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Cheryl's Parenting Journal

Entry 3 ~ September 22, 2008
~ The Beach, Bon Bons and an Unexpected Guest

Cheryl's Handsome Husband
My Handsome Husband
Has it been a week already? The calendar tells me so, but my "to do" list tells me not to believe it because my lovely plans for accomplishing tasks, projects and errands in half the time I usually do (because of this new thing called "free time" when all 8 kids are in school) is actually longer than when I started it 7 days ago.

How's that you ask? Let me blunt . . . unrealistic expectations and this silly need to prove I can tackle a bit more because I'm now the owner of 6 free, luxurious hours to simply go crazy with. Obviously, math isn't my thing-6 hours can be broken into several smaller increments, but last time I checked-they still don't equal 24 hours.

Lucky for me, although I learn the hard way, I do eventually learn, and last week's excursion to the beach-ALONE-while Annie was in nursery school is proof. After daydreaming for the past year and sometimes actually drooling at the thoughts of time for just me-the first three weeks of my new school year schedule proved to be a disaster. Not only have I still not had the opportunity to run around my house in my bra and undies when the kids were finally all in school (a pitiful goal of mine!) I never even sat fully clothed at my kitchen sink washing dishes alone for heaven's sake! It just isn't happening.

All of a sudden, my freedom that I had wondered so patiently about for the past 15 years was replaced with a bunch of busy hoo-ha that I sadly admit is my own doing. "Sure, I'd be happy to take over the sales of all the PTO T-Shirts and Tote bags this year-I can get to school once a week, Annie's in school this year!" "No problem, I'd be happy to run down to the Rectory and fill in while the parish manager is out with her bad hip, I have a few free hours with Annie now in school!*#!" "Not at all, I can watch your 2-year old while you go have your teeth cleaned next week----I'm all alone, Annie's in school-and what are friend's for!" Get the picture?! So, as you can see, I have no one to blame but Cheryl!

Now, back to that learning the hard way thing. Finally, I realized that just because the kids are all in school, doesn't mean vacation for me. Not unless I make it so, that is. That's when I took the bull by the horns and scheduled a beach day for myself. Now, I must admit-not a full beach day-as Annie is only in school for 2 1/2 hours a few afternoons-but even 2 hours was going to count for something.

So, last Tuesday--after I shipped the three busloads of kids off to school, then dropped Miss Annie off at Gingerbread House-my car and I became one-and tooled over to the beach I always go to with the kids--Sand Hill Cove. When I go with the kids, it's a real workout unloading the car (never mind unloading---first I should say loading it with all the paraphernalia 8 kids need at the beach.) We have a basket full of beach towels, mini coolers of drinks and snacks, 1/2 dozen boogie boards, two beach blankets, one large basket of pails and shovels, a couple of beach chairs and silly old me---I bring a little straw bag with a magazine or two-just in case!

No Kids on the Beach
No Kids on the Beach
Now, it is just me--so all I need is my straw bag (Yeah!! Those magazines will get read yet!), my beach chair (which has never felt the imprint of my behind before-only the kids) and my picnic lunch-complete with that little box of chocolate covered raisins…the closest thing to bon bons that this mother had on hand!). I quickly scampered to the spot I had been dreaming of all summer when this moment arrived-a quiet retreat nestled way back in the sand dunes-a bit of wispy beach grass to hide me. That was all that I needed. No need to be sitting in the wet sand way down by the seashore-I was here to read and indulge-not swim and build sand castles.

Ahhh! All was right with the world. I plopped into my beach chair, cracked open that box of bon bons, and quietly opened my magazine, just a tiny smirk on my lips-nothing too bad, though. I don't think I'd read even the table of contents or melted the chocolate off of one skinny little raisin when all of a sudden . . . my private retreat behind that serene beach grass gave way to a pair of legs (dripping with salt water mind you) and a little cackle . . . "So, this is how you spend all your free time now," says MY MOTHER-IN-LAW!!!

No, I'm not kidding! My mother-in-law appeared on the scene---and so my first attempt at self-indulgent smutty magazine reading and decadent bon bon eating came to a crashing halt.

I sheepishly smiled, slid the raisnettes back into my straw bag alongside my tabloid magazine, and shared the next two hours with the woman who gave my husband life!

Let me be clear--I do love her dearly. We have always gotten along and for the most part, she is kind in not pointing out what she thinks I could do better. I think I really received her stamp of approval when I had four children under the ages of three-her four kids were spaced out by 4 and 5 years----so this act of parenthood put me up a bit on the daughter-in-law pedestal.

That, my friends, was how I spent that first afternoon playing hooky on the beach. Since that time, I have returned to the frantic pace of PTO, Church duties, my writing jobs and parenting my 8 kids under the age of 15 as well as keeping up my humble house.

In the mix, however, Brian and I did celebrate our 21st anniversary last Friday. I lucked out because our babysitter was available that night (although the four older children hate the fact I admit we hire a babysitter---but she's there for the four younger ones) so when Brian got home from work-she was there waiting and off we went to Newport for the night.

We love to walk. As crazy as that sounds, we both exercise by way of taking 5 - 10 mile walks throughout the week (by treadmill or by pushing Annie in the stroller!) so we started our evening by power walking through beautiful Newport for 5 miles . . . then had a nice dinner at an outdoor bistro and managed to stay up past 9 PM! Romantic, aren't we? Works for us, though, so I don't complain.

As for my free time for this upcoming week-well, that's not going to be a problem-and I have our $1800, 4-year old commercial, front-loading dryer to thank for it.

In addition to my beach excursion on Tuesday-the following day I was able to test out my firefighting skills---our dryer caught fire when I started it up (4 loads a day, my friends!) and I had to extinguish it before I made dinner. The repair guy was out on Saturday and good news--it can be fixed! For $500, and one more week of waiting for the part (the starter!!!) my dryer will be like new!

That said---I am now hanging all our socks, pants, shirts and underwear on any free surface in our garage and on the deck. I break down and take the towels to my mother's house---as I still haven't figured out how to hang dry towels and have them dry soft and fluffy---not stiff! The children aren't enjoying scratching themselves each time they dry off after a shower! This little setback has added an extra 6 or so hours to my weekly routine so I guess that takes care of my free time this week!!

Still, it's only temporary-so I have to just laugh and carry on. Beats being miserable and when all else fails-I still have that box of Raisinettes stashed in my beach bag!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!

P.S. A big hello to Ann Louise in Michigan!!

Take care,
   ~ Cheryl

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