With Bill back at work in his classroom, we are straddling the summer and autumn mindset in our home this week. Somehow, when Bill is teaching, it feels as though it is time for apple pies and early sunset, cozy movie nights, pumpkin bread, and fall leaves. The morning mist and fog is colluding with my desires, yet by the afternoon I am reminded with the Temecula sunshine that I still have more summertime memories to make with my little people before wishing the season away.

It never fails that at the start of each school year, I remember how grateful I am that I do not have to leave my babies to return to work. Although I love teaching, and although I often think with happiness about returning to our profession some day when my children are older, and although I sincerely miss that start-of-school excitement (yes, Honey, I know what you’re thinking!)  with new rosters and new students and new folders, and curriculum I love, I want to pour that excitement for teaching and learning into our own children right now. Leaving Katie to return to school/work after she was three months old (which I did to honor my contract until the end of the year and to leave on good terms) was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. I believe in honoring one’s commitments, though, especially to the students I had promised to teach that year. Yet I know firsthand how truly heart-wrenching it is to surrender time with one’s children in order to work outside the home. It was painful—time with Katie I will never have back. Every year at the start of school, I remember that feeling, and I am grateful to my husband for serving us outside of the home, bearing the stresses and responsibilities of an external job so that I can give our children my skills as a teacher and my nurturing as a mother.

I think it is because I did go back to work with Katie for a handful of months that I know well what I have in being home with both of them. Yes, chasing around after two young children is definitely challenging; they often are vocal about having needs at the same moment. Contrary to what some might believe about SAHMs, I rarely have the chance to sit down during the day. I am on my feet constantly, just as I was in my classroom. In many ways, my profession is the same as it was—except now, I am at work all day and all night, every day. 😉 It is a job and a calling that is my pleasure to do. Even during the difficult moments, I am profoundly grateful that life has worked out such that I can be with them and do this hard work.

We took it a little more easy today, not having to go anywhere in particular. I love days like that, jammies and cuddles and play time on our own schedule. Katie and I woke up before Eric this morning. Unusual though that was, we made the most of the one-on-one time together to read  a bit more in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. When Eric woke up, it was time for breakfast and pre-school. Katie worked on a sight word workbook today, a bit of math, the clock, latches, and pattern awareness. I am still working on trying to incorporate Eric into all of this. My biggest challenge during the day, by far, is balancing my attention to both of them at the same time. I had to divide attention in my classroom, too, but that was easier because the students were more approximately near the same developmental levels. The world between Eric and Katie, though shrinking as Eric picks up more language and dexterity, is still vast.

We cover that space, though, when we have our music hour. Today we played some of our favorite songs, played our instruments, and held a dance party after Katie’s work time. Shortly after a round of hide-n-seek, Eric wanted a morning nap, and Katie and I snuggled in her bed still in our jammies reading almost to the end of Goblet of Fire. So cozy. We saved the end, though, and went downstairs to play three rounds of Candy Land while Eric finished his nap.

When he woke up, we had lunch, and then it was time for an afternoon of play outdoors. We took turns on the tricycle (Eric can’t reach the pedals at all, but he loves to sit on it and be pushed while I hold him on), and we practiced jogging and skipping. We set up the water table and all munched on watermelon. We watered all the plants and garden, and Eric picked a strawberry to eat. He also tried to eat several fallen apples from our apple tree. He knows I take them (to peel them) and so he held one close to his neck and ran away with it, looking over his shoulder coyly to see if I was following. We all watched for airplanes (we get soooooo jazzed when we see one of those), and played bouncy ball. By the time Bill got home near 4 PM, we had been outside for a couple of hours soaking in the goodness, and I was pulling the kiddos around in our Radio Flyer, pretending to take them on a tour of the Hogwarts grounds. We were pointing out different plants, the Mirror of Erised, the Whomping Willow, and more. The water table became Dumbledore’s pensieve, and the shed became Hagrid’s hut. We must have gone around both the front and back yards a half dozen times, and the kiddos loved when we traveled under the misters and over the bridge. My arms got a bit of a good workout, too. I think the Hogwarts tour was probably their favorite activity today.

It occurred to me while watching for airplanes (we ended up seeing one) that life really can be this simple. We don’t really have to overthink it. There is plenty of goodness and beauty all around us. It can be a leg dripping with watermelon juice, or the cozy feel of getting the babies cleaned up in their bath together tonight while splashing and playing in the bubbles and making their hair smell baby fresh and sweet.

I love these days when I am able to immerse myself in being with my children. There are many days when we are on the go for one reason or the next, and I love to have this balance. They deserve it, too. It is a day to keep the computer off during the day and the iPad put away (or mostly put away—I did get on it once), to be connected just with them and let them feel how much of a privilege it is, in my mind, to get to be with them.

So we’re sticking to the summer mindset for just a little longer. Days of easy meals of what we have on hand (although I did sneak in some fresh baked salmon, roasted broccoli with tomatoes, and Yukon gold mashed potatoes the other night—Katie kept saying it was one of her favorite meals I’ve ever made. I’ll take it!), later baths, and the last of the summer activities (still haven’t made our usual homemade ice cream this year, but with all the cakes and goodies I just don’t think we can or should consume the additional calories this month). I am slowing myself down the next few weeks by not embarking on any new sewing or major craft or major fall cooking, yet to give myself a little gratification, I am making a list of all the autumn projects and recipes I do want to make this season. I do love a list!