Well, that was a long weekend…plus tiger lily sonnet

In my umpteen years of blogging, I think I’ve written a post about how “long weekends with small children are not relaxing” many times. The good news is that my youngest is now 4.5 years old, and things are definitely getting easier. I managed to cultivate something of a “Saturday vibe” over the past several days (July being the equivalent of Saturday in the metaphorical weekend that is summer).

That said, I think at the end of Thursday I was like, wait, it isn’t even the real weekend weekend yet…

The kids weren’t in camps this week and we had childcare Monday and Tuesday 9-5, so as of about 5 p.m. Tuesday it was officially July 4th weekend around here. I took the little boys to the zoo on Wednesday morning, which got them out of the house for 3 hours. Then my husband took four out of five kids to Despicable Me 4 for the 3:45 p.m. showing, which got them out of the house for another few hours (can you guess which one skipped?). I took the opportunity to enjoy a 30-minute solo stint in the pool. There was a lot of non-solo pool time this weekend and when you are in there by yourself, no one can squirt you with a water gun…

On Wednesday evening we went to a friend’s house to watch some local fireworks (they have a good view of the neighboring town). They’d put out a display of sparklers and other such fun so even the teens were glad they’d bothered to come. Hey, 90 minutes off their screens!

Thursday (the actual 4th), after red-white-and-blue pancakes, we went for a sort-of family bike ride at Valley Forge. I say sort of because as my husband was putting air in the bike tires and getting them organized on our cars (we require two cars for a family trip of this nature) he was like, wait, are we short a bike?

It turns out that we haven’t done a full family bike ride in like 2 years, and everyone had grown out of their current bikes. The older boys were reasonably good about riding slightly smaller bikes than they should have, but we wound up putting the 9-year-old on the 12-year-old’s bike and letting her stay home as she was the family member who least wanted to go. (I think the quote was “anything but a bike ride!”) We put the little guy in the Burley but took a lot of pictures of it as I think this may be one of his last Burley rides. He’s getting kind of big for it, which my husband, who was the one peddling that thing up the hills, was really feeling. So next summer he might be using the tag-along to ride behind me. This is the end of an era! We’ve had a kid in that Burley for a long, long time…

(Our plan is to buy another adult bike, which the older boys can switch off using, and will be available if either wants to take it to college, and then the 12-year-old can use the bike the 14-year-old was using, should she ever want to bike with us…).

Anyway, that afternoon featured some pool time and then my husband took some of the kids downtown to watch the Philadelphia fireworks from his office. I stayed home and got the little guy down, despite the sound of everyone else’s fireworks going off (solidarity for anyone whose small kids were woken up by fireworks this weekend).

On Friday we took our first family beach trip of the summer. Well, sort of a family trip, in that the teen boys elected to not go (something of a common occurrence, but they do indulge us occasionally…). But the younger three went and had fun playing on the sand and in the (cold!) waves for a few hours. We stopped by our usual ice cream place where I had a few licks of oat milk ice cream before deciding this was ridiculous. I’m going to brave my peanut butter chocolate ice cream once or twice this summer, whatever the consequences.

(I believe there was another pool trip that night.)

On Saturday I took the 12-year-old to a local brunch spot as her official reward celebration for good grades. We haven’t really done much grade rewarding in the past but all three of the older kids (the ones who get letter grades) had really good terms this spring so we thought some celebrating might be in order. She had tried this place’s cookie-dough stuffed French toast before, and wanted it again, so we went and had a nice time together.

Then in the afternoon, Sarah and her family came over! Her parents and her sister live about 15 minutes from me, and she often stays with them over the 4th of July holiday. Our husbands took the kids in the pool while Sarah and I recorded some Best of Both Worlds episodes and discussed future episode topics. I had been telling the kids the pool rule that you can only use water guns on people who want to be squirted with water guns when Josh came up with the excellent rule that you show your consent for being squirted by holding a water gun yourself. Brilliant. The kids have now repeated this to me several times so it looks like that one’s sticking. There was then some Mario Kart playing and other such games. We ordered pizza for the kids, then left them in the care of my older ones while the four adults went out to a local Mexican place. It definitely feels like a milestone to be able to do this. Plus the margaritas were good. The kids also had a lot of fun together — the 9-year-old requested a time machine so we could get to November when they’ll be back in the Philadelphia area!

Finally, it was Sunday. On Saturday there had been a lot of packing and organizing in the background, as on Sunday morning my husband and 17-year-old got up and went to the airport to fly to Providence. The 17-year-old will be in camp for the next three weeks up there. My husband got him checked in, turned around, went back to the airport and came home. When air travel works, it works — they left at 9 a.m. and he was home by 6:30 p.m. (Contrast this with my 14-year-old getting stuck in Florida for two extra nights earlier in the week…).

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old and I volunteered in the 4-year-old’s Sunday School class. In the afternoon, I took the two little boys in the pool, then (after a quick grocery trip) brought the 4-year-old to a birthday party at a bouncy place. The family had, wonderfully, rented out the entire business so this was a much more chill experience than usual.

Back home I cooked salmon and green beans for dinner (plus rice with mushrooms) and then my husband took the little guys in the pool one more time. I was honored that they both requested that I come in — I am generally the “not fun” parent in the pool, confiscating the water guns and ending the pool trip when bad behavior has reached a certain level but maybe I am more fun than I realize? In any case, I felt like one pool trip was enough for me for the day and their father was more than capable of handling any second trips so I worked on my puzzle until they came in and I put the little guy to bed. Phew!

I am rather glad to be back at my desk this morning. We had a good time and made a lot of memories…and it is nice to be back to the routine!

In addition to listening to my Bach (BWV 190 and BWV 191 are both excellent, if anyone is looking for some listening), I kept doing my two lines a day in my sonnet. Here’s one called “Tiger lily,” with apologies to William Blake:

Like fireworks, along the road they bloom,
crammed in like sparks and orange as sunset streaks.
A line of yellow dashes through each plume,
as each July they herald summer weeks.

I sit outside — the heat begins to fade,
and welcomes evening. Weary from the hours,
I seek a refuge somewhere in the shade,
just hoping to — unbothered — watch the flowers,

of which a few are babied: water, tend
the beds — but some, lured by the sun, grow free.
To know that hardiness! My bright orange friend —
did he who made the fickle rose make thee?

This tiger tiger lily burning bright,
ablaze before it’s swallowed by the night.


21 thoughts on “Well, that was a long weekend…plus tiger lily sonnet

  1. So many of your sonnets seem to be about ephemerality and the passage of time. Do you think this is because time management is your particular interest, or does something about the one-a-week process inspire this sort of thinking? Or maybe the sonnet form itself?

    1. @Erica- it’s probably an interest of mine! I don’t know if the 2-line a day pace is inspiring any particular thinking – one thing it does probably inspire is being more careful with rhyming. I don’t want to back myself into a hole. I mean, I wouldn’t end a line with “orange,” obviously, but I tend to choose words I know have a lot of rhymes. Maybe if I were writing more lines at once I wouldn’t do that since I could choose words together. If I like a draft of a poem, sometimes I go in and edit to be a bit more daring.

  2. I really feel the “weekends are not relaxing with small kids”. Any tips on how to make it more bearable? I feel bad for getting a babysitter on the weekend during the day (and it is also a question of cost.)

    1. @Maggie – We did a lot (looking back on it, and in the planning…) so I don’t feel guilty about screen time at other points. The kids spent a lot of time watching YouTube in the middle of all these things and that gave some parental downtime. So that is one option — if the kids are old enough to watch a movie or play video games, embrace it. I wouldn’t feel bad about a babysitter – it’s sending in reinforcements! Generals do it on the battlefield…The cost is a different matter – but if it’s about doing a date night, maybe make the $$ for the babysitter the full cost of the date night (like you do something free — a picnic, an outdoor concert, a place you already have a membership too, visiting a friend, etc.)

  3. I hear you with the bikes! We finally got my 12 yo daughter situated with a new bike after she was using mine over the past year and her 9 yo brother using her old one so we could all go together. Plus we had to get the 6 yo riding on a two-wheel. So we’ve made progress but the no one complaining and going for more than 17 min ride still eludes us – haha.

    1. @Megan – 17 minutes is reasonable. I doubt we went that amount of time with no one complaining. We biked total about an hour and that took an hour of prep (and then another 20 minutes afterwards of unloading).

    2. I agree on bikes, it’s oddly hard to keep track of. We went on holidays to a caravan park and took the kids bikes and I asked the youngest why he always used his foot to stop. It turns out the bike had no brakes, it had been handed down many times! I felt pretty bad about that one, ended up buying him a brand new bike.

  4. Ah yes, long weekends with little kids are very long. Our youngest is a year younger than Henry so we are just behind you in terms of things getting easier. Our 3.5 yo dropped his nap a few weeks ago and it’s been better than I expected. We were at my parents’ lake home this weekend and it was nice to not have to battle about getting him to take a nap. When we are home, I tend to do something with the boys in the morning and then I take 1-1.5 hours to rest after lunch and then we do something else. Dad manages the boys during my rest time. That probably makes it sound like we don’t do things as a family, but Phil is typically grocery shopping or mowing or doing something else around the house when I have the boys out and about. We had a good visit to the local pool a couple of weekends ago so I think we will probably get a membership next summer. Then we can go for as little time as we’d like. That’s why I like our zoo membership so much although now we have entered the stage where we could go for 5 hours if I wanted since we don’t have that nap to work around! 5 hours at the zoo sounds like a long time but there’s a break for lunch and there is a splash pad at play ground that the boys love so they can easily spend 60 minutes in those 2 spots while I sit on a bench and potentially read my book.

    1. @Lisa- yes, dropping the nap is a mixed blessing – I’m glad it’s gone well for you guys. It is nice not to have to plan the day around it! We kind of gave up by #3, 4, and 5 and they often slept in the stroller or the car in between things…

  5. Well done! Loved the nod to William Blake’s “Tyger Tyger” and the exploration of fire/fireworks/sparks and heat, “tame vs wild” imagery!

    1. @Jennifer – thanks! I have that poem going through my head every time I see the tiger lilies, which are the only kinds of “tygers” around here…

  6. Wow, so many moving parts to those days but sounds like lots of good things in there. I laughed that you only realised you were down a bike when already getting them ready- big family problems 😜 And yay that you all had such a nice time with Sarah and her family- can’t wait to hear the recorded episodes. Leaving the kids at home babysat by the teens while you go out for Mexican is definitely an awesome milestone.

    1. @Sophie – there are a lot of bikes! And we have a reasonable number of smaller bikes, they are just too small at this point, so…

  7. I came to the post for the sonnet (love your sonnets) but man what a fun weekend! I was also the unfun parent at the pool this weekend after getting sprayed one too many times after saying no. “that’s it! Out of the pool for a time out and no more squirt guns!” Lol. I love Josh’s rule and I’m adopting it as my own. How FUN that you 4 got to go out! Amazing milestone! And it’s so much easier when the kids get along reasonably well. So happy to hear that. We saw fireworks from a friend’s home on the water, heard live music , had ice cream, and had our first family beach trip as well. I would say an overall success. Curious how you transport your Burley though? It’s never ventured far because I haven’t bothered to research how to transport it. Don’t tell me it folds like a stroller or something!

    1. @Lori C- so the Burley just goes in the back of one of the cars (seats down). It does not fold up like a stroller as far as I can tell, though the wheels do come off so it is somewhat more compact than in its full form. For this trip we put 4 bikes on the bike rack that goes on my car’s hitch. Then the Burley and one other bike went in my husband’s car with the back seat folded down. Of course this meant that car could only accommodate two people, so everyone else goes in my car. I thought the bike rack can hold 5 bikes but now I am not 100 percent sure on that. I know we have transported 7 people…

  8. All three bikes that our kids took to college were stolen from the racks outside their dorms within the first month of school, even with U-locks. Just something to think about as you consider the quality of bike you want to buy (ours were I think marginally nicer than others in the rack and that may have made them more vulnerable.)

    1. @Seppie – oh dear – sorry you guys had so many bikes stolen, and yes, that suggests that they not take a nice one somewhere!

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