Full Circle

img_2266Well, the sun has set on another season.

It was especially tough to see this summer end. Not because we enjoyed better-than- average weather, or took two wonderful family trips, using passports for both (a first!) or because we spent a lot of time with our family and friends who continually make our lives richer. No. This year marks my older son’s last year of high school. The last year he’ll wake up in his bed, eat breakfast at my table, say goodbye in the morning where I’ll wish him a good day and wait for him to come home. Or see his hockey games or watch him perform during the half time shows on football fields, or attend his concerts. His last year before leaving for college, altering our family dynamic forever.

I am not the only parent of a high school senior. I know that. My sentiments aren’t my own. They’re shared by parents of seniors everywhere. But he is my son. My pride. My heart, who walks out the door every single day, and makes me smile when he walks back in.

This year will be a year of lasts, full of bittersweet endings, emotional moments (for me) and exciting plans (for him).

Thirty years ago, 1986, I graduated high school. I forged ahead full speed, shrugging out of my gown, tossing my tassled cap, seeing only my future, my friends, my summer job. I ran to college, not giving any thought whatsoever to how fast I’d grown and how my own mother must have been feeling what I’m feeling this week.

This month, I will be attending my high school reunion. While my child embarks on his final year, I will be rekindling my own memories. He’ll be doing his Social Studies homework while I will be catching up with classmates who sat next to me in my Social Studies classes.

I will enjoy one night with the people who spent every day with me during my formative years, who were in my life before it became laden with responsibility and stress and commitment. When the future was so bright, we had to wear shades. I will embrace lost friends who got away simply because life got too busy, the people who knew me before I knew myself, who knew me when I was young, inexperienced, a dreamer.

Then, I will put down my empty glass, dry my laughing tears. and bid so long to these old friends. I’ll return to my 48-year-old life (I cannot be 48), to stand by my son as he gets ready to embark on his future, to make his own way in the world. I’ll try like hell to remember who I was at seventeen, how I felt, and let him go.

A Trip to Paradise.

Hello friends! Happy August: the last warm month of the year where we try to cram in everything we thought we’d do over the summer but haven’t yet accomplished.

Last week we returned from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, our first time there. We stayed at the lovely Paradisus Palma Real Golf Resort & Spa and it was wonderful. The weather was perfect. And the people were warm and friendly. Our hostess upon arrival, Reyna, gave us a tour of the hotel grounds on the way to our room. She called my husband Papa and I was affectionately referred to as Mama.

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This is the view from the reception desk. Paradise, right?

 

This resort is an all-inclusive resort, meaning food and drinks are prepaid. I have two teenage boys over six feet tall. This was the only way to go. Here is one of the plates of my 17 yo’s breakfast. It rivaled Buddy’s from Elf.

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Yes, that is crumbled chocolate cake over french toast and chocolate crepes covered in syrup. With sausage links. This was his first plate.

We found seats on the beach every day under thatched cabanas, where we watched the pale green water lap onto the shore beneath a deep blue sky. Parasails flew in the gentle wind above hobycats and kayaks. My toes sunk into the silky white sand and I spent hours each day soaking up the atmosphere. I don’t spend enough time outside when I’m home. I made up for that here.

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Best seats outside of the house

Each time Reyna passed by the pool or outside deck, giving another tour to new arrivals, I heard “Mama!” over the music and swimmers’  laughter. Each time I waved to my new friend and she continued on.

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Next time

In the early evenings, we drank pina coladas on the large deck and got teary over weddings on the sand. (Okay, I got teary, the rest of us, not so much).  After dinner, we walked among the arches of the hotel buildings and watched salsa dancing under the stars. The Dominican people love to dance. Look at this place. If you were here every day, wouldn’t you?

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Michael Jackson is alive and well in Punta Cana

 

There were shows every night, spin and yoga classes in the pool during the day. Our last dinner was served on the beach, authentic food of the Dominican people, while bands played and entertainers performed.

 

Sure there were some small issues. Being in a foreign country, we had to remember to brush our teeth with bottled water. Our 15 yo was struck down for a full day with stomach issues but fortunately he quickly bounced back, returning to his gluttonous behavior at the buffets. We lost power a few times- usually while I was mid-shower, possibly due to the quick rainstorms that passed over almost every day, but they came back on within minutes. This is to be expected everywhere. Little kinks to work out.

Overall, we couldn’t ask for more. It was a lovely break from the reality of work and responsibility. We’ve been back a week and I long for one more day of music, white sand, a drink with an umbrella and a sweet voice calling Mama.

Where have you been this year?

End-of-Summer Wrap-Up

Hello Friends,

Labor Day is upon us and that means it’s time for another end-of-summer post from yours truly. In previous years, I talked about whether or not I succeeded in enjoying my summer (I was 1 for 2 over the past two years, if anyone is keeping score).

This summer we experienced a changing family dynamic.

Our children are not children anymore. They are active, growing people, with their own agendas. My older son is working now, starting to drive and making his plans. My younger son keeps himself busy with sports, camps, friends and video games.

This is all well and good but for the nagging feeling that my family unit is unraveling. Where is the togetherness that I enjoy? Where is the nucleus my husband and I spent so many years cultivating?

Where? On a golf course and a swimming pool. Separate from us and each other. Out with friends. Always out with friends. Many nights this season my husband and I found ourselves alone. While there’s something to be said for this new parental freedom (we also have friends we love to see), I still pine for the four of us around a dinner table or on a couch at the close of the day.

I know as they get older, things are going to continue to change. In two years, we’ll be taking one to college. Two years later, the other. Gone are the days when I can pack my boys into the car and take them to the beach, or to visit their grandparents for full afternoons, or to get ice cream. Now they want to jump on the Fire Island ferry to spend time with friends. Or golf. With friends. Or go to parties. With friends.

We’ve been replaced. My husband and I are no longer the center of their world.

By the beginning of August, we had not taken a family vacation. Everyone was too busy, committed to Driver’s Ed, camp, work, practices and games. Exasperated, we booked a last-minute trip, jumped on a plane and headed to our beloved Longboat Key.

Five days alone with our boys. The four of us. Together. No friends. We went tubing, jet-ski’d, swam with dolphins, saw our first 4-foot turtle in the Gulf, our first manatee, played Marco Polo (for hours), ate dinners out. It was perfect, not because of all we did, though each experience was wonderful, but because we had only each other. We laughed and talked and had fun. It was exactly what we needed. Just a reminder of who we are and what’s most important.

 

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Within an hour of returning home, I dropped my son at work. The other headed for his videos. Back to reality. But for a little while, they were still ours and no one else’s.

Everything changes, I get it. It’s a part of life. But sometimes I just want to hold on, grab a smidgeon of days gone by. It’s as possible as holding water in my hand. But it won’t stop me from trying.

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~Kim xo

A Magic Summer

Summer is upon us ladies, and that can only mean one thing. Time for an overrated flick filled with half-naked, pretty boys and paper-thin plot. That’s right! Magic Mike XXL – the not-quite-expected-nor-needed-but-much-appreciated sequel to 2012’s movie (has it been that long?)- is here!

I’ll admit, the first movie was meh: weak plot about a misguided young guy with abs of steel, who gets caught up with a group of “dancers” with abs of steel, and gets in trouble with drugs, while his sister fights to pull him out of this horrific situation and set him back on the straight and narrow, because, deep down, he’s really a good kid, all while pushing Channing Tatum away (I know. Fiction).

So why a sequel? That’s like asking, why do we drink, throw up and drink more? Because before the realization that you’ve wasted some precious life hours hovering over a toilet bowl, you had a shit-load of fun. And Channing is so pretty, who wouldn’t pay $12 to see him half-dressed, strutting across a 30-foot screen for a couple of hours?

If you’re questioning whether or not to see it, have no fear (and check your pulse). I’ll be sure to provide feedback. I really hope there’s a deep plot with lots of meaning.

Just kidding.

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Happy Summer!

Nailed it!

Hello Friends,

As we get ready to say goodbye to summer, I want to take a moment to reflect on the past few months.

Last year, I wrote a woeful post on how I did summer wrong. And I did. I let it pass by with nary a nod of notice.

Well, I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this summer immensely. In the two months since school let out for my children, with the help of gorgeous weather, we’ve managed to grab Long Island by the horns and ride the hell out of it. It was the summer of “Sure!”

“Mom, can we go golfing?” Sure!

“To the beach?” Sure!

“Fire Island?” Sure!

“Splish Splash, twice?” Absolutely!

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Parties? Sure!  Movies? Sure! Camp nights on the sand? Sure! Jones Beach concerts, ice cream outings, berry-picking, barbecues and bonfires. Sure! Sure! Sure!


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Long Island is an amazing place to be – and summer, it’s most boastful season.  This year, I took full advantage of it’s offerings and as a result, I can say goodbye without regret. There are still plenty of things we didn’t have time to do: Montauk, the Hamptons, wineries…We’ll never get to all of it, but that’s okay –  next year.

Wouldn’t you get sick of chocolate if you ate it every day, month after month?

Okay, bad example. But you get my point.

Now, I know for many of us, September brings on a whole new set of stress: teachers return to work, students to school, racing to catch the bus, homework woes, forms and tests. It’s imminent and there’s nothing we can do about it. The upside? The spectacular colors of Autumn are coming for us; apples are ripening, the turkey is getting fat, holiday shopping, shows and songs are around the corner. The fireplace is waiting! Let’s bring our clothes bins out, say so long to the summer dresses and hello to that warm, cozy sweater you forgot you had. Let’s do it – let’s look forward to all of it!

The beauty of Long Island is evident all year. The change of seasons: foliage, pumpkins, the serene blankets of snow, raindrops, new leaves, bunnies and bird calls eventually brings us back to the sultry, relaxing, entertaining days of summer.

I can’t think of a better way to get there, or a better place to be.

Happy Labor Day!

xo

 

Summer…I’m doing it wrong.

When the first warm days of June hit, I made a promise to my husband and myself. This year, we’d enjoy the hell out of summer. Spend long days at the beach riding the waves, stay until dusk and have dinner on the warm sand before we drive home, shower and end the day with a cocktail on our patio, gazing at the stars.

I’d keep the kids out of camp – let them experience summer the way we used to back when we were young. No agenda, no alarm clocks, no schedules. Just…being.

We’d barbecue with friends and have happy hours every Thursday through Sunday.

Ah yes, this would be the summer of fun, relaxation, and true enjoyment of life. I even went out and bought some Tommy Bahama garb. I was going to live the dream.

Well, here we are, mid August and guess what?

I’ve been to the beach twice. That’s two times. I paid $65 for my state park ticket, so if you think about it, it cost me $32.50 for each visit to the shore. I’m losing.

The kids did not do camp, so I did fulfill that part of my promise. But what I neglected to remember was that we signed up my 12-year-old for a summer lacrosse tournament team, mandatory practices Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week, in preparation for the four weekends spent on a field, on Long Island, in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia.

Guess how many Thurs – Sun happy hours we had? Right-o. Zip. Nada. Bupkus. And on those precious nights we were actually home, not that I could get my husband off of his laptop anyway, it was hot, humid, buggy, and just not conducive to sitting on an outdoor couch swatting mosquitoes away from my drink.

Did I mention my barbecue has cobwebs on it?

What the hell happened? Where did I go wrong? Again?

When I made my seasonal resolution, I completely dismissed the fact that I work, still need to keep some semblance of order in this house (notice I didn’t say “clean”, for I am not here to feed you lies about myself, hehe), cook, write, and get these non-committed boys to practices and social engagements.

My failure is further exacerbated by my three friends who live on the water. Two of them are teachers and have absolutely nothing to do July and August. The other works two days a week. I’ll give you a glimpse of the conversations I’ve had the past two months with these people:

Them: Come on over, we’re sitting on the beach/by the pool (yes, they have both) having a beer.

Me:  Uh, it’s one o’clock on Monday. I kind of have to work.

Them:  Join us on our boat this weekend.  Plenty of room.

Me:  Can’t, gotta go to five lacrosse games, over two days, four hours away. At least I get to overpay for a room and share a bed with a leggy fourteen-year-old. But really, thanks.

You get the picture.

I learned three things about myself this year:

  1. I should have been a teacher.
  2. I’ve got to stop making these empty promises to myself.
  3. I have to find new friends.

My Tommy Bahama dresses are sitting in my closet, waiting to be worn on some sandy beach, or at a barbecue, accessorized with a pink umbrella drink.

I have two weeks to get it all in. To unwind, take advantage of this wonderful, warm-weather-themed island we call home. Can I do it? Can it be done?

Sigh. Maybe not. But I’ll sure as hell try. I took a good long look at myself in the mirror today. Staring back at me was a pale, stressed, sober woman.

I’m definitely doing it wrong.