Monday, September 2, 2013

August up in smoke

{This post has been in my draft folder for a few weeks. I've started it, forgotten about it, re-read it, added to it, debated deleting it... but now that August is over, I'm hitting send... and looking forward to getting back on track in September.}  

August was going to be awesome. The kids and I were going to be in Idaho for almost a month. A whole month. After a school year and summer where I felt like I was a little mouse on one of those whirling circle things (better visual than frazzled mom in Volvo SUV, no?), I couldn't wait to just relax. In Idaho, I slow down. We all slow down. Our primary mode of transportation is by bike. We eat almost every meal outside. My parents dote on my kids. 

 In Idaho, my kids build stick forts. 

They could spend a whole day just building a stick fort. 

Heck, in Idaho, I might even unplug and help build a stick fort. 

At home, in Fairfield County, CT, I carefully "curate" (fancy word for plan out, week by week, often times as early as April, since everything here books up) a summer I think of as so balanced. Some inside camps, some outside camps, some creative camps, some sporty camps...and this means that I basically spend my entire summer driving to the morning day camps (usually in different towns, with the same start times, just to make sure I'm on my A-game) and then collapse briefly during the 1 hour they overlap in afternoon tennis clinics and golf lessons, dreading the fact that I still have to make dinner.

Summer is action-packed and F-U-N (all caps) for them. 
Totally crappy for me.

I will fully admit: I am not a very fun mom in June/July. I am a chauffeur on auto-pilot, who is often hot, sweaty, and tired.

Which is why, I really couldn't wait to get to Idaho.  Maybe because we don't live there-- we just excitedly visit for more and more weeks each summer-- I don't feel the need to have every day so scheduled. Maybe it's because despite the pressures I feel in Fairfield County to have my kids "doing something" and "good at something", I know deep down that they'd be just as happy building stick forts... so I go hide out in Idaho and let them do that. Of course I ogled various day camp offerings in Idaho, and I did sign the kids up for a week of woodworking / wilderness survival camp. (Old habits are hard to break...) But the rest of our weeks were to be unplanned. The mountains, trails, river, lakes and bike paths would be ours... whenever we decided to get dressed and start our days.

My kids spent post-camp afternoons whittling on my parents' patio. 

They made up elaborate board games well before the rest of us were awake.

They held art sales... to raise enough money to ride their bikes to the candy store. 

We spent afternoons reading outside. And at the end of a relaxing day, I didn't mind making dinners. In fact, I looked forward to it. 

Then, on one of our afternoon bike rides, we noticed the smoke from a forest fire off in the distance. 

And each day, the skies started to get smokier and smokier. 

I was out one evening, helping my little one master hand brakes (ok, truth be told, I was chasing him down the road, beer in hand, willing him to slow down before I had to actually catch up to him) and I looked up. There is this beautiful sight when smoke meets sunset. Beautiful in an awful way. "Please don't let these forest fires be close", I thought.

But they were close, and they were bad. We spent most of that second week inside, windows closed, everyone willing the fires to slow down. Board games offered limited distraction. Hundreds of "hot shot" firefighters were brought in. Events important to the town's economy and spirit were cancelled. People started leaving town because the air was so bad. Then they started evacuating whole neighborhoods.  

Neighborhood streets we biked down just days before were like chimneys. Everyone was sad and worried. We begrudgingly packed our suitcases up.   

We left in the wee hours, driving past flames you could clearly see. A scary and sad end to what was supposed to be an awesome month.

This was what our fridge looked like the night we flew home... I joked with my husband that really, he can't be serious that that's what it's stocked with... but two weeks later, I will fully admit that I've barely cooked/restocked it with our normal bevvy of fruits, veggies and ready-to-sit-down-to-a-family-dinner-meals. I feel porky from eating out so much. Scratch that, I am porky from eating out so much. I am totally off-track when it comes to healthful eating / dealing / being ready for a new school year. The blog's been quiet because, well, I've been in a total funk that what was supposed to be this relaxing, awesome August went up in flames, both literally and figuratively. And while I fully appreciate that this is a very "high class problem" to have,

still, I miss the August that was going to be so awesome. 

But, thankfully, Fall-- my favorite season-- is around the corner, and I am determined to get back on track as a busy mom, wife and friend. You all can come along for the ride, if you'd like. I'd love the company.

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