beautiful french poster for the movie “Inside Out”, which we just saw 🙂
What’s going on around here:
In my head…
First, and foremost: I’m super happy that Grace is done with her first round of camp.
Because the weather is so crummy here in the summer, camp is sort of necessary- it’s very easy for kids to just want to stay in and attached to a screen all day when it’s so crummy outside, and I can’t really say I blame them because it feels sorta cozy. And Gracie is great at entertaining herself- she mostly reads, writes (she writes and publishes tons of stories on a fiction website plus maintains her blog), and takes online art classes. She does watch TV shows and movies on Netflix, and plays the Wii, but fiction is sort of her thing, so that’s what her preference is.
But a kid can only do so much of that, and Gracie loves other kids, so camp is a good place for her to go and interact and do something besides write and draw and play Splatoon. She gets to run around and laugh and be silly.
But camp here is tough- there’s a few different camps for kids, but none of them are summer-long, general kind of day camp, which is what I had as a kid. It’s all special interest (dance camp, drama camp, football camp, bible camp, etc.) and most camps run only for five days, or for two weeks. There are long-term programs, but they are more like day-care for toddlers and super young kids with working parents. A lot of families go north for the summer (when I say the weather is crappy here in the summer, I *really* mean it!) so the offerings are kind of minimal for older kids.
After a few summers of her doing nothing in the summer and getting a little stir-crazy, we got her in a few camps this summer- a week of art camp at a local church, and two weeks of theater camp. The art camp was okay. It was more religious than we were told, and we aren’t a religious family, so Gracie was “meh” about it. But a lot of her friends were in it, and the teachers were nice, and she likes learning new stuff, so it wasn’t an issue for her. But she didn’t love it enough to feel sad when it ended.
Then she had two weeks of theater camp, which we thought she’d LOVE. She’s been in a bunch of little skits and performances throughout her years at Montessori, and she’s great at it. She likes to memorize lines, tell stories, sing, dance, learn things.
Low and behold, she HATED theater camp. HATED. Gracie is really easy-going, for the most part, so we were kinda shocked when she came home after the second day and asked us if she could stop going.
When we signed her up for the theater camp, we thought it was going to be two weeks of different performing arts kinds of activities in a camp-like environment. Singing, playing, doing skits, dancing, improvising, maybe learning how to create sets, all in a fun camp-like environment (ie focus on fun).
What it turned out to be was a theatrical performance of the musical “Mama Mia” with two weeks to learn all the lines, dance moves, songs, and staging. She got her script and songs the first day and for the next two weeks it was just full-on rehearsal.
Most in the girls in the camp were serious dancers and singers who have done the summer productions for years in addition to their regular round of dance stuff and singing lessons (like, the kinds of kids who likely already have agents and headshots…), so they were used to hours of rehearsal and practice and performances. Gracie has never been into that- she plays soccer and did a few years of Tae Kwan Do and Hip Hop Dance (but refused to do performances/recitals, and we accepted that). So she had to figure it out quickly and try and not let the yelling and demanding teachers freak her out, since she wasn’t used to that, either.
It was basically Mama Mia bootcamp. We persuaded her to stay and see it through for the two weeks and through the final performance. On one hand, I wanted to just say “forget it”- she hated it, she doesn’t often resist or get upset about stuff and it really wouldn’t change her life if she was in a performance of Mama Mia or not. Every day she came home so frustrated and my heart broke open and it felt like I was just making her do this miserable thing, so it was a pretty stressful two weeks of being a mom.
But on the other hand, she was a few days into it when she decided she hated it and asked to quit, she had a pretty big role in the play, and it would be a good experience for her to do something so challenging and outside her normal realm. So she did stick with it, but she disliked every minute of it. (But she was so great in the play!)
She did say she’d like to be in another play, maybe at her new school- she’s convinced the teachers won’t be so “Dance Mom” demanding, which I actually tend to think is the truth. I was in a few school/summer camp plays when I was a kid and it was nothing like what this camp was. Doing plays was always fun and interesting and sort of felt like a gift, to have a little role in a play and be a part of something like that. I hope she gets the chance to experience *that*.
Moving forward- next week is a week of sailing camp, and then *maybe* jewelry camp, and then she’ll be spending some time with my parents up in North Carolina (where they go for the summers) before school starts second week of August. SECOND WEEK OF AUGUST. Holy crap!
Speaking of school, THAT’s been another adjustment. After years of Montessori, in which everything was provided by the school, and no dress code/restrictions, Gracie’s new school has a particular dress code (school logo polo-shirt and khakis/navy pants, shorts, or skirts with sneakers), a VERY long reading list for the summer and a lot of stuff to get ready.
The wardrobe might be tricky because Gracie is petite and has her own unique style. Luckily, she compares the new wardrobe to that worn by the Hogwarts (Harry Potter) students, so she’s kind of excited about it. I hope she still feels that way when she gets her stiff khakis and needs to wear them. I hated dress code at my schools. But ours were much stricter than hers, so hopefully it won’t be too bad.
Confession: I am totally and completely addicted to “TheTimTracker” on YouTube. I discovered the channel last week when I was listening to Disney theme park music (I love the queue music from Soarin’) and I have been watching it pretty constantly ever since.
“TheTimTracker” is a young couple in Orlando who vlog every day, and they go to the Disney/Universal parks at least once a week. When they go to the parks, they take their little GoPro camera with them, and vlog all day from the park, on all the different rides and areas. Watching their channel is almost like a little day trip to the parks a couple of times a week, from their perspective.
Because they are at the parks all the time, they are able to spend time really exploring and appreciating the parks in a way that people who just pop in for a focused, time-constricted vacation can’t. They spend a lot of time doing things like stopping to enjoy the live bands, animal-watching (everything from the ducks in the lakes to the exotic animals at Animal Kingdom), looking at the plants and decorations, wandering around different areas of the parks that aren’t simply a way to get to another ride, etc. They point out stuff that you might never see as a tourist.
And their “from home” vlogs are fun to watch, too.
I think what I like most about them is that even though they are fun, kind, and energetic, they aren’t, like, laser-focused on making a business of their adventures. So many bloggers and YouTubers seem focused on trying to make a career from their hobbies and interests, which is great if you can do it, but then it sometimes overwhelms them and starts driving their content.
Tim and Jenn just seem to be having a good time and enjoying whatever it is they are doing for the day. They get just as excited about staying home and watching an old movie as they do about going to one of the theme parks. That’s so unusual, it seems, in our culture- especially from anyone who is a “personality” in the online world. Like, if they go to Disney, it’s great day. If they stay home and clean out the yard or watch movies, it’s also a great day. If they go to work and come home and have dinner together and just hang out with their dogs, it’s also a genuinely great day.
I guess because I am so stressed and anxious about the “am I doing a productive, *useful* thing? Am I living a fulfilling life? Am I doing *enough*?” questions, and trying very, very hard to break away from that, I appreciate the fact they just go day-to-day, and enjoying what they enjoy without worrying about if they are doing “enough”. That’s just so refreshing to me. Watching them kinda makes *me* appreciate my every-day, too.
Oh, besides YouTube, there are movies- we finally started catching up on summer movies! In the last few weeks we’ve seen Pitch Perfect 2, Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, and Inside Out. I forgot how much I love going to the movies in the summer- it’s much less crowded in Naples and at the movies, the traffic is so much better, and it just feels so much more fun. Plus, you don’t have to buy tickets for the movies a week in advance- there are still lots of good seats available the morning of the movie. During tourist season, it’s not uncommon for tickets to sell out a few days before the movie actually plays. So it’s nice to be able to decide day-of that we want to see a movie that day, and know there are tickets available.
Outside my window…
Hazy, hot. So hot! I can’t get over how hot and tired I get from my usual swim- being in the sun for that long really does kinda zap me for the rest of the day. I have to really keep an eye on my hydration and try and get in the pool earlier to avoid the sun beating on me. Tom goes for his runs/bike rides early in the morning and he comes back feeling the same way. It’s such a lovely relief to come back inside and take a cool shower and spend some time relaxing after I swim. I don’t need as much time to recover in the winter as I do in the summer, so I’m trying to remember that and give myself the time that I need every day to bounce back.
June was actually an okay month, storm-wise. I am very very grateful for that. I only had one day where I had to sit around the pool all day, getting in laps when there was a break in the lightning. I hate that more than anything (five hours outside in a chlorine-soaked wet Speedo, alternately dripping wet and shivering and then damp and sweaty as the weather changes…) Now it’s July, and my fingers are crossed that the storms stick to the afternoons.
In the art studio…
In early June, I finally relented and got a new computer. I say “relented” because for the past five years, I have doggedly used my old MacBook, refusing to update the OS because most of the applications and files I had on there wouldn’t work with any of the new Mac OS. But then I started to literally run out of disc space (I had about 2 gigs left), having to delete everything as soon as I was done with it, just so I had enough to allow the programs I use to have enough space to run. And then, a year or so ago, everything started becoming incompatible- Apple wasn’t releasing anymore iTunes or Safari updates for my OS, YouTube stopped working, Facebook went wonky. Pretty much anything online gave me the message “your browser is completely out of date!” But I knew if I updated, I’d have to spend a few weeks transferring data and re-entering endless settings and I couldn’t bear the idea of it.
Tom was incredulous, because he’s a software engineer. It was kind of like using a horse-drawn carriage after cars had been invented, or using a calculator to get on the internet. I think the final straw was when my bank updated their site (I pay bills online) and they directly made me use the iPhone site because of my crazy outdated OS, so I could only see a few lines of text on my screen at a time. It took me a few hours to figure out our bills and get them paid. I mean…
Anyway, my parents gave me some money for my birthday to put towards a new computer, so one afternoon in mid-June we just stopped at the Apple store on our way home from the movies, and I got an iMac.
Setting it up and getting all my stuff over to it, and get that stuff to the point where it was WORKING… that took weeks. I’m still working on it. Every day is something new.
But… NEW BIG SCREEN with ANTI-REFLECTIVE COATING! Wireless keyboard! Everything loads so fast! Everything looks so pretty and sounds so nice! The speakers blew on my MacBook about two years ago so it’s like having a stereo or something. I don’t know… I’ve had this computer for a few weeks now and I’m still really excited about it.
My computer lives in my art studio, so that’s been taking up a lot of time this month.
Besides that, I have been really into colored pencils and markers and watercolor, still. Coloring with markers and with colored pencils makes me happy right now, so I’m letting myself do that whenever I have a little bit of free time. Nothing amazing, just an excuse to use my supplies and try new things.
I do want to take a watercolor class over at Creative Bug, I just have to commit to it. I have to remind myself how much I love taking art classes online and just go for it. But whenever I sit down at my desk, I kind of go into auto-pilot a little bit- I pull out my latest coloring project and turn on an episode of “The 100” (I’m binge watching that this summer in my studio) and just relax a bit.
In the garden…
I’m finally back to gardening at the level I was before I got sick. It’s crazy out there- now that I have a lot of tropical plants that continue to grow throughout the summer, which is usually our “dormant” period , gardening is just as intense in the summer as it is in winter, which wasn’t always the case. I have to water like crazy because of the heat. So it’s a lot of stuff out there. I enjoy it a lot, but I won’t lie and say I’m not happy when I go out there and realize it rained the night before and there’s not quite as much watering. That’s kind of like an unexpected day off.
“Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty. I’m not quite the super fan of her writing as a lot of people are, but I’ve liked a few of the books she wrote so I grabbed this one from the e-book library. I have to admit, this book sort of baffles me. I know it’s leading up to a big reveal at the end, but I think other authors do a better job at it (especially after just finishing “Girl on a Train”).
The thing is, I keep wanting to pick this book up and read a little more, which is sort of key for me. Sometimes I feel like I just need to go ahead and read whatever keeps me reading, just so I don’t lose the whole “reading momentum”. There are times when I’ll sort of force myself to slog through a “good” or educational book just because it’s enriching my brain, but then I just stop picking it up one day and will go weeks without reading anything. So the key is to keep reading whatever it is that keeps me reading. (That’s a totally terrible sentence, but hopefully you get the idea…)
Iced tea with a dash of lemonade. So yummy and refreshing! It feels like the perfect summer drink.
– the smell of air conditioning (weird, I know… but something about that *ice* cold smell when you first come inside…)
– the sound of cicadas
– the juvenile cardinals and doves at the bird feeders- so cute!
– the baby dolphins that are swimming in the bay behind our house
– the tiny tiny baby lizards in the garden
– getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier
– my new desk cover (it’s the little things…)
– my Chester cat (I love all my pets so very much, but this guy has been with us for 10+ years now, and he’s truly like a big, fuzzy ball of mush with me. I adore him.)
– flower stamps and watercolor markers
– succulents and lantana in the garden, and the way the new sunset vine is growing like crazy!
– carrots in salads
– hanging out with my little family
Thank you, as always, for stopping by. Hope you are having an amazing, relaxing, fun summer! <3