Thursday, July 24, 2014

The livin’ is easy


You know what they say (or sing?) about summertime…the livin’ is easy. I think that’s what’s happening here. There’s a certain lethargy to our motion and intentions when the temperatures soar. I find my go-getter ambition quickly vaporizes like water on a scalding July sidewalk. The homebodies that are my girls are perfectly fine with it, as we spend our days lounging/playing/bickering inside our house until the evening, when the only thing that would lure them outside is the pool.

And perhaps that’s how Little Miss, who could already swim confidently on her own last summer, is now mastering tricks like cannonballs and handstands in the water as well as diving into the depths to retrieve items from the bottom of the pool for her little sitter. Sometimes I marvel at my 5.5-year-old, who approaches the things she enjoys with such gusto.

Like reading. She devours books, finishing one, sometimes two, at each sitting while Pickle naps. Even though she hasn’t started kindergarten, she is already easily reading Roald Dahl’s books – “Witches”, “James & the Giant Peach”, “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” – on her own, and is now working through the “How to Train your Dragon” and “Nancy Drew” series. Sometimes, at naptime, we’ll sit together to read, and often times, while we’re shopping, she’ll disappear into a corner at the store, perfectly content with a book she unearths from one of the aisles, oblivious to the world around her. It’s a wonderful thing.



Pickle, on the other hand, continues to make us laugh every day. If we had a family yearbook, I would write, “Most likely to be class clown” for her, but the thing about trying to live in the moment is that I don’t pause to record everything she says, and consequently, with my aging brain, the details disintegrate with time. My three-year-old is funny and when she’s around, I find myself laughing a lot, that much I remember. I may even have told her that because now, when our friends laugh at her antics, she tells them, “I’m silly sometimes; I’m like a clown.” But maybe she really is that self-aware, because on our way home in the car the other day, I asked, “how did you know the answer to this?” and she answered, without skipping a beat, “Because I’m special.”

Well, then. I couldn’t argue with that.

* * *

As hot as it has been, we are still miraculously enjoying a mild Austin summer. We were warned by several people that we’re going to hate it here when the temperatures climb to the triple digits and stay there for days, weeks, even months (gasp!), and I braced myself for it. Since June, we’ve been waiting for that infamous hot summer, except we’re still waiting. I’m beginning to think that Austinites are fabricating scary stories to keep transplants like us out. And who can blame them? With an average of 120 people moving into this city everyday, making this the fastest growing city in America, Austin’s infrastructure hasn’t quite caught up to the rapid changes that come with population explosion. People are complaining that the traffic congestion at rush hour is horrific because of the mass exodus here, but to that, I can only say, hey, don’t look at us; we work from home. Besides, we’re from Chicago, where it sometimes took us 30 minutes to go three miles; I don’t know what this city is grumbling about.

Because there’s so much to love about Austin so far, we’re also weirdly curious to experience its uglier side. We need to know if once we’re exposed to the unappealing part of this city, would we still be singing its praises? And that explains how we maaaaay have cheered when we saw in the forecast that it would reach 100 in the near future – that’s how ridiculous we are sometimes – but as with most weather forecasts, accuracy isn’t really their thing. Sadly(??!) we never got to 100. We’ve lingered in the high 90’s, going as far as 99, but it never went beyond that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty hot, but you can’t fry an egg on our heads. In fact, the heat actually feels nice after a record-cold Chicago winter.

Speaking of Chicago, My Guy was there for work for four days last week, and I think I’ve had enough solo-parenting practice to go at it alone with relative ease, which is to say that I only yelled at my kids a handful of times, rather than half the time My Guy’s away. I learned that planning meals in advance so I can depend on leftovers does make a remarkable difference between ending my days with the girls in a soul-depleting blur or just your run-of-the-mill exhaustion.

This time, to challenge myself (because who doesn’t love a challenge?), I decided to tackle a small house project on my own as a surprise for My Guy. We had both previously agreed that the particular red at the bottom half of the dining room and the ornate molding were just not doing it for us, but to overhaul the room would be too elaborate a task for this time. I’m crazy, but not that crazy. So I decided to only paint over the red as an interim solution, thanks to My Guy’s mom, who suggested that it would help subdue the colors and the molding, and she was right!












It took me about four hours while the girls were away in preschool, and when they walked in that evening, they immediately noted that, “something is different about this room.” Pickle was the one who finally pointed out that “it’s the walls!” They were asked to keep this from their daddy, and they did. Miraculously.

When he walked in the next day, he noticed instantly, which didn’t surprise me since he is usually the more observant one, and, luckily, he was happy with it, even if my girls weren’t — “But I like the red!” They also think we should live in castles and wear bright pink ball gowns, so forgive me if I don’t take their personal preferences too seriously.

Despite the mixed reviews, it was an immensely rewarding accomplishment, even if it’s just a mini project. It’s so satisfying to cross items off the checklist, no matter how small. Next on the list of house projects is probably our master bedroom, which has the similar football team colors like our dining room did. Except they’re on the trayed ceiling (Ugh!), and I am just not that ambitious right now.

It’s glorious summertime, after all, and I’m going to go with livin’ easy. Wouldn’t you?