Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer flew by in the blink of an eye

Where has the summer gone? I haven't been able to keep up with anything, including my blog.

The big highlight of the season for my husband and me was a two-week whirlwind trip through Switzerland and France. It was our first trip to Europe and the longest we have ever been away from our kids, so we were a little nervous. It didn't help that the day before we left, our partially finished basement was completely destroyed by a freak flash flood in our neighborhood. We do not live in a flood plain and generally don't have water problems with normal rain. Five inches of water in one hour is not normal rain. The city sewer and storm systems couldn't handle it. Neither could a lot of foundations in the neighborhood. We were one of the lucky ones. We had six inches of sewage/storm water standing in our basement. We lost all of our finished flooring and part of the walls. The cleaning bill was horrendous. But we didn't lose any foundation walls, like a house two doors down did. And we didn't lose our water heater, furnace, central air, washer and dryer or any major pieces of furniture, like so many others did. Those were the silver linings to an otherwise very very cloudy day.

The day after disaster hit, my husband and I traveled with another couple to Europe, leaving my wonderful parents-in-law with our kids and our wreck of a house. (They stayed for a few days to let the cleaning service in and out.) We spent several days with our European friends, peppered with our own explorations in-between. We saw the Swiss Alps, climbed down a mountain in Luzern; sat on the rocky shores of Lake Geneva; rode a chocolate train to tour a cheese factory, a chocolate factory and the ancient city and castle of Gruyere (where the cheese is from); visited the WWII memorials in Normandy; marveled at the preserved architecture in the medieval town of Bayeux; walked the streets and museums of Paris, celebrated Bastille Day with thousands of Parisians; explored the ancient Roman town of Arles and its coliseum; browsed the giant outdoor markets in L'Isle sur la Sorgue and took a cable car up a mountain to an old military fort in Grenoble. It was a very busy trip!

The boys had just as much fun as we did this summer. While we were on our trip, they got to spend a week with each set of grandparents. They ate potato chips, Ding Dongs, and parade candy to their hearts' content; picked blueberries; watched a parade; explored the zoo; saw cousins; dissolved into giggles when Grandma sat her cat on a whoopi cushion; and had lots of fun water and craft times.

Between the traveling, we kept busy with standard hot-weather fare, like swimming lessons for my two oldest sons. Seeing family, going to story times and play dates, visiting the local parks and catching up on doctor's appointments for our family of five rounded out the few weeks we had off from school and day care.

At my 7-year-old's annual physical, it was determined he needed glasses. Convincing him they were necessary left me with frazzled nerves and him on the verge of a temper tantrum. My husband and I pulled out the oldest trick in the book to head the public meltdown off at the pass: bribery. We promised him he could get a new Star Wars toy if he'd behave when it came time to pick out his glasses. The only string we attached was he had to use his piggy bank money to buy the toy. We should have added one other string: in order to keep the toy he had to actually wear the glasses! He did a great job deciding which pair of glasses to get and enjoyed getting to pick out and pay for his toy. Then we got home. He refused to wear them. I hadn't anticipated that little bump in the road, so I implemented a new glasses policy: According to the doctor, he was near-sighted, so he'd have to wear the glasses while he was at school and for sports. He could go without them when he had free time at home. On the first day of school, I slipped his glasses on him before he went out the door. I didn't get one peep of complaint from him. He kept them on until he walked out of school at the end of the day. He's been operating within the boundaries of the new policy ever since.

Whew! What a summer. I'm wondering how the coming year will go. On tap: fixing our "broken" basement, getting the house ready to sell (as the boys grow, the rooms seem to be shrinking), starting day care again, sending my oldest off to second grade and my 4-year-old to preschool, and preparing for my 7-year-old's back surgery next summer. I have a feeling this school year will go by just as fast as summer did.