1. Fun tax
On days that I have the kids, we usually stay busy. I used to worry that I was overscheduling them, but Nico always asks me what we're doing and if I only list two things he'll say "What else? Is that all? That's not very many." so I think they're okay. I suppose they get four low-key days a week with my parents, who don't do Outings, so perhaps that balance is what makes it work. This past Saturday, we only had a half a day scheduled. In our half a day, we went to the Home Depot to build little wooden trucks, ate a hilariously early lunch at Panera because we were all hungry, went to the mall to get a birthday gift and ride the carousel, went to the toy store so Nico could spend his piggy bank money, and ran another quick errand. After that we went home and the kids crashed out and napped since we'd been out until 11 PM the night before visiting friends. After the nappage, Nico and I went to a birthday cookout dinner. Just another Saturday!
The prior Saturday, I took the kids to a tiny farmers market in the next town over in the morning. There wasn't much to buy, but they had fun walking around and playing down by the river. We met MB for lunch and then went to the Y, where they played in the pool and splash pad for four hours. Once we got home they were acting like cranky little jerks, and I was also a cranky jerk, and suddenly it dawned on me, something so obvious I felt dumb for never putting it into words before: we were paying the Fun Tax. My kids weren't being whiny jerks because they were ungrateful for the big fun day we had; they were being whiny jerks because we had a big fun day and they were TIRED. And I was being less-tolerant than usual of their whiny jerkiness because I was also TIRED. It's all so clear now: you have the fun, you pay the tax, and the tax is worth it because you got to have the fun. I think our summer - indeed our lives - will be easier for having had this small epiphany.
2. Garden reclamation
The long-neglected / half-assed garden finally reached the point where we needed to either reclaim it fully or let it go back to grass again once and for all. I'd put too much work into building the beds to want to tear it all out, plus I do still want to have a garden with the kids as they get older, so I decided on reclamation. It's slow going since I pretty much only have time to work out there on rare weekend afternoons when we are home and in the evenings after the kids are both in bed. One night I built two whole raised beds in the dark, which turned out surprisingly square. Another night I laid cardboard as the daylight failed and then shoveled and moved seven wheelbarrows of mulch in the dark. There hasn't really been much drawback to working in the dark, honestly - it's cooler and so far the mosquitoes haven't been unbearable. It's quiet and the stars are really nice even here in the city and I feel righteous and slightly exercised afterward. I don't think I'll get done in time to really plant anything this year, but I'm hoping my new strategy of laying cardboard and then covering it with six inches of wo od chips will finally keep the grass at bay. And the scrawny blueberry bushes I planted when Nico was a baby and then benignly neglected have fruited this year! I'm STUPIDLY excited over this.
As usual, I can't find a true "before" photo. The first one here is after MB spent a few hours de-grassing the left side of the garden with a hoe. The second one is what it looks like now - almost half recovered, I think!
The children suckered me into buying a pound of strawberries at the farmers market which they immediately decided they didn't want to eat, then MB came home from work with a big bowl of more strawberries from his coworker's garden. In an effort to not waste all the strawberries, I baked these muffins on Saturday afternoon. They are very tasty, and I think I'll make them again (though I may try pulverizing the strawberries in the food processor rather than chopping them into bits by hand next time. Be warned, however, that the predicted yield of 16 - 18 muffins is ridiculously inaccurate. I suspected it had to be a typo going into the venture, since the recipe does call for three cups of flour. It made 5 mini muffin trays plus another dozen. I don't think it would be too tricky to halve the recipe if you want strawberry muffins but don't want to be eating them for weeks.