weathering the storm

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There are some among us who believe that I control the weather. What else can explain that when I convert my closet from lightweight summer staples to wooly fall splendor, the temperatures climb back up into the 90s? Or how breaking out a pair of flip flops in the early spring can cause it to snow? While I did take credit for the earthquake that hit the mid-Atlantic earlier this week (after all, I was in the middle of an angry recounting of how it was the first week of school and my younger son’s class inexplicably was still without a teacher) please do not blame Hurricane Irene on me. Even though I am wholly unprepared for her to unleash her wrath on D.C.

Maybe it’s because I cannot imagine a situation worse than Snowmaggedon, when I was one of four houses on my block without power, which is not exactly the type of outage that sends Pepco immediately to the rescue. (Except Pepco did come sooner than expected thanks to a phone call to my friend Nathan, an arborist for the utility who came to my house during his “break” between 18-hour shifts to identify the problem and call-in a downed (live) wire.) Maybe it’s because the last two “hurricanes” I prepared for (Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and Hurricane Gloria in 1985) were severely downgraded by the time they hit my region. Maybe it’s my well-stocked wine “cellar.” Whatever the reason, I cannot succumb to the pre-storm hype.

I do have a seven-year old who is deathly afraid of this impending storm. So afraid that he had nightmares last night and has asked me approximately every seven minutes whether Hurricane Irene is here yet. He’s envisioning a flooded basement, a river running down our street, and felled trees. He collected every flashlight in the house and set about replacing the batteries of the ones that needed fresh juice. He asked me to bake chocolate chip cookies to make him feel better on this rainy day. And he is milking me for as much TV as possible before the power goes out.

I didn’t buy any bottled water, though I did get the kids their favorite snacks and bought some candles. I didn’t pick up any sand bags at RFK, but did buy fresh eggs at the farmer’s market this morning, even though I already had a dozen in my refrigerator (omelets tomorrow?). I don’t have an evacuation plan or a full tank of gas, but I’m not sure if it comes to that I would get far in my Prius with two kids and three cats.

Now that I have spelled it all out, I have a twinge of regret I am not better prepared, but there’s really nothing to do at this point but sit back, stay calm, hope for the best for our friends in the path of the brunt of the storm, and uncork some wine. Chardonnay and/or sparkling first and reds after the power has gone out.

And hopefully by Monday all the hurricane songs will be purged from my head.


summer vacation

a scene from summer vacation

What did you do (or not do) on your summer vacation? I (in case you hadn’t noticed) barely blogged. I had assumed summer nights would be blissfully free to commit my thoughts to electronic paper, but at the end of most days, I could barely muster the energy to send a text let alone write a post.

At the end of the school year in June, I was ready to collapse under the weight of the kids’ collective schedules, and I couldn’t wait until the pressures of the school year were gone and vacation would begin. But summer vacations of today are not the summer vacations of my youth. First of all, I still have to work. As Jack puts it, “it isn’t fair, Mommy, that you don’t get to take the summer off too.” Second of all, as I remembered by the third day of summer camp, preparing kids for camp is harder than preparing kids for school.

It seems like a small thing, but you have to remember to pack a bathing suit and towel. Every day. Even though the kids are given designated swim days, camp advises sending their gear each day just in case they get an extra window to swim. And swimming means applying vats of sunscreen to your kids each morning before they head out the door. While I make a lunch for my kids most days when they go to school, it’s nice to know you have a back up option (even if they mostly detest school lunch) on a morning when you overslept and/or forgot to buy peanut butter and/or the bread miraculously went green overnight. At camp, there is no such luxury. You need to pack a lunch everyday or your kid doesn’t eat. And lunches need to be bigger, complete with snacks and extra drinks for hot code orange and red days. Exhausting.

Even the kids asked, “when do we get a summer where we can take a break from school and camp?”

That’s a good question. When I was Jack’s age, I was already watching my brother Nathan in the summers. We’d walk to the neighborhood pool in the morning, have our swim lessons, come home for lunch, then walk back to the pool to swim the remainder of the day. Implementing a similar routine with Jack and Colin would probably result in someone turning me in to social services.

That isn’t to say the boys and I didn’t get any breaks this summer. A ten-day tour of New England to visit with close friends and family got us out of town and gave us a breather from our usual grind. Five days last week in Chicago and Michigan gave me a needed respite from work, camp, mommy duties and stifling DC humidity. But school starts next week, which means fall is around the corner and with it (aside from tall boots, cashmere sweaters, scarves and all the other goodies I am dreaming of) comes soccer season.

Is it winter break yet?