Summer Summer Summer

Summer is upon us in full force, it seems. I guess I should feel lucky that it is nearly the end of July, and I am only just now feeling the heat. But man! I am really feeling it over the last couple of weeks. We had a few days in the low 80s this past week, and I found myself reveling in how cool and refreshing it felt. How sad is that? I’ll tell you: S.A.D. Extremely so.

Remember how I talked at length a few years ago about not being a fan of Spring? Yep. You can lump Summer in there, too. I am not a Summer person. I never have been. I don’t enjoy the beach. I don’t love lounging by the pool. I don’t sunbathe. Not that anyone really can sunbathe any more, but I never did it even back when we still had ozone. I’m so pasty-white that I’m practically invisible. Seriously. I bet I could get sunburned from looking at a picture of the sun. I’ve never been a big fan of participating in Summer sports. When school was out for the Summer, I was that strange kid who was looking forward to reading all day long.

After becoming a Mom, I found myself looking forward to Summer more than ever, especially after my daughter started school. Summer was “Mommy time”, meaning it was my time to spend with my sweet little girl without the interruption of school or homework or projects or lessons or after school activities. It was a time to read stories together, take walks in the evening, and just generally slow down. During the school year, it was like my daughter belonged to the whole world. But she was all mine for the Summer.

Summer this year should have been more of the same, but doubled. My daughter is going into her senior year of high school, so this is pretty much my last chance at a “Mommy time” Summer. I should have been looking forward to walks and talks and going to movies together and all the things.

But, of course, this Summer is not at all like any Summer that has come before it. And y’all know why: The ‘Rona. It’s like my brain was so busy trying to catch up with the reality of life within the pandemic that I wasn’t mentally ready for Summer at all. It’s like I had no idea Summer even existed until it was upon us in all of its sweltering, sizzling glory. I know that sounds goofy. How could I not know Summer was coming? Of course, I knew it was out there. It’s just that everyday life has been physically and mentally exhausting since Spring. It’s almost like time stopped completely when we went into social-distance-at-home-quarantine back in March. I know the outside world has continued to turn. But the things that were touchstones for me have all stopped because we seldom leave our house. I feel like I went to sleep one night in the crisp Spring coolness of a March evening and woke up to find myself in the midst of a sizzling July day. It’s disconcerting.

Has this last Mommy Summer been a total bust? No. Not at all. Because, amid the anxiety and worry and mask wearing and cleaning off groceries and staying at home … In and around all of that, the little moments of life continue on. I’ve had evening walks with my daughter. We have binged anime together. We share popcorn every evening. We have hung out in her room and talked. There have been so many fabulous talks. I love hearing my daughter’s opinions and thoughts on things. I have learned a lot this Summer, and I have realized something pretty fantastic. There is an amazing, kind, and wise young woman standing where my little girl of yesterday used to be. And you know what? I think that might make this the best Summer yet.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 5, Part 2

It is a rainy, rainy night tonight in my corner of the universe. Along with rain, there is occasional thunder. And along with occasional thunder, there are two scaredy-dogs vying for the limited “cavern space” under my desk. All of this makes me wish I was somewhere else. And where might that be?

Yep! You guessed it!! My mind has turned to fond memories from our island adventure in Maui this Summer. So I thought it would be a great time to head in here and FINALLY wrap things up with the second part of my Day 5 post. If you recall, the first part of Day 5 started in the wee hours of the morning with a fairly long drive and the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen in my life. And then, there were pancakes. Which were also pretty darn good. An amazing sunrise and lots of clouds and equally amazing pancakes is already a pretty full day. But our plans for Day 5 had only begun. Because we were headed back to THE ROAD TO HANA!!! (In my mind, I am saying those words in a movie announcer voice. Because, you know, it needs to be that way.)


So remember how we had already traveled this road? And made it only halfway? Um, yeah. So here’s what we did: We went back to Mile 0 and started all over again. This time, we were better prepared. We had snacks. We had water. We had a full gas tank. Even our Road to Hana description app was in full working order! Of course, we were all exhausted from getting up at o-dark-thirty in the AM. But no adventure is perfect. Our time in Maui was coming to a close. If we wanted to travel down this road in order to see what we might see, we needed to jump on it!


Originally, I thought I would organize this post in a more or less chronological order of all the sights we saw and the stops we made along the way. But the truth is that there is a LOT to see along the way. And I took a lot of pictures. And it has been quite a while since our trip. And, well, I am feeling lazier than lazy. Which means I am going to head into this post piece-meal and picture-heavy.

There were some things along the way that have stayed with me. Even now, months later, I think about the magic and wonder they inspired in my heart. And this is one of them. As we traveled the twists and turns and peered over the edges of cliffs, I kept seeing these weird, fuzzy-humpy shapes out of my window. It took me a little while to realize they were bamboo — forests and forests of bamboo, growing up the mountains all around us. It rained off and on as we drove, and, once the mists cleared, the sunlight hit the edges of every leaf. It was as if the whole world was chased in silver. Or, maybe, like I had traveled to some strange and unknown planet. It was like seeing LIFE for the first time, ever.


Of course, there were more waterfalls along the way. Some were hidden away, far off the road and along the untraveled path. It took some hiking to reach these. I was tired that day, from getting up so early, and I didn’t have the mental energy to hike to most of them. But I managed a few. It was worth the extra effort!


There is something life-affirming about standing under a canopy of green and feeling the world growing around you. If I closed my eyes, I could practically hear the life hum around me as the wind rustled leaves above my head and small, unseen critters rustled through the leaves as we passed. And the rain! Is there anything as beautiful as the sound of rain falling and hitting every single leaf on the way down?


As expected, there was something to see around every twist and turn. At the bottom of every hill and the bend of every curve, things came to us. Some of them were small and delicate. Grace and beauty, right before my eyes. There were times when I found myself holding my breath as I tried to take all of it in with my eyes and my heart.


And some of the things were mysterious. Where might they lead? Were there fairies somewhere in there, just waiting to grant wishes? Or, perhaps, biding their time until they had a chance to perform some mischief?


We visited my beloved Rainbow Eucalyptus trees again. And they were just as incredible the second time!


We even visited the Garden of Eden. And you know, if it could exist anywhere on Earth today, I think Maui would be the place. At the very least, it was fun to see these little guys owning their little patch of grass. Like a couple of divas or bosses in the making! Of course, they have a great teacher in their Mama. She was beautiful, majestic, and just a little scary. We were careful not to get too close!


And, of course, there was the ocean — always the ocean. It was our constant companion, visible just over the nearest cliff or next hill. Its moods were varied. Its sound was soothing. And it was always beautiful. I think I could look at the ocean for forever.


And, at the end of it all, a beach of black sand. It was unexpected. And mysterious. And the ocean seemed intent on taking it back, one grain at a time.


At the end of the day, we headed for home knowing we had truly seen everything. We had hiked up cliffs. We had felt the rain on our faces. We had walked beneath canopies of lush green. We laughed and told stories. We made memories. It was a good day.


Maui Summer Adventure: Day 5, part 1

Believe it or not, I am finally — FINALLY!! — closing in on the end of my family’s Summer adventure in the fairytale land of Maui. And it has only taken me … what? A month? Two months? Yep. Blogger fail! I should have been blogging this trip in real time, but I was too busy living the memories. And that’s okay.

Day 5 was, by far, our busiest day. It was so busy that I think I am going to split it into two posts. Because one post can not contain all the fun. Actually, it’s because I have too many photographs I want to share. I’m selfish that way.

Going into it, I was excited about Day 5. This was the day we had scheduled to go to Haleakala to see the sunrise. Do you know what the worst thing is about wanting to see the sunrise? I bet you can guess. I’ll give you a moment to consider …

Yep! You’ve got it. The worst thing about wanting to see the sunrise is that you have to get up way before the sun. Otherwise, you miss the whole thing, right?

We were going with my brother-in-law’s family, including two adorable babies. Packing up for babies, with all the things you might need along the way, like bottles and diapers and pacifiers and toys and snacks and more diapers, is not an easy task. Our destination was at least 2 hours from our hotel. That’s two hours if you know exactly where you are going and you are familiar with the twisting and turning roads. We didn’t have either of those things working in our favor, and we wanted my brother-in-law and his wife to have plenty of time to get those sweet babies ready for the road. We knew we would need some extra time.


We had a 2AM wakeup call on the morning of Day 5. Just let that sink in for a moment and think about how I am a night owl, all the way. And, after five days in Hawaii, I still hadn’t recovered from the 6-hour time difference. Let’s just say 2AM was painful, and leave it at that. The night before, I had briefly considered not going to bed at all. I am a night owl, after all. And I’ve been up past 2AM lots of times, with no ill effects.

In the end, I decided I would try to get some sleep, because I knew we had a busy day ahead of us. We were quickly coming to the end of our trip, and we all wanted to fit in the last couple of extremely time-consuming tourist things we had planned from the beginning. I went to bed around 8PM the night before. I ended up not falling asleep until around 10 or 11PM, which meant I hit our 2AM wake-up with about 3-4 hours of sleep. It was not pretty. And I was not in a good mood. But I managed to get up. And I stayed awake to keep my husband company during the entire 2 hour drive. That’s what counts!!


I don’t really have much to share about the drive from our hotel to Haleakala. It was a long drive, and, of course, it was dark. There is something kind of mysterious and a little creepy about taking a long drive in the dark. The view outside your window takes on an unearthly, eerie kind of appearance. Things you would recognize during the day look strange and unexpected in the dark. We passed a lot of the drive in silence. I think everyone in the car was feeling the pain of our early departure time.

Haleakala is a massive shield volcano. It forms about 75% of the island of Maui, which is pretty incredible, when you think about it. The highest part is 10,023 feet above sea level, and you can see it from pretty much anywhere on the island. Being a know-nothing tourist, I had been looking at Haleakala all along, from Day 1 of our trip. But I didn’t realize it!

The name “Haleakala” means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. There is a legend that says the demigod Maui stood on Haleakala’s summit to lasso the sun from its journey across the sky. He slowed its descent and made the days longer for all of us. Sound familiar? If you’ve watched Moana about a hundred times like I have, it will definitely sound familiar. And you probably hear Maui singing, “You’re welcome!” in the back of your mind.


Luckily for us, Haleakala is now a National Park. It is such a treasure, and I am so grateful to the people of Hawaii for sharing it with all of us. Some initial research before our trip told us that the Haleakala Visitor Center was one of the best places to view the sunrise. The Visitor Center is at around 9,740 feet above sea level, and I believe there is another place to view the sunrise that is somewhat higher. I am not sure of the elevation for the second viewing area, because it was closed off by the time we arrived. We found parking at the lower level, near the Visitor Center, and that is where we stayed to watch the sun make its appearance for the day.

This is a popular destination. On any given morning, the parking area at the Visitor’s Center is full to bursting. So you need a reservation to reserve parking. For our purposes, this meant we needed a reservation to see the sunrise, because we were not already in the park. We were going there specifically for the sunrise. Let me tell ‘ya: We had to fight for our reservation. You can reserve a spot ahead of time, but you have to do it months and months before your trip. Things have been crazy (and not in a good way) in our lives for a while now, and my husband and I didn’t plan far enough out from our travel dates. It just kind of slipped through the cracks.

But we had a fall-back plan. Each day the Park Service releases a certain number of reservations for the following day. These reservations get snapped up in milliseconds after they go live on the website, which means you have to be there — locked, loaded, and ready to go! — at the second the spaces for the next day go live. This led to quite an adventure of me trying to log into the website, grabbing a parking reservation, and paying for it before the transaction timed out … all on my phone … all while we were traipsing around various places on the island. Guys, this was stressful! Mobile service is spotty at best. You might have service in one spot but then travel a mile down the road and have no service at all. I did this dance several days in a row, and it wasn’t pretty. Inevitably, my husband ended up mad at me because I couldn’t type fast enough or I couldn’t make the mobile service last. But, I finally managed to reserve a spot. Huzzah!! I don’t mind telling you I did a victory dance, right there on the side of the highway. (I had made my husband pull over at a turn-out overlooking the ocean. Not for the view, but because it had mobile service. Three whole bars!!!)

Luckily, my husband’s brother was able to get a spot on the same day, which is why we got to go together. Otherwise, we would have had to try cramming everyone into one car, and I am not sure that would have worked. I don’t think there’s a car in the universe big enough to hold all of us, plus two car seats.


I did not know what to expect once we arrived. Not really. I went into this experience thinking I knew exactly what to expect and exactly what was going to happen. It’s a sunrise. I’ve seen this before. We’ve all seen it before, right? I’m older than I want to type out loud, and I have seen the sun come up on many, many occasions so far throughout my life. If I am lucky, I will get to see it come up on many more.

As I got out of the car and carefully made my way over the dark ground toward the edge of the viewing area, I quickly realized I had to ditch all my preconceived expectations. Because anything I had experienced up to this point in life … any sunrise I could point to in my memory, no matter how spectacular … was going to fall far short.

The excitement and expectation started building right away, from the moment my feet touched the ground. It was dark in the parking area, although we were a little bit late arriving. And there was a faint glimmer of light far in the distance. Like lemmings, we shuffled our way over the parking lot toward the edge of the viewing area. And when I say “edge”, I mean EDGE. Keep in mind it is still dark. I couldn’t see anything in front of me, but I could sense the edge of the crater or cliff ahead. I could sense how the earth would suddenly drop off beneath my feet if I took a wrong step. There wasn’t any real danger of this, as the edge is fenced off, making it impossible for anyone to go right to the brink by accident. And yet, the feeling was there, equal parts exhilaration and terror.


As I stood there, facing in the direction of the faint glimmer of light, I could see shapes in front of me and in the distance. They were big and kind of lumpy. They seemed to be moving ever so slowly, swaying with the wind. My brain could not make sense of what I was seeing. Trees? Bamboo? Something else? It was eerie but also beautiful.

There were people all around. And yet, it was silent — not the kind of quiet where you can tell people are trying hard not to talk, but the kind of quiet that is filled with awe and an air of tense expectation. I could hear people shuffling their feet across the ground, shifting their weight from foot to foot in an effort to stay warm. Here and there, I could hear patches of conversation. Voices were low and hushed, so words remained just out of the range of hearing. Smaller children and shorter adults moved and jostled a little bit for a better position. Mostly, we all waited. I have never felt more alone and at peace in a large group of people. I’m not sure how else to explain it.


Slowly, the light in the distance started to grow. It began to spread across the sky in lazy, creeping sweeps of golden-red, pink, and orange. As the pinks touched their edges, I realized for the first time what the ominous-looking shapes in front of me were: Clouds. I was standing at the edge of this crater, just behind the low barrier, and I was looking out on a world of clouds. No wonder my mind couldn’t make sense of it in the dark. I had no frame of reference in my memory. I’ve never been inside the clouds before, so close that it seems I could walk out onto them. It was so many things: amazing, breathtaking, terrifying. Even now, months removed from the experience, I can’t separate my feelings from each other.


The light grew and grew. It continued to spread across the sky before us. The clouds became more distinct, colored with syrupy golds and oranges. The sky beyond started to turn blue. I held my breath as the world seemed to pause, just for a moment …

And then, the guest of honor arrived. The sun, in all her glory, peering over the farthest clouds right in front of us.

I stood there and watched as the colors faded and the sun solidified her presence in the day. I’m not sure exactly why I waited. The show was over, and people around me had started to move off toward their cars, already eager to get out of the parking lot and traverse the winding road down the mountain. And yet, I stayed a little bit longer. I guess I didn’t want it all to end. I knew it couldn’t last forever. Soon, I would have to go back to my car, too. I would have to get in and buckle my seatbelt and travel back down to the world below. But part of me wanted to stay in the clouds.


In a way, I got my wish. Because the clouds chased us all the way back down the mountain. I have seldom seen such beautiful shapes. I loved seeing them rolling over each other, forming and re-forming as they went along. We drove with the windows down, and the air was crisp, cool, and fresh. It felt good on my face and on the hand I trailed out of the window.

Getting back down the mountain took a while. Remember, there were a LOT of people up there to see the sunrise. And we had to wind our way back down single file. The road was narrow, and everyone seemed okay with taking their time. Really, they had to be. There wasn’t another choice. I was absolutely okay with it, because it gave me more time to see the clouds and look at the amazing scenery. I hope I can go back to Maui some day and explore Haleakala National Park a little more. Of course, I would like to see that amazing sunrise again. But I would also like to hike the trails and see some of the scenery that beckoned to me outside my car window.


Once we were out of Haleakala National Park, breakfast became our next order of business. At this point, it felt more like: BREAKFAST!!!! Because I was starving. We had grabbed food on the way to the park, but that had been hours earlier. Having said good-bye to the clouds and the sun, I had pancakes on my mind. Or maybe waffles. Or french toast. Or regular toast. And maybe some eggs.

We had reservations at Kula Lodge & Restaurant, which is about thirty minutes away from the park. The lodge and restaurant are about 3200 feet above sea level, and they are located in the small agricultural town of Kula. This lovely little town is on the western slope of Haleakala Crater, and some quick internet research told me it has a population of about 7,000. I think these must be 7,000 of the luckiest people on Earth. Because they live in a true natural wonderland. I can’t even describe the beauty that surrounded us, other than to say it was Paradise.

Kula Lodge & Restaurant was built in the 1940s. It is a sprawling property, where one building seems to tumble right into the next. And all of it clings to the slopes of the mountain. The lodge is surrounded by gardens, and it seemed everything was in full bloom when we visited. As you sit in the restaurant, you can look out across acres and acres of farmland. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many shades of green. You can see distant towns and, even farther away, the ocean glimmers in the sunlight of a new day.


I found Kula Lodge enchanting. It is a magical place sitting smack-dab in the middle of another magical place. I almost felt like I had stepped out of my own life and into a fairytale. Everything was perfect: the gardens, the views, the way the buildings blended seamlessly into their surroundings. Just … everything.

Breakfast was delicious, too! My daughter and I still talk about how these were some of the best pancakes we have ever had. We ate with my brother-in-law’s family, of course. And we took our time. We lingered over our meal and over second and third cups of coffee. We told stories and laughed at silly jokes. For me, it was peaceful and enjoyable just being with everyone. I think some nice memories were made. I know I carry many within me!

Once we had stuffed ourselves sufficiently, we paid our check and headed back to our cars. I think we were all a little bit reluctant to return to the real world. And yet, more adventure beckoned. Because the day was just beginning.

And by the way, that 2AM wake-up call? Yeah. Totally worth it.


Maui Summer Adventure: Day 4

It is taking me so much longer to blog about our Maui trip than it did to take and enjoy the actual trip! Isn’t that always the way things go, though? Vacation days seem to fly by on lightning-quick wings, but, once you are home and trying to savor those memories, “real life” manages to get in the way time and again. And that’s exactly what has happened to me with this series of posts. In between my last post and today, we have started a new school year, with all the weirdness and anxiety and craziness that comes with it. My husband has been worrying over his job. My daughter has had endless band practices and activities. There have been football games. There have been doctor’s appointments. Today required an unplanned veterinary visit for one slightly barfy dog. And so it goes. The more I think about it, the more I realize I really NEED some more “Maui time”!

When we last left off our Maui Summer Adventure, my family and I had spent a day enjoying beach time (for them), blog time (for me), a long and leisurely drive to Mama’s Fish House, and a yummy dinner with my brother-in-law and his family. Day 3 was a pretty great day, and I went to bed that night thinking of the sound of the ocean and the wild macaw I had seen earlier in the evening. And that brings us to Day 4, which dawned early for my husband and daughter. My daughter was feeling so much better that we decided it would be safe for her to go snorkeling. And so, she and my husband set out early that morning for their tour. (Not a “3 hour tour”, though. Because that would be bad.)

Truthfully, I don’t remember what I did that morning. Which tells me I probably slept in, grabbed a late breakfast or early lunch, and did something totally boring and wonderful with my morning. In short, I probably sat around and read a book on my Kindle.

If I am recalling my days correctly, it was about mid-afternoon by the time my husband and daughter got back. They took quick showers, and then my husband decided we should set out on The Road to Hana.


Keep in mind it was around 2 or 2:30 PM by the time they both showered and changed and ate a little lunch. I have to admit I was against the outing. I was still tired and sore from all the travel we did to get to Maui. And, even though I had been able to have a couple of mornings to laze around and do nothing, I was also tired from the feeling of go-go-go that had surrounded our trip so far. My husband and I have very different ideas of vacation. I like to do a whole lot of nothing. My husband wants to do a whole lot of EVERYTHING. Through almost 20 years of marriage, we have yet to strike a balance between those two things. We usually end up doing all the things; otherwise, he makes me feel like a big drag. And, maybe I am a big drag. But I digress.

The point is this: It was already late in the day. All the information I had read about the Road to Hana said it was an all-day thing. I was tired. My husband was tired. My daughter was tired. It felt like a Very Bad Idea to set out on a journey on a winding, mostly deserted road in this fashion.

I was overruled. My husband had it on his list of things to do. He had mentally budgeted the remainder of this day to do it. And, by golly, we were going to go! With much grumbling and grumping, we all headed to the car. My sister-in-law decided to join us, so we picked her up at her hotel. And then, we headed to the beginning.


Mile Zero. We paused to take a picture to commemorate this auspicious moment. In my life, I have found myself on many journeys. Most of the time, I haven’t realized I was on a journey when I first set out. It was only when I was about halfway through that I would look behind me and think, “You know … I should have paid more attention at the start of all this.” So this moment, at Mile Zero, felt pretty huge to me in a spiritual way. “How many times,” I asked myself, “Can I realize, right at the start, that I am going on a journey full of wonder and adventure?” (At least two, it turns out. But that is a story for another blog post. And don’t worry, Friends … it will come.)

We checked that we had plenty of water. We double checked that there was gas in the car. Our tank was half full. Based on what I had read about this outing, I wanted to have a full tank from the beginning. But, remember, everyone was already tired and grouchy. So I bit my tongue and said a little prayer that we wouldn’t get stuck somewhere on the Road to Hana. Never to be found again. Like, for real. Because it would be entirely possible that the feral chickens would eat us. Seriously. These guys (girls?) are everywhere!


Before heading to Maui, I read a few things about the Road to Hana. I read about how the journey is uplifting and a spiritual experience. I read about how people start at Mile Zero feeling one way, and they end up at the end of it all feeling lighter or wiser or just … more. I was expecting a LOT from this trip, guys! I thought it would be a beautiful journey of self-discovery and awakening. I thought I would come to the end, take a deep breath, and walk away feeling … something.

None of that happened for me on Day 4. I started the trip feeling grouchy, tired, and grumpy. I ended the trip feeling more grouchy, tired, and grumpy. I had an aching back and a sore hip from spending too much time in the car. And, I ended the day feeling a little bit like a failure. Because, of course, we didn’t make it all the way to the end. I don’t think we even made it halfway. There were too many obstacles against us: the late start, the grumpy feelings, not enough snacks, the app with the Hana info on it didn’t work properly, there were no bathrooms. Truthfully, I don’t think any of us was mentally prepared for this journey of self-discovery. Or for any journey of self-discovery. You have to be in the right frame of mind for it, you know?


But we managed to see some pretty fantastic things. We hiked to Twin Falls, which, I believe, is one of the easier waterfalls to reach from the road. We listened to the water splash and laugh as it bounced from rock to rock. I felt it on my skin, and it was cold and pure. My sister-in-law had her bathing suit with her, so she was able to swim right in the pool. I thought that was neat.

I dipped my toes into the water at the edge. It might not have been as incredible as a swim under the fall, but I thought it was pretty great. We weren’t the only people on the road, either. There were lots of people at each stop. Twin Falls was no exception, which is the main reason I had decided against bringing a swimsuit with me. I didn’t want to scare strangers, after all!


We saw Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. Their bark sheds off in strips, leaving colorful wood behind. They were taller than the sky. I liked how I could look up and up and up and still not feel like I would ever find the end of them. Their roots are huge, humping things. As I put my hands on the trunks, I thought I could feel their energy, coming right from the earth below us.  It was beautiful, and I walked away feeling happy that something like this exists in the world.


I got to fulfill a closet lifelong dream of mine. I walked through a bamboo forest for the very first time. I don’t know what it is about this idea that attracted me so, but I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember. And you know what? It was everything I had imagined it would be. The sound of the wind through the bamboo is beautiful. It is gentle and swishy. It is like music.

It seemed like there was something beautiful and unexpected around every twist and turn. The world around me was alive and vibrant. I felt as if the very air in the forests and near the waterfalls hummed with excitement and life.


We started out our trip that afternoon with the idea that we needed to hurry, hurry, hurry. We needed to see and do everything possible. We needed to cram as much fun and as many memories as we could into the time we had. But the truth is that you can’t rush on the Road to Hana. You have to step away from yourself and the things you want and the things that worry you. You have to take a deep breath and let it out. You have to relax a little. And you have to enjoy the ride.

Little by little, with each stop we made, everyone in our group started to step back. A moment at a time, we let go of expectations and demands and, maybe, even some of our grumpiness. We got quiet and we let ourselves marvel and wonder at the world around us. Little by little, we began to stop trying to control everything. Instead, we started to let things be.


As I said, we made it a little less than halfway to Hana. The clouds started to roll in, and the sunlight started to fade. Our gas tank was close to the last quarter-tank marker. And it seemed like it was time to turn around and head back to the hotel. I mentioned earlier that it felt a like failing to have to turn around before we had seen everything. And that is true. At the time, it felt a lot like failing. It didn’t feel good in the slightest.

Looking back on it, I think it wasn’t a failure at all. The whole point of the Road to Hana is to see whatever you can see. And to learn how to let life carry you along on its waves. And we all succeeded in doing that!

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 3

Day 3 of our Hawaiian adventure came all too fast. It already felt like time was speeding away from us. Granted, we were packing lots and lots of fun and family time into every hour of every day. But I could not shake the feeling that our vacation was tumbling quickly downhill toward its ending. Whenever I try to hold tightly to something precious, it seems like that very thing slips and slides through my fingers even more. Isn’t it funny how life works that way? Not funny in a “ha ha” sort of way. Funny in more of a “Why, Universe? Why?” sort of way.

Day 3 was a rather slow day for me. My daughter was feeling quite a bit better, so she and my husband decided to head to the beach. I love the ocean, but I am not a beach-going kind of gal. While my sweet family enjoyed the sun, sand, and sea, I enjoyed the balcony of our hotel room. It was beautifully cool and breezy, and our room had a pretty great view of the hotel grounds, plus a little slice of ocean.


It felt like time to hit the blog for a little “me” time, so I spent the morning blogging about our flight from Chicago to Maui. As you recall, it was a rough journey with a happy ending, overall. And I had a LOT to say about it! It felt good to get all those feelings — the good and the bad — out of my system. There is something refreshing and a little bit exhilarating about sending all that energy out into the ether. I guess that’s one of the reasons I love blogging so much. It not only helps me look at and figure out my own feelings, but it also helps me look at my problems from a different angle.

It also felt pretty great to sit quietly with my own thoughts. The cool breeze, the sounds of the birds twittering away in the trees around me, families laughing as they played in the pool, and the sweet ocean smell all worked their magic on my heart and soul. This was just the kind of “Island Time” I needed, and I think I spent as much time just sitting and enjoying life around me as I did stringing words together for my blog.


My family basically spent the whole day on the beach, which was quite all right with me. My husband and daughter came back tired but happy. We had plans to go to Mama’s Fish House in Paia that evening with my husband’s younger brother’s family. Mama’s Fish House is on the North Shore, and it was quite a drive from our hotel. We had already discovered that things run a little slower on the island, which has its own sense of time and life pace. So we settled in for a long drive.

Long … but also beautiful! I love the way Maui meanders from small town to small town. With lots of beautiful sights in between. We got a late start, so we were already running late for our reservation. We are hurry up people from a hurry up kind of place, so we would have been tempted to … well, hurry up! But Maui had other ideas. We couldn’t have rushed even if we wanted to, because there was always someone in front of us who was in no hurry at all. And then, we took a couple of wrong turns. I’m embarrassed to say we arrived quite a bit late. Thankfully, island hospitality saved us. We apologized for our tardiness and explained that we got a little bit lost. And they very kindly worked us back into the schedule. Lucky for us!


Mama’s Fish House seems to be pretty famous. It is a restaurant and hotel, and it is all over the internet. In fact, I bet most of the people reading this post (if anyone is reading this post, that is), probably already know all about this amazing place. I did exactly zero research for this trip, so I had never heard of it. I had no idea what to expect once we arrived. But it was like stepping into an island wonderland, complete with a wandering macaw who wasn’t a bit afraid of any of us!

Mama’s Fish House is a sprawling building nestled right next to a beautiful, secluded beach. The restaurant and hotel look like a bunch of buildings all jumbled together. It’s winding and chaotic. It looks like some slightly unhinged person tossed them all together in a rush. And yet, everything goes together beautifully. It is one of the most charming places I’ve ever seen, from the thatched roofs to the island decor found inside. The whole restaurant is open-air, and every table has a great view of the beach and ocean beyond. The restaurant menu is always changing, because they serve fish that were caught that very day. This means everything is fresh and yummy. I thought the food was delicious. I probably shouldn’t admit this out loud, but I don’t even like fish!


But, you know what? The best part of the evening was the dinner show! As we saw the sun starting to slide into the ocean, we had to take turns jumping up from our table to see it for ourselves. And the nearby beach provided the perfect front-row seats for Mother Nature’s display. And what a display it was! The clouds piled up and up into beautiful, billowing arrangements. The sky became a mix of oranges and reds and yellows, with just a touch of purple-blue tossed into the mix for good measure. I did not want to miss a second of it, and I didn’t!

Once the sun made her exit, we headed back into the restaurant to finish our meals. Good food … family … lots of stories shared … lots of laughter … and new memories. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal — and a pretty darn perfect day, too! We drove home in the dark, taking extra care on the winding and unfamiliar roads. And we arrived back at our hotel happy, relaxed, and ready to see what the next day would bring.

Maui Summer Adventure: Day 2

Day number 2 of our Maui Vacay dawned bright and early. We were ready and eager for a day filled with sunshine and adventure, and lots of each! Since we only had a half day when we arrived, Day 2 felt more like Day 1. Either way, we were ready for it.

My daughter and husband had reserved a snorkeling trip for the morning. Unfortunately, my daughter was still suffering from Strep. Even with a couple of days of antibiotics in her system, she still had a painful throat and super clogged sinuses. After the disastrous flight over, we decided not to chance a snorkeling trip. My husband went on the trip as planned, and we gave our daughter’s spot to my sister-in-law. My daughter, of course, was disappointed and sad. She had been looking forward to snorkeling the most out of all the planned activities. But I was selfishly glad, because it meant I got a whole morning of Mommy Time! This is a valuable commodity when you have a teenager.


Since the hubster was out and about snorkeling, my daughter and I decided to explore our hotel grounds, as well as the resort properties near where we were staying. Our hotel was right on the beach, and it was one in a long line of beautiful resort properties. This gave us a lot of opportunity to stroll leisurely and look at the ocean. As always, there were boats and parasailers galore. There is a little part of me that thinks this would be huge fun. But the Mom part of me will never try it. My daughter, who is afraid of heights, gave this a firm NOPE!


Of course, there are birds everywhere. And the sparrows on the resort property, in particular, have no fear. At all. This little guy flew right in front of us as we were walking. He nearly flew right into us as he was landing. I can understand it. He was after a super-tasty snack, after all! And, once he had it in his little beak, he settled down to enjoy it. Even though he was sitting right next to our feet. Courageous little bird! Or maybe fool-hardy? I think there is a fine line between the two.


After seeing our feathery friend enjoying his snack with such vigor, we realized we were hungry, too. Lucky for us, there were lots of choices with outdoor seating and a perfect view of the beach. What better way to enjoy a meal. Some sunshine … a lovely breeze … the beach … and even a fancy (non-alcoholic) drink. Yep! That’s the relaxation and island vibe I was longing for in my hum-drum, hectic life back home.

Half a day on the ocean did my husband in just a little bit. After he returned, he needed an extra bit of lunch and a nap. But the days are long and the time change was in our favor! We had plenty of time left for taking in the sights, sun, and sea. We decided to drive out in search of Lorraine’s Shave Ice. And what a drive it turned out to be!


Lorraine’s Shave Ice is something of a Maui institution. My brother-in-law and his wife come to Maui every year, and they told us all about Lorraine, who makes banana bread, pies, and, of course, shaved ice. There’s only one small catch: Lorraine’s is located on the same road as the blowhole we visited on Day 1. You head toward the blowhole and just keep on going until, at last, you find Lorraine’s. You can’t miss it!


This is a windy, twisty road. It has stunning views of the ocean and more shades of green than a person could possibly count. It also has sheer drop-offs that are more than a little bit terrifying, particularly when they were on my side of the car. I love the cliffs and the ocean, but there is nothing quite like looking out the window and seeing NOTHING between yourself and a sheer drop that leads to a rocky landing far below. Terrifying and exhilarating, all at the same time!


It seemed like there was a surprise around every corner. Like when we came around a bend to find this fine fellow hanging out in the middle of the road. He was beautiful and strutting his stuff. There was a car coming from the opposite direction, and it had stopped, too. I think having two cars waiting for him made this guy feel a little surrounded and nervous. He was trying to hurry across the road. But peacocks aren’t built for speed. The more he tried to rush, the slower he seemed to get. And it didn’t help matters much that his tail was so luxurious and long that it dragged behind him. I felt a little bad for his obvious panic, but it was a treat to see a peacock, just wandering around like A Boss. He made it to the other side with ease, and I must say he was much more graceful scaling the hillside than he had been trying to rush across the road.


The thing about this road is that it’s only two lanes in certain places. Around a lot of the twists and turns, it turns into one lane, only. If you are headed up a hill and someone is coming toward you, there’s nothing for it but to back down to the nearest turn-out. This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, does it? But remember … you are often backing down around a hairpin turn with nothing but a small margin of gravel separating your car from the edge of a cliff. It was dicey at times, but we made it!


Maui is so full of beauty and unexpected things. The ocean, all the shades of green, the unexpected twists and turns … It’s all mesmerizing and inspiring. Of course, we found Lorraine’s at the end of our long and winding way. We had banana bread and shave ice, and we had a nice visit with Lorraine, too. She was lovely, and she showed us around her garden and told us stories about the ocean. No matter how scary and long the drive, it was worth it!


One of the main things I wanted to do during our Maui trip was go to at least one luau. My husband and I visited Oahu fourteen years ago, shortly after our daughter was born, and one of my favorite memories of that trip is from the luau we attended. And so, that was our plan for the evening. We had to make it down from the mountain first, but we had great incentive!

We made it back to the hotel just in time to change and meet my husband’s younger brother and family to head to the luau. And was it everything I hoped it would be?


Um … YES!! We went to The Feast at Lele, and it was pretty fantastic. There was family and fun. We laughed. We told stories. We ate. And ate. And ate. I loved all the dancers. Each piece was beautiful and told a story about Hawaii’s history. And, of course, we ended the evening with fire. All in all, a perfect ending to a beautiful day.

The End of Summer

Today is the last day of Summer. Not officially, according to the calendar. And I’m sure the hot weather is going to hang around for a while yet. But, according to the powers-that-be in my daughter’s school system, Summer is kaput. Tomorrow, she starts band camp, and, from there, it’s a quick downhill slide into the school year. It feels like Summer was over before it even began. I am sitting in my parents’ sunny kitchen, frantically typing out this post when I should be doing some last minute packing. In a few hours, my daughter and I will head to the airport, and then, we will wing our way home.

It’s been a good Summer. Busy and full of travel, but also good. I haven’t blogged at all about Maui yet, as I only had a week of downtime in between trips. That week was taken up with appointments and other miscellaneous things that have to happen when one is forced to “adult” for a living. But the Maui trip was a good trip. We reconnected with family we seldom see. We laughed and met new family members, in the form of our new little niece and nephew. We saw spectacular things. We made memories to last a lifetime.


Kerrville, Texas isn’t nearly as exciting as Maui. I can admit this. There’s not much to see. There’s not much to do. Life is quiet here, and a little bit slow-moving. I don’t think it qualifies as a tourist destination in the least. And yet … There is something about this place that I love. I’m sure it’s not the town, in particular, that captures my heart. It is because my parents live here. But it’s also because I miss my beloved Texas so much. It’s the place where I am from. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.

It’s not necessarily an easy trip in terms of the personalities involved. My daughter is sometimes snarky, as are most teenagers. She also has a tendency toward sarcasm, which I think she inherited from her father … and, possibly, me. My parents are getting on in years, and they are kind of cranky and grumpy. I honestly don’t know if all elderly people are like this. But my elderly people are. They have aches and pains. And they complain a lot about things they can’t control. News Flash: None of us has control over anything. But I wonder if, maybe, you get to a certain age and you feel like you should have control over at least one little thing in your life. I don’t know. My mom also takes things a little too much to heart at times. She gets offended easily and takes joking as being serious. She has always been this way, but it sometimes makes for a touchy situation at the casa.


Even so, life is relaxing here. It is calm and peaceful. It is the perfect place to sometimes listen to one’s thoughts and to reconnect with a daughter who is becoming an adult right in front of my eyes. In three years, my daughter will be done with high school. I say the words out loud, and I can’t believe they are true. She will leave me in three years. Guys … that’s not a lot of time. It’s really not.

The weather was overly hot this time, so we didn’t get to walk every evening. But we managed it when we could. And that was okay. My daughter and I laughed and told inside jokes. We hunted Pokemon together. We sat quietly at times, each of us reading at different ends of the kitchen table. We talked about hopes and dreams and fears — you know, the BIG conversations. But we had lots of small conversations, too. We went to the movies together. We played a favorite board game with my mom almost every evening. And we all laughed and teased and got loud and rowdy. In short, we had fun. We made memories.


I feel bittersweet and nostalgic about the ending of Summer this year. Usually, I am already looking forward in terms of planning the upcoming school year and figuring out how to get everyone into their normal routines and schedules. This year, there hasn’t been any of that. I haven’t looked at school supplies or tried to figure out what my daughter might need to start the new school year. I feel much more chill about that whole aspect. Last year, she didn’t have supply lists until the end of the first week of school. Or, maybe it’s more that I’m in no hurry for any of it to happen. In my heart, I feel like I am hanging on with my last shred of strength and dignity to this beautifully sweet and bitter Summer. My parents are getting older. My dad is 87. My mom is 81. My aunts are both gone. My uncles are both in bad health, and so is my brother. Part of me wonders how many summers I will have left to come here and walk the sidewalks of Kerrville in the evenings and look at the deer and tell jokes with my parents and play Pokemon Go with my daughter. Even though there has been a lot of bitter in with the sweet, today I am looking at the sweet parts of it all and thinking, “Yeah. This is all right.”


I am heading back to a dirty house and a near future that feels uncertain and a little bit scary because of my husband’s work situation. School is coming. Busy schedules and family drama are coming. Feeling rushed and panicked and like there is too much to do is coming. I hope snow is coming, too. I love snow. And winter. But through it all, I will have my memories from this Texas trip. And the sound of laughter ringing through my imagination. And you know what? I think that is pretty good.

Good-Bye, Summer

It’s the last weekend, and, actually, the Very Last Day of Summer in our corner of the universe. Tomorrow, my kiddo will head unhappily back to school (8th grade!). And we will plunge headlong into the morass of homework assignments, sports practices, music lessons, and after-school activities. There will be places we have to be. And schedules. And expectations. So many expectations.

Honestly, I’m not ready. Usually, I feel nostalgic and a bit sad at this time of year, but I also feel hopeful, positive, and a little bit excited about all the wonderful things to come. Usually, I face Fall with mixed feelings. Not so this year. This year, I would like nothing better than to hide under my covers and let Fall pass me by. And yet, I know it’s no use. Fall is coming for us all.


Summer felt so long and gorgeous and perfect just a couple of months ago. As last school year ended, it seemed impossible that Fall would ever come, impossible that there would be a new school year. Even as I stood in line at the store, buying school supplies after rummaging through stacks of flotsam just to find that one, “perfect” spiral notebook, I thought, “How could this be? Didn’t Summer just start yesterday?”


I feel like I just got used to staying up late and sleeping in and snuggling in on the sofa to watch movies and anime with my girl in the middle of a weekday. It’s been a good Summer. So many memories and funny stories and hunting Pokemon and laughing out loud. I blinked my eyes, turned around, and it was all over. Done. Finished. And, somehow, as we get closer to high school … and then college … I don’t know. It all feels final and limited. Like everything that’s most precious to me is slipping through my hands faster and faster, no matter how hard I try to hold it in place.

I know you have to come, Fall. You don’t have a choice. The planet turns. The seasons change. Time passes us by. But, in my heart, I think it will stay Summer for a bit longer, and I will smile as I chase fireflies across my soul.

That’s okay, right?

Gone To Texas

I spent the past month or so in my beloved Texas. Overall, I hate traveling. Being an introvert, I especially hate flying; there’s no way you can go through the airport without having to make very close contact with multiple strangers — often while standing around barefoot. There’s something dehumanizing about having to stand around without your shoes, particularly when you haven’t made the conscious decision to do so. Perhaps that’s just my own brand of weirdness. At any rate, I dread traveling, so much so that I tend to have sleepless nights and unsettling dreams for several days before I depart on a trip. For my Texas, though, it’s all worth it.

I live in a huge metropolitan area in the northeastern United States. Everything moves at light speed or faster here. There are almost too many choices around you, and they are shoved in your face all the time. People are not nice. Or, maybe it’s more that people are incredibly self-involved. Everyone is in too much of a hurry, consumed by the act of getting from point A to point B. Life is complicated here. And, sometimes, it’s hard. I know life is hard everywhere. But to me, it feels hard on a different level here, like hard on an emotional or spiritual level. I don’t feel like I have the words to explain it fully, but our life here, as good as it is, can leave me feeling uneasy and dissatisfied. It almost feels like things aren’t real here. Or like I’m not real.

My trip came at just the right time this year. I was at the end of my rope, hanging off the proverbial cliff of life by the very tips of my fingernails. Dealing with a grumpy pre-teen child and a grumpy, stressed-out husband had left me feeling useless and more than a little bit lost. I couldn’t make things better for my husband. I couldn’t make things better for my daughter. I couldn’t manage to write or even sit down and think. I felt like the most useless failure ever; it was as if life itself was closing in around me. I needed things to be quiet and calm. I needed space. I needed my life to shut up for a bit. I even needed the doubts in my own head to take a chill pill and be quiet for a change. I don’t know … Sometimes, you just need to run away.


I won’t say that my trip was perfect or without its stresses. Because that would be a lie. We spent the first four or five days in San Antonio with my husband’s family for his  younger brother’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, but a bit stressful, as weddings usually are. Even though I’ve known them for a long time, I’ve never been completely at ease with my in-laws. My mother-in-law and I historically have not had the best relationship. She actively hated me for several years and did everything in her power to cause my relationship to fail horribly. In the end, I outlasted her, I guess. She is much kinder to me now, and she loves our daughter so much. I try to look past it, but I’m definitely no saint. I have a hard time with it. I think I’m getting better, though. During this trip, I was able to take a whole day toward the end of the trip to hang out just with my mother-in-law, my mom, and my daughter. It ended up being a really nice day, and I’m glad we did it. Two years ago — or even a year ago — I’m not certain I could have said that or felt that way. It’s nice to realize I’m not the same person I was even a year ago. That, maybe, I’m still growing up a bit.

I went into the trip feeling all kinds of positive about getting a lot of writing done. I felt upbeat and extra creative, and I just knew I was going to be able to break this mental stalemate I’ve had going on for longer than I would like to admit. (Seriously — months and months. It’s so frustrating.) Of course, that didn’t happen. My parents live in a fairly small town, but there is a cafe / book store not too far from their house. I had halfway planned on going there for a bit of writing time every day. Unfortunately, that store is going out of business; it was in the process of being liquidated during my visit, so there was no writing space to be had there. I’m sure I could have gone somewhere else in town — the library or some other restaurant / coffee spot. But I just … didn’t. I’m honestly not sure why. Maybe a mix of things. I doubt I could have gone alone, and having company would have made writing impossible. I felt overwhelmed and shy with the idea of trying to find a new place to go. And I guess I just wasn’t committed enough. I don’t feel like that was the case; I feel like there was a complex mixture of anxiety and avoidance and emotional crap going on. But my husband has told me it all boils down to a lack of commitment; that I just don’t want it badly enough. I don’t know. He knows me pretty well … Maybe he’s right.


Whatever the case, I decided to try writing at my parents’ house. In retrospect, I don’t know why the heck I did this to myself. I knew, going into it, that it wouldn’t work. Neither of my parents take my writing seriously. They don’t like the type of fiction I write; they aren’t interested in hearing about it or reading it. Overall, I feel my creative aspirations are a bit of a joke to both of them, and always have been. Not that they would admit this out loud, but actions speak volumes. I was a very closeted writer as a kid. I learned, early on, to take the thoughts and ideas that were important to me and hold them close.

My parents — and, in particular, my mom — are pretty high maintenance. My mom talks All The Time. She will talk to me no matter what I’m doing. She talks to me if she sees me with my headphones on, listening to music or watching a movie. She expects me to talk back or answer her questions, which means I constantly have to stop what I’m doing. If she sees me sitting down to work on my computer, she takes that as her cue to get out her own computer so that I can give her lessons. I basically teach her the same five things over and over, which is frustrating. At the same time, I am really proud of her that she is trying to learn something new and that she is actually getting out there onto the internet. I know she is pushing herself way beyond her comfort zone, and that is both a wonderful and a terrifying thing.

I managed to string together a few sentences. It’s not enough to make me feel particularly good about my efforts or to feel that I have managed to break through my hellishly persistent writer’s block. But it’s definitely better than nothing. I did a lot of thinking about my writing — about plots and ideas and characters and where I would like things to go, story-wise. In looking at the positives, I feel this is also important work, even if it doesn’t immediately make me feel as if I have made any progress.


So, yeah … There are a lot of things I didn’t get done during my trip. But here’s what I did manage to accomplish:

I watched life go by and savored the syrupy slowness of it all. I stood on a bridge and watched the river. I listened to the laughter and joy of the families playing in the shallows. I felt the heat and the sweat of summer, and the simplicity of it made me happy. I watched sunsets. I looked at the clouds and imagined what it would be like to live up there, just build a house in amongst all that solid-looking fluff.  I saw deer meandering through my parents’ neighborhood, so close and so unafraid that I could almost walk right up to them before they decided to dart away. I watched westerns and read books. I played Polly Anna with my mom and daughter. I slept late. I shared old memories with my mom and my daughter, and we made new ones, too. I watched the hummingbirds buzz around my parents’ yard and listened to the cicadas during the heat of the day. I reveled in the feeling of having nothing to do and no particular place where I had to be. I breathed the air and gave myself space for thinking. I laughed every day. I enjoyed my parents. I saw my brother, my aunt and uncles, and my cousins. I hugged and loved them all. I loved how very real the world around me suddenly felt, as if all the cares and worries of my “normal life” had melted away — or, at the very least, faded into the background.

And, my very favorite thing of all … Every evening, in the hour before sunset when the air turned a little cooler, I walked. My daughter came with me, and we walked all around my parents’ town. Down to the river, over by the Catholic Church where we attended Mass every weekend, by the Catholic school, down the main street past restaurants and stores to the library, back through the public square, across to the courthouse, and then home to my parents’ house. We hunted Pokemon every night. We visited our normal PokeStops and fought to take over gyms. My daughter tried to explain the fine points of the game to me, but she ended up deciding I am a bit hopeless at it. I did manage to catch about ten pokemon, though. Mostly, we talked and laughed. And, in the quietest moments, I felt my breath catch in my throat and my heart beat a little bit faster. Because life was good.

Hello, Summer!

Let me start by saying that I don’t particularly love Summer. I have super pale skin that doesn’t tan but burns almost immediately upon any (semi) prolonged exposure to the sun. I do not own a bathing suit. I do not love going to the pool. I do not like mosquitoes. I am allergic to most things that grow and spit out pollen during the summer. (Incidentally, this is also one of the main things I have against Spring … but I digress.) I don’t love watermelon. Or ice cream. I hate hot weather. I have to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, so super sunny Summer days can be a bit of a torture.

And yet, I am sitting here at my desk feeling overwhelmingly happy that Summer is finally here. I’m talking a level of giddiness that is dangerous, here, people!

“And why is that?” you ask. Or, maybe you didn’t ask. But I’m going to tell you, anyhow.

Because today is the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL. Let’s just take a moment to let the full impact of that sentence sink in. The. Last. Day. Of. School.


No matter how many times I say it to myself, I can’t stop smiling. Gone (at least until September) are the 6 AM wake-up calls for a 7:30 AM start time. Gone is the endless complaining and groaning and moaning about early bed times. Gone is the delicate dance of trying to get all the activities done, dinner cooked, bath and hair washed, and still have the Child Unit into bed before midnight. Gone is the constant nagging and checking and worrying over whether or not Child Unit is doing her homework. Or getting dressed on time. (I kid you not. I thought this would get better as she got older, but I swear she spends more time sitting on her bed staring at the wall now than she ever did when she was in elementary school. I don’t get it.) Gone are ridiculous school projects requiring multiple trips to different office supplies and crafts stores. Gone is my feeling of abject failure at not being as creative or clever as other parents. For that matter, gone is my feeling of abject failure at, apparently, being one of the few parents who doesn’t actually do the ridiculous projects for my kid. It’s weird to feel guilty about doing “the right thing”.

Just … gone. Gone, gone, gone, gone, gone. Yes, I know we will be right back at it when September rolls around. But you know what? Right now, it feels like a long time until September. Right now, I’m thinking about late evening walks and movies during the day and quiet time spent with my family and friends and watching my roses bloom and playing with my dogs and chasing fireflies. September can take care of itself while my family and I take a bit of time to recharge.

Heck, I might even go totally crazy and eat some ice cream.