly coming out of it, the sun is out, I feel better, I made myself go out to dinner with my girlie friends and I found a good book to read. But my blog...what to do with my blog?
So I took it to my facebook status and asked my friends for suggestions. I got some I think I can work with! Thanks to all my contributors!
1. Cooking and Recipes.
Let me just say, I used to like to cook, but then I had kids and all my creativity in the kitchen went right out the window. Not only did I have kids, but I gave birth to picky kids. It's the Irish in them. Meat and potatoes. I'm hoping my kitchen skills come back but they have been so dormant for so long now they may just be lost forever.

2. Rain.

3. Free things to do in Salem
At first I thought, free? No way. Living in a tourist town, there isn't much "free" going on, but then I started to do a little research and this is what I found.
Everything from walking garden tours to free films, to old graveyards, to the Witch Trial Memorial, Salem is full of history and just walking along the waterfront, or down Chestnut Street tells a lot about the past, present and future of a beautiful city. The Peabody Essex Museum is free for Salem residents and is a lot more kid friendly than I once thought. Time to open up my tourist eyes and get out there!

4. Irritating Stuff, Top Ten Things I hate.
Good suggestions but in the spirit of getting out of my funk, I'm going to avoid the negative for now...

5. Top Ten Things I no particular order.
  • my family
  • my friends
  • my job
  • the beach
  • the summer
  • the Red Sox
  • Starbucks green iced tea
  • my computer
  • writing
  • cookies
6. The Red Sox are 8-0 against the yankees but yet are still tied with them for first place.

Now I was going to completely ignore this suggestion because I really try to avoid talking about the yankees at all, but really, would it be a baseball season at all if these two teams were not neck and neck in the standings? (Note the use of the lowercase "y". Although the name "yankees" is a noun, they are far from proper.)
However, I will be in attendance at the game on Saturday night. I will be wearing my lucky hat and will say a prayer in the cathedral that is Fenway Park so expect things to shift in the proper direction.

7. The peacefulness and solitude of running.

The fact is, I hate running. I have to talk myself into every step. There is nothing peaceful about it for me. It's just the opposite, it causes inner turmoil. But, it's the quickest and most inexpensive way to drop a few pounds. I actually prefer to walk. I can let my thoughts wander, I can think, I can daydream, I can sing along to the tunes on my ipod. Sometimes I walk alone, sometimes Michael and I take ourselves to the beach and walk together, we have our best conversations that way. Walking puts me in a happy place, so I can safely say, unless I walk the 26.2, there are no Boston Marathons in my future.

So thanks to my friends, my blog post is done and I feel better. I knew they'd come through for me!

Thank you, Sandy, Regina, Angel, Michele, Robert and Don, and all of the rest of you, who make me laugh every single day.